sábado, 28 de febrero de 2015

Reading test: Learning shouldn’t be a competitive sport that only a few can succeed at

Learning shouldn’t be a competitive sport that only a few can succeed at is the title of the article Holly Welham published in The Guardian in mid January this year. We are going to use it as a springboard for our bi-weekly reading test. This time it is a multiple choice task.

Read the text by clicking on the link above or here and choose the option a, b or c that best completes each sentence. Only one option is correct. 0 is an example.

0 The school being built
a) is a new college on the campus.
b) is exclusive.
c) is intended for the residents of the town.

1 The school has
a) a flexible attitude to learning.
b) all teaching spaces outdoors.
c) connected classrooms.

2 The headteacher of the Cambridge school
a) firmly believes in the students running the school.
b) has already developed his ideas elsewhere.
c) is Hindu.

3 Biddulphm, the headteacher,
a) thinks religion is central in the students’ life.
b) thinks the students should plan the school’s routine.
c) feels many of today’s children are unprepared for the world.

4 Biddulphm, the headteacher,
a) decided not to work in education again after his experience in his previous school.
b) thinks it’s difficult to set a school in motion from zero.
c) wasn’t encouraged enough in his previous school.

5 Biddulphm says that in his previous school
a) he didn’t trust his staff enough.
b) he was authoritarian.
c) he was unprepared to deal with a school that attracted so much public attention.

6 Biddulphm’s experience in Nepal
a) changed his views on education.
b) didn’t pay him much.
c) taught him how to run a school.

7 Biddulphm wants students
a) to decide what to do.
b) to go to school with their parents in the evenings.
c) to write their own marks.

8 Biddulphm thinks
a) competition has a place in education.
b) society must change its ideas of what education is about.
c) sports make children unnecessarily competitive.

9 In the Cambridge school
a) a new educational model will be tested.
b) research will be part of the teacher’s work.
c) the relationships with the schools in the area will be a priority.

Photo: The Guardian

1a 2b 3c 4b 5a 6a 7a 8b 9c

viernes, 27 de febrero de 2015

Holiday Inn® Hotels: Scott Rigsby

This is the story of Scott and the way an accident changed his life forever.

Self-study activity:
Watch the video and answer the questions below. The activity is suitable for (strong) intermediate 2 students.

1 How old was Scott when he had the accident?
2 What question did he ask the doctor while he was recovering?
3 What addictions and health issues did he fall into as a result of his condition?
4 What does ‘3 times a day’ refer to?
5 What adjectives does the doctor use to refer to Scott?
6 How does Julie, a member from the staff from Holiday Inn in Panama City, Florida, describe her grandma?
7 What analogy does Scott use to describe Julie’s contribution to his recovery process?


My life radically changed in nine seconds. I was an 18-year-old kid (1) sitting on the back of a pick-up truck. This 18-wheeler clipped our vehicle, I got knocked off. That was the last day that I had my legs. I was thinking about girls and going off to college and being with my friends. I asked that doctor if I'd be able to run ever again (2) and he told me, "No." Then, I was gripped in a state of fear and doubt and uncertainty.
This is the prosthetic foot, and I'm going to take it off...
Here's a young guy that lost his leg, so it's really critical, it's a big deal. And Scott was having kind of a hard time.
Depression and alcoholism and drug addiction (3). I really didn't want to live anymore.
Scott just needed someone to come along and say, "It's going to be OK."
My rehab nurse checked me in to their Holiday Inn in Panama City, Florida. My legs were getting made here, and when I met Julie, her staff at the Holiday Inn Resort, they became my family, they became my rehab center.
Scott had so many strikes against him, many times over, he just kept getting up.
I was in a wheelchair, so I ate meals here 3 times a day (4). All my clothes were washed here. I continued to stay week after week after week until it was thousands of dollars. Now, I didn't have enough money, but Julie never put any pressure on me. If Julie had not helped me, then I would have been homeless.
We really didn't know what was in store for Scott.
I sat in this hotel room and I dreamed about running, swimming in the ocean again, thinking about being able to ride a bike.
Scott was always a winner. He grabs life with gusto. He's very eager, he's very motivated, he's not afraid. He's a very strong (5) individual.
I was the first double amputee in the world to ever finish the Hawaiian Iron Man Triathlon when I never was supposed to run, ever. I got the right team to help me on this journey of hope and healing and restoration.
All people who've achieved great things don't do it alone. You have help along the way. Perhaps, it goes back to my grandmother who was a real people person (6). That's what this business is all about. You can have all the beautiful buildings in the world, but if you don't have people who really care and express that to others, then you really have very little.
Hey, Scott.
Hey. You look good, yeah.
I'm glad you're here.
Scott is an inspiration to all of us.
You've seen fathers take their young kids and hold the bike while they're trying to ride it (7). They held me while I was trying to live life. Julie allowed me the opportunity, and sometimes, that's all we need is an opportunity because that produces hope.

jueves, 26 de febrero de 2015

Where Does New York City's Trash Go?

New York City has one of the largest sanitation departments in the world. The New York Times follows waste from sidewalks and garbage trucks to treatment facilities and upstate farms.

Self-study activity:
Watch the video and tick the topics that are mentioned in the video.

garbage collection workforce
people not paying attention to garbage collection
the history of garbage collection in New York
ocean dumping
the advent of landfills and incinerators
the export of waste
the benefits of organic waste
collectors working together
recycling can be confusing
an education in recycling
creating a global awareness of recyling

New York City is a metropolis of 8.4 million people and what they do every day is produce garbage.
We got the most complex waste management system in North America. There is challenges but there is also opportunities.
The awareness of trash in general I think is growing in New York. Not just the fact that it’s a problem but that there are steps we as individuals can take to help lessen the quantity we generate.
If you are going to have these many people live on this little amount of land, you cannot do it without a lot of infrastructure. Every day more than 72 hundred men and women of the Department go out in 2,000 collection trucks and collect 10,000 tons of residential waste and another 15 hundred tons of recyclable material.
Nobody ever finishes their coffee.
Sanitation allows any city to thrive and at the same time, we really only notice them when there is a missed pick-up, or when the truck is blocking car and the motorist is irate. We take it for granted.
New York City in the 19th century was by contemporary standards almost unimaginably disgustingly dirty. In 1895 Colonel George Waring took over and immediately imposed very significant changes on the way the job of street cleaning and garbage collection were carried out. He imposed a military structure of hierarchy and accountability. He dressed the men in white, partly to associate them with public hygiene and also to make them harder for them to sneak off to the pub for a pint. These were folks who were used to being scorned and they became heroes.
New York City’s always struggled with where to dispose of its waste. For many years we dumped it in the ocean. That became unacceptable.
Ocean dumping was illegal already in the 1880’s but New York really was not capable of finding alternatives, so it took a US supreme court ruling that finally ended ocean dumping in New York in 1934. Robert Moses who was in his ascendancy as a city planner opened dozens of landfills and incinerators all over the city to handle the waste because now that it could no longer go into the ocean, they had to come up with something else.
We were running out of room in those landfills, so we needed to move to a different waste disposal system. So we moved very quickly once we closed that last landfill on Staten Island to these interim contracts where we are exporting our waste via truck.
New York City currently exports 85% of its waste to landfills.
It costs about $300m a year to do that and they’re across the region. The waste energy facility is in New Jersey, but we also landfills in Pennsylvania, Virginia and upstate New York.
Everything as normal, make sure you service all of your schools, service all of your baskets and have a safe and pleasant day.
One of the reasons why we are doing organics is we really take a hard look at what is in the waste stream.
We have an enormous amount of food waste in the leaf and yard waste in New York City. Organic material makes about 35% of our waste stream. We are spending $85m a year exporting it into landfills where it sits and releases harmful methane into the atmosphere. That organic material can be turned into valuable product. It can be turned into compost, which is an organic fertilizers that is used in farms and gardens.
It started about a year ago with a small community on Staten Island and a small community in the Bronx. It is since been expended into pretty large section of Brooklyn and Queens. We are serving 100,000 household which is about 240,000 people.
I get through the tiniest spots here Box Low. It’s like a constant video game, bobbing and weaving, you know, cutting through course. You learn how, how the other person works.
We don’t really like, I’m not like ahhh we’re gonna do this that. We just know how to work together, we’re working together all the time, every day we’re working together.
What about the smell?
You become immune to it.
And organic collection represents about a third of our waste what’s in your garbage. I don’t think people realize how much food they throw away. And obviously figuring out how to do organics is going to be very challenging in a city this size. Recycling can sometimes be confusing, what to put where, I think that is always our biggest challenge, it’s education.
What goes in the compost? What’s in there?
Egg shell lemon
I was really excited when I heard there was a pilot programme for the city that was really easy to implement. It took us about a month to change our habit. Wasn’t a problem at all. We have a lot less trash I mean, if you think about it for recycling paper, glass, metal, plastic and now food scraps. There is really not much left. It was just a matter of taking the food scraps instead of to the trash can over to the compost bin.
Depending on where you are located in the city, you might have fewer organics end up in a transfer station and from that transfer station the organic materials taken to a compost facility in upstate New York.
Dictory organic recycling is one of the truest forms of recycling it’s bringing unprocessed good to the earth again. Well us being a regional farm allows us to take in the organic waste and create it into the compost. We are fortunate enough that we are a diverse enough farm where we can grow products from that compost on sites and return it back into New York City, into restaurants and green markets.
The evolution of what we could call trash consciousness went from not paying it much attention to making it part of a national conversation and that moment helped us create all kinds of curbside recycling programmes all over the country, all over the world that are very effective in diverting trash from what would be a landfill or an incinerator to a repurposing or reuse or recycling facility. New York City has a lot of power and I would hope that we would strike to exercise that power in ways that change the relationship of the region to its wastes, to its recyclables to the way that a discard is understood as, you gonna bury it or you gonna figure out how reuse it.

All the topics are mentioned in the same order as they are on the list.

miércoles, 25 de febrero de 2015

Talking point: Sleep

This week's talking point is sleep. Before getting together with the members of your conversation group, go over the questions below, so that ideas flow more easily when you meet up with your friends and you can work out vocabulary problems beforehand.
  • Do you have/Have you ever had problems sleeping?
  • What do you do to help you get to sleep?
  • How much sleep do you need? Do you get as much sleep as you need?
  • Is your sleep light or do you sleep like a log? What kind of things wake you up? 
  • Can you sleep in a bus or plane? With the TV on or with noise?
  • Do you like sleeping in complete darkness?
  • Do you know any sleepwalkers? What do they do?
  • Do you have a nap after eating lunch?
  • What is the longest you have gone without sleep?
  • Do you snore or do you know anyone who snores? How can this problem be solved?
  • Have you ever overslept and missed something really important?
  • Do you go to bed at a fixed time or do you wait until you're tired?
  • Have you ever flown long haul? Where to? Did you get jet lag? How long did it take you to get over it?
  • Do you find it difficult to go to sleep in a bed that you aren't used to sleeping in?
  • Do you often have nightmares or recurring dreams?
To illustrate the topic, watch this short talk by Arianna Huffington for TED, where she shares a small idea that can awaken much bigger ones: the power of a good night's sleep.

    My big idea is a very, very small idea that can unlock billions of big ideas that are at the moment dormant inside us. And my little idea that will do that is sleep.
    This is a room of type-A women. This is a room of sleep-deprived women. And I learned the hard way, the value of sleep. Two-and-a-half years ago, I fainted from exhaustion. I hit my head on my desk. I broke my cheekbone, I got five stitches on my right eye. And I began the journey of rediscovering the value of sleep. And in the course of that, I studied, I met with medical doctors, scientists, and I'm here to tell you that the way to a more productive, more inspired, more joyful life is getting enough sleep.
    And we women are going to lead the way in this new revolution, this new feminist issue. We are literally going to sleep our way to the top, literally.
    Because unfortunately for men, sleep deprivation has become a virility symbol. I was recently having dinner with a guy who bragged that he had only gotten four hours sleep the night before. And I felt like saying to him -- but I didn't say it -- I felt like saying, "You know what? If you had gotten five, this dinner would have been a lot more interesting."
    There is now a kind of sleep deprivation one-upmanship. Especially here in Washington, if you try to make a breakfast date, and you say, "How about eight o'clock?" they're likely to tell you, "Eight o'clock is too late for me, but that's okay, I can get a game of tennis in and do a few conference calls and meet you at eight." And they think that means that they are so incredibly busy and productive, but the truth is they're not, because we, at the moment, have had brilliant leaders in business, in finance, in politics, making terrible decisions. So a high I.Q. does not mean that you're a good leader, because the essence of leadership is being able to see the iceberg before it hits the Titanic. And we've had far too many icebergs hitting our Titanics.
    In fact, I have a feeling that if Lehman Brothers was Lehman Brothers and Sisters, they might still be around. (Applause) While all the brothers were busy just being hyper-connected 24/7, maybe a sister would have noticed the iceberg, because she would have woken up from a seven-and-a-half- or eight-hour sleep and have been able to see the big picture.
    So as we are facing all the multiple crises in our world at the moment, what is good for us on a personal level, what's going to bring more joy, gratitude, effectiveness in our lives and be the best for our own careers is also what is best for the world. So I urge you to shut your eyes and discover the great ideas that lie inside us, to shut your engines and discover the power of sleep.

      martes, 24 de febrero de 2015

      Madrid Teacher: Ethical Eating Debate

      In our weekly Madrid Teacher video,  four teachers discuss the concept of ethical eating. This gives us an opportunity to revise some of the features of spoken  English that they use.

      First of all, watch the video through to get the gist of the conversation.
      Now watch the video more carefully paying attention to the following:
      • Conversation fillers to gain thinking time: you know; Well
      • Use of so as a linking word
      • Use of hedging to introduce our opinions so as not to sound so dogmatic: I think
      • Showing agreement: Yeah; Certainly; Exactly
      • Use of really to emphasize the adjective

      I think, you know, we, if we if you gonna eat meat, you gotta… there's two things first we gotta look after animal welfare… you can’t, we know, we gotta get away from these factory farms with millions of animals crammed into terrible conditions, so from the animal rights point of view I think we gotta improve on that, we've got to have more free range chickens, more free-range pigs and then also it’s… we've got to reduce the amount of meat we eat because it's contributing to global warming, because the meat industry does contribute a lot towards global warming. So I think it's... there’s two things there, and I think we gotta work on both of them.
      Yeah. I think Paul McCartney's frontier campaign is a meat-free Monday, trying to encourage everyone not to eat meat on a Monday to reduce just the meat consumption and global warming…
      It’s just like I get started with one day, no meat and then hopefully you’ll become a vegetarian in a few years.
      It’s a good start!
      Certainly this is a good start and they're certainly potential solutions but as Stephen was saying there's some… there are many places in the world where we don't have a choice. People who eat what comes their way and they're lucky to do so, and to just narrow the scope from, from the global hunger issue, if we start enforcing the idea that people only eat these free range chicken and other animals that are extremely expensive, you've got the upper bracket of the economy being able to enjoy these meats and everybody else down below having to eat food that’s awful for them. We need to get some kind of middle-ground and affordable way…
      But they’ve shown, they’ve shown meat from, you know, factory farms it's not good and it’s, it’s damaging our health and it’s doing it in a very slow and long-term way, you know, over the long term we’re gonna… it’s not right, there’s a lot of food poisoning…
      I think, I can agree that it’s possibly or probably not health food but it’s food, it’s food on the table.
      But there are other alternatives to eating meat. There are, you know, there’s vegetarian food, there’s food…
      Right, and all that, all those sorts of solutions cost a lot more, and most people today having difficulty making, making ends meet.
      Well, a lot of celebrity chefs in the UK shown that you can eat really healthy well sourced-food at a reasonable price [Yeah.], a lot of these, you know, TV dinners and things like it’s quite expensive,
      it’s bad food, it’s not good for you.
      I think as the western world starts to take a bit more responsibility about these things, the cost of keeping good conditions in the farms will eventually come down and eventually that will be the new way to farm animals.

      lunes, 23 de febrero de 2015

      The new tube for London

      Watch this video from Transport for London about the plans for new trains London's underground.

      Self-study activity:
      Watch the video and complete the blanks in the transcript with the missing information. The activity is suitable for Básico 2 and Intermediate 1 students.

      Across the Underground trains, stations and (1) ... are being modernized. But with London’s population growing rapidly we need to do even more.
      In the upcoming decade, we will introduce the New Tube for London, which will mean faster, more frequent and more (2) ... journeys on the Piccadilly, Central, Bakerloo and Waterloo & City lines.
      Modern signalling and train control systems will mean the new trains can run faster and more frequently boosting (3) ... on the Piccadilly line alone by up to 60 per cent.
      Our design vision is for a train that both echoes the best of London’s transport heritage and (4) ... the latest modern technology. The (5) ... spacious and comfortable new trains will have walk through carriages to increase capacity and will have all double (6) ... to speed up boarding and alighting.
      Automatic trains are already in service on several lines and many Metros around the world are now introducing fully automatic trains with centralised monitoring and control to (7) ... improve customer service and efficiency. The new trains will (8) ... real time information and for the first time on the deep level Tube, trains will be air-cooled making journeys more comfortable for customers.
      Platforms will be modified to improve (9) ... and modern Platform Edge Door technology, already introduced on the Jubilee line, will be progressively deployed to (10) ... improve safety and reliability. When the new train (11) ... service it will have an operator on board. But as these trains will (12) ... London for over 40 years they will be designed and built to be capable of fully automatic operation.
      The New Tube for London is designed to meet London’s needs, making life better for customers and providing a service of which Londoners can be proud.
      For more information go to www.tfl.gov.uk/newtube

      1 track 2 reliable 3 capacity 4 utilises 5 250 6 doorways 7 further 8 provide 9 accessibility 10 further 11 enters 12 serve

      domingo, 22 de febrero de 2015

      Extensive listening: The perfect score: Cheating in exams

      In the CBS 60 Minutes segment The Perfect Score, Sam Eshaghoff tells how he was able to take the SAT and ACT college admissions exams for others who paid him up to $2,500 per test.

      Here's the way reporter Alison Stewart introduced the segment:

      "This past September, a 19-year-old college student named Sam Eshaghoff made national news when he was arrested and charged with fraud and criminal impersonation. His crime was taking the SAT and ACT tests for other people. He was so good at it other students paid him thousands of dollars to take the exams for them.

      The district attorney who charged him says Sam Eshaghoff was able to take the SATs at least 16 times which has raised questions about the integrity and security surrounding one of the most important tests millions of high school students ever take."

      You can read a full transcript here.

      sábado, 21 de febrero de 2015

      Pragmatics: a useful life skill

      In the last few months, Macmillan English has been publishing a number of resources for teachers of English under the general term ‘MacMillan Life Skills’. Here’s the way the publishers describe the series:

      “Life skills (sometimes also referred to as 21st century skills) provide students with the ‘soft skills’ that, along with their educational qualifications, help them stand out as the preferred candidate for educational and employment opportunities. (…) Each month you’ll find great information; including lesson ideas, an infographic or poster and motivational quotes to bring life skills into your lessons."

      However, part of the material Macmillan English publishes is also suitable for students, especially those in the intermediate-to-advanced level. I would like to draw your attention to one of the components of the MacMillan Life Skills: pragmatics.

      “Learning about pragmatics and how to express yourself successfully is a useful life skill, said Michael Rundell in January [2014] when he introduced the new pragmatics series on Macmillan Dictionary. The series is part of the Macmillan Life Skills campaign, offering free resources for English language students and teachers each month.”

      A number of tips have been published so far about pragmatics in English, which are relevant to students of English:
      ways of persuading someone to do something
      ways of giving advice
      ways of using understatement
      ways of saying goodbye
      ways of saying hello
      ways of expressing you are unsure about something
      ways of saying you are sure about something
      ways of expressing your personal opinion in writing
      ways of giving your opinion
      ways of expressing agreement or disagreement
      ways of thanking someone
      ways of apologizing
      ways of offering something to someone
      ways of suggesting something
      ways of expressing uncertainty
      ways of saying 'I don't know'

      In these posts students will find formulas to confidently express the above-mentioned ideas, sound more-English like and improve their English.

      viernes, 20 de febrero de 2015

      Carolina Herrera Interview: Pursuing Elegance

      Carolina Herrera, a fashion designer, reveals the process behind her Spring/Summer 2015.

      Self-study activity: Watch this New York Times video and answer the questions below about it. The activity is suitable for Intermediate 2 students.

      1 When did Carolina Herrera start to feel the pressure?
      2 What does ‘July’ refer to?
      3 Where does Ms Herrera do her prints?
      4 Why?
      5 What’s the Carolina Herrera woman like?
      6 How does she feel when the show is ready?

      My dream every six months I go to the show and it’s packed with people, everyone is there, and I have to come out and say, could you please come back tomorrow because I’m not ready. It’s a nightmare.
      Please welcome, Mrs Carolina Herrera.
      I am deeply touched to receive the FIT Couture Council Award…
      I still feel the same way that I felt in the second show, not in the first, because in the first you don’t know what’s going to happen. And after that, when you are in real business, then you start feeling the pressure, and I think it’s a very good sign (1) . And there are some many other designers in the world that you have, you have to compete, it’s a challenge.
      Can I see it without the belt?
      For a second.
      Yes, we can sew on a yellow belt, if you want.
      You know, sometimes the materials inspire you. This time I had a… the first fitting I did it with a techno pique, which is my new fabric, that I’m using. It gives you a silouetthe that is very feminine and very seductive and it’s very easy to mould it.
      The inspiration is always there. I take vacations in July (2). I went to Greece and then I went to England and I went to Italy. Sometimes I say that I find inspiration because maybe I saw a colour that I love or a situation or something that somebody was wearing. The most important is to have your eyes open.
      This year it was an absolutely one flower that I got. The tulip, I saw the colour-code of the tulip, and from there was the beginning of the colours of the collection and the prints.
      I do my own prints in the house (3). I always have an atelier, it’s not that you have to wait till they come from China or from Italy two days before the show. You can change and you control the whole thing (4).
      The final fitting is always different because you see that everything  makes sense and goes together.
      The most important for a fashion show is to edit. I don’t like to have a collection that looks like a potpourri. All the ideas are altogether, mixed like that.
      I need to have a collection that is a family, that it looks like a family, brothers and sisters and they are related.
      The set for the new collection is … garden, white and green. The white is perfect for this collection because all the colours will pop out. The stars are going to be the dresses and the clothes that I’m showing.
      Okay, are we ready or not? Okay, let’s go.
      The Carolina Herrera woman is a global woman. I think they like to be sophisticated and they don’t mind to be called elegant (5). Some girls, they look at the ele… and the word elegance like old-fashioned. I mean, for me elegance has to be there always. That’s why I like the perfect fittings and the perfect dress and the perfect top because I think that’s what every woman likes.
      When the show is ready I am never totally satisfied. I always say it should have been better (6). If you think that whatever you do is the best, you’re totally wrong because it’s not.

      jueves, 19 de febrero de 2015

      Bradford company rebuilds Citroen 2CV French classic

      Watch this BBC video about a Bradford company that rebuilds Citroen 2CV French classic.

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

      1 The CV2 was designed for glamorous people.
      2 In 1990, one company in Bradford decided to keep the CV2 going.
      3 There’s more demand for 2CVs than Citröen Dolly can keep up with.
      4 When Citröen Dolly started refurbishing 2CVs the other car dealers ridiculed them.
      5 Citröen Dolly has orders for the next six years.
      6 The H van was developed around the same time as the 2CV.
      7 The H van can be adapted to meet the buyer’s taste.
      8 The H van costs around €13,000.

      The car unveiled to the world in 1948 with probably one of the more unusual design briefs to be driven across a ploughed field by a French farmer taking his eggs to market. But it became a design classic eventually. The flying dustbin, the upside down perambulator, tin snail, none of them particularly complimentary but I think it’s fair to say that the world was smitten when it came to the 2CV. However, they had to say au revoir to them in 1990, but one company in Bradford have made it their mission to keep the love affair going.
      2CV City builds and refurbishes the Citröen Dolly, and in fact it’s so busy it can’t keep up with demand. And one of its biggest customers, the French. Next week in one shipment alone it will send 30 chassis across the Channel, but they haven’t always been so popular.
      No, I liken them to my mate, love them or hate them. When I first started in the business I was basically ridiculed by all the major motor traders for doing them. Now the tables have turned a bit, really and they’re all saying, you were very lucky to get into that in the first place. But it wasn’t luck. I just worked at it for a long time. For three, four years we’ve become more focused on the job with the new premises and everything else, and business is going extremely well, with probably turnovers of by probably 40%. We’re very busy with the 2CVs, you know, we’ve got orders to fulfill the books for the next six months really.
      And it’s not just the 2CV that Tony is struggling to keep up with demand for. It’s another quirky-looking vehicle the H van. Designed in the late 1940s like the 2CV, the quirky H vans are used increasingly by fancy food stalls. Just perfect for those who want to stand out from the crowd.
      It was to look at a van that would fit sort of my brand mate.  I tossed him what I wanted to present to people and the French, the French H van, provided the perfect thing for that, so, yeah, it’s completely “accesorizable” in terms of you give it your own personality and things to reflect your business and what you are doing, now that’s part of the fun really. It suits the person’s identity.
      But before you get too excited about taking a drive down memory lane, you might need to start saving. The H vans cost around £13,000 and the Dolly I was driving today, 10½, or 10 for cash. Well, the company says they’re on course to break all of their profit records. I guess we’ll just have to wait 2CV if that happens. Sorry!

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

      miércoles, 18 de febrero de 2015

      Talking point: Keeping up with the news

      Today's talking point is keeping up with the news. Before getting together with the members of your conversation group, go over the questions below so that ideas flow more easily when you meet up with your friends and you can work out vocabulary problems beforehand.
      • How do you normally find: the latest news; what the weather is going to be like; what's on TV; your horoscope; film and book reviews; job/accommodation adverts.
      • Which section of a newspaper can you think of? Which do you normally read?
      • What stories are there in the news at the moment?
      • Do you have a favourite newsreader; film or TV critic; sports writer or commentator; TV or radio presenter; newspaper journalist?
      • Which newspapers, TV channels or radio stations in your country do you think are biased; reliable; sensational?
      • Do you think a newspaper is good value for money?
      • What do you do with a newspaper once you have read it?
      • Is being a journalist a good job?
      • How do you think reading English-language newspapers can help your English?
      • Is there much censorship in your country?
      • Look at the topics below. Decide if you agree or disagree with them:
      - It's not acceptable for journalists or anyone in general listen in on their phone calls or hack their email accounts.
      - The print newspaper is dead. We will soon read all our news online.
      - Celebrities have to accept that the media publishes stories and photos about their private life. That is the price they pay for being rich and famous.

      To illustrate the point, watch the interviews Time Magazine did to Diana Sawyer and Larry King for their series 10 Questions with...

      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.

      Hi, I’m Belinda Luscombe. I’m an editor-at-large at Time Magazine. And today we have for our 10 questions veteran TV journalist Diane Sawyer. Diane, thank you for doing this. A reader from Chicago would like to know, were you worried that sticking with President Nixon during his resignation might hurt your career?
      I didn’t even think of it. No kidding. Not a minute. I guess my reflexes have been trained by my father particularly that you don’t get to be there for the good times with someone and walk away, no matter how the times got bad and who caused them that you don’t walk away.
      Quite a lot of people are interested in your time with Nixon and a reader from Portland has a question: Could you shed some light on what it was like for you during the infamous Nixon interviews?
      It was not exactly my role as it was. It was certainly not my clothes I wanna go back, I wanna say to Ron Howard, how did you… where did you go, what workshop did go to get some ancient long, pale, loose skirt.
      What were you thinking?
      Anyway, we all think shallow, right, when somebody’s finally put us on screen, but I thought the movie captured a lot of the mysterious dynamic that you’re always finding out as you go through a series of interviews like this one and by the end of it, you know…
      … who knows what we could do. And after it was over, I think the president revealed very little of his feelings about them to any of us who were out there. He often went in a room, closed the door and kept his own counsel.
      We got a lot of questions from women, I guess as you’d expect and a lot of them about your career. So, I’ve taken a few. This one is from Florida. Do you regret not having children and when you were younger, was it ever a choice between your career and having a family?
      Never that kind of choice. I’ve always thought that’s a curious idea that you, you have more time and therefore you decide to have children. It’s not the way it happened and I think of myself as a life filled with children in my life and intersecting it in a different way. I have stepchildren whom I adore and I think they depend on me some.
      You forgive me. I’m hearing regret. Do you have regret about not having children?
      No, what you’re hearing I wish I’d met my husband earlier. That would’ve been great. But I love his children with my whole life.
      This is a question from Aretta in Boston. What has been the most remarkable event in your life as a journalist, the one that has made you feel ‘this is why I love being a journalist’?
      Every day. Pretty much every day. I am glad I have nachos.
      No, is it that… is it because of the variety or because of the access or because of the many things you get to do?
      It’s because you don’t know what you’re going to learn.  You’re surprised every day.
      Come on, every day?
      Every day.
      Because some days are gonna be like, you know, boring. I just like some pasta and…
      … you know, some celebrity got in trouble.
      You know, I’m sure it sounds horrible. I’m sure it sounds irredeemably happy and optimistic, but surely this happens every day, but it’s true, it happens every day.
      And lastly, what is the weirdest thing you ever had to do to cover a story?
      I made my way into the Russian White House in the middle of a coup attempt when Yeltsin was president and no one was being allowed in the building. Everybody was outside and I went up and the guard said women would not be allowed in the building at this point because it was too dangerous and I said I’m not a woman, I’m an American journalist and there was a momentarily perplexed look on his face so he said, ok. It worked. Sometimes a non-sequitur is as good as a strategy.
      And then you’re in sound like ‘Well, okay, what do I do now?’
      Yes, when we made our way upstairs, I had interviewed Yeltsin once before and we made our way upstairs, completely empty, and tanks were coming around the building if you remember that when Yeltsin comes out and stands on the tank and we made our way upstairs and I have to say he was profoundly shocked, because we were there, the only ones walking into the building and into the room where they were making the decisions about what they’re gonna do. It was amazing. He just looked up and… because he’d heard the reporting around the world assume that soon it was gonna be a kind of cataclysm and they were holed up in there and waiting to be fired on and go down with the building and he just said, tell everyone we’re not dead yet.
      Fantastic. Thanks very much Diane.

      martes, 17 de febrero de 2015

      Stop Whining People who complain and moan

      In today's Madrid Teacher video, five teachers and students discuss some people's habit to complain non-stop. That gives the opportunity to go over some features of spoken English.

      First of all, watch the video through so that you can get a general idea of what the conversation is about.

      Now watch the video again, paying attention to the  following:
      • Conversation fillers to gain thinking time: you know; Well
      • Use of adverbs with adjectives and verbs to emphasize the information: really, rather; just
      • Use of actually to introduce a bit of surprising information.
      • Showing surprise: Really?
      • Reacting to what you have just heard:  No way!; That’s terrible!; Yeah can you imagine; That’s interesting.
      • Use of hedging so as not to sound too dogmatic when expressing our ideas: I think so; I guess
      • Actively taking part in the conversation by asking questions and making suggestions: What about other things, like you mentioned before?; What about for example different waters
      • Showing agreement: Coffee, yeah; Yeah! Exactly; That’s right; Absolutely!
      • Use of I mean to paraphrase what you have just said and make yourself clear.

      You know, I heard something really interesting the other day. It’s about, for example, in France they were selling wine to the US but it was actually an inferior… very… inferior type of wine and they were selling it as something that was rather expensive. What do you think about that?
      How long did this go on for?
      It went on for a very long time and no one noticed. That’s the pity.
      No way!
      That’s terrible!
      Yeah can you imagine.
      Oh, I would be able to tell in an instant!
      Would you?
      I think so.
      Are you a wine lover?
      I love wine, good wine.
      Do you know the difference from a good wine and a bad wine?
      Yeah! Just based on the colour, the smell, the taste.
      I went on a few wine-tastings and they told me all of those things…
      …how you were supposed to swish the wine and smell the wine to know if it’s good or not. I still can’t figure it out.
      That’s interesting.
      Well, yeah, takes some practice, I guess.
      I think so, because I like wine too but I cannot notice the difference, ah, well, when the wine is very good, yeah, you can really taste it and it’s delicious, no?, but the difference like.
      What about other things, like you mentioned before?
      We can talk about, coffee, for example.
      Coffee, yeah.
      There’s a big difference when we talk about coffee… drinking coffee, I mean, because, for example, in South America coffee is very, very natural, okay, and…
      And it’s so good!
      …and I can also mention of course Central America, no, coffee from there is very natural and pure and delicious, when it is export(ed) to Europe I think that they mix it and it is not the same.
      This morning I had my first cup of coffee with coffee that dissolves in the milk… Never again! Instant coffee.
      Oh, no, I don’t like coffee. I don’t know the difference.
      What about for example different waters, do you know the difference about different kinds of waters, bottled waters?
      I couldn’t tell the difference.
      You couldn't? Anyone else? Are you water connoisseur?
      I just drink tap water.
      Yeah, sometimes I think tap water tastes better.
      Sometimes bottled water has a nice plastic taste to it.
      Yeah! Exactly.
      That’s right.
      Wine to water!

      lunes, 16 de febrero de 2015

      Listening test: News

      This week's listening test is a bit more difficult than usual. We are going to practise the heading-matching type of task and to that purpose we will be using authentic news items. Getting a full understanding of the items most probably falls within the advanced level. However, the task just demands that we understand the gist or general idea of the news, and we think that most intermediate students will be capable of obtaining a pass mark (50%) in the activity.

      Listen to the news items 1-6 and choose the heading A-I that best corresponds to each. There are two headings you do not need to use. 0 is an example.

      A - Astronomical penalty 
      B - Communicating with other individuals 
      C - Educational benefits 
      D - Environment-shaped personality – 0 Example
      E - Man-caused tragedy
      F - Power revolution 
      G - Save the planet
      H - Surprising benefits for everyone 
      I - Treasure hunt

      According to ecologists, having a personality means showing a consistent pattern of behaviour over time. Researchers from the University of Arizona studied colonies of rock ants across the western US, both by following them in the wild and by taking whole colonies back to the lab. They found that certain risky behaviours, like foraging widely for food and responding aggressively to a threat, went together and colonies further north tended to take more of these risks. The study suggests those more adventurous personalities could be an adaptation to the limited window of activity left by the long, snowy northern winter.

      Buried beneath the golden sands of Folkestone are 30 tiny pieces of not silver, but gold. It's part of a project by the German artist Michael Sailstorfer, who buried the treasure by hand and there's no map.  There are two sizes – one worth around £250 and the other around £500 – and it's finders keepers for anyone lucky enough to unearth one. Beachcombers with metal detectors are out in force. But the artist has also buried metal washers to try to level the playing field.  It's thought some gold may already have been found, but there's plenty left in this art installation. It's called Folkestone Digs and it's certainly living up to its name.

      The agreement involving one of America's biggest banks settles a probe brought by the US Justice Department. It resolves lengthy wrangling over the extent to which Bank of America misled the buyers of its mortgage-backed investments.  This is the latest effort by authorities in the US to hold Wall Street accountable for the bad conduct that led to the financial crisis. And the sums involved here dwarf the $13bn paid by another bank, JP Morgan, to resolve a similar matter. Even though the penalty exceeds Bank of America's entire profits last year, this deal brings a measure of closure. The bank has already paid tens of billions of dollars to settle cases related to the financial crisis, but this was seen as the biggest remaining legal hurdle.

      Solar cells convert energy from the Sun into electricity. The researchers have replaced a toxic compound, used to make one type of solar cell, with a chemical that is much cheaper, completely safe and works just as well. The new compound, magnesium chloride, is used to make tofu and is found in bath salts. It's also found in sea water, and so costs much less than the poisonous chemical currently used. Dr Jon Major, who led the research at Liverpool University, believes that the ensuing cost savings have the potential to transform the economics of solar energy.

      For many people commuting is a necessary evil. Most see going by car or van as the 'least worst' option. This study by the researchers at the University of East Anglia challenges that assumption. It suggests walking, cycling or travelling by public transport can lift the mood. Crucially, it suggests those who switch from the car to an active commute feel better across a range of psychological measures, including concentration, decision making and the ability to face up to problems. The researchers say policies encouraging people to leave their cars at home could have a dramatic impact on public wellbeing.

      Some might say this is the safest bank in the world. It operates inside Peru's largest prison and is run entirely by inmates. This prisoner – convicted of drug trafficking – is the bank manager. It opened its doors about a year ago and has almost 120 customers – all of them are doing time. The idea's to help the men save money, which will come in handy when they're released.

      This muffled creak is what researchers heard repeatedly when they listened to giant South American river turtles swimming together. It could help explain how the animals coordinate their behaviour so well in the nesting season, when females gather in large groups at beaches before laying their eggs. The researchers used microphones above and below the water to record the turtles at different stages in the season. And when the newly hatched turtles and adults were together in the river, scientists heard a different sound. This, they think, is parents guiding newly hatched babies on their first migration. The researchers also say that their study shows how vulnerable turtles could be to man-made noise disturbing this quiet but seemingly vital chatter.

      A - Astronomical penalty – 2
      B - Communicating with other individuals – 6
      C - Educational benefits – 5
      D - Environment-shaped personality – 0 Example
      E - Man-caused tragedy – not used
      F - Power revolution – 3
      G - Save the planet – not used
      H - Surprising benefits for everyone – 4
      I - Treasure hunt - 1

      domingo, 15 de febrero de 2015

      Operation Stonehenge What Lies Beneath

      In September last year BBC2 aired Operation Stonehenge: What lies beneath, a two-episode documentary.

      Stonehenge is an icon of prehistoric British culture, an enigma that has seduced archaeologists and tourists for centuries. A group of international archaeologists led by the University of Birmingham and the Ludwig Boltzman Institute in Vienna believe that a new state-of-the-art approach is the key to unlocking Stonehenge's secrets.
      For four years the team have surveyed and mapped every monument, both visible and invisible, across ten square kilometres of the sacred landscape to create the most complete digital picture of Stonehenge and the surrounding area over millennia.
      Operation Stonehenge takes the viewer on a prehistoric journey from 8000BC to 2500BC as the scientists uncover the very origins of Stonehenge, learning why this landscape is sacred, preserved and has been revered by following generations.

      You can read the transcript for the first thirteen minutes of the programme here.

      sábado, 14 de febrero de 2015

      Reading test: Inter Rail Europe - My top ten tips

      Inter Rail Europe - My top ten tips is a more than interesting article written by Rob Fehily and published by Hostel World in July 2014.

      Read the article and match the tips 1-9 with one of the heading A-L. There are two headings you do not need to use. 0 is an example.

      Inter railing around Europe was a life-changing experience. I found it to be like a sort of travelling Pandora’s Box with a colourful array of different and notable things contained within - attractions, restaurants, tours, parks, museums and sights all for you to experience and explore. Like in the Pandora’s Box myth however, there is an important cautionary element to note in relation to such a trip. It would be unwise not to think and plan before considering inter railing, and I learnt there are some very practical dos and don’ts with journeys like this. But using my top ten tips, your European inter rail trip should flow that little bit smoother.

      0. Example: Heading F
      This was one of our biggest mistakes. We packed everything we thought we needed and then some. What I strongly recommend is that you take as little as possible. Travel light. I once read (after our trip) a tip about travelling abroad. It said you should ‘lay out everything you think you will need on the floor. Now halve it.’ It seems drastic, but when you are lugging around that big, heavy backpack with you mostly everywhere you go, probably in relentless heat, you will wish you had brought less. Don't be afraid to buy a few mundane, cheap, single-use items while on the trip, such as sachets of shower gel and toothpaste for instance. At every opportunity, save on space. The lighter, the better.

      Believe me when I say that you will likely end up spending more money than you think you will. Be economical with certain things (such as souvenirs) but don’t try to cut corners when you’re considering accommodation, food and drink. Do not (as I have heard from some in the past) try to save cash by sleeping for free in train stations. This is reckless and stupid. I can’t stress the importance of shelter and nutrition enough. During the summer months Europe is blisteringly hot, and if you’re not well rested, well fed and well hydrated (drinking enough water is crucial) you simply won’t be able to enjoy all the great attractions.

      First and foremost, if you’re travelling with somebody else make sure you get on with them very well. Remember that you will be spending all of your time with this person (or people) for the entire trip, unless you have plans to split up along the way. I travelled with my cousin and though we had one minor quibble during our month of inter railing, we understood each other very well and had zero arguments. If you have a fight and things get awkward, make sure to sort it out as soon as you can. This way you won’t let it ruin your trip.

      Don’t arrive in a city (especially one of the more popular ones) without knowing you have somewhere to sleep. Every time we arrived in a different location, the worry of finding shelter assaulted us like an unwelcome, loud dog because we never booked ahead. Only twice on our trip did we have a hostel pre-booked and it really made a huge difference because the anxiety of securing a bed was nowhere to be felt. We simply turned up as expected. It also speeds things up; the time you save not wandering around searching for a place to stay means you can capitalize on your new surroundings.

      When you venture into a foreign city be sure to bring a compass. This is absolutely essential. You will probably be working from tourist maps 80% of the time trying to find firstly where you are, and secondly where your destination lies. Without a compass this can sometimes be extraordinarily difficult if there are no obvious landmarks in sight. The compasses we brought were tiny, very practical and maximally portable. In fact, you should bring two just in case you lose one.

      If you wish to buy souvenirs, try not to be too liberal. It's nice to have a token by which to remember your stay in Chochołów - a ceramic or wood plate for example - but don't forget that you will have to carry it around with you everywhere you go from the moment you buy it. Sending souvenirs home is a possibility, but we found this to be quite expensive, and money that was better spent on food, accommodation and tours.

      If you’re not fluent, then try to learn a few very basic utterances and greetings in the local tongue. At least know how to say please and thank you. Most of the locals will probably smile when they see a foreigner in their country making the effort to thank them in their own language. If this is the case they are likely to be more patient when giving directions to that landmark you desperately wish to see, or taking your order at the nearby restaurant. Check out the cover page of Hostelworld’s Pocket Guides for some essential and very useful phrases in a diversity of languages.

      When you reach your destination, the first thing you might think of doing after checking into the hostel is exploring on your own. Don’t. The first thing you should do is speak to whoever is working behind the desk in the hostel. This way you can get essential information on the local area, maps and tips directed specifically toward budget travellers. Think of it as time invested rather than time wasted. You will thank yourself (and the hostel staff!) for it later.

      Unless it’s unavoidable, don’t bring any formal or heavy clothes. It’s important not to have a weighty backpack, and don’t think that the sun will show mercy when wearing jeans or cords trekking around the Parisian boulevards. Without bordering on the unacceptable, wear as little as possible. Think shorts, sandals and a light fabric t-shirt. If you’re wearing sandals, be absolutely sure they’re comfortable. It’s painful after thirteen hours of walking when the strap begins to cut into your foot. I made this mistake - don’t make the same one.

      Europe really is a magical continent, but it covers a vast portion of the world. If you plan on inter railing around it, that takes time. It will of course depend on the nature of your trip, but on average we spent approximately four hours on every train. Multiply this by the fifteen trains we took during our month away and you get an idea of how much time we spent zipping around the European landscape in a tiny cabin at hundreds of kilometres per hour. For these long journeys bring something to pass the hours away such as a small book, a pack of cards, Travel Scrabble, or some other such item that won’t monopolise the precious space in your backpack.

      A - Always do it well in advance
      B - Be selective with your company
      C - Be sure to have fun
      D - Consider your budget realistically
      E - Do it sparingly
      F - Don't take too much luggage with you - 0. Example
      G - First and foremost
      H - It will help you find your whereabouts
      I - It will help you win them over
      J - Learn from other people’s misfortunes
      K - Prepare yourself for killing time
      L - Think before you act

      Photo Hostelworld.com via imgur
      A - Always do it well in advance – 3
      B - Be selective with your company – 2
      C - Be sure to have fun – not used
      D - Consider your budget realistically – 1
      E - Do it sparingly – 5
      F - Don't take too much luggage with you – 0 Example
      G - First and foremost – 7
      H - It will help you find your whereabouts – 4
      I - It will help you win them over – 6
      J - Learn from other people’s misfortunes – 8
      K - Prepare yourself for killing time – 9
      L - Think before you act – not used

      viernes, 13 de febrero de 2015

      Germanys Offshore Wind Push

      The small German island of Heligoland, a popular tourist destination, is undergoing dramatic change as the wind industry takes over.

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

      1 When the mega watt project is finished, the power it will generate will reach 300,000 people.
      2 The turbines are 200 metres high, without considering the blades.
      3 The energiewende is a European energy project.
      4 The energiewende project involves a group of renewable energies.
      5 It is more difficult to build off-shore water farms in Germany than in the UK.
      6 No tourists are admitted at the hotel where the wind farm workers are staying.
      7 With the massive use of wind energy, coal consumption in Germany is on the decline.
      8 One of the reasons for the delays in building the farms is unexploded bombs.

      When I was the first time in the turbine I see nothing else, water. You are alone and for the first time just a little bit you think, what I’ m doing here?
      This offshore wind with all its investment is a kind of Germany’s moon landing.
      … are spending around a billion euros in constructing these 295 mega watt project, enough to power 300,000 homes, so yeah, it’s a big revolution in Europe right now.
      Off the coast in Northern Germany, in the frigid waters of the wind lashed North Sea, a vast array of massive wind turbines is being constructed to feed the booming German economy.
      These machines are huge and they are, you know, 100 metres up high and the tip pipe that means up to the blade tip is 150 up to 200 metres. This is big.
      Well off shore is actually part of the so-called energiewende, the energy change into renewables, and the German politics decide[d] a couple of years ago to really go full force into off-shore and so since then ten, eleven projects emerged in the German bay, they are all in sorts of different stages and they’re about to be completed now within the next couple of months to actually produce energy to support this energiewende.
      The energiewende, or energy transition is arguably the most ambitious national effort to combat global warming on the planet. It involves not just off-shore wind, but also on-shore wind, as well as solar, bio-gas and other renewable sources. While it’s still in its early stages, the German energy transformation has made impressive advances. In the first quarter of 2014 renewable energy sources contributed 27% of the country’s electricity demand, more than double the US number. This figure is expected to grow as the wind farms being installed here go online this year.
      It’s really a massive deal. All of the wind farms have been built but the specialty in German is here, is it’s water depths.  In Denmark and UK you have off-shore wind farms up to water depth of 10 meters. Here is German North Sea you have the water depths of 25, 26 meters this was really the challenge to build a wind farm that can adapt to that water depth, of course to much harsher environment like the wind and waves.
      This massive effort is transforming not just the German energy sector but also many aspects of German life.

      Here on the small island of Heligoland, 29 miles off the coast, the off-shore wind industry has virtually taken over this popular vacation spot.
      Off-shore wind industry is really our base harbour for maintenance and production of wind farm. We have at the moment here 150 to 200 people on the island to assemble the wind farm, there has been a massive change on the island. We built a big facility here, a storage area. We rented here a hotel and its 49 hotel rooms in total or 80 beds for the next ten years. This island is so small there was no space to build up a new accommodation. We decided just to rent a complete hotel for the next 10 years.
      Some have welcomed the changes.
      Of all the stores better because we have a lot of work here so more work, more personnel, more jobs.
      Others, not so much.
      For the workers who have come here all over Germany and Europe, the wind farms offer opportunity.
      I start[ed] last year in October in the wind industry and it’s very safe. There you can earn more money. Then I’ll say that is what I want. I have a wife, children, we have a good life, you can go out for dinner, not for one time in a week maybe for two or three times in a week.
      But for all its success, the transition to renewables has not gone entirely smoothly for Germany. Coal production has soared and the country’s electricity sector has difficulty turning a profit with the massive influx of renewable energy into the German grid. In the case of off-shore wind, the clean-up of the sea bed from unexploded World War II ordnance has added significantly to the cost. And construction of the on-land grid connection where the wind farms will send their energy was delayed, leaving hundreds of tons of unassembled turbines to idle on the docks in the port of Bremerhave.
      Despite the setback, when these wind turbines are finally running, they will together produce enough electricity to power hundreds of thousands of homes.
      It’s all awesome, it’s hard, sometimes it’s hard, sometimes it’s easier, a little bit of adventure, rural freedom, everything of what you want this year you can have.

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

      jueves, 12 de febrero de 2015

      Embracing the unknown

      Breezy Jackson and Paul Koubek find love in adventure and adventure in love.

      Self-study activity:
      Watch the video and answer the questions about it. The activity is suitable for intermediate 2 students.

      1 What commitment have Breezy and Paul made?
      2 What do Breezy and Paul do?
      3 What's the rate of women who live in Antarctica compared to men?
      4 What three adjectives does Breezy use to describe Paul?
      5 What adjectives does Paul use to describe Breezy?
      6 What do acrobatic yoga and being committed in a relationship share?

      To check your answers you can read the transcript below.

      We don’t know where we’ll be in five years or ten years or twenty years and we’ve embraced the unknown, we’re committed to the unknown that we are gonna be faithful to each other (1).
      Faithful into that.
      Yeah, we’re going to be faithful to each other, no matter what happens, and that’s a huge adventure.
      It’s an unknown for sure.
      Yeah. That’s so exciting though.
      Yeah, right.
      We’re live in Yosemite. We rock climb and ride bicycles and hang out in beautiful meadows. Paul is a rock guide and I am a research scientist (2). We met in the Antarctica.
      For sure any new place to find your future wife in a place that is about 25% female (3).
      Yeah, Paul scored.
      Yeah, it’s true.
      He got lucky. So Paul is a total romantic, and he takes me on these amazingly well-planned romantic dates. Our early day was rock-climbing in Smithsonian Rocks.
      Learning to scuba dive in Bali and we’ve gone sport climbing in Thailand and…
      I mean, we have encouraged so many people here in Yosemite on their honeymoon going rock-climbing, in Yosemite on their honeymoon and that’s our everyday…
      Yes, good, good, good, good, good. Hang in there.
      I love that Paul is so dynamic and adventurous (4). You know, the analogy of climbing to marriage is that your partner is going to be the person who sees the worst in you and holds that space for you.
      Nice, go for the jug, way at the top, I got you.
      They are also the person who’s there to catch you.
      Even when, even when you’re having your total meltdown.
      Breezy is intelligent, beautiful, an amazing yoga teacher…
      Flexible. Yeah, for sure. Adventurous (5).
      You know the great thing about flexible people? They can’t be bent out of shape.
      Yeah, exactly.
      One of the things that I value… a lot about Paul is that he doesn’t only rock climb. He’s interested in a lot of different activities. We also do a lot of like acrobatic yoga.
      Communication is essential like you will experience failures repeatedly, and deal with frustration as well in acro yoga is in our relationship. It’s interactive, it’s intimate, it’s physical. All of yoga is physical, but it’s a physicality shared with another person. We both really respect and admire each other…
      And that’s one of our strengths. It should be a basic in a relationship.
      And that balance (6). We balance each other really well.
      Nice. Strong belly.

      miércoles, 11 de febrero de 2015

      Talking point: Science

      This week's talking point is science. Before getting together with the members of your conversation group, go over the questions below so that ideas can flow more easily when you meet up with your friends and you can work out vocabulary issues beforehand.
      • What scientific subjects did you study at school? Did you enjoy them? Did the teachers make it easier for you to understand them?
      • Did you learn anything useful and practical with these scientific subjects?
      • Is there a scientist, living or dead, that you admire? Why?
      • What is the most important scientific discovery that man has made? Why?
      • Are there any scientific discoveries you wish hadn't been made?
      • If you were ill, would you be willing to take part in an experiment to test a new medicine?
      • Do you think it is acceptable for animals to be used in experiments?
      • Are you happy to eat genetically modified foods?
      • Have you heard about any scientific stories in the news recently?
      • What would you most like scientists to discover in the near future?

      To illustrate the point, you can can the episode from the "Britain through my eyes" series Science and innovation in the UK, featuring Italian Astrophysicist Giovanna Tinetti, where she talks about the way living in the United Kingdom has helped her to boost her career as a scientist.

      My name is Giovanna Tinetti. I come from Italy and I am an astrophysicist at University College London, and this is "See Britain Through My Eyes".
      I actually did my university studies in Italy and then, I went to the United States and to France. And today, I actually work in London, University College London, and I really love being here and I really hope to stay here for my entire life, actually.
      I seriously think that London is the most beautiful city in the world. I can basically live in the hills of London, but then a few tube stations, I can go to the center. And then from there, I can start to think about what's happening in space. I like the fact that I can be totally in my mind in the countryside or in the city, or in space.
      Personally, I work on the idea of trying to find life elsewhere in the universe. Looking at the light coming from the planets, which are outside our own solar system, if the orbit of the planet at a certain point brings the planet in front of the star, then you can basically measure the composition of the planetary atmosphere. Through that, we can get an insight of what's going on on the planet, if the planet is habitable and potentially inhabited or not.
      What I particularly like of the UK universities is the balance between a competition and a corporation, and this is something that is a little bit in between the American situation or the European one. The flux that is made by the planet would also be equal to sigma. Sigma is always the Stefan-Boltzmann constant, of course.
      When I arrived in the UK, I was surprised to see how international is this community, and literally people are coming from all over the world. Not only students, but also the staff. That is actually a very strong message that is very rare internationally. The fact that you have a culture that is open enough actually, to allow other people to come in from different countries, if they deserve it, to take key jobs. In the UK, you have a very strong concept of meritocracy.
      One of the aspects of the UK I really like is having a foot in the past and a foot in the future. This is one of the events of the Royal Society to celebrate the 350th anniversary of the Royal Society. What I think is fantastic is the idea that such a great institution that goes past centuries is not just a fossil. It's still an institution and it's inspiring us to do great science today. I was awarded a university research fellowship by the Royal Society.
      Of course, if I come here and I look at all these beautiful portraits of scientists like Newton, Boyle, then I feel a lot of pressure. You have all the past talking to you to sort of support you and encourage you to do a brighter future.
      Are there any planets with other Royal Society looking back at us and seeing us as alien? I really think that simple life, in terms of bacteria microorganisms, is probably very common out there. Maybe civilization, it's something a little bit more difficult to form. We shall see what this theorem will tell us.