domingo, 31 de mayo de 2015

Extensive listening: The Recyclers: From trash comes triumph

The Recyclers: From trash comes triumph is a CBS 60 Minute segment aired in November 2013.

The residents of Cateura, Paraguay, don't just make a living from the massive garbage heap in their town. They also make music.

This is the way reporter Bob Simon introduced the segment:
"Ever heard of a town built on a garbage dump? We hadn't until last year when we visited a community on the outskirts of Asuncion, the capital of the tiny, impoverished South American country of Paraguay. It's called Cateura and there is trash everywhere -- in its streets, its rivers, in people's backyards -- but we decided to take you to Cateura tonight, not because of the poverty or the filth, but because of the incredible imagination and ingenuity of the people who live there. Our story is also a reminder that, ultimately, music will triumph everywhere and anywhere."

You can read the full transcript here.

sábado, 30 de mayo de 2015

Deep English

Learn English with interesting stories at an intermediate level while listening to a weekly lesson at three different speeds with Deep English. Full transcript provided.

viernes, 29 de mayo de 2015

What would you miss if you lived off the grid?

We all dream from time to time of escaping it all and heading for the hills, but is it all it's cracked up to be? BBC Pop Up speaks to residents of two remote villages in the Rocky Mountains.

Real pizza, you know, real food, you know, deli sandwich at six in the morning that has a nice runny egg with a piece of ham oh that is perfect, you know what I’m saying.
That’s great.
That’s what I miss. I don’t miss anything else.
The west is the best. Reason that I like living in the mountains cause in the car out of because everything’s so big and immense. You feel small here. Kind of brings you into yourself.
I don’t know, I think that when you are constantly surrounded by nature, you care more about environmental issues because you can see what we are destroying.
Nature? Just the surroundings, the people, we are not so caught up in the rat race.
I came out here, I lost weight, I started hiking, I’ve not been to a doctor since.
He can’t meet a woman to save his life.
I think that Colorado would be the perfect state if it had an ocean.
I miss sailing.
I miss my bars. I miss, you know, nightlife a lot but at the end of the day I would just rather be coming home to nature and not going home to some place in the city.
To go back there, to all that, to you know the congestion and to all the people there, they’re everywhere, just thick with attitude and I’m better than you and I got possessions.
I moved the Bay area and everybody was just very cold, you know, like you wave to somebody and they are like, you know.
Hermit’s trying to be social is really interesting you know you get a lot of like reclusive artist types that don’t really interact well with society and when they all get together it’s much more interesting than your standard society.
Thanks so much Kate. It was nice to meet you
Yeah, it was nice to meet you too.
Check back on
Looking forward to.
Take care.

jueves, 28 de mayo de 2015

Stories from Holiday Inn® Hotels: Casey Gerald

Each summer MBAs Across America recruits MBAs from the top colleges to work and learn with visionary entrepreneurs all across the country to help change lives. Here's Casey Gerald's story.

Just in that moment that I accepted that I was about to die, everything slowed down and there was peace. I've got my hands tied behind my back and a gun to my head. If that night had been my last nobody would have asked me "What was your after tax income?"
First time that I saw... what mattered really wasn't what I was able to get but what I was willing to give.
We launched MBAs Across America last year. We recruit teams of MBAs from top business schools. And they dedicate their summer to spending six weeks in six cities working with an entrepreneur in each city.
What we're doing is reasserting the American Dream by working with visionary entrepreneurs to create new jobs and change more lives.
So we went to Holiday Inn because we heard about this thing that they had right? This "Journey to Extraordinary". This program wouldn't exist without Holiday Inn, to be honest with you. We didn't have the money. We didn't have the support.
I never imagined I'd be sitting here talking about 32 MBAs, 48 entrepreneurs, 26 cities. "Journey to Extraordinary" is not just a slogan. It's an alignment of the spirit of a company.
I grew up in your typical inner city. Everybody was broke. Everybody had issues at home. By the time I was in the seventh grade, both of my parents were out of my life.
Growing up in Texas football is everything. And so I had big dreams, you know, of playing in the big leagues. One day my junior year a guy showed up. He said "Hey do you want to play football at Yale?" Folks started hearing about this kid from Oak Cliff, Texas being recruited by Yale. And I'd go to church and old ladies would be crying, they say "Oh man you really... you got to do this."
From the time I was a freshman to the time I was a senior was really a transformation. To see that there was this whole world of opportunity. Totally changed my view of what was possible.
We're in Detroit this week with six of our eight teams.
It was here where we met Sebastian Jackson. He uses his barber shop to really make a second chance for his city.
Jeff and Cassandra with Sweet Potato Sensations, they have built a business that is one of the most successful small businesses in Detroit.
Veronica Scott at the Detroit Empowerment Plant, the fact that she would come up with a product that is so warm as a coat and so durable and so versatile that it can double as a sleeping bag to help people survive on the streets in Detroit is incredible. But then you think about her commitment to hiring women who used to be homeless and might not have gotten a second chance.
If you just looked at the material balance sheet of Detroit, it'd be bankrupt. But what's not seen are all the people that give a damn. I've seen change in the individual. When all the signs say "You ought to leave," they stayed to build businesses not just because of profit but because of purpose. What if business leaders had been baptized in the spirit of America. Had see what our fellows have seen in communities like Detroit. I think those organizations would be far better.
What we're doing is going into the American Dream's corner and saying get back up. Not just in the major hubs, not just for the chosen few, but for everybody.
That's the plan.

miércoles, 27 de mayo de 2015

Talking point: Entertainment

This week's talking point is entertainment. 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.
  • What are your interests?
  • How do you spend your free time?
  • How do you spend your free time?
  • How would you spend your free time differently if you had more time or money or opportunity?
  • What are the benefits to society of giving people more downtime?
  • What films, books and music do you like? Why?
  • How often do you watch TV?
  • How often do you go to the cinema?
  • What was the last film you saw?
  • What do you think of it?
  • Do you ever go to art galleries or exhibitions?
  • What was the last one you went to?
  • What was it like?
  • Is seeing an exhibition your idea of entertainment?

To illustrate the topic, you can watch this Speakout video
Hi. I enjoy doing a lot of different things in my free time. Most of them are to do with music: I DJ both in London and internationally and I try to go to concerts and festivals whenever I can. How about you? How do you spend your free time?
My free time, when I have any, is playing golf. I discovered golf eight years ago and I’m addicted: whenever I can, I’ll get out on a golf course.
Photography; I like to watch films; really into music.
In my free time I’m an amateur opera singer and I also run an amateur opera company.
I spend my free time shopping, cooking, going to exhibitions, travelling, going to the theatre.
I exercise a lot: I spend a lot of time walking, running and boxing.
I play football, I play table tennis, I go bowling. I also do a radio show at my university.
Well, during my free time I read, I watch the news online and watch TV series and go out with my friends.
I spend most of my free time with my friends and, just getting together and watching films, listening to music. I like to read a lot and I like to draw and make clothes.

How would you spend your free time differently if you had more time or money or opportunity?
I’d travel more. I’d take my children to see more things around the world. They’ve travelled a little bit, I’ve travelled quite a lot, but I’d like to take them to see some of the things that the world has to offer.
If I had more free time, I think I’d be able to develop my own creativity.
Finding, maybe, a bit more about my heritage. I’m quite interested in that, and speaking to my parents about how they grew up and their parents and things like that.
I would spend more time practising music.
If I had more time, I would travel more.
If I had more free time, I’d see more of my friends and people that I don’t get to see enough. And I’d probably relax and go to the park a lot.

What are the benefits to society of giving people more downtime or more holidays?
I think if you had more time off you’d be able to do, you’d be able to explore your mind a lot more and people would become more educated, more intelligent and more aware of what’s going on in the world.
If we all had more free time, I think we’d all be able to let ourselves be more creative, as opposed to just work, work, work all the time.
I think that today when people don’t work from 9 to 5 so much any more: I think that more free time would do everyone a lot of good, as long as you have something to do with it, and you have, kind of, hobbies or friends to see.
They would be less stressed, I believe, because I think that people are very, very stressed nowadays.
I think society benefits from giving people more free time because it enables them to lead less stressed lives, reduces the pressures on them, and also increases interests and I think that a society that has a broad range of interests, a broad range of things that they like doing, is generally beneficial.

martes, 26 de mayo de 2015

10 Questions for Helen Mirren

A few years ago Time magazine interviewed Helen Mirren for their 10 Questions feature.

We’re here today for Times 10 questions with Helen Mirren and so Helen, welcome, thanks for coming
Thank you.
Okay so as I was saying couple of readers would like to marry you, one of them wants to invite you.
You said five readers wanted to marry me.
Well, you know,
Were you exaggerating?
I might have been slightly, you know, nervous or something. There’s somebody who wants to invite you to tea. My favourite reader was the one who said that unlike most women who lose all sex appeal when they get old, you have not. Now that was a lovely question.
That can’t be a question, a compliment, isn’t it?
I guess so, yeah.
Really like for most women. I think most women do lose their so-called sex appeal. It just shifts into a different arena. I mean, there’s no question, you know, full on sex appeal is for the young, it is. It’s… that’s nature, anyway, you know. When they say sex appeal I don’t think they really mean sex. I don’t think they’re talking about something else. Some indefinable thing that is to do appreciation of life, appreciation of, you know, wisdom and all kinds of … there should be a special word for it. I don’t think sex is quite the right word, actually.
Do you think it’s important for celebrities and the like to contribute their two cents to political, ethical or economical problems?
I mean, I’ve used my voice as an actress with the media to publicise certain issues. I’ve been involved with Oxfam. The proliferation of these illegal sales of small arms throughout the world which is causing such devastations was one issue I am involved in quite deeply. The other was Uganda, the war in Northern Uganda. So yes, I think it’s an absolute legitimate way of using the fact that for some peculiar and incomprehensible reason the media are more prepared to talk to me about Uganda than a journalist who’s lived in Uganda, an investigative journalist who has lived in Uganda for five years, but we do have a kind of an access and I think it is a legitimate use. Yes.
One of the readers has noticed the tattoo on your hand and would like to know what it is and why you got it.
Did you read my book?
I’ll have to read your book, to buy your book. Good answer, good answer.
Well the short answers I got drunk and now I do, I got drunk on an Indian reservation in Minnesota when I was working with Peter Brook.
And so it’s an Indian…?
It’s a, well, it’s a South American Indian sign. Yeah, yes.
Another reader would like to know what your favourite vegetable is.
My favourites are potatoes.
I do love potatoes.
Do you have any affinity with your father’s Russian heritage, or any interest in a kind of political climate there?
Yes, I have a great interest in the political climate in Russia. I was there not long ago and to my goodness, that’s a complicated place. But yes, of course, I mean, when I go to Russia I’ve realized I look Russian, you know. People have come up and speak to me in Russian. They assume that I’m Russian. I mean, growing up as an immigrant and especially in the situation that I was at home where we were very much encouraged to forget our Russian heritage as children, I, I didn’t, you know, make a thing about it but I’ve always felt, of course, I am, I am genetically, I’m half Russian, so of course, there is an affinity there.
If you could go anywhere tomorrow, where would you go and why?
I’d go to England and I’d find a little green corner of England with a river running through it and a tree to sit under. And I’d just sit there for the afternoon with a book and a pillow to go to sleep on.
Delphine Harris of Washington, DC asks which director or director did you learn the most from and why?
The truth is you learn a different thing from all of them. I think the best bit of advice I was ever given about film acting came from an American actor and producer and director called Bob Balaban. He said you don’t know where the arrow is going to land, the arrow of your performance, of your… of the take, of that moment. You have no idea and I had found out that to be true that you knew intensely, intensely trying emotionally express, you know, the pain of loss, of whatever, you know, of whatever you’re trying to do and then what’s on the screen is something completely different, not what you intended to  at all. You’re, where did that come from? I didn’t do that. I was doing that. And that came out and that can drive you crazy as an actor. So he taught me, he just said, let the arrow land where it will. Throw it up there, do it as instinctively and as truthfully as possible but then let it go where it goes and let go of it and let go of it. Don’t talk to yourself when you go home at night. And that was great advice and I’ve absolutely followed that. It kind of liberated me, you know what, just let it happen and then let it land where it will.

lunes, 25 de mayo de 2015

Listening test: On the buses

Listen to a short clip on the relaunch of the famous London icon the Routemaster and complete the blanks in the sentences below with the missing information. 0 is an example

0 Example
Apart from the famous landmarks, one of the most recognisble icons of London is the red, double-decker Routemaster bus.

1 Mayor Boris Johnson has decided to revive the Routemaster and has organized a competition to design ________________ .

2 Back in 1829 London’s first ever bus was pulled by ________________ .

3 The first motorised buses were introduced in London at the beginning of ________________ .

4 Graham Noakes has worked on the Routemasters both as a ________________ .

5 The modern buses that replaced the Routemasters were more accessible to  ______________  .

6 Routemasters had a ______________  , which permitted passengers to get on and off the bus.

7 Graham Noakes describes the atmosphere on the Routemasters as ______________  .

When you think of London, what are the first images that come to mind? Perhaps you picture a famous landmark such as Buckingham Palace or Big Ben; maybe you imagine a guardsman in his bearskin hat, or a black cab. Yet for many people one of the most recognisable icons of the city is the (0) red, double-decker Routemaster bus. A few years ago it seemed that the Routemaster might only be seen again in old films and on postcards. But London's colourful new mayor, the Conservative Boris Johnson, has decided that the Routemaster should be revived and he has even launched a competition to design (1) a new model. The winners of the competition have been announced and the new Routemaster should be on the streets in time for the 2012 Olympic Games.
The history of the Routemaster can be traced back to London's first ever bus — a (2) horse-drawn carriage which ran from Paddington to Bank in 1829. It was called the `omnibus,' from the Latin word meaning 'for all.' The word was gradually replaced by the abbreviation 'bus’.
The first motorised buses were introduced in the early (3) 20th century, alongside the red, double-decker trolleybuses. The Routemaster itself first hit the streets of London in 1956. Graham Noakes, who has worked on the Routemasters for 25 years, first as a (4) conductor and then as a driver, describes seeing the buses as a child:
When I was a child I used to see these old buses coming up Downham Way, where I used to live, Downham, Bromley, Kent, and I was inspired by that, and it was just the look, the fascination of them, and the commandership in the crews that worked them.
Although the last new Routemaster was built in 1968, these vehicles continued in regular service until 2005, although by then many had been replaced by one-man buses with no conductor. They were finally phased out to be replaced by modem buses which were more accessible to (5) wheelchair users.
The design of the Routemaster used techniques developed in aircraft production during World War II. It had an aluminium body, making it much lighter, and several new features for a bus, including power steering and automatic gears. (6) The platform at the back allowed passengers to hop on and off, and there was a conductor on board to take fares and chat to people. Graham Noakes explains how this combination helped to make it such a popular icon:
I personally think the reason why is because the Routemaster glorified London. It was such a fine-looking vehicle, it was a lot of memories for people. I mean, they've met each other on Routemasters and got married, the crews that worked them — they even got married together. It's so many things happening, it was just a (7) friendly, happy atmosphere on these buses.

domingo, 24 de mayo de 2015

Extensive listening: Magical houses made of bamboo

A few weeks ago architect and designer Elora Hardy gave the talk Magical Houses made of bamboo at TED. This is the way TED presented her talk:

"You've never seen buildings like this. The stunning bamboo homes built by Elora Hardy and her team in Bali twist, curve and surprise at every turn. They defy convention because the bamboo itself is so enigmatic. No two poles of bamboo are alike, so every home, bridge and bathroom is exquisitely unique. In this beautiful, immersive talk, she shares the potential of bamboo, as both a sustainable resource and a spark for the imagination. "We have had to invent our own rules," she says."

You can read a full transcript here

sábado, 23 de mayo de 2015

Reading test: Stress pushing teachers to leave profession

This week's reading test is based on the Telegraph article Stress pushing teachers to leave profession,' figures show published in March this year.

Read the text and complete blanks 1-12 with one of the words or phrases below. There are three words or phrases that you do not need to use. You can only use each word or phrase once. 0 is an example.

(0) Growing stress is the leading reason (1) … teachers taking time off work or leaving the profession entirely, new data has revealed.
In fact, stress (2) … more than double the figures of days taken off for sickness, numbers from an insurance firm specialising in covering schools against members of staff being off work showed.
The analysis of its claims showed that 55 per cent its 1,800 schools made stress-related claims in 2014. It also revealed academies experienced the highest proportion of lost teaching days (3) … stress.
“Stress in teachers is caused largely by heavy workload, a particularly pressurized (4) …, tight workforces and additional pressures not directly related to teaching like Ofsted inspections,” said the firm’s Harry Cramer.
(5) … the company's analysis of 138,500 absence days taken by 31,900 staff within the education sector, 3.5 per cent of school staff take a stress related absence every year. The (6) … length of a stress related absence is 26.9 working days, over twice the length of an average staff absence which is 13 working days. The analysis was commissioned by the BBC Radio 4’s File on 4.
Separately, a preliminary online (7) … of 3,500 members of the NASUWT teachers’ union revealed stress and poor mental health. It found 67 per cent of teachers said their job was having an (8) … effect on their mental health.
The report, (9) … is to be published at the union’s annual conference over Easter, found 76 per cent of teachers said they are “seriously considering” leaving their job in the last year, compared to 69 per cent in 2014. Separately, 68 per cent said they considered leaving the profession entirely.
Other (10) … findings include:
• 83 per cent have experienced more workplace stress in the last year, compared to 80 per cent in 2014
• 84 per cent say their job has impacted negatively on their health and wellbeing in the last 12 months; compared to 80 per cent in 2014
• 78 per cent have experienced work related anxiousness, 84 per cent (11) … of sleep, 33 per cent poor health, 25 per cent (12) … use of caffeine, alcohol or tobacco, 11 per cent relationship breakdown and nearly 2 per cent self-harm

according to
amounts for
as a result of
growing 0 Example

Photo: Alamy in the Telegraph

1 for; 2 amounts for; 3 as a result of; 4 environment; 5 according to; 6 average; 7 survey; 8 adverse; 9 which; 10 key; 11 loss; 12 increased

viernes, 22 de mayo de 2015

Redheads celebrate at convention in Ireland

People with red hair have gathered in southern Ireland for the Irish Redhead Convention.

Held over three days the celebrations include crowning the ginger King and Queen, competitions for the best red eyebrows and most freckles per square inch.

People think that red-heads are an endangered species but, guess what, welcome to Crosshaven because we are not.
I love my red hair.
We have red-heads from all over the world and all over Ireland. We are here, together, celebrating. This is amazing.
I’m a read-head and I’m proud.
Sometimes a red-head gets a hard time, sometimes they are teased. This is gingers proud together, fierce and freckly.
I’m read-head and I’m proud.
This is ginger paradise.
Hello, it’s Joleen. Yeah, no problem.
The last week has been completely insane, just the, the global interest in this is phenomenal. My phone has been hopping off the hook. I can’t, my fingers can’t type fast enough to answer the emails, but luckily enough we’ve got a great volunteer team who are going to help us carry through for the weekend.
So, yeah, we’ve invited a lot of interesting people, obviously besides the red-heads we’ve invited a few celebrities, so do… I am hoping that Prince Harry himself is going to turn up this weekend. Fingers crossed! But we did send him a letter to Clarance House, so who knows, will be great to see him. Or Ed Gerhad. I’d love to see Ed Gerhad.
People are actually travelling from all over the world, from Vermont in California, and from Ohio . We even have people travelling as far as away as Dunedin in New Zealand. There’s loads of Germans around and we’ve also got a few visitors from the UK, so it’s really…, you know, it’s become a global celebration of red hair, and I’m just so delighted to be able to welcome them to Crosshaven.
I’d like to become the queen of the redheads and take the title back to the southern hemisphere.
Being a red-head you’re usually the only one in the crowd. And here they’re just everywhere.
The Irish red-heads convention takes place over one whole weekend and you’ve got to do silly things like throw carrots down the lawn.
So much fun, just the atmosphere is great.
I entered the carrot-tossing competition and didn’t win, but it’s good fun, you know.
We’ve been doing competitions all day two days.
16 cms.
How long has it been since you had your hair cut?
I think… February or March.
There’s actually photo booths, that’s really nice as well, where people can come along and get their, their photograph taken to by some professional photographers.
Look at me, look at me, smile!
It’s a really, really nice experience to be here.
There’s quite a serious message just there as well. You hear so many stories of families and kids specially who’ve just  been picked on, and it’s really, really sad to see that, but that’s what’s really nice about this event, you know, you’re empowering like young kids to feel proud of, of who they are and their uniqueness, that’s what I think it’s really special.
So every year we crown a new king and queen to represent us gingers and I’m kind of nervously waiting to see who gets this title because it’s a really big deal, because they will have to represent us for the whole year.
I actually can’t think of any other hair colour in the world where you’ll find such a gathering, such a kind of connection or bond. So we’ve all kind of had like an association of people who are referred to your hair, and that’s the kind of common connection that we can all kind of talk to each other about.

jueves, 21 de mayo de 2015

NinjaVideo's Deposed Queen

Hana Beshara, a founder of NinjaVideo, once a popular illegal video downloading site, was known as Queen Phara to its users. Now she’s putting her life back together after 16 months in prison.

One of the ten best kept secrets on the internet today is Ninja Video.
A few short years ago a ragtag group of internet fans built an enormously successful website. It gave people access to hundreds of TV shows and new movies with just a few clicks. It was totally free and totally illegal. I’m Jenna Wortham for the New York Times.
Ninja Video was one of the most popular sites of its kind, raking in millions of hits a day.
I think in this kind of world like the only way to make it change it’s kind of do it big and do it splashy.
And behind the scenes was an N.Y.U graduate Hana Beshara, known online as Queen Phara.
That’s what we did. I came out and I was like I’ma  (gonna)build like the highest quality, fastest site in this game and it’s going to be made out of the bedrooms of a bunch of twenty-somethings.
Hana’s days as Queen of the Ninja empire are over. She now spends her weekends doing court-ordered community service in a coffee shop. Ninja’s popularity could have got under attention from Silicon Valley. Instead, it got the attention of the Federal Government. They decided that Ninja was the perfect vehicle to send a warning to the digital world about illegal streaming.
You know like when I was first building Ninja I was definitely in like a clinical depression. Coming to 23, 24 and realizing that I almost had like a false pride in myself. And I wasn’t as great as I thought that I was, you know, I came out of college and didn’t do what I should have done. It really was it was like, it was online streaming oddly enough that kind of pulled me out of it, Battlestar Galactica, best show in the world.
What set Ninja video apart and what some argue got Ninja in trouble was a complex system of social forms, reminiscent of the heyday of A.O.L chatrooms.
So we got to know each other through those posts, you know, lots, lots of times intimate posts, I mean, when I decided to have my daughter, it was in that forum that I shared my desires and stuff. No, I should thank my husband because I was, I was on, I was online all day doing things for the community and what not. And it was beneficial, though, because it was an amazing community, you know. There was lots of people doing that.
Today we announce a long-term effort to turn the table on these thieves.
In June of 2010 the Federal Government aided by the motion picture industry seized nine online popular piracy sites, including Ninja.
When everything went down it was a shocker, I mean, they came in like I was wanted for murder in a crack house.
The community that Hanna built came to an abrupt end. Armed federal agents raided the apartments of all of Ninja’s leaders and took everything connecting them to the internet world.
I came round the corner. I tried to put on a pair of pants like, you know, what the hell is going on and I had a shotgun pointed at my face, AR-15 out to one side.
They made it clear at the raid like, little girl, you pissed them off, this isn’t about some movies.
You know, this kind of push I think was somewhat unique. Hana and Ninja unfortunately got caught sort of in the cutting edge of, you know, making a big show in criminal court.
Hana reluctantly pleaded guilty and avoided a public trial. At her sentencing, the prosecution asked the judge for the toughest jail term allowed under the law, arguing that notoriety would be a general deterrent.
There’s so many cases. Every day we see this in court.  General deterrent of cases that nobody ever hears about.
It’s quite possible though that even though the newspapers didn’t cover the story extensively that, that it got much more currency online.
I don’t know how to do these videos, guys.
Hana helped to publicise it by, you know, by talking online.
This is my best friend, you guys. Drove eight hours to go to my sentencing, just to hold my hand when they told me I was going to jail, you know.
Hanna served 16 months in prison and it’s now on parole till August 2015. The government won’t comment on the case against Ninja, but the Ninja community is still questioning why their world had to be destroyed in the war on piracy.
There hasn’t been any other websites that have come out while Ninja, I mean, there are other streaming websites but none of them have the community and social aspect that we had going.
The broader picture is really about control and centralization and they want hundreds of people to be watching movies. They want people to be making movies, they want people to be talking about movies, but they want people to be doing all of those things through their own sites.
Internet rights advocates like the Electronic Frontier Foundation are among the many questioning copyright laws and sentencing.
It’s pretty rare most copyright enforcement is civil cases which can still ruin a person’s life and be pretty awful, but more and more often there have been criminal prosecutions.
How are you?
I’m good, I’m doing well.
You look very nice.
Thank you.
Hanna is now starting her live over. She found a job despite her criminal record but she must pay the Motion Pictures Association back for the money she earned through Ninja, over $200,000. The glory days of her life on the internet are over, at least for now.
Ninja brought people together over like art and movies and conversation and debate and… There is nothing pure, you know what I mean.
Ninja video… you probably used it. It was…
So while I know there does have to be a balance between a million hours a day on the internet and real life, right, I’m okay if I always lean a little more towards that, you know what I mean. I’m totally okay with that… as long as it’s not like social media.

miércoles, 20 de mayo de 2015

Talking point: News

This week's talking point is news. Before getting together with the members of your conversation group, go over the questions below so that ideas flow more easily when you meet up with your friends and you can work out vocabulary problems beforehand.
  • Think about two news stories you have read or heard about recently and tell the members of your conversation group about them. Try to answer the famous Wh- questions (What, Who, When, Where, Why, How) to give a full account of the news stories.
  • What section of a newspaper can you name?
  • Which sections do you usually read?
  • What are the most popular newspapers in your country?
  • What are the differences between them?
  • Where can you read sensationalist news in your country?
  • Which is your favourite TV channel to watch the news?
  • What difference do newsreaders make?
  • Who owns the newspapers and TV stations in your country?
To illustrate the point you can watch this Time Magazine interview with Larry King.

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

martes, 19 de mayo de 2015

Bike use in Europe

Bikes are more widely used in Europe than in Australia, as this ABC video proves.

Bike use in Europe is streets from on Vimeo.

In the university town of Leipzig, everyone rides a bike.Leipzig street with bicycles and cars.
Because of the fresh air, and a good something for the environment and for my own body.
Because it's cheap, and faster than taking the train.
With this weather, it's just fun.
It's also the home of public bike sharing company NextBike, where customers can rent a bike for a few minutes or hours.
We started nine years ago with 20 bicycles only in Leipzig, as a very small start-up, and in the meantime, we have developed an international network of about 15,000 bicycles spread out in 12 different countries.
And technology has made it easier to rent a bike. Customers use an app to get a code, unlock the bike and go. NextBike is now working on technology to integrate bike sharing with public transport.
You can integrate your e-ticketing, your smart cards. You can use the same card, so this kind of data integration is very important.
The German Government spends 80 million euros a year promoting cycling. They say it helps with road congestion, the environment, and is good for you.
That is why, for many years now, politicians have tried to improve the conditions for cyclists. The better the conditions are for cyclists, the more people use bicycles.
The German culture is really geared towards cycling, with many city centres closed to cars, and traffic lights just for cyclists. In Australia, we've still got our training wheels on. Melbourne-based lobby group Bicycle Network says the cycling culture is in its infancy.
How do we get motorists and bike riders to work better together? It's really the numbers. As the numbers of bike riders increase, which they are, which is fantastic, motorists are more used to bike riders, and as a result of that, they're used to interacting with them and it doesn't become something unusual.
Bike sharing services have been introduced in Melbourne and Brisbane, but with limited success. Just 12,000 trips were taken in May in Melbourne's CBD, up from the year before, but compares to 15,000 a day in the Polish capital. Many blame Australia's helmet laws for the poor take-up. Mexico and Israel recently repealed their helmet laws to encourage bike sharing.
This is something the government needs to consider if they want to bring these schemes to a successful end.
Craig Richards disagrees. He says it's infrastructure that has the most impact on increasing the number of cyclists.
They need separation from cars, and they also need quiet streets that are speed reduced. So, that's our biggest issue, is, unless the infrastructure's right, there's a big group of people who aren't prepared to ride.
So, until governments here are prepared to spend to get people on their bikes, Europe will continue to be streets ahead.

lunes, 18 de mayo de 2015

10 Questions for Brian Williams

Brian Williams, NBC Nightly News anchorman, reflects on the stories that shaped the decade in  this interview for Time Magazine.

I’m Gilbert Cruz for Time and this is 10 Questions with Brian Williams. Brian, thanks for being with us today.
Thank you for having me.
Now, you’ve been an anchor of NBC Nightly News for five years now. And our first question comes from Jared May in Boston. And Jared wants to know, ‘What do you consider to be the most important story of the decade?’
I would say 9/11. It changed how we are viewed in the world and changed how my children’s generation will grow up as Americans. It changed how I entered this building today. So I think
beyond everything else, it has to be when we were attacked very early on in the new decade.
Our next question is a similar question. It is from Ed Winters. Ed says ‘the most surprising news story in my lifetime was the collapse of the Soviet Union. What would you say is yours?’
It’s, it's very hard to to single out one thing in a lifetime of fifty years. We lost a very visible war in Vietnam. We won a very visible space race, though this theory about the end of the cold war and all that it has rocked is probably as good as any.
Have you ever interviewed anyone that made you angry or sick or just plain nervous?
Of all the lofty and highfalutin people I've interviewed, the worst interview I ever conducted was Steve Allen, who was having a bad day and decided that one word answers should suffice.
Deborah Turner from New York asks, ‘how do you expect television journalism to change in the next five years?’
Deborah, it's a great question. Since I have been in the business, which is roughly twenty-six years, I've seen a lot of death notices come and go about what I do for a living. Not only are we still standing and proud to report that in our neck of the woods, NBC Nightly News, our viewers have increased over even last year, the most exciting presidential campaign of the modern era.
Why are there no ugly people reading the Nightly News?
I would argue that there are a whole bunch of us on television who look normal and look like America. Has there been traditionally an awful fiendish double standard for the appearance of men and women on television? Yes, it's a cruel, cruel medium.
Curtis Ohl from Escondido California asks, ‘do you actually wear pants while doing the news?’
I choose to. I know colleagues and I am and I'm not gonna use any coy initials here, Al Roker, but I know people in the industry who who don't, Garrison Keillor and I, I, I don't celebrate that.
What are your thoughts on losing the “most trusted name in news” poll to Jon Stewart.
I consider Jon Stewart and that broadcast and their freakishly talented staff to be an entire branch of government. I think they are kind of unto themselves in what has become of our media society, a system of checks and balances. So, the truth is I proudly pass the mantle, the told torch of most trusted to Jon, knowing that the people who responded to that poll were just kidding.
Have you ever thought about giving up journalism and doing some sort of comedy?
I'm working in my first love. I don't know what I would do for a living if I if I couldn't work in journalism, not television. I could come off television tomorrow happily and, and as long as I was in the daily writing game.
When are you going to start twittering?
It's the outgoing I have a problem with. I'm happy to read the incoming of some people. Just too much of it is, is kind of “I got the most awesome new pair of sweatpants”. I'm just gonna go ahead and assume that people buy awesome sweatpants every day and that I don't need to know them by name.
What story have you felt the most passionate about covering?
I think probably Katrina. You know, there were dime diamond dusts on op-ed columns saying, well, the media found its voice. They found their footing. They got a little angry. Well, you bet we did. This was a story where we didn't need a pass, a government escort or special permission. We were there. We were standing there as fellow citizens watching fellows suffer and die. So I think that will allow stay with me.
Well, Brian, thank you for taking questions from the readers of Time Magazine.
My pleasure. That was great.

domingo, 17 de mayo de 2015

Extensive listening: Why are glasses so expensive

About one year ago CBS 60 Minutes aired Sticker shock: Why are glasses so expensive?

This is the way reporter Lesley Stahal introduced the segment:

"For many of us, summer means a new pair of sunglasses. But bet your eyes popped when you saw the price tag. If you don't go to places like Walmart or Costco, you could easily be spending hundreds and hundreds of dollars for a pair that cost just $30 15 years ago. Talk about sticker shock!" And it's not as though things have changed that much: they're still made of a couple of pieces of plastic or wire, some screws and glass. Why should a pair of glasses cost more than an iPad?

You can read a full transcript of the episode here.

sábado, 16 de mayo de 2015

Train your accent

Train your accent is a site where Randall Davis, the person behind Randall's ESL Cyber Listening Lab, presents a collection of activities for students to develop their pronunciation and improve their English accent while learning daily expressions.

Train Your Accent provides learners with samples of relaxed, North American English that reflect everyday activities and helps them sound more natural. Furthermore, understanding reduced speech will help English learners understand others better.

The lessons are on the short side and include a full transcript, a second transcript showing the changes that take place in fast speech and some activities for students to do.

There are around 15 lesson on the site around these topics:
Apartment Rentals       
Cell Phones   
Dental Care       
Driver's Education   
Family Relationships       
Job Hunting       
Movie Rental       
Online Classes   
Online shopping       
Study Abroad
Train tickets

viernes, 15 de mayo de 2015

Diane von Furstenberg Interview In the Studio

Diane von Furstenberg chats with New York Times reporter Vanessa Friedman about how her fashionably eclectic office in the Meatpacking District doubles as a living space and a reflection of the DVF brand.

People who walk into this office get a real sense of who I am, and since who I am is who the brand is, it is very helpful, you know, for them to walk in here and to see all what the brand stands for.
This is not the room where I work with design. This is where I do everything that I don’t do when I do design. We have meetings here, I have lunch here, I have often dinner here, I do yoga here.
When I first started I didn’t think I was a designer. I just came to New York, I wanted to be independent, I had the idea of combining all these things I had learnt and make easy little dresses, and then, before I knew, I dressed every woman in America and it so much interlinked my life and, and my work, that’s just the essence of what my brand became, you know. I didn’t know I would become a brand.
My favourite place is to sit behind my desk. I love desks, I mean, I have a passion for big tables. The desk is a Ruhlmann table, it’s a masterpiece of the 20th century, but it’s enormous, so it doesn’t fit most places.
I have many photographs, the people in my life, you know, the children, and then the children have children and so it’s kind of a kaleidoscope of people I love.
Everything that is in this room is too close to me to actually inspire me because once you are in this room you no longer inspire me but you are part of me.
I think my offices I’ve always lived like a living-room because I live and work together and that’s the way I am.
I love the energy of this building. This is actually three little brick buildings, so I completely gutted it inside. This floor here is my floor or, you know, top management, I mean meetings and library. Fourth floor is all of marketing. Third floor is sales. Second floor is all show room, and then the first floor is retail. When I’m here I have my little and it’s nothing but a bedroom really.
I love that I’m close to the sea, maybe is the cobblestone and the brick that reminded me of Belgium. I love that I have a park between my office and Barry’s office, I mean, the Highline was so much in my heart and my family, we help making it happen and it did happen, so it’s totally my neighbourhood.
I am very comfortable here. It’s very much the house of D.V.F.

jueves, 14 de mayo de 2015

Colony Collapse: The Mystery of the Missing Bees

The mystery of Colony Collapse Disorder has brought honeybees into the public eye. But the story of their plight — and its impact — is more complicated.

This might be one of the most interesting, disturbing and puzzling stories to come along in a long time.
In early 2007 the news broke that beekeepers across the United States had made a surprising discovery.
Bees are mysteriously dying.
It’s called colony collapse disorder. Beekeepers in 27 states report disappearing honey bees.
Pollination by bees produces 30% of our food.
Congress is holding hearings. Even the Vice-president has been briefed.
The end of honey bees, the end of pollination, a dire threat to crop the world over.
Today, what’s happening to the bees and what’s really at stake.

The buzz began with these bees at Dave Hackenberg’s bee farm, ground zero for the mystery of the missing bees.
In November of 2006 Dave Hackenberg discovered that nearly all of the 400 beehives in his Florida bee yard were empty.
So this is what you call a dead hive.
Yeah. Empty box. No bees.
The veteran beekeeper had seen bees die before, but never like this.
I keep asking myself, what am I doing wrong? I mean, it’s so… It’s a mind-boggling thing, I mean it really is a mind-boggling thing.
Hackenberg contacted scientists at Pennsylvania State University. They were intrigued by the beekeeper’s story.
And I said, well bring up some bees and we’ll check it out, and so indeed he brought up some bees, and those bees got sampled and we found all these things I couldn’t explain and I couldn’t understand. And certainly nothing popped out. And then it became apparent that this was happening in different parts of the country.
VanEngelsdorp helped give the die-off a name, colony collapse disorder, or CCD. Suddenly, bees were big news.
The population of honey bees down roughly 25% across this country.
It’s a simple equation. Without bees to pollinate many plants, the plants just don’t grow.
The fear is that most of the honey bees will be dead.
Dad, we have to do something. All the bees are dying.
Oh, no! No bees.
Colony collapse disorder. The mystery fascinated the public and strange explanations soon began to spread.
You buy that this could be a Russian plot?
Not really.
The rapture, God calling other bees back to heaven?
I don’t think he needs them up there.
But much of the television coverage missed an important bit of back story. Beekeepers had been struggling to maintain their hives ever since the 1980’s, when the invasive varroa mite arrived in the US.
We have a saying, before the varroa mite you can be a beehaver, after the varroa mite you have to be a beekeeper, because you have to manage your bees.
Varroa mites infest and slowly weaken colonies, but Hackenberg’s CCD losses came quickly to colonies that appeared healthy.
A number of us thought that we might be dealing with a new pathogen, a novel pathogen. So if we can find that novel pathogen, let’s say a virus or something, then that might explain, that was the missing link.
The only thing we could say about CCD bees and it was a very distinct thing was that they were really sick, they sort of had every disease going.
One theory was that stress was making bees sick. To meet the growing pollination demands of large-scale agriculture, commercial beekeepers trucked their bees from state to state to pollinate crop after crop.
Some of us are running these bees two, three, four crops a year, pollinating, and so they don’t get a chance to ever get rejuvenated and it used to be you can get them on some for clean food for two or three weeks in the way they go, but pasture land and general it’s running out because of land being turned into crop land and so we’re running out of places to go with the bees.
More crops mean more pesticides and many beekeepers have blamed CCD on neonicotinoids, widely used chemicals that are absorbed by plants and can accumulate in pollen and nectar.
The European Union voted to suspend the use of neonicotinoids because of possible links to bee collapse.
The EPA is reviewing its pesticides but the direct link to CCD has not been established. Indeed most scientists now believe that no single factor can fully explain the phenomenon.
We are probably dealing with multiple factors coming together to cause a set of symptoms that we call CCD. Personally I would fall back to nutritional stress and maybe pesticide stress leading to pathogen outbreak, I call it. As to the pathogen or the types of pathogens that are there don’t really matter that much but the bees are in a weakened state and that allows these pathogens to multiply and cause, cause the bees to die.
Bees have this behaviour called altruistic suicide. What happens is that the bee somehow knows she’s sick, flies away from the hive so she doesn’t in fact infect her nest mates. So we think that explains this behaviour of collapse, why we are not finding dead bees and why we see this quick spiral down in the population.
In South America right now and moving north to North America, there’s a new strain of bees that…
Colony collapse was not the first time bees had captured the public attention.
This is the African killer bee, in the last four years responsible for the death of hundreds of people in South America.
In the 1970’s fears over the spread of Africanised honey bees gave bees a bad name. But since the onset of colony collapse disorder, bees have become a symbol of environmental protection.
If you couldn’t understand that they were singing, all we’re saying is give bees a chance.
When people saw the bees they said, ah, ah, here’s something that I can really do something significant. You can save the bees by actually getting some bees. Hobby beekeeper Jim Fisher keeps about two dozen beehives on Manhattan rooftops. And he teaches beekeeping classes in Central Park and Brooklyn. He says enrollment surged in the wake of the CCD mystery.
Hundreds of people, more people that can fit in a room started attending the classes.
They call it urban beekeeping and it’s getting a ton of buzz.
Pre media blitz prior to pre CCD beekeeping was a hobby taken up by retired white blue-collar guys for the most part. The demographic immediate became a lot younger, a lot more female.
They got a good home, they got lots of comb. Before I started, I, I was nervous because of all the diseases but as a community across the country we’re eventually going to figure it out and being part of that process I think that is for the common good.
There’s been a couple of silver linings on the CCD story. One is just public awareness about the role that pollinators play in the food supply. It’s also brought new researchers from other areas.
Scientists are attaching tiny back packs to honey bees in order to study them.
These radio frequency ID tags track bees as they move through the landscape.
To help better understand the causes of colony collapse disorder, at Harvard University scientists are taking a different approach. They’ve engineered the robo-bee. It’s still in working progress and there are several other potential uses, but these miniature robots could one day assist with crop pollination. But the dire predictions of falling bee populations leading to a food crisis have not come to pass. Beekeepers replace their dead hives, so there are just as many honey bee colonies in the US today as there were in 2006.
We are not worried at all the bees are going to go extinct in this country or in the world. What we are worried about it is that we will have the beekeepers.
We are buying bees to keep our head above water. It’s not the basic beekeeping that I remember as a kid, then as a young guy running bees, you know. It’s….There’s a whole lot of things that have changed. There’s lots of days I would like to pull the plug and I would just walk away but I like what I’m doing, I mean, you know. It’s something that gets in your system and doesn’t go away.
Today honey bee colonies continue to die off in large numbers but the CCD mystery has a new twist.
We haven’t seen as much CCD over the past few years. The classic symptom of CCD has changed, or disappeared but we’re still losing a lot of colonies, and that can be for a variety of reasons. Parasitic varroa mite, pesticide exposure, poor nutrition, nutritional stress and in particular we’ve been seeing a lot of queen loss. So we’re doing some queen experiments here so there’s a multitude of things that beekeepers are facing to try and keep colonies alive in addition to CCD

miércoles, 13 de mayo de 2015

Talking point: Illness and injuries

In this week's talking point we are dealing with injuries and illness. Before getting together with the members of your conversation group, go over the questions below so that ideas flow more easily with you meet up with your friends and you can work out vocabulary problems beforehand.
  • How often do you go to the doctor's?
  • When was the last time you felt unwell? What symptoms did you have?
  • Do you have a healthy lifestle? Why (not)?
  • When did you last have an accident? What happened? What were the consequences for your health?
  • Have you ever had sports injuries? If so, what happened?
  • Do you know anyone who gets migraines regularly?
  • How often do you test your blood pressure?
  • Have you ever come out in a rash after eating something?
  • What makes you get a stiff neck?
  • Have you ever had flu? What are the typical symptoms?
  • Do you know anyone who suffers from insomnia? 
 Discuss these health beliefs: Which are true, which are myth?- You can catch a cold if you go out with wet hair.
- Antibiotics can cure a cold.
- Eating chocolate can cure acne.
- Cracking the joints in your fingers can cause arthritis.
- The less cholesterol you have, the better.
- Swallowing chewing bum is bad for you.
- Coffee is a drug.

To illustrate the point you can watch these are two videos from US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about the dangers smoking poses.

Brett's story

Amanda's story

I started smoking... I met a waitress at an all-night restaurant, and I was about 16 and she was about 18, and she was super cool, and she smoked.
So, I would go in the restaurant late at night and then sit there while she didn’t have any customers, and we would talk and we would smoke, and that’s how it started, which is funny, because I don’t remember her name, but now I have the legacy of that, you know, it sort of colored everything that I do.
But I don’t really think that I really considered it until it actually happened, until it  actually happened. The first time that I had to lose two teeth, which, you know, doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, but, it’s like, two teeth, okay, whatever.
And then, right after that, I lost another, I don’t know, 16, or something along those lines. And even at that point I was still smoking. And, you know, when you’re smoking, you love to smoke, and that’s the addiction. And, so you rationalize that, you justify it, to say, 'I love to smoke,' when it all kind of gets in the way of everything you do.
I guess, for me, you know, in youth, when I was smoking, people said, 'Well, you’re going to cut 10 years off of your life.'  And I always said, 'Yeah, but those are the bad years at the end, what do I care?' But they’re not. It’s not 80 that all those things start happening. You’re not this feeble old man. But I don’t want to die from a smoking related illness. I... There’s a lot of ways to die out there, and I’ve seen smoking related illness, and that is not a good one. You know, you have a lot of years left ahead of you, and anything that you want to do in life, anything that you want to do, is better if you’re healthy.

When I found out I was pregnant I was 24 years old, recently engaged, and a year away from student teaching in college, and still smoking cigarettes. I knew that smoking was bad, well, at any time, definitely, while you’re pregnant, but I didn’t think it would happen to me. I didn’t think I would have a premature baby. I thought everything was going to be fine. 
It wasn’t. I went into an ambulance. I was very scared. I felt alone. I felt like I hurt my baby. When my daughter was born two months early, she had to be placed on a feeding tube.
I was not able to hold her. A couple... after she was about a week old, I was able to do skin-to-skin contact, but that was only for less than an hour a day. The only time I was allowed to touch her in her incubator was every four hours for a diaper change.

martes, 12 de mayo de 2015

Madrid Teacher: The best way to teach English

After 87 weeks publishing Madrid Teacher videos on a weekly basis, the series comes to an end. There are not more videos available as far as I know, so this is it for Madrid Teacher.

I have meant to leave the video on English learning until the very end, so after so many weeks keeping us company, here's the last piece of advice from these teachers. We'll miss you, guys.

What do you reckon the best way to learn a language… what do you think the… best thing you can do to learn a language is?
I think the… the main thing is students have to study. They have to dedicate some time to go into a class, or having a teacher or something and, besides that, just study. Two or three hours a week.
Yeah, there’s definitely a relationship between the amount of time you put in, and what you learn.
To be honest, I disagree. I think that the most important approach is, of course, the amount of time you put in, but I would say that studying… would be less effective than beginning initially with the language as it is naturally used. Listen to it as frequently as you can and speak it.
Well that’s what I mean. I mean, if you’re listening to it, you’re studying it. I mean…
Not necessarily.
...if you’re watching movies, watching TV series…
Yeah, I’m talking about films and music.
...listening to podcasts; I mean, you could be doing all that sort of thing.
I agree.
But, it’s a mass of noise to begin with.
Yeah, but…yeah. I mean, there’s two types of listening you can do. I… From my opinion listening is the most important thing, but there’s two types. Listening to stuff at your level… or slightly above or slightly below, which is good for, you know, understanding… and general listening like what you were talking about.
Listening to natural English, normal English. I think that’s good because it gets you… gives you an ear for the language. And it’s…
Yeah I think it’s kind of a roundabout way to go through things if you… for instance with English, if you start listening to “what is” for a long time so you understand it, and then all of a sudden you start hearing “what’s”. I mean, you could… one might say that you’ve wasted your time looking about… looking… listening to “what is”.
With natural English, you’re right it’s a mass of noise, but it begins to sort itself out, especially if you’re supplementing with vocabulary and reading.
Right. And you have to vocabulary, and grammar, and other things.
The best way to learn vocabulary is reading.
It’s not just one thing.
No, of course.
It’s a lot of different things.
Well I think… people tend to think grammar is a lot more important than it is. I think you can strip grammar down to its basics, it’s… there’s a few structures that are useful and if you learn them you can generate more language, but I don’t think you should be overly obsessed with grammar.
I think they need to be more obsessed with vocabulary. They need to…
Yeah. Without words you can’t say anything.
Right. And that’s…
Basic verbs, expressions, and vocabulary. That’s another interesting point, you know, I think you need to learn vocab. in… in… in expressions, rather than just individual isolated words.
Right, in chunks.
Yeah, absolutely.
I mean, there are obviously some words, you know, like “pen, paper”, that you can learn individually, but, most vocabulary is more useful if you learn it as an expression, you know, er, “have a bath”, “have a shower”, “have a drink”…
Rather than just, “drink”.
That’s when you’ll be able to communicate and express yourself.
Yeah, but the…but the main point here is with vocabulary. They need to spend some time memorizing it.
Yeah, absolutely.
And… students tend not to do this. I mean, they’ll spend more time with the grammar than with the vocabulary, at least here in Spain.
There are some… there are some words and expressions that you have to make a conscious effort to learn. But I… I’ve found that, with French and Spanish there are some words that I’ve found easy to remember. I don’t know why. But there are other words where you have to… you have to find a way to remember them. I used to draw pictures and things like that.
Yeah, there’s got to be something, some kind of drawn out repetition. If it… if it’s writing it down and referring to it every once and a while on an index card or a notebook, if it’s pictures like you say… You know, rarely you get this groundbreaking experience where you can associate a memory to a word. More often it’s the mundane… studying.
You’ve got to study, yeah.

lunes, 11 de mayo de 2015

Listening test: Work burnout

Listen to a radio interview about the problems of work burnout and choose the option A, B or C which best completes each sentence.

1. Pam’s book is about
A. stress.
B. burnout.
C. these and other work-related health problems.

2. Steve got better by
A. going to Pam’s clinic.
B. reading Pam’s book.
C. attending lessons.

3. Pam says that
A. burnout and stress are a bit different.
B. stress can lead to burnout.
C. burnout is like drowning.

4. Steve describes his usual character as
A. optimistic.
B. a bit cynical.
C. subject to depression.

5. Pam says anti-depressants
A. aren’t effective.
B. aren’t as good as they used to be
C. weren’t necessary in Steve’s case.

6. Meditation can help patients to recover because
A. it has a calming effect.
B. it takes you away from the outside world.
C. it does both of these things.

Host: I’d like to thank you both for coming along today. Pam, this is your new book, Taking the Blues out of Work - How to Deal with Work-related Health Problems.
Pam: Yes.
Host: And Steve, you’ve just recovered from work burnout – one of the most serious – and common - work related problems – yes?
Steve: Yes, that’s right. I’m in the book! Pam used me as a case study.
Pam: Yes, Steve came along to my clinic for help. He had a serious case of burnout. He followed a course of therapy and …
Steve: … and she helped me to get my health back again.
Host: Well, that’s great. It’s good to hear there’s a happy ending. Pam, could you tell us what work burnout actually is? Aren’t we just talking about stress here? Is there a difference?
Pam: Yes! There is a difference. A very big difference. But that’s a good question because most people make the mistake of thinking that burnout is just another word for stress – so I’ll start with that. Everyone understands stress. We live in a world where stress is part of our everyday lives. Burnout can be the result of too much stress, but it isn’t the same thing. I once heard somebody say that if stress is like drowning in an overload of work, burnout is more like being all dried up. With stress we lose our energy, with burnout we lose much more – our motivation, our hope … and one very important difference between stress and burnout is that we know when we are stressed, but we don’t usually realise we are suffering from burnout …
Host: … until it’s too late.
Pam: Exactly.
Host: Steve, how did you know that your problem was more serious than just being stressed?
Steve: Well, I didn’t realise myself. Other people realized first. I changed my behaviour and started feeling really negative and cynical about everything. That wasn’t me at all. I’ve always been a happy-go-lucky sort of bloke. It got to the point where I felt so hopeless and depressed that I couldn’t even face getting up in the morning. My wife made me an appointment with the doctor. He was helpful and referred me to Pam.
Pam: But Steve was lucky to have the support of his family and friends. It’s difficult to get better on your own. It’s important to do normal things, exercise, socialise, go for a walk, meet a friend for a coffee…
Host: And did Steve need medication?
Steve: No.
Pam: We decided to try with everything else first… medication can be effective, anti-depressants aren’t the same these days as they used to be, but Steve got better without any. In fact it was something he felt quite strongly about.
Steve: I don’t even like taking an aspirin, unless I really have to so I think I made a real effort to listen to Pam and do the things she suggested. I even started meditating!
Host: Meditating?
Pam: Yes, it can really help. It calms the mind and helps to shut out the world’s distractions.
Host: And how are you now, Steve?
Steve: I feel great. Better than I have for years!
Host: Well, I’m glad to hear it .. now let’s talk a bit about the more general picture…

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

domingo, 10 de mayo de 2015

Extensive listening: India, a dangerous place for a woman

British Asian journalist Radha Bedi travels to India to see for herself the reality of life for young women there, six months after a medical student was brutally gang-raped on board a bus in the capital Delhi in December 2012 and later died of her injuries.

The story made international headlines and shocked the world, but was this an isolated incident? Horrified by the attack, 28 year old Radha returns to a country she’s visited many times to explore the problems woman and girls face in India.

Over the course of the documentary, she learns about current attitudes to female members of society, meeting young girls and women who bravely share their personal experiences of harassment and violence.

This programme contains scenes which some viewers may find upsetting.

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

INDIA: A DANGEROUS PLACE TO BE A WOMAN pt1 from Radha Bedi on Vimeo.

sábado, 9 de mayo de 2015

Reading test: Google should be allowed in examinations

For this week's reading test we have used the BBC article Google should be allowed in examinations to practise the multiple choice task that tests grammar and vocabulary. Some minor changes have been made to the original text.

Read the text and choose the option A, B or C which best fits in each gap. 0 is an example.

It is inevitable search engines (0) … Google will be allowed in public examinations, including GCSEs and A-Levels, the head of an exam board says.
OCR chief Mark Dawe (1) … the Today programme allowing internet use in exam rooms reflected the way pupils learned and how they would work in future. He said students would (2) … need a basis of knowledge and would have limited time to conduct searches.
The Campaign for Real Education (3) … the idea as "dumbing down". Mr Dawe said: "Surely when they learn in the classroom, everyone uses Google if there is a question. It is more about understanding what results you're seeing (4) … keeping all of that knowledge in your head, because that's not how the modern world works."
He compared the idea to the debate about whether to have books (5) …  during a test, saying: "In reality you didn't have too much time [to consult the book] and you had to learn it anyway."
Mr Dawe suggested some exams may (6) … to have internet access and others may not. He said: "It's about understanding the tools they have and how to utilise them. When we are (7) …  a question where we know there's access to the internet, we could ask a different question - it's about the interpretation, the discussion."
On the (8) … of when internet use might be allowed in exams, Mr Dawe said: "It's very (9) … to happen in the next few weeks or next few months, but it's certainly inevitable, I would suggest."
Chris McGovern, of the Campaign for Real Education, said: "We have a crisis in standards in this country. We are three years (10) … the Chinese, at the age of 15. We have got universities running remedial courses. We have got employers saying (11) …  youngsters are unemployable. You can have an exam in how to use Google - that's not the same thing (12) …  having a history exam or a geography exam. We do have to test what children are carrying in their heads".

A as
B such
C such as

A explained
B said
C told

A already
B still
C yet

A refused
B rejected
C denied

A compared to
B instead
C rather than

A available
B opened
C ready

A allow
B let
C prohibit

A asking
B asking for
C making

A debate
B issue
C problem

A impossibly
B improbably
C unlikely

A before
B behind
C after

A a lot
B most of
C too many

A as
B than
C that

Photo: BBC

1C 2B 3B 4C 5A 6A 7A 8B 9C 10B 11C 12 A

viernes, 8 de mayo de 2015

In Thailand, tracking the dog trade

Thai police are ramping up efforts to slow the trafficking of dogs who are being captured and killed for their meat and skin.

They kill the dog by hit[ting] their head or cut[ting] the throat off and then they separate meat and skin. Thailand people say [it’s] very, very good. Technician to take the skin off, very, very beautiful skin.
So good for the dogs?
No, good for the human to feel the nice dog skin.
This is Ross Velton reporting for the New York Times. The dog trade in Thailand has been going on for decades. The dogs are usually strays, taken from the many living on Thailand streets.
Dog skin tastes like pig skin, but it’s not fatty. It’s delicious, that’s why I eat it. Beef or pork can’t compete with dog meat.
But while Praprut Thangthongdee loves eating dogs, he also loves Money, his pet. In most of Thailand dogs are seen more as friends than food. But Tha Rae in North Eastern Thailand has many Vietnamese immigrants. It’s far from the capital Bangkok and butchers sell dog meat without much government interference. Here dog jerky equivalent of about $7 a pound. And now it’s a centre of a growing trade in dog skin. A lot of the skin we know is exported, particularly to Japan for musical instruments, China for the production of golf clubs. It sounds pretty gruesome, but we know the skin from male dog testicles is extremely flexible, has a tacky consistency and apparently makes the best golf clubs.
I want to help dogs. It’s deep down in my heart. I love them. I don’t know how to describe it. It’s a feeling.
These two police officers are a part of Thailand’s new efforts to stop a trade which has been tolerated for a long time. They are under pressure from the country’s pet owners and other groups who think that the dog business is cruel.
We rely on tip-offs. Watchdog Thailand will coordinate with us.
Who is that…
The police, the police who just arrested dog smuggling truck for us and we can rescue eleven dogs today  now.
Some dogs aren’t so lucky. They usually end up here in a forest near Tha Rae.
The bones came from dogs that traders from Tha Rae brought from other provinces. They slaughtered the dogs to get the meat. Then they took off the skins started the tanning process.
Illegal tanneries have popped up to turn the dog skins into a leather which can be sold.
This is an old tannery which used to do that work. They would lay the dog skin like this. Then they would scrape the skin like this to get the fat out of the skin.
I lost him in the morning in May. Until now I still dream every night he come back home and now I’m very happy. In my dream I can touch him again.
Takolrat Chumyen thinks Hector was stolen by dog traders. Yod Doi is running a poster campaign giving money to people who report traders, butchers and skinners. Her phone sometimes rings in the middle of the night with a coded message.
Listen, listen, the words from the heaven.
That’s the code to say there’s been another successful operation.
And I just ask, how many? And really say some times two hundred, three hundred or two trucks and then after that I can sleep with a happy time.

jueves, 7 de mayo de 2015

My City Stockholm

See the world's greatest cities through the eyes of the BBC reporters who live there. Once a Viking heartland, today the Swedish capital is one of Europe's most sophisticated cities.

My City Stockholm - BBC WORLD NEWS from Russell Prior on Vimeo.

Medieval and modern, once Sweden's Viking heartland, today one of Europe's most sophisticated cities. Valkommen till Stockholm. Hi. I'm Dena, and this is my city. Built on 14 islands, connected by 57 bridges, Stockholm is known for its long summer days and the never-ending icy winter nights.A building made of ice
I was born in Iran, but came here with my family in the '80s. Then you would only see fair-skinned blonds, but not anymore.Montage of faces of people of various nationalities
The central Stockholm market represents this shift in our make-up. The people here are as diverse as the fruits and flowers on sale.Text on screen - 'Mani Singh. Market trader.
My children were born in Sweden. They go to school here and learn Swedish, English and my mother tongue, Hindi. We are sitting here in Hotorget, where most of us working are immigrants, and are all able to support our families. I think Swedes can be proud that we live here.
For a capital, it's amazingly calm and peaceful. But it would be wrong to think this city doesn't have its challenges. It does. Violent crime, issues of corruption, tension around immigration - this is the darker side, one painted on the pages of crime novels.Arne Dahl reads from his book
'In a doorway appeared a tall, sinewy old man wrapped in a strange lavender-coloured cloak. If he hadn't studied up on the nature of these organisations, he probably would have tried to twist the man's arm out of its socket. "How do you do?" said the man.'
This is fiction, but much of the subject matter is very real.
I am David Clofwenhielm, Guardian of the Order of Mimir. It may look very pretty from the outside, but on the inside it's pretty much as ugly as the rest of Europe. It's not a paradise, it's a lost paradise. Swedish crime is getting more and more to the surface. It used to be hidden away, tucked away.A railway station
Stockholm always has a way of surprising you. This is the world's longest art exhibition - 110km of it.A cavernous room with a rainbow painted across the wall and ceiling
It certainly brightens up the daily commute.More visuals of Stockholm
If it's not the metro, then it's the buildings... the parks, the people. Stockholm is all about looking the part. Like so many aspects of our life, we take a practical approach to what we wear.Inside a clothing store
There are countless designers, setting trends across the globe - young, fresh, sporty, chic.
It's a part of the lifestyle here to... to look good and to dress nice. And it's really fresh, what people are wearing. It's really new and fresh, I think.Emeli creates prints for T-shirts
I get a lot of inspiration from here. And you can probably see that in the collection with the simple cuts and minimalistic designs.
Beauty is everywhere - on the streets... and the faces of the people. Each time I return, something else has changed. A city in motion, Stockholm is my city.

miércoles, 6 de mayo de 2015

Talking point: Technology

This week's talking point is technology. 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.
  • What kind of computer do you have?
  • Why did you choose that make? Are you happy with it?
  • Are you good with computers? What kind of things do you know how to do?
  • Is there anything you would still like to learn how to do?
  • What kind of problems have you had with your computer recently?
  • What do you usually do when you have computer problems?
  • Do you know anyone who works in IT? Do they enjoy it?
  • Do you think men tend to be better with technology than women? Why (not)?
  • What are the hot new pieces of technology at the moment? Have you bought any of them?
  • Is there any gadget or piece of technology that you could happily do without?
  • What's your take on the Mac vs PC debate?
  • Do you know any technophiles or technophobes? How do they typically behave?
To illustrate the point you can watch this Speakout video on the importance of technology for modern communication.

P: Hi. I have too many friends to stay in touch by phone, so I use a lot of social networking sites instead. Today I’m finding out how people feel about modern communication. How do you like to stay in touch with your friends?
S: The main way that I keep in contact with my friends is via email, um, and I also use mobile phone.
Sa: I like face-to-face contact best, so that’s always my preference, but otherwise I speak on the phone, write letters, send emails.
R: I think it’s really important to stay in touch with friends, so, I’ve got a really close group of friends that we have dinner once a month. We do a kind of ‘round robin’, you know, we each take turns to cook for each other. So, we do that regularly.
F: I keep in contact with my friends via email. G: Well, I used to use an awful lot of postcards and letters, but of course that’s now email.
J: Email, I still write letters, send text messages, and phone calls. Ja: My phone. My phone is my lifeline. Use it for everything. I hate computers.
P: Has modern technology helped us to communicate better? Sa: No. I think we think we can communicate better but I think it just masks our fear of communicating in an honest and open way.
S: We’re able to make contact with someone via mobile phone instantaneously.
R: It’s given us more options. I’m a bit of a technophobe though, erm, I don’t use social networking sites, I haven’t got on the whole, kind of, Twitter bandwagon: so I know that that’s there for me to use if I wanted to, but I tend not to bother.
G: In theory, it should be better, but in practice, sometimes you just have to speak to somebody on the phone.
J: It has, if it comes to just communication like remote communication, it has helped greatly. But on the flipside, I think it hasn’t because it’s reduced a lot of physical contact, face-to-face contact and I think that a lot of people still feel isolated even though we communicate a lot more than ever before.
Ja: No. I think it’s probably made it a lot worse as people don’t talk face-to-face as much and they just rely on ‘text speak’ and things and points don’t get put across as well if you’re not speaking face-to-face.
P: What kinds of problems can modern communication cause? F: I think modern communication can cause a lot of different problems. A common one would be to email the wrong person, I think. I’ve done that a few times myself.
Ja: Emails. I tend to, between my teachers: I always write the wrong things and don’t send the right work and send all the wrong stuff to all the wrong people and get all my contact lists wrong.
R: It’s so much easier to be misunderstood, you know, if you’re just writing an email, for example.
Sa: When I was working, I remember sending a really important email to the Chair of Governors at the school where I worked and I was typing quickly at the end and I was signing it my name, which is Sarah, and I typed Satan by mistake and sent it.