martes, 30 de junio de 2015

10 questions for Jody Williams

According to Wikipedia, Jody Williams (born 1950) is an American political activist known around the world for her work in banning anti-personnel landmines, her defense of human rights – especially those of women – and her efforts to promote new understandings of security in today’s world. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997 for her work toward the banning and clearing of anti-personnel mines.

Jody Williams was interviewed for Time 10 Questions for a couple of years ago.

Jody Williams is a Nobel Peace laureate. She's received numerous honorary degrees. She's a founding chair at the Nobel Women's Initiative and now she's a memoirist. And she's here today to talk about her life as an activist and her book I am Jody Williams. Jody, thanks for being here.
Thanks for having me.
So you received the Nobel Peace Prize and nineteen ninety-seven for your work on the land mines ban.
You've written a lot of stuff about land mines including a couple of seminal texts about it. Why are you writing a memoir now?
I believe that anybody in the world can make a difference. I think there's too much of uh... mythology that
if you want to change the world you have to be sainted, like you know, Mother Teresa or Nelson Mandela or archbishop Desmond Tutu. But the people I know who received the prize, including the archbishop
uh... they’re normal human beings, they just happen to have had, you know, passionate conviction about certain ways to make the world better for everybody and they followed them.
What was the tipping point for you that really made you become an activist?
Well, the first thing was uh... protesting the war in Vietnam. I was at university during, you know, the time the time of great social upheaval with Vietnam with um..., Martin Luther king and you know all of the great activists who were trying to stop racism in the United States. The reemergence of the women's movement and those were the things that marked my college years much more than the five different majors I tried to study as I was making my way through university. But then I kind of floundered for another decade until I was given a leaflet about El Salvador about US military intervention there in the
eighties. And i wouldn't have read it except it said El Salvador, another Vietnam?, with the question mark. And the fact that there was that juxtaposition made me read it and it changed my life forever.
When you were in El Salvador, you were sexually assaulted and you write about it in your memoir, you kinda sat for a while without telling anybody. How did it feel to get that story out there?
First of all, it was an assault by a member of the Salvadoran death squads. Death squads were a huge
part of the war in that country, but the purpose of the assault was to try to scare me into leaving the country, so that I would no longer represent my organization working with the poorer and, you know, supporting those who believed in democracy in the country, and it didn't work. You know the term dissociation, where you're able to dissociate your emotion? I do that very well and it comes from several experiences in my youth. My brother was born deaf and became a violent schizophrenic and adolescence. My response to that was too separate my feeling from what was happening. I'm still very good at it.
So you met your husband through your work ultimately.
Ultimately, I was forty-seven years old when I fell in love really, and that was with Stephen Douglas ....
Do you still work together closely?
Recently we have come together to take up the issue of killer robots. The US and other countries are starting to view the drone as like the model T of new technologies for warfare. OK, just think about the mentality of people sitting in a corporate headquarters outside of Washington DC or in some of our finest universities who are getting money from the Pentagon who are thinking of ways to create machines that on their own can kill human beings. We came to the conclusion that we needed to create a campaign to stop killer robots. And Human Rights Watch, the Nobel Women's Initiative I think seven other non-governmental organizations uh... are coming together to launch this campaign in London in April
What do you think about sort of social media activism and people who are using these platforms?
I think it's tool. Activism is not, you know, pushing a button to sign a petition online. I think they have their place but if that’s all that you do, that is not activism. Not at all. It takes people working together talking together, strategizing together to create overarching strategies for the long-term to create sustainable peace and that is not done by pushing a button on your computer.
Speaking of making a difference, you wanted to be the Pope when you were a little girl.
I liked this outfit. Awesome. You got to wear the thing around your outfit, the Pope hat, the whole thing. However, I married, I divorced, I’m heathenist, and I’m a girl.Bad combo.
I think that's a wonderful note to end on. Jody Williams thank you so much.
Thank you, it's been fun.

lunes, 29 de junio de 2015

Listening test: Animal conservation

You are going to hear some extracts about animal extinction and conservation. Match each of the extracts  1–6 with their corresponding heading A–I. There are two headings you don’t need to use. 0 is an example.

A- Individual efforts make a difference
B - Many also dying because of human activity
C - Miraculous recovery
D - No natural space for them to live
E - Raising awareness
F - The problem is getting worse – 0 Example
G - Too late for some of them
H - Unprepared for new challenges
I - Victims to illegal hunters

Many animal and plant species have become extinct and many more are in critical danger. Finding ways to protect the earth's wildlife and conserve the natural world they inhabit is now more important than ever.
Extract 0 – Example The problem is getting worse
Extinction is a natural process. Many species had ceased to exist before humans evolved. However, in the last 400 years, the number of animals and plants becoming extinct has reached crisis point. Human population levels have risen dramatically in the same time period and man's predatory instincts combined with his ruthless consumption of natural resources are directly responsible for the situation.
Extract 1 Unprepared for new challenges
The Dodo is a classic example of how human behavior can cause irreparable damage to the earth's biological diversity. The flightless Dodo was native to the Island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. It lived off fruit fallen from the island's trees and lived unthreatened until humans arrived in 1505. The docile bird became a source of food for sailors and lacked the ability to protect itself from animals introduced to the island by humans such as pigs, monkeys and rats. The population of Dodos rapidly decreased and the last one was killed in 1681.
Extract 2 Raising awareness
In 2002 many animals remain threatened with extinction as a result of human activity. The World Wildlife Fund works tirelessly to raise awareness of the predicament facing these animals and find ways to protect them. By focusing on a number of high profile, 'charismatic icons' such as the rhino, panda, whale and tiger, the WWF aims to communicate, 'critically important environmental issues'. The organization's ultimate goal is to, 'stop the degradation of the planet's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature'.
Extract 3 Victims to illegal hunters
The Rhino horn is a highly prized item for practitioners of Asian medicine. This has led to the animal being relentlessly hunted in its natural habitat. Once widespread in Africa and Eurasia, most rhinos now live in protected natural parks and reserves. Their numbers have rapidly decreased in the last 50 years, over half the remaining rhinos disappeared in the 1970s, and the animals remain under constant threat from poachers.
Extract 4 No natural space for them to live
The future of the WWF's symbol is far from certain. As few as 1,000 remain in the wild, living in small isolated groups. These groups have been cut off from each other as a result of deforestation and human expansion in to their natural habitat. The Chinese government has set up 33 panda reserves to protect these beautiful animals and made poaching them punishable with 20 years in prison. However, the panda's distinct black and white patched coat fetches a high price on the black market.
Extract 5 Many also dying because of human activity
The International Whaling Commission meets every year. The agenda covers ways to ensure the survival of the species and the complex problems arising from countries such as Japan, wishing to hunt certain whales for 'scientific' purposes. Despite the fact that one third of the world's oceans have been proclaimed whale sanctuaries, 7 out of 13 whale species remain endangered. The plight of the North Atlantic Right Whale is particularly serious. Hunted for their rich supply of oil, their numbers have dwindled to just 300. Collisions with ships, toxic pollution and becoming entangled in fishing nets are other major causes of whale deaths.
Extract 6 Too late for some of them
The last 100 years has seen a 95% reduction in the numbers of remaining tigers to between 5,000 and 7,000 and The Bali, Javan, and Caspian tigers are already extinct. The South China tiger is precariously close to disappearing, with only 20 to 30 still alive. Like the Rhino horn, tiger bones and organs are sought after for traditional Chinese medicines. These items are traded illegally along with tiger skins.

A- Individual efforts make a difference
B - Many also dying because of human activity – extract 5
C - Miraculous recovery
D - No natural space for them to live – extract 4
E - Raising awareness – extract 2
F - The problem is getting worse – 0 Example
G - Too late for some of them – extract 6
H - Unprepared for new challenges – extract 1
I - Victims to illegal hunters – extract 3

domingo, 28 de junio de 2015

Extensive listening: Rethinking infidelity

Rethinking infidelity ... a talk for anyone who has ever loved is a TED talk by relationship therapist Esther Perel and presented at official TED conference held in Vancouver in March 2015.

For most people, infidelity is the ultimate betrayal. But does it have to be? Ms Perel examines why people cheat, and unpacks why affairs are so traumatic: because they threaten our emotional security. In infidelity, she sees something unexpected — an expression of longing and loss.

Rethinking infidelity ... a talk for anyone who has ever loved is a must-watch for anyone who has ever cheated or been cheated on, or who simply wants a new framework for understanding relationships.

You can read a full transcript for the talk here.

sábado, 27 de junio de 2015

Elemental English

Elemental English is a site created by Larissa Majlessi to help English learners with their pronunciation, grammar and vocabulary.

Elemental English also includes videos, podcasts and a how-to section  giving advice on ways to improve communication skills.

H/T to The English Blog.

viernes, 26 de junio de 2015

Why is English Spelling So Weird

A few days ago Larry Ferlazzo posted this Arika Okrent video on English spelling.

You can also find out more about English spelling by reading David Crystal's article on The Guardian.

It starts back around the year 600 A.D. when Christian missionaries arrived in England with their Roman alphabet. They found the Anglo-Saxons, who spoke a Germanic language, with different kinds of sounds like "th" and "x" that Latin didn't have. So scribes came up with their own ways to write them. Over a long time everyone finally settled on "gh" for the "x". But there's no "x" in thought… anymore!
The pronunciation changed. Over hundreds of years "x" turned to "f", in words like cough and enough or disappeared entirely in words like though or thought. As those changes were getting underway, the printing press was invented and that was great for the spread of written English, but unfortunately it was also great for the spread of the spellings that printers had decided on before the pronunciation changes already in progress were complete.
Other pronunciation changes that happened over this time period were the loss of certain sounds at the beginning of words, and an almost complete overhaul of the entire vowel system of English known as the great vowel shift.
As if that wasn't complicated enough, the French-speaking Normans had taken over in 1066, and French was the language of educated culture, courts and universities in England for a few hundred years. Those years left their mark on English vocabulary and spelling. So for the most part, the answer to "why do we spell it that way" is either "because we used to pronounce it that way" or "because that's how they did it in French."  But sometimes we can't blame either of those things.
In the late 1500s, English spelling had stabilized well enough, but some renaissance scholars who were all fired up about classical Latin and Greek decided not to leave well enough alone. They thought the glory of the ancient world should be better reflected in the current one. They decided words like receipt, salmon, indict, and debt, needed to put their Latin roots on better display, so they purposely added letters that no one had ever pronounced in English. They also found ways to connect words to their Greek roots and give them a fancier, classical look to replace homelier, but more sensible spellings.
And sometimes the classical craze went a little too far. The word island, for example, came from an Old English word iglund. It didn't come from Latin at all. And people were happily pronouncing it and writing it as iland until someone picked up an "s" from the Latin insula and stuck it where it was never meant to be.
Finally, we have a whole bunch of words that we simply borrowed from other languages as is, including another later wave of French words that we left in their original spellings. English loves to borrow from everywhere. Sometimes we borrow from languages that bring their own silent letters and spelling issues, and they then become our spelling issues too. And sometimes, we borrow the same word from two different places.
That's what happened with colonel. We borrowed it from French, along with a lot of other military vocabulary, in the 1500s. Back then they said it and spelled it as coronel. Later English scholars stared translating old Italian military treatises, where it was colonello. Time goes by, and wouldn't you know it, people are spelling it the Italian way and pronouncing it the French way. Meanwhile, the French switched over to colonel in spelling AND pronunciation. How boring is that?
So there's a lot of blame to go around for the spelling situation we find ourselves in. You might not find any comfort in that the next time English sneaks up on you with another crazy spelling prank, but try not to get too mad at English. It's not an arbitrary meanie. It’s just a victim of a complicated history.

jueves, 25 de junio de 2015

Glenn Close’s Characters

Almost one year ago Glenn Close was returning to Broadway for the first time in nearly 20 years to star in Edward Albee’s A Delicate Balance. In this New York Times video she talks about what has drawn her to various roles in theatre and film throughout her career.

I’ve always been kind of amused by the term character actors. Cause one hopes that every actor plays a character, right? Otherwise you’re just being yourself, so I think I play all kinds of different characters, so I guess that’s the kind of actress I am.
In the 1980’s Glenn Close went from being a rising star on Broadway to one of the biggest superstars in Hollywood.
I’ll be discreet.
Three Emmys, two Golden Globes and six Oscar nominations later the actress is coming back to Broadway for the first time in twenty years. This fall Ms Close will lead a high-power cast in the play A Delicate Balance, Edward Albee’s dark comedy about the fears that live within an upper-middle class home.
Having not been in theatre or in Broadway for twenty years, I really felt the need to come back, just to get back to the basics of my craft. I’ve always felt that doing movies is like one long rehearsal because you have as many takes as you and the director think are necessary in order to capture a certain moment.
In theatre you hope to get a seamless performance from the beginning to the end that leaves the audience with something, and I think theatre and the training I got in theatre has really deeply informed my movie roles.
I’m ready for my close-up.
I always try to stretch myself, that’s one of the reasons why I get attracted to certain roles. Right after Norma Desmond I did Cruela, so, you know, it’s pretty different. You could say they are both strong delusional women.
Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?
There’s something very moving about characters who have that belief along with a lack of self-pity. They’re very compelling.
A virtuoso of deceit
At this point in my career you hope the people think of you, and can think of you in different challenges, roles that you would find interesting.
Like any actor or actress says they have control of their career, it’s a, um delusional. It’s a difficult profession.
I started later. Base on impact, I use to think looks have an impact. I don’t think I’ve ever been kind of… er, what do you call, model type, which would’ve been great I suppose. Oh, forget that.

miércoles, 24 de junio de 2015

Talking point: Places

This week's talking point is the places where we live and the quality of life there. 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 has your town or city changed in your lifetime? Talk about immigration, public projects, new housing developments, shopping areas, means of transport, cleanliness, crime, traffic.
  • What do you like about the city or town where you live?
  • What would you change?
  • How would you describe the people who live in your area?
  • What kind of facilities do you have in your area?
  • Do you think your area has improved or gone downhill?
  • What do you think is the best place to live in your country?
If you had to move to another city or country, which factors would be the most important to you? Rank them in order of importance (1 very important - 7 the least important)
-Not having to travel too far to you place of work/study
-Being near parks or green spaces
-Lively cultural life and entertainment
-Good public services: education, leisure, sport facilities, public transport, cycle lanes
-Nice or cheap housing
-Feeling safe: a low crime rate
-No pollution and no heavy traffic

To illustrate the point, you can watch the Speakout video Society, where people talk about the place where they live.

I've always enjoyed living in cities. I like the mix of people and all the different things that you can do. Not everyone feels like me, though. Some people prefer the peace and quiet of the country. How about you? Do you enjoy city life?
No, absolutely hate London. Much prefer the country.
Yes, I love city life. I mean, London’s such a vibrant, active city. There's always lots of things to do.
Where I live is very, very central and it's inner city. So it's what I'm used to and I enjoy that I can get everywhere really easily.
I enjoy it. It’s a - it suits me. I think it suits my personality.
I really enjoy living in London. It's a great place to be. There’s lots of people around, lots of things happening. Where I live, there’s lots of art shows, and photographers.
I do like city life. I think London especially is very vibrant, and there’s always something going on.
What are the good things about living in a city?
London is such a large city. You know, you can never tire of it, really.
I think there's always something to do. Always something to go and see. And there are lots of events and culture, and you can never be bored.
Obviously culture. I live right next door to the Globe Theatre, the Tate Modern so … theatre is terrific. Huge choice of restaurants, of course.
The good things about living in the city is, the tube, which is really amazing. It's cheap and it's really frequent.
I think transport is one of the best things. The fact that you can live, probably miles away from your friends - and you can all sort of, get to the same place fairly easily, and fairly quickly.
You're so central. Everywhere’s close at hand, there's always lots of people around so you feel quite safe.
What are the main problems in cities?
Traffic is horribly congested.
Sometimes it can be difficult to get round the city quickly, and that can be frustrating.
I think there's always very much of a go-go attitude- that you have to be on the go the whole time. And there isn’t the time just to chill out or take time out. And if you're not doing something, you're missing out.
The main problems I'd say, are probably crime, and just not feeling safe.
I think the crime. I think that the crime’s a huge problem in city life.
I think that we should be trying to encourage more sort of green transport so, cycling, and encouraging people to walk, and use their cars less.
I think there’s not much that you really can do about crime. Because I think it's a social issue. So if people are - you have to, kind of, address why people are committing crimes before you can do anything about it.
I think a city’s a city. You either want to live in a city or you want to live in the countryside, or by the sea. And I think it’s your choice.

martes, 23 de junio de 2015

10 Questions with Gene Baur

While some may say Farm Sanctuary Co-Founder Gene Baur doesn’t do enough for Farm Sanctuary, many  think he’s someone who’s drawing attention to what  humans choose to eat. Through his organization he’s working to save the lives of so many animals, while educating people about compassion, love and health.

10 Questions with Gene Baur from Pablo Arroyo Ruiz on Vimeo.

Hi I’m Belinda Luscombre from Time Gene Baur is an animal activist and athlete and a one thousand percent vegan and he's here to talk with us today. Mister Baur, thank you for coming.
It's great to be here.
So your organization Farm Sanctuary, is it a farm in the sense that it produces anything?
It's a farm in the sense that it is barns and pastures and fields. We grow hay for the animals but it's primarily a sanctuary, a place where the animals get to live out their lives, they’re never exploited like animals are on most farms.
So it's like a retirement home for animals, sort of for animals?
I would call it… well it's a refuge its kind ever retirement but most farm animals who are raised and slaughtered in the US are killed when they're just a few weeks or a few months old, so it’s retirement in the sense that they retire being retired and removed from the industrial food system but they're usually pretty young animals when they first come to us.
You have explained pretty well the problem with factory farming, it’s inhumane, the animals are treated really badly. The upside of factory farming, of course, is that the food is cheap and we have 46 million people living in poverty in the United States. What do you say to the argument that we want those people to be able to afford food?
Just because a hamburger is cheap at the fast-food restaurant doesn't mean that they're much greater costs associated with it such as health, such as environmental destruction, and also the fact that taxpayers subsidize this cheap factory farming food. So the factory farming system is actually quite costly when you look at all the various consequences of it.
I think we can safely say if you'll forgive me that most people prefer to eat meat.
Well I think most people have the habit of eating meat but they don't really think about where it comes from. We have habits like people might like to smoke or do a lot other things that aren’t necessarily the healthiest.
Alright so most people are in the habit of eating meat and are disinclined to change, would you still considered a victory if they, if the meat that they ate was humanely raised until its death.
I think that any step away from the factory farming industry and towards treating animals with more respect is a positive step, but I would also say that a lot of the meat that is now being marketed as humane isn't really coming from animals are treated very well, and at the end of the day we need to examine whether the terms humane and slaughter fit well together. You know, slaughter is an inherently violent bloody act and it is something that is bad for the animals and I would also say that it's bad for the people engaged in it, you know. Can you imagine what, what it would be like to have a job where for eight hours a day all you’re doing is cutting throats of animals. I mean, it's a violent bloody business and it's not something that I would wish to do, and I don't think most people would wish to do it, and it's something that we don't have to do. That's the good news, we can live by eating plans without killing any animals.
Where do you think it’s the next frontal battleground for animal rights?
In the marketplace we are now seeing food companies and entrepreneurs that are developing alternatives to our animal-based food system. There is a company called Beyond Meat, for example, that's developing alternatives to meat. And the New York Times food critic Mark Bittman did a taste test between Beyond Meat and chicken he couldn't tell the difference. There are now entrepreneurs who are developing products that can compete head to head with animal foods and when they will be cheaper to produce they will be healthier and they will not come with the guilt associated with killing animals.
Don’t animals eat other animals?
Yes, carnivores eat other animals…
Aren’t we, I think, can’t have the carnivore teeth?
We have very little carnivore teeth. If you look at our bodies we have primarily teeth for grinding, we don't have claws for tearing into flesh. If we were natural carnivores, and we saw an animal who is bleeding or dead, we would tend to salivate, which a carnivore will do, but we don't tend to do that. I think naturally we’re best suited to eat more plant foods. Now it is true that humans have, over the course of our history, eaten animal foods to survive and I think we're omnivores, we are capable of doing that but we don't have to do that.
So in your mind it's just impossible to have an ethical egg?
I think it may be possible to have an ethical egg as long as the chicken is a part of the family and not just seen as a production unit, and so if somebody has a hen and they allow that hen to live out her life and if that hen gets sick they provide veterinary care, if that hen is treated like a cat or a dog, for instance, and if the hen is laying eggs, I don't see that as being a big ethical problem. At Farm Sanctuary we do not eat the eggs because we don't want to set an example.
No eggs, no dairy, no meat, no honey, what is your guilty pleasure food? What do you eat when you're super-depressed?
Well I try not to get depressed and then when I, when I don't feel great, I think eating healthy food actually helps get you out of a bad situation but like a lot of people I have a weakness for sugar, I really like sweets, but I try to eat well and I try to eat greens, I tried eat whole foods  they I try to…
Everybody tries to do that, and I'm saying, you know, so it's a sugar thing. So you’ll eat what can you have? Boiled lollies?
Well, well um like almond milk is oftentimes very sweet so I like almond milk with chocolate chip cookies, that would be one of my guilty pleasures, which I really quite enjoy after a long day, you know, sort of late at night, you know, milky…
Milk and cookies. Is wine allowed?
Wine is allowed yes.
And I do occasionally…
And beer?
And beer is allowed. Yes I enjoy both those.
And pretty much your hard liquors, right, ‘cause it all grain.
Oh, yeah, yeah.
Mr Baur, thanks very much.
Thank you.

lunes, 22 de junio de 2015

Listening test: Career planning

Listen to part of a radio programme about career prospects for first-time university students and complete the blanks in the sentences with up to three words. 0 is an example.

0 Many students have no idea what they want to do for their career.

1 Robert Shewchuk has written a guide for young people and their parents called ___________________ .

2 Robert Shewchuk went through the same experience as many young people today at the age of _____________________ .

3 The councellor Robert asked for advice about the careers available for him couldn’t __________________ , so he decided to do that himself.

4 The first thing parents have to consider is what their kids are like and ________________________.

5    Parents have to look at their children’s interests, motivation and ___________________________ and try not to impose their ideas on their children.

6 According to the reporter, some parents think of a dream career for their children, but there might be ___________________________ in the workforce for it.

7 In Robert’s opinion, the old idea of workers going through one career, one job for _________________ is something of the past.

Hi I'm Marcy Markusa with CBC.  Thousands of students head to university for the first time every fall but many don’t have any idea what they want to do (0) for their career.  Their parents often worry about spending money on a university education their son or daughter may never use.  Robert Shewchuk helps people sort out what kind of training they need for the careers available in today’s economy and what kinds of careers best match their interests and skill set.  He’s recently written a book called (1) Careers for Kids, a guide for young people and their parents.  We spoke with him on the morning show.
Good morning to you.
Good morning Marcy. Thank you.
So how did you get into writing this in the first place?  I understand it came from a question that you had when you were (2) seventeen, right?
Well the original, ya actually, it was about twenty years ago today to be honest, ah I was thinking about going to University of Winnipeg and ah I asked the counsellor at the time, y’know, how do I figure out what kind of careers are out there and I was lookin’ at all the buildings and the person couldn’t (3) answer the question.  So I thought y’know what, there’s gotta be somebody out there that can do that and I found out there wasn’t too many things goin’ on for that, so I decided to get into the career myself.
How do you help parents help their kids figure out what they want to do without crossing the line of telling them what they should be if maybe the student or young person doesn’t want to do that.
Well to be honest, the first thing that you should do is to consider, you know, what your kids are like and (4) who they are. When you’re looking at a career planning service/scenario, you have to start looking at yourself first, so the first thing that parents have to do is say, okay, let’s figure out what my kids are actually all about.   What kind of interests do they have?  What kind of motivations do they have?  What are their talents, their (5) specific individual talents? So if you decide to say you should do what I do, it may not match your skills and talents that they have.  So the first thing you wanna do is say to the parents, y’know, don’t ah, don’t ah don’t tell them what to do.
Don’t impose what you might think.
Okay.  How important is it for parents to live in the reality of today’s workforce?  Because they may have a dream or think that their child is going to be a wonderful “pick a career here” and there’s (6) no jobs in the workforce for it.
Well that’s a huge problem, one of the reasons I wrote the book.  I mean we are talking about a fourteen percent unemployment rate for youth between the ages of sixteen and twenty-four, under-employment is actually quite worse than that, when you look at that, it’s twenty percent plus, so you’re right.  To be honest, most people nowadays, including myself, and maybe even yourself, that idea of going through one career, one job for (7) forty years is gone. Most people are going to be expected to probably go through two or three or even four completely different careers in their lifetime

domingo, 21 de junio de 2015

Extensive listening: Death in the Mediterranean

Death in the Mediterranean is a CBS 60 Minutes segment where Clarissa Ward reports on the desperation of migrants which fuels the largest mass migration since WWII in which thousands have died trying to reach Europe by sea. Ward interviews IOM Italy Chief of Mission Federico Soda on this issue.

You can read a full transcript here.

sábado, 20 de junio de 2015

Reading test: Learning a language, 10 things you need to know

For this week's reading test we are going to use The Guardian article Learning a language -10 things you need to know, which we will use to practise the heading matching kind of task.

Read the article and match headings A-L with their corresponding paragraph 1-9. 0 is an example. There are two headings you do not need to use.

Learning a language -10 things you need to know
Thinking about learning a foreign language? Our multilingual experts share their tips.

0. Example J
You have decided to learn another language. Now what? On our recent live chat our panellists first piece of advice was to ask yourself: what do you want to achieve and by when? Donavan Whyte, vice president of enterprise and education at Rosetta Stone, says: “Language learning is best when broken down into manageable goals that are achievable over a few months. This is far more motivating and realistic.” You might be feeling wildly optimistic when you start but aiming to be fluent is not necessarily the best idea. Phil McGowan, director at Verbmaps, recommends making these goals tangible and specific: “Why not set yourself a target of being able to read a newspaper article in the target language without having to look up any words in the dictionary?”
It might sound obvious, but recognising exactly why you want to learn a language is really important. Alex Rawlings, a language teacher now learning his 13th language, says: “Motivation is usually the first thing to go, especially among students who are teaching themselves.” To keep the momentum going he suggests writing down 10 reasons you are learning a language and sticking it to the front of the file you are using: “I turn to these in times of self-doubt.”
Often the discussion around how to learn a language slides into a debate about so-called traditional v tech approaches. For Aaron Ralby, director of Linguisticator, this debate misses the point: “The question is not so much about online v offline or app v book. Rather it should be how can we assemble the necessary elements of language for a particular objective, present them in a user-friendly way, and provide a means for students to understand those elements.” When signing up to a particular method or approach, think about the substance behind the style or technology. “Ultimately,” he says, “the learning takes place inside you rather that outside, regardless of whether it’s a computer or book or a teacher in front of you.”
For many of our panellists, reading was not only great for making progress, but one of the most rewarding aspects of the learning experience. Alex Rawlings explains that reading for pleasure “exposes you to all sorts of vocabulary that you won’t find in day-to-day life, and normalises otherwise baffling and complicated grammatical structures. The first book you ever finish in a foreign language is a monumental achievement that you’ll remember for a long time.”
Memorising lists of vocabulary can be challenging, not to mention potentially dull. Ed Cooke, co-founder and chief executive of Memrise, believes that association is key to retaining new words: “A great way to build vocabulary is to make sure the lists you’re learning come from situations or texts that you have experienced yourself, so that the content is always relevant and connects to background experience.”
You are a monolingual adult: have you missed the language boat? Ralby argues “a key language myth is that it’s harder as an adult”. Adults and children may learn in different ways but that shouldn’t deter you from committing to learning another language. “Languages are simultaneously organic and systematic. As children we learn languages organically and instinctively; as adults we can learn them systematically.” If you’re still not convinced of your chances, Ralby suggests drawing inspiration from early philologists and founders of linguistics who “learned dozens of languages to encyclopaedic levels as adults”.
Speaking your first language may be second nature, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you understand it well. Kerstin Hammes, editor of the Fluent Language Blog, believes you can’t make good progress in a second language until you understand your own. “I think understanding your native language and just generally how language works is so essential before you launch yourself at a bunch of foreign phrases.”
Different approaches may be necessary at different stages of the learning process. Once you have reached a certain level of proficiency and can say quite a bit, fairly accurately, Rebecca Braun, senior lecturer in German studies at Lancaster University, says it is typical to feel a slowing down in progress. “Translation,” she says, “is such an important exercise for helping you get over a certain plateau that you will reach as a language learner ... Translation exercises don’t allow you to paraphrase and force the learner on to the next level.”.
Many of the panellists were cautious of the F-word. Hammes argues not only is it difficult to define what fluency is, but “as a goal it is so much bigger than it deserves to be. Language learning never stops because it’s culture learning, personal growth and endless improvement. I believe that this is where learners go wrong”.
It may not be an option for everyone but Braun reminds us that “if you are serious about learning the language and getting direct pleasure from what you have learned, you need to go to where that language is spoken”. Travel and living abroad can complement learning in the classroom: “The books and verb charts may be the easiest way to ensure you expose yourself to the language at home, but the people and the culture will far outclass them once you get to the country where your language is spoken.”

A - Be prepared to go back in progress
B - Find opportunities to practise the language
C- Focus on exactly what you want to learn 
D - Ignore stereotypes 
E - It’s not only about the second language
F - Never ending process
G - Read as a hobby
H - Relate what your study to your own experience
I - Remind yourself of what is driving you to learn English
J - Set realistic, specific objectives  Example 0
K - Set up study groups to develop fluency
L - What to do when you hit a wall in your progress

Photo: Holger Burmeister / Alamy in The Guardian

A - Be prepared to go back in progress
B - Find opportunities to practise the language – 9
C- Focus on exactly what you want to learn – 2
D - Ignore stereotypes – 5
E - It’s not only about the second language – 6
F - Never ending process – 8
G - Read as a hobby – 3
H - Relate what your study to your own experience – 4
I - Remind yourself of what is driving you to learn English - 1
J - Set realistic, specific objectives – 0 Example
K - Set up study groups to develop fluency
L - What to do when you hit a wall in your progress – 7

viernes, 19 de junio de 2015

Love from tragedy

Colin Goddard, a survivor of the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre, met his fiance, Gabriella Hoehn-Saric, while they were both working at The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

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

1 When did Gabriella first hear about Colin?
2 What did Colin have?
3 What does Colin say about his aunt?
4 What do both families share?
5 What has Gabriella's role been in her relationship with Colin?

Well, I was an intern at the Brady campaign after I graduated from college.
I’d heard about him because (1) they all talked about he was leaving for the surgery and I was so nervous to meet him because I knew what had happened, and I didn’t know what to expect.
That’s right. And you started when I had to take a week off work because I should take a bullet out of my side.
(2) Oh yeah the cane, you had a cane.
My name is Colin Goddard. I was one of the few survivors from the Virginia Tech shooting two years ago. As a result of my experience, I learnt a great deal about myself, my community and my country, and I learnt a lot about a situation in society that links many of us.
I started working at the Brady campaign because my family had been involved for twenty years. (3) My aunt was killed when I was really young and it was a cause that was passionate to them, so it became a passion of mine when I was in college and I thought, you know, I’m finished college, I’m gonna do Teach for America in a year, what can I do in between, so I started to work there.
It was a strange connection that we had, that (4) our families had both been through such tragedies, and it was something we were both passionate about so I think that definitely was a strong basis for our relationship.
Yeah. I mean, we just, you know, as we started to know each other and to understand we had very similar histories in our family, you know, had dealt with difficult times like that. I think that immediately kind of made us have a connection, you know, that I… we didn’t really have with anybody else there, and that was just as living for 32 was finishing production and editing, starting editing and then back to get rolled out and start to public kind of tour across the country, and so one of Gaby’s, you know, jobs and roles was to help organise a bunch of screenings around the country and it was at the screening events where, you know, Gaby would help set up everything to make sure all the stuff was there, to make sure, you know, the right number of people were there and make sure, you know, all the ducks a row…
And to calm you down before you spoke…
Yeah, yeah, all that, all those little things, right and having so many of those, you know, bad experiences, you know…
Yeah we travelled a lot.
… in a short time frame, you know, I had a lot of time to hang out and get to know one another, and yeah, it was certainly, I think, when we really started to fall for one another, spending so much time with the film.
Yeah. (5) I think a lot of the time my role has been getting his mind off of what he’s doing, I mean, it’s a really heavy topic and he’s about to go talk the worst day of his life to a bunch of strangers and, you know, now he is less nervous, but it was the beginning and he would pace up and down the hallway and I would just be like, you know, you’re doing an amazing thing, they’re really happy to hear you speak, this is really important. What did you do for dinner tonight? Where do you wanna go? What’s your favourite team? Like trying to get his mind off things so he wasn’t completely freaking out of the gravity.
When there are… the horrible events when another man shooting happens on television, you know everyone wants to, you know, comment, and wants to talk about this in the media and, you know, you’re, you’re in the studios all day, you know, talking about something so horrible, I guess, she pulls me, she pulls me back to earth…
Yeah! He goes on the news and then he has to come help me clean up.
…tears through all this sadness. We are the Hokies. We will prevail, we will…
I met the man I’m going to marry. It happened out of so many terrible things. If those things had never happened, we might not have met. I think that, you know, sometimes weighs heavily on me but then I think it makes us really appreciate what we do have and how we did find each other, what a great relationship we have out of all it, in spite of everything.
That’s good.

jueves, 18 de junio de 2015

How languages evolve

Over the course of human history, thousands of languages have developed from what was once a much smaller number. How did we end up with so many? And how do we keep track of them all? In this Ed Ted lesson, Alex Gendler explains how linguists group languages into language families, demonstrating how these linguistic trees give us crucial insights into the past.

You can do some comprehension questions, explore additional resources and get some ideas to discuss the topic by visiting the lesson on Ted-Ed.

In the biblical story of the Tower of Babel, all of humanity once spoke a single language until they suddenly split into many groups unable to understand each other. We don't really know if such an original language ever existed, but we do know that the thousands of languages existing today can be traced back to a much smaller number. So how did we end up with so many?
In the early days of human migration, the world was much less populated. Groups of people that shared a single language and culture often split into smaller tribes, going separate ways in search of fresh game and fertile land. As they migrated and settled in new places, they became isolated from one another and developed in different ways. Centuries of living in different conditions, eating different food and encountering different neighbors turned similar dialects with varied pronunciation and vocabulary into radically different languages, continuing to divide as populations grew and spread out further.
Like genealogists, modern linguists try to map this process by tracing multiple languages back as far as they can to their common ancestor, or protolanguage. A group of all languages related in this way is called a language family, which can contain many branches and sub-families. So how do we determine whether languages are related in the first place?
Similar sounding words don't tell us much. They could be false cognates or just directly borrowed terms rather than derived from a common root. Grammar and syntax are a more reliable guide, as well as basic vocabulary, such as pronouns, numbers or kinship terms, that's less likely to be borrowed.
By systematically comparing these features and looking for regular patterns of sound changes and correspondences between languages, linguists can determine relationships, trace specific steps in their evolution and even reconstruct earlier languages with no written records.
Linguistics can even reveal other important historical clues, such as determining the geographic origins and lifestyles of ancient peoples based on which of their words were native, and which were borrowed.
There are two main problems linguists face when constructing these language family trees. One is that there is no clear way of deciding where the branches at the bottom should end, that is, which dialects should be considered separate languages or vice versa. Chinese is classified as a single language, but its dialects vary to the point of being mutually unintelligible, while speakers of Spanish and Portuguese can often understand each other. Languages actually spoken by living people do not exist in neatly divided categories, but tend to transition gradually, crossing borders and classifications. Often the difference between languages and dialects is a matter of changing political and national considerations, rather than any linguistic features. This is why the answer to, "How many languages are there?" can be anywhere between 3,000 and 8,000, depending on who's counting.
The other problem is that the farther we move back in time towards the top of the tree, the less evidence we have about the languages there. The current division of major language families represents the limit at which relationships can be established with reasonable certainty, meaning that languages of different families are presumed not to be related on any level. But this may change.
While many proposals for higher level relationships, or super families, are speculative, some have been widely accepted and others are being considered, especially for native languages with small speaker populations that have not been extensively studied. We may never be able to determine how language came about, or whether all human languages did in fact have a common ancestor scattered through the babel of migration. But the next time you hear a foreign language, pay attention. It may not be as foreign as you think.

miércoles, 17 de junio de 2015

Talking point: Relationships

This week's talking point is about relationships. 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.
  • Who are the closest people in your life?
  • Why do you get on with them?
  • Is your family spread out or do you live close to each other? Give details.
  • Who would you lean on for help if you had a problem?
  • How did you meet your best friend or your partner?
  • Do you think there’s a perfect partner for everyone?
  • How can a person find there perfect partner?
  • Do you think arranged marriages can be as happy as love marriages? Give reasons.
  • Why do you think so many marriages fail these days?
  • To what extent do you think that marriage is a big decision?
To illustrate the point, you can watch the beginning of the Friends episode Speed dating. Click on this link to watch the clip on YouTube.

For Miranda, the only thing worse than being Charlotte's 34-year-old bridesmaid was being a 34-year-old bridesmaid without a date. With the wedding less than a week away, Miranda fell prey to the siren song of a New York singles event: Multi-dating. $20 bought you seven mini-dates, each eight minutes long which incidentally is about as long as most blind dates should be.
- Hi. I'm Miranda Hobbes.
- Dwight Owens. Private wealth group at Morgan Stanley Investment Management for high net-worth individuals and a couple of pension plans. Like my job, been there five years, divorced, no kids, not religious. I live in New Jersey, speak French and Portuguese, work in Business School. Any of this appealing to you?
- Sure. Portuguese, that's impressive.
- Obrigado. What about you, Mandy?
- Miranda. I'm a lawyer at a mid-sized firm. Actually, I was recently made partner.
- I'm a lawyer.
- I'm a lawyer. I went to Harvard Law School.
- I'm a stewardess.
- Really?

martes, 16 de junio de 2015

10 Questions For Suze Orman

Financial adviser and TV personality Suze Orman talks about her new debit card, the banklng crisis and why a bad relationship is so expensive in this Time Magazine interviewed aired a couple of years ago.

I am Belinda Luscombe an editor at large at Time Magazine. Sur Orman is one of America's most influential, most well-respected, most successful and definitely most fun financial advisors and she's here to answer 10 questions with Time Magazine today.
Miss Orman, welcome.
Thank you.
So does the world really need another credit card?
No, the world does not need another credit card. What the world needs is a another vehicle, whether it's a prepaid debit card or debit card to get people to pay in cash. People have got to learn if they don't have cookies in the cookie jar they can't eat a cookie.
So yours is different. Yours is a debit card you gotta put money in in order to buy anything.
But mine isn't just any other prepaid debit card. In my opinion, what happened two years ago is that these prepaid debit cards came out, many of them with fees from anywhere from thirteen dollars to fifty dollars a month, which is what the consumer is paying. I came out with the card which absolutely levels the playing field. I think people should have a card that is better than cash. I think people should have a card that gives them things for free, such as identity theft protection rather than paid forty dollars a month for certain things they should get for free. I think this system has got to change.  This is an Occupy credit card. This is it occupied debit card, a debit card that serves as a bank that you can't put in your pocket. There is a three dollar-a-month charge that’s all it will cost you if you use it like I tell you to. But once we start making money, and I hope we make money, the three dollars will go away.
One of the reasons that I was excited about interviewing you is that you actually tell people how much are worth…
…so how much are you worth?
It fluctuates daily but we're worth about $25 million dollars, so coming from a strong thousandaire over here to a millionaire do you not feel that there's some discrepancy in your ability to give financial advice to people when you are so liquid and wealthy yourself and the people you're speaking to, you know, they don't have jobs, they're really in, in dire financial straits, how can you really understand what they're going through?
For seven years I was a waitress, making four hundred dollars a month. Here's a girl who even after she made money, had one of her employees rip her off, then had to 250,000 dollars in credit card debt and realized that I had less money than the waitress that was waiting on me in a Denny's. Don't think that I don't remember what it's like not to have a pot to pee in.
Who, in your opinion, is more to blame for the current crisis that we find ourselves in? Is it consumers or is it the banks?
The banks. Hands down. I know everybody likes to blame the consumers for they should have known what they were doing. They did this, they…
Are you kidding me?
They didn't understand liar loans. If the banks, the mortgage companies, Wall Street, you name it, weren't so concerned with their bottom line profits, they never, ever, ever would have given loans too half these people who bought homes they couldn’t afford it.
A lot of financial advisers would say, or a lot of guys on the street would say that your ideas for investment are way too risk-averse for people to make any money. How would you respond to that?
I would say when things are going bad, and you don't know what's going to happen in the world, aren’t you better to be safe than to be sorry? So, yeah, I was risk-averse.
You’ve got your new show on Oprah's network, your book is a massive bestseller. You’re now legitimately probably one of the most famous people in America and therefore you have to take the downside of Fame which is that people parody you on Saturday Night Live.
Oh my god!  Today I have to tell your that no matter where I go women always seen to ask me the same thing, it doesn't matter if I'm in the Oprah show or out on the street walking my cat. They ask me, Susie where do you get your jacquets?
Of all my honors, even of being the one most 100 influential people on the Time list, one of the 100 most powerful women in the world according to Forbes, one of the things that really is the greatest honor is being parodied on Saturday Night Live, ‘cause then you know you've made it mainstream. I love that they do it.
We have more people living in on unmarried households than we have people living in married households. Now for the first time in decades and according to census figures that just recently came out, does the advice vary for those different sets of people? Does the financial advice vary?
I've always found that the people calling into the Suzy Orman show that are in the most financial trouble are people who are in a relationship that isn't a good relationship. You know, I have a saying which is fico first then sex.
And I mean that saying. You should know each other’s fico scores before you go to the next step of being serious with one another.
That's great kind. Can I ask just finally, I know you've given so much time but what's the weirdest piece of advice you've been asked for, like what, what is some of the weirdest questions where people…
Can I afford six thousand dollars for us sundeck for my pet iguana? Can I afford a hundred thousand dollars to be able to clone my dog?
These are not hard questions to answer. They are, but guess what? I looked at their money and they were both approved think that people.
Yes, these are people with a lot of money.
Oh, I know, six thousand dollars for me to go to Ireland to become an elf.
Really. I just thought I would tell you that. She was denied.
Suzie Orman, thanks very much.

lunes, 15 de junio de 2015

Falling under the megacity spell

What attracts people to move to a megacity? Find out by watching this clip, which focuses on Jakarta's rapid population growth and issues such as overcrowding and access to health and education services.

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

1 Most megacities are in developed countries.
2 Yulia's third child was born in Jakarta.
3 Yulia isn't happy with her living conditions in Jakarta.
4 Barack Obama lived in Jakarta.
5 Flooding is a problem in Jakarta.
6 Yulia is happy she finished school as a child.
7 Charities are training people so that they have control over their lives.
8 The charity World Vision is planning to leave Jakarta.

More than half the world now lives in cities, and every year more and more people are migrating from rural to urban communities. Cities of more than eight million people are known as 'megacities', and most are in poor or developing countries. By 2015, there will be 33 megacities, 27 of them in developing countries. Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, is one of these megacities.
My name is Yulia and I live in Jakarta with my husband and three children. We moved from the country in 2007 when I had my third child. We used to work on my parents' farm. The family farm gave us food to eat, but we could not earn any regular income. Any money that we earned depended on the markets and the seasons. We decided to move to the city to earn some money, to work in jobs where we could earn a regular income. We came from the country and chose to move to Jakarta because we could live with my husband's family. Now we share my husband's parents' house with 11 other family members - nine children and seven adults altogether. It's very crowded.
In 1976, the population of Jakarta was six million. By 1989 the city had grown to nine million. Today, the greater area of urban Jakarta has a population of 27.9 million. Like most megacities, there is a great inequality of wealth in Jakarta. Barack Obama attended this school in Jakarta, while others attend schools with much poorer facilities. Government organisations like AusAID, and non-government organisations such as World Vision are working in Jakarta to address some of the issues facing people, especially the poor in this large Asian megacity.
My name is Jacqui de Lacy and I'm head of AusAID here in Indonesia, and my job is to make sure that Australia's aid program in Indonesia is working really well and achieving results. So, urbanisation places particular stresses on poor people. In cities like Jakarta, which are very big and have grown very rapidly, there's a range of problems. First of all - infrastructure. They're very crowded, people have really poor access to housing and clean water, they're often living in parts of the city that are subject to flooding. Secondly, we need to make sure that people have access to services. When the population is growing very rapidly, having enough schools and health clinics is important.
Now my husband works in a paint factory, and I work doing laundry. The income from my husband's work is not enough to buy food each week, and that is why I have to work too. I like living in Jakarta because it is close to family, and I can work here to help bring in some income. I don't like the overcrowding of living with 16 people in the one house. That brings conflict with other members of the family. It also means I don't have much independence. I really want my children to stay in school and not drop out, like I did. My parents couldn't keep me in school, and I had to get a job to help the family. I hope my children can finish their education and have a better life than me. I'm thankful that my children are all healthy, but I worry about what we're going to eat or where for the next month. I do worry for my family.
My name is Yacobus. I grew up in the Cilincing area of Jakarta, in the same area as Yulia and her family. World Vision has been working in the Cilincing area of Jakarta for 11 years. Over those years, we've changed the way we do our development work. It is not enough to give people aid, food, school uniforms or books. We now seek to empower communities and train the people to bring about change in their own community.
I have been working as a volunteer with World Vision for 11 years. I first started with a program for mothers, who cleaned up the local environment, part of a clean-and-green campaign to improve the environment. This was an important program that continues to affect the way people take better care of our area. I also work as an educator for pregnant mothers. I meet with about 100 mothers per month at the local community health centre. This involves weighing the children and helping to support the mothers with breastfeeding. We also work to increase their understanding of good nutrition for their children. These are poor mothers who would not learn about these things anywhere else. It really helps to improve the health of both the mothers and their children. My work with World Vision includes supporting Yulia and her family. I am also engaged with an economic development program. Along with other women, I learn how to prepare a snack food made from wheat, eggs, peanuts and coconut oil. I can produce 180 packs in a week, and this has been an important source of income for my family. At first, people expected direct materials from World Vision. But they now appreciate that the training and empowerment is more important and powerful to bring about long-term change.
After 11 years of working in the area, World Vision is now planning to phase out our work here. I'm confident that the work we have started here will be sustainable. Many of the people are now empowered, and will continue to bring about change in their community.

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

domingo, 14 de junio de 2015

Extensive listening: India's water crisis

India's water crisis is part of the BBC documentary series Our World featuring news on issues around the world.

India receives adequate rainfall for its billion-plus population, but the country is facing a crisis as water is diverted from poor rural areas to fill water tanks and swimming pools in richer cities like Delhi.

BBC Our World India's Water Crisis from stalker on Vimeo.

sábado, 13 de junio de 2015


A few weeks ago Jeffrey Hill informed on The English Blog about Newsela, an innovative way to build reading comprehension with daily news.

In Newsela you will find articles classified by level of difficulty, category and length.

viernes, 12 de junio de 2015

I didn't know that: Airbags

Watch this National Geographic video on the way airbags work and answer the questions below about it.

1 When was the first car with airbags commercialised?
2 Where can you find the airbag in your car?
3 How long does the airbag take to inflate?
4 When will  the airbag be deployed in a vehicle?
5 What advantage does the jacket have for motorbike riders?
6 What other places in the car can you find airbags?

Airbags.  The idea of using a giant balloon to cushion you if you crash, has been around since the 1950's. Yet, it wasn't until (1) 1974 that General Motors offered the first commercial car, with a driver side air bag. Today, all new American cars and 91% of all new European cars are fitted with airbags.
Your driver airbag works in a very similar way to a rocket. They both use solid fuel. In your car this is found (2) in the compartment  behind the steering wheel. Like this. When it's ignited it's contained and the gases released inflate the airbag. Where as with a rocket, the solid fuel is at the bottom. So when you ignite it, the uncontained release of energy propels the rocket skyward. The gas blows up the airbag pretty quickly. So were going to film this test rig to show you just how fast it inflates. That yellow weight up there simulates somebody's chest. Now, as it's dropped it will pass this sensor, which will activate the airbag, to inflate in time to cushion its fall. Well Rick, that happened so quickly. What speed was that?
The airbag's inflated in roughly (3) 35 mili seconds. Which to scale it for you... It takes you approximately 200 mili seconds to blink.
Which is pretty quick.
Now that's why I didn't see it. You don't need to worry about suddenly being hit by an airbag, because a sensor in your car continually measures acceleration and deceleration. It will only deploy the airbag (4) when it senses a dramatic deceleration resulting from a sudden impact. And the bags themselves are getting clever. They can now alter the amount they inflate according to the weight and position of the person. Which means they're less likely to give you a hard punch in the face.
Now check this jacket out. It can surround you in airbags. It's already being used by some of the police riders in Japan, Spain and Brazil. And the idea is that if you're on your motorbike and you get thrown off, this tag gets pulled, the jacket inflates and (5) it can soften your fall. Darren if you could...
Now it improved your safety and it's pretty damn sexy too.
In today's cars airbags can be in the (6) roof, in the side, in your seat. There are even airbags to put you in the right position before you hit another airbag. But wherever they are, an airbag will always react so quickly that if you blink, you'll miss it.

jueves, 11 de junio de 2015

How To Run: Dos & Dont's

Evolutionary biology professor Daniel Lieberman gives five tips on how he thinks you can run long distances better and injury-free.

Self-study activity:
Watch the video and complete the blanks in the transcript below.

I think there's a number of (1) ... elements to good running form. The first is not to overstride. Overstriding is when you stick your leg out in front of you and you land with your foot in front of your (2) ... and really way in front of your hip. A lot of people think that they're running hard when they do that. You know why? Because they are running hard. Because when you stick your leg out in front of you, you actually (3) ... from the time it takes for the center of mass of your body to get over your foot, you're actually losing energy. The other thing that happens when you overstride is that when you stick your foot out in front of you and make your leg stiffer and you have this, what's called an impact peak, and this shock (4) ... that ripples up your body. But when you land without an overstride, you don't have that jolt of force and you're much less likely to get injured. It's just a better way to run.
Another key element to running is to run with a pretty flat foot. I think that most good runners tend to land on the (5) ... of their foot. It just happens naturally. If you don't stick your leg out in front of you, you will not land hard on your heel. You'll land on the (6) ... of your foot or your mid foot stride, there's a general landing.
Don't lean. A lot of runners lean forward at the hips. That's another total (7) ... . Be vertical from the hips up.
If you can hear your feet, if your feet are landing really hard, if you’re thumping as we call it in my lab, then you're running poorly. That thump is the sound of the (8) ... of your body hitting the ground. Running should be light and gentle and collision-free so if you're making a lot of noise, you're running poorly.
And then finally, the most important thing is if you're learning to run properly and you haven't been doing this for a long time, listen to pain. Don't (9) ... it. Transition really slowly and gradually. Your body is not just designed for this instantly. If you transition to learning to run properly too fast, you are guaranteed to (10) ...  yourself. You have to adapt your body. I think everybody can learn to run this way, or most people can learn to run this way, but you can't do it (11) ... .

1 key 2 knee 3 decelerate 4 wave 5 ball 6 ball 7 evil 8 collision 9 overdo 10 injure 11 overnight

miércoles, 10 de junio de 2015

Talking point: Time

This week's talking point is time. 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 activities do you prefer to do with your time?

In what situations do you feel time flies?
In what situations do you feel time drags? 
What do you think you would learn on a time management course?
Would you like to do one?
Have you ever run out of time to do something?
How often do you take time off work?
When did you last feel you were wasting your time?
How important is to be punctual for you? And in your country?
Do you ever feel that there aren't just enough hours in the day?

To illustrate the point, you can watch the video How to Manage your Time Better.

martes, 9 de junio de 2015

10 questions for Susan Rice

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice talks to Time Magazine about international conflicts, America's role in the world, and her experience of being a woman and a mother while representing the country.

Susan Rice is the US ambassador to the UN. An average day for her is preventing genocide, solving transnational complex, trying to do something about global poverty. She is a mother of two and is married, poor thing, to a journalist. She's invited us over here to talk to her and we are honored to be here. Ambassador, I thank you.
Thanks for having me.
So every day you interact with people who are not American and think that America does not necessarily have the world's interests at heart. Do Americans have an accurate impression of the way they’re viewed in the world?
I think most Americans do understand that, that we went through a period some years back in which American leadership was judged quite critically by many internationally. That has changed to a substantial extent, and I think most Americans are aware that by almost any objective measure, the United States is viewed more favorably today than it was some 3, 4 years ago.
You’ve said your greatest regret when you were in the Clinton administration was not pushing hard enough to intercede in Rwanda in 1994. Is that influencing your current thinking on Syria?
I was as staffer, a junior staffer on the National Security Council, then responsible for United Nations affairs and, you know, at that staff level there wasn't a great deal I personally could have done, although I felt horrible when I was able then six months after the genocide, to visit Rwanda and see the extraordinary devastation, and then had to walk through a church yard that was literally littered with bodies. But I'm a policy maker and a pragmatist and I understand that not every situation is identical. Not every situation either necessitates or facilitates the same sort of solution. And we face these dilemmas every day.
Are there any circumstances in which you would see the US acting in Syria in the way they did in the Balkans without UN approval?
I think we would be wise in this and in every circumstance not to, to rule out any options, but the fact of the matter is that our aim is to not in intensify the violence but to reduce it, and the best way to accomplish that is through political pressure, economic pressure and diplomacy.
How would you answer those people who suggested that America has seeded a lot of it the investment in Africa to China?
China is… you need to dig a little deeper. Yes they have a significant presence on the African continent. A lot of it is extractive. They are in Africa to garner the natural resources that they feel they need for their own development. They often go in to a country and bring in, you know, thousands of workers from China to do jobs it could be done with training by the local population. And so the nature of their presence is not necessarily in every instance or even in most instances beneficial from a developmental point of view for many the countries in which it’s in.
Recently, at a commencement speech, you said that I want your rules for life was that you should never won something so badly that you do something you don't believe in to get it. Sometimes it seems like America has broken that rule. In CIA black side, and the use of water boarding, using techniques that were perhaps less than the American character.
I think it's wrong.
Even when it's issues of national security?
The fact is that all those who, who know this business and do this business believe that you get corrupted information on the basis of torture, and then you’re doing something that's fundamentally inconsistent with our values, which is why president Obama has been so clear in rejecting torture.
Speaking of torture, celebrities who get involved in international affairs, helpful or annoying?
It’s usually helpful, but it depends on the celebrity and it depends on the issue. Take George Clooney. He's been tremendously effective. I think Angelina Jolie, for example, is also done a great deal to raise awareness about refugees. So I think there are many examples of celebrities who have done really important things that have made a positive contribution.
You have to worry, as I said, on a day-to-day basis about genocide and, and Libya, Syria and Sudan, Yemen. I presume that's what keeps you up at night, so what do you do with the worries that ordinary people have that you must still have, like do they just get shunted out completely?
Never the kids, the kids are job one. So to be quite candid if they need me, or others in my family need me, I do my utmost to, to make sure I'm there.
I remember when you were first appointed by the Clinton administration, a journalist wrote that it may be splendidly progressive of Clinton to place his Africa policy in the care of relatively young women. On the other hand, he's utterly ignorant of a cultural reality. Was he wrong?
 When you represent the United States in America, your interlocutors, whether they're in Africa or Europe or Asia, or, or any other part of the world, take you seriously. And if you do your job responsibly and effectively, there's no challenge whether it’s your young, as I was back then, or, or female or African-American or anything else.
You have been mentioned as a possible Secretary of State. Is it something you'd like to, to do?
Frankly, that’s a decision that other people make and I will be happy doing whatever I can do to, to serve my country and serve this president.
Well spoken, like a true diplomat. Seems like you gonna be fine if you get the job. Ambassador Rice, thank you so much.
Thank you very much.

lunes, 8 de junio de 2015

Listening test: Small changes

Listen to two friends talking about the changes we have to make to our everyday life to protect the environment and choose the option a, b or c which best completes each sentence.

1) Paul says we should reduce _____ . 
a) car usage
b) transport usage
c) fuel exploration

2) Paul doesn’t _____ .
a) use his car to reduce carbon emissions.
b) know how to drive.
c) have a car.

3) Paul says people should eat _____ .
a) more healthily
b) less food
c) seasonal food

4) Amy _____ . 
a) drives to work
b) travels long distances to see her family
c) has reduced her travel times lately

5) Amy ______. 
a) doesn’t use a shopping bag
b) is upset by people’s shopping habits
c) lives in a country where packaging has been reduced

6) Paul ______.

a) cried when he saw the banana wrapped in plastic.
b) thinks plastic is more important than cars.
c) thinks wrapping a banana is absurd.

Amy: So speaking of climate change, what do you think are three things that we can do to try and personally help climate change—well, prevent climate change in our lives? What do you think?
Paul: Obviously, the big concern with climate change is the carbon emissions. So that would like lead me to look at my usage of fuel because that's a huge source of carbon emissions. So probably, I'd say, number one, reduce my car usage or transport usage.
Amy: Right.
Paul: I don't personally have a car and I always take the bus to work.
Amy: That's a good start then, isn't it?
Paul: Yeah. I'm not doing it trying to reduce the effects of carbon base; it's just that—yeah. Secondly, I think trying to source your foods locally. I think that would be a huge help too because it reduces the transportation of food. And I think in reality, I think we could produce a lot of what we need locally, you know. I don't think we should be eating strawberries in the middle of winter. I don't think we should be. I think we should try and eat seasonally as well, what's available to us. But we've become so used to being able to get what we want when we want it, and it's having a huge impact on our environment.
How about you, Amy? Do you have any ideas about how we can perhaps challenge—how we can perhaps address the problem?
Amy: It's interesting you mentioned about the carbon emissions. Obviously, it's really important to reduce those. And I do have a car and I need it to get places as most people do. And currently, I also live really, really far away from where I was born and raised so to travel to see my family, I need to take long-haul air flights. And I guess reducing those, it's the flights I think that contribute more towards carbon emissions than perhaps driving my car. So it's about making that balance, I think. Seeing your family versus being green, I think.
But it was an interesting point you said about also sourcing our food. I think that's something that we can definitely do. I agree with that and locally sourced food, I think will help reduce carbon emissions.
Small things as well like, if we're going food shopping. If we have to go food shopping, then, you know, taking your own bag. Stop using all the excess packaging, things like that. Where I live right now is a country that uses a lot of packaging and it makes me sad. I think the first thing I learnt to say in the language of that country was I don't need that bag, thank you. So, I mean, it's a very, very small step but I think if everybody tried to do it a bit more, it would help in a small way.
Paul: Yeah, I agree. Yeah. I tried to—it drives me crazy how much plastic we use. And if you think about how much energy is going into producing that plastic, you know—yeah. I mean, people talk about cars and stuff but this production of plastic—I mean, I had a banana the other day and it was wrapped in plastic.
Amy: Oh no.
Paul: A banana. I mean, it's perfectly wrapped by nature yet they felt some reason to put it in plastic. I couldn't believe it. I almost wanted to—I almost had to laugh hysterically or cry. Yeah, a lot of it is crazy, you know.

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