martes, 30 de abril de 2013

Speakout starter: People

In today's video in our Speakout series, Pearson Longman, a group of passers-by answer some personal information about themselves.

Who’s in your family?
How old are they? And what are their jobs?
Who are you with today?

Watch the video and try to understand as much as possible.

You can read the transcript for the video here.

lunes, 29 de abril de 2013

The story of exploration

Dara O Briain's Science Club is a BBC series which investigates the science in areas like music, the brain, death, Einstein, reproduction and space.

The full episodes cannot be watched if you live in the UK, but some short clips can be found on the BBC's YouTube channel.

The Story of Exploration is a four-minute explanation of the science of exploration through time. The pace of the video is quite fast, and some of the vocabulary is tricky, that's why I haven't included any activities on the video, which is suitable for intermediate 2 students.

Self-study activity:
Follow these steps when watching The Story of Exploration:
  • Watch the video through to get the gist what it is about.
  • Read the transcript below and, after that, watch the video again without reading the transcript.
  • Watch the video and read the transcript at the same time.
  • Once you have gone through the three steps above, you will be able to watch the video comfortably as often as you wish.

It seems that we humans have a propensity for itchy feet, ever since our ancestors strolled out of Africa 100,000 years ago but it wasn't long before we realised that having effective means and methods are essential to proper exploration.
Around 400 BC, the Greeks used a rudimentary knowledge of the stars to navigate. Despite fears of sea monsters, one even ventured to strange northern lands of beer drinkers that turned out to be Britain.
Vikings appropriated wildlife to aid their exploration. Ravens were deployed from boats to guide them to new lands and the reward was the discovery of Iceland.
Wildlife-based navigation systems were rare, however. Most explorers opted for stellar guidance. Mediaeval Arabs refined navigation with accurate star maps and tools to chart their position and the Chinese invented a portable magnetic compass.
But navigation still had a way to go. In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue and discovered what he thought was the East Indies - hence his insistence on calling the people who lived there Indians. It took quite some time for anyone to realise that they were, in fact, Americans. Columbus's Indian faux pas was largely because he had no idea how far east or west he was. Calculating that meant knowing the time, which was impossible to do without reliable seagoing clocks and they didn't arrive until the late 1700s.
With location finally sorted out, others were adding another dimension to exploration. In 1783, two French brothers demonstrated their flying sheep experiment near Paris. They believed that ovine aviation was achieved by a special property of smoke they called levity. It was soon decided that the fun shouldn't be restricted to ruminants and man took to the air for the first time but unfortunately, man had no control over where the balloon was taking him.
American Samuel Langley realised that useful air travel meant power. He had some success with rubber bands and steam but more often than not, ended up on the ground or in the river.
By the time powered flight was reliably in the bag, most of the world had been explored. Time for a new challenge and a new destination.
In the 1920s, space pioneer Robert Goddard invented liquid-fuelled rockets. He even claimed a rocket could reach the Moon, but not everyone was convinced. The New York Times smugly pointed out that nothing can fly in a vacuum and even though a series of cosmic dogs, astro monkeys and spacemen suggested otherwise, it wasn't until the day after Apollo 11 launched that the paper finally conceded that a rocket can fly in a vacuum after all, stating, "The Times regrets the error."
Even landing on the Moon hasn't satisfied our wanderlust. We're roving on Mars, probing Saturn and voyaging beyond our solar system but the irony is, WE are not actually doing the exploring. We're now reliant on robots to be curious on our behalf.

H/T to Free Technology for Teachers.

domingo, 28 de abril de 2013

Extensive listening: Allan Savory, How to green the desert and reverse climate change

In this February 2013 in a  TED Talk Allan Savory set out his ideas about dessertification, an environmental problem affecting two thirds of the world's grasslands, and which accelarates climate change and causes traditional societies to descend into social chaos.

In the 1960s, while working in Africa on the interrelated problems of increasing poverty and disappearing wildlife, Savory made a significant breakthrough in understanding the degradation and desertification of grassland ecosystems. After decades of study and collaboration, thousands of managers of land, livestock and wildlife on five continents today follow the methodology he calls "Holistic Management."

Other TED Talks that touch on the topic "Learning from failure", as announced on the TED Blog by  Kate Torgovnick  in early March this year are:

Richard St. John: “Success is a continuous journey”
Kathryn Schulz: Don’t regret regret
JK Rowling: The fringe benefits of failure
Tim Harford: Trial, error and the God complex
Diana Laufenberg: How to learn from mistakes
Kathryn Schulz: On being wrong
Michael Litt: Why you need to fail to have a good career

sábado, 27 de abril de 2013

Rolls off the tongue

Rolls off the tongue is definitely your blog if you want to come to terms with English idioms.

Idioms, as the person or people behind the blog say (sorry! I couldn't find any names to say thank you! and keep up with the good work!) are the weirdest part of the English language. They never mean what they say. They "roll off the tongue" without stopping at the brain.

A cartoon is published on a weekly basis. Readers have to find out what idiom the cartoon illustrates. Four or five days later the answer is posted, together with some background information about the origin of the idiom, both its literal and metaphorical meaning, a sentence to exemplify the idiom and an explanation of the cartoon.

Most English learners, especially at intermediate level and below may find the task of deducing the meaning out of the cartoon daunting, to say the least, but they can always check old entries and learn a few idioms together with their meaning. That way, they will improve their vocabulary, the reading skills and their grasp of English culture.


Origin:   My instincts tell me that this expression exists because of the alliteration (fit and fiddle both start with the letter F) There is something about the English language and perhaps all languages which makes it pleasant to rhyme words and also to use alliterations. Cockney rhyming slang is a perfect example of this. “Fit as a fiddle” goes back to the early 17th century when it first appeared in print. Verbally it could be a lot older. However in those days “fit” did not mean “healthy”. Rather it came from the idea of something being the correct size, also to be suitable for some purpose. There is also the expression “fine as a fiddle.” Eventually “fit” replaced “fine” probably because the T had a closer sound to the D, though “fine as a fiddle” is still in use. By the way, the Roman goddess of joy was Vitula. There is speculation that the word “fiddle” might be derived from her.

Usage:  Informal, spoken and written general British and American English

Idiomatic Meaning:  To be healthy; to be in good physical and mental condition.

Literal Meaning: Violins can be in good and bad shape just as any other object. If they are taken care of they will be fit or suitable to play. However, as we see in the cartoon, this particular fiddle has been working out, exercising and is in good physical shape!

Why is this funny? Normally the expression is only a metaphor however in the cartoon universe anything can happen. Cows can jump over moons; dishes can run away with spoons; and blind mice can walk around with canes. As the illustration shows all of these nursery rhyme characters have suffered some injury, except for the violin, or fiddle.  Even the banged up and bandaged cat can’t understand why the fiddle is so healthy. We can also see that the fiddle has been exercising by the barbells it is lifting. We see both meanings of the idiom here. The fit fiddle is “fit as a fiddle!”

Sample sentence: Now that I’ve recovered from my hernia operation, I feel “fit as a fiddle”

viernes, 26 de abril de 2013

How we met: Erica and Mathew

The New York Times has a nice selection of videos, Vows, where a number of couples comment on the way they met. On 11 April we posted the story of Marguerite and Sean. Today it is Erica and Mathew who tell us how they met.

Self-study activity:
Watch the video and answer the questions below. The activity is suitable for Intermedio 2 students.

1 What newspaper helped Erica and Mathew meet?
2 How does work?
3 What made so many people want to check the site on 4th July?
4 How long did it take them to set up their first date after exchanging some phone calls and emails?
5 Who arrived first at the meeting point?
6 What happened at the very end of their first date?
7 What did Erica quickly notice about Mathew?
8 When did Mathew propose to Erica?
9 What time was the meal? What was the problem?
10 How did Mathew propose?

You can check your answers by reading the transcript below.

Hi I’m Matt.
And I’m Erica.
And this is how we met.
Erica and I met because of The New York Times actually.
I read an article in The New York Times about recent trends in dating and the source for the article was this new dating website called  The interesting thing about How about we was that you actually propose the ideas of things you want to do so, how about we go to the movies, how about we check out this wine bar.
I had a free counting site to when it first started. There was not so many people, not so many profiles and certainly nothing that called my interest. And then on 4th July I got contacted by the site saying they crashed because of the traffic from The New York Times article that they were just being flooded with people wanting to check out the site.
So I decided I should go back on, took a look at a few profiles and Erica really caught my eye and I think the reason why is that we had picked the same date.
I suggested walking the High Line.
I contacted Erica through the site. We exchanged a couple of emails back and forth and then we had a couple of phone calls and about a week or two later we set up for our first date.
Matt suggested we that meet at a near by bar, in a bar called Honey. We I got there Matt was actually there having a beer and I got a glass of wine. We talked for a bit and it turned out great, so we decided to go on High Line as planned.
We went for a walk on the High Line, had a wonderful time, towards the very end it actually started raining, had to run for duck for cover, which was kind of fun.
And then at the end of walking the High Line we got down to this standard Biergarten, and we got there it wasn´t really our scene, so we left and I suggested the Diner right nearby.
One thing I noticed fairly quickly about Matt was that he kept coming up with all these great ideas and great suggestions, so as we were talking in the Diner he said there was this great bar that he loved down the street called The Other Room. We had some drinks, and talked and time just flew.
Which was great but it was time to head home he dropped me off and I heard from him a few days later so it began.
So about a year and a half later I decided to propose to Erica and I thought it would be really fun to do it on the High Line. I made reservations for The Standard Grill.
We went to the restaurant for our seven o’clock reservation and we were quickly told by the hostess that we were mistaken and there was no seven o’clock reservation. So I suggested, well, let’s go for a walk on the High Line.
And I said Wow! What a great idea! So we went on the High Line, walked around a little bit, went back to a place where we had spent a lot of time on our first date.
And Matt went down on one knee…
And I proposed. And she said yes.
All along I never suspected anything, so, and we met our parents, had a saludatory dinner, and then joined some friends down at the bar The Other Room where we had gone on our first date. And that’s our beginning.
And that’s how we met.

jueves, 25 de abril de 2013

The Worlds Most Remote Monasteries

Self-study activity:
Watch this video clip from GeoBeats about remote monasteries and answer the questions about it. The video is suitable for Básico 2 and Intermediate 1 students.

1. Where is Sumela Monastery
2. What can you find inside Sumela Monastery?
3. How old is the Tiger's Nest Monastery?
4. Where is the monastery built?
5. What is the cult of Ostrog Monastery?
6. Which colour is part of the edifice?
7. At what height is Thiksey Monastery?
8. What does the number 12 refer to?
9. Why is Thiksey Monastery especially acclaimed?
10. When did Tatev Monastery start?
11 What was built in the 10th century?

You can check the answers by reading the transcript below. Remember that if you don't understand a word in the transcript you can quickly find out the meaning by double-clicking on the word the meaning of which you don't understand.

Hi, this is your host Naomi. I'd like to show you the world's most remote monasteries.
In the Trabzon region of Turkey lies the archaic and secluded Sumela Monastery. It stands on rather unusual grounds, having been built into a rocky cliff. Inside the monastery are several noteworthy places, including a library, a rock church and a spring venerated by the Greek Orthodox religion.
Among the most awe-inspiring treasured sites midst the green of western Bhutan's mountains is the Tiger's Nest Monastery. A cultural symbol of Bhutan, this Buddhist temple has a 1200-year history and a rich sense of art, religion and culture. Today, it continues its illustrious beginnings by still serving as a monastery. The monastery is built in a cave where an ancient guru once meditated.
Built into the sheer, rocky cliff face of Montenegro is the Serb Orthodox Church, Ostrog Monastery. This sacred structure is Montenegro's primary pilgrimage site, and is dedicated to Saint Basil of Ostrog. The immaculate whitewash which covers part of this edifice creates clean lines and stands out against the gray-red rock.
Resting at a height of 3,600 meters, Thiksey Monastery graces Northern India's Indus Valley region. It is an elaborate 12-storey building which sits magnanimously on a hilltop in Ladakh and is also called ''Mini Potala" due to its close resemblance to Potala Palace. It has been especially acclaimed for its intricate and rich collection of Buddhist art.
Set against the stunning backdrop of trenchant mountains is the mystic Tatev Monastery. Bearing a magical ambience of pure divinity, this monastery has blessed Armenian lands since the 9th century.After the region's best school was built here in the 10th century, Tatev Monastery became a focal point for scholars and the arts.

miércoles, 24 de abril de 2013

Talking point: How to deal with rude people

How to deal with rude people is this week's talking point. Here are some questions you can use as a guideline when you get together with the members of your conversation group.

How polite are you?
In what situations are you polite?
Can you think about a situation in which you have been rude or 'not so polite'?
Can you think about a situation when someone has been rude to you?
How important is it to be polite and have good manners?

Do people in Spain generally queue up and respect the line?
How would you define good table manners?
When might a child be told to be on his/her best behaviour?
What is the cause of the aggressive behaviour of football hooligans?
Can you name a public figure whose remarks often cause offence?
Do you dislike it when other people use rude language?

Discuss the following topics in the light of rudeness/good manners:
  • drivers
  • rudeness to certain type of employee
  • the effects of city life
  • saying 'please' and 'thank you'
  • the right and wrong way to greet people
  • mobile phone abuse
  • kissing and cuddling in public
To gain further insight into the topic, you can watch this NBCNews video clip where we are given some tips on how to deal with rude people. 

If you wish to fully understand the clip, you can activate the cc subtitles or read an approximate transcipt by clicking on the corresponding tab on the lower side of the screen.

You can also discuss these suggestions in your talking session.

   Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

martes, 23 de abril de 2013

Speakout starter: Hello

Our Speakout series is back. Over the next few weeks we'll be posting the ten video podcasts of Speakout starter, Pearson Longman.

Needless to say that the videos are aimed at Básico 1 and Básico 2 students.

The title of today's video is Hello. People in the street are asked three questions:
What's your name? (Some of the interviewees spell out their names)
Where are you from?
What's your job?

Watch the video and note down the answers to the questions.
Then answer the same questions about yourself and about members of your family and friends.

You can read a transcript here.

lunes, 22 de abril de 2013

Credit card responsibility

Common craft is a site that features educational videos on complex subjects. The videos are around three miutes long and revolve around a variety of topics: technology, social media, net safety, money and society. The pace of delivery is a bit on the fast side, but the vocabulary isn't complex at all, which makes the videos perfect for English students at an intermediate level.

All of the videos are of free access on the Common craft site and a transcript is always available, but you need to be a member to embed videos, download the files and use version with subtitles.

Click on the image below or here to be redirected to the Common craft site and find out the way we can become more 'money-wise' when using credit cards.

Remember you can read a transcript  right under the video on the Common craft site.

Self-study activity:
Watch the video and take some notes of the main ideas. Then, explain the video in your words using your notes.

domingo, 21 de abril de 2013

Extensive listening: China's real estate bubble

On our regular Sunday feature of extensive listening we are showing the CBS segment for the programme 60 minutes China's real estate bubble, aired in early March, where reporter Lesley Stahl informs about how China's economy, despite having become the second largest in the world, may have created the largest housing bubble in history due to its rapid growth

You can read a full transcript of the programme here or activate the CC subtitles on the lower side of the screen.

sábado, 20 de abril de 2013

The history of English Language

This is a wonderful infographic about the history of the English language provided by of Brighton School of Business and Management. You may read it more comfortably on VisualLoop.

For a collection of videos from the Open University about the history of the English language click here or on the tag "History of English" on the right.

‘The History of the English Language’ courtesy of Brighton School of Business and Management.

viernes, 19 de abril de 2013

What most schools don't teach

This video clip, released by CodeOrg, presents coding (associated with computer programming, coding is the process of assigning a code to something to classify or identify it) as the new "superpower" in today's world, something that isn't being taught in most schools round the world.

Watch Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg,, Chris Bosh, Jack Dorsey, Tony Hsieh, Drew Houston, Gabe Newell, Ruchi Sanghvi, Elena Silenok, Vanessa Hurst, and Hadi Partovi describe the way they first learnt how to code and how important coding is for today's world and will be for tomorrow's world.

If you want to learn, teach or simply find out a bit more about the code campaign, drop by CodeOrg.

Self-study activity:
No task today. Simply enjoy the sheer pleasure of watching and listening to some of the most outstanding pioneers of today's world and listen to their advice.

You can find the transcript below. Remember you can double click on any word you don't understand to get its definition.

I was 13 when I first got access to a computer.
My parents bought me a Macintosh in 1984 when I was eight years old.
I was in the sixth grade.
I learnt to code in college.
Freshman year, first semester, intro to computer science.
I wrote a program to play tick-tack-toe.
I think it was pretty humble beginnings, I think the first program I wrote asked things like what’s your favorite color, or how old are you?
I first learnt how to make a green circle, and a red square appear on the screen.
The first time I actually had something come up and say, hello world, and it – I made a computer do that, it was just astonishing.
Learning how to program didn’t start off as wanting to learn all of computer science or trying to master this discipline or anything like that. It just started off because I wanted to do this one simple thing, I wanted to make something that was fun for myself and my sisters. And I wrote this little program and then basically just added a little bit to it. And then, when I needed to learn something new, I looked it up, either in a book or in the internet, and then added a little bit to it.
It’s really not unlike kind of playing an instrument or something or playing a sport. It starts out being very intimidating, but you kind of get the hang of it over time.
Coding is something that can be learned, and I know it can be intimidating, a lot of things are intimidating, but you know what isn’t?
A lot of the coding that people do is actually fairly simple. It’s more about the process of breaking down problems than you know sort of coming up with complicated algorithms as people traditionally think about it.
You don’t have to be a genius to know how to code, you need to be determined.
Addition, subtraction, that’s about it.
Should probably know your multiplication tables.
You don’t have to be a genius to code, do you have to be a genius to read?
Even if you want to become a race car driver or play baseball or you know build a house, all of these things have been turned upside down by software.
But it is this, you know computers are everywhere. Do you want to work in agriculture? Do you want to work in entertainment? Do you want to work in manufacturing, you know it’s just all over it.
Here we are 2013. We all depend on technology to communicate, to bank, information, and none of us know how to read and write code.
When I was in school, I was in this afterschool group called the Wizkids and when people found out, they laughed at me, you know all these things and I am like, man, I don’t care, I think it’s cool and you know I am learning a lot, and some of my friends have jobs.
Our policy is literally to hire as many talented engineers as we can find. The whole limit in the system is just that there aren’t enough people who are trained and have these skills today.
To get the very best people we try to make the office as awesome as possible.
We have a fantastic chef.
Free food.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Free laundry.
Even places to play and videogames and scooters, there is all these kind of interesting things, around the office, places where people can play or relax or go to think or play music or be creative.
Whether you are trying to make a lot of money, or whether you just want to change the world, computer programming is an incredibly empowering skill to learn.
I think if someone had told me that software is really about humanity, that it’s really about helping people by using computer technology, it would have changed my outlook a lot earlier.
To be able to actually come up with an idea and then see it in your hands and then be able to press a button and have it be in millions of people’s hands, I mean, I think we are the first generation of the world that’s really ever had that kind of experience.
Just to think that, I mean, you can start something in your college dorm room and you can have a set of people who haven’t built a big company before, come together and build something that a billion people use, is part of their daily lives, it’s just crazy to think about it, right? It’s really humbling and that’s amazing.
The programmers of tomorrow are the wizards of the future. You know you are going to look you have magic powers compared to everybody else.
I think it’s amazing, I think it’s the closest thing we have to superpower.
Great coders are today’s rockstars. That’s it.

jueves, 18 de abril de 2013

Communication is aid

The infosaid project -funded by Internews and BBC Media Action- had as a goal improving the quality of humanitarian assistance through information exchange between crisis-affected populations and aid agencies.

The project is over now, but a number of resources are still available on their site at .

Here is one of the videos they used in their campaign.

Self-study activity:
Watch the video and complete the blanks in the transcript with the missing words. The activity is suitable for intermediate students, although strong Básico 2 students can give it a try or enjoy it while listening and reading at the same time.

Communication. It's talking to a neighbour. It's e-mailing friends. It's (1) ...   ... with the news. We all depend on giving and receiving information to share our experiences and feelings, (2) ...  our lives, and join us to our communities. In the (3) ... of a crisis, whether it's natural or man-made, the communication networks that support every community can shatter along with (4) ... and lives. And when all we rely on is turned (5) ...   ... , we need information more than ever. It's as crucial as food, water, (6) ... and medicine.

Where can we go for help, or danger should we be (7) ... of? How can we find our missing families and friends? And who will listen to our (8) ... , and give us the advice we need? Insufficient or even conflicting information can cause confusion and worsen the feeling of (9) ... . And if we don't know and trust the sources, even the most vital messages can miss their mark.

Lives can be saved with accurate, timely, and well-(10) ... information. When our voices are heard and we know what to expect, we can start to make our own decisions and get back in control of our lives. And once we can rebuild our familiar communication networks, and then reconnect with the (11) ...   ... , the process of recovery can really accelerate.

The right information, at the right time through the right channels, can save families, (12) ... , and lives. It can give people back their futures. Communication is aid.

1 catching up 2 stir 3 eye 4 resources 5 upside down 6 shelter 7 aware 8 concerns 9 isolation 10 targeted 11 wider world 12 livelihoods

miércoles, 17 de abril de 2013

Talking point: Global English

This week's talking point is English as a global language. Before getting together with the members of your conversation group, go over the questions below -taken from Speakout, Pearson Longman- to think about the answers beforehand and to work out any vocabulary problems you may encounter.

Why do you think English has become a ‘lingua franca’?
What factors contributed to its rise as a global language?
Think of three ways to improve your command/grasp of a language.
Think of one situation where you need to 'mind your language'.
What happens when you experience a language barrier?
Do you think these will still exist in the future? Why (not)?
Can you name a dead language?
Can you name a country where the official language is different from the everyday language?
Do you think this is a problem?
How do you think English will change in the next 200 years?

To gain further insight into the topic, you can also watch professor David Crystal discussing the importance of English in today's world and how English is changing these days. I have devised two listening activities around the videos, but you may choose to forget about them, as it is really pleasurable to watch and listen to professor Crystal and we may not want to be distracted by tasks.

Should English be taught as a ‘global’ language?

What should the aim of teaching English be?
What does global English mean in relation to English teaching?
What shock can English students get?
What does ‘standard’ mean in the context David Crystal is talking about?
What’s the problem with vocabulary learning?
What should students get as much exposure as possible to?
In what ways is production different?

How is the Internet changing language today?

What examples does Professor Crystal give of technology changing the language?
What makes internet different from the other types of technology?
What are the technological variations of internet he mentions?
What does each of these mediums bring about?
What has changed in the language as a result of the Internet?

martes, 16 de abril de 2013

Real English series: Achievement

Our Real English video series is coming to an end today after twenty-three weeks. We haven't dealt with all the videos on the Real English site by any means, but I feel that most of the remaining clips and lessons are oriented to advanced learners and touch on topics like English learning, poverty, homelessness, music, and so on that we have already posted about on the blog.

The main purpose of the 'Tuesday's posts' is trying to provide English learners at lower levels with some kind of listening input that helps them in their learning process, and I am really grateful to Michael Marzio and all the staff behind Real English for all the work they have put it on the site and for their generosity in sharing their work with all of us.

Today's videos revolve around the topic of achievement, which is just fine for us as language learners as we are trying hard to learn English and improve day by day. That's a really remarkable achievement, and a difficult one to accomplish if you don't live in an English-speaking country.

Passers-by are all asked the same question, with some small variations, and depending on the answer there are some other follow-up questions:

What do you hope to achieve before you die?
What do you expect to accomplish before you die?
What do you hope, or want to achieve before you die?
What do you want to be remembered for when you die?
Is there anything in particular that you hope to achieve before it's all over?

The videos are suitable for strong intermediate 2 and advanced students, although some speakers can be understood by the average intermediate student.

This is the first part of the video.

You can read a transcript for the video on the Real English site here.

This is the second part of the video.

You can read a transcript for the video on the Real English site here.

lunes, 15 de abril de 2013

Disney ad

This Disney ad is  good practice for English learners at elementary and pre-intermediate level. The pace of delivery is slow, with frequent pauses to think about what we have just heard. If you are in the mood, you can even discuss the values Disney is trying to convey with the ad.

Self-study activity:
Watch the ad and complete the blanks in the transcript with the missing words.

I am a princess.
I am brave sometimes.
I am (1) ... sometimes.
Sometimes, I am brave even when I am (1) ... .
I believe in loyalty and (2) ... .
I believe loyalty is built on (2) ... .
I try to be kind.
I try to be (3) ... .
I am kind even when others are not so (3) ... .
I am a princess.
I think (4) ...   ...  for myself is important.
I think (4) ...   ...  for others is more important.
But standing with others is most important.
I am a princess.
I believe (5) ... makes me strong.
(6) ...  is power.
And family is the (7) ... bond of all.
I have heard I am beautiful.
I know I am strong.
I promise.
And when I promise something, I never ever (8) ... that promise.
I am a princess.
Long may I reign.

1 scared 2 trust 3 generous 4 standing up 5 compassion 6 Kindness 7 tightest 8 break 

domingo, 14 de abril de 2013

History of the world

In late 2012 the BBC aired Andrew Marr's series History of the World, where Marrs analyses the events, changes and conflicts that shaped 70,000 years of human history, from our earliest beginnings in Africa to the first farmers and townspeople.

This is the first part of the first episode on the series, Survival, which deals with how the earliest humans spread around the world, adapting and surviving against the odds.

The other episodes in the series are:

2 Age of Empire
3 The word and the sword
4 Into the light
5 Age of plunder
6 Revolution
7 Age of industry
8 Age of extremes

You can read the subtitles for the clip above here.

You can watch the remaining parts of the episode here and here.

sábado, 13 de abril de 2013

I'll tell you a story

I'll tell you a story is a site where English students of all ages and levels can find a huge collection of stories to read and/or listen to.

The stories on I'll tell you a story range from fables, to fairy tales, to nursery rhymes to poems. In addition,  information about the most renowned story writers can be found.

Everybody is encouraged to contribute to the site by sending a story on registration.

Take a few minutes off to explore I'll tell you a story. I bet some of the stuff you find there will jog sweet memories of your childhood and help you with your English.

viernes, 12 de abril de 2013

Gigantic books in the city

Watch this short Geobeats video where we are shown one of the most bizarre buildings you may expect to come across in any city around the world.

Self-study activity:
Complete the transcript below with the missing words.

The activity is suitable for Básico 2 and intermediate students. You can check the answers below.

Hi! I'm Naomi, and I'm very excited to show you the world's greatest attractions.
The Kansas City (1) ... Parking Garage, located in the heart of (2) ... Kansas City, Missouri, signifies extraordinary architectural (3) ...  . It was built to rejuvenate the metropolis area and (4) ... residents young and old (5) ... to take advantage of its books and further (6) ...  . The exterior (7) ... book bindings of several of the world's most famous writings made to depict a large (8) ...  . The building stands approximately (9) ... feet tall and each book is nine feet in (10) ...  . There are 22 books in total, the widely ranged titles (11) ... by Kansas City citizens for an entirely personified (12) ... to design.
Thank you for watching our travel video series. See you next time.

1 Library 2 downtown 3 design 4 encourage 5 alike 6 knowledge 7 portrays 8 bookshelf 9 twenty-five 10 width 11 chosen 12 approach

jueves, 11 de abril de 2013

Marguerite and Sean's love story

The New York Times has a nice selection of videos, Vows, where a number of couples comment on the way they met.

This is the video of Marguerite and Sean. When Sean  invited himself over to try Marguerite's Singaporean chili crab, he got more than he expected as Marguerite's cat was sick.

Self-study activity:
No real task today. Try to understand as much as possible of everything that is said on the video: where they met; the problem with the cat; Marguerite's feelings and how Sean's reacted. It's a beautiful story, I think.

You can check with the transcript below.

The activity is suitable for (strong) intermediate students.

We met at a bar in Jersey city.
She told me that she put together recipes for single people, that she had a website for it. So I asked her what’s your favourite recipe. She told me it was Singapurean chili crab.
And he said really? Well then you have to cook that for me one day. I thought oh my gosh!
I think I said when can I  come over …to try that?
He wanted to come over. That’s right.
Our first official date... we decided to head back to Jersey city and have something to eat, but we got to my house it was clear that my cat was sick, most of  the hospitals closing were for the night so we couldn’t take her, so we stayed up all night petting the cat, just you know, talking to her, and the next morning we woke up she is just lying there.
Yeah, I checked and I said yeah I think she’s gone.
I remember I was here with someone I didn’t know him very well, and he’s holding me. I was really devastated because she passed but I was also kind of embarrassed because here’s a guy that I just met and I also felt really comforted because he was just such a rock. It’s kind of funny. You don’t think when you first meet somebody that you are going to know how to handle that or the worst things that could possibly happen to you. And by the first day I knew this is a guy who will be there for me no matter what happened, any of the bad things that happen in life he would be there.
Later that night he called to check on me to see how I was handling it and said well, I’d really like to see you again. And he said how about that Singapurean chili crab and I said Ok, I think I owe you this one, yes.

miércoles, 10 de abril de 2013

Talking point: The challenges for the disabled in cities

This week's talking point is a bit different. We are using a six-minute New York Times video clip by filmmaker Jason DaSilva to illustrate the topic, the challenges for the disabled in getting around cities.

The general idea of the video clip is quite easy to understand, although if you want to get down to details you'll find Jason's English quite demanding, as he uses lots of name dropping and keeps referring to the New York transport system, which is quite difficult to understand in itself. Anyway, you can find the transcript for the video below.

Get together with the members of your conversation group and discuss these questions:
  • What's your reaction to the film?
  • How do the physically disabled get around in your city?
  • Does the situation change from one means of transport to another?
  • Does the situation change from one city to another?
  • What about the obstacles these people find when they just 'walk'?
  • What's your experience in dealing with the physically disabled?
  • Have you ever helped a physically disabled person?
  • How could the situation be improved where you live?
To find out about New York's transport system, which is one of the most expensive and complex in the world, you can drop by New York City Transportation website. Or read the tips on e-How and

Hi, my name’s Jason Da Silva. I live in Williamsburgh Brooklyn. In 2005 I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. At the time, New York city was my playground. Fast forward to today walking has become tough for me and I use a scooter to get around. And it’s not so easy. There are a lot of places that I can’t get in. My subway entrance has no elevator. So hooping around a 7-block radius becomes old after a while. Even though it’s one stop to get to the city, I can’t get there. Or maybe I just haven’t been trying hard enough. Today, I decided to try an experiment: wheelchair vs no wheelchair. How long does it take to get to Manhattan?

My friend Steve is a good sport, so I ask him to time his trip, my neighbourhood to my favourite coffee shop in Manhattan. It’s three easy stops on the subway. Take the L to First Avenue, to Third Avenue, then Union Square. Here are my options: 1 bus; 2 Access-a-ride; 3 subway; and 4 ferry.

Buses are accessible but in recent years the MTA cancelled the only bus service going from my neighbourhood to Manhattan, so there’s no bus.

I could take New York City service for people with disabilities, Access-a-ride, also known as Stress -a-ride for its tendency to be late and to miss pick-ups altogether. It has one day in advance reservation policy, so if I wanted to take it I would have had to book yesterday. Next option, so I can’t get into my subway stop I can take the B62 bus to the James C stop at Marcy Avenue. I can take the Jay Z to Chamber Street transfer to the six. Oh, wait! The maps shows that 6 train has an elevator but the transfer doesn’t. So that won’t work. Next idea. Take the MDaleFAF, transfer to the 6. Take the 6 up to Union Square. Oh, but wait, there’s no elevator up to the surface from the 6th so that won’t work. Last idea. I’ll take the M to West Forth. Transfer for the ACE, then go to 14th Street, transfer to the L, cut back across. Oh, wait. I can’t tell is the L accessible in Union Square? From the map, I have no idea. The subways have a long way to go before I can call them accessible.

So that leaves me with my last and best option: The ferry. Steve and I set off at the same time. Steve takes the Bedford L subway, down the stairs, a simple way… to Union Square. Back up the stairs and he’s there. 13 minutes and 5 seconds. Meanwhile, I’m just getting on the ferry. It comes every hour. The closest ferry stop to Union Square is 34th Street. So I have to take the ferry up and transfer to the M34 bus. Steve is losing his patience. Then take another bus to Union Square. I arrive in 1 hour and 43 minutes. But the time I arrive Steve’s given up on my experiment. Luckily for me, the return isn’t so bad. There is a brand new service to dispatch an accessible cab, so I take that back to Brooklyn.

So anyways, this is my life. There are a lot of things New York City does well but helping their disabled population get around is not one of them. And while we are waiting for things to change you can find me here, at home in Williamsburgh Brooklyn.

martes, 9 de abril de 2013

Real English series: What would you do if...?

In our Real English video series this week passers-by answer the question What would you do if you won 10 millions dollars?

We use the second conditional to express hypothesis about the present and the future. There are two parts in each conditional sentence, the if-clause and the main clause.

The if-clause is usually followed by a verb in the past simple tense and introduces the hypothetical situation.
(1) If I won the lottery...
(2) If I lived in a different country...
(3) If I passed the exam...

The main clause expresses the result of the situation. We use the conditional auxiliary would to do so.
(1) I would buy another car.
(2) I would probably speak another language.
(3) I would be the happiest person in the world.

We use the second conditional to talk about hypothetical, unreal situations about the present and/or the future:
If I knew her name, I would tell you. (I don't know her name.)
She would be happy if she had a car. (But she doesn't have one.)

We often use were instead of was in both formal and informal styles with this structure.
If I were rich, I would spend all my life travelling.
If my nose were a bit shorter, I'd be quite pretty.

You can read the transcript for the video on the Real English site here.

For further listening practice, you can also watch this Real English video, where two girls, Christina and Karen, are interviewed. The two-minute video is good practice to revise some of the tenses we have been studying throughout the Real English series (personal information questions, present perfect, past simple, used to, and so on) but at one stage the interviewer asks Christina and Karen a question in the second conditional: What would you say to people, if you knew somebody from France was coming over, what phrases should they learn?

You can read the transcript for the video on the Real English site here.

For other activities on the second conditional on this blog, just type in 'second conditional' in the search box, but Kindness Boomerang, and Miss Universe to learn English spring to mind.

lunes, 8 de abril de 2013

Life without limits: Andy Blackman Hurwitz

T-Mobiles, the German communications company, has released a number of videos where we can see a number of people explaining the way technology has helped them in their professional life.

In this video, Andy Blackman Hurwitz explains how he combines business with family life. The difficulty of the video is quite high, and it is more suitable for advanced rather than intermediate students, but I bet that with the help of the questions intermediate students can understand the general idea.

Self-study activity:
Watch the video and say whether the statements below are true or false.

1 Andy went to law school.
2 Music has always been Andy's passion.
3 Andy has five employees and works in an office now.
4 Andy communicates with lots of people from all over the world.
5 Technology is essential for Andy's work.
6 Baby Dance Disco is a dance that started in New York.
7 Andy feels a fortunate man.
8 Andy has worked hard to be where he is now.

You can read the transcript below.

I went to law school, fairly successful, but in my heart it sort of felt that there was something lacking, and then I had a choice, I was at crossroads to get another legal job or something else. Music was always my passion, and my kids inspired me so much, and then I decided I’m going to put my two passions of music and kids together. And when I made that decision to put this suit away and just jump off into this whole other world, it was extremely liberating and exciting.
I have no office, technically, I have no employees. All I have is my network. If I didn’t have the ability to stay connected, I wouldn’t be in business. But I have moms that I work with all over the world. I’m able to talk to somebody in China and communicate with these people that I would never be able to meet face-to-face, there’s absolutely no way I could be doing what I’m doing without technology.
This is Baby Loves Disco, the original dance party that started in Philadelphia, eight years ago. We travel the country, we travel the world, but right now we’re here today.
I never in a million years thought I’d be the disco daddy. It wasn’t like I said, hey, let’s have a family business, everyone pick a job. They were inspired enough, so one by one sort of volunteer and so. It’s what we like to do together, and that’s what makes it great for us.
I am a minor success story and that I’m living my life by my own rules. I wake up with my kids. We eat breakfast together every morning. We play after school. I coach their teams. I don’t like to think like, oh, I’m so great, because I get to be home with my kids, I feel just blessed to be in that position.
The balance of family and at work is something that we all aspire towards, and I’m fortunate enough to have that balance. But it took a lifetime of hard work, dedication and sacrifice to get to that point.
I am Andy Blackman Hurwitz, and I live my life without limits.

1T 2T 3F 4T 5T 6F 7T 8T

domingo, 7 de abril de 2013

Life in a day

Director Kevin Macdonald (The Last King of Scotland) and producer Ridley Scott (Alien, Gladiator) team up to offer this snapshot of a single day on planet Earth.

Compiled from over 80,000 YouTube submissions by contributors in 192 countries, Life in a Day presents a microcosmic view of our daily experiences as a global society. From the mundane to the profound, everything has its place as we spend 90 minutes gaining greater insight into the lives of people who may be more like us than we ever suspected, despite the fact that we're separated by incredible distances.

To fully understand everything that is being said, you can activate the English subtitles on the lower side of the  screen.

More information on the film can be obtained here.

sábado, 6 de abril de 2013

Academic English Online from Queen Mary, University of London

It's been quite a while since we published a post from English for University, by Patrick McMahon, a lecturer in the UK teaching on a variety of Academic English courses and teacher training courses at Plymouth University. English for University is meant for international students who want to improve their English while studying in the UK.

A few weeks ago Patrick informed about a new academic English website which has come online from Queen Mary, University of London. The site is open to everyone.

One of the pages that drew Patrick's attention was the one which focuses on seminar speaking skills. He explains why:
"Participating in seminars is one area of university study that international students find particularly challenging for a number of reasons and this page highlights useful language that students can use to perform a range of important functions, such as disagreeing politely and giving an opinion. The good thing about the Queen Mary site is that it doesn’t just list the phrases for you. Instead there are interactive exercises  in which you have to listen and identify the function of the phrases so there is a good chance that you’ll remember the phrases and you can use them in your own seminars."

So if you are planning to study a degree abroad where English is the language of communication, or simply you want to practise your English in a more formal and structured environment and practise your reading, writing, speaking skills along with your grammar, Academic English Online from Queen Mary looks like a good place to do so.

viernes, 5 de abril de 2013

The History of April Fools Day

This video by Jeremiah Warren explains the history of April Fools Day. The pace of delivery is a bit fast, but the viewer has lots of visual on-screen clues on key information.

Self-study activity:
Watch the video two or three times and, as an oral activity, say what the following refer to.
March 25 to April 1
an image of a fish
throw flour
put jokes until noon

You can check your answers with the transcript below.

April Fools Day or All Fools Day is the one day of the year when you’re allowed to mercilessly prank your friend, family and coworkers. How exactly did this day come about? We don’t actually know for sure what started the celebration of April Fools Day.
References can be found as early as the 1500’s. But these accounts are infrequent and not very detailed. The most popular theory is that it began around 1582 in France during the reformation of the calendar. Before France adopted the Gregorian calendar, they celebrated New Year’s for eight days, beginning on March 25 and ending on April 1.
When they switch calendar systems, the eighth day moved from April 1 to January 1, because they didn’t have Internet, phones, social media and a mail system, a lot of people didn’t hear about this change until years later. Those that did not hear about the change continued to celebrate New Year’s in April. Others refused to celebrate it out of rebellion.
Those who had been informed of the change and adjusted their calendars, begin to make fun of these fools who were uninformed or rebellious. This harassment evolved into a tradition of playing pranks on the first day of April and this spread to other countries.
However, April Fools Day was already established in England, which didn’t switch calendar systems until 1752. Also, people were already engaging in pranks and light-heartedness around this time of the year, long before the French switched their calendar systems, such as in the case of the ancient Roman festival of Hilaria.
Modern celebrations of April Fools Day have slightly different traditions depending on the country you are in. But they all has the similar theme of pranking or humiliating individuals.
In France, they try to tape an image of a fish to your back without you noticing. And in Portugal, they throw flour at you. In England, you are only supposed to put jokes until noon and if you pull a joke after noon, you are called an April fool. In the United States and Britain, even popular media outlets and companies have been known to get involved in the fun.
In 1996, Taco Bell announced that it had purchased the Liberty Bell from the City of Philadelphia and was going to rename it The Taco Liberty Bell. In 1992, NPR claimed that Richard Nixon would be running again for President. British publication, The Guardian, famously pranked the public in 1977, when they said that a semi-colon shaped island in the Indian Ocean had been discovered. This hoax is credited for launching the trend of April Fools Day pranks by British tabloids.
So hopefully you now know a little more about the history of April Fools Day or at least what we think the history of it is. Now that we are at the end of this video, you might be wondering of how those information is accurate seeing that it is a video about April Fools Day. Yeah, it’s accurate, but seriously it’s accurate. I wouldn’t do that to you.

jueves, 4 de abril de 2013

Time explains: the Mayan apocalypse

Time explains is an interesting educational feature of Time magazine where we can learn about topics of public interest through short videos. In a February search the Time explains section featured videos on an asteroid almost missing the Earth, how a new Pope is elected, why US post offices are cutting Saturday mail,  and it went on and on.

In late December, a Time explains video was devoted to the Mayan calendar and the theories of the apocalypse and the end of the world.

Self-study activity:
Watch the three-minute video and answer the questions about it. The activity is suitable for Intermediate students.

1 When does the last Mayan long count calendar end?
2 When was Nibiru supposed to have crashed with the Earth?
3 Why is Nasa monitoring outer and near space?
4 What does 2012 coincide with, according to rumours?
5 What examples are given of Nasa setting rumours straight?

To check your answers you can read the transcript below.

Forget everything the Mayan calendar has told you. The world is not ending on December 21st. Here’s what you need to know.
The Mayan myth begins with the fact that the Mayans were very good calendar keepers, and they created what we call long-count calendars. This extended not just months or years in advance but centuries. As it happens the last long count calendar we have from them ends on December 21st 2012. Well, that’s fine, every calendar ends at some point, and the good thing is they start over again at zero the next year. 
The explanation on the internet and elsewhere  was that this must have some prophetic significance. Why would the Mayans, a brilliant and scientific culture stopped counting when they did. For the nonsense to work, the Mayan rumour mongers had to borrow something from the Sumerians. What they got was a theorized planet called Nibiru that was supposed to collide with Earth in 2003. You may have noticed that that didn’t happen, so the folks worried about the Mayans simply grabbed Nibiru, moved it forward to 2012 and combined it with the Mayan rumours. A sort of apocalyptic tuffor. 
As with all hoaxes and nonsense, there are particles of truth in the Mayan rumours. One of the things that is supposed to happen on December 21st is the earth is supposed to be flipped upside down. Well not quite. There is some possibility of magnetic polarities switching on our planet or other planets every several tens of thousands of years, the idea of a planet or other bodies approaching Earth and colliding with it is a very real risk. Nasa has some very serious minds working on monitoring deep space and near space for approaching asteroids and certainly planetoids  like Nibiru and we would see them coming decades in advance and we’ll be able to track them. Nasa has found none of this. 
The rumours also suggest that 2012 coincides with an 11th year peak cycle of solar activities. Those cycles exist, but 2012 is not a peak year. The belief is that solar mass ejections, essentially large solar storms, would be blasted from the sun and toward Earth and either bake the planet or fry all our electrical systems. That, you’ll be happy to learn, is not going to happen either. 
This isn’t the first time Nasa has had to set it all straight. Those fake moon landings, they really happened. The face on Mars, just a wind blowing sand dune. And that idea of Mars approaching Earth closely enough in 2010 that it would look as big as the moon didn’t quite happen either. 
So enjoy the last month of 2012 and be assured, there’ll be a first month of 2013.

miércoles, 3 de abril de 2013

Talking point: Food

The topic in this week's talking poing is food. Here are some food-related questions you can use as a springboard to discuss the topic with the members of your conversation group.

Before your talking session, go over the questions on your own so that you can work out some vocabulary problems beforehand and ideas flow more easily when you get together with your friends.

If you were a food, what food would you be? Why?
Were there any foods you particularly loved or hated as a child? Do you still love/hate them?
What kind of food or drink would you associate with the following situations? Why?
•being in love   •waiting at an airport   •rainy days
•summer    •your grandmother’s house

Are you worried about your diet?
Do you keep a balanced diet?

What is the most recent meal you have had today?
Do you know where the food came from?
What do you understand by the terms ‘slow food’ or ‘organic food’?
Can you explain the terms ‘sustainable organic farming’ and ‘industrial agriculture’?
Why are fast food and ready-made food (or processed food or convenience food) so popular these days? 
What do you understand by the term ‘healthy drinks’?
Are school lunches controversial in your country?
What examples can you give of fraud in food?
Can fair trade products and local food suppliers be compatible?
Why are cooking TV programmes so popular?
Can you name some celebrity chefs? Why are they popular?
Have you been to any world-famous or really good restaurant?

To gain further insight into the topic you can watch the two New York Times videos below and/or read the accompanying articles Survey Finds That Fish Are Often Not What Label Says and Mediterranean Diet Shown to Ward Off Heart Attack and Stroke.

martes, 2 de abril de 2013

Real English series: More on the present perfect

In our Real English series we are showing three more videos to exemplify the use of the present perfect.

To be totally honest with you, the main benefit of the videos lies on the general revision of tenses and question forms learners are exposed to together with the listening practice, as very few of the questions in the street interviews or in the answers, for that matter, have to do with the present perfect.

The difficulty of the videos is higher than usual, so this week's videos are more suitable for intermediate students. Strong Básico 2 students will also be able to benefit from them if they read the subtitles.

In the first video, a really nice guy answers questions about his job -he is a messenger. At one stage he answers the question How long have you been a messenger for?, which shows the second use of the present perfect that we studied last week, present perfect to talk about a situation which started in the past and continues up to the present.

You can do an interactive exercise on the Real English site here.
You can watch the same video with English subtitles on the Real English site here.

In the second video Michael, a policeman in New York, answers some questions about his life. The two questions in blue refer to the use of the present perfect to talk about experiences. The question in red refers to the use of the present perfect to talk about situations which started in the past and continue up to now.
What's your name?
What do you like doing in your free time?
What did you do yesterday?
Apart from New York, what other towns have you lived in?
When did you live in Hamburg?
Where were you born?
Was that a long time ago?
What's been the best year of your life?
What have you been doing in the city today?
Were you good at school?
What's the most beautiful city in the USA?
Which is bigger New York or San Francisco?
Which is the most beautiful language?
What would you do if you won 10 million dollars?
What do you hope to achieve before you die?
What are you going to do tonight?

In the third video, once again we can see the difference of usage of the present perfect to talk about activities or situations that started in the past and continue up to now (first interviewee, the juggler, who answers the question How long have you been juggling today?) and to talk about experiences (second interviewee, who answers the questions Have you travelled abroad?, Where have you been?).

However, you shouldn't miss the third interview, where Minda shows her bubbly personality and extroverted manner. In addition, she answers a battery of questions we have been studying in our Real English series and that you can also use to revise all the grammar we have been studying throughout the series.

What is your name?

Would you spell that for me?
What are you doing right now?
Where do you live?
Where do you work?
How long does it take you to get to work?
How do you get to work?
When were you born?
What have you been doing in the city today?
Have you been to Europe?
What are you going to do tonight?
What are you going to do on your next holiday?
What do you like to do for fun?
Can you play any musical instruments?
What time is it?
What’s the weather like today?

lunes, 1 de abril de 2013

Auckland city guide

Auckland is the biggest city in New Zealand. Find out more about it in this Lonely Planet city guide and have a taste of New Zealand accent in the meantime.

Self-study activity:
Watch the video and answer the questions below.

The activity is suitable for Intermediate students.

1 What distinctive geographical feature characterises Auckland?
2 What kind of weather can you find on a typical Auckland day?
3 How many different cultures can you find in Auckland?
4 What's the national sport in New Zealand?
5 Who did they inherit it from?
6 How tall is the Sky Tower?
7 How many volcanoes can you see from the tower's deck on a good day?
8 What kind of establishments can you see on Karangahape Road?

To check your answers you can read the transcript below.

Auckland may not be the capital of New Zealand but it’s by far the largest and most multi-cultural of the country’s cities. Located on a narrow strip on the North Island, Auckland is a city of volcanoes with ridges of lava flows forming its main thoroughfares and its many kinds providing islands of green park lands within the sea of suburbs.
The city’s maritime climate ensures that temperatures never go to extremes, but a typical Auckland day might consist of all four seasons: rain, hail or shine the locals love the outdoors, whether it’s strolling across the green parkland, digging up clams along the Cox’s Bay, rolling around in a zorb or abseiling along the Haruru falls, Auckland offers in every spanning selection of outdoors fun.
Auckland is identified with around thirty different cultures. The Maori, Europeans, and Asian communities rub shoulders with the biggest Polynesian population of any city in the world. The mixed result is a cosmopolitan city with a respect for nature underpinned with mythology and (…).
Rugby plays a special part in the nation’s consciousness. The All Blacks dominated International Rugby Union for most of the 20th century and taking over this pastime from the British upper class did wonders for their national identity, with the game now interwoven with the country’s history and culture.
Head to a game in Eden Park and watch the players proudly perform the Haka Ka Mate before a rugby test match. It’s an orange sparring war dance that involves chanting, vigorous body movements and bucana.
The impossible to miss Sky Tower is the pinnacle of the Sky city complex. The 328-metre high tower is the tallest man-made structure in New Zealand, with its main observation deck offering 360-degree views of the sprawling city. On a good day you can even count around 20 of the city’s 48 volcanoes. Take the plunge from the country’s highest base-jumping platform, it’s sure to give you an adrenalin rush.
Back down on street level, the city’s Boho hot land is Karangahape Road, lined with cafés, boutique shops and night clubs, the strip’s solid role of edifices represent the gammit of architectural styles prevalent during the 16-year range as the busiest shopping hub.