English Language Podcast goes belly up!

This blog project has been discontinued. I will keep the materials which are online available, so you can still download the mp3 files and listen to the episodes. There will be no further episodes, though.

But if you are interested in reading more about ELT (English Language Teaching) or if you are an EFL (English as a Foreign Language) student, please visit my other blogs at:

Temporarily unavailable

As I haven't been posting much lately and I don't feel ok about this, but I haven't had much time recently as I have taken over one more teaching position.
So, unfortunately, because of time constraints I will be discontinuing this project temporarily. I hope to come back to it whenever I find more time. For the time being you can check the old podcast episodes, which will still be availble. Sorry for the inconvenience.

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Used to + ing form - (Level: Intermediate to Advanced)

Download the mp3 file length: 3 min 38 secs file size: 3.33 Mb

In today's episode we'll be looking how "used to" is used with "-ing" form. There are basically two ways of doing that. Each of these ways carries a distinct meaning. We can form sentences with verb "be" + "used to" + "-ing" or with "get" or "become" + "used to" + "-ing". If you want to know more about "used to", you can also check out the episode called "routine in the past with used to".

Well, let's look at some examples with the first form - which is verb "be" + "used to" + "-ing".

1) I was used to getting up early in the morning, but nowadays I usually stay in bed until 10 o'clock.

2) George is used to working late, he won't mind if you ask him to finish the report today.

3) In a few days, everyone will be used to following the company's new policy on energy saving.

As you can see, verb "be" can be used in different tenses to form sentences with "used to". In these examples the meaning is basically related to "being accostumed" to doing something - which means it is pretty much like a routine, something easy to be done. Now, if the activity you are talking about is already part of the context in the conversation, you might as well omit the "-ing" form and the complement coming afterwards. For instance, in the third example, you might just say.. "In a few days, everyone will be used to it".

Now let's see some examples with the second structure, which is "get" + "used to" + "-ing".

1) John got used to getting up early after a couple of weeks in the army.

2) Julia gets used to taking on new responsibilities very easily, she's very adaptable.

3) Don't worry, I will get used to following the new health and safety recommendations.

In this case, again, verb "be" can be used in different tenses and the meaning here is related to the transition between "not being accostumed" and "being accostumed" - that is, "becoming accostumed". Of course, then, in these three examples we could also use "become" instead of "get". Like in the first form, we can also omit the "-ing" and the complement coming afterwards if the activity you are talking about is already part of the context in the conversation. In this case you would just say.. "I will get used to it soon".

Well, this is it! Thanks for listening!!! I'm Marcos Gazzana and this is English Language Podcast.


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Server maintenance

I am changing my server, so mp3 files will not be available for the next 48 hours. Hopefully on Tuesday (July 7th 2009) all downloads will be back to normal.

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Sometimes, some times, sometime and some time - (Level: Intermediate)

Download the mp3 file length: 3 min 10 secs file size: 2.90 Mb

In today's episode we'll be looking at the different spellings and different meanings of 'sometimes' (spelled altogether with an 's'), 'some times' (spelled separately with an 's'), 'sometime' (altogether without an 's') and 'some time' (separate without an 's').

Let's have a look at the following sentences.

1) John sometimes visits his parents on Sundays.

2) George told us he is going to come over sometime next month.

3) Laura needed some time to figure out what she was going to do.

4) Maria told me that her computer didn't work, but after I tried to restart it some times, her computer finally started up normally.

'Sometimes', spelled altogether with an "s", is an adverb of frequency and basically means "on some occasions". So, the first example means that John visits his parents on some occasions on Sundays, or in other words on some Sundays he visits them and on some he doesn't.

'Sometime', spelled altogether without an "s", means "at some indefinite or indeterminate point of time" and is also an adverb. It refers most of the times to an indefinite future time and can be replaced by the expression "one day", so you could say to a friend: "we have to get together sometime to talk about old times" or "we have to get together one day to talk about old times".

'Some time', spelled separately without an "s", basically means "an indefinite amount of time", for instance some days or weeks or so on. So, in the third example above, it means that Laura needed some days to figure out what she was going to do. Time that she could use to reflect and take the right decision.

'Some times', spelled separately with an "s", means "a few times" and is not very common as most of the times speakers prefer to use expressions like "a few times" or "a couple of times".

Well, this is it! Thanks for listening!!! I'm Marcos Gazzana and this is English Language Podcast.


Alone vs lonely - (Level: Intermediate)

Download the mp3 file length: 2 min 31 secs file size: 2.31 Mb

In today's episode we'll be looking at the difference between 'alone' and 'lonely'. The basic difference between 'alone' and 'lonely' is that when you 'feel lonely', you feel unhappy about it. The meaning of 'alone', on the other hand, basically refers to having no one else around you. It is also interesting to observe that even though their meanings are very closely related, they are used in distinct contexts. 'Lonely' is generally an adjective while 'alone' can be either an adjective or an adverb.

Let's have a look at the following sentences.

1) Susan is alone in her bedroom.

2) George is a very lonely old man.

So, we can see that in the first example 'alone' simply means that there is no one else there with her. In other words Susan is by herself. In the second example the meaning refers to an unhappy feeling that comes from being deprived of family members and close friends' company - it's like saying: "George is a very 'sad' old man".

Here are some other examples:

3) When her parents got home she was alone in her bedroom.

4) John started feeling lonely after moving to Japan, so he decided to come back home.

5) I like to travel alone, so I can take my own decisions about where to go.

6) Julia was a lonely woman, she never wanted to go anywhere. But now she is studying art and has met a lot of nice people.

Well, this is it! Thanks for listening!!! I'm Marcos Gazzana and this is English Language Podcast.


Routine in the past with 'used to' - (Level: Intermediate)

Download the mp3 file length: 3 min 58 secs file size: 3.74 Mb

Hello, in today's episode we'll be looking at how to talk about routine in the past in English. One of the easiest ways to do that is to use the verb 'used to'. We can describe how things were back when we were younger or how different we were. For instance, "When I was younger I used to get up very early to go to school". In this case I am referring to a routine I had in the past, most of the times this routine isn't true anymore or stopped happening a while ago.

'Used to' is generally used in two different situations. One is when we refer to a fact in the past and the other when we refer to a repeated activity in the past. Look at the following examples:

1) We used to live in Rio when I was a kid.

2) My father used to travel abroad every month for work.

As we can see, in the first example 'used to' is describing a fact while in the second example it is referring to a regular activity in the past - routine in the past.

There are basically three structures to remember. The affirmative, the negative and the interrogative forms. Let's look at the other forms then.

For the negative form we need to add the auxiliary 'did' + 'not' and the infinitive of the verb 'use', like in the following sentences:

3) I didn't use to go to the beach when I was younger.

4) She didn't use to wake up early on weekends.

In these examples we are expressing that the activities did not happen, those habitual actions did not exist. Now, to form questions with 'used to' we have to invert the positions of the auxiliary verb and the subject. Look at the following examples.

5) Did you use to play any instruments when you were younger?

6) What language did you use to speak with your parents?

So, keep in mind that you can express routine in the past with 'used to'. You can describe facts or habitual actions, your routine in the past. Now, think about a few things that were different when you are a child and try to write down a few sentences using these structures. Repeat the sentences to yourself and try to do some exercises in case you still find it difficult.

Here are some more examples. Pay special attention to the pronunciation of 'used to':

7) I used to have very few friends when I lived in England.

8) My brother used to go to a very expensive school.

9) Jack didn't use to like it when we made fun of him.

10) Mary, did you use to look after your younger brother?

Well, thanks for listening!!! I'm Marcos Gazzana and this is English Language Podcast.
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