jueves, 31 de julio de 2014

Five Minutes With Elle Macpherson

 Matthew Stadlen interviewed Elle Macpherson a few years back for the BBC series Five Minutes With.

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

The activity is suitable for intermediate 2 students.

1 How long has Elle been in the business world?
2 How old was she when she started doing business?
3 What does she say about her family?
4 How difficult is it for Elle to be in the business world?
5 Where does she live?
6 What does she like about living where she lives?
7 What do you find really attractive in a man?
8 What did she use to do in Granola as a child?
9 How does she relax these days?
10 What sports does she do?
11 What world issues or political issues is she involved in?
12 What big ambitions does she still have?

I’m only trying to undress you.
You’re trying to get my clothes off, are you? Get over here.
A quick match, let’s see who is taller, who is taller.
Back to back.
You look very serious.
I’m not serious at all.
I think I might be slightly blushing. It’s not every day you get to interview a supermodel. Shall we start? Let’s see for the better to make a fool of myself.
Okay, we have to put the battery in. By the way, I have to ask you, do you like the clock?
Yeah, I was so impressed when I saw you walking with this. I couldn’t believe it. Yeah, I absolutely love the clock.
Okay. Okay, the pressure is on. Okay?
Let’s go. You can speak fluent French, I think I’m right in saying.
Can you say I’m Elle Macpherson and I am The Body.
Now, once a supermodel, always a supermodel?
You tell me.
Very much so, absolutely. Right, I do want to know do you see yourself more now as a model or as a business woman?
I’ve been doing business for a really long time (1) and I consider myself to be an entrepreneur, entrepreneurial spirit.
Lingeree, lingerie?
How’s it going?
Twenty years in the business (1), it’s thriving. Here I am in my offices, with undies behind me.
How did you first realize, say, that you had a nose for business?
I think it was more a heart for numbers than a nose for business but, you know, when I was 26 years old (2) I left my modeling agency, at the time it was Ford and I incorporated myself and became Elle Macpherson Inc and started doing business to business kind of deals.
Are you aware of the clock there or have you forgotten all about it? Are you nervous, a little bit under pressure.
I’ve completely forgotten about the clock. No, I’m not nervous.
What are you most proud of so far in your life? I ask pretty much everyone that question, easy question.
My biggest achievement is raising my boys to be conscious, sensitive, present human beings.
You have two boys, two boys.
I have two boys, 11 and 6 (3).
Is it hard being a single mum?
It’s challenging, and it’s exciting, and it’s wonderful and what a gift!
I do want to ask you about business then and whether you feel it it’s harder being a woman in business.
Being a woman in the lingerie industry with…, surrounded by women, making lingerie for women…
With your entourage here?
Yes, I have my entourage here, my design team, it’s fabulous, so, you know it’s much easier being a woman designing lingerie than a man (4).
Brought up in Australia.
Are you still an Australian at heart?
Absolutely, a hundred per cent Australian.
Don’t you feel a tiny bit British? We can stop ten years after… 
Not even through osmosis, but I’m very fond of, I love living in London (5). I think London is an extraordinary town.
If you could click your fingers now and change something about the British life… Apart from the weather.
I was just about to say the weather, but that’s so cliché.
That’s a bit cliché, doesn’t it?
Not a lot, you know, art, music, literature, theatre, fantastic people live here (6)…
British men?
Sexy… at times.
What do you find really attractive in a man?
Creativity and intelligence (7).
Okay and are there any hyper embarrassing chat-up lines that stick out?
Oh, would you like to come to my TV show, my five-minute show?
I was going to ask you on a date but not until after the interview, it would be far too…
No business and pleasure.
No business and pleasure? I’m not going to take that as a no quite yet. Cricket?
Like it?
I had a boyfriend that played cricket once. Very long time ago.
Got to ask you, were you a sort of a cricket girlfriend, you actually went to matches?
I was a cricket chick.
It’s a good one.
Do you think England can win back the Ashes?
I wouldn’t know.
Can’t you just say yes?
Yes, yes, of course.
What was it like growing up in Australia, Granola?
Granola is where my father lived. It was amazing, you know, I spent a long time on the beach, riding my bicycle, playing sports and had a really healthy lifestyle (8).
Swimming before school?
Swimming, swimming training. How did you know, at five o’clock in the morning.
I didn’t, I’m guessing.
Swimming cap in a one-piece swimming suit, training, yeah.
So what do you do these days to wind down?
I like to listen to music, I read (9).
What sort of music?
A bit of everything, I’m a bit of a seventies buff chick, I know it’s not very cool but that’s me, and I read and, creative, you know, when, however I can create whether be it writing or reading or I mean in a sense of… material for work and then interpreting.
Obviously, obviously you stay very fit and in good shape. How do you do that? Can you eat what you want?
I eat more than I want. That’s the problem half of the time. Sport is really important to me. Love snow skiing, love horse-riding, love water-skiing and I do it as much as I can (10).
And are there any sort of issues, sort of world issues or political issues that really stick out for you, that you care about?
It’s really interesting that you talk about that…
You’ve done some charity work.
Yeah, politics and human rights, they’re my two, two subjects. I’ve worked a lot with Red, Bono and Bobby Shriver initiative which raises capital for the global fund. The maternal mortality is also an issue that I’m very comfortable with. Unicef. Oxfam (11).
Just save it, just stay, thirty second to go.
Yes, Mam.
Yes, sir.
But ….. We are on first-name terms. Now what are the main remaining ambitions?
Oh, my goodness!
Can you hear it?
To finish this without making a fool of myself.
Big very many ambitions?
Oh, so many, I don’t really think we can talk about them in the last ten seconds (12).
Are you a blonde, would you say? Do you see yourself as a blonde?
In what respect? What are you asking?
That’s all we’ve got time for it now!
There you go
Right on the bell. Okay, now we’re still recording…
… but I do have to ask you, what would I have to do, all my male friends wanted me to ask this question, what would I have to do to persuade you to go for a drink?
I don’t drink.
Ah, come on, right, let’s say, what…
What about bouncing about, what about a day at Lords to the cricket?
Well, you know the way I feel about cricket, so I don’t think that would go down so well, that would not go down so well.
You’re not helping me very much here.
I don’t know, you have to be creative and ingenious and find some way to entice my, you know, spirituality, mentality, physicality, whatever.
So, it’s something spiritual?
No, not necessarily.
How about bird watching?
Depends what kind of birds.
You know the beautiful types, maybe sort of weekend in Wales, perhaps. Just pretend to say yes.
I like the weekend away idea.
Do you? Okay, I’m going to take that as a yes.
I like the country.
Really nice to meet you.
Me too. Nice to meet you.

miércoles, 30 de julio de 2014

Talking point: My favourite teacher at school

In our weekly 'Talking point' section we continue focusing on the anecdote feature of Macmillan's Inside Out.

Today's topic is talking about your favourite teacher at school. Before getting together with the members of your conversation group, go over the questions below, so that you ideas flow more easily when you get together with the members of your conversation group and you can work out vocabulary problems beforehand.
  • Was it a man or a woman?
  • What was their name?
  • What did they look like?
  • What sort of clothes did they use to wear?
  • Were they strict or easy-going?
  • What subject(s) did they teach?
  • Were you good at that subject?
  • Where did you sis in their lessons?
  • What sort of things did you use to do in class?
  • What was special about your favourite teacher?
  • How did they affect your life?
  • Were they popular with your classmates?
  • Are you still in touch with them?
To illustrate the point, watch this Vimeo video where Aspen Aman, from Which Advisor School, talks about the teachers that most affected her life.

martes, 29 de julio de 2014

Madrid Teacher: Guess where I went on holiday

A group of Madrid Teachers are playing the yes/no game. They are trying to find out where one of them went on holiday by simply asking yes/no questions.

This is a fun video for students at intermediate level, but strong Básico 2 students may benefit from it, too.

To begin with, watch the video through to get the gist of the conversation and the game. Watch the video through more than once, if necessary.

Now watch the video more carefully and note down the questions on the video. You may need to pause the video so that you have the time to write the questions down.

Once you've got all, or most of the questions, see if you can remember what the answers were.

Finally, get together with a friend or group of friends and guess where everybody went on their last holiday by asking yes/no questions.

Did you fly to this holiday destination?
No, I did not.
Ok. Is it in the United States?
No, it is not.
Is it in North America?
No, it is not.
Is it in Spain?
It is.
OK. And is it a location by the ocean, by the beach?
Is it on the beach?
For some of the time.
Did you stay, stay in a city?
Also for some of the time.
Ok. And did you swim?
Did you, did you do other kinds of water activities?
Water sports?
Is it on the peninsula? The place, is it on the peninsula or on one of the islands? The Iberian peninsula?
Yeah. Yes. Sorry. The Iberian peninsula. The mainland. Mm-hm.
OK. And did you stay in a hotel?
No, I did not.
Were you camping?
No, it was in between. I stayed in lodging houses.
Did you go alone?
I went alone, yes.
Did you come back alone?
No, no, I didn’t.
Did you, you didn’t fly so, did you take a bus?
I did.
Did you meet some friends there?
In the beginning, yes, and then I made some friends.
Was the night life good?
Also in the beginning, yes!
But not at the end?
No, at the end it wasn’t a night life thing.
And did you go there for a special occasion?
Huh, not special occasion like we normally think of but, that was the time to go.
Was, was there, like, a festival going on there?
You know, it’s Spain. I’m sure there was. But that’s not why I went.
OK. Is this, is this place historically significant?
Yes, many of the places were historically significant.
OK. So, we’re talking about more than one destination.
So, did you tour several locations?
I did.
But it’s in one region in Spain?
One specific . . .
Yes. To be honest actually four regions.
OK. Wow!
Did it take a weekend?
No, much more.
A week? A month? Two weeks?
Three weeks.
Three weeks.
Did you do it last August?
No, I did it last July.
Did you visit museums during your trip?
That’s a good question. I don’t think so.
Did you visit any bars?
Yes, yes, I did.
Did you do any dancing?
Yes, I did, in the beginning.
Did you try anything different, like new food?
Oh, yeah. The whole thing was different, new food, new activity. Yes.
And was there a particular activity you were doing?
For example, was it a cycling tour?
OK, skateboard?
Now, you’re getting further.
Did you walk on the Santiago, El Camino de Santiago?
You’ve got it, brother.
From Irun to Unquera, which is on the border of Cantabria and Asturias.
Cantabria. . . Asturias. Yeah, it’s beautiful. So you, you walked on the north coast? Did you enjoy it?
Do you recommend it?
Do you feel that you have changed as a person?
I did. I certainly did while I was there, but then you get back and slip into your normal routine once again.

lunes, 28 de julio de 2014

If Youre Scared of Snakes, Don't Watch This

Watch this National Geographic video about the snakes that gather at the Narcisse Snake Dens in Manitoba, Canada, which is considered the largest gathering of snakes anywhere in the world.

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

The activity is suitable for Intermediate 2 students.

1 Adults are usually more afraid of the snakes than children.
2 Temperatures are scorching hot in the area.
3 During winter, snakes live very close to the surface.
4 It's very unusual in that part of Canada to see sinkholes with so many snakes.
5 Female snakes are bigger than male snakes.
6 Males fight among themselves to get a female.
7 There have been a few accidents with snakes at Narcisse.
8 In the past people tried to eradicate snakes.

People come from all over the world just to see the snake dens here.
A lot of children are a little more willing to hold the snakes and to interact with them. Sometimes the adults are a little more apprehensive which I think is kind of odd. That it’s almost like the fear of snakes has been built into people as they grow up.
I do not like snakes because they are a little unpredictable.
And.... Uh...yeah. I’m doing a terrible job pretending that I like snakes.
Here in the Inner Lake of Manitoba, Canada is the by far the largest aggregations or concentrations of snakes anywhere in the world.
The Inner Lake of Manitoba is so plentiful, or why snakes are so plentiful here really goes back to the geology of the area. Temperatures can reach 50 degrees below zero. And so a snake, being a cold-blooded animal, they have to be able to survive those winter temperatures. So that here in the Inner Lake region the limestone bedrock is very close to the surface. So that allows the cold and the water to crack and fissure the limestone, and it makes great big sinkholes. And that enables the snakes to get below the frost line during the winter.
There is a very limited number of these den sites. So all the snakes in the area have to go to that den site that’s in their region. And so that’s how you end up with literally tens of thousands of snakes being in a sinkhole that might be the size of the average person’s living room.
It is actually very difficult for the males to find a female because if you look from a snakes-eye-view, you just see kind of a sea of living spaghetti and you’re looking for a slightly bigger piece of spaghetti then all the rest them. They’ll detect the female sex pheromone. The males are very easily able to then go past all the other pieces of spaghetti, if you will, and home in on the female.
Often times when the group of these courting males all gather around one female trying to be that lucky guy that’s going to mate with her, they’ll get so wrapped up they can tumble down literally like a ball. So people call them mating balls.
Even though there is tremendous competition for mates, the males are not fighting with each other, they don’t have dominance hierarchies, they don’t have territories set up like other animals would do in a similar situation.
Let’s get a picture in front of the big snake, okay?
I like to call them the ambassadors of the reptile world. They’re a great way for people to interact with wildlife.
Look at mommy and smile!
The garter snakes don’t have teeth and they feel cool when you touch them and stuff.
So they don’t bite you. They just kind of move around in your hand really fast and stuff.
Awesome job, you guys.
Obviously all the snakes here are harmless. The dens here at Narcisse have been set up through Manitoba Conservation. And the boardwalks have been made and they’re regulated. So it is a nice place for people to come visit with minimal impact on the denning sites themselves.
Way back at the turn of the century and even through the 20s and 30s and 40s, people had a pretty bad attitude about snakes and tried to clear them out. Just times have changed a lot. I think people are much more environmentally- conscious.
Really and truly, having these healthy number of snakes means your living in a healthy environment.

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

domingo, 27 de julio de 2014

Shot for going to school

Schoolgirl Malala Yousafi was just 14 when she was shot for campaigning for girls' education in Pakistan. Nel Hedayat travels to the areas where the Taliban are targeting schools to report Malala's story and meet other schoolgirls who have been attacked for wanting an education.

This is a documentary that BBC aired last year. The YouTube CC subtitles are 100% reliable.

sábado, 26 de julio de 2014

All Ears English

Gaby and Lindsay help us with (American) English by publishing podcasts four times a week on their site All Ears English. Every week the podcasts respectively deal with vocabulary, American culture, strategies for learning English and with motivation and inspiration to learn. The level is suitable for intermediate to advanced English students.

On the downside, the transcripts are only available through subscription, although I feel they are good value for money.

Each podcast lasts around 10 minutes, and Gaby and Lindsay make a point of inviting guests to take part in their podcasts, which contributes to the variety of accents and ideas for students to improve their English.

viernes, 25 de julio de 2014

Five Minutes With Dame Vivienne Westwood

A few years back, Vivienne Westwood was interviewed for BBC's Five minutes with.

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

The activity is suitable for intermediate students.

1 At what time of the day is the interview being held?
2 What did Vivienne do before the interview?
3 What is The vanishing face of Gaia about?
4 What was Vivienne's childhood like?
5 Note down two tips she gives for fashion in recession times?
6 What is Chaos point? What is it about?
7 How does she clean her bras?
8 Where does she get her inspiration from?
9 What does she answer to the question about how the British dress?

Nice to see you, Vivienne. Looking fantastic.
Yes, really good to see you, nice to see you, yeah.
Have a seat. What do you think about the clock, do you like it?, Do, do you think it's high fashion?
I don't know, it looks like clock and it’s a big one, and I don’t know if this works.
I hope so, I hope so. You see, you see. That’s part of the fun, well, it’s a giant alarm clock. Let’s start.
How are you?
I’m well, I have just giving this sort of talk (2) and then… sorry.
It’s quite late in the evening (1).
Sorry, yes, sorry. And it went well, and I’m pleased
You're reading from your manifesto that you’ve written (2).
Yes, yeah, yeah. I’ve tried the most important thing about it that I was trying to do is to convey a sense of urgency about the dangers we face from the ecology (3)and I have really, the most important thing I can say quickly is read James Lovelock’s book The vanishing face of Gaia, you've got to.
You've always been very passionate about current affairs issues, haven’t you? You see yourself a bit of a freedom fighter I think.
I'm, you are right and I'm a bit embarrassed at having admitted that, but but even as a child that is what seemed to mark me out, is what I've understood about myself, yeah.
What sort of childhood did you have, Vivienne?
An ideal childhood, a mother who just adored me, living in the countryside (4).
This is in Derbyshire.
Yeah, the boundaries keep changing, it was in Cheshire at the time, 12 miles from Manchester but the bottom of the Pennants most fantastic countryside, yeah.
Have you got any top tips for fashion in a recession?
Dress up, wear your old favorites over and over again, don't buy new clothes, take the tablecloth but look great, you've got… by less, choose well, okay, and, and add things and just do it, make it very personal and don't buy all this generic clothing that just needs lots of time in the washing machine (5).
And how do you know what to wear on any given evening, how do you choose from your array of clothes?
Well, I have not, I don't take something from every collection but I do borrow it and so I'm very, very fortunate, I've, I can look different all the time…
Oops someone is coming in the door, carry on Vivienne, carry on.
What are you wearing tonight?
Can you just shut the door then? Sorry, ‘cause I get so easily distracted. I'm wearing the…
This is the glory of five minutes though.
Yeah, yeah.
Any interruptions we just hammer on ahead. Okay, tell me, Vivienne.
This is from a collection called Chaos point because we're at this chaos point. It was a lot to do with the Brazilian jungle. I don't know whether this looks like the Brazilian jungle. It reminds me slightly of tribal things and body painting and then (6) I don't know, it's just it's just this great, great dress that is just, you know, you can I don't know you you sort of, it's a bit bondage.
Can you tell me something, you (told) what you said earlier, you spoke earlier about you never wash your bras. Is that true? I can’t quite believe it.
Yeah, because I, I my husband uses our washing machine, I've never actually used it ever, and I just wash little bits of things said that get dirty but a lot of the time but if it got a grease spot, just put talcum powder on it, absolutely disappears (7), it’s brilliant, and I, of course I wear these particular bras that give me a bit more uplift than, than I’m due, I, I don't wash them, otherwise they're not very nice after. I just put talcum powder on them to clean.
Where'd you get your inspirations for your designs, do you have a muse?
I think that without culture, without a deep interest in the most wonderful models of excellence that the human race has ever produced, I don't think you can have ideas. This is why people run out of ideas because it's like having a fridge with no food in it. You have to get your ideas by studying art and the way people saw the world in the past (8).
I've got a confession to make. This clock is so unclear, I don't quite know whether we’re four minutes in or five minutes in, so if we are five minutes in, you get a bonus minute, we're going to carry on. Tell me about your hair color. What’s the inspiration behind that?
Well I don't know, I just… I don't have any inspiration. I just, just… the way… what I do is I just put henna on it, a bit of bleach where the brown still is and then and then henna.
When, when you walk around…
…and that makes it kind of natural you put henna, mix it with flour because then you could control it, doesn't get too shocking.
We’ve only got 25 seconds. When you are out and about in London or in other cities or in the countryside in the UK, what do you make of the way the Brits dress, what do you make of the way we dress in this country?
Well mostly I don’t notice people. I only noticed people when they look great and usually it’s older people that can look wonderful. I saw a man at a concert last night, a music concert and he just looked brilliant (9)…
I have to interrupt but time is up, time is up and the alarm didn’t even go off, so I think maybe we did do six minutes.
Okay, alright.

jueves, 24 de julio de 2014

Adapting together

Watch this New York Times video about Eve Hampton and Robert Pratt, who met while coaching wheelchair basketball at a summer camp.

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

1 Both Eve and Robert are engineers.
2 Robert liked Eve for her extrovert personality.
3 Eve got disabled at 13.
4 Robert had his leg amputated in Iraq.
5 They both like being outdoors.
6 When they were in Glacier National Park, Robert grabbed a little mouse in his arms.
7 Eve doesn't mind people helping her.
8 Robert didn't really suffer when he got disabled.
9 Eve has gained confidence thanks to Robert.

I tend to plan things and tend to have the vision where I want to go do something and he… I don’t want to say you make my dreams come true but you do, everything I tell you I want to do you find a…
We find a way to do it.
We’re software engineers, that’s kind of what we do, we try to solve problems. We were camp counselors at San Diego, that’s a sports foundation camp.
He was coaching little kids in wheel chairs and anybody who is coaching little kids in wheel chairs is really cute.
You have this great bubbly personality I just love. There was something about you, I couldn’t, couldn’t forget.
When you have a trauma in your life, life for me becoming a paraplegic at 13, well I think I’m well adjusted now, that13-year-old is still part of who I am. Bob had a physical trauma too.
2006 while I was serving in Iraq as part of 1st Batallion Marines I was injured and got part of my right leg blown off. While recovering I was participating in some of the sports programmes. You know, I kind of learnt from doing that to see people beyond their wheel chairs, to see the person itself.
We’ve been really outdoorsy I think since much before we met, since little kids [Yeah.] and I think we recognize that in each other [Yeah.]
The past fall it’s been 75 days and nights camping in national parks. Yosemite…
Glacier, Yellow Stone, we went to the Badlands, Rushmore…
Oh, a little creek. You don’t really have your health guaranteed forever, you can’t just wait until retirement to go and do things like that. We’re able enough to do that now, so we did. When we were in Glacier National Park, there was this point in the trail that we came to and there was stairs leading up to this bridge, so I was like, okay, we’ll turn around, you know, sometime you can’t go any further in the trail and Bob says let me just see what’s ahead and he walks across the bridge and there was a moose standing there, so of course he comes back and he grabs me and takes me over the bridge…
Oh, they have wheel-chair height windows, or kid-height.
I don’t accept help from just anyone. In fact, like I actively resist people helping me most of the time but I think when you find a partner, then it’s okay to have them help you because that’s kind of what you do.
It’s locked.
Are you sure?
Yes, there’s a dead bolt.
Oh, sad.
You get frustrated when you’re disabled, you really do, you can’t run anymore, you can’t jump, I felt like self-conscious sometimes over shorts because everyone was staring at my right leg, and she helped me get over that.
I think he doesn’t always see me as an adult woman paraplegic, just sees me as this woman he loves [Yeah.], and so I see myself more as that, too. I think I’ve always been self-confident but to have someone who unconditionally loves you and to know that no matter what your physicality is, that they will love you. You don’t find that every day, really.
It’s true. Oh, Eve, I love you.
Are you trying to make this thing shake?

1T 2T 3T 4F 5T 6F 7F 8F 9T

miércoles, 23 de julio de 2014

Talking point: A disappointing film

In our weekly 'Talking point' section we continue focusing on the anecdote feature of Macmillan's Inside Out.

Today's topic is talking about a disappoint film we have seen. Before getting together with the members of your conversation group, go over the questions below, so that you ideas flow more easily when you get together with the members of your conversation group and you can work out vocabulary problems beforehand.
  • What was the name of the film?
  • When did you go to see it?
  • Why did you go to see it?
  • Had you seen trailers or read reviews?
  • Was it hyped?
  • Why didn't it live up to the hype?
  • What did you particularly disliked about the film?
  • Who was in it and who directed it?
  • Were there any characters you could identify with?
  • Were there any characters who annoyed you?
  • What did your friends/family think about it?
  • Would you go and see another film by the same director or actors?
To get some insight into the topic, you can watch this video the top 5 disappointing films of 2013. Do you agree with the five movies CineFix has selected?

You can activate the CC YouTube subtitles, which will help you understand most of what is being said.

martes, 22 de julio de 2014

Madrid Teacher: Celebrity narcissits

In our Madrid Teacher series, three teachers discuss celebrities' obsession with appearance and plastic surgery.

Watch the video through to get the gist of what the conversation is about.

Watch the video again. This time pay attention to the following features of spoken English the three people use in the conversation.
  • Conversation fillers: Erm; Well; you know
  • Agreeing: Yeah, I know; Yeah, exactly; Yes, or course; No, it’s true; Yeah, absolutely
  • Repetition: For example
  • Paraphrasing what you have just said: I mean
  • Emphasising: honestly; really; absolutely; just; even
  • Vague language: or something
  • Use of like as a connector

Now it's over to you. Get together with a friend or relative, and give your opinion about the topic 'do you think celebrities are obsessed with beauty?', 'do you agree with the lengths some of them go to to look young and beautiful?'. Do not forget to use some of the features of spoken English we have seen in the Madrid Teacher video.

Erm, the other day I was reading this magazine. It’s one of the, those celebrity magazines…
Oh an intellectual …
Yeah, I know…relaxing after work.
I only read those in the dentist… when I go to the dentist, honestly.
Well, I’m not going to mention about that one, but… But I saw a picture of a celebrity and she, you know, it’s like that Sunday when you get up late, you don’t shower, you go to take the dog out…
With your tracksuit on!
Yeah, exactly. And somebody snaps a picture of her, put it in this magazine saying, 'look here she is with all the acne and look at how awful she looks' and in reality she looked fine. But I felt so sorry for all those celebrities that have to walk around all the time and put makeup on before they go anywhere and… I don’t know.
Well, it’s not only celebrities who are doing it. You get a lot of people who are just like concerned, so concerned about the way they look. I, you know, when I go to pick up my child from school, some of the people who go to pick up their children they look like they’ve really dressed up for that occasion. It’s just some people take their personal physical appearance really seriously, don’t they?
Well, you know, in some way I think it is important…
Yes, or course.
… but again, for example, you have to draw the line, for example, have you ever seen, for example, some men that have their eyebrows look better than mine. I mean, not that mine look perfect or anything…
Yours look fine!
…but so like if they’re so… if they’re plucked with such precision, you wonder, for example, should people look that perfect… always?
Also…  yeah, it’s like when stars have face-lifts it always looks really strange, doesn’t it? It makes their face look really unnatural, doesn’t it? They’re like almost “I’d rather look like that than natural.” And they probably know they don’t look natural but for them it’s more important for them to look the way they want to look rather than, …
Something normal.
Yeah… looking natural and normal.
No, it’s true. Lately as I’ve been watching TV or movies I notice it. And it really, it bothers me. She’s had her lips done or she’s had her eyes done. It’s quite clear.
Sometimes those lip jobs look absolutely ridiculous. They just look… you just think…
Like the Joker! Ha-ha!…
It’s like why did you…why did you bother doing that? You just look ten times worst than you did before. You’ve wasted your money and you just look ridiculous.
But in some way if you’re a movie star or something, you still need to do certain things…
Well, that’s what I was saying…
… in order to receive your money and for people to want to see you in the movie theatres. Maybe, maybe you look strange day to day but for the movie perfect. 
It’s perfect. Well, that’s what I was saying with this magazine I felt really bad for this girl. You know, to always have that pressure on you put on by society or the producers or directors I don’t even know. Each to their own, I guess.
Yeah, absolutely.
Everyone is beautiful.
Yes, and we all look perfect just as we are.

lunes, 21 de julio de 2014

University Of South Florida Drone Library

The University of South Florida (USF) students can go to the school library and check out drones because the library is trying to promote digital learning.

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

1 Students will be allowed to use the drones in autumn.
2 Architecture students will not need to use drawings any more.
3 Some people fear they might cause accidents.
4 Some people fear they might be used for illegal activities.
5 Only trained students will be allowed to use the drones.
6 The drones cost around $1,500.

You can see these little guys flying over places like parks and beaches, but soon you’ll see them flying around USF. The university's letting students checked drones out from the library starting this fall. Over to McLaughlin. He’s in the newsroom tonight with more details on that. Hi, Brendan.
Hi, Linda. Clearly libraries are not just for books anymore. At USF they’ve been trying to make all kinds of technology available to students, now including the remote-controlled drones that have caused so much excitement and controversy.
One of the USF Library’s first drone flights recorded this jazz performance from about 30 feet in the air. Today the staff showed off the device, now available for check out by students studying anything from engineering to environment science.
For example in architecture, they could also go over a structure and understand the various dimensions of it without having to look at drawings and kind of estimate.
Engineering student Rache Navite is intrigued.
I think that might be cool.
But one student in the actual library where they still keep books is skeptical.
I’m pretty sure it’ll just crash it somewhere, cause some sort of accident.
Amazement at what these lightweight camera toting quadcopters can do, that’s been tampered by safety and privacy concerns. They do crash frequently and people and are often more annoyed than amazed at the eyes in the sky.
There’s a drone here.
Hockey fans recently managed to knock a drone out of the air with a T-shirt in front of the Staples Center in LA. And at least one USF student even has concerns about inappropriate uses of drones on campus.
I don’t know, just creeping on other people or just like you know, lurking.
But Academic Services’ Director, Nancy Cunningham says anyone checking out a drone will be thoroughly trained and supervised.
You can’t just take a drone, check it out and do whatever you want. They’re going to be heavily controlled by our library staff.
The two camera drones purchased by the USF Library cost about $1,000 each, they’re high-end, and, yes like all checked out video equipment, you break it, you bought it.

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

domingo, 20 de julio de 2014

Extensive listening: Cheetahs, against all odds

The documentary Cheetahs: Against All Odds was first aired in 2009.  The documentary follows two cheetah mothers; both with varying circumstances, as they struggle to raise their families against all the odds. Among  the speedy animals, Cheetahs are the fastest. However, they are also the most vulnerable among the big cats. In the Serengeti Plain, cheetahs live uneasy lives. Females, living alone with their offspring, are exposed to the viciousness of more powerful predators.

Unlike male, females with the cubs search out hiding places to keep their young ones safe from predators.  One cheetah mother lives along with her five cubs. She needs a good fortune or considerable skills to raise its offspring. Another cheetah mother lives with her four cubs on termite mounds, which are excellent advantage from where danger and prey can be spotted.

You can read the transcript here.

sábado, 19 de julio de 2014

Reading test: Europe's Top 10 Most Unique Festivals

In this week's reading test the activity we are going to practise is heading matching. Read the headings below and match them with the corresponding festival 1-10 that you will find on the goabroad.com/ entry Europe’s Top 10 Most Unique Festivals. There is one heading you do not need to use, and A is an example.

A - All over the country - 9 (Festas)
B - Bending your elbow all day long
C - Don’t go if you are a bit sensitive
D - It is over in a flash
E - It took ages to get it over with
F - It was started as a way to kill time
G - Music everywhere
H - Not for lovers of peace and quiet
I - They had their own way in the end
J - You might regret it if you participate
K - People from all over the world

Busojaras (Mohacs, Hungary)

A - All over the country – 9
B - Bending your elbow all day long – 4
C - Don’t go if you are a bit sensitive – 8
D - It is over in a flash – 7
E - It took ages to get it over - 10
F - It was started as a way to kill time – 5
G - Music everywhere – 6
H - Not for lovers of peace and quiet – 3
I - They had their own way in the end – 1
J - You might regret it if you participate – 2

viernes, 18 de julio de 2014

Five Minutes With Juliette Binoche.

Actress Juliette Binoche talks for BBC's Five Minutes With... about preparing roles, the disadvantages of being a film star, the similarities between painting and acting and whether she considers herself to be an intellectual.

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

The activity is suitable for intermediate 2 students.

1 Certified Copy has already brought Juliette some award.
2 Actors' families resent the fact that the actor is travelling so much.
3 Juliette thinks directors should have the power on the set.
4 Juliette is confident that one day she will become director.
5 Throughout her career, the roles she has played have chosen her most of the times.
6 There isn't a specific way to prepare for a role.
7 Juliette's fondness for painting comes from her father.
8 Juliette relaxes by painting.
9 Juliette wasn't the intellectual member of her family.
10 Juliette is not always easy to get on with on the set.

Juliette, how are you?
New film.
Certified copy.
New film in a sense. New film to us, because you’ve already won the best actress at Cannes for it.
Right. But I’m happy to present it here.
Will it be possible to count down in French for us, please.
Cinq, quatre, trois, deux, un, zero.
Is it good fun being a film star?
It can be.
Are there any downsides?
Could be, yeah.
You’re not going to tell me?
I’d say when you feel you didn’t go as far as you wanted to because the director doesn’t want to do another take and all that at the end of the day you feel like you haven’t done exactly where you wanted to go, but otherwise I felt maybe guilty as a mother because you travel, you go back and forth, so you wonder whether it’s okay, but at the same time you can take your children with you, so it’s a…, but I’d say it’s a privilege to be an actor.
When you are on a set, who has the power, you or the director.
When there’s no feeling of power, that’s the best.
Would you be tempted to direct yourself?
I don’t see it as a bad thing. Tempted feels like you know a sort of a guilty thing, I think that it feels almost natural for an actor to direct.
So you might direct.
Do you feel you have chosen your parts in your career or have they chosen you?
Both, I think it comes together. It’s like somehow the wave and the sand, you know, it, it, there was no sand, there’ll be no wave, there’s no wave maybe no sand.
Do you have a favourite part that you’ve ever played?
That I have never played?
That you have ever played. The best part that you have ever played. Or is that impossible?
It’s impossible to answer, there’s several ones and I don’t put one against the other, they are all me and they went through me, yeah.
Do you prefer to play parts where you really identify with the character that you’re playing?
I think I always identify with them. It’s part of the compassion as an actor. For a part you have to have this bit, this pace of compassion in order to give yourself, give your heart.
How do you prepare, we’ve got plenty of time, how do you prepare for a role?
I would say it prepares me as much as I prepare them, the roles, but how do I prepare? Depends, each role is different, I have a different preparation each time because I’ve been working with people with directors, improvising, you know and not wanting to have a dialogue and all that, but sometimes I’ve been very precise technically because there’s a, a specific accent or things like that.
Your mother was a drama teacher and she trained you a bit, is that right?
Yes, she’s a source of inspiration, but she’s an actress as well, you know.
What do you think you would have done if you had not become an actress?
Paint, I think I could’ve done anything.
Your father is a sculptor and you paint, it’s one of your big passions.
Yeah, but somehow it didn’t come very much from my father because sculpting came later in his life…
Is that how you relax, how you switch off?
No, no, it’s the same as acting, it’s just a different medium, but it’s all the same plunge, the same jump into the unknown somehow and you, and you as you’re going inside you find , as it finds you as well, so it’s, it’s very much like acting for me.
Do you see yourself as an intellectual? You think a lot about things, and not just the parts that you play.
In my family my sister was the intellectual, so when some people think I’m an intellectual, it makes me laugh.
Politics. Would you say you’re very political?
When I can be, I am, but I would rather think more human than political.
Would you have a go into politics?
No, I wouldn’t.
So tell me, what’s the key to your success as an actress?
Taking risks….
Do you work very hard?
I do.
Are you quite easy to get on with on the set?
Depends what I need to play.
It’s like a riddle some of these answers, but tell me, your team work. Do you enjoy the team work, acting with other people?
I love it. I do love it. That’s why I chose to be an actress and not to be a painter.
What will your legacy be? Five seconds!
Go for it, love. You are just waiting for the five last seconds, that’s all those questions are just for thpse last five questions. It’s good, I enjoyed it.
Did you enjoy it?
Yeah, yeah. I loved the five, the last five seconds. That’s the truth of it all.
That’s where the real pressure hits.
Exactly, that’s why where you were like looking at… I was wondering why does he need to check so much. Now I understand, it’s like you die just before the last seconds. What do I need to say to you, whoever?

1T 2T 3F 4F 5F 6F 7F 8F 9T 10T

jueves, 17 de julio de 2014

What Happens If Your Town Runs Out of Water?

In Lompico, California, residents are struggling with drought and water shortages are forcing locals to rethink the way they are using water.

Self-study activity:
Watch the video through and match each of the headings A-H with the corresponding resident 1-7. There is one extra heading you don't need to use.

The activity is suitable for intermediate 2 students.

A Dams everywhere.
B Less rainfall than expected one more year.
C More events of this kind because of dry vegetation.
D Not very many residents in these area.
E Reasons for optimism.
F Restrictions for domestic use on the horizon.
G Saving water.
H Water cycles are changing.
1 Lois Henry President, Lompico County Water District Board
2 Kevin Collins, Conservation Activist and Lompico Resident
3 Andrew Fisher, Hydrogeologist,  University of California, Santa Cruz
4 Lois Henry, President Lompico County Water District Board
5 Richard Rogers, Director of Operations San Lorenzo Valley Water District
6 John Stipes, Fire Chief Zayante Fire Protection District
7 Kevin Collins, Conservation Activist and Lompico Resident

1 Lois Henry President, Lompico County Water District Board
Mark Twain said, "Whiskey's for drinking and water is for fighting." We're going to have wars
over water one of these days because water is vital. Here in Lompico, we have about five-hundred
households. It's not really a town, it's just a canyon in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The only business is...
the Water District. It's just a bunch of homes that started off as a resort area. Our claim to fame here is
that Jerry Garcia lost part of a finger in Lompico Creek with an axe.
2 Kevin Collins, Conservation Activist and Lompico Resident
I measure rainfall. We got less than twenty inches this winter. The average here, long term average,
is 45-50 inches. This is a third year of a below average series of winters. So if the stream dries up
since my house is dependent on it for a water supply, I'll have to pay to have water trucked into a fire-
fighting storage tank that I have. The creek hasn't dried up in the 25 years I've lived here, but this is an
unprecedented rainfall year.
3 Andrew Fisher Hydrogeologist  University of California, Santa Cruz
We have clusters of dry years and clusters of wet years as well. There's an additional level of variability
you can now layer on top of all of that which has to do with climate change. One of the big areas of
the planet that's being affected is the hydrologic cycle. There are changes in the way air is moving and
the way water is moving. We see in the San Francisco Bay area, for example, in the last hundred years
there's been an increase in the intensity of storms. So what that means is during a given year, we're now
more likely to get a larger fraction of our rain during a smaller number of events. You tend to get more
run off with those big storms. The streams tend to peak and flood. They tend to deliver more of that
water to the ocean. There's less opportunity for that stream water or the water coming off of hill slopes
to soak into the ground and recharge aquifers.
4 Lois Henry, President Lompico County Water District Board
I've cut my water usage in half. Come on in. One of the things I did to conserve water was to buy a new washer. I collect water in a bucket while the water is heating up and then I bring the water in the house. And then I'll take some of it and heat it up in this teapot and I will take that hot water and wash my dishes. And then I take that water and I water my plants. California Department of Public Health contacted me and said it would be possible for us to get a grant for an emergency intertie with San Lorenzo Water District.
5 Richard Rogers Director of Operations San Lorenzo Valley Water District
They really squeaked by in these last couple of weeks. I mean it was a day away, I think, from trucking
water in. This pipe will climb up approximately 700 feet in elevation to get to the Lompico water
system. Because the state's in an unprecedented drought, we're all having water conservation. San
Lorenzo Valley water starts May 1st with a 20% mandatory restrictions. Lompico, they're in and out
right now, of rationing. When your neighbor knocks on your door and says you need water, you help.
6 John Stipes Fire Chief Zayante Fire Protection District
From maybe October through January there was probably 70 different vegetation fires that were lit in
the county this year, where typically we'd have maybe a dozen. These fuels out here, these grasses out
here, are probably twice as dry right now as they normally are this time of year.
7 Kevin Collins Conservation Activist and Lompico Resident
California's entire landscape has been modified over the last hundred years. It's been plumbed. Every
major river system in the entire state except for one on the Oregon border is dammed and there's a huge
network of aqueducts and gates and pumps that move water from one part of the state to the other.
The farmers are going to be screaming bloody murder this summer because their water allocation just
doesn't exist. And so there will be fights over what's going to happen in the Sacramento Delta. They'll
be accusing conservation advocates of putting them out of business because we don't want the salmon
to go extinct and other species that are blinking out in the delta. There's going to be a huge political
battle this summer in California over who gets what water that still exists.

1D 2B 3H 4G 5F 6C 7A

miércoles, 16 de julio de 2014

Talking point: Talking about a wedding you've been to

In our weekly 'Talking point' section we continue focusing on the anecdote feature of Macmillan's Inside Out.

Today's topic is about talking about a wedding you've been to. Before getting together with the members of your conversation group, go over the questions below, so that you ideas flow more easily when you get together with the members of your conversation group and you can work out vocabulary problems beforehand.
  • Who was getting married?
  • Where, when  and what time of year did the ceremony take place?
  • What was the weather like?
  • What were you wearing?
  • What did the bride and groom wear?
  • Did you know many people at the wedding?
  • Where did you go for the reception?
  • What did you have to eat and drink?
  • Did anybody give any speeches? Who? What did they say?
  • Did the guests give the bride and groom presents?
  • How did the day end?
  • Did you enjoy the wedding?
  • What was your favourite moment?
To illustrate the topic, you can watch Hugh Grant's famous best man speech in the film Four Weddings and a Funeral.

martes, 15 de julio de 2014

Madrid Teacher: Book censorship

In this week's Madrid Teacher post, four teachers, Joyce, Thomas, Vicky and Louise, discuss the topic of book censorship.

Watch the video through to get an overall view of everything Joyce, Thomas, Vicky and Louise talk about.

Watch the video again. This time pay attention to the following characteristics of spoken English that we can identify in this three-minute video.
  • Fillers to gain thinking time: er; erm; you know; like; well
  • Use of really to express emphasis
  • Showing agreement: yeah; yeah, exactly; Um-hm; I know; Absolutely
  • Use of actually to introduce a bit of surprising information
  • Showing surprise: Whoa! It's incredible; Oh my God!
  • Use of I mean to make yourself clear
  • Use of like as a linking word
  • Use of so as a linking word

Now it's over to you. Preferably, get together with a friend and relative and discuss these questions together: What do you think about the topic of book censorship? 
Have any books ever been censored in your country?
What was their 'threat'?
Try and use any of the features of spoken English we have mentioned in this post.

Joyce: I read an article the other day about, er, censorship, and especially with kid’s books. And I was really surprised; there was this book called, er, Daddy’s Roommate, that Sarah Palin was trying really hard when she was the mayor of, er, Wasilla, er, Alaska, this little town in Alaska. She was trying to ban it. And it’s a story about this little boy [whose] parents are divorced, he goes [and] visits his dad, and of course Daddy’s roommate is his male partner.
Thomas: Ah.
Joyce: Right. But then a lot of, like, these child psychologists were saying, but these books are important because a lot of kids who are in these situations and, you know, it’s important to have books like that also.
Thomas: It’s a great platform to run your political campaign on, banning books and telling people what they can and can’t read.
Vicky: [Yeah.]
Joyce: Well, yeah, we all…
Louise: And parents what they can and can’t give to their children to read.
Thomas: Yeah, exactly.
Louise: Yeah. It’s a shock, yeah.
Vicky: Because then doesn’t that go completely and utterly against the American constitution?
Joyce: Well, this is…
Vicky: Freedom of choice? Ha ha ha.
Thomas: Well… let’s not get into that.
Vicky: Of speech? Ha ha ha.
Joyce: Yeah. There was another book also that was banned, it was called, er, or not banned, at least on this list of challenged books and it was called erm, er, With Tango, or And Tango or Three, or With Tango or Three, I don’t remember exact-, actually remember the title, but it was about, and it’s actually a true story. It’s about two male penguins in the, at the New York Zoo, that adopted a little baby penguin.
Thomas: Whoa!
Vicky: Yeah.
Joyce: And even that. Like, you know, you think the other one, OK, because of, well, the homosexuality aspect but I mean, like, these are penguins, you know
All: Yeah.
Joyce: And even that book was considered challenge in some parts.
Vicky: It’s incredible.
Louise: It is. I think, I think parents should be able to choose what they, what they give to their children to read. Interference by the state, for me, is really strange.
Vicky: Oh, I don’t know, I mean…as children get older, they should be able to choose their own books to read as well.
Thomas: Of course.
Vicky: You know? And I remember, one of my teachers, fair enough I was young. When I was in primary six, I was about ten years old, I was reading It, by Stephen King.
Thomas: Um-hm.
Vicky: And my parents knew it, they didn’t mind. They were like, “OK, here fine, read it.” Ha ha. “You’ll probably get to chapter two.” Ha ha. And I did, I got to chapter two, and then my primary school teacher confiscated it.
Thomas: Oh my God!
Vicky: I know. My primary [school teacher] was completely horrified that I was…
Thomas: But didn’t that make you want to read it more?
Louise: Yeah.
Vicky: Yeah, well… but they’d already made the movie so at that point I just went. Ha ha ha.
Thomas: Well because before film…
Vicky: She wouldn’t give me it back, so…
Thomas: In theory I’m against, er, censorship… hardcore, but in practice it only galvanizes the reading public to go after that book more.
Vicky: Absolutely.
Thomas: [It] makes the author more popular, and makes the book almost cult status.
Joyce: Um-hm.
Thomas: It’s like, er, no publicity is bad publicity.
Joyce: Yeah there’s this fellow called Pullman. I don’t actually know him, he writes children’s books. And he’s supposedly… so, well some people in Wisconsin or something think he’s anti-Christian so they banned his books. They’re also kid’s books. He wrote this trilogy. And he was saying, “Oh well it’s great for sales, like a lot…
Vicky: Yeah.
Thomas: I’m sure now people are like, “Well what’s so, what can’t I do? Let me check it out.”

lunes, 14 de julio de 2014

Listening test: Riots in Burgos

You will listen to part of a radio programme about the riots is the Spanish city of Burgos. Read the notes below and listen carefully to the recording. In each of the spaces provided, complete the information required with up to THREE WORDS. 0 is given as an example. You will hear the information twice.

0. The renovation of the road will cost ....8 million euros... .  

1. On Friday protesters attacked …………………….………… and set fire to dumpsters.
2. The new road will be  ……………….….………… the size of the old one.
3. The city’s mayor claims that the project was a(n)  ……………….….………… made in 2011.
4. The protesters have ……………….…………………………… the project temporarily.
5. The protests are the result of ……………….….………… that have been going on for months.
6. Basic services like ……………….….……………..…  and ……………….….….………… have been reduced in many Spanish cities.
7. The current level of unemployment in Spain is ……………….….…………….  .
8. Clashes began the moment the ……………….….……………. from other parts of Spain were sent in.

Transcript and key
Residents in Burgos have resorted to street riots to express their frustration over a reported (0) 8m euro revamp of the city’s main thoroughfare. Protests began on Friday January 10 and continued daily until today. The demonstrations turned violent when a small group of protesters attacked (1) bank office windows and set fire to garbage bins, to dumpsters.  Clashes with riot police brought in to the city of Burgos from Madrid and other parts resulted in injuries and over 40 arrests. The plans for the thoroughfare include decreasing the road size by (2) half and taking away free parking spaces in favour of a new underground pay and display car park. Burgos is reportedly in debt to the tune of 500m euros. However, the city’s mayor Javier Lacalle says the project was the people’s choice as it was presented as an (3) electoral promise in elections in 2011. So, Alison, what is the status of, what’s the situation in Burgos today?
Well, the residents of Burgos and the neighbourhood called El Gamonal have (4) succeeded in paralyzing the building project for the moment. Last night mayor Lacalle announced that he would halt construction temporarily as he seeks dialogue. We have to see what happens next. Most likely the mayor is just waiting until the demonstrations are forgotten and then will try to get started again on the project.
What is it that has brought these demonstrations in a provincial capital like Burgos to the world’s attention?
Well first, it should be acknowledged that the residents of the neighbourhood have been protesting and attempting to negotiate with the authorities for months and that the street protests came after months of (5) failed [attempts of] negotiation. What drew the attention was clearly the burning dumpsters. And let’s be honest about it. A night scene with flames is always of media interest. But as a backdrop for this scene, remember the basic…, spending on basic services in Burgos and in the rest of Spain, in many cities around Spain, (6) health care, education, all of this has been cut, while this construction plan for the street will cost around 8m euros, and as you noted Burgos is in debt close to 500m. The parking spaces that will be built underground will be privately leased for 20,000€ so you can imagine, the residents of this working class neighbourhood, currently have free parking, are anticipating now having to pay more than they can. The level of unemployment in neighbourhoods like that exceed the national level which of course is (7) 26%. So there is a lot of anger, but again what brought the demonstrations to the world’s attention was that a group of the young protesters set fire to some garbage bins. What happened from that moment was that riot police from other parts of Spain were sent to Burgos further infuriating the protesters. They didn’t have any problem with the municipal police, but the minute the (8) riot police came in clashes began.

domingo, 13 de julio de 2014

Extensive listening series: Addicted to sugar

Back in 2012 the BBC aired the Addicted to Pleasure series of documentaries, of which Sugar was the first episode.

This is the way the BBC introduced the documentary:
"Revealing the rich and controversial past of sugar, alcohol, tobacco and opium, Hollywood actor Brian Cox embarks on a thought-provoking journey to uncover how the commercial exploitation of these products hooked the rest of the world on an appetite for a good time.

In this first episode, Brian wants to find out why (like millions of other Brits), he is a diabetic. Starting in Barbados, from which sugar cane fuelled a consumer revolution, Brian discovers how the British acquired a 'sweet tooth' and why today, this has led to epidemic levels of diabetes, obesity and even addiction to sugar."

You can read the transcript for the first twelve minutes of the episode here.

sábado, 12 de julio de 2014

Meals and Meal Times in English-Speaking Countries

What's the difference between the words breakfast, brunch, lunch, luncheon, tea, dinner and supper?
What articles and prepositions do we use with meals?

Tanja Batista, a graduate in English Language and Literature from the Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia, has compiled a comprehensive and detailed explanation of the terminology and customs that accompany eating in English-speaking countries together with a historical explanation of the terms.

Drop by Tanja's blog and find it out for yourself.

Photo: Tanja Batista Blog

viernes, 11 de julio de 2014

Canada's wilderness cottage culture

During the summer months in Ontario, Canada, thousands of local people escape the heat as well as the hustle and bustle of city life by going to their lakeside cottages. This seasonal ritual allows family and friends to spend quality time together and enjoy the great outdoors.

In this BBC's Close-up episode, reporter Sian Griffiths visits the Kostiw family at their cottage in the Kawartha Lakes region, north of Toronto.

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

The activity is suitable for intermediate 2 students.

1 The closest inhabited place to the cottages in the Kawartha Lakes region is three hours away.
2 Some celebrities live in the same area.
3 The cottage is the ideal place for people who are fond of the new technologies.
4 One of the main problems of living in the cottages is the insects.
5 The Kostiw family love skiing in the mountains.
6 People have to be aware of the bears and wolves not attacking them.

Welcome to the Kawartha Lakes region in the central Canadian province of Ontario. We are about three hours north of the nearest city and fifteen minutes away from the nearest village, Apsley, which is exactly the point. It’s a place people love coming to, who love to go to cottages. It’s secluded, it’s got forests, it’s got lakes, it’s perfect. And the trend has been catching on the Hollywood celebrities as well: Goldie Hawn, Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg, they’ve been known to come across the border and go to a region up the road called  Muskoka Caucus, but it’s a bit exclusive.
So here today we’ll take a look at the Kostiw family cottage. We’ve got some members here. It’s Matthew on the barbecue. We’re going to go inside and have a quick look. It’s got all the basics. It’s got living space, it’s got bedrooms. But it has no internet and no television. Most of the action takes place outside by the waterfront, so let’s go and have a look.
So we are down here on the deck with some members of the Kostiw family. We’ve got Natalia here and Alex, it’s Natalia’s cottage. Natalia, what’s the best thing about having a cottage?
I think one of the best things is just getting away from the city and the hustle and bustle of Toronto, and the calmness of being out in the countryside, so there’s nobody to disturb us, and friends come over as well, so it’s an excuse to see each other, and just spend quality time all together.
Are there any downsides?
Lots of bugs in the beginning, in June there’s quite a few black flies and you do have mosquitoes but it’s really worth it.
And the kids seem to really be able to get a chance to enjoy the water.
Yeah, they just love the water. My husband sails, I love kayaking and the boys love to ski and they love to be wake-boarding.
And how about wildlife. I think Alex at your place, you’re staying up the road, you can see some wildlife.
We’re on the next lake over, Jack Lake, and there are some bears up at the lake and a few years ago the boys and I saw like three black bear cubs. This year we saw some wolves, three baby cubs on the road. You’ve got to be careful when you’re driving because you can hit them. But, yeah, there’s a lot of wildlife and of course you’ve got the loons and the herons, that’s what we love.
Well I’ve got some bison burger here, it comes from Buffalo. It’s very low-fat. I’ve never tried some before. Delicious. But I won’t eat too much because Natalia and I are going out on the boats.
So we are here on the dock. We have got all kinds of very typical Canadian or Ontario water craft. We’ve got kayak, we’ve got a canoe, we’ve got a pedal boat with a special dog, Zaboo.
And that’s a glimpse of Ontario cottage life.

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jueves, 10 de julio de 2014

10 Questions for Larry King

This is Larry King's interview for Time Magazine back in 2009, where the CNN journalist talks about his 50 years of professional life.

Self-study activity:
Watch  the video through and note down the questions reporter Gilbert Cruz asks Larry.
Watch the video again and note down the main ideas in Larry's answers.

The activity is suitable for Intermedio 2 students.

I’m Gilbert Cruz with Time.com and I’m here with Larry King host of CNN’s long running Larry King Life and author of the new memoir My Remarkable Journey. Thanks for being with us today.
My pleasure, Gilbert.
What has allowed you to last this long in the job? And do you still enjoy doing it?
I still very much enjoy it and longevity is impossible to explain. I’m doing what I always wanted to do. I never wanted to do anything else but be a broadcaster. I'm talking about age 5. I would listen to the radio and imitate the radio announcers. But I never thought … I never thought I'd be seen worldwide. So all of this is … a dream come true. We almost called the book What Am I Doing Here? I still, I still pinch myself.
Do you agree with the perception that sometimes you avoid asking difficult questions?
Don't agree with it. What I … I'm not there to pin someone to the wall. I try to ask perceptive questions, thoughtful questions that get at an arrival of what that person is, how they are and what they bring forth. If I were to begin an interview with, ah, Nancy Pelosi and say, "Why did you lie about the torture things you learnt?" the last thing I will learn is the truth. Of course, what am I doing? I’m putting them on the defensive, purposely, to make me look good. Nothing to do with them, they’re a prop. At that point, they're a prop. Well, to me, the guest is not a prop.
Are you still learning, ah, how to interview people? Or do you have that down – the technique?
That I think I have down. I think I know how to interview people, I’ve done it for so long. It’s who, what, when, where, why. It’s in what order you put ‘em. What you want is a good interview subject. If you’ve got a subject who is, ah, passionate, who has the ability to explain what they do, very well. Who has a sense of humour, hopefully self-depreciating, and a little bit of a chip on their shoulder. You’ve got those four things, don’t matter, president, plumber, architect, singer … you got those four things, no one will click off.
Are you at all concerned at the popularity of ideologically-charged news programs? Programs where the, ah, host is someone who injects a lot of themselves into … ?
I'm not personally concerned, because I know that all things are cyclical. There’s a wave, it comes in, then it goes out. Hopefully, the good, straight, interview - in-depth, thoughtful, listening to the answer, the guest counts - will always be around. So I’m not a fan of the ideological-based show, right or left, because I don’t learn anything. There's something I learned long ago: I never learned a thing when I was talking. I never learned a thing when I was talking. So these shows in which the host is on 90% of the time and the guests 10%, I don't get it. But, I understand people like it. I wouldn’t do it.
How many pairs of suspenders do you actually have?
Never counted 'em. But my guess would be based on the suspenders in New York and in Washington and, of course, at my home …150. Much more ties. The one thing they have to have, they can't be clip-ons. They have to be buttons, over the buttons. So every pair of pants I buy, jeans, anything I buy - we sew in the suspender buttons. I’ve gotten very used to them. I like the feel, I like the way they wear, I like the, I like the look.
What do you think is the greatest challenge that media faces today?
The greatest challenge media faces today is new media. No one can predict tomorrow. The technology is ahead of the intellect. By that I mean … what I thought was fantastic was television – think of it! You and I can be seen around the world in a, in a minute. There’s satellites - what about satellites, how are we to top satellites?
And then guys walk around with little machines and they much ‘em and, and words appear! And you think … So, the new media is … everybody’s a journalist, everybody Twitters and they have websites and they send out … And, and the danger in it, the danger in it is real. When anyone’s a newsman … you get a lot of false stories, overreaction to stories, jumping on stories too quickly, no measuring … And the saddest part of it, is the decline of the newspaper. I love newspapers. In fact, as an aside, I was, ah, having my hair done today and Rupert Murdoch was in the next stall and we were talking. And of course, he loves newspapers and I love newspapers and he said that was … that’s another generation. And it’s sad.
Larry, our last question is from Felicite Osborne from New Rochelle, New York. And she asks: What does life after Larry King Live look like to you?
I don’t know. I don’t know. First, as Milton Berle said, "Retire? To what?" What would I do? I have no idea. I would do something. If I wasn’t at CNN, I’d do something in media. I’d volunteer to work for major league baseball.
That’s nice.
Cause baseball’s my favourite advocation. So I, I would volunteer to do something.
You work so much – you don’t relish, sort of, just, relaxing?
I’m not a relaxer. I’m not … no, no, no. Relax is not in my nomenclature. I, ah,I'm not a good sitter-arounder, if that's a term. It doesn't, it doesn’t suit me.

miércoles, 9 de julio de 2014

Talking point: Your most treasured possession

In our weekly 'Talking point' section we continue focusing on the anecdote feature of Macmillan's Inside Out.

Today's topic is about your most treasured possession. Before getting together with the members of your conversation group, go over the questions below, so that you ideas flow more easily when you get together with the members of your conversation group and you can work out vocabulary problems beforehand.
  • What is your most treasured possession?
  • What's it made of?
  • What does it look like?
  • How old is it?
  • How long have you had it?
  • Did somebody give it to you or did you acquire it yourself?
  • What special significance does it have?
  • Did it belong to somebody else before?
  • Does it remind you of a particular person? Who?
  • Does it remind you of a time or an event in the past?
  • What happened?
  • Where do you keep your treasured possession?
  • Do you wear it, carry it around with you or does it have a special place in your home?
  • Who will you leave it to when you die?
To illustrate the point, watch the videos of Adam Garber, an attorney in Levenfeld Pearlstein's Trusts and Estates Group, and Andrea Crews, Director of Marketing for the same firm, discussing their most treasured possession