jueves, 30 de abril de 2015

My City: St Petersburg

Watch this BBC World video on St Petersburg, which is part of the series My City, and answer the questions below about it.

My City - St Petersburg from Owain Rich on Vimeo.

1 How old is St Petersburg?
2 What does 'three' refer to?
3 Apart from chimneys what else can you see from rooftops that makes a stunning picture?
4 When did transport come to a standstill in St Petersburg?
5 What means of transport has a special meaning in the city?
6 What's the new life of the naval base on the island of New Holland?
7 Apart from freedom and rebellion, what other concepts does the presenter mention at the end?

St Petersburg, just (1) three hundred years old but with a history as rich as any ancient city in the world. St Petersburg is my city. A city of great culture - a city of great conflict. A city looking out to the future - a city rooted in the past. St Petersburg has had (2) three different names in the past century, and it is still searching for its real identity.
People here have always enjoyed looking at their city from a different perspective. Some, by taking to the rooftops and viewing the beauty and sometimes the ugliness of the urban panorama.
Mikhail Markevich, local historian
People go up on the roofs because the city can be dominating and unfriendly, it's a chance to conquer the city. You are on top and the city is at your feet. Also, from the rooftops you can survey the beauty and sometimes the ugliness of the city: chimneys, (3) stone walls and sunsets can be a stunning picture, an internal vision.
Today for many young people climbing on the roofs is an adventure. It is an act of defiance and an assertion of independence. It's also a new way of meeting friends.
The heritage of St Petersburg is central to the city's identity.
This is the old tram depot of Vasiliyevsky Island - now a museum housing some of the old vehicles that threaded the streets of the city for more than a century. (4) In 1941 when the city - then Leningrad - was blockaded by Nazi Germany, transport came to a standstill. But within a few months the trams started to run again despite the devastating bombing. Seeing them back on the streets gave people hope of liberation.
Kyrill Nyqvist, Electric Transport Museum director
For many generations (5) trams in St Petersburg and Leningrad had a very special meaning for people. Many had romantic assignations on the trams: they would arrange to meet at a certain tramstop or would go to a park by a certain route. At one time, trams ran through the whole of the city... wherever you travelled, it would be by tram.
Peering into history - the naval strength of the Russian Empire was forged behind these walls, on the island of New Holland. It was only at the beginning of this century that New Holland was handed over to the St Petersburg authorities and a mysterious and secretive naval base began a new life - open to everyone - as (6) a huge complex for the arts.
Polina Fradkina, musician
When I was a little girl I studied near here, every morning I would walk past it and it was always so attractive and mysterious, it was like a fairy castle, I always wondered what was inside and now I can see a lot of children, happy people, just, normal life going on.
Freedom and rebellion. (7) Memory and hope. Concepts and symbols deeply entrenched in St Petersburg. And its continual search for identity is what ensures the vibrant and imaginative spirit of My City.

miércoles, 29 de abril de 2015

Talking point: Travel

This week's talking point is travel. Before getting together with the members of your conversation group, go over the questions below, so that ideas flows more easily when you meet up with your friends and you can sort out vocabulary problems beforehand.
  • When was the last time you went on a day trip? Where did you go?
  • Does anyone you know ever go on business trips?
  • Have you ever been on a shopping trip, a school trip or a hunting trip?
  • Do you usually travel light?
  • Do you know anyone who has been travelling for a few months? Where did they go?
  • What's the longest journey you've ever taken?
  • Has anything strange or scary ever happened to you while travelling?
  • Have you ever had a terrible journey? If so, how was your journey?
  • Have you ever had to get a visa to visit another country?
  • Have you ever hired a car to make a journey? How did you go about it?
  • Have you ever had some sort of problem when boarding a plane or at an airport?
To illustrate the point, you can watch this BBC video where writer Alain de Botton explains his feelings and ideas about airports.

martes, 28 de abril de 2015

Madrid Teacher: Wacky Fashion Debates

A group of Madrid Teachers discuss fashion.

Have you seen the latest Paris fashion show photographs?
Yeah! I thought they were fabulous.
Didn’t you? Weren’t they wonderful?
Yeah, they were great.
These beautiful textures with flowing wool sweaters and scarves, I mean, these people were wrapped up almost like blankets but still managed to look elegant.
What did you think?
I… what is the point of these fashion shows, you know, come on they have these most ridiculous clothes, things that no one's ever gonna wear. What's the point of it, who are they making them for?
I think these people are like dressing up like peacocks to attract the opposite sex, you know, there is lots there…it’s the.
Okay. These fashion shows are all about spectacle and all about art, it’s all about fantasy.
I don't think the designers do it because they’re suggesting we wear those things, but it’s, it’s something to aspire you.
But they are in business, right, They’re selling…
They do, they sell the clothes, I mean, I think they actually make some of those things and people buy them. I mean, who buys them? This like I heard about human hair dresses and gold-plated jeans, iron clothes…
Gas masks!
Well, these, these are the extremes of the spectrum, I mean, what the great companies do, the ones that are able to maintain their businesses, they achieve a unified aesthetic and use the catwalk for their extremes and then filter those textures and patterns and ideas down to what they actually sell on the racks.
Yeah, and so their ready-to-wear collections are much more accessible for people, not so expensive, and a bit more tame.
Something that won’t start a car accident.
And who actually wears this and where do they wear this?
I would imagine that a lot of people wear it and when they want to see and be seen.
Okay, some of those parties and things like that, night life.
Parties, the streets…
Some of these wacky fashions do, you know, you do see some people wearing them like that mankini thing that Borat wore in his film.
I can’t say I’ve ever seen one of those.
No, but I’ve seen him on television, I saw there was a report, you know, beach wear in, I don’t know, maybe it was Rio or somewhere… and there was some people wearing those things, yeah.
But I don’t think they are Channel or anything like that.
No, but I think there was one fashion house that had taken on the mankini and developed it to be sold, you know, some of these fashion do get worn by people, I guess people wanna get attention and draw attention to themselves, that type of person, I suppose. But then the fashion world has got the whole, the whole thing of models and the whole controversy around, you know, thin models and things like that.
I think the ultimate of fashion is a Ferrari. You’ve got to have… you’ve got to wear a Ferrari…
That’s got nothing to do with fashion!
I think it is fashion, it’s the whole peacock effect, [it’s a man’s man] it’s dressing up, yeah. You’re really dressed to kill with a Ferrari.
Yeah, but…
See, you’re stumbling upon something here, it’s the idea of a unified aesthetic. It’s not just some funky hat or something like that. It’s a colour or a pattern that is repeated and then maybe that goes along with the car that you drive and then…
… your key fob repeats it too.
I mean, that’s the idea of fashion. You make a style that almost surrounds you…
… and people look and go damn!!.
Yeah, yeah.
It’s all about personal expression, actually, expressing your identity and who you want to be [Absolutely.] and…, but I think the Ferrari is much more pretentious than fashion.
Yeah, yeah.
I wouldn’t mind being pretentious.
That’s right everything else…

lunes, 27 de abril de 2015

Listening test: Fairtrade in India

Listen to this news item on the effects Fairtrade is having on an Indian community and choose the option A, B or C which best completes each sentence. 0 is an example.

0 The Chamraj tea estate was certified by Fairtrade
a) five years ago
b) fifteen years ago
c) fifty years ago

1 Madina started working on the estate
a) three years ago.
b) fifteen years ago.
c) nineteen years ago.

2 At the school
a) there are more girls than boys.
b) there are 600 students.
c) there are 1,200 girls.

3 Children go to school
a) every day.
b) if they live near the school.
c) only when the buses run.

4 At the hospital
a) there are sixty beds.
b) there are two doctors.
c) there is no equipment.

5 Around half of the patients
a) are dissatisfied with the treatment.
b) are homeless.
c) come from the surrounding villages.

6 When Rajagopal started working on the estate he was … years old.
a) 21
b) 26
c) 27

7 When Rajagopal retires
a) he will live with his children.
b) he will be homeless.
c) he will build a new house.

Voiceover: The Chamraj tea estate in South India was one of the first companies to be Fairtrade certified 15 years ago. But what has Fairtrade delivered here?
Madina: My name is Madina. I have three girls and I’ve been living in Sampet for the last three years, and I’ve been working on the estate for the last 19 years. My children go to the school on the estate, it’s got everything they need to learn. The school has great facilities and so my children are studying well.
Titus: What Fairtrade has done, we have been er… able to scale the projects up. Now initially we had only 600 children, today we have 1,200 children. Out of which 60% are girls.
Madina: The school even has a computer room so the children have good knowledge of computers.
Titus: Later on we bought two buses because we have children coming here from distances of 20, 30 kilometres. Bus services in rural India is very difficult. Now here we ensure that children come to school every day.
Madina: The children get a good education here so if they leave the estate they can get good jobs.
Titus: Now with this Fairtrade ensuring that we get a price which is higher than cost of production, we have surplus money. We can employ more people, we can give them more benefits, the community around us benefits: we have a hospital, a sixty building hospital. We had a doctor initially who was a lady doctor, Fairtrade premiums helped us to employ another male doctor. We have got an ultra-sound scan and an x-ray machine, we have a full-placed laboratory. Today we even conduct major surgeries at the hospital, 50% of the patients coming to the hospital are from the surrounding villages around Chamraj.
Doctor: There has been a regular increase from year to year about the number of patients who come here for treatment and the quality of treatment has also increased.
Voiceover: Before Fairtrade when workers retired they became homeless.
Rajagopal: My name is Rajagopal, I am 47 years old and have been working on the estate for 26 years. When I retire in a few years time I’m not sure if my children will be able to take care of me. Even if they can’t, the money from the pension will help me build a house and live happily.
Voiceover: No question. What Fairtrade has achieved at Chamraj is impressive. But this story is the exception, not the rule. Tea prices are set to fall again on world markets. Less money for farmers will make their fight against poverty harder to win.

Key: 0B; 1C; 2A; 3A; 4B; 5C; 6A; 7C

domingo, 26 de abril de 2015

Extensive listening: Terry Wogan's Ireland

It is over 40 years since Sir Terry Wogan decided to leave Ireland and seek his fortune across the water in England. In that time, Ireland has changed beyond all recognition - and so has Terry. Now, in the wake of his retirement from BBC Radio 2, Terry's going 'home' for this two-episode BBC documentary.

In the autobiographical journey of a lifetime he travels back to Dublin, the city he left behind as a teenager, and all the way back to Limerick, where he was born, taking in the length and breadth of the heart-stoppingly beautiful Irish coast en route.

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

Terry Wogan's Ireland - 1. Episode 1 por UKTVDOCUMENTARIES

sábado, 25 de abril de 2015

Reading test: Why strenuous runs may not be so bad for you after all

Some weeks ago  the BBC Magazine published the article Why strenuous runs may not be so bad for you after all, about a recent study which reported that joggers who exercise strenuously have the same life expectancy as people who do barely any exercise at all. The controversy has arisen because the author has now admitted he hasn't actually proved this.

Read the text by clicking on the link above and choose the option A, B or C which best completes each sentence, 0 is an example.

0  A lot of newspapers around the world
    a) informed about a study whose conclusions haven’t been proved.
    b) published false news on the effect of strenuous running.
    c) took part in the study on the effect of strenuous running.

1  The problem with the study was
    a) an incorrect definition of strenuous joggers.
    b) it was not known how the two joggers had died.
    c) the number of strenuous joggers studied was insufficient.

2  Peter Schnohr
    a) claims they have discovered where the mistake is.  
     b) knew the study was wrong from the very beginning.
    c) says experienced readers could have noticed where the problem was.

3  In Alicia White’s opinion journalists
    a) don’t have the knowledge to interpret scientific data.
    b) received the information in a fragmented way.
    c) took it for granted that the study was properly done.

4  The Journal of the American College of Cardiology
    a) supports the newspapers.
    b) supports the study.
    c) wrote the misleading headline.

5  Peter Schnohr
    a) is sorry about the controversial headlines.  
    b) says strenuous jogging shouldn’t have been part of the study.
    c) thinks people will continue jogging.

6  Deaths in marathons
    a) can be eradicated.
    b) occur regularly.
    c) would totally be prevented with regular check-ups.

7  Schnohr
    a) advises people against running marathons.
    b) advises people to do exercise moderately.  
    c) advises people to run a marathon every other year.

 Photo: BBC.com

1C 2C 3C 4B 5C 6B 7B

viernes, 24 de abril de 2015

Labour Day in Spain on 1 May

Labour Day is celebrated on 1 May in Spain. This New York Times video is a good reminder of the long way workers still have to go to defend their rights and make a decent salary.

Working this hard makes me feel depleted. I leave the house at 6:20 a.m. and I won't get back here till 11:30 p.m. I make $7.50 an hour at both jobs.
You've got a certain group of people that's working as hard as they can everyday and still can't manage to make ends meet, because they can't get a decent wage.
There's a convention going on in Atlanta with fast-food workers that are fighting for a higher paying wage.
Are you serious, sir?
We need to be down there then.
The way that I get paid, I live my life in debt. A bill for daycare saying that my co-pay is $90 a month, which I don't have at all. Sometimes the constant bustle of my schedule and what I'm doing, it becomes too much. My schedule, and my voucher. I feel so uninspired to do anything else that's of meaning, because I don't even get to reap the benefits of my own hard work.
This one. I want this one.
I don't get to teach my daughter anything. I wasn't even the person who taught her how to tie her shoes.
Look, don't you think you would like that one?
I'm missing her growing up because I've got to make ways for us to survive.
Yeah, this is the newsletter that we have.
Sometimes I do feel like giving up. Just bump it, I'll accept whatever the government gives me, but that's not me. So I get through that and I keep moving. I'm looking forward to going to this convention because I want to get with people who are living the same struggle, so I don't feel as alone.
If your last name begins with A through L sign in on this side. If it begins with M through Z, sign in on this side.
What's crazy is people may not realize Show Me 15 and the Black Lives Matter movement is one. We are one. We are together.
Something is not right here. It's too many of us struggling. It's too many of us not having it.
Get a sign.
I do feel like the Fight for 15 and the Black Lives Matter movement is connected. Most of the people who are fighting for 15, they look like me.
We fight for $15 an hour check.
Childcare, and housing, and food are the basic needs of life, but they're issues for all the people I work with.
I feel great. I feel amped. I feel like a happy high.
What this is is people fighting for their humanity, their humanness. That's not a feeling that's afforded to all, and that security in being a valued part of society is something that everyone deserves.
We can't take it no more
There's a point where we say no more.
We can't take it no more.
And I think that that point of breaking is the most human point anyone could ever have.
We can't take it no more. We can't take it no more.

You can also watch this video on Labour Day in US which we published on the blog some time ago. You will find the accompanying activity by clicking on their link.

Labour Day

The Industrial Revolution modernized the United States and Canada during the 19th century. As people enjoyed steady employment, they compromised their rights in the work place. Longer work hours and pay cuts were imposed. US labour groups began protecting themselves by unionising. In Canada unions were illegal until 1872 when thousands of autolabourers marched to Prime Minister John McDonalds’ home. That year Canada wiped the entire Union Law from its books, and the march became an annual Canadian tradition.
In 1882 Toronto labour officials invited an American union leader Peter G. McGuire to Toronto’s Labour celebrations. McGuire was so impressed that he suggested a workers parade in New York City Central Labour Union. He chose September 5th as the date because it filled a long void between July 4th and Thanksgiving. Coincidentally, that same year a machinist from Patternson New Jersey, Matthew McGuire also proposed a labourers celebration. On Tuesday September 5th 1882 thousands of New York City labourers marched from City Hall to Union Square. They gathered in Reservoir Park for an afternoon of picnics, concerts and speeches, rallying for an eight-hour work day.
Two years later the Central Labour Union moved the parade to the first Monday in September. They also encouraged all US cities to follow New York’s lead and marched for the working men’s holiday. For many the choice was to either spend the day at work or march without pay. That began to change when Oregon became the first state to legalise the Labour Day holiday in 1887. Other states, including New York, soon followed.
It took a political disaster to put Labour Day on the national calendar. In 1894 railway workers in Pullman, Illinois, went on strike to protest wage cuts. President Grover Cleveland faced pressure to end the demonstrations and sent 12,000 federal troops to break the strike. Violence erupted. Two strikers were killed and Cleveland’s harsh methods made headlines. In an attempt to appease the nation’s workers he signed a bill to make Labour Day a federal holiday. Cleveland still lost that year’s election.
American workers continued to gain power through the 1950’s when over a third of all labour forces were unionized. Labour Day had become a time to rally workers for safer conditions, fair pay and benefits. But in the second half of the 20th century the US labour force diminished, many factories closed, jobs were outsourced to other countries.
Today, workers still parade through blue-coloured neighborhoods on Labour Day and speeches unite the ever dwindling labour force. But the day’s true call has quietened. For now most Americans leisurely enjoy the holiday as summer’s last bow.

jueves, 23 de abril de 2015

60 Seconds Recap revisited

Back in 2010, when My That's English! was just a project, we talked abut 60 Second Recap, a website that hosts video overviews of many book titles, both classic and contemporary. As today we are celebrating The Book Day in Spain, it just seems timely to bring back 60 Second Recap to our attention.

Each title has a 60-second video giving a review of the book. The level of language is a bit high, because the presenter speaks quite fast, but the length of the videos is very short (around a minute) and the YouTube transcription seems to be 100% accurate, which makes me think has been done by the staff behind 60 Second Recap .

The site also offers advice and guidance on how to write essays, which might come in handy for university students.

It’s the moment most girls dream of: Ann’s just been invited to be a bridesmaid in her
Aunt Jackie’s wedding. The problem is, Ann can’t be a bridesmaid. She doesn’t wan to be. At least, not until she loses at least 45 pounds.
I want to say something right up front. This is not a book about a fat girl. I mean, it does follow 16-year-old Ann over the ten weeks that she tries to lose weight so she’ll feel comfortable being a bridesmaid in her Aunt’s wedding. But the real story here is about the journey each of us is on to feel more comfortable in our own skin.
Still, the fact that Ann’s journey centers on her weight is refreshing, in that I haven’t read a lot of books featuring issues specific to overweight protagonists. Ann’s struggles with food, her battle to get more exercise, the prejudice she encounters as a “fat girl,” all rang true, and made Ann a sympathetic main character, in spite of the fact that Ann’s behavior isn’t always likable.
What I enjoyed most about Ann’s story, though, was that Ann’s journey ultimately became about more than just shedding pounds. It became about shedding negative self-image, defeatist thinking, and stereotypes about others. Whether or not Ann makes her weight-loss goal (no spoilers here), I can promise you that she’s lost plenty by the end of this sweet book—and gained only good in return.

miércoles, 22 de abril de 2015

Talking point: People I know

This week's talking point revolves around the people in our lives. 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 big is your family?
Do you know anyone who has a half-brother or half-sister or a step-brother or step-sister?
Talk about your favourite relative and a relative you don't really get on well with. What are they like? What do they look like?
What memories do you have of your grandparents?
What do you know about your great-grandparents?
Do you know anyone (relative, friend or colleague) whose personality has changed over time?
Do you have the same best friend as you had ten years ago? Why (not)?
Do you stay in touch with friends from primary/secondary school/university?
Have you ever been close to someone but then drifted apart? What happened? Do you regret it?
Is there anyone you would like to get back in touch with? How would you go about it?
Have you ever tracked down anyone via the Internet?

To illustrate the point you can watch this Speakout video where some people talk about their family identity.

P: Hello. My name is Pasha. I work for the BBC and I do a lot of DJing in my spare time. Originally, I come from Moscow, but most of my family lives in New York now. Today I’m talking to people about their families.
Tell me about your family.
T: I have a very large family. I live with my mother and my step-father in Brighton in England. I have six brothers and sisters, of which I’m the
eldest and I have a lot of responsibility ... to look after them. B: I live with my mum and my sister and my dad. My sister is fifteen years
old and we’re really close. We’re a happy little family.
P: I have quite a small family. I only have one sister. She’s two years younger than me and then there’s my parents who live very close to
me. All of my grandparents have died, sadly.
E: I’m the middle child: I have an older brother and a younger brother and my parents are still together. I get on with them brilliantly – they’re a great family.
N: My dad’s Mexican and my mum is from London. And they, my mum
met my dad in Mexico, they moved over to England twenty-five years
ago. And I’ve got a sister who’s two years older than me.
M: Well, my family lives in Canada, in Toronto, Canada. I have a mother and sister, my father passed away about twenty years ago, so it’s just
the three of us. Something of a small family.
P: In what ways are you like your parents or siblings? 
T: I look a lot like my mum: we have, like, the same height and build and face structure. And, I guess I have the same traits as her. We, sort of, have a very similar personality in the way we think about things, the
way we express ourselves.

P: I don’t think I’m very much like my sister; I think she’s very different from me. I think I’m similar to my father: we both have a mathematical, ‘science type’ mind, and I like to think I’m conscientious like my mother.
B: Um, I look quite a lot like my sister. But she’s like a younger version of me. And she’s thinner. And then, my mum, she’s a bit more reserved, so she’s very organised and my dad is a lot louder, a lot more
N: Um, I’m quite calm like my dad, and, but can get quite, I think, maybe
passionate like my mum.
E: I’m not very like my brothers: they are very similar to each other but I’m quite different. They’re more like my mum. I’m more like my dad. P: What do you know about your family history?
B: Well, my name’s Brogan, and it’s supposed to be Scottish or Irish, but I
have no idea where it’s really from.
P: My family history goes quite, goes quite a long way back on my father’s side, erm, certainly about four or five hundred years. He’s Scottish – from southwest Scotland – very close to Ireland. My mother was adopted: she and her twin sister were adopted and we’ve only
managed to go back one generation to the northwest of England. M: I actually started to retrace my family roots last year, so I went to Northern Ireland, to Belfast, and actually found some very interesting information about my grandparents. Found the house that my great-
grandfather built and where my grandfather was born.
T: I don’t know very much about my family history, but I’d like to look into it in the future.

martes, 21 de abril de 2015

Madrid Teacher: Spelling minister

A group of Madrid teachers get together to discuss the problems the English language poses for both non-native and native speakers.

I, I was reading recently that they want to change English exams and actually not give you negative marks for having spelling mistakes because it's not as important as knowing the actual English. It’s good and bad, spelling is quite difficult in English I think a lot of things are spelled quite differently to the way we say them, but it’s really important at the same time.
That's a big change in education because I remember when I was a kid, I mean, the weekly spelling test was a big source of stress and the best speller in the class was kind of a hero, you know, even spelling bees…
They were really smug.
Yeah, very smug. But really this is sort of interesting.
Yeah, yeah well I guess we're in a technology age now so we've got the f7 button to do the spelling grammar checks, so they say well these days you can kind of press that and do that.
One of the problems is that kids when they’re writing like SMS messages, you know, they, they use all these abbreviations and they don't know how to write the real word.
And on top of it most young people don't read so you know they watch movies or whatever and they don’t do enough reading.
Yeah, it’s true.
I find, I mean, I’m not as good as spelling now as I was when I was a kid…
No, neither am I.
… I don’t have, I don’t have the weekly spelling drill…
Yeah, exactly.
… and you know, you grow up, then I don’t know if you learn other languages you start to get confused with the one m in accommodate or two, I’m not sure, because, you know, it’s slightly different.
Yeah, sometimes your visual memory fails you so you write it one way, your writing might be correct
but you think… this is not right.
Hang on a second. That doesn’t look right!
Then you have to ask the students. It’s okay?
Google it, Google it, that’s what I do. I just Google everything.
I think it’s really important that children, everybody continues to spell things properly because even if you look at it from the angle that English is the international language if you like, everyone, if every native person changes the spelling or disregards the spelling, how can anyone else learn a foreign language?
And there will be anarchy.
It’s impossible, totally impossible, you know.
Does anyone know any memory aids with spelling? I remember i before e except c…
Yeah, that’s what I remember.
… except when there’s neighbouring…
They are like little tricks people learn.
The problem with English, though, is so often they have the rules, but the rules aren’t really rules, are just trends [Yeah.], so you have the general rule and then you have a hundred exceptions.
This occurs, yes.

lunes, 20 de abril de 2015

A view from the other side

A number of people who've seen NASA's annual lunar phase and libration videos have asked what the other side of the Moon looks like, the side that can't be seen from the Earth. This NASA video answers that question.

Self-study activity:
Watch the video and complete the blanks in the transcript with the missing words. The activity is suitable for intermediate students.

We know how the moon looks from here on earth but what does it look like from the other side? Well, for one thing, we can also see the earth. The (1) ... earth looms large in this time-lapse, telescopic view made possible by computer graphics. We're looking along the imaginary line connecting the earth and the moon. From this (2) ... point the moon will be full soon but on earth it's a waning crescent. The far side of the moon has fewer of the (3) ... , dark spots called maria that cover the side that faces earth. Instead, the far side is covered with (4) ... of all sizes.
In the second perspective we're much closer to the moon, using a (5) ... angle lens that makes the distant earth seem smaller. With our view fixed on the moon, the rest of the solar system seems to (6) and whirl around us. Before the space age, no one knew what was on the other side of the moon. Since (7) ...  the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has been making some of the most (8) ... global maps of the moon's surface, making it much easier for everyone to see what it's like on the other side.

1 spinning 2 vantage 3 smooth 4 craters 5 wide 6 dance 7 2009 8 detailed

domingo, 19 de abril de 2015

Extensive listening: Lance Armstrong BBC interview

Early this year BBC Sport aired this interview with Lance Armstrong, where he looks back on all the events leading up to his famous confession with Oprah Winfrey two years ago.

The BBC offers a 10-minute summary of the interview here with the transcript available.

sábado, 18 de abril de 2015

Sound Grammar

A few weeks ago Jeffrey Hill informed on The English Blog about Sound Grammar.

This is a site that offers grammar lessons (so far 31) in an original way. The grammar point is introduced in a short dialogue at the beginning. A listening comprehension check follows together with some short explanations about the grammar point in question. Finally there's a grammar practice activity.

Most of the lessons come complete with a video where the grammar point is also explained and Sound Grammar allows you to download the audio file of the conversation. A transcript is also available.

The layout of Sound Grammar reminds us of elllo, which is always a guarantee of quality and originality.

Intermediate students will greatly benefit from the site, although some of the lesson are also within the grasp of lower level students.

viernes, 17 de abril de 2015

The Simple Psychological Trick To Exploit When Bargaining

This video can show you how psychology can help you when bargaining.

Haggling is hard. It’s uncomfortable too. But whether you’re buying a house, a car or just some over priced souvenir, you can’t afford to shy away form it. So, how can psychology help you get a better deal?
Well, it turns out. There is a powerful subconscious process, you can exploit. And while it’s happened to everyone, it’s hardly mentioned. It’s called anchoring. Now, anchoring states that in unfamiliar situations our minds rely too heavily on the first piece of info we see. All thoughts and information that comes afterwards are interpreted based of that initial info. Normally, this gives us a good estimate, but the problem arises, when the first piece of info is irrelevant or wrong.

To show you, imagine you’re eyeing the hottest pair of shoes, you check the price tag and unfortunately its $300, which is too expensive, but at that exact moment, a sales person approaches you, telling you the shoes are marked down to a $150. That’s a bargain, right. You’re probably tempted to buy it. Okay, now, imagine the same scenario. But this time, that pair of shoes starts off at $150. No markdowns. Suddenly, it’s not a bargain and you more hesitant to buy it. And yet, this is completely irrational because this is the exact same final price. What’s happening is in the first example; your mind is anchored to the $300 dollar and when you compare it to $150, it just feels more reasonable.
In fact marketers constantly exploit you with this cognitive flow because it’s powerful, undetectable, and almost unavoidable. For instance, in a study published by the American Marketing Association, the supermarket tried a new tactic to sell cans of soup. They told everyone that there was a 10% discount off the cans of soup and then forced a limit of 12 cans per customer. Now, you might be thinking, I wasn’t going to buy 12 cans anyway, but that wasn’t the point; the point was to secretly anchor you to the number 12. And sure enough with a limit of 12, shoppers bought 7 cans on average, twice as many as they bought when there were no limits. That’s simple science, double profits. So, how can you use anchoring in negotiations?
Well, the first trick is to make the initial offer. An analysis of 16 different studies found that regardless of what’s you’re haggling over, you are always better off offering first. This is because the initial price sets the playing for you for negotiation. By offering first, the other party is anchored to your initial price, not the other way around.
The second tip is to make a precise offer. Unfortunately, you’ve already fallen for this trick. Ever wonder why you’d never see car sale for a round number like $17,000, it’s always $16,995. Well, researchers from the University of Florida found that a precise offer anchors people to a precise scale. What this means is? If you sell a toy for a round number like $30, people might place that on a scale of 10’s of dollars. So when they adjust the anchor, they will take larger steps and maybe counter off for $20, but if its $29.75, they’ll subconsciously consider the cents and adjust in smaller steps. Therefore, they stay closer to your bid and you get a better deal. Overall, a great negotiation tactic is simply to make a precise first offer. So be cautious of anchoring, the next time you’re doing business.

jueves, 16 de abril de 2015

The London Tube

This is a National Geographic video on the London Tube. Follow Richard Ambrose and Jonny Phillips on an underground journey as they explore the London Tube and learn how to drive a tube train

The London Underground is one of the largest urban rail services in the world. Its passengers make more than 1 billion journeys every year. Opening in 1863, it was the first underground system of its kind.
And it was a hit from the start. By 1880 the London Tube was carrying over 40 million passengers a year.
And surprisingly for something that's called the underground, 55% of today's network is actually above ground. But it's the tube-shaped tunnels that have made it famous. And their depth varies greatly. The oldest are just below street level, whereas newer sections are typically at least 20 metres below the surface. It operates 600 trains 7 days a week. So, what does it take to be a tube driver?
Unfortunately they wouldn't let me loose on a real train, but we've got the next best thing.
This million-pound state-of-the-art simulator is normally used to train London Underground's finest. But today they're letting Jonny loose behind the wheel. Except it isn't a wheel. His trainer is Matt Shelley.
Right, so just push this forward and I'll start moving.
And the train will go.
And back to break?
And back towards you to break.
Right. Oh, here we go.
And, as any tube driver will tell you, the secret to a smooth ride lies in the wrist action.
Are there speed limits?
There are, on the display in front of you.
Oh yes.
You see the train speed in the yellow.
The red hand, as we all it, to the right hand side. That's your maximum speed.
And that'll tell you when you need to slow down.
Obviously I want to be concentrating on the track, not looking at that.
That's quite tough.
Once you're up and running on a clear stretch of track it's a bit of a doddle.
 It's a lovely day.
On this simulator it's possible to drive anywhere on the London Underground network, under any weather conditions.
Look at that, the snow's settled. And what about the trees? And lightning and - [the plague].
Not yet. We haven't got lightning on the progs yet. Trees on the track we can do.
Trees are one thing. Just don't mention the wrong type of leaves. Right, now all Jonny has to master is stopping.
Right, so now you're going..
A 400 metre break, you need to be at zero.
OK. Just wait for that red hand to get closer and do a bit more breaking.
Pretty good.
To help the driver stop accurately, every station has a board at the end of the platform. The trick is to land in the green. Miss it and you're in trouble, because these trains have no reverse. So will Jonny make the grade?
Not quite. A little bit more.
Sorry that was a little bit vigorous.
Goodness me.
The system's telling us because you haven't stopped accurately enough.
You aren't allowed to open the doors.
Oh no! So I've got a lot of irate passengers.
Mind the gap

miércoles, 15 de abril de 2015

Talking point: The natural world

This week's talking point is the natural world. 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 problems beforehand.
  • Would you describe yourself as an animal lover?
  • Have you ever had a pet?
  • What do you like/dislike about pets and pet owners in general?
  • Are there any endangered species in your country?
  • Is anything being done about it?
  • Has global warming affected your country? If so, how?
  • Have you ever heard any stories about animals being traded or cruelly treated (vg. hunting, overfishing, fur, exotic pets, animal fighting for sport)?
  • What else are organised gangs involved in?
  • Do you know any environmental groups that are trying to protect animals?
  • Would you ever consider joining one?
To illustrate the point you can watch this video, where you will get to know everything there is to know about dogs and how to feel safe around them.

martes, 14 de abril de 2015

Madrid Teacher: Ridiculous requests

In our weekly Madrid Teacher series, a group of teachers discuss some ridiculous requests people sometimes make.

I read in the newspaper the other day the English asked the postal workers to walk more quickly in order to, to deliver more letters.
That’s ridiculous.
Have you ever heard any ridiculous requests?
Well, when I was a student I worked at this fast food place and they made me wear a chicken suit and stand in front of the fast food place.
To bring customers…
Well, basically to give out flyers with discounts and, yeah, attract more customers.
I’m sure that they did, yeah.
Well, yeah, a was a bit of an attraction, standing there, cold weather, hot weather, warm weather, standing…
Yeah, the same happened to me but I had to be a part of birthday parties at a fast food place so I was with a big suit, enjoying the children, I was like what…
You know what I mean
… how hot is inside.
Last weekend I saw a man in a funny children's outfits skiing, you know, drawing the kids’ attention [Yeah.], it looks like fun.
For a while maybe.
I had to dress up one year as a jester. I was in a catering business and they made us dance down this aisle during one of our events and sing Christmas carols to all the people.
So you were singing?
Singing and dancing in a costume.
I had the same thing.
And what did you do if you didn’t know the words?
You’re supposed to memorize them.
You are.
So it’s part of the job, yeah.
But they were classical novels, carols I mean.
Yeah, yeah, like Jingle Bells and things like that.
That’s all dressing up, though. Have you ever had any other requests?
Well, there was this company and they decided they were cutting back so it’s a big company and so instead of, for example, cutting back on the executives, different important things, they decided they would take out this washing liquid in all of the company…
Did everyone get sick?
You know, that's an excellent question because, of course, after that I just thought it wasn’t a good environment to work in.
That was, that was.
Who knows.
So we are all washed up.
We’re all happy now.

lunes, 13 de abril de 2015

Listening test: Casual food

Listen to this radio programme where casual food is being discussed.

Listen to the first part of the report and find out what fast casual food is.

McDonald's is probably the best-known fast food restaurant in the world. Listen to the second part of the report and answer these questions about McDonald’s.
1 What is McDonald’s slogan?
2 How much did McDonald's net income drop by in the last quarter of 2014: $50, $150 or $300 million?
3 For how many months in a row had McDonald's worldwide sales dropped in January 2015?
4 In January 2015, where did McDonald's run a big advertisement to try to get customers back?

Listen to the third part of the report and circle the correct options in these statements:
1 On its first day of trading, Shake Shack shares went from $21 to just under $26 / 36 / 46.
2 Ted Mistretta describes Shake Shack’s hamburger as a tasty / quality / juicy hamburger.
3 Mr. Mistretta says he rarely / never / sometimes goes to fast food restaurants.
4 Bonnie Riggs says one reason Americans like fast casual food is because it’s fresh / cheap / new.

Listen to the fourth and final part of the report and answer the questions.
1 How many visits to restaurants did Americans make last year?
2 How many visits were to fast food restaurants like McDonald’s?
3 How big is the percentage of visits to fast casual restaurants?
4 Who are Millennials?
5 Where do Millennials like to eat?
6 What are some of the new eating trends?

“Plain Cheeseburger. Give me two of them."
That is Ted Mistretta ordering food in Washington D.C. before boarding a train with his daughter Kim. They were heading home to New York City. But, first they stopped at the Shake Shack restaurant to get a bite to eat.
“Any fries? Anything to drink? Are you dining in or to go? Go.”
Shake Shack is a new kind of restaurant becoming more popular in the U.S. The restaurants are not “fast food.” They are known as “fast casual.”
Observers say Americans want more choices and fresh food when choosing where and what to eat. This trend is one reason why the fast food restaurant McDonald’s has struggled financially.
McDonald’s is one of the best-known restaurants in the U.S. and even around the world. Their ads say “I’m lovin’ it.” But these days the company leaders are seeing numbers they probably do not like.
In the last quarter of 2014, McDonald's net income dropped by about $300 million. The January earnings report brought more bad news. Worldwide sales dropped for the eighth month in a row and even more than expected.
McDonald’s is working hard to get their customers back. In January, the company ran an advertisement during the Super Bowl. The football game is the most watched TV event every year in the U.S. McDonald's wanted to reach those viewers.
While McDonald's is struggling to get their customers back, Shake Shack, is doing well financially. The New York-based burger chain had a very successful IPO, or initial public offering, of shares at the end of January. On its first day of trading, Shake Shack went from $21 a share to just under $46 a share.
Ted Mistretta wishes he had bought the stock that day. He explains why he likes Shake Shack:
“It’s a quality hamburger. It’s you know, they make it well, great taste. It’s better than most. It’s certainly better than, it’s fast food, but not ‘fast food’ food.”
And, Mr. Mistretta added, he never goes to fast food restaurants.
Being part of the “fast casual” trend has helped Shake Shack. Other fast casual restaurants in the U.S. include Chipotle, and Panera.
Bonnie Riggs is a restaurant expert with NPD. She has followed Americans’ restaurant habits for almost 30 years. She says one reason Americans like fast casual food is because it’s new.
“They are creative, they are innovative, there is something different and we like to try new things.”
Ms. Riggs says Americans made 61 billion visits to restaurants last year. Three out of four visits were to fast food restaurants, like McDonald’s. “They’re holding on,” she says, but traffic has stayed at the same level. Fast casual is still a small percentage of restaurant visits. She says it’s “growing by leaps and bounds,” because they meet consumers’ needs.
“They know it’s being prepared while they wait, it’s fresh, fresh ingredients, quality food, good tasting food at what they say are reasonable and affordable prices.”
Many Americans still like their fast food, Ms. Riggs says, they’re just not going as often. And, she says, Americans are finding other ways to have a meal.
Some people buy prepared foods at stores and take them home to eat. Others like to cook at home, especially the millennials. Millennials are people born between 1981 and 2000 and this year they are expected to become the largest group of Americans.
Ms. Riggs says that half of this generation is cooking at home, and loving it. Some of the new eating trends include farm-to-table restaurants and gluten-free food.

domingo, 12 de abril de 2015

Extensive listening: Kew on a plate

BBC English Television presenter Kate Humble joins forces with Michelin-starred chef Raymond Blanc and the experts at Kew Gardens to rediscover the rich heritage of British vegetables.
For this four episode series, a vegetable garden has been created at Kew to show the wide varieties of vegetables which used to play an intrinsic role in British kitchens and plates, but now have largely been forgotten.
Joe and Alice, the gardeners at Kew, share their knowledge of how to grow vegetables, with an emphasis on seasonality, variety and natural ways of controlling pests and diseases. Kate uncovers some fascinating historical stories and recipes and discovers how science plays a part in what we eat while getting some wonderful behind-the scenes insights into the workings of Kew. Raymond takes the raw ingredients from the Kew vegetable garden and transforms them into a range of dishes that remind us just how special our heritage vegetables are.

sábado, 11 de abril de 2015

Reading test: Where would you be happiest living?

The BBC conducted a study which included a personality test to find out where in Britain people would be happiest living. Many readers emailed their thoughts about the places suggested.

Read comments 1-6 and match them with their corresponding heading A-I. There are two headings you do not need to use. 0 is an example.

Comment 0
Interesting that it would send me to south Cambridgeshire where my ancestors appear to come from. My surname is quite common there. Not sure I would choose to live there. I prefer a small village on the edge of a vibrant town and only 10 minutes to John Lewis. Maggie.

Comment 1
It was recommended that I live in west Somerset, I actually live in west Essex. It's really interesting that the test came up with Somerset, I've been there several times for holidays and really love it. I've never really understood why, I just thought the people were generally much nicer, but it makes sense that they are people who fit well with my personality. Jo.

Comment 2
Dumfries and Galloway? What! Nothing against the area, but why on earth would I enjoy it more than my beloved Oxford and the Cotswolds? Maybe there is too much weight given to the starter picture, as the cityscape and suburbia weren't exactly appealing shots. My Cotswold market town is pretty well ideal, small enough to walk or cycle in and out, plus a good choice of shops, eateries, and things to do. If I need something more, then Oxford and other centres are in easy reach, with travel options that include public transport, as well as motorway and airports in easy reach. David.

Comment 3
I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the part of the country which best fits my personality, according to the questionnaire result, was Craven in Yorkshire . Maybe I shouldn't have been surprised since it is where my mother and maternal grandparents come from - Skipton and Thornton in Craven. I was also born within 15 miles of there. Michael.

Comment 4
I'm a creative and reserved person, but I LOVE the area I live in. My score was of only 28% happiness for Norwich, but I've found it's a wonderful place for creativity and also peace and quiet. My best result was for an area of London, a city I cannot stand! Perhaps this test needs to take into account other factors - such as whether you prefer secluded countryside or a bustling city. Emma.

Comment 5
It does confirm my experience, having lived a number of years each in London, the Midlands, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Perth. I am French, from Paris and came over to live in Britain early 1970s. I return to France a couple of times a year and am always pleased to escape the unpleasant social atmosphere of the country. I guess I would say that the Scots display, in general, a higher level of social consciousness. Lise.

Comment 6
I answered the questions honestly and it comes up with my exact place of birth - Northallerton in Hambleton, north Yorkshire. I grew up there as a child. We had to leave in 1973, when I was 16, and I still miss it like mad. Judy.

A - Many members of this person's family have lived there. 0 Example
B - The person knows this place. 
C - This person has bad memories of the place.
D - This person has lived near the place. 
E - This person has problems as a result of the test.
F - This person is happy where he/she is.
G - This person seems to agree with the test.
H - This person thinks the results of the study are not consistent.
I - This person was born there.

Photo: BBC

1B 2F 3D 4H 5G 6I

viernes, 10 de abril de 2015

The US Town With No Cell Phones or Wi-Fi

Pocahontas County in West Virginia falls within the National Radio Quiet Zone. It’s home to quiet country living, friendly people, and one of the most impressive engineering marvels in the world—the Green Bank Telescope. The GBT measures radio waves from throughout the universe, but due to the telescope's extreme sensitivity, any operating wireless device can have a negative effect on its observations. But to the people who live in the NRQZ, the restrictions and the quiet, peaceful life that comes with them are welcome.

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

1 Artie Barkley enjoys listening to nature.
2 Michael Holstine says they have world leading technology in the area.
3 The National Radio Quiet Zone is an area that has 1,300 miles.
4 Diesel engines are not allowed in the area.
5 Makeia Jonese texts her college friends.
6 Kids don't spend their their pushing the buttons of their electronic devices.

Artie Barkley
Quiet Zone Resident
What I like best about living in the quiet zone, and it kinda tells the whole story, the quietness. Some people come here and say, "What do you do?", well I just say I'm doing it right now, you know. And I just say, listen to nature all around you.

Michael Holstine
Business Manager
NRAO, Green Bank Site
Green Bank, West Virginia is a very unique place. I find it ironic sometimes that we are working with technology here that's world class, it's world leading, but yet no one here has a cell phone.

Karen O'Neil
Site Director
NRAO, Green Bank Site
So a radio telescope works just like an optical telescope, in that if you build it or have it in an area where there's a lot of radio noise the signals you're trying to look for would be obliterated by that radio noise, in the same way you can't see the Milky Way in downtown New York City.

Michael Holstine
A cell phone on Mars would be the brightest radio object to us in the sky. In order to protect the radio atmosphere in this area, Congress created the National Radio Quiet Zone, and that's an area that's 13,000 square miles. There's actually a long list of modern conveniences that we can't utilize here, and generally shouldn't be utilized in the community. Gasoline engines cause a problem, we only use diesels on site, WiFi modems, cordless telephones, no cellular phones, the automatic door opener at the local store, no digital cameras.

Makeia Jonese
Quiet Zone Resident
When you go and you tell people stuff like that, they can't believe it and they're just like "What?" Like I called my college roommate, and she's just like "Well give me your number and I'll text you," and if she doesn't have an iPhone and we can't do iMessage, I was like "Well we can't text because I don't have service." And they just don't understand, they're just like "How do you live without your phone, what do you do?" I mean it's different, if you don't go from one house to another with WiFi, you don't have any other way to contact people which is odd.

Joyce Nelson
Quiet Zone Resident
I really enjoy it because it's quiet, it's peaceful, it's beautiful. All these electronic technician things these kids are sitting pushing buttons on, don't happen here. Only way you can do that is at home.

Karen O'Neil
It would be very difficult to create a radio quiet zone these days, because in order to create it you would have to walk into an are and take things away from people. But living here, people have grown up without it, and they've built their homes and they've built everything around the idea that they will be wired, they won't have wireless systems, so it's much easier to maintain a setup like this than it would be to create a setup. 

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

jueves, 9 de abril de 2015

Farm to Patient: How One Medical Facility is Rethinking Hospital Food

St. Luke's Hospital decided to do something about the reputation of its meals. Watch this video where Lynn Trizna, the Farm Project Manager of the Rodale Institute, talks about the project to grow fresh organic produce for the St. Luke's Hospitals.

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

1 Who did Lynn learn her passion for gardening from?
2 What did her mom do?
3  Is farming difficult?
4 When did the hospital open?
5 How many acres does St Luke's have on that campus now?

I actually was in the hospital a couple years ago, and I just kept on thinking "I hope I don't have to stay overnight because I wanna go home and eat my own food." It didn't occur to me that I could change, that the hospital would be willing to invest in a farm.
Good morning ladies.
My name is Lynn Trizna, and I'm the Farm Project Manager of the Rodale Institute. This project is to grow fresh organic produce for the St. Luke's Hospitals.
So if you guys wanna hit up the dino and the chard and stuff.
I'm very passionate about farming, but this farm project makes me very proud to be farming. I grew up with a garden. (1) My dad was a very avid gardener, so we always grew food, and I found my passion.
Don't miss me too much.
My mom was always (2) a nurse and then as I got older, she became a hospice nurse. My mom never talked about the hospital food. I think that she probably didn't eat it.
These beets are doing great, so it's like if these beets are...
People get excited about farming. It's so not a part of their everyday life, and it's almost like a little spectacle.
By the way, I like your new your new sunflower garden.
Oh, yeah.
Because that one died, obviously, and...
I like teaching people about farming and how (3) anyone can do it, really. You just need some seeds and some will power.
They just pop out.
Sunflower seeds, oh neat. Healthcare in the past was about sick care. We got paid when people got sick. That was our business model. In the next decade, in the next two decades, or three decades, it's going to be about keeping people well.
Studies show over and over again that if you have a high plant vegetable diet, you're gonna be healthier, less cancer, less obesity, etcetera. So as an organization, we're trying to migrate our thinking into that future of taking care of people on a health basis, not a sick basis.
We opened in November of (4) 2011. We started with actually 200 acres, then we added 300 acres more, so we currently have (5) 500 acres on this campus. Some of our employees asked the question, "Why couldn't we do an organic farm here on the campus?"
If I'm not at the farm, I miss it. It's...I love the farm. I love being here. I love growing food. It's my life. So in my typical day, I do tractor work, I harvest, I plant, and I deliver fresh produce to the hospitals. When this project first started, I don't think people really knew what was going on, so I get kinda these looks like "What is this woman doing with all this produce?" And now it's turned into "Hey, it's her again. She's here!
We like your product. Except for the kale. I don't like kale.
You'll learn to like it.
I don't like.
Put maple syrup on it.
Is that OK or...?
St. Luke's plans to have its farm break even after three years. If successful, it hopes to serve as a model for other hospitals and colleges. Right now, the farm's produce is mostly served in the hospital cafeterias. St Luke's plans to expand the farm next year and include more produce in their patients' menus.
This is a significant change in how people think about their food. If we can touch one patient at a time to change, or one family at a time, to change how they eat and what they eat, that's a success.
It works out better for us in the long run.
Patients who are in hospitals and are sick should really change their diet. I think the best way to educate someone about feeling better through food is feeding them good food. It does seem like an obvious, easy solution, but I think that it's hard to take a step back and look at simple ways to fix things.

miércoles, 8 de abril de 2015

Talking point: Going out

This week's talking point is going out. Before getting together with the members of your conversation group, go over the questions below, so that ideas flow more easily and you can work out vocabulary problems beforehand.
  • How often do you go to the cinema / art exhibitions / the theatre?
  • When did you last go to see a film / an exhibition / a play?
  • What kind of films / art / theatre do you like?
  • Are there any films / exhibitions / plays on at the moment that you would like to see?
  • What's on in your town or city at the moment?
  • What's nightlife in your town or city like?
  • How does it compare with the nightlife in other cities you know?
  • Have you been out anywhere recently?
  • Where did you go?
  • How was it?
  • Think about clubs, films, plays, exhibitions you think are great, overrated, moving, trendy, rubbish, weird. Tell your partners about them using the adjectives given.
To illustrate the point you can watch the Speakout video Time Out.

    What do you like doing in your free time?
    Finn: I like playing music and going to concerts in my free time. This weekend I’m going to a bar in North London to see my friend’s band. What do you like doing in your free time?
    M1: I like to keep fit. I like to be very active. I like to do a lot of sport. I also like to see a lot of friends. I like to go to the theatre. I like to go and see plays.
    W1: I like to read, books about … crime novels, for example. And I like to go running. And obviously I can’t run when I am at work. In my free time, I like to do some exercise.
    M2: I have two small children so I don’t have much free time. But seeing friends is one of my great pleasures. I have some friends, we play music together. We’re in a band.
    M3: I like coming up here to London to see galleries and theatres, and things like that. I like eating and drinking a lot. Sometimes in restaurants, and sometimes, either having friends around for that, or going to other people’s houses.
    W2: I enjoy jazz so I quite like having friends around to listen to the.. to listen to some jazz or go out to a jazz club
    W3: I like to do many things in my free time. I love to read, I love to study different things. I’m studying oil painting and different languages now.
    M4: I enjoy reading. I enjoy playing the guitar. I also enjoy creative writing - and watching films.
    Finn: What are you going to do this weekend?
    M2: This weekend, there is a large camping trip of all my son’s school friends. And we’re all going off camping, which is going to be very interesting.
    W1: This weekend I’m going to run a half marathon in Nottingham for the Robin Hood festival and raising money for a charity.
    M4: I’m going to relax as much as possible after quite a hard week, and a stressful week. So I’m going to possibly watch a film and do very little.
    W3: This weekend I’m going to try to relax a little. I just completed a long trip.
    W2: This weekend I’m going to take my son to football. He plays in a local football team.
    M3: This weekend I’m going to see some friends on Saturday night, and have dinner at their house. And then I’m going to be welcoming some friends at our house on Sunday night.
    M1: I have a friend, who … it’s her birthday. And I’m going to go to the birthday party on Saturday. And then on Sunday I’m going to go to a barbecue.

    martes, 7 de abril de 2015

    Madrid Teacher: Prohibiting the advertising of alcohol debate

    In our weekly Madrid Teacher video four teachers discuss the convenience of prohibiting the advertising of alcohol to lessen the social problems alcohol brings about. Their conversation gives us the opportunity to get familiar with some of the features of spoken English native speakers use.

    First of all, watch the conversation through to get the gist, the main idea, of what they are saying.
    Now watch the video more carefully paying attention to the following features of spoken English:
    • Conversation fillers to gain thinking time: Well, you know;
    • Ambiguous language: all sorts of things; food stuff; something like this;
      a social, cultural thing
    • Using pretty to emphasize the adjective
    • Use of so as a linking word 
    • Showing agreement: Well said; Yeah, I think it’s an excellent point; that’s a good point
    • Expressing personal opinions: personally; to be honest I think
    • Use of I mean to paraphrase what you have just said and make yourself clear. 
    • Use of certainly to emphasize your ideas 
    • Use of just to emphasize the verb 
    • Use of actually to introduce a piece of surprising information 
    • Reacting to information we've just heard: that’s great, that’s good 

    Well, you know, I, personally alcohol is a big problem, particularly in England, you know, people binge drinking, you know, leads to violence and all sorts of things, you know, any British, any town in England on a Friday, Saturday night you’ll find loads of people, you know, getting into fights and…
    It’s a problem.
    … throwing up on the floor it’s pretty bad, and I think…
    So the advertising causes that?
    Well, you know, the more advertising there is the more people are gonna drink. Smoking advertising went so why shouldn't alcohol, and alcohol causes, you know, a lot of diseases and probably puts a big burden on, you know, the social security system, national health service…
    So does ice cream, doughnuts you gotta do away with those advertisements…
    Fast food.
    All the fast food stuff.
    Well said. But to be honest I can't ever support banning something like this. I mean, to me that just reeks of censorship and I think that, that's where society begins to crumble. People need to be respected for their ability to choose, and I certainly wouldn't blame any kind of binge drinking on advertising. I think the problem’s a lot more deep.
    I think with something like alcohol or tobacco it’s different because they’re drugs, aren’t they, well, certainly tobacco was, and alcohol is addictive, you know, if you become an alcoholic you can’t control it, your drinking, so I think anything that reduces that or leads to less drinking is good, and I think, you know, if advertising it is almost like saying it’s a good thing.
    Yes. I think the way that alcohol is advertised is a problem because it’s glamourised and it’s aimed towards young people a lot of time, which is what becomes the problem and I guess the wrong, it hits the wrong audience, which becomes a problem.
    Yeah, I think it’s an excellent point.
    Part of the problem in England is people just don’t know how to drink, I don’t know what it is like in Scotland, but…
    I think it’s a social, cultural thing and I’m not sure advertising is going to change that.
    Maybe they…
    However, Alice’s point about the way it’s targeted and how it’s glamorized , that’s a good point, and I think that maybe could be regulated.
    They have to have more of a responsibility, I think.
    And simply the fine print at the end, please drink responsibly isn’t going to raise the image in your mind you have of those… the man and the woman meeting miraculously  over a nice drink of cognac.
    Yeah. The gorgeous people, and the glamorous setting and… Yeah.
    I heard that some companies are actually, drinks companies, are actually producing adverts that encourage responsible drinking. There’s one in England about showing a girl and she had, from her point of view, she had a great evening, but then you saw it from other people’s point of view…
    Oh, that’s great, that’s good.
    … she was like a real mess…
    I’ve seen that.
    … making a fool of herself.