martes, 31 de marzo de 2015

Madrid Teacher: PR disasters

In our weekly Madrid Teacher series, a group of teachers discuss marketing mistakes companies have made. As usual, it gives us the opportunity to pay attention to some features of spoken English.

First of all, watch the video through to get the gist, the main ideas, of the conversation.
Now watch the video more carefully, paying attention to the following:
  • Use of conversation fillers to gain thinking time: like; so; you know
  • Showing agreement: Yeah
  • Asking questions to show the speaker you're interested in the conversation: The George Orwell?
  • Reacting to what the speaker is saying: Sounds very nice
  • Use of actually to introduce a piece of surprising information
  • Use of just to emphasize the verb
  • Showing surprise: Wow!; Really?
  • Use of I mean to paraphrase what you have just said and make yourself clear
  • Use of auxiliary + infinitive to emphasize the verb: it did sink

You guys know about Amazon Kindle?
It’s an e-book reader. Yeah. Like it’s an American e-book reader from a company called Amazon, which I think it’s the world’s biggest…
Yeah, I’ve heard about Amazon.
Yeah, so it’s the number 1 e-book reader. And I just connect it to a network like a mobile phone type net…
So they sell books, e-books.
And… so the company made a mistake last year. They, they, they had sold some copies of 1984.
The George Orwell?
Yeah. And the company who had sold this didn’t actually have the rights to the books, so what Amazon did was just reach into everybody’s Kindle who had bought the copy of 1984 and they deleted them. Major leak mistake, it’s like Big Brother…
Big Brother, yeah?
Going in and…
They couldn’t have chosen a better book, did they?
Terrible choice.
Wow! Great marketing.
Yeah. Did you hear about that PR disaster with Rolls Royce, you know, the big luxury car manufacturer? They brought out this car called Silver Mist which in England you know, sounds alright…
Okay, it’s a good name.
Sounds very nice.
… and they tried to sell it in Germany, and in German mist means 'cow dung'…
So the Germans didn’t really take to that.
They didn’t sell too many cars there?
No, no. And they had this, I heard there was a curling iron as well for hair and it was called Mystic as well, so that it had similar…
Not too good.
Not good. Didn’t sell too well in Germany, no.
The biggest disaster in terms of PR ever has to be Titanic. I mean, they, they talked it up so much as the greatest ship ever, unsinkable, and as we know it, it did sink.
In its maiden voyage, yeah.
It did.
I don’t know anything about other company problems but I was watching the news once and a woman was talking about a man who’d climbed a mountain, you know, seems like a simple feat. She said, but the problem, he’s gay. I’m sorry. He’s blind, and then they cut the news cast right there. I couldn’t stop laughing for about fifteen minutes.
How could she get confused with those two words?
No idea.
So he was gay?
No, he was just blind.
He wasn’t gay.
He was blind.
Oh, I heard about it.
Is that climbing Everest was it?
Perhaps, I’m not sure.
I think so, yes. I’d heard about that, but I hadn’t heard about that, the newscaster.
Where did that come from?
Was she from the States?

lunes, 30 de marzo de 2015

Listening test: English superstitions

In this week's listening test we will be practising the open-ended questions that students sometimes have to answers in exams.

Listen to this BBC radio programme about English superstitions and answer questions 1-7 below.

0 What should you touch if you want good luck? Wood

1 What doesn’t Alice like doing because it brings bad luck?
2 What example does Alice give of a lucky charm?
3 What do the seagulls following boats represent in Scotland?
4 What does each of the calls of the cuckoo represent?
5 What do they have in Switzerland, Germany and Austria?
6 What advice does Alice give for when you hear a cuckoo?
7 How does Alice define the superstitions known as old wives’ tales?

Rob: Today we're talking about superstitions. Superstition is the belief that certain events can bring good luck or bad luck. For example, a lot of people think that the number 13 is unlucky, or that you can avoid bad luck if you touch wood.
Alice: Mm, in fact people even say 'touch wood' if they're hoping for something good to happen.
Rob: That's right. So Alice, are you superstitious?
Alice: Well I am, a bit. I don't like (1) walking under ladders for example.
Rob: Me too. Now animals, birds and nature feature a lot in British superstitions. We've already mentioned that people touch wood or knock on wood for luck. So could you tell us a few more British superstitions involving nature Alice?
Alice: Well one that I can think of off the top of my head is a (2) lucky rabbit's foot. Apparently if you carry a rabbit's foot around it will bring you good luck. It's what we call a lucky charm. So a rabbit's foot is a charm that brings good luck to the person carrying it.
Rob: But not to the rabbit! Dr Paul Walton, from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, spoke to the BBC about some superstitions surrounding birds in Scotland. Here he is talking about seagulls and the traditions associated with them.

Partly it must be because Scotland's such a fantastic place for birds, I think over the years these superstitions have developed because these are the living things that we share our lives with. For example, there's a long tradition in Scotland among sailors and fishermen of seeing the gulls that follow the boats as actually being the embodiment of (3) dead sailors, and to kill a gull is still in many places considered to be very back luck.

Rob: So it's bad luck to kill a seagull in Scotland because they're the embodiment of dead sailors. Let's listen to another bird superstition from Scotland. This is Paul Walton again talking about another of his favourite superstitions. Listen out for the bird noises in this clip and see if you can identify which bird he's talking about. What you should do when you hear its call?

One of my favourites is the cuckoo [Cuck-oo cuck-oo] If you hear a cuckoo calling and then you start to run away from it as quickly as you can, the number of times you hear the cuckoo calling before it fades into silence is (4) the number of years you've got left to live.

Rob: The cuckoo is a bird with a long tail and a very distinctive cry.
Alice: You can find (5) cuckoo clocks in Switzerland, Germany and Austria, with the cuckoo making a distinctive cry every hour.
Rob: But in Scotland, if you hear the cuckoo calling then you should run away from it as quickly as you can. And the number of times you hear the cuckoo is the number of years you've got left to live.
Alice: Oh dear. So surely you should (6) walk away very slowly – then you'd hear more calls and live longer? It seems like a very odd superstition to me – it's a real old wives' tale. An old wives' tale is what we call superstitions that are (7) totally untrue and ridiculous sometimes.
Rob: Thanks Alice.
Alice: See you next time!
Both: Bye!

domingo, 29 de marzo de 2015

Extensive listening: Darpa, nobody's safe on the internet

Darpa, nobody's safe on the internet is the segment that CBS 60 Minutes aired last month on
the man the Department of Defense has put in charge of inventing technology to secure the Internet. Dan Kaufman. a former video game developer turned cyber warrior, heads the software innovation division of DARPA - the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, tasked with maintaining the US military technological superiority.

You can read a transcript of the segment here.

sábado, 28 de marzo de 2015

Reading test: Zoella and publishers confirm that Girl Online was ghostwritten

This week's reading test is taken from an article in The Telegraph, Zoella and publishers confirm that Girl Online was ghostwritten, which we are going to use to practise the kind of task in which we have to insert full sentences in a text.

Eight sentences have been taken out of the text below. Insert each sentence in the corresponding gap in the text. One sentence is not needed. 0 is an example.


When Zoe Sugg, (0) …………………. YouTube superstar Zoella, released her first novel Girl Online in November, it scored the highest first-week sales for a debut author since records began, selling 78,109 copies in seven days. But as more people have read the book, some have begun to ask if it was written entirely by Zoe Sugg.
Today, a spokesperson for Penguin Random House told the Sunday Times that "to be factually accurate you would need to say Zoe Sugg did not write the book Girl Online on her own". Later, Sugg posted a message on Twitter saying: "Of course I was going to have help from Penguin's editorial team in telling my story, which I talked about from the beginning. (1) ………………….. . The story and the characters of Girl Online are mine. I want to thank all of you who have taken time to support the book.” The publishers have signed a two-book deal with Sugg.
Speculation began because of 24-year-old Sugg's acknowledgements page in Girl Online, which reads: "I want to thank everyone at Penguin for helping me put together my first novel, especially Amy Alward and Siobhan Curham, (2) ………………….  .” Alward is Sugg's editor. Curham's exact role is unclear, but she usually works as a novelist and freelance writer of young adult fiction.
Some bloggers claimed to have found an archived, deleted post on Curham's website about being asked to write a novel in six weeks, which could in theory fit with the timeline from Zoella announcing her novel to its release. (3) ………………….   , Sugg rarely mentioned working on her novel, which is about a teenage girl whose blog goes viral after she meets a rock star, before publication.
Ghostwriting is a common feature of celebrity publishing. Former glamour model Katie Price (4) …………………. were ghostwritten by Rebecca Farnworth, who died last week at the age of 49. Katie Price's novel Crystal, written by Farnworth, outsold the entire Booker Prize list the year it was published.
Actors, musicians, athletes and politicians work with ghostwriters as a matter of course. Sometimes they are credited - as in the case of Roy Keane's recent book with Roddy Doyle, or Alex Haley's co-authorship of the Autobiography of Malcolm X; at other times they are not. The authors of such ghostwritten books are people who are famous (5) ………………….  . Zoella has a following thanks to viewers of her video blog, not because she is the new Zadie Smith.
Inevitably, some people have asked if how much it actually matters that the book may be ghostwritten. As the Bibliodaze blog put it: "80,000 sales in one week speaks a hell of a lot louder (6) …………………., and many of Sugg’s fans will remain dedicated to their idol."
Plenty of popular novels, especially those aimed at children and young people, have been ghostwritten. Although Anne M Martin wrote many of the hugely popular The Baby-Sitters Club series of books published under her name, a number were ghostwritten by Peter Lerangis. Similarly, Francine Pascal's Sweet Valley books for teenagers (7) …………………. .
On the back cover of Girl Online, Sugg is quoted as saying: "My dream has been to write a book, and I can't believe (8) ………………….  . Girl Online is my first novel and I'm so excited for you to read it." The biographical details on the book say that Sugg "has been writing stories ever since she was little".
The Telegraph's Anita Singh called Girl Online "sugary as a frosted cupcake... Even Winnie the Pooh might regard it as a bit twee". Siobhan Curham could not be reached for comment.

Photo: REUTERS/Luke MacGregor through The Telegraph

although they tend not to acknowledge this fact (not needed)
better known as 0
Despite chronicling much of her life on social media 3
Everyone needs help when they try something new 1
for something other than writing 5
it's come true 8
makes no secret of the fact her novels 4
than this kind of discussion 6
were largely written by a range of ghostwriters 7
who were with me every step of the way 2

viernes, 27 de marzo de 2015

Patricia Arquette Grows Into Boyhood

Watch this interview with Patricia Arquette a few weeks before the Oscar Award ceremony 2015 and say whether the statements below are true or false.

1 Patricia Arquette has been in the show business for 30 years.
2 She has just made the move to cable TV.
3 The film Boyhood was filmed over 12 years.
4 She doesn't seem to be giving much importance to the possibility of winning an Oscar award.

You can only be the girlfriend object of desire for so long. Then you can be the good-looking wife for a minute too, but that’s pretty boring part. And if you hold on to that too long, you can never be the grandma.
After 25 years in show business, working with such directors as Martin Scorsesse, David Arussel, David Lynch and then Richard Linklater, Patricia Arquette has reached the high point in her career, a career she forged that of steering clear of what she calls stereotypical on to new roles
[Call girl]. Even though her breakout role wasn’t true romance as Alabama Whitley [No, I’m a call girl, there’s a difference, you know] and ingénue if ever was one.
People expected you in a way to stay frozen as Alabama, the ingénue and this was something you never wanted to do in your career.
A calculated move I always made was to try to kind of jump out of one category prematurely and try to break into the next one.
She also made the move to network television years before other film stars began appearing in cable shows.
At the time I wasn’t reading very good films. I was becoming at this weird age where I was like the boring wife part like three scenes, just being supportive because I grew up in the punk rock world where you questioned authority. I didn’t like this authority concept about this form of art is better than this form of art, so I said why shouldn’t I read to be?
Did it impact you for how people saw you as an actress?
I think it did, yeah. I think people do have those really obvious ways of looking at an artist and at talent and I think part of me always felt like I’m not gonna challenge that.
[‘Do you still love Dad?’ ‘I still love your father.’]
With the film Boyhood, filmed over twelve years Ms Arquette embraced the idea of aging naturally on screen.
[Do you know what I’m realising, my life is just gonna go like that. These series of milestones, getting married, having kids, getting divorced. The time that we thought you were dyslexic.]
I think we see her flaws, her exhaustion, her hopes for her kids, her selfishness, her dream of things.
She also spent this awards season collecting multiple prizes for her role as Olivia and is the favourite in the Oscar race for Best Supporting Actress.
You don’t seem to take the Hollywood Hoopla machine seriously. You have a lack of anxiety about it.
I might just be… I wonder if I’m dissociated, I think looking to them am I really taking… I mean I’m not poopooing it or something like, it’s something bad, it’s a beautiful thing. I love being part of the history of entertainment and all the different dramas of film and television.
I felt like I should prepare a speech just to be responsible, I mean, because I was in a category with Meryl Streep so God knows, good luck to you.

1F 2F 3T 4T

jueves, 26 de marzo de 2015

Walking Tour Guide: Shakespeare's Globe Theatre London

Watch this short guide of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London and say whether the statements below are true or false.

The activity is suitable for intermediate 2 students.

1 The Globe Theatre was originally built in the 16th century.
2 The plays were performed at night.
3 The cheapest seats were in the open.
4 Women were not allowed in the public.
5 The Church did not approve of theatre.
6 Umbrellas were not allowed.
7 The audience had an active part in the plays.
8 Hearing the play was more important than seeing it.
9 The Zodiac signs represent the sky or heavens.
10 The building where the theatre is burnt twice in the 16th century.

Behind me is Shakespeare's theatre, rebuilt recently but it was originally constructed in the seventeenth century. And its name is the Globe, which comes from the expression everyone in the world is an actor.
The conditions at the time when this would have been built were very different from the way actors work now. It was all done during the day because they didn't have enough money to afford candles to put on the plays at night. So there would have been far more interaction between the public and the actors. And in fact, the groundlings, which were the cheapest seats just under the open cover, they would shout at the actors and throw things at them if they didn't like the play.
At the time, as well, none of the actors were women because they weren't allowed to be in plays. And also the church was very critical of theatre. It called it the nest of the devil and it was usually just outside the city walls because it wasn't really allowed in those days. It was seen as something very popular and affordable because just as I said before, the cheapest seats could be afforded by everyone.
So this is where the groundlings stand and to come here it’s only five pounds to see a play and they say it's one of the best places even though if it rains, umbrellas aren't allowed so you're going to get wet. But they say it would have been the best place as well because the audience participated as well so you are right next to the actor's foot. You could see up his nose and if he spat down at you, as I said, there's no umbrellas allowed. So it would have been a big problem. But there's great participation because the audience can see you, the actors, everybody's involved in the play which makes kind of a difference from the typical West End play where everybody's in the dark. Here, you felt like you were really part of it.
Signs of the zodiac known as the heavens, there's a trap door in heaven as well, which is open at the moment, and you come down from heaven... it does look quite dangerous...
The Globe Theatre puts on plays mainly by Shakespeare and they're pretty authentic even down to the finest details like the original seventeenth century underwear. So its probably not that comfortable. And nowadays we go and see a play but back then the most important thing was the acoustics. It was more important that you heard the play and so wherever you sat, the more expensive seats were the ones that had the best sound.
The stage represents three different elements, the top with the Zodiac signs, it's painted blue, represents heaven or the sky. There's even a trap door you can come down from. And the stage itself represents the earth and there's a trapdoor to go underneath which represents hell.
This round shape kind of increases the sense of participation. The building itself though was hard to get permission for because remember in the seventeenth century it had burned down twice. So to make this thatched kind of roof after the Great Fire of London was pretty tough to do. It took them eight years to get permission but they finally managed to go ahead with it.
Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? Not if it’s a summer's day in London.

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

miércoles, 25 de marzo de 2015

Talking point: Eating

This week's talking point is eating. Before getting together with the members of your conversation group, go over the questions below so that ideas flow more easily when you get together with your friends and you can work out vocabulary issues beforehand.
  • Can you cook?
  • What's your best dish?
  • Who's the best cook you know?
  • Who does the cooking in your house?
  • What kind of thing do you usually eat?
  • Are you a fussy eater, an unadventurous eater or an adventurous eater?
  • Do you prefer to eat out at a restaurant or at home when celebrating something?
  • When you eat at home on special occasions, what do you like to cook?
  • Do you eat much foreign food?
  • What's your favourite?
  • Are there many specialist shops selling [foreign] food in your city/town?
  • What food from your country would you miss if you went to live abroad?
  • What's the strangest food you have ever eaten?
  • What food from your country do foreigners usually find strange?
  • Do you watch cooking programmes on TV?
  • Why have they become so successful?
  • Do you look up to any celebrity chef?
To illustrate the point, watch this short video about the importance of a healthy breakfast.

We've got some delicious items to kick-start your morning. And Joe, you're absolutely right. We cannot skip breakfast. We have to eat something to fuel our bodies for the day. First, I wanna illustrate a typical breakfast to show what we might want to avoid. While this is delicious – these eggs, hash browns, bacon and biscuits, it's really high in fat, calories and saturated fat, which can lead to heart disease. A great alternative is a vegetable omelet. You can pick your favorite vegetables. Here, I have mushrooms, tomatoes, onions, and peppers. Be sure to use egg substitute to cook it in. You can have some sliced strawberries to go with it, and a piece of whole-grain toast.

Another really great breakfast, actually, is cereal. You wanna stay away from the sugary cereals and try to choose whole-grain cereals that have a lot of fiber. You wanna add some low-fat or fat-free skim milk, and top it with some fruit. Another great breakfast item is some cottage cheese. Low-fat or fat-free, with some peaches. You could have a whole-grain bagel with some sugar-free jelly as well.

Lastly, we have some Canadian bacon. For those of you who have to have your bacon in the morning, choose Canadian bacon. It's a lean meat, and you can have it with English muffin, some oatmeal, and some raisins on top.

And there you have some excellent, tasteful, and healthy breakfast items.

martes, 24 de marzo de 2015

Madrid Teacher: Plastic bag debate

Today's Madrid Teacher video has to do with the environment and the use and abuse we make of plastic bags. In my opinion, it's a bit harder than usual, as the conversation doesn't flow as naturally as some other days, as if the teacher taking part in the conversation were a bit unsure about what to say. However, it gives us the chance to pay attention to some features of spoken English.

First, watch the video through to get the gist, the main idea, of what it is about.

Now watch the video more carefully, paying attention to the following:
  • Use of really to emphasize the verb.
  • Use of just to emphasize the comparison.
  • Use of hedging (I think) to tone down our opinion.
  • Showing agreement: Yeah; That's true; Of course; There you go!; Yeah, exactly; Absolutely
  • Conversation fillers to gain thinking time: You know; like; Well
  • Use of vague language: or so
  • Rephrasing our ideas to make ourselves clear: I mean
  • Use of question tags asking for confirmation and to involve listeners in conversation

… my main thing. What, what are we supposed to do with our rubbish if we haven’t got plastic bags? Now’s the government who want to get rid of the plastic bags.
You can buy bin bags but it is great to have a free alternative.
But bin bags…
We would have the same problem if any of that is true.
The problem is that with so many of these problems there are much better alternatives and what we're really facing is a massive global climatic crisis. We need to look at different alternatives. Bin bags certainly that is one of the biggest issues blocking the phasing out of plastic bags but, of course, that's another system that needs renovation,  it’s trash collection.
I think that now they’ve developed bin bags that are actually biodegradable…
That’s what I'm talking about.
Yeah, so that would be…
But nothing really degrades, nothing degrades in a landfill.
No, that’s true.
So they cover it up.
You know, it’s because of all the plastic in there, insulating everything.
Yeah, everything's completely airtight and…
They say like a plastic bag takes a thousand years to decompose or so.
Yeah. I bet it is longer than that
I mean, it’s a big problem, you know, you get marine life die, you know. They mistake it for squid and fish they eat it and they choke on it.
Well, they can be quite dangerous. I mean, you know, if you leave them lying around animals which could get trapped inside, birds could get trapped too.
They always say those warnings, don’t they, don't put those on your head or something, you know.
Oh yeah, in case of suffocation yes.
And if you want to talk about danger, I mean let's look at where plastic comes from. It’s petroleum-based. How many people are dying right now in wars fought over oil. I mean, the world survived before there were plastic bags and it's just like that cell phones, just like the Internet.
Was it all part of the consumer society, isn’t it, mass consumerism and the plastic bags just go hand in hand, don’t they?
Of course.
They’re part of the distribution system.
Whatever happened to paper bags, I mean… you know.
Thank you.
I don’t know, they cost more to produce, I mean, they still look the same problems, you need, you know, you need to use wood and continue to cut down forest, but yeah, I mean paper bags
Or even grocers use paper bags.
And there’s  recycled paper, you don't have to try to cut down forests.
That’s true.
Newspaper, newspaper has a multitude of uses.
In England, in Britain we used to get our fish and chips in newspaper.
There you go!
Oh yeah!
And then they banned it because apparently there’s lead in the ink
Yeah, health and safety, isn’t it, all around, yeah.
So remove the lead from the ink, come back to the newspaper.
Yeah, exactly.
Fish and chips did taste good in newspaper, absolutely.
You know,   I bet it was charming to.
Oh, yeah, you could eat your chips and read…
And read while you are eating.

lunes, 23 de marzo de 2015

The language of lying

In this 2014 TED Talk, Noah Zandan uses some famous examples of lying to illustrate how we might use communications science to analyze the lies themselvesNoah Zandan uses some famous examples of lying to illustrate how we might use communications science to analyze the lies themselves.

Watch the video through and say whether the statements below are true or false.

You can also have a look and do to all the activities around this talk in the TED lesson here. It includes some comprehension questions, internet resources to go further into the topic and some questions for discussion.

1 We hear more than 200 lies a day.
2 It's not complicated to fool lie-detecting devices.
3 We lie to make ourselves look better in front of others.
4 Our conscious mind controls 95% of cognitive functions, including communication.
5 Imagined stories are very different from real ones as far as language use in concerned.
6 Liars use the first person when telling a lie.
7 Liars use more negative language.
8 Liars explain the events in a lie in a complex way.
9 The language structure in a lie is complex.
10 When Lance Armstrong admitted taking drugs, he used fewer pronouns.
11 When admitting fatherhood, Senator John Edwards used names and simple sentences.
12 Most lies we tell in life are harmless.

"Sorry, my phone died."
"It's nothing. I'm fine."
"These allegations are completely unfounded."
"The company was not aware of any wrongdoing."
"I love you."
We hear anywhere from 10 to 200 lies a day, and we spent much of our history coming up with ways to detect them, from medieval torture devices to polygraphs, blood pressure and breathing monitors, voice stress analyzers, eye trackers, infrared brain scanners, and even the 400-pound electroencephalogram.
But although such tools have worked under certain circumstances, most can be fooled with enough preparation, and none are considered reliable enough to even be admissible in court.
But, what if the problem is not with the techniques, but the underlying assumption that lying spurs physiological changes? What if we took a more direct approach, using communication science to analyze the lies themselves?
On a psychological level, we lie partly to paint a better picture of ourselves, connecting our fantasies to the person we wish we were rather than the person we are. But while our brain is busy dreaming, it's letting plenty of signals slip by. Our conscious mind only controls about 5% of our cognitive function, including communication, while the other 95% occurs beyond our awareness, and according to the literature on reality monitoring, stories based on imagined experiences are qualitatively different from those based on real experiences.
This suggests that creating a false story about a personal topic takes work and results in a different pattern of language use. A technology known as linguistic text analysis has helped to identify four such common patterns in the subconscious language of deception.
First, liars reference themselves less, when making deceptive statements. They write or talk more about others, often using the third person to distance and disassociate themselves from their lie, which sounds more false: "Absolutely no party took place at this house," or "I didn't host a party here."
Second, liars tend to be more negative, because on a subconscious level, they feel guilty about lying. For example, a liar might say something like, "Sorry, my stupid phone battery died. I hate that thing."
Third, liars typically explain events in simple terms since our brains struggle to build a complex lie.
Judgement and evaluation are complex things for our brains to compute. As a U.S. President once famously insisted: "I did not have sexual relations with that woman."
And finally, even though liars keep descriptions simple, they tend to use longer and more convoluted sentence structure, inserting unnecessary words and irrelevant but factual sounding details in order to pad the lie. Another President confronted with a scandal proclaimed: "I can say, categorically, that this investigation indicates that no one on the White House staff, no one in this administration presently employed was involved in this very bizarre incident."
Let's apply linguistic analysis to some famous examples. Take seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong. When comparing a 2005 interview, in which he had denied taking performance-enhancing drugs to a 2013 interview, in which he admitted it, his use of personal pronouns increased by nearly 3/4.
Note the contrast between the following two quotes. First: "Okay, you know, a guy in a French, in a Parisian laboratory opens up your sample, you know, Jean-Francis so-and-so, and he tests it. And then you get a phone call from a newspaper that says: 'We found you to be positive six times for EPO." Second: "I lost myself in all of that. I'm sure there would be other people that couldn't handle it, but I certainly couldn't handle it, and I was used to controlling everything in my life. I controlled every outcome in my life."
In his denial, Armstrong described a hypothetical situation focused on someone else, removing himself from the situation entirely. In his admission, he owns his statements, delving into his personal emotions and motivations.
But the use of personal pronouns is just one indicator of deception. Let's look at another example from former Senator and U.S. Presidential candidate John Edwards: "I only know that the apparent father has said publicly that he is the father of the baby. I also have not been engaged in any activity of any description that requested, agreed to, or supported payments of any kind to the woman or to the apparent father of the baby."
Not only is that a pretty long-winded way to say, "The baby isn't mine," but Edwards never calls the other parties by name, instead saying "that baby," "the woman," and "the apparent father."
Now let's see what he had to say when later admitting paternity: "I am Quinn's father. I will do everything in my power to provide her with the love and support she deserves." The statement is short and direct, calling the child by name and addressing his role in her life.
So how can you apply these lie-spotting techniques to your life? First, remember that many of the lies we encounter on a daily basis are far less serious that these examples, and may even be harmless. But it's still worthwhile to be aware of telltale clues, like minimal self-references, negative language, simple explanations and convoluted phrasing. It just might help you avoid an overvalued stock, an ineffective product, or even a terrible relationship.

1F 2T 3T 4F 5T 6F 7T 8F 9T 10F 11T 12T

domingo, 22 de marzo de 2015

Extensive listening: Ivory wars

With wildlife crime now thought to be second only to drugs in terms of profit, BBC Panorama reporter Rageh Omaar goes to Africa to follow the trail of the ivory poachers, smugglers and organised crime syndicates and to investigate the plight of Africa's elephants.

As demand for ivory rises in the Far East, this Panorama special goes undercover in central Africa and China to ask whether the African elephant can survive in some parts of the continent.

Last year saw the highest number of large seizures of illegal ivory for over two decades - despite a 23 year global ban on its international sale. One area of northern Kenya has lost a quarter of its elephants in the last three years, largely due to poaching. Panorama visits an elephant orphanage to see the impact of the killing on the young and confronts the dealers in Africa and in China, who are now the world's biggest buyer of illegal ivory.

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

sábado, 21 de marzo de 2015

Better at English podcasts

Better at English is collection of around 40 podcasts for intermediate to advanced students by Swedish Lori Linstruth. They come complete with a vocabulary list and transcript and deal with everyday topics like junk food, the office, relaxation, TV adverts, dogs, cultural differences, perfectionism.

Lori Linstruth herself, the person behind Better at English, describes the idea underlying the podcasts on the About section of her site:

"If I want to achieve one thing with Better at English, it’s this: to nudge you gently outside of your comfort zone and encourage you to take action to get a little better every day. Having spent time learning 5 foreign languages (Swedish, Spanish, Dutch, German, Indonesian) with varying degrees of success has shown me that taking (small) risks and pushing yourself to do difficult and scary things is the key to continual progress."

viernes, 20 de marzo de 2015

An Explanation Of The Pay Gap Between Men And Women

Today's youngest group of working women are the first in modern history to start their working lives at near parity with men. But will they stay this close in the years to come?

Self-study activity:
Try not to watch the video while doing the exercise, as the clip does give some visual  on the listening comprehension questions.

The video is suitable for intermediate 2 students.

1 How much did a woman earn for every dollar a man earned 30 years ago?
2 How much do women earn now for every dollar a man makes?
3 How much did young women early in their working lives make in 2012 for every dollar their male counterparts earned?
4 Note down at least three reasons why the pay gap has narrowed?
5 Did young women starting their professional career in 1995 maintain, reduced or widen the pay gap with men?
6 Why does the pay gap persist? Give three reasons.

Before checking the answers with the transcript below, watch the video and try the activity again. The visual clues will greatly help you with the difficult questions.

Today's young women are starting their working lives at nearly equal pay with men but there's no guarantee that they will stay this close in the years to come. A new study by the Pew Research Center looks at how the pay gap between women and men has narrowed but persisted over the last 30 years. More than 30 years ago, a woman earned (1) 64 cents for every dollar a man earned. The difference in earnings or the pay gap was 36 cents. Since then, the pay gap has shrunk. Now, women make (2) 84 cents for every dollar men earn - a 16 cent gap and each new group of young women has narrowed the gap even more. Let's take a look at the young women starting out in 1980. While women overall earn 64 cents for every dollar men earned that year, young women could expect to make a little more - 67 cents. Taken at five-year intervals, each successive group of young women has started out at a higher level, steadily narrowing their pay gap with men the same age. By 2012, young women early in their working lives earned (3) 93 cents for every dollar their male counterparts earned. These groups of young women also started out with a narrower pay gap than the pay gap for all working women.
Why has the pay gap narrowed? There are several reasons. (4) Women are better educated and more active in the work force than they used to be. Many of them had moved into higher-paying occupations traditionally dominated by men and men's earnings have fallen. Also, many work place barriers and discriminatory practices have eroded over time, but the pay gap has also persisted. In the more recent years, it has narrowed more slowly. Let's take a closer look. Let's look back again at the 1980s, where working women of all ages made significant gains and closed the pay gap by 11 cents. In later years, women did not make as much progress in closing the pay gap. Because of this overall pattern, young women who started out in the 1980s have done better over the course of their lives compared with later groups of young women. The young women who started out in 1980 built on the rapid progress of that decade and narrowed the pay gap with their male counterparts as they aged and the young women starting out in 1985 also benefited from the strong, overall gains for women during this decade. She maintained about the same pay gap with men over her working life. This progress for women overall slowed. The women starting their working lives in 1990 saw their pay gap with men widen slightly over time. (5) Young women starting out in 1995 lost even more ground relative to men as they aged and so did the women starting out in 2000.
No matter what their pay gap was when they started, all groups of women have moved toward the same pay gap. We don't yet know what the future may hold for today's youngest group of women who have been in the work force for less than a decade. (6) Why does the pay gap persist? Why the newer groups of young women failed to hold on to their early gains? Women are still mainly responsible for child and family care. Many of the mothers in our survey say they have taken a significant amount of time off from work, reduced their hours or quit work to care for a child or other family member. Women also remain more likely to work in lower-paying occupations than men do. For example, male dominated Science & Engineering jobs, pay a medium hourly wage of 30 dollars, while female dominated Administrative Support jobs, pay less than 15 dollar an hour. Gender discrimination may also contribute to the pay gap. Our survey found that women are more likely than men to say they've been discriminated against at work because of their gender. Both women and men say, 'more needs to be done' to bring about gender equality in the work place.
To learn more about the attitudes and experiences of women and men at work, read the full report at:

jueves, 19 de marzo de 2015

How to understand power

This is a fascinating TED lesson by Eric Liu on the nature power. In this How to Understand Power, Eric tells us where power comes from, how it is exercised and what we can do to become more powerful in public life.

No activity today. I know the lesson can be a bit demanding for intermediate 2 students, but the video offers a lot of clues which allow us to understand the gist of what is being said. In addition, you can read the transcript below or activate the CC subtitles in YouTube, which are 100% accurate.

In any case, you can also drop by How to Understand Power on TED, where you will find the full lesson at your disposal (video, some general comprehension questions, additional resources on the topic for you to explore and some questions for conversation).

Every day of your life, you move through systems of power that other people made. Do you sense them? Do you understand power? Do you realize why it matters?
Power is something we are often uncomfortable talking about. That's especially true in civic life, how we live together in community. In a democracy, power is supposed to reside with the people, period. Any further talk about power and who really has it seems a little dirty, maybe even evil.
But power is no more inherently good or evil than fire or physics. It just is. It governs how any form of government works. It determines who gets to determine the rules of the game.
So learning how power operates is key to being effective, being taken seriously, and not being taken advantage of.
In this lesson, we'll look at where power comes from, how it's exercised and what you can do to become more powerful in public life.
Let's start with a basic definition. Power is the ability to make others do what you would have them do. Of course, this plays out in all arenas of life, from family to the workplace to our relationships. Our focus is on the civic arena, where power means getting a community to make the choices and to take the actions that you want.
There are six main sources of civic power. First, there's physical force and a capacity for violence. Control of the means of force, whether in the police or a militia, is power at its most primal.
A second core source of power is wealth. Money creates the ability to buy results and to buy almost any other kind of power.
The third form of power is state action, government. This is the use of law and bureaucracy to compel people to do or not do certain things. In a democracy, for example, we the people, theoretically, give government its power through elections. In a dictatorship, state power emerges from the threat of force, not the consent of the governed.
The fourth type of power is social norms or what other people think is okay. Norms don't have the centralized machinery of government. They operate in a softer way, peer to peer. They can certainly make people change behavior and even change laws. Think about how norms around marriage equality today are evolving.
The fifth form of power is ideas. An idea, individual liberties, say, or racial equality, can generate boundless amounts of power if it motivates enough people to change their thinking and actions.
And so the sixth source of power is numbers, lots of humans. A vocal mass of people creates power by expressing collective intensity of interest and by asserting legitimacy. Think of the Arab Spring or the rise of the Tea Party. Crowds count. These are the six main sources of power, what power is.
So now, let's think about how power operates. There are three laws of power worth examining. Law number one: power is never static. It's always either accumulating or decaying in a civic arena. So if you aren't taking action, you're being acted upon.
Law number two: power is like water. It flows like a current through everyday life. Politics is the work of harnessing that flow in a direction you prefer. Policymaking is an effort to freeze and perpetuate a particular flow of power. Policy is power frozen.
Law number three: power compounds. Power begets more power, and so does powerlessness. The only thing that keeps law number three from leading to a situation where only one person has all the power is how we apply laws one and two. What rules do we set up so that a few people don't accumulate too much power, and so that they can't enshrine their privilege in policy? That's the question of democracy, and you can see each of these laws at work in any news story. Low wage workers organize to get higher pay. Oil companies push to get a big pipeline approved. Gay and lesbian couples seek the legal right to marry. Urban parents demand school vouchers. You may support these efforts or not. Whether you get what you want depends on how adept you are with power, which brings us finally to what you can do to become more powerful in public life.
Here, it's useful to think in terms of literacy. Your challenge is to learn how to read power and write power. To read power means to pay attention to as many texts of power as you can. I don't mean books only. I mean seeing society as a set of texts.
Don't like how things are in your campus or city or country? Map out who has what kind of power, arrayed in what systems. Understand why it turned out this way, who's made it so, and who wants to keep it so. Study the strategies others in such situations used: frontal attack or indirection, coalitions or charismatic authority. Read so you may write.
To write power requires first that you believe you have the right to write, to be an author of change.
You do. As with any kind of writing, you learn to express yourself, speak up in a voice that's authentic. Organize your ideas, then organize other people.
Practice consensus building. Practice conflict. As with writing, it's all about practice. Every day you have a chance to practice, in your neighborhood and beyond. Set objectives, then bigger ones. Watch the patterns, see what works. Adapt, repeat. This is citizenship.
In this short lesson, we've explored where civic power comes from, how it works and what you can do to exercise it.
One big question remaining is the "why" of power. Do you want power to benefit everyone or only you? Are your purposes pro-social or anti-social? This question isn't about strategy. It's about character, and that's another set of lessons. But remember this: Power plus character equals a great citizen, and you have the power to be one.

miércoles, 18 de marzo de 2015

Talking point: Time off

In this week's talking point the topic is time off. Before getting together with the members of your conversation group, go over the questions below so that you can work out vocabulary problems beforehand and ideas flow more easily when you meet up with your friends.

What are the main tourist attractions locally / regionally / nationally?
What are they like?
How many public holidays are there where you live?
Do you take them all?
What is your favourite public holiday?
What did you do on the last public holiday?
Do you often go out for the day if you have a day off?
What is the best place to go for a day out in your area?
What are the main factors to decide where to go for a good day out?
And for choosing a holiday?
How much holiday do you get per year?
Is that the same for all the workers?
Are you happy with what you get?

F: I’ve spent a lot of time living in different countries so there isn’t one place, I think of as home. I’ve lived in Scotland and Poland and China. I love going to new places and learning about new cultures. Today, I’m asking people about travel.
W1: I love travel. It’s one of my passions.
M1: I enjoy it a lot. I have travelled to India several times. I lived there, and I’ve lived here, and I’ve been to Istanbul once and I enjoyed that very much.
W2: I’ve done quite a bit of travelling with holidays and stuff. I think it’s good- good experience.
W3: You get to meet different people from different backgrounds, and that’s pretty important to get an understanding.
M2: It’s always nice to just get out and experience a different culture and different lifestyle.
W4: I get very excited about the thought of going to most countries, any country.
W5: I love to travel to different countries.
M3: Absolutely love travelling. I’ve been travelling for about two and a half years solid now.
W6: I’ve been to Turkey. I’ve been to Egypt. I’ve been to Malta.
M4: I work as an expedition leader and so I actually operate in different countries around the world, many places outside the United Kingdom.
F: What do you like about travelling?
M3: I think you mature a lot when you travel. You learn… oh, just completely different experiences to what you’re used to at home.
W6: I like the airport experience. I love that.
M5: I like the arrival more than the travelling.
W5: To see art especially. We love to see theatre in other countries.
M4: You see some of the most beautiful scenery around the world which you wouldn’t experience in other countries.
M2: I just really like getting out there and experiencing a different culture, getting far away from, you know, what we’re used to in Australia, and meeting new people.
W4: The anticipation of being in a new place, of seeing very different things, of hearing a different language, of eating different food. Everything that travel has to offer.
F: What don’t you like?
W6: I don’t like long flights.
W3: I suppose plane journeys are not always the most exciting of things.
W1: Flying. I don’t particularly like flying, but it’s a necessity when you live in Ireland, you know.
M2: I suppose the biggest problem I have with travelling is living out of a suitcase.
W4: In all honesty, I actually see the whole travel as an adventure in itself. So when I was backpacking, and we ran out of money, or we were in dangerous situations, I actually quite enjoyed that.
M4: You spend a lot of time outside the United Kingdom and the disadvantage of that is, that you tend to miss families and friends. I miss out on normal things in life, so … I’ve been outside the United Kingdom for two thirds of the year. I’d say that’s the main disadvantage.
W5: The hardest thing for me is that I’m handicapped. And so sometimes getting around, especially very old cities, is very difficult.
M5: My wife’s usually late getting to the airport. It wasn’t until I got married that I actually started missing flights.

martes, 17 de marzo de 2015

Madrid Teacher: What Did You Think of The Haunting in Connecticut?

In our weekly Madrid Teacher series two teachers talk about the film The Haunting in Connecticut, which as usual gives us an opportunity to learn about some features of spoken English.

First, watch the video through to get familiar with everything that is being said in the video.

Now watch the video more carefully, paying attention to the following:
  • Use of so as a conversation filler.
  • Use of you know as a conversation filler.
  • Use of actually to introduce some surprising information.
  • Asking questions to show that we are interested in the conversation: What did he see?; And they stole a scene from The Shining?
  • Showing surprise: Really? Wow!

Now it's over to you. If possible get together with a friend or relative with the same level of English and think about a film that disappointed you. Tell your friends or relative what the film is, what it is about and why you found it disappointing. Try and use some of the features of spoken English we have revised today.

It’s about this kid who has cancer. Right. So, the kid has cancer. The mom wants him to be closer to the hospital. So, they rent a house in Connecticut. And it’s haunted. You know, and then kid starts seeing things. So, he thinks it’s the meds, the medication in other words. And, so he doesn’t know if it is real or not real. So, one day he’s in the hospital, he tells a reverend that is also, you know, being treated for cancer that he is seeing things. And then the reverend says, this is the only good line in the whole movie, I actually thought the movie was going to develop from here, but it didn’t happen that way, Reverend tells him we walk a fine line between the dead and the living. So, we see things that other people can’t see. And, yeah, basically that is the only good thing about the movie. Oh, yeah, and then they stole a line from The Shining.
So, what did he see?
What did he see?
He saw dead people. Because…
Like in Sixth Sense.
Like the Sixth Sense. And supposedly there was a lot of people dead in that house, and they were buried there. And there was, you know, a few dumb people in the back going oh! but there is nothing scary about it, nothing. And then they burnt the house down to liberate the spirits. And, The end.
And they stole a scene from The Shining?
The Shining. Yes, the kid towards the end. Wow! I am surprised that they are not mad and trying to sue them for that. They totally bit off a scene from the Shining.
Yes, they did. It was just one of those things that you are like oh! And they allow that to happen in Hollywood?
Because, Matt, it’s the kid who has the cancer, finds, figures out where all the bodies are in the house. So, in order to liberate them he needs to burn them. So, he takes an ax, just like in the Shining, and just starts chopping away on the wall, you know, axing away, I guess, and then all the bodies crumble down and then he burns them.

lunes, 16 de marzo de 2015

Listening test: Newcastle's night life

You are going to listen to someone talk about night life in Newcastle. Decide whether statements 1-10 are true of false

1. British cities have a reputation for being boring at night.
2. Young people go to Newcastle to go to the ‘Theatre Royal’.
3. Women go to stag parties.
4. The people of Newcastle speak with an accent called ‘Geordie’. 
5. The Tuxedo Royale is a large building. 
6. The Tuxedo Royale only opens at weekends.
7. People don’t wear much at night because Newcastle has relatively mild weather.
8. It is not unusual to see police officers in uniform in clubs.
9. The presence of the police doesn’t stop people from being violent. 
10. Newcastle is a very old city.

What is there to do after dark?
It's a myth that there's nothing to do in our cities at night. Our cities are packed with culture and attractions, and many people go to cities such as Newcastle or Glasgow for the nightlife alone. As night falls on Newcastle the shops and offices close, transforming the city. Newcastle’s nightlife has something to offer everyone, from dinner at one of the many restaurants to an evening at the ‘Theatre Royal’. Most young people are drawn to the centre of Newcastle for its trendy bars and clubs. An area of town named the ‘Bigg Market’ helped put Newcastle on the ‘party’ map and at weekends it is full of people moving from bar to bar. As the night draws on, they then move onto nearby night-clubs.

Party atmosphere
Crowds of friends mix with groups of visitors, from tourists to hen and stag parties. These are traditional parties that happen before weddings, the women have hen parties and the men stag parties to celebrate their last night out as single people. Conversation, laughter and loud music are everywhere; pouring out of hot night-clubs and trendy bars. Amongst the crowds you'll hear the local Geordie accent mixed with others from all over the UK and the world.

A night-club with a difference
One of the most popular destinations is the ‘Tuxedo Royale’ a ship permanently moored under the Tyne Bridge. It's open every night and is an old Northern Irish ferry which has been converted into a floating night-club. There are many bars and dance floors on it. At weekends the wait to get in can be quite long but once on board ship, the drinking and partying continues into the early hours.

What to wear?
Dress codes for entry into bars and clubs are common and strictly enforced at the weekends, which means people wear their best clothes and are out to make a good impression. People don't wear much, which may appear strange, as it can get very cold outside at night. There's a very good reason for it though - inside the night-clubs it's very hot, so there is no need for a coat. Some groups of people dress in theme outfits for special nights out like birthdays so don’t be surprised if you see clubbers in school or police uniforms.

Safety on the streets
The police maintain a high profile to deter trouble and watch over the clubbers making sure that people enjoy a safe but fun night out. The police presence means people are loud and high spirited but not generally aggressive. It's the combination of the historic setting, the wide choice of bars and night-clubs, and Geordie attitude to having a good time that attracts people from all over the country to enjoy the amazing nightlife.

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

domingo, 15 de marzo de 2015

Extensive listening: The Swiss leaks

60 Minutes CBS reporter Bill Whitaker investigates the biggest leak in Swiss banking history and examines HSBC's business dealings with a collection of international outlaws through stolen computer files with more than 100,000 names linked to Swiss bank accounts at HSBC, the second largest commercial bank in the world.

37-year-old cHervé Falciani stole all the data in 2007 and gave it to the French government. It's now being used to go after tax cheats all over the world.

You can read the transcript here.

sábado, 14 de marzo de 2015

Reading test: Screen time harms teenagers' sleep

In this week's reading test we are going to use BBC's article Screen time harms teenagers' sleep to practise the task where students are given a number of words or phrases and have to insert them in the corresponding gap in the text. There are two words or phases you do not need to use. 0 is an example.

The longer a teenager spends using electronic devices (0) such as tablets and smartphones, the worse their sleep will be, a study of nearly 10,000 16- to 19-year-olds suggests.
More than two hours of screen time after school was strongly (1) ... to both delayed and shorter sleep.
Almost all the teens from Norway said they used the devices shortly before going to bed.
Many said they often got (2) ... than five hours sleep a night, BMJ Open reports.
The teens were asked questions about their sleep routine on weekdays and at weekends, (3) ... how much screen time they clocked up outside school hours.
On (4) ..., girls said they spent around five and a half hours a day watching TV or using computers, smartphones or other electronic devices. And boys spent slightly more time in front of a screen - around six and a half hours a day.
Playing computer games was more popular among the boys, whereas girls were more (5) ... to spend their time chatting online.
Any type of screen use during the day and in the hour before bedtime appeared to (6) ... sleep - making it more difficult for teenagers to nod off.
And the more hours they spent on gadgets, the more disturbed their sleep became.
When daytime screen use (7) ... four or more hours, teens had a 49% greater risk of taking longer than an hour to fall asleep.
These teens also tended to get less than five hours of sleep per night.
Sleep duration went steadily (8) ... as gadget use increased.
It may be that playing on electronic devices leaves teens with less time to (9) ... other things, including sleep, say the researchers - Dr Mari Hysing and colleagues at Uni Research Health, Bergen.
But it could be that screen time interferes with sleepiness.
Staring at an illuminated screen at bedtime could send the wrong (10) ... to our brain, disrupting our natural body clock and making us more alert, they suggest.
Dr Hysing said her findings had implications for the wider population as so many people use these devices.
"We know that sufficient sleep is essential for good physical and mental health. Logging off may be one important (11) ... toward securing a good night's sleep."
Prof Russell Foster, an expert in sleep and neuroscience at the University of Oxford, said: "This is an important study as it provides empirical evidence that the use of electronic devices before bed (12) ... reduces sleep duration."
He said teenagers should be warned of this.

as well as
such as 0


1 linked; 2 less; 3 as well as; 4 average; 5 likely; 6 disrupt; 7 totalled; 8 down; 9 do; 10 signals ; 11 step; 12 indeed

viernes, 13 de marzo de 2015

36 hours in Copenhagen

Copenhagen, the standard-bearer for both design and New Nordic cuisine, offers other creative endeavors, from enticing shops to cozy bars.

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

1. People from Copenhagen live in the streets.
2. It is allowed to drink in the streets.
3. Visitors find it difficult to figure out what kind of store Playtype is.
4. The Lousiana Museum was founded in 1948.
5. The Danish try to balance outdoors and indoors in their lifestyle.
6. People do wakeboarding right in the city center of Copenhagen.
7. The sandwich is a traditional dish in Denmark.
8. The market we see has been running for centuries.
9. People go to the market because of the prices.
10. Denmark has a tradition in beer drinking.
11. In Olsnedkeren they offer different kinds of beer every week.
12. In Lidkoeb customers find a different atmosphere on each floor.

The most striving thing about Copenhagen to me is that you have everything Paris, London, Berlin as well combined in one.
You can do all sorts of things in a quite small town.
You live on the street, so to say, you know, you hang around on all the corners and squares.
The people of Copenhagen are cool.
There’s so many people doing what they want.
It’s allowed to drink on the streets, which… we do.
We have this word hyggelig which means kind of cosy but it really means it’s kind of like chilling and having a good time.
People are happier here. It’s the hidden gem of Europe, for sure.
Playtype is a… it’s a typography concept store. People who have never been here before can stand outside for a while and are like to come in and what, what is this? It’s really hard to explain a great design when it comes to just layer because you just know like a ‘B is just a B’ with so many layers, and there’s so many expressions in a really simple way.
The Louisiana Museum was founded in 1958. The founder, some of the founders villa and they immediately saw that the setting was perfect for a museum. They wanted a place where people could meet art in a new way, in a very direct way.
I believe that it epitomizes sort of the Danish mentality and it’s particularly the connection between the indoors and the outdoors. Danes always need to have a connection to the outdoors.
Out here we do wakeboarding right in the heart of the city two miles from downtown Copenhagen. The appeal is that you enjoy high speed on the water and if you’re really good you start doing rails, kick-ups, all kinds of funny stuff which you find normally in snowboard parks. They just love it.
If you come to Copenhagen you should really rent a bike.
I think bike culture is very tied to Copenhagen, it’s very much a part of our identity. We like to take it easy. It’s like you put your kids in, you put your grocery shopping in, you put whatever you buy and I think there’s some of that spirit in the cliché of bikes.
Food catering in Copenhagen is exploding. You can tell that people know a lot more about food, they’re more interested in food.
Almanak is all about open sandwiches for lunch.
It’s a tradition in Denmark to serve open sandwiches and we try to update the classic versions. For example, our, our version of a tomato sandwich is one that I remember from when I was a kid, and we try to update it with the use of green tomatoes and pickled tomatoes and even with a gel on a pickled and brine, having respect for the old sandwich but updating it so people are a bit whoa about it as well.
We have a four-course menu changing with the seasons really, and we have some more challenging things maybe in the snacks we’ve been doing some crispy pig heads and lamb head pancakes. One of the highest-selling snacks I’d say that we have is the bull testicles.
By the end of the meal they are still like whoa, they were really tasty, really cool.
The market here started back in 2011. It’s the only market like this in Copenhagen.
We have a lot of different stalls and a lot of variation.
Ko(cow going out on a limb here) Dairy craft beer, cheeses from small dairies, flowers.
You can find fish, you can find meat, wine, beers.
A lot of things that you can find only here in Copenhagen and the surrounding area, so people come here from everywhere.
They start out getting a coffee or eat something. Then they do their shopping. And when it’s done, they sit down again.
It’s always been a beer-drinking town. We wanna offer something better because the standard of beer is really tame, so with this we want to offer the opportunity to try a beer that has flavour and depth and that sort of vibe that we offer that’s our beer and stuff.
In the beginning it was founded like a means to brew beer and make this bar. We have two or three new beers a week. We never do the same beer twice. We keep moving on. Most people don’t really realize that we brew it in the basement but they just go oh, ah, and they’ve never seen those beers before. You can come here without knowing anything and so have a good time.
We have a golden age of cocktails in Denmark. Lidkoeb is a bar in an old chemist laboratory. I like each floor to sort of represent a different atmosphere, so this floor is quite airy, next floor up is a bit more lounge-like and then on the top floor we’ve got a whisky bar and a OP(observation post) loft which is catering to the caveman envy.
There’s something about way of life in Scandinavia that promotes drinking I think. Maybe it’s something inherited Viking thing, I don’t know.

1T 2T 3T 4F 5T 6F 7T 8F 9F 10T 11T 12T

jueves, 12 de marzo de 2015

Julia Roberts on bullying

This is an ABC clip featuring Julia Roberts talking about bullying.

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

1 What happened 25 years ago?
2 What abbreviation is spelled out of members in US schools?
3 Which one adjective does each person sitting around the table use to describe the way they felt when being bullied?
4 Why does most of the bullying happen, according to one of the children?
5 What do '3' and '2' refer to?
6 What is the most disturbing aspect of bullying for Julia?
7 In Julia's opinion, what is as bad as being a bully?

It is National Bullying Prevention Month and superstar Julia Roberts and her husband Danny Moder were honored over the weekend for the work they've done to fight bullying. I join Julia and some passionate young people to talk about how bullying has touched all of their lives, including Julia’s.
(1) Twenty-five years ago she filmed Pretty Woman in this very hotel.
Julia Roberts
Yes, that's Julia Roberts back at the Regent Beverly Wiltshire, accepting the humanitarian award from G.L.S.E.N., an organization which aims to prevent bullying against members of the (2) L.G.B.T. community in our schools.
What is the point if not to be kind and unconditional in our love and generosity towards one another?
We had a chance to sit down with Julia before hand with five young G.L.S.E.N. ambassadors Emery…
Hi, how are you?
Mark, Ben, Peter and Arianna to talk about the issues so many face these days, bullying. Why is this such an important issue for you and for your family?
For my family, because these are the heroes that are leading the way so that my children can go to school unencumbered by this conversation. The future is really riding on people like this.
I'd like you all to go around, if you can think about how bullying has made you feel. If you can sum it up in one word.
I'm gonna start with my own experience and say that bullying... when I have been bullied when I was younger it made me feel (3) insignificant.
That's good.
I would say it has made me feel silenced.
I wanna say alone.
I would say ignored.
If you could change one thing in your school, what would it be?
(4) A majority of just the bullying that happens, mainly occurs from just ignorance, it's not people intentionally trying to be discriminatory. It's just, they don't know.
(5) I know you're a mom of three. I'm a mom of two. Our kids are growing up in such a different world. Bullying takes on so many different forms. What are your concerns as a mother?
The thing that's the most disturbing to me is that this, (6) and it's the anonymous aspect of it that I think gives this sort of courage to people, to be hateful as a sport. It's become like a game, and it's not a game. It's not funny. There is nothing brave or courageous about anonymously writing unkind things. That's what gives power to so much of this hatred. And, I mean,  and I wish we could go back to when I was in middle school and high school and all you wanted to change was the pizza.
You know.
What do you teach your children in terms of tolerance?
We have different versions of this conversation. I do always say to them, you know, remember who you are, be impeccable in every way that you represent our entire family in the day. (7) Because, even to be passive, to be a bystander is to be absolutely as wrong as the person who is standing in the front of the line of cruelty. Even if this isn't your friend, even if this isn't your cause, we're still all humankind. Just everybody's trying to get through the day the best they can.
It's a message these five kids can relate to, and this, a conversation they won't soon forget. And how amazing is it that Ms. Julia Roberts is here, also, throwing out the welcome mat?
Don't even get me started on that.
Yeah, everyone at school, look who you're sitting with now. Right here.
This is our lunch table. This is the cool kids' lunch table.
The cool kids right here.
And of course the chance to take some of the most epic selfies, ever.

miércoles, 11 de marzo de 2015

Talking point: Feelings

This week's talking point is feelings. 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 find it easy to talk about your feelings?
  • Who do you talk to if you have a problmem?
  • What would your do or say if a friend was upset?
  • Would it be different if it was a man or a woman?
  • What kind of things do you do to cheer yourself up?
  • Are you good at sorting out problems?
  • When did you last feel exahusted, stressed, furious, pleased, worried, annoyed, disappointed, guilty?
  • How often do you hug people / kiss people on the cheeks or lips? 
  • How often do you walk arm in arm with people or hold hands / shake hands / touch people on the arm or put your arm round their shoulder?
  • Do you do any of these things more often or less often than most people in your country?
  • Have you ever been anywhere where they do these things differently to you?
To illustrate the point, you can watch the Speakout video Emotion.

Hello. I’m in a really good mood today. The sun is out and that always brings a smile to my face. How are you feeling today?
I’m feeling stressed due to a lot of work.
I’m feeling quite happy and confident. The weather certainly helps: it’s a bright, sunny day so I’m feeling quite optimistic.
I’m excited about my project for school, we’re doing a documentary on film.
I’m feeling pretty good. I’m feeling good ’cos I’m on a day out with my friend and we’re having a fun time.
Very happy, very relaxed. We have a day off, my wife and I.
I’ve had a good start to my day. I woke up early and I had a good breakfast, so I suppose I’m feeling well-balanced and optimistic about my afternoon.
Today’s a good day. Visiting from New York.
Really good. It’s a beautiful day, the sun’s shining and I’m just wandering about London. It’s nice.
Would you describe yourself as an optimist, or a pessimist?
100% optimist. I think that you always have to look on the bright side. And I know it’s cheesy, but it’s best to think what you can do and not what you could have done.
I think I am an optimist. I think generally I look on the bright side. I hope I see the best in people. I don’t expect bad, you know, disasters or to be let down in things.
I’d say I swing between the two. I mean, I am pretty optimistic about my, myself.
I’m very optimistic. Um, whenever I get in a tricky situation I might get a bit frustrated at first, but I always manage to pull myself through and think of the positives.
I consider myself to be more of a ‘functional pessimist’: I do tend to plan and cater for the worst case, but more often than not I’m then happily surprised when things go well.
Probably an optimist, but I like to be realistic about things and then I’m not disappointed.
I think I’m an optimist.
What’s the best thing that’s happened to you this year?
The best thing that has happened to me in the last 12 months is the success of the business that my wife and I opened in Oxford last June.
The best things that’s happened to me this year is the successes I’ve had in the garden, growing vegetables and flowers.
I got all distinctions, all distinction stars and A*s in my last project in Art.
I went to Canada to visit my father with my boyfriend a couple of weeks ago and that was really nice: we got to see lots of amazing sights.
Getting into university. It was really difficult ’cos there was a, like, a lot of applicants, a very high standard and I managed to get a spot.
I met my boyfriend. Well, I didn’t meet him, actually, I met him years ago, but we got together and became a couple, which is good. So, I think that’s the best thing that’s happened this year, for me.
The best thing that happened to me this year was getting a job as a trainee solicitor at a firm in London. I’m really excited about it: it’s very difficult to get into and it’s, like, the culmination of a lot of hard work over a long time. So, I’m really happy about it.

martes, 10 de marzo de 2015

Madrid Teacher: Gaffes galore

In our Madrid Teacher series, this week a group of three teachers talk about language mistakes native speakers sometimes make.

First of all, watch the video through so that you get the gist, the main idea of the conversation.

Now watch the video more carefully, pausing where necessary, paying attention to the following features of spoken English:

- So as a conversation filler.
- Use of actually to signal that you are going to say some surprising information.
- Reacting to what the information you hear: On the coin?; How embarrassing!; Do you? What’s your story?; Interesting!; Oh, no.
- Moving away from the topic: Oh, it reminds me
- Involving listeners in the conversation: Have you seen the Bible museum in Amsterdam?
- Use of adverbs to emphasize the information: quite
- Showing agreement: yeah!; Exactly!

Now it's over to you. If possible get together with a friend or relative whose level of English is similar to you and talk about mistakes people or you have made with the use of their own language. Try and use some of the features of spoken English we have mentioned in this post.

So I, I read in the news the other day about in Chile how they produce these coins and then actually spelled the name of the country wrong, wrongly. Instead of Chile, with an ‘l’, they wrote Chii, they put two ies, so it’s completely wrong.
On the coin?
On the coin, and they’ve like produced thousands of them…
How embarrassing!
…but now, so now they’re like collectors’ item, so they’ve obviously stopped printing anymore
Great, they’re something unique.
Yes something unique.
Big mistake.
Maybe they meant to do it on purpose.
I doubt it.
That’s a good way to create money for the country…
Stimulate their economy, yeah!
I don’t know.
I don’t think so, but…
I have a similar story.
Do you? What’s your story?
Mine is a… at the University of Wisconsin, I don’t know when it was, but a long time ago, they printed the diplomas with Wisconsin spelled with ‘son’ at the end incorrectly.
Instead of ‘sin’.
You pay all the money for an education.
And they are… that’s one of the top universities, isn’t it, in the States, yeah, after…
It’s a big-ten university, yeah.
We all make spelling errors sometimes, no?
Well, I‘ve heard about the Bible, one of the early editions of the Bible, they made quite a bit spelling mistakes. Instead of  ‘thou shalt not commit adultery’, they forgot to add the ‘not’ and it was ‘thou shalt commit adultery’.
Oh, no.
Oh, it reminds me. Have you seen the Bible museum in Amsterdam?
No. What’s that?
It’s quite fascinating. It’s, it’s filled with all kinds of different bibles because, of course, everything was hand-written and so, of course, even though it could be inspired or not, there were lots of errors that were committed…
I can imagine, yeah.
… and a lot of the people didn’t read and so, of course, they would only listen what was read to them and so many things were communicated that may not have been correct.
Just makes us realize how lucky we are, no, when, when we write something we can correct it, change it, move the text around…
It’s a lot easier now!
Imagine writing up the whole bible.
Well almost, because I read about, for example, a cookbook, they had a little problem also. It called for instead of salt and ground pepper, it was salt and ground people.
Oh, no! Oh, no!
Cannibals might have been interested in that!
Exactly! A little spicy maybe but you never now.