Archive for the 'Open Language Resources' Category

Conversation Club: China


China has one of the world’s oldest people and continuous civilizations, consisting of states and cultures dating back more than six millennia. Hundreds of ethnic groups have existed in China throughout its history. The largest ethnic group in China by far is the Han. This group, however, is internally diverse and can be further divided into smaller ethnic groups that share similar traits. Most languages in China belong to the Sino-Tibetan language family, spoken by 29 ethnicities. There are also several major dialects within the Chinese language itself. The most spoken dialects are Mandarin (spoken by over 70% of the population), Wu, Yue (Cantonese), Min, Xiang, Gan, and Hakka.



What do you think about this culture?


Spanish: Personal Information

Please find below a slide show with audio which will help you learn an practice a few useful expressions in Spanish. These expressions are useful when you want to communicate personal information. The last slide contains the English translation,  just in case.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

The kid’s voice you hear at the beginning is my son Mateo. So, do not panic!

We’ll practice in class.


Teacher Mario

Numbers in Spanish

This lesson is to help you practice the numbers in Spanish. Below you will find a slide show with audio so you can practice the pronunciation and spelling of numbers from 1 to 1000. Once you understand the pattern you can make up you own numbers and figure out the correct spelling and pronunciation.

We’ll practice them in class!

Vodpod videos no longer available.


Teacher Mario

Bill Gates Commencement Address – Harvard, 2007

Many people confuse education with schooling. College education is not always needed. Listen to the following message given by Dr. William Gates after he received a doctor’s degree from Harvard without having to attend regular courses.




President Bok, former President Rudenstine, incoming President Faust, members of the Harvard Corporation and the Board of Overseers, members of the faculty, parents, and especially, the graduates:

I’ve been waiting more than 30 years to say this: “Dad, I always told you I’d come back and get my degree.”

I want to thank Harvard for this timely honor. I’ll be changing my job next year … and it will be nice to finally have a college degree on my résumé.

I applaud the graduates today for taking a much more direct route to your degrees. For my part, I’m just happy that the Crimson has called me “Harvard’s most successful dropout.” I guess that makes me valedictorian of my own special class … I did the best of everyone who failed.

But I also want to be recognized as the guy who got Steve Ballmer to drop out of business school. I’m a bad influence. That’s why I was invited to speak at your graduation. If I had spoken at your orientation, fewer of you might be here today.

Harvard was just a phenomenal experience for me. Academic life was fascinating. I used to sit in on lots of classes I hadn’t even signed up for. And dorm life was terrific. I lived up at Radcliffe, in Currier House. There were always lots of people in my dorm room late at night discussing things, because everyone knew I didn’t worry about getting up in the morning. That’s how I came to be the leader of the antisocial group. We clung to each other as a way of validating our rejection of all those social people.

Radcliffe was a great place to live. There were more women up there, and most of the guys were science-math types. That combination offered me the best odds, if you know what I mean. This is where I learned the sad lesson that improving your odds doesn’t guarantee success.

One of my biggest memories of Harvard came in January 1975, when I made a call from Currier House to a company in Albuquerque that had begun making the world’s first personal computers. I offered to sell them software.

I worried that they would realize I was just a student in a dorm and hang up on me. Instead they said: “We’re not quite ready, come see us in a month,” which was a good thing, because we hadn’t written the software yet. From that moment, I worked day and night on this little extra credit project that marked the end of my college education and the beginning of a remarkable journey with Microsoft.

What I remember above all about Harvard was being in the midst of so much energy and intelligence. It could be exhilarating, intimidating, sometimes even discouraging, but always challenging. It was an amazing privilege – and though I left early, I was transformed by my years at Harvard, the friendships I made, and the ideas I worked on.

But taking a serious look back … I do have one big regret. I left Harvard with no real awareness of the awful inequities in the world – the appalling disparities of health, and wealth, and opportunity that condemn millions of people to lives of despair.

I learned a lot here at Harvard about new ideas in economics and politics. I got great exposure to the advances being made in the sciences. But taking a serious look back … I do have one big regret. I left Harvard with no real awareness of the awful inequities in the world – the appalling disparities of health, and wealth, and opportunity that condemn millions of people to lives of despair.

I learned a lot here at Harvard about new ideas in economics and politics. I got great exposure to the advances being made in the sciences.

English Grammar: The Mystery Box

One popular activity in a basic English class is the “Guessing Game”. The teacher puts a secret object inside a box and students have to guess what is inside. Teacher gives clues to students so that they can guess. Questions are asked using the verb to be:

Is it big or small?

Is it square or round?

Is it a fruit or a vegetable?

Are they soft or hard? (for plural)

Below, you will find this game played by Kermit the Frog and the Cookie Monster from Sesame Street. Check it out and play the game with your classmates.



Best Mario

Listening Practice: Ratatouille

Disney-Pixar Animation Studios is an amazing organization. Film after film they demonstrate how things can become better and better beyond our imagination. The movie called Ratatouille brought a new way of viewing animated food on the big screen. They also showed that being a chef is a tough job. It requires a high level of commitment and hard work. The people of Pixar were able to create an environment that allows the audience to feel they are in a fancy restaurant and get a picture of the world of cooking.

Below you will find a clip where you will listen to some comments on how challenging it was to make the food look yummy. And they did! Hats off to those guys.

We’ll practice the new vocabulary and listening comprehension skills in class.



Teacher Mario

Transcription Exercise: Google Maps

Watch this video and read its transcription below. Look up the words you don’t know and see how they are used. The transcription is not complete, so you may want to do the last part.



Google MyMaps is easy to use. Even if you have little to no experience with programming or creating web pages. Anyone can create personalized and customized maps of anything – from a simple place mark to an around the world tour, using Google MyMaps. 

Today, I’ll show you how to create a unique MyMap. First, open Google Maps. Click on the upper left tab “My Maps”.Click on “Create a new map”. You’ll need to sign into your google account if you haven’t already. I’ll make a San Francisco walking tour map. Decide what you want to call your map and enter a title and description. You can choose to make your maps public or unlisted. Public maps are shared with everyone and will be published in the search results. I’ll make this map public. Click the “save button” when you’re done.  

Now, you’re ready to create your map. First, create a mark for the start point of the walk. Since I want to start at the ferry building, I’ll set my mark there. Next, give the start mark a name. I’ll choose the ship icon from the menu to represent the ferry port. Now, it’s time to draw your route. Select to the straight line tool and start to draw.
I’ll walk along the water down the Embarcadero, then up to Quite Tower to get a nice view of the city. Back down to north beach to Pier 39 to Ghirardeli Square, and finish my tour at the top of Lombard street. Double click to finish drawing your route. Then, add an icon and title for the final point. You can also click on satellite view to check that your route is accurate.

Now, you continue…

Teacher Mario


June 2019
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