Paco travels to South Africa: When Sonia phoned Paco was visiting the city



In this topic we will study another tense in English, the Past Continuous or Progressive and we will see how frequently it is used with the Past Simple tense. We will also study the degrees of adjectives, positive, comparative and superlative. Undoubtedly, both subjects will be really useful for you English. We will also study some vocabulary related to clothes.

Icono IDevice Reading activity
Paco went out of the hotel. The first thing he wanted to do was to visit the city of Johannesburg. So, he decided to start walking around. As he was going out, the receptionist called his attention and asked him to leave the key of the room at the reception desk. A young black man behind a long wooden desk had told him that. The middle-aged man, named Fenyang as Paco could see in the card on his waistcoat, was wearing dark blue trousers, too loose for his complexion, a white shirt and a tight waistcoat which contrasted with the casual clothes Paco was wearing: comfortable white trainers and sockets with three coloured stripes, brown shorts and a loose light blue T-shirt with a Gaudí's pattern. Paco left the key on the desk and said good morning to the receptionist.
By thomas sly. C. Commons
While he was walking along the street he could see a sign showing a direction: Apartheid Museum. He decided to visit it since it wasn't very far. In fact, the University was much farther from his home and he used to walk there. The closer he became to the entrance, the more excited he felt. He had always felt curious to exactly know South Africans' racist feelings and perfectly understand the rise and fall of this prejudiced system of legal racial segregation known as apartheid and which lasted over fifty years, from 1948 to 1994.
He arrived at the museum and he was buying the entrance ticket when his mobile rang. It was Sonia, his sister.

By Ryan Somma. C. Commons
Sonia: How's it going, Paco?
Paco: Hi, Sonia! It's going good. How are you all?
Sonia: Fine. Where are you?
Paco: Now, I'm visiting the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg. I left the hotel half an hour ago and came here on foot. It's fifteen minutes from the airport. When the mobile rang I was talking to the man in the ticket office. He was explaining to me why I was getting a ticket for whites. Can you believe it? There are different tickets for white and black people!
Sonia: Yes? Well, as you know, whites were legally considered better than blacks in the apartheid years. Maybe they want to remember that.
Paco: Must be that way, because, otherwise, I can't understand. Look, I can see two different entrances, too, one for whites and another for black people. The situation here must have been far harder than we've always thought in other countries.
Sonia: Sure. By the way, how about the flight?
Paco: Oh, terrible! You know I hate flying. I spent the whole flight talking to one of the kindest and most interesting men I've ever known. He was a businessman. He was wearing a grey suit and a patterned blue tie. He looked more handsome than me, hee, hee!. He recommended me to read a book to help me. I'll buy it, or I'll always be afraid of flying! He said it works. I was trying to sleep as he had told me when the plane landed and I felt relieved!
Sonia: As you know, planes are safer and faster than any other means of transport. I phoned you yesterday night and you didn't answer the phone. What were you doing?
Paco: Yesterday night? Oh, I was very tired, but I felt like relaxing in the bar of the hotel and I was having a soft drink and listening to music for a couple of hours. Then I went up to the room and went to bed. I had left the mobile in my room, so I didn't realize you had phoned me.
Sonia: OK, Paco! Take care, right? And, please, phone us from time to time. Have fun!
Paco: Sure, Sonia! Bye!

Paco kept the mobile and he was entering the museum when...

Read and listen to the passage carefully paying attention to the verb tenses used. Try to identify the comparative and superlative sentences you can see. We'll come back to them later!


By g-hat. C. Commons
According to the text, are the following sentences true or false?

1. The receptionist ordered Paco to leave the key at reception.

Verdadero Falso

2. The receptionist's clothes were smarter than Paco's.

Verdadero Falso

3. The apartheid was an illegal system.

Verdadero Falso

4. Blacks used to have the same rights as Whites in South Africa.

Verdadero Falso

5. When Sonia phoned the night before, Paco was sleeping and he couldn't hear the mobile.

Verdadero Falso
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Icono IDevice Curiosity

Nelson Mandela

By MastaBaba. C. Commons


Probably, everybody has ever heard of Nelson Mandela, but do you really know who he was? Mandela was born in 1918 and was an anti-apartheid activist who was condemned and imprisoned for twenty seven years. He spent eighteen years in a prison on Robben Island, South Africa. There, his reputation grew and he became the most significant black leader in South Africa. As he himself stated, he struggled against white as well as black domination. He wanted a democratic and free society in which all persons lived together in harmony and with equal opportunities. His struggle against apartheid has made him be awarded on more than one hundred occasions, including the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. He was released from jail on 11 February 1990 and became the first democratically elected State President of South Africa in May 1994. He held his Presidency until June 1999.


By Paul Mannix. C. Commons

Mandela has always loved South Africa and he has told the rest of the world so. This is what he said about it:

"I believe that South Africa is the most beautiful place on earth. Admittedly, I am biased, but when you combine the natural beauty of South Africa with the friendliness and cultural diversity of our people, and the fact that the region is a haven for Africa's most splendid wildlife, then I think even the most scrupulous critic would agree that we have been blessed with a truly wonderful land. I would like to extend a personal invitation to you to come and see for yourself the splendour of South Africa. I know that my people will be delighted to welcome you and I think you will be enchanted by their warmth and hospitality. I am equally sure that you will enjoy our culture, our cuisine and the warmth of our people."

Once the topic has been introduced with the text about Paco's first visit to Apartheid Museum and the telephone conversation he has had with his sister Sonia, it's time to go deep into it. We will begin by studying the form and use of the Past Continuous tense. Come on, let's go on to next section!