domingo, 30 de junio de 2013

Extensive listening: Sitgma

Stigma follows filmmakers Jeff Johns and Ryan Loughridge as they travel the globe to discover why more hasn't been done to completely eradicate the existence of Leprosy in the world. Through India, Nepal, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam, they talk to WHO doctors and aid workers, while visiting numerous colonies and hospitals to meet those affected by the disease and to understand the life-changing stigma it has created for them and for their families.
While some prejudice stems from religious beliefs, much of the stigma is simply passed down from generation to generation. This has allowed a once biblical illness, often referred to as the world’s oldest and most misunderstood disease, to continue to affect hundreds of thousands each year, right up into the twenty-first century - even though this disease is completely curable.
Follow the filmmakers, armed with only two backpacks, their passports, and $1,200, on a breathtaking journey across the world, as they learn about the lives, cultures, triumphs, and struggles of those whose lives have been stigmatized by this horrible disease, and as they discover the disturbing politics that have allowed this situation to be perpetuated.
The World Health Organization proudly announced the elimination of Leprosy in 2000 and refused to take part in the making of this film. Conservative estimates indicate that over 200,000 new cases of Leprosy were reported in over 125 countries throughout the world in 2011.

"STIGMA" Full Length Documentary from Doc NOW on Vimeo.

sábado, 29 de junio de 2013

What are the best ways to memorise new vocabulary?

Author Michael McCarthy, Professor of Applied Linguistics at the University of Nottingham and co-writer of the Vocabulary in Use series for Cambridge University Press, gives us some advice on how to learn vocabulary.

First of all, I think it does help to write down new words, keep a notebook. It doesn't have to be a big notebook, it could be an electronic notebook, you could you use Smartphone, but always write down new and interesting words, that's the first tip
The second tip is always write those words either in a short sentence or together with another word that it collocates with, or just make a couple of notes about the context in which you heard or read the new word.

The next tip is to keep looking at that notebook, come back to those words time and time again.
Another tip is to try to relate new words to your personal life in some way. So, for example, if you see a new word, can you connect it with any experience in your life? Can you use it to describe a person that you know, someone in your family or a friend? Can you use it to describe some experience that you've had? So making it relevant to you personally is probably one of the best tips of all.

Finally I would say this, that there will be hundreds, thousands of new words that you will meet as you read and listen to English, but the best tip of all is if you hear the same word coming back three or four or five times, then that's an important one that you simply must learn. Many other words might not be so important, you may only hear them or read them once, but if you hear them and read them repeatedly, then those are the important words that you should try to them.

Food luck with your learning of vocabulary.

viernes, 28 de junio de 2013

Chinese shoppers attracted to Britain

This is a BBC video clip on the rising attraction that Britain offers for Chinese tourists.

Self-study activity:
Watch the clip by clicking on the picture below or on the BBC link above and answer the questions about it.

The activity is suitable for intermediate students.

1 How many international tourists visited the shopping area [Bicester Village] last year?
2 How much does a Chinese tourist spend?
3 How many Chinese tourists visit the UK every year?
4 What factor contributed to an increase in Chinese tourists last year?
5 What different steps to attract Chinese tourists does Patricia Yates from Visit Britain mention?
6 What is the major obstacle for Chinese tourists to visit the UK?
7 Why are US, Germany and France mentioned at the end?

To check your answers, you can read the transcript below.

Greeted in Madarin in shops which accept Chinese credit. It’s a welcome appreciated in high sales.
The Chinese market is very, very important to us. Last year we had about 60% of all our visitors who were international tourists and a very significant proportion of these were Chinese. The Chinese love the brands. They love the atmosphere here and they particularly love Great Britain and England and all that is English.
So many brand in China are very, very expensive. Shopping mainly attracts the price.
I think mainly the price and the quality, that’s the sort of thing that we are looking for really.
Buy the Dior and Prada,and  Mulbury’s.
The Chinese are big spenders and that's why places like Bicester Village are so keen to attract them. They spend on average three times more than other international visitors, but other countries have also picked up on this trend and are more successful. France, for example, attracts around a million Chinese tourists every year. The UK manages just over 150,000.
The Olympic effect did help boost numbers by another 20% last year, but Visit Britain, the agency responsible for promoting the UK abroad, says Britain is still lagging behind, and it should be a wake-up call for the tourism industry.
What can we do? Well we can think where the population is in China and not just in Shanghai and Beijing, but those major second-tier cities, making sure they understand what the experience is of coming to Britain. They do expect Mandarin-speaking tour guides, they do expect Mandarin ads, they do expect that sort of Chinese concept of welcome.
But the major obstacle is the fact that a separate visa is needed for the UK. For as they can travel under just one cheap visa around 26 other European countries. So for now purchases by other nationalities dwarf the amount of those made by the Chinese. The US, France and Germany still remain Britain’s most important inbound markets in terms of spend and accounting for a third of all trips to the UK. But with the Chinese already spending more on travelling the world than any other nationality, if they take home memories of a warm British welcome it could help businesses here tap the potential of a huge overseas market. This is Susannah Streeter, BBC News.

jueves, 27 de junio de 2013

Renewable energy: Why burn US trees in UK power stations?

American wood is brought to Europe to burn in European power stations.

Self-study activity:
Watch this short BBC video clip explaining the process which allows American wood to be brought and used as fuel in Europe and say whether the statements below are true or false.

The activity is suitable to intermediate students.

Get Adobe Flash player

1 Not everybody agrees with the process.
2 All of the pine trees will be used as fuel.
3 Environmentalists object to the trees being turned into wood chips.
4 The sawdust helps take water out of the wood chips.
5 Environmentalist disagree with this energy policy.

You can read the transcript below.  

It’s hard to believe but trees like this are being felled in the southern United States to be burned to make electricity in the UK. The process is controversial. Let me take you through it. And here where it starts with baby trees like this just a month old. These will grow into towering pines. Parts of them will be used for construction in the United States and parts for creating power in the United Kingdom. And these are the trees in their teenage years. The best specimens will be cut to be used in the plank industry and the poor quality ones, twisted or small, will be used either for wood pulp or in the wood fuel industry. Next stage is for the trees to be turned into wood chips and dumped, here on this mountain of wood. And it’s the massive scale of this operation that so alarms environmentalists. The wood chips are then again mixed in with sawdust from sawmill thanks to this extraordinary machine. The chips and the sawdust mixed together get fed into this piece of equipment that looks like a washing machine drum, except it is not putting water in it, it’s taking water out, and here’s what comes out at the back end of the process: Billions and billions of tiny wood pellets to be burned in power stations in the UK. Now environmentalists say that it is madness to be growing trees in the USA to keep the lights on in Britain. This industry is helping the UK meet its targets on renewable energy and rightly or wrongly it is here to stay.

1T 2F 3F 3F 4T 5T

miércoles, 26 de junio de 2013

Talking point: Alternative travel

This week's talking point touches on the topic of alternative travel. Before getting together with the members of your conversation group, go over the questions below, so that ideas flow more easily when you get together with your friends and you can work out some vocabulary problems beforehand.

Have you ever been on a long journey? Can you describe the experience?
What's the most unusual holiday you have ever had?
What was different about it?
Do you think travel can broaden your horizons? How?
What is the difference between a tourist and a traveller?
Would you like to travel around the world? Why (not)?
If so, would you like to travel by motorbike?
What do you think the advantages and disadvantages of this trip would be?
Which of the following travel options most/least appeal to you:

Alternating Travel: Leave your home/hotel on foot. Take the first road on the right, then the next on the left, then the next on the right, and so on.
Ero Tourism: Arrange to take a holiday with your loved one. Travel there separately by different means and don't arrange a meeting time or place. Then look for each other.
Blind Man's Bluff Travel: Spend 24 hours blindfolded in a new location with a friend to guide you.
Slight-hitch Travel: Write the name of a faraway destination on a large piece of card. Stand at the side of your nearest motorway with your packback, stick your thumb out and wait.
Oz Bus: Travel from London to Australia by bus. You can find all the details of the trip in the video below.

Oz Bus was created with a desire to go over land from London to Sydney. We are now in our 4th year and on our 20th trip. London-Sydney is a three-month adventure and transits through 16 different countries. What’s great with these trips is we have a whole host of different nationalities and an age range that is from 18 to 80. We also offer trips to Africa, we have a series of budgets and comfort trips and new for this year is South America and of course we do Australia.
I’ve just returned from leading the London to Sydney trip which was absolutely fantastic, the journey of a lifetime. We left London at the end of September, quite chilly autumn morning. We had to be on the embankment at 6.30. We travelled through Western Europe into Eastern Europe, Serbia, Bulgaria then into Turkey and then on into Asia, Iran, India, Nepal, then over into Thailand, Malasia, Indonesia and then fly over to Australia. Obviously there are certain parts of the world where we have to fly over, we couldn’t go over land, such as Pakistan and Bhurma. There are many very different highlights, I think amongst them my favourite would be the Everest flights. I don’t think I’d be standing on top of the Everest, so that was awesome to see Everest, and Ayers Rock. It’s not just a rock. To see it at sunset with a bottle of bubblies, sun rise and to do the walk all the way round it early in the morning.
When the unusual situations there’s more work for Oz Bus, they must give inside knowledge on the trips. Having been started as a passenger on the first load of the New York trip. First thing most people ask when we are in the New York trip going over land is how you go over land from London to New York, it’s a great deal of water in the way. Basically we use a cruise ship to go for two weeks from China to Alaska, it’s one of seven different forms of transport when we are not on a bus on this trip. This section of journey takes about two and a half weeks, which is longer than your average family holiday, takes you through Europe through Belgium, Germany, Czech Republic, up to Poland, then through the Baltic states and into Russia to St Petersburg and Moscow. The next section is completely different again. In Moscow we board a trans Siberian railway, a travel experience in its own right. From Moscow we go through Siberia, that section actually contains two of my personal highlights on the trip, Lake Baikal the deepest fresh water lake in the world was frozen when we would walk cross it for two kilometers and watch the sun come down over the mainland. It was a truly stunning moment. And in Mongolia we spent a night in a national park in Gher, it’s about as relaxing as it gets. And then from Mongolia … in China, stopping in Beijing for a 10-day loop which takes you through the castle of … and back up to … and … to the Great Wall before returning to Beijing. And then it changes again, after China two weeks at sea on a cruise ship, so many different parts of the trip, totally different from the rest of the adventure. It’s a chance to relax, and do as little or as much as you like. After the cruise ship it all changes once more, and we hit mainland USA, starting off in Alaska in Anchorage. We head off on a sleeper bus up into the wilds of Alaska. From Alaska we go down in an inside passage on a series of ferries, through Canada, through Vancouver, Seattle, then Sernise for the National Parks, and North America and the north of Chicago, Niagara and New York.
Oz Bus is the most amazing experience. It’s a journey of a lifetime, and you’ll make such lifelong friends.

martes, 25 de junio de 2013

Speakout starter: Plans (jobs)

This is the last episode of the Speakout video podcasts for beginners, from Pearson Longman. The topic of today's video is jobs, and passers-by answer questions related to their professional life.

What did you want to be when you were a child?
Do you like what you do?
What’s your perfect job?

Now it's over to you. Go over the questions above and answer them for yourself. Try and use some of the expressions you heard on the video.

You can read the transcript here.

lunes, 24 de junio de 2013

Derry, UK's City of Culture

In the summer of 2010 Derry was named UK's City of Culture for 2013. This Deutsch Welle video, where Derry singer and actress Bronagh Gallagher shows us the facelift of the second biggest city in Northern Ireland in preparation for the event, allows us to discover the place and its people, and get familiar with the Northern-Irish accent.

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

The activity is suitable for strong intermediate students.

1 How many people live in Derry?
2 What is the perfect place to start a tour of the city?
3 When did the clashes between the army and catholic residents happen?
4 What's the name of the bridge which was opened two years ago?
5 What's the best place to learn about the town's turbulent history?
6 Is the City Hall (or Guild Hall) open to the public?
7 What long tradition does Derry have?

You can check your answers by reading the transcript below.

Music and the arts play a major role here, all the more so since this was named Britain's first City of Culture on May 16th. That's also because the area has been experiencing a cultural renaissance for some time. Actress and singer Bronagh Gallagher grew up here and to see first-hand how this city of eighty five thousand has come to its own culturally.
There’s a hub of activity. We have very many brilliant music venues and very many beautiful little cafés and restaurants and a gorgeous walk all along the river Foyle, and the city’s now connected to both sides by our Peace Bridge. So this is our Europe City of Culture, so we're celebrating the culture within the city.
One way to get acquainted with the place is to take a walk on the ancient city walls, which has some of the best preserved in Europe. A walkway tops the ninety meter wide fortifications around the old city center. It's the perfect place to start a tour.
This is a great tour available for the walk of the walls, it takes the whole way round the city the city and the great great turret gates to do, it’s brilliant. And you can see inside all the different facilities that are here, all the people that work within the walls and obviously then your direct access to the city centre. That’s a beautiful, it’s a beautiful walk to do as you can see the views are pretty cool, you know.
You can also see the part of the city where catholic residents and British army troops clashed in the nineteen seventies. That led to an escalation of the conflict in all of Northern Ireland between Catholics
and Protestants.
Now the city is trying to emerge from the shadows of the past. The hands across the divide monument is one of the most significant symbols of this reproach mull. So is the Peace Bridge which was opened two years ago. It links the predominantly Protestant eastern part of the city to the western mainly catholic district.
That's what people believe and this side of still over water, you know, very healing, very healing I meant the water, so it might very much so that obviously means that the city’s connected in that way and obviously we do have, you know, bridges that are for the traffic, but this was given to the city only because it was a peace bridge and we had it bring it and accept it and have it, you know, installed as a peace bridge, so yeah meaning to us this is a very important symbolic bridge.
Anyone who would like to know more about the town’s turbulent history should visit the Tower Museum.
Its exhibitions have already won several awards for their balanced yet gripping depiction of key historical events here.
The neo-gothic city hall or guilt hall is just over the road. It has the largest number of stained glass windows on the whole of the island. It reopens next month after nearly two years of renovations.
Anyone who comes here maybe who hadn't been here for twenty years will be astonished at the changes that have taken place. I think that if they arrive, then take the time to take a wander around and see to talk to people and find out what they think about the changes in their own city. They’ll find a really positive vibe coming out of the city.
That becomes clear when residents here pick up their instruments and start harmonizing among themselves. The place has indeed a long musical tradition.
The year for me means celebrating what the city has itself and utilizing the talent and the facilities that are in the side. We’ve got a lot of beautiful venues here as well. So I would love to see it be an opportunity for young people of all ages I should say to all people of all ages to be given a chance to show what they're capable of.
So the people of Derry, Londonderry, are looking forward to a year as Britain’s City of Culture. For them it's an opportunity to enjoy showing the world their cultural treasures.

domingo, 23 de junio de 2013

Extensive listening: Taylor Swfit's meteoric rise

In mid-May this year CBS 60 Minutes rebroadcast a segment on music sensation Taylor Swift. This is the way the host introduced the singer in the programme:

"Six years ago last fall, a 16-year-old girl released her debut country music album and dreamed of making it big. Well today that girl is as big as it gets. She has sold more albums in the U.S. over those six and a half years than any other artist in any genre. Her latest album, Red, sold more copies in its first week than any album in more than a decade. Taylor Swift's has been a meteoric rise. And she seems to know, even at a young age, just the right notes to hit - in her songwriting, and in her business.

In an era of declining record sales, Taylor Swift appeals to people who still pay a lot for music - girls and their moms. She has held onto her country fans even as she's gotten huge in pop. And then there's her image: lots of publicity about her love life, but never a drunken rampage, a public outburst, or a scandalous photo. She's on the road now promoting her Red album, but we first met Taylor Swift back in 2011 during her "Speak Now" tour."

Watch the CBS 13-minute segment, which includes footage from Swift's concerts, clips from her earlier life, an interview with Swift and the important people around her.

You can read the transcript here.

sábado, 22 de junio de 2013

ESL Hip-Hop and English Strokes

A few weeks ago Larry Ferlazzo informed about two sites where English students can learn in a different way, ESL Hip-Hop and English Strokes.

ESL Hip-Hop is a website aimed at both students and teachers around Hip-Hop. It was founded by Stephen Mayeux, who teaches English as a Second Language at UC Davis Extension (University of California, Greater Sacramento), an institution for continuing and professional education.

He posts lessons around Hip-Hop songs. He usually focuses on a grammar, or pronunciation point, and makes a choice of the 8-10 most relevant vocabulary items in the song. He also includes a short oral activity.

As you may expect, the activities are mainly aimed at students in the intermediate-to-advanced range.

English Strokes has been created by the British Council and uses the topic of cricket as a springboard to teach English in three different levels, beginner, intermediate and advanced. Each level consists of 10 units.

The site uses animations to engage learners in listening, writing, reading, and pronunciation activities, all of which revolve around the sport of Cricket. There are also interactive games.

On the minus side, this is a payment site, although students have the opportunity to catch a glimpse of the materials through two demo lessons per level.

viernes, 21 de junio de 2013

Lima Airport -video activity

Watch this Deutsche Welle video on the way Lima airport is organised and run by German operator Fraport.

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

The activity is suitable for intermediate students.

1 The firefighters at Lima airport are German.
2 Lima airport is the most important in South America.
3 315 passengers are on board the KLM Boeing.
4 1.2 million passengers go through Lima airport every year.
5 Passengers can use the VIP area at Lima airport for free.
6 The cargo sector in Peruvian economy amounts to 8%.
7 Asparagus is one of the most important ingredient in the Peruvian diet.
8 Peru has signed trade agreements with China, the EU and the US.
9 Lima airport has solved the problem of drug smuggling.

You can read the transcript below.

An emergency situation at Lima airport. The firefighters hit the gas pedal. Every second counts. Fortunately this is just a training exercise. The Fraport company has invested millions in Lima. It paid for the new fire trucks and the firefighters were also trained by experts from Frankfurt airport. Safety is a top priority for the German-Peruvian airport management. Jaime Daly, the head of Lima airport partners knows it's essential if the project is to succeed.
More safety and efficiency are the most important reasons why two foreign airlines Lan and Taca have chosen Lima as their hub. Our airport has become one of the most important in South America for passengers changing planes.
Shortly after five in the afternoon a KLM Boeing 777  lands in Lima on time. In two hours it will be leaving again for Europe, so preparation for takeoff has to go quickly. The plane landed with 350 passengers on board fully booked as is often the case. Lima’s passenger figures rose by around 1.2 million last year, making this airport one of the most successful Fraport projects outside of Germany.
Jan Laufs says being here ever since the company took over operating the airport in 2001. The German manager is responsible for the shopping facilities and advertising, a money spinning sector. He's proud of the new VIP lounge. Unlike at other airports any passenger can use it for a 45-euro fee.
The advantages that we offer are a twenty-four-hour service and the lounge is open to everyone. That means the airlines can save considerable amounts of money and so can the airport and its operator, and it means that in the end the passenger, the consumer, can enjoy top-rate service. We can offer slightly more service because more people are paying for it and that makes it cheaper for the individual.
The airline business has a credo that every passenger is a potential consumer. That credo applies in Peru as well. Fraport’s new restaurant and shopping facilities ensure that on average passengers spend twice as much as they did three years ago. The improved economy in Peru also plays a role. 8% economic growth is also good for the cargo sector. Asparagus is one of the country's most important export commodities. This plane will be flying some sixty tons of green asparagus to the United States. The cargo center is working at full capacity. Turnover is growing at a faster rate in Lima than anywhere else in South America.
The new free trade agreement with the US and the planned agreements with the EU and China will bring expected annual growth rates of around 20%, that's way above the global average.
But Peru still has to solve its drug smuggling problem. Lima has become a magnet for cocaine dealers in recent years, and experts say Peru has overtaken Columbia as the number one cocaine exporting nation. The airport has stepped up security in a bid to solve the problem. Fraport would like to see passengers’ luggage packed full of souvenirs, not only are they legal they also bring the airport operator and added income.

All the statements are false.

jueves, 20 de junio de 2013

Tornadoes -video activity

This is a short video on tornadoes published by The New York Times as a follow-up to the catastrophe in Moore on 20 May.

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

The activity is suitable for Intermediate students.

1 How fast were the winds in Moore?
2 Which factor plays a big part in measuring how devastating a tornado will be?
3 What's the main difference between a tornado and a hurricane?
4 What does '15 minutes' refer to?
5 What key ingredient in the atmosphere do tornadoes require?

To check your answers you can read the transcript below.

This is Henry Fountain for the New York Times. There’s still a lot scientists don’t know about tornadoes. But here’s some of what they do know.
The tornado in Moore was rated a 5 at the top of the enhanced Fujita scale. The tornado was initially rated a 4, but analysts determined that the damage to homes, commercial buildings and trees was caused by wind speeds over 200 miles an hour, making it a category 5. 
Factors like population density play a role on how deadly a tornado will become. The last time we saw a category 5 tornado was in 2011. It tore through the city of Joplin in Missouri and killed over 150 people.
While scientists are able to predict with some precision the track and timing of a hurricane, tornadoes cover a smaller area and can appear in a matter of minutes. That can give little warning for residents to find appropriate shelter. On Monday, residents of Moore Oklahoma were told that severe weather was coming, but they didn’t get an actual tornado warning until 15 minutes before it hit.
While the tornado in Moore was deadly, it comes in the middle of the tornado season that until now had been relatively quiet.
Warm moist air is a key ingredient in cooking up a tornado. But earlier this year the high altitude winds of the jet stream brought cold air to the Mid West, keeping warmer air out. It’s the same wind pattern that made for a cold in the North East. Now as temperatures continue to rise across the country, there’s no way to know whether the Mid West has seen the worst of extreme weather.

miércoles, 19 de junio de 2013

Talking point: Cruelty to animals

This week's talking point revolves around the topic of cruelty to animals, and was sparked off by The New York Times video that you can watch below about the widespread Chinese practice of 'milking' bears for the curative effect of their urine.

Before getting together with the members of your conversation group to discuss the topic of wildlife in general and cruelty to animals in particular, go over the questions below on your own, so that ideas flow more easily in your talking session and you can deal with some vocabulary problems beforehand.
  • Traditional medicine amounts to superstition and ignorance.
  • Alternative medicine only works because of the placebo effect.
  • Some alternative medicine can actually be harmful.
  • Animal activists are right when they object to animals being used in cosmetics or health-related experiments.
  • Zoos nowadays serve no useful purpose and should be banned.
  • Hunting as a sport should be banned and practices like hunting holidays should be considered a crime.
  • For poachers in third-world countries hunting is their only means of survival
  • Practices like the massive seal hunt in Canada or whale hunt in Japan are necessary to keep a balance in the population of these animals and beneficial for humans.
  • Animals bred for food should be kept in humane conditions and not on factory farms.
  • Feeding animals an unnatural diet is another form of torture.
  • The destruction of wildlife habitat through deforestation, farming, and urban development is irreversible.
  • Pet owners should face prison sentences if they abandon their pets.
  • In a civilized society there is no place for entertainment or traditions which involve cruelty to animals.
 To gain further insight into the topic, you can watch the New York Times video below and read the accompanying article here.

This if the transcript of the video.

Here in CHENGDU, China, it is said that a daily dose of dead centipede can cure lock jaw, seizes and convulsions. All sorts of traditional Chinese medicines, like centipede, are readily available at this wholesale market. These women are sterylising caterpillar fungus. It’s used as an aphrodisiac or to treat cancer, but some of the cures here are increasingly controversial, even in China, which has been relying on medicines like this for centuries. This is Jonah Cassel reporting with Andrew Jacobs for the New York Times.
This woman is trying to sell us the gall bladder of a bear. She wants $350 for it. It’s actually illegal to sell the whole gall bladder in China, but bear bile, extracted from the animals’ gall bladder, it’s legally found here. It’s commonly found in liquid and powder form, and used to treat liver diseases. It’s even being marketed as a  hangover  cure.
Now the industry is getting bigger, but on the other side I would say the public awareness about bear farming is, is getting much better.
Just a few miles down the road from the medicine market, Toby Zhang helps rehabilitate bears which have been rescued from the bile farms. This sanctuary, run by a Hong-Kong based organization called Animals Asia, is home to more than 150 animals, were once milked for their bile.
They are kept in a small cage, so they can’t move properly. They have … problems, bone problems, and most importantly they also have mental problems. They are so stressed, so frustrated. All this is very cruel to a bear, and that’s why we say, well, we want to end this industry.
Nicola Field, the bear and vet director of Animals Asia sanctuary, has been monitoring the effects of bear farming for seven years. Estimates show there are twenty thousand bears being farmed in China.
Some bears will never eliminate, for example, the extent of their stereotypic behaviour. We’ll reduce it with everything we can give them here in terms of the enclosure life and the enrichment, and the food and the stimulation that they receive from all these things and living with the other bears. I think there’s still things that will stay with them, I’m sure there’s still things that will stay with them in their memories.
The group is using tactics familiar to animal rights activists in other countries, tapping into social media and releasing undercover videos like this, which shows bears trap in small cages.
They take their gall bladder from the liver area and stretch it, and put it closer to the muscle, the abdomen muscle, so that the farmer can always insert a catheter into the gall bladder to collect the bear gall.
Although NGO has been around for nearly two decades. Its recent increase in public support shows a shift in attitudes towards animals’ rights in China. Celebrities, including basketball star Yao Ming and movie star Jacki Chan have spoken out against the practice.
No sunshine, no trees, no freedom, no relief.
The sanctuary invites people to see the bears in hope of influencing opinions.
For now the practice of bear farming is on the rise in China. It remains to be seen whether the surging concern for animals’ rights will have a larger impact on China’s powerful pharmaceutical industry.

martes, 18 de junio de 2013

Speakout starter: Shopping

In another installment of our Speakout series, the video podcasts of the textbook from Pearson Longman, passers-by answer questions about their shopping habits:

Do you like shopping?
What’s the last thing you bought?
What’s your favourite type of shop?
Do you ever make shopping mistakes?

You can read the transcript here.

lunes, 17 de junio de 2013

Madrid city guide

This is a Lonely Planet city guide video on Madrid. Watch the video and answer the questions below about it.

The activity is suitable for intermediate students.

1 How many inhabitants does Madrid have?
2 Apart from its artworks, what is important in The Prado Museum?
3 What two architectural styles can be seen in the Plaza Mayor?
4 Where can you escape from the city's pace?
5 What are the two moments when Madrileños have tapas?
6 Why is the 18th century mentioned?

To check your answers, you can read the transcript below.

It’s the nation’s capital. One of Europe’s cultural powerhouses and comes with a reputation for being more alive than any other city on earth. Welcome to Madrid.
Built on a plateau right at the very heart of Spain, Madrid is home to over 3 million people.  It is the sort of welcoming city best explored by diving straight in, and making it up as you go along.
The city’s great cultural heritage is on display at the Prado Museum, one of the greatest art galleries in the world. Part of the Prado’s appeal is not the artworks hanging on the walls, but the building that houses them, widely considered to be a neoclassic masterpiece in its own right.
The city’s other architectural gems range from the Baroque Royal Palace to the 20th century delight of the Crystal Palace, and the buildings lining the Gran Via. The Plaza Mayor showcases the city’s unique architectural style, Madrid baroque, which fuses Renaissance and Baroque styles.
Take a stroll through Plaza de Oriente, a living breathing monument to imperial Madrid, or relax in Buen Retiro Park, a great place to escape the urban hustle and bustle.
Eating in Madrid is always a social event. Going out for tapas is one of the most appealing of Spanish traditions. Tapas is a selection of appetizers eaten between meals, as an accompaniment to a drink or as a preview to the main event. Diners first go to Plaza Santa Ana, or try Casa Alberto, one of the oldest tapas bars in Madrid.
Madrileños are sports crazy. Head to Las Ventas to watch a bullfight, or catch a soccer match at the Bernabeu Stadium, the home of local favourites Real Madrid.
Flamenco emerged in the southern Spanish region of Andalucia in the 18th century, but the flamenco seen in Madrid is now second to none. Madrid oldest flamenco restaurant is in La Latina, the city’s medieval district. The Corral de la Moreria serves up  a variety of high quality dancing, singing and strumming, that is sure to get your hip shaking and your feet tapping.

domingo, 16 de junio de 2013

Extensive listening: Science under attack

Science under attack is a BBC's Horizon documentary aired in early 2011. This is the way the BBC announced the episode:

"Nobel Prize winner Sir Paul Nurse examines why science appears to be under attack, and why public trust in key scientific theories has been eroded - from the theory that man-made climate change is warming our planet, to the safety of GM food, or that HIV causes AIDS.

He interviews scientists and campaigners from both sides of the climate change debate, and travels to New York to meet Tony, who has HIV but doesn't believe that that the virus is responsible for AIDS.

This is a passionate defence of the importance of scientific evidence and the power of experiment, and a look at what scientists themselves need to do to earn trust in controversial areas of science in the 21st century."

You can read the transcript here.

sábado, 15 de junio de 2013

We are New York

The best way to introduce We are New York is by letting We are New York introduce itself.

"We Are New York is an Emmy Award-winning half hour TV show created to help people practice English.  Each story highlights important and realistic situations, like going to the doctor or talking with a child’s teacher.  The stories capture the spirit of people who have come from all over the world that have made the Big Apple their home.  The characters speak every day English, but at a slower pace.  Subtitles are used to help facilitate understanding of sentence formation and context.

The We Are New York (WANY) Project uses conversation groups throughout the five boroughs to help immigrant New Yorkers practice English and learn about helpful City services.  These groups are led by volunteers who are trained by the We Are New York staff.

WANY was created by the Mayor’s Office of Adult Education and the City University of New York, Office of Academic Affairs.  It is now part of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs."

There are nine episodes so far on We are New York:
  • Welcome parents
  • Stay in school
  • Love and money
  • New Life Cafe
  • Asthma
  • No smoking
  • The wedding
  • Domestic violence
  • The hospital
Each episode comes  complete with a study guide, list of important words, a low-level reader, and the transcript of the video.

We are New York  also has a YouTube channel with all the videos of the educational programme, where the half-an-hour episodes are split into three different parts.

Here's the first part of  New Life Cafe:

We are New York is specially suitable for low-level English learners, and for those who want to catch a glimpse of life of New York and the situations immigrants come across when they first start living there.

H/T to Milpitas Chat.

viernes, 14 de junio de 2013

Tour on Wall Street

Watch this short clip on the history of Wall Street and see if you can answer the questions below.

The activity is suitable for intermediate 2 students.

1 When did the Dutch build the original wall?
2 Who did the Dutch use to trade with when they first arrived?
3 How did people get about along Broad Street in the beginning?
4 Why don't any Dutch colonial buildings exist any more?
5 What year did New York suffer the first terrorist attack?
6 What explosive was there in the cart?
7 How many people died in the attack?
8 Who was responsible for the attack?

To check your answers you can read the transcript below.

This is Wall Street. Wall Street is named for an actual wall that used to exist here in the mid sixteen hundred's. It was built by the Dutch to protect them from frequent indian raids but also to protect them from the English who they were at war with overseas.
Now the Dutch, they came here to escape religious persecution or start a new life, they came here to work, to make a buck. They came here as traders and they traded guns and ammunition to the indians for beaver pelts which they would use to make hats and gloves.
Broad Street here, this actually used to be a canal that came all the way up here and that you could bring your skips under the bridges and visit the local bars and taverns.
When they were building Gold and Saschman here they unearthed some of the foundations from our old Dutch colonial buildings. Now unfortunately we don't have any more of the Dutch colonial buildings that remained out here in Lower Manhattan, they all burned up in the fires of either seventeen seventy-six or eighteen thirty-five.
This is the site of the very first terrorist attack on New York City, the day was September sixteenth nineteen twenty. A horse-drawn cart had pulled up to this spot at around noon and the driver gets off the cart and goes steering off into the crowd, never to be seen or heard from again.
What nobody knew at the time was that there was one hundred pounds of dynamite and five hundred pounds of small lead weights on this cart and at twelve oh one pm a fireball went one hundred feet into the air, shrapnel went everywhere.
Here on this attack on Wall Street, this explosion, they never found out who did it, they blamed it on Italian anarchists and communist elements at the time because it was an attack on capitalism itself. And you can see the evidence on the wall here. This is the actual evidence from nineteen twenty. This is limestone marble, so you can imagine if it did this to this wall what it did to the thirty-eight people that died here that day and over four hundred that were injured. There was a horse leg that was found on the steps of one of the banks and a woman's head was actually plastered onto the wall with her hat still on.
They also found horse hooves in the graveyard of Trinity Church. They searched the four thousand different blacksmiths up and down the Eastern Seaboard to find out who created the horseshoes, whose the horse was and who the driver was but they never found out.

jueves, 13 de junio de 2013

Time for a holiday

Summer time is round the corner, and this ad from Thomson can be a good reminder of how valuable holiday time is for us.

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

The activity is suitable for Básico 2 and Intermediate 1 students.

So much to (1) ... for.
Never in a thousand a day.
Not enough days in the week.
Everyone wants a little piece of you.
It's time you (2) ... , (3) ... off, (4) ... about time.
Put down your phone and (5) ... your loved one's hand.
Nice, isn't it?
Those close to you, (6) ... with them a week or two, and they'll cherish it forever.
The time you spent on holiday, the time when nothing (7) ... .
When there's just you, the sky, the sea and the people who (8) ... everything in the world to you.
Holidays are the most (9) ... time of all.
Let this be a lesson.

You may also like to try your hand and transcribe (no big deal, it's just like the good old dictation) this other Thomson ad.

1 answer 2 stopped 3 switched 4 forgot 5 hold 6 share7 matters 8 mean 9 precious

Remember those first steps abroad. Your first glimpse of summer shores, and your first sangaria. What fun we had. And we are bringing you another first. With a new way to travel on our holidays, with more space and comfort. It makes flying a dream. The new Thomson Dreamliner.

miércoles, 12 de junio de 2013

Talking point: Celebrities

This week's talking point deals with the topic of celebrities. Before getting together with the members of your conversation group, go over the questions below and think of the answers, so that ideas flow more easily when you hold the conversation session and you can sort out vocabulary problems beforehand.

Which celebrities are in the news at the moment?
Which is the gossip about them? What is their claim to fame?
Why do we want to hear bad news about famous people more than good news?
What do you understand by the term ‘the cult of celebrity’?
Do you pretend to resist or do you indulge your fascination for celebrities?
Who are you most interested in?
Why are paparazzi and stalkers a danger to celebrities?
To what extent do laws protect famous people and celebrities from the media harassment?
To what extent is freedom of speech more important than preserving the privacy of some individuals?
What’s the difference between a celebrity and an icon?

Do you know…
•    someone who the press has built up and knocked down?
•    an ordinary person who has become a celebrity?
•    anyone who is famous simply for being famous?
•    any children of celebrities who have had problems?

To illustrate the topic, you can watch this famous radio interview of British BBC1 radio presenter Chris Stark talking to Mila Kunis about her film Oz. From the very beginning the conversation veers off into personal matters and we manage to catch a glimpse of the real persona behind Kunis celebrity image.

If you wish, you can do a listening activity with the video above. Watch the video carefully and answer the questions below.

1. Why is Chris nervous?
2. What will Chris get for interviewing Mila?
3. What’s a lad bomb?
4. What is the Misty Moon?
5. What does Sir Dosser, one of Chris’s friends, do?
6. Which football team does Chris support?
7. What colour is the jersey?
8. What is Nandos?
9. What time is the kickoff?
10. What will they do at half time?
11. What is ‘Blue Moon’?
12. What job did Mila use to do?
13. What’s Dicko doing soon?
14. Why can’t Mila make it to this event?
15. What is a ‘drop trou’?
16. What two characters has Mila played in Baywatch?

To check your answers you can read the transcript here, where the answers are highlighted in red.

The idea for this post, especially as far as the Mila Kunis video activity is concerned, stems from a post by Phil Wade on St George International blog.

martes, 11 de junio de 2013

Speakout starter: Places (Holidays)

In a new installment of our Speakout series, based on the video podcasts of the textbook from Pearson Longman, this week we are dealing with the topic of holidays.

Passers-by are asked the following questions:

Where did you go on holiday last year?
How long was your holiday?
What did you do on holiday?
Did you have a good time?

Now it's over to you. Answer the questions above about yourself. Try and use some of the expressions the people in the video used.

You can read the transcript here.

lunes, 10 de junio de 2013

The power of body language

Watch this video, where writer Tonya Reiman explains some of the concepts she talks about in her best-selling book The Power of Body Language, and say whether the statements below are true or false.

The video is suitable for strong intermediate students.

1 Tonya is going to show us both right and wrong ways to do things.
2 We usually look at a person's feet first during our talk.
3 A figure four takes less space in the average sitting space.
4 If a man has his hands in his pockets he's telling a woman how sexual he is.
5 Men are better at picking up body language than women.
6 Men find it more difficult to understand the space zones in communication.
7 The person whose hand is on top is less powerful in a relationship.
8 Every single thing we do or wear is a statement about us.

Hi there, I’m Tonya Reinan. I’m the author of The Power of Body Language. We’re here on the streets of Manhattan because what I’m going to do is I’m going to pick out some people and show you the right way to do things, and perhaps some of the wrong ways to do things.  One of the most interesting facets of body language is just what you can read from one single body part. So what am I meaning by that?
When you are talking to someone one of the first things you want to do is look at their feet. So if I’m talking to you straight on yeah, my feet are pointing this way… you need to recognise that I’m on my way out. I’m not interested in what you have to say. I’m looking to move. So, one of the things you always want to remember is the feet point where the body wants to go.
So this is a power position. What that woman is demonstrating is she that feels good about herself. She is in what is known as a figure four, which is a position that takes more space in the average sitting space. Her arms are pulled back saying … ‘I don’t feel vulnerable. I’m powerful.’
One of the things that is interesting about men is that they are always telling you, unconsciously, how sexual they are. So, if you are walking towards a man and he has his hands in his pocket, you know what he is doing, he is trying to point out his best assets.
So, as you see this people walking through the streets, look at what their hands are doing. Are their hands pointing to their most significant areas? Because if they are, they are sending you a very strong message.
You know, it’s funny I get asked all the time, why is it that I have to work so much harder to get a man’s attention than they do to get my attention? Well, the truth is that women are much better in picking up body language clues than men are. For example, if I’m trying to flirt with a man I need to make eye contact with him three times to let him know that I’m really interested in him. So, one of the things that you can do as a woman is you can make eye contact, look down, look, look back up, look down again and finally that third time of making eye contact with that man he is going to get the hints. If you don’t do that way, ladies, they are never going to get the hints.
How often are people surprised when I tell them, usually they are shocked, usually people have no idea how they come across. And the interesting thing is once you point out to them a single clue to them, they certainly go ‘oh my goodness’ as if they had their ‘aha’ moment. And their ‘aha’ moment can change them forever.
So what you are watching is the intimate space zone ends. What do I mean by that? You’ve just witnessed a woman and a man having a conversation.  The woman isn’t really that comfortable with the gentleman but he doesn’t recognize it. He takes a step forward. And what does she do? She takes a step back. He’s so ignorant, he doesn’t get it. He takes another step forward. Finally she takes another step back. And you could see that these two will never be in rapport because he doesn’t understand the space difference. 
So what you’re seeing here is a couple holding hands. What is interesting about this is who is the more the more powerful of the two? Whose hand was on top? It was the man’s hand. And if you watch people who hold hands, you’ll notice  typically the man just holds his hand on the top. And that’s his way of demonstrating that he is the powerful one in the relationship.
You know, what you need to realize is that every single thing says something about you, the way you hold your posture, the way you wear your make-up, the way you wear your hair. Do you have tattoos everywhere? Where are your piercings? Are your shoes nice and polished? Is your briefcase in good shape? Is your suit ironed? Do you look good? Every single thing about you makes a statement. What you want make sure is it’s making the statement that you are happy with.

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

domingo, 9 de junio de 2013

Conan O’Brien's Commencement Address, Dartmouth College

Conan Christopher O'Brien is an American television host, comedian, writer, producer, and voice actor. He is best known for hosting several late-night talk shows, the most recent of which, Conan, aired on American cable television station TBS in 2010.

On this video, which is a good example of the stuff we can find on the site we talked about on our yesterday's post, Speaking frog, Conan has encouraging words for the 2011 Dartmouth College senior class on the day of their graduation.

You can download the transcript for the speech here or watch the video while you simultaneously read the transcript on Speaking frog.

sábado, 8 de junio de 2013

Speaking frog

Speaking frog is a real find!

On this site you can find videos of famous speeches together with their transcripts. There is a great variety of videos on the site: political speeches, film scenes, acceptance speeches, talks. New videos are added regularly.

To spot a speech you want to listen to, just click on the FIND tag.

You also have the option to download any speech in PDF format.

The site also gives you some advice on how to benefit from the speeches to improve your English by clicking on the Learning English tag.

viernes, 7 de junio de 2013

Artist paints animals on trees

Watch this short ITN news clip about an artist who paints animals on trees and answer the questions about it.

The activity is suitable for Básico 2 and Intermediate 1 students.

1 Where does the artist live?
2 Who was she with when she found the inspiration for her project?
3 How old is the girl?
4 What animals are mentioned in the video clip?
5 How long does it take the artist to do a painting?
6 What is her main motivation to paint the trees?
7 What do the authorities think of her project?

To check your answers you can read the transcript below. Remember you can double-click on any word to find out  its meaning.

In one of northern China’s most notoriously polluted cities a young student’s been painting on trees turning them into colorful works of art. Wang Yue says she was inspired when out on a walk with her mother and found trees with knots she considered unattractive and began to paint onto them. The 23-year-old's creations range from pandas to white cats, many of which can be seen along the 15 tree trunks lining the city's Jiuzhong Street.
On average, it takes around 4 hours for Wang to finish an entire painting. She says the main motivation for her paintings was to raise residents' environmental awareness.
"I just hope that people will protect and treasure nature after seeing my paintings which are all natural creations. In addition, I hope people will be happier, and not be depressed by the smoggy weather."
Local environmental authorities say Wang's water-colour paintings don’t harm the trees.

jueves, 6 de junio de 2013

McDonald's -10 Amazing facts

Watch this Geobeats video on McDonalds and answer the questions about it.

The activity is suitable for Básico 2 and Intermediate 1 students.

1 How many McDonalds are sold in a minute on average?
2 What does McDonalds buy 3 billions pounds of?
3 As well as food, what does McDonalds also distribute?
4 How many Americans have worked for McDonalds?
5 How many McDonalds will be opened today approximately?
6 What year is mentioned in fact number five?
7 How many hamburgers had McDonalds sold by 1958?

To check your answers, you can read the transcript below.

Welcome to McDonald's
McDonald's is one of the most recognized brands in the world. Here are 10 amazing facts about this restaurant giant.
Number 10 - McDonald's sells an average of over 75 hamburgers every second of the day.
Number 9 - Around the world, McDonald's buys over 3 billion pounds of potatoes for their french fries.
Number 8 - McDonald's happens to be the world's largest toy distributor - who would have thought?
Number 7 - One out of every eight Americans has worked for McDonalds.
Number 6 - A new McDonald's restaurant opens every few hours somewhere in the world.
Number 5 - A McDonalds burger from 1996 has yet to decompose.
Number 4 - One of the chemicals found in a McRib Sandwich may also be in your yoga mat.
Number 3 - McDonald's has one of the largest marketing budgets in the world. 
Number 2 - The restaurant chain had sold its 100 millionth hamburger by 1958 - more than 50 years ago.
And Number 1 - Many McDonald's locations in Europe serve McBeer.

For question 1 you need to do a calculation (75x60=4.500)
We don't really know the answer to question 5, we can only figure out that it will be three or four restaurants ('a new restaurant every few hours'). 

miércoles, 5 de junio de 2013

Talking point: Street children

This week's talking point is Street Children. The idea for the topic stems from a post on Feride Hekimgil's The prop room in mid April.

Before getting together with your friends to discuss the topic, go over the questions below so that ideas flow more easily in your conversation session and you can deal with vocabulary problems beforehand.
  • What do you know about the problem of children living on the streets?
  • Is it a serious issue of concern where you live?
  • In what areas of the world is the problem of street children more serious?
  • Why do children end up on the streets?
  • What problems may these children face?
  • How do you think street children survive?
  • Are street children budding criminals?
  • What can governments do to deal with the problem?
  • What can the man in the street do to help?
To gain further insight into the topic, you can watch a promotional video for the Street Children campaign in Ukraine, and a The Guardian video with accompanying article on the way some street children live in Kiev. I have been unable to embed the latter video, but you can watch it by clicking on  The Guardian link. You will find the transcript for both videos below.

    Street Children from banda on Vimeo.

    The problem of street children in Ukraine is reaching a catastrophic dimension. Due to non-official data there are about 200,000 homeless children in the country. They are under the poverty line: ill and poor. Unfortunately, most people ignore them. According to the Unicef report, police even gathers street children together and removes them outside the city. So what are we doing with something we do not want to see. We simply remove it. Out of your sight, out of you mind. Like some litter in the streets, we just want it clean any reminder about the problem away. But it does not help. A piece of paper is easily removed, but the problem of street children will stay.
    We encourage you to remove it, so you realize that the problem actually cannot be removed. You do not want to get involved but you already are by tempting people to rip off the picture and create the impulse of removing it we raise the awareness of the problem and make people think. Now it will stay in their mind.
    Of course we do replace the ripped-off figures. Of course we easily do continue the same interactive mechanic media.
    Today internet is the new reality we live in. That’s why it is so important to bring the mechanic here into life too with pop-up and banners. We want people to feel that they try to remove a matter that bothers them now it will waste future lives. Soon homeless children will appear back on the streets and only your support will lead them back to society.
    Of course, we use the full possibilities of the internet, especially social media. We created a page on the Facebook and added popular users and celebrities as friends. The idea is really simple. We enter their profile, capture any picture taken on the street posted by the user and enter the print of homeless kids into the file, then replace the picture back to the album and tag it. The picture appears on the user’s wall and his or her numerous friends can see it. The owner of the picture now faces a dilemma. To remove it off his wall or keep it. This is how it works. Minor efforts bring huge awareness.
    These simple street acts raise public awareness of the homeless kids problem an effective advert excites actual interest in Ukranian society to the problem. Donations for homeless children hotline help and support of any homeless kid on the street.

    I met 17-year-old Seryozha outside a church where he’d been begging. I asked him why he didn’t use the shelters. He said he felt trapped in them. He agreed to show me where he lived.
    He shows how he gets through.
    Head first through here.
    Seryozha shares his basements with two other young homeless people.

    It´s just scraps of food that they found. It’s very, very dark and it’s stuffy and it’s hard to breathe but notable thing is just how many tubes of glue there are lying around.
    They told me that three of those tubes is enough to keep them high for the whole day. I imagine it’s quite a big dose.
    They said the glue they sniff takes away feelings of cold and hunger, but it also causes brain damage.
    It’s hard to know what to say. This is a very profound and depressing place.
    No one could tell me how many street children there are in Ukraine. As I discovered they live hidden lives.

    martes, 4 de junio de 2013

    Speakout starter: When's your birthday?

    In a new video podcast from Speakout, Pearson Longman, suitable for beginners and elementary students (Básico 1 and Básico 2), passers-by answer these questions:

    When's your birthday?
    What do you usually do on your birthday?
    Where were you on your last birthday?

    Now it's over to you. Answer the questions above about yourself. Try to use some of the expressions you heard on the video.

    You can read the transcript here.

    lunes, 3 de junio de 2013

    Stem cells

    This is not an easy video by any means for intermediate English students, but it is a fascinating one. It is a short extract from BBC's series Bang Goes the Theory, which investigates "the science behind the headlines (...) making sense of the everyday issues that matter to us all."

    The clip below is from series 5, where reporter Liz Bonnin investigates new stem-cell research that could change organ transplant surgery.

    Self-study activity:
    Watch the clip through once. What can you remember?
    Watch the clip again. What different parts of the human body are mentioned?
    Watch the clip once again. What do the figures on the video clip refer to?

    Finally watch the clip while reading the transcript below, which will also give you the chance of checking the answers. Make a note of five or six vocabulary items you wish to remember.

    Now imagine this is a stem cell. Stem cells are unique, because they have the ability to generate new cells of almost any kind. They all start up as unspecialised cells, but given the right chemical and genetic signals, the stem cells can divide to form slightly more specialised cells, of different size, shape and function. And after a few more cycles of division, these can give rise to highly specialised cells, like heart muscle cells, for example, that help your heart pump the blood around your body. Given a different set of signals, this same unspecialised stem cell can go down an alternative pathway and give rise to a different type of specialised cell, like a neuron, that transmits electrical signals in the brain. Compared with stem cells from embryos, adult stem cells give rise to a smaller number of cell types, usually those of the organ or tissue in which they are found. Now, researchers have found adults stem cells in more tissues than previously thought. Bone marrow, skin, brain, liver, eyes, and this has led to research into using the patient's own adult stem cells to repair damaged organs.
    Just relax back your head.
    And that is exactly the focus of the trial Michael Taylor is taking part in. Led by Professor Anthony Mather at the London Chest Hospital, the trial is vitally important, because heart disease is still on the rise.
    Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer in the UK, with nearly 3 million people suffering from heart conditions in the UK. Around 800,000 people suffer from this condition of heart failure. He has got a condition which makes the heart fairly weak and baggy and it doesn't work very well as a pump. What we're trying to do is see whether his own stem cells can actually repair that heart and make it pump effectively again.
    So if you're looking to repair heart tissue, do you need to use heart stem cells?
    Ideally, yes. The problem is that there are very few of those cells in the heart, and we have only recently discovered they are there. And the few heart stem cells that are present clearly aren't capable of repairing it. And that is really where we step in with our trials. By using bone marrow as a source of stem cells, we try and enhance the stem cells in the heart and their ability to repair the damage that has been caused.
    This trial tackles heart disease on two fronts. Michael's bone marrow has already been stimulated to release enormous amounts of stem cells into his blood. And now, more are to be harvested directly from the bone marrow in his hip.
    Are you OK?
    Fine, thank you. It wasn't that bad at all.
    As this is still a trial, only some patients will have the stem cells reinjected. Although Michael will get an injection directly into his heart, neither he nor Professor Mather know if it will contain his stem cells or a
    We are about to put either stem cells or placebos into his coronary arteries. We won't know which until the end of the study, when we have treated all of our patients.
    This uncertainty helps the researchers to rule out the placebo effect from any positive results they achieve. Professor Mather feeds a tube through Michael's blood vessels right back to the site of the disease in his
    heart. Incredibly, Michael remains fully awake throughout the entire procedure.
    Are you all right?
    fine, thank you.
    You can't feel anything?
    No, I can't feel anything.
    So that is the first half we have done. -- first artery. Now the second one and then one more and we are all finished. All finished.

    domingo, 2 de junio de 2013

    Extensive listening: How to make better decisions

    How to make better decisions is a documentary aired by BBC's Horizon in 2008.

    This is the way the BBC announced the programme:

    "We are bad at making decisions. According to science, our decisions are based on oversimplification, laziness and prejudice. And that's assuming that we haven't already been hijacked by our surroundings or led astray by our subconscious!

    Featuring exclusive footage of experiments that show how our choices can be confounded by temperature, warped by post-rationalisation and even manipulated by the future, Horizon presents a guide to better decision making, and introduces you to Mathematician Garth Sundem, who is convinced that conclusions can best be reached using simple maths and a pencil!"

    You can read the transcript for the documentary here.

    sábado, 1 de junio de 2013

    Lessons on movies

    Lessons on Movies is another site created by Sean Banville.

    English students will find in Lessons on Movies a number of activities created by Sean Banville around a film. These activities range from vocabulary work to reading (articles, reviews), listening (after watching the trailer), conversation, writing.

    The number of films in Lessons on Movies keeps getting bigger and bigger.

    If you enjoy the idea of learning English through films, don't turn a blind on Vicki Hollet's site Simple English Videos, which we talked about on this blog some time ago.
    Remember that Sean Banville is the person behind seven other sites for language learning: