viernes, 31 de julio de 2015

How did English evolve?

What is the difference between "a hearty welcome" and "a cordial reception"? In a brief, action-packed history of the English language, Kate Gardoqui explains why these semantically equal phrases evoke such different images.

Drop by Ted-Ed and go over the Think section of this lesson to do a comprehension check based on the video. You can also click on the Dig Deeper section to get to know further resources to explore the topic with.

I am going to start with a challenge. I want you to imagine each of these two scenes in as much detail as you can.
Scene number one: "They gave us a hearty welcome."
Well, who are the people who are giving a hearty welcome? What are they wearing? What are they drinking?
OK, scene two: "They gave us a cordial reception."
How are these people standing? What expressions are on their faces? What are they wearing and drinking?
Fix these pictures in your mind's eye and then jot down a sentence or two to describe them. We'll come back to them later.
Now on to our story. In the year 400 C.E. the Celts in Britain were ruled by Romans. This had one benefit for the Celts: the Romans protected them from the barbarian Saxon tribes of Northern Europe. But then the Roman Empire began to crumble, and the Romans withdrew from Britain. With the Romans gone, the Germanic tribes, the Angles, Saxons, Jutes, and Frisians quickly sailed across the water, did away with the Celts, and formed kingdoms in the British Isles.
For several centuries, these tribes lived in Britain, and their Germanic language, Anglo Saxon, became the common language, what we call Old English. Although modern English speakers may think Old English sounds like a different language, if you look and listen closely, you'll find many words that are recognizable.
For example, here is what the Lord's Prayer looks like in Old English. At first glance, it may look unfamiliar, but update the spelling a bit, and you'll see many common English words.
So the centuries passed with Britain happily speaking Old English, but in the 700's, a series of Viking invasions began, which continued until a treaty split the island in half. On one side were the Saxons. On the other side were the Danes who spoke a language called Old Norse.
As Saxons fell in love with their cute Danish neighbors and marriages blurred the boundaries, Old Norse mixed with Old English, and many Old Norse words like freckle, leg, root, skin, and want are still a part of our language.
300 years later, in 1066, the Norman conquest brought war again to the British Isles. The Normans were Vikings who settled in France. They had abandoned the Viking language and culture in favor of a French lifestyle, but they still fought like Vikings. They placed a Norman king on the English throne and for three centuries, French was the language of the British royalty.
Society in Britain came to have two levels: French-speaking aristocracy and Old English-speaking peasants. The French also brought many Roman Catholic clergymen with them who added Latin words to the mix.
Old English adapted and grew as thousands of words flowed in, many having to do with government, law, and aristocracy. Words like council, marriage, sovereign, govern, damage, and parliament.
As the language expanded, English speakers quickly realized what to do if they wanted to sound sophisticated: they would use words that had come from French or Latin. Anglo Saxon words seemed so plain like the Anglo Saxon peasants who spoke them.
Let's go back to the two sentences you thought about earlier. When you pictured the hearty welcome, did you see an earthy scene with relatives hugging and talking loudly? Were they drinking beer? Were they wearing lumberjack shirts and jeans?
And what about the cordial reception? I bet you pictured a far more classy and refined crowd. Blazers and skirts, wine and caviar.
Why is this? How is it that phrases that are considered just about synonymous by the dictionary can evoke such different pictures and feelings? "Hearty" and "welcome" are both Saxon words. "Cordial" and "reception" come from French. The connotation of nobility and authority has persisted around words of French origin. And the connotation of peasantry, real people, salt of the Earth, has persisted around Saxon words. Even if you never heard this history before, the memory of it persists in the feelings evoked by the words you speak.
On some level, it's a story you already knew because whether we realize it consciously or only subconsciously, our history lives in the words we speak and hear.

jueves, 30 de julio de 2015

English teacher who earns $500k

When it comes to education in South Korea, the demand is so strong it accounts for 12% of all consumer spending.

Parents push their children relentlessly, with classes in the evenings and at weekends. It's led to some teachers earning very high salaries, particularly to teach English. The BBC's Steve Evans, in Seoul, met one of them.

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

1 How many students does Gwen Lee teach in a classroom?
2 And online?
3 Apart from teaching how does Gwen Lee manage to make so much money?
4 What is Gwen Lee as a teacher?
5 Where are Gwen Lee’s offices?
6 Why do Koreans work so hard?
7 Why does Gwen Lee think it is important to keep fit?

7.30 in the morning, the start of a working day. For Gwen Lee’s job appearance is important, so this is essential preparation for the classroom. She earns half a million dollars a year teaching English to students who pay for her lessons, and they expect her to look smart.
My yearly income is around $500,000 and I think I can do that because I can manage a big-sized classroom. Of course, the more numbers of students that I have in my classroom, I earn more money, but part of my income is coming from online.
Every month, she teaches (1) a thousand students in an actual classroom but another (2) 200,000 online.
Hello everyone, it’s me Gwen…
(3) She has a radio programme and she writes textbooks, all adding up to that half a million dollars.
This is very driven teaching. (4) She’s very animated, moving energetically along the pre-arranged strips. And these kids, they want to learn, they’re paying money or their parents are paying money
And teacher Gwen Lee has the accoutrements of business, like a chauffeur. Her day is so tightly packed that she needs to use every moment. Her headquarters from where the teaching is organized are (5) in Seoul’s business district. Lunch is a business meeting, with her assistants, who deal with online requests. This is work at hyper-speed.
Koreans work hard. We work around the clock and, you know, they make best effort because… I don’t know why but(6)  it’s coming from their parents’ generation, you know. We saw our parents, they went to war, you know, era and they thought that in order to survive they had to work, you know, hard.
South Korea is a pressurized country, with pressure on students to achieve and pressure on teachers to deliver grades. Gwen goes to the gym, but even this is part of work. (7) She reckons that keeping fit is a way of fending off illness. When you have 200,000+ students, you can’t afford to take time off.
Steve Evans, BBC News, Seoul.

miércoles, 29 de julio de 2015

Talking point: Extreme sports and activities

This week's talking point is risk. 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.

Talk about a time when you had to pluck up courage to deal with a difficult situation.
What's the most dangerous thing you have ever done?
Have you ever done any of these extreme sports? What was it like? What were the dangers involved?
If not, would you like to? Say why.
bungee jumping
scuba diving
highwire walking
mountaineering with ropes
base jumping
whitewater rafting
Some people are addicted to taking risks: why do you think this happens?
Which risk would you never take?
Which of these jobs is the most dangerous, in your opinion? Give your reasons.
firefighter - bomb disposal expert - high-level window cleaner - war journalist - aid volunteer - police officer
You work for a company that has decided to organise a weekend away to develop team-building skills among the staff. Discuss with your partner(s) the risks involved in the activities below, say which ones most/least appeal to you and choose one to do all together:
volcano walking
gorilla watching
show jumping
kite surfing

To illustrate the point you can watch The Nikon short film Why. It is most a very difficult clip to understand, but the sheer beauty of the film is something worth watching, and whatever Dane Jackson, Rebecca Rush and Alex Honnold say about kayaking, mountain-biking and solo climbing is secondary, although I have included the transcript.

Nikon - WHY from Corey Rich on Vimeo.

Nikon Why
Dane Jackson, kayaker:
I think I learned how to kayak long before I’ve learned how to talk and walk, that’s for sure…
Rebecca Rush, mountain biker:
I’m not sure I agree with the quote that it’s all about the journey, because for me it’s all about the competitive aspect, I’m a racer and I love to win.
Alex Honnold, solo climber:
“I wouldn’t say that I try to prove something to people. Or that I’m trying to prove something to myself really… But I’m sure there’s a little bit of both.
Dane Jackson, kayaker:
When I was growing up and we lived in an R.V. and we were always parked by a river ‘cause we would just go, wherever my Dad wanted to kayak. I was born directly in the sport of kayaking.
Rebecca Rush, mountain biker:
I specialize in long distance mountain biking. What it means is that I ride my bike for a really long time and a 10 hour race would be a short race for me. A race or event where I get to sleep in my own bed that night is a sprint…”
Alex Honnold, solo climber:
Basically, soloing is just rock climbing without a rope, without protection. It’s basically the most distilled type of climbing. I think the beauty of soloing is so simple, you just go by yourself, put your shoes in your track bag and you climb it.
Dane Jackson, kayaker:
In my world the only constant thing is that there is no constant. When I’m at a rapid or water fall I may pick my line but it’s never the same, it’s always changing.
Rebecca Rush, mountain biker:
I grew up with suffering skill, my nickname is ‘The queen of pain’. I cannot put my head down, turn the voices inside my head off. It takes hours and days, it kind of strip away all the exterior that kind of find out who you are.
Alex Honnold, solo climber:
Yeah, there’s no real ritual, seriously for someone, I just put on my shoes, I chalk up and I rock climb.
Rebecca Rush, mountain biker:
For me, the definition of ‘the zone’ is when you don’t feel the burning of your legs, you don’t hear your heart race, you’re basically just on autopilot, and everything seems easy.
Alex Honnold, solo climber:
When all of the movement just feels so crisp and precise and perfect. You don’t feel pain in your fingers as much you could really like torque super hard. I mean, you just feel stronger a lot of time.
Dane Jackson, kayaker:
Whenever I’m coming up the lip of a big waterfall, everything else just goes blank and I just focus on what I need to do.
Alex Honnold, solo climber:
It’s a big question ask why I solo. Then part of it is the challenge like the fact that it’s hard, the fact that it demands a lot from you. And part of it it’s just the simplicity of soloing is really appealing too, it’s just you, and the route, and climbing. I don’t think there are that many things in life that require the 100% focus that you get out of soloing. You know, it’s kind of like the most pure form of climbing.
Dane Jackson, kayaker:
One of the main reasons that I kayak is just the awe of finding new beautiful places. It’s a feeling of being somewhere new nobody else has ever been or you’ve never been, and just the beauty of what’s happening around you. I kayak because it allows me to do what I want to do. I’m always afraid at some point, without the fear it wouldn’t be the same. Overcoming the fear is what really makes kayaking amazing.
Rebecca Rush, mountain biker:
If people ask me why I do this over and over again, the best thing I come up is because I have to, I don’t know how to live my life any other way. I do this because I love it and I’m inspired by the places that I go, I feel it’s the need to explore and to be somewhere new, see what’s around the next corner.
Alex Honnold, solo climber:
Yeah, I guess every once in a while you have those moments when you say it’s really magical, this is awesome, you know.
Dane Jackson, kayaker:
Without kayaking, I don’t know where my life would be, definitely it wouldn’t be the same, it just drives my life.
Rebecca Rush, mountain biker:
Tapping in on who I am as a person is something I need to do on a regular basis because you never really get to that place on a normal life, and that’s the point when it’s perfect, it’s nirvana.

martes, 28 de julio de 2015

10 Questions For Damien Hirst

Hi. I'm Belinda Luscombe I'm the editor-at-large at Time Magazine. Damien Hirst is one of the world's most successful, most famous and wealthiest artists. He's currently filling 11 of Larry Gagosian’s galleries with paintings spots and we’re here to ask 10 questions about that. Mister Hirst, welcome.
So 11 galleries around the world filled with your spot paintings. What about this idea interested you?
I was looking at Larry's gallery uptown and he has on the wall, always been, has an exhibition. He has every gallery that he owns with the different artists that are on that printed on the wall. And when I first saw it I thought I could do, you know, the only artist in the world probably is me and then the only body of work I could use is the spots to fill all the galleries. So I guess it was a sort of perverted megalomania idea.
You had actually only painted five, is that right, of the spot paintings yourself?
Actually, looking around the show I think it was probably closer to 25.
25! How far can you go with the whole kinda outsourcing idea of getting, you know, it's not like you're the only ass that does that. It’s familiar but well, could you take me to Sri Lanka, could you train people in, you know, like American corporations too?
Well, you know, as an artist you've always got to believe you can train anybody to make them, because if  you’re harnessing other people’s, you know, talents, you know, I mean I paint from photographs as well very realistically, and I've always been very careful to not hire somebody who’s an absolutely brilliant painter in their own right because then you kind of have to rely on their own time whereas it’s much better to just, you know, believe that anybody can do this. You have to train them.
So you’re saying you hire numskulls? Somebody paints you something good and you say, sir, you are way too good…
You’ve got to be a painter. I think just basic skills, you know. You just want people with basic skills.
The security guard over there asked me what do the circles mean? And I was like, oh, well I can actually find out for you if you…
Well, if you say the red ones mean love, the white ones mean purity, the black ones mean death, the blue ones about the blues, the green ones are about jealousy.
Are you making this up as you go or is this actually something you thought about?
You know, any kind of art is like, you know, I make art you know. Words are not really…
What it’s about?
…adequate to describe it. What does it mean to you and actually I suppose in a way they are about that human edge to, you know, make order out of chaos, or to make order out of the world, you know, it’s like why we, you know, like a grid but really, you know, the things that we’re trying to put into grids won’t be put into grids and I mean, that’s what the whole human life’s about.
I guess in the same way a lot of your work, not the spots, but it deals with sort of decay and death and squalor. Where does this come from? Where do you think of this?
Well, I always have to go for both sides of the story, really, you know, it’s like when I make a book of fly painting, I always think, you know, I don’t wanna be to seem to be too sloppy, so I’ll do a fly painting for that. Just think, oh my God, you know, love is an amazing thing, but children are being murdered in Africa as we speak, you know. It’s like that’s the world, isn’t it? You’ve got these massive polarities and extremes all the time and I try to make that, it reflects that.
You talk about having an impact on how your worst fear is to be forgotten or overlooked, which is not going to happen and in fact some of your work has been sort of incredibly controversial and discussed and one of them, I guess, is The Skull, I believe. I see you’re wearing a lot of skulls today, Love of God.
Which is the diamond encrusted platinum skull and there is a sort of showmanship to that that is sort of reminiscent, people have said to me, of the kind of thing you see on, say on television today in shows like Pimp My Ride or Cake Boss, you probably have them in England where…
Yes, I love Pimp My Ride.
…where people are making these sort of amazing creations.
Now I mean you want…
Well, I wanted where you saw the division?
Well, I think you know, I mean I think anything done well really is you know super well is art. I mean, I don’t believe in God, but I think you know my belief in art is kind of a bit religious. You know, I always think it’s like a mathematical sum where you, you know, miraculously make one plus one equals three. You can do something like a diamond skull  and it can be, it can be one plus one equals two and that’s not good enough, where it can be one plus one equals one, you know, and you can wish you never did it and it never comes out of the studio. But, you know, for the diamond skull I think it is an artist makes an art form what’s around them. We just had to be, you know, with all these boom times and everybody buying lots of money. I mean it’d be my wildest dreams and I had no money when I was a kid. So to be in that situation was kind of nuts and really as the time goes by anything I could come up with to make, you know, kind of scared the hell out of me, but it dawned on me that, you know, I was in the position of imprisoned kings, you know, where you spend millions on fabricating something, you know, I hate to say it, but I think it’s probably, it’s a lot harder for artists to make money to make art when you have money really.
Oh, I was gonna ask you that.
Yes, it’s funny how that looks. I hate the idea of the Van Gogh starving artist, you know, so I think, you know, money should always be a key and not much of any factor, something to enable you rather than something to drive you, you know, it’s very complicated. I think money is as complicated as love.
This from a man who’s worth conservatively 300 million dollars, right?
Who knows.
Pounds, or is it pounds? Oh, you don’t know?
Well, I mean it changes, you know, worth is like, you know, I’ve got , you know, I’m okay, I’m sure. I mean, I was speaking to my accountant about my kids basically and he said, don’t worry about the kids. and I was like I said, but you know, he can’t. If you don’t have that kind of background, if you’re not born into money, you always worry, you know. You can’t help it.
So you’re not gonna bull-pocket from me?
300 million dollars?
Dollars? Not pounds?
Pounds, maybe. Pounds or dollars, that’s always good, isn’t it? The pounds-dollars switch.
It’s kind of the same thing really these days. It depends if you gotta sell everything in a fire stat sale, isn’t it?
Mr Hirst, thanks very much.

lunes, 27 de julio de 2015

Listening test: Going home for Christmas

Listen to Gary and Melissa talking about Christmas traditions and choose the option a, b or c which best completes each sentence. 0 is an example.

0 Example:
a) has just returned from her Christmas holidays.
b) is going to spend two weeks in the US.
c) will leave in two weeks’ time.

1 This year Melissa is most looking forward to
a) her family seeing her new-born baby.
b) seeing a new member of the family.
c) seeing her mom again.

2 The time Melissa is going to spend in US
a) will be relaxing.
b) will be busy.
c) is long enough.

3 Melissa
a) always goes to US for Christmas and sometimes in summer.
b) doesn’t always manage to travel to US every year.
c) visits the States once a year.

4 In Melissa’s family
a) they leave the Christmas presents in a special place.
b) they open the most important present on Christmas Day.
c) they open most presents on Christmas Eve.

5 For Christmas
a) her mom used to leave oranges as a gift.
b) her mom used to leave pineapples as a gift.
c) they have duck or ham for their Christmas dinner.

6 Melissa teaches … in Barcelona.
a) teenagers
b) young kids
c) English and Catalan

7 Melissa
a) comes from a small town.
b) doesn’t really find the time to enjoy Barcelona’s cultural life.
c) feels intimidated by big cities.

Today I’m talking to Melissa, who is from the United States but lives in Barcelona. In a couple of week’s time she’ll be flying back to the USA for Christmas. I asked her why she thought it was important to go home...
Well I think it’s important to be with family, I mean that’s what the holiday season is about, is to be with the people that you care about and the people that you love. At least for me anyway.
And what are you looking forward to the most?
Actually, this year, I mean, other than, apart from seeing my mother, I’m really excited I get to see my new baby niece this year, my first niece, so I’m super-excited about that.
And how long will you spend back home?
In total it’ll be eleven days back in the States.
Do you feel that’s not quite long enough?
Well, for the things that I want to do it’s – I’m going to be running, you know trying to see everybody and do everything. It’s not going to be relaxing it’s going to be run run run.
The whole time.
How often do you try to get back home to the States?
Ideally, I like to do it one...twice a year. Usually I only get to do it once a year, either at Christmas or in the summer, and whenever it’s not ideal at all I don’t get to go for two years so...
Tell me about some of your traditions back home in the States.
For Christmas? Well my family is actually a little strange because my father’s family came from German background, and they always did Christmas on Christmas Eve, and my mother came from an English background, and her family always celebrated on Christmas Day. So my family, usually on Christmas Eve we get to open one present – in my immediate family we get to open one present – and then the next day we get to open the rest of them, and enjoy it that way. And also, something that I notice that, you know, that is not done here in Spain is that we have Christmas stockings and my mother really enjoys finding gifts to put in the Christmas stockings. One year for example, she always gave oranges, and the oranges would always end up back in her kitchen and she asked, “Why doesn’t anybody ever eat the oranges?” And we said well they were hard to peel and you know we just don’t really – it’s just not – we don’t enjoy the oranges. And so the next year she tried to put a pineapple, because I like pineapples so much, she tried to put a pineapple in my stocking! And so that was a Christmas tradition that she started and now every year for Christmas I get a pineapple instead of an orange! So that’s a family tradition that we have, and usually we have Christmas dinner of course, and depending on the family – my family we do turkey, but other families do ham or duck or, you know, different things, but my family we do, we do turkey.
So you live in Barcelona.
Yes I do.
So what do you do?
I am an English teacher at a bilingual nursery school.
OK what does that mean? What do you do?
Basically I go to the nursery school and my job is to help the children learn English by doing everyday routines, you know, putting on their shoes, washing their faces; we do activities in English such as, you know, painting or storytelling, in English and in Catalan, so my job is to do the part in English.
And how do you feel about living in Barcelona?
I enjoy living in Barcelona. I come from a very small town, so for me Barcelona is the big city. And all the museums and all the cultural events that they have – it’s very exciting for me to get to see that, and get to go and enjoy that.
OK. Melissa thank you very much.
You’re welcome very much.

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

domingo, 26 de julio de 2015

Extensive listening: The hidden reason for poverty the world needs to address now

Collective compassion has meant an overall decrease in global poverty since the 1980s, says civil rights lawyer Gary Haugen. Yet for all the world's aid money, there's a pervasive hidden problem keeping poverty alive. Haugen reveals the dark underlying cause we must recognize and act on now.

You can read a full transcript for the talk here.

sábado, 25 de julio de 2015


Storybird is a platform that lets anyone make visual stories in seconds. Storybird  selects artwork from illustrators and animators around the world and inspires writers of any age to turn those images
into fresh stories.

It's a simple idea that has attracted millions of writers, readers, and artists to Storybird. Families and friends, teachers and students, and amateurs and professionals have created more than 5 million stories—making Storybird one of the world's largest storytelling communities.

You can read the stories in the Read section of Storybird and write stories in the Write section, although you will have to sign up to do so.

viernes, 24 de julio de 2015

Will I lose my memory when I get old?

Our brain is like plasticine. It bends and adapts when faced with mental challenges, and we can keep it in fit shape by staying mentally active.

Self-study activity:
Watch this Brit Lab video on memory and age and complete the gaps in the transcript with the missing words. The activity is suitable for intermediate 2 and Advanced 1 students.

Will I lose my memory when I get old?
Your brain is (1) ... . Well if you're over 30 it is. After that, on average, you lose a bit less than 0.5 percent of your brain volume every year. Reach ninety and you may have lost over (2) ... ... of your hippocampus, the seahorse-shaped bit of the brain vital for making memories, and you’ll have said goodbye to 14 percent of your cerebral cortex, the (3) ...  ...  responsible for useful things like thinking, emotions and speech. Worse still, scientists used to believe the adult brain’s fixed and unable to change like (4) ... . So losing some was a serious matter.
In 2000 researchers began to investigate a group of London taxi and bus drivers. The bus drivers trained for six weeks and then rode the same (5) ... every day, whereas the taxi drivers had trained for up to four years memorizing some 25,000 streets. The researchers took MRI scans of both bus and taxi drivers but it was the (6) ...  brain that showed something incredible: Their brains contained far more gray matter in the back part of the hippocampus than the bus drivers.
Here is what scientists think was going on. Inside our brains are trillions of synaptic connections, chemical and electrical (7) ... , that transfer messages between the body and the brain like millions of cabbies taking millions of (8) ... to different destinations. In memorizing and using their mental matter, the cabbies’ brains adapted and changed creating more synaptic connections. So it turns out the brain isn't like concrete but more like putty or plastic, able to adapt to (9) ...  ... . Scientists call this adaptability neuroplasticity. This new discovery is great news because while you might not be able to stop your brain shrinkage it seems you can compensate by building new connections if you stay mentally active, (10) ... your brain like a London cabbie.
To discover more about your plastic brain go to you

1 shrinking 2 a third 3 grey matter 4 concrete 5 routes 6 cabbies’ 7 impulses 8 patrons 9 our demands 10 challenging

jueves, 23 de julio de 2015

A smarter future car

Around the world, cities are beginning to choke on their own traffic. In Boston, scientists at the famous Media Lab at MIT are working on a prototype of a different electric car.

Self-study activity:
Watch the video and now down the revolutionary features of this electric car.

Around the world, cities are beginning to choke on their own traffic. Yet, existing public transport has some frustrating flaws. Well, today, I came by train to avoid the rush hour, freeway, car park. Unfortunately, it's dropped me about 3km from where I want to go and it's about to rain. Wouldn't it be great if I could just pick up a little car here and drop it when I get there?
Think this is just a dream? Well, I'm off to Boston to the place where dreams are engineered into reality. [After you.] This is the famous Media Lab at MIT. Carry on! And here are the guys who are building the world's first fold-up electric car.
This is the car.
Not full size, I gather.
No, one half size.
One half size.
So it does tricks? Let's hope this works. I'm now going to (1) make this car fold.Oh, excellent!
Yep. When it's folded, it fits in the width of a regular parking space.
You're kidding!
That's right.
That's fantastic.
(2) So you can park the car perpendicular to the sidewalk. (3) Then the door will actually come open through the front and you step out onto the sidewalk.
It's a mind-bogglingly different kind of electric car which is exactly what its conceptual creator was hoping for.
I'd been talking for years to some of my colleagues in urban design and we kept on whining about the condition of cities and sort of recognising that the automobile is a key problem. It got to the point where it's time to stop whining, we needed to fundamentally reinvent the automobile. The secret is a revolutionary new form of drive. This car, this is a model of the chassis, (4) doesn't have a motor. It has four and each of them is inside a wheel. Each of these wheels is an autonomous wheel robot. So this here, that's the steering, that's the motor and this is the suspension. Apart from this mechanical connection, the only thing that connects to the body of the car is information... and electric power. With the engine effectively in the wheels, the body of the car is freed up to do cool things, like folding which halves precious parking space. And it allows a few more tricks.
(5) So we're about to perform what we call an O turn. The vehicle can spin in very small spaces because each wheel can turn a full 120 degrees.
Oh, excellent! So you can do this in traffic?
That'd cause chaos!
You can also imagine getting in and out of parking spots much easier.
If you have this capability, you don't have to go in reverse anymore.
You don't have to reverse out of a parking spot?
No more banging your car into those damned high-rise car park pillars!
Just turn the vehicle to the direction and then head out head first.
(6) The car is also lighter, stronger and way more energy efficient than a petrol car. And with an expected price of around $12,000, the revolutionary thinking doesn't stop there. (7) You see, you don't have to own one. They could just be stacked around the city for use on demand.
You just swipe a credit card, pick up the automobile, drive it a drop-off point near where you want to go and just leave it - so it's a one-way rental kind of system.
A full scale driveable prototype will be built next year and they assure me a demo on demand system will be running within five. But if that seems like a long wait, there's an exciting spin-off that's ready now. Now, this looks like an ordinary bike.
It's not.
It's not?
Look at the back wheel. It's another one of these in-wheel robots. Apparently, you can easily replace the back wheel of any existing bike and turn it into an electric bike. What do I do?
So, you have a throttle here, which provides power. The more you push, the more throttle you get.
Here goes! Right, I press it. Ooh! This is fun!
Don't forget to pedal too.
I have to pedal as well?
Yes, at the same time.
Oh, I get pedal assistance! Wahoo, watch out!
Slow down!
We're really excited about our little Green Wheel, our little electric bike. It's a very low cost, low risk way of introducing the concept of electric vehicles into cities. So you can move up from the lightweight bikes to things like scooters and then to enclosed climate controlled automobiles. I suspect that's going to be the transition pathway.
I'd go faster but it's slippery in here. The first commercial Green Wheels will be rolling off the production line this year. I will watch out for the marble floor. Just one word of advice. Try not to test drive it on a marble floor. Just because the technology's smart, doesn't mean the driver is.

miércoles, 22 de julio de 2015

Talking point: Hopes and dreams for the future

This week's talking point is hopes and dreams for the future. 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 do you think you will have achieved in five years’ time?
  • What do you think you will be doing this time next year?
  • What do you think you will be doing in ten years time?
  • In the future, in what ways do you hope to be developing your career?
  • Is there anything about the future that doesn’t bother you in the slightest?
  • What were your dreams and ambitions for the future when you were a child?
  • Have you achieved your childhood dreams?
  • What kinds of ambitions and dreams do young people have in your country?
  • ‘Anything is possible if you’re prepared to chase your dreams.’ Do you agree?
  • Rank the factors to make your dreams come true in order of importance. Give your reasons.
hard work
family support

    To illustrate the topic you can watch the Speakout video age, where people answer the questions
    What are you looking forward to in the future?
    Is there anything you aren’t looking forward to?
    People say that your school days are the best days of your life. Do you think that’s true?

    P: Hi. I’m really excited about the next few months. I’m DJing on the banks of the River Thames in the heart of London and I’m playing some beach parties. Today I’ve come to Covent Garden to find out how people feel about their lives. What are you looking forward to in the future?C: I’m looking forward to having a family: I don’t have a family right now. I’m looking forward to buying a house – I actually live in the United States right now and I haven’t bought a house there, so I’m looking forward to that. And I guess I’m looking forward to more travel.
    T: Finding a job that I’m really passionate about.
    L: Near future, I’m looking forward to a holiday next year. I’m going to Vegas a family that I haven’t been away with for about five or six years now.
    D: Getting a good job. Finishing university.
    Do: Nothing really. I’ve kind of enjoy my life at the moment. I live in Australia now and I’ve got things the way we like them at home and life’s good.
    R: Starting a new job next summer.
    P: Is there anything you aren’t looking forward to?
    T: No, no there’s nothing I can think about that I’m not looking forward to in the future.
    L: The one thing that I’d have thought most people say is dying. Quite serious, but, other than that, no – I kind of embrace life to the full; look forward to most things.
    Ch: I have to say, the premise of getting older and with getting older you have more responsibilities, so that’s one thing I’m not looking forward to.
    C: Well, I’m not looking forward to retiring: I like my job and I like working and I think I’ll be a little bored when I retire.
    D: It’s quite stressful looking for jobs and going to job interviews, so I do get nervous about that.
    Do: Getting older. Your body starting to fall to bits. Not looking forward to that, but it’ll happen.
    P: People say that your school days are the best days of your life. Do you think that’s true?
    T: Absolutely. I do, yes, because you’re, the world is your oyster. You have so much hope, so many dreams and you believe you can achieve anything. So yeah, definitely, I think so, yeah.
    Do: No. School days were hell on Earth for me. It was the worst days of my life.
    D: They’re quite stressful because you have exams, but I do think they’re fun: being able to be with your friends every day. So I do think that school days are good days in your life.
    C: Looking back on it, I had a great time at school. I’m sure at the time it seemed a little difficult, you know, trying to fit in, but now when I look back on it, they were fun days and, you know, I look at them very fondly.
    R: For me, personally, my school days were my favourite because I’ve still got friends from, going back twenty-odd years.
    Ch: That’s when I’ve created the most valuable relationships I have in my life.
    L: For most people, yes, but when I left school at sixteen I was a fulltime footballer at Ipswich Town football club for two years. So, living away from home with friends and doing, kind of, the best thing I could do in my life, were the best two years of my life.

    martes, 21 de julio de 2015

    10 questions for Vanessa Redgrave

    Some time ago, actress and activist Vanessa Redgrave talked about the U.S. Constitution, singing and what upsets her for Time Magazine.

    Vanessa Redgrave needs very little introduction. Her new movie is called Unfinished Song and she’s here to talk about it and other stuff with us. Miss Redgrave, welcome.
    Thank you.
    You’re a pig. You are going to take me to singing.
    So Unfinished Song is what I would call like a four-handkerchief weeping. What drew you to it?
    Here’s a couple who lived very ordinary humble lives. They both working during retirement, and they have really deep, deep love and respect for each other. Nobody else sees why she loves and respects him but she does and she sings a song about it.
    Do you like to sing? Was it part of the reason that you were drawn to the movie?
    I always love singing because we used to sing around the piano when my father, he’s a brilliant pianist, he loved American musicals. So it was a very short step from loving that to loving to be trained by a train professional coach.
    One of the poignant things for me about the movie was that as Marion gets, she seems to care so much less about her dignity than the people around her seem to care about it. Was that a contrast choice on your part?
    Well, some people have an innate dignity. They don’t need to be thinking about it, I guess.
    Having done all the work that you’ve done and known what you know now, is there anything you would go back and say to yourself in your youth?
    Would you like to be getting in a business now? I think your granddaughter is in a film. So, this will be the fourth generation of Redgraves.
    No, it will be the sixth generation.
    Sixth? That’s a dynasty ….
    It’s not a dynasty. It’s a hard-working lot of people and loving this entire fantastic world by which we discover ourselves.
    Do you have any advice then for Daisy?
    No, I’ll give advice. I was given a lot of advice when I was young and I didn’t always appreciate it but later I came to appreciate it.
    What’s the one piece that stands out in your mind?
    My singing teacher said you’re listening to yourself. You’re trying to control the sound that you’re making. And he said, you’ve got to think of yourself, your body and mind as a lot of little poodles you’ve got on a leash. And if you keep the leash tight all the time, they’ll be very obedient, they’ll do what you keep telling to do. But if you undo the leash, and say go and run, they’ll outperform what you expect of them.
    You live half the time I understand here in America and half the time in Britain. Is there one American habit you wish the British would adopt or vice versa? Like is there one…
    No, I don’t think there’s any habit except I’ve always thought the British should have a constitution, there’s a lot to admire, of course, but since you asked for specifics, that’s what I can think of right now.
    What do you think then of Obama?
    No, I’m not going to say.
    Oh, really?
    No, I’m a British citizen. I don’t have the right to vote too.
    You have a right to your opinion, though.
    Yeah, but we’re not discussing that, at least I’m not.
    Apparently not. As somebody who then was a very early person who used whatever fame they had to speak out about the issues they cared about, are you pleased with what celebrity activism has become in its current interaction or disappointed?
    I don’t see life that way. I was brought up to think that I had responsibilities to think about these things and become somebody who would work for these rights in some shape or form, nothing to do with being famous or not.
    In this movie, I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that you pass away. Do you think about death?
    Of course.
    Are you afraid of it? What do you imagine?
    That’s undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveler returns.
    Anything that’s not from Hamlet that you imagine?
    No, I’m rather embedded in Shakespeare. His mind was somewhat greater than mine.
    Miss Redgrave, thanks very much.
    Thank you.

    lunes, 20 de julio de 2015

    Listening test: BBC News

    Listen to a BBC News bulletin and match the headings A-J below with the corresponding news item 1-4. There is at least one heading per news item. Two of the headings do not correspond to any news item. 0 is an example.

    A - Access to sensitive information
    B - Consequence of childhood illness
    C - Controversial decision
    D - Devastating effect around the word
    E - Ingenuous action
    F - Making history – News item 1 Example
    G - Not enough proof
    H - Some other problems might be created
    I - To subsidize a project
    J - Understanding upbringing differently

    A woman who had her ovarian tissue removed and frozen following a childhood illness has made history by giving birth after having the tissue transplanted back. Doctors are hailing the procedure as a breakthrough as until now the technique has only ever worked with tissue taken from adult women. Here’s our health reporter Michelle Roberts.
    The young woman involved had sickle cell anaemia as a child and doctors decided she needed a bone marrow transplant. While this would help her medical condition, it would most likely leave her infertile. So as an insurance policy her physicians removed one of her ovaries and put it on ice before starting treatment. Her treatment worked, and once in her 20s the young woman decided she wanted to try for a baby. Fertility experts in Brussels, led by Doctor Isabelle Demeestere, took some of the frozen ovarian tissue, thawed it and then transplanted it back into the woman. More than two years later, age 27, she became pregnant naturally and went on to give birth to a healthy baby boy, and it’s something doctors hope should now be possible for other young girls in similar situations.
    Child protection experts have expressed astonishment after a judge suggested police and social workers needed to make allowance for cultural context when investigating claims of physical abuse by parents. Mrs Justice Pauffley, who sits in the family courts, was giving a ruling in a case where a man from India was accused of slapping his eight-year-old son. Ben Geoghegan reports. Mrs Justice Pauffley made her comments during a case involving a man from India who’d been accused of assaulting his wife and son. The man denied using a belt, but accepted he had given his son a slap or a tap. The judge said this did not amount to punitively harsh treatment. She said within many communities newly arrived in this country children were slapped and hit for misbehaviour in a way which excited the interest of child protection professionals. However, the judge said proper allowance had to be given for a different cultural context. A spokesman for the NSPCC said every child deserved to be protected and that different cultural practices were no excuse for child abuse taking place in this country.
    The man who led Australia’s failed bid to host the 2022 World Cup has categorically denied paying bribes to FIFA officials to try to win. In a television interview Frank Lowy defended a decision to make a payment of about a quarter of a million pounds to help football development in Trinidad and Tobago. The money allegedly ended up in the account of the former FIFA vice president Jack Warner. From Sydney, here’s our correspondent Jon Donnison.
    Frank Lowy didn’t deny it was a mistake for the Australian bid team to pay the $500,000, but said it was done through naiveté rather than as an attempt to corrupt. The money was given to CONCACAF, the North American, Central America and Caribbean Football Federation of which Jack Warner was president. Mr Lowy said he believed it was for a football development project in Mr Warner’s native Trinidad and Tobago. Frank Lowy said he should have known better, but at the time had no idea it would allegedly end up in the hands of Mr Warner who is now being investigated by the FBI for corruption. He denies all the charges. Frank Lowy said he would support a parliamentary inquiry looking into Australia’s failed bid which eventually lost out to Qatar.
    Britain’s largest cancer charity has criticised plans by the Welsh government to ban the use of electronic cigarettes in enclosed public places. The proposals are part of a new public health bill which would bring the use of the devices into line with current anti-smoking laws. Cancer Research UK says there’s no scientific evidence to support the policy and it could undermine efforts to give up tobacco, but the Welsh Health Minister Mark Drakeford told us e-cigarettes posed a danger. The World Health Organisation, the BMA, the Chief Medical Officer for Wales and a host of other responsible organisations suggest that what we should do in Wales is what 40 countries around the globe have already done, and that is to bring the use of e-cigarettes into line with the use of conventional cigarettes.

    A - Access to sensitive information
    B - Consequence of childhood illness – News item 1
    C - Controversial decision – News item 2
    D - Devastating effect around the word
    E - Ingenuous action – News item 3
    F - Making history – News item 1 Example
    G - Not enough proof – News item 4
    H - Some other problems might be created – News item 4
    I - To subsidize a project - News item 3
    J - Understanding upbringing differently – News item 2

    domingo, 19 de julio de 2015

    Extensive listening: The Welsh Italians

    Merthyr-born Michela Chiappa explores the modern Welsh Italian community, visiting the cafes and fish and chip shops that still serve up a feast. She discovers that whilst some traditions are the same, others have really changed.

    Michela finds that it's food and family that unites the two cultures - but when it comes to sport, do they support Wales or Italy?

    sábado, 18 de julio de 2015

    Reading test: 4 Ways Bottled Water Ruins the Environment and Your Health

    In this week's reading test we are going to practise the grammar/vocabulary multiple choice sort of task. To do so, we are going to read the article 4 Ways Bottled Water Ruins the Environment  and Your Health.

    Read the text and choose the option a, b or c which best completes each gap. 0 is an example.

    Bottled water is the world’s (0) …………… drink, and Americans are its most loyal customer. You pay hundreds or even thousands of times more for the prepackaged water than you (1) …………… if you got it from the tap. Yet nothing has proved that “ultra-purified,” “mountain-sourced,” “glacial-runoff” or “oasis-obtained” water is any better for you. What we do know is that bottled water takes a lot more energy, resources, and — yes — water to produce and transport. That takes a (2) …………… on the environment and your health. Here are 4 of the lowlights for water bottles:

    1. Plastic bottles can (3) ……………  your blood pressure
    A recent study examined the effects of bisphenol A, or BPA, a chemical compound found (4) …………… in water bottles and soda-can linings. BPA has been associated with everything from heart disease to lowered sperm counts in men. In this study, people who drank from a BPA-lined container experienced a rise in blood pressure within two hours. People who drank from a BPA-free glass saw no change in blood pressure. Recently, bottling manufacturers have been moving away from BPA and (5) …………… to the “safe substitute” bisphenol-S, or BPS. But new (6) …………… is showing that BPS could cause its own health issues, including hyperactivity.

    2. Bottled water probably isn’t as clean as tap water
    The (7) …………… on that plastic water bottle may say “triple-purified, virgin water source,” but in the United States, the water-bottling industry is (8) …………… near as strictly regulated as your local tap is. That’s because the Environmental Protection Agency oversees tap water safety, (9) …………… the Food and Drug Administration regulates bottled water. Simply put, one government agency has more power than the other. Local water agencies regularly test tap water and release the results to the public but a survey of 188 bottled-water (10) …………… found that only two made that kind of information available to the public.

    3. Billions of bottles are adding to the world’s pile of plastic debris
    The U.S. recycles just 12 percent of the 32 million tons of plastic waste it generates each year. We’re also consuming almost 10 billion gallons of water from bottles each year, but only one of every five of those bottles is recycled. That’s (11) …………… a large percentage of plastics clogging landfills or washing away into the ocean. Water bottles, straws, toys, coffee-cup lids, and other plastic (12) …………… degrade into microscopic bits that end up in the bellies of multiple marine animals, causing thousands of deaths each year. Cleaning up the mess once it reaches the ocean is expensive. Cleanup projects on West Coast beaches alone cost an estimated $500 million annually.

    4. Bottled water companies are sourcing from drought-stricken California
    As California (13) …………… another year of a record drought, major water-bottling companies are catching flak for tapping what’s left of California’s water for themselves. Food and beverage giant Nestlé’s Arrowhead brand has been pumping water out of California’s San Bernardino National Forest — 750 million gallons in 2014 — (14) …………… an expired permit.

    0 Example: a) best-selling     b) most-selling     c) most-sold

    1 – a) did     b) will     c) would
    2 – a) harm    b)  price    c) toll
    3 – a) raise     b) rise     c) take up
    4 – a) amply    b) extensively    c) widely
    5 – a) going     b) switching c) turning  
    6 – a) investigation    b) research    c) study
    7 – a) etiquette b) label    c) tag   
    8 – a) almost b) nowhere  c) very   
    9 – a) as     b) however     c) while
    10 – a) brands    b) makes     c) sorts
    11 – a) bringing b) leading to    c) making  
    12 – a) items     b) material      c) trash   
    13 – a) deals b) endures     c) stands up
    14 – a) although     b) despite    c) in spite

    Photo Credit: Take Photo/Shutterstock

    1C 2C 3A 4B 5B 6B 7B 8B 9C 10A 11B 12C 13B 14B   

    viernes, 17 de julio de 2015

    Five-Star Nursing Homes

    In 2011, Ken Chandler brought his elderly mother to a nursing home that had Medicare’s seal of approval, a five-star rating. After a series of troubling events there, Mr. Chandler now feels misled.

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

    1 Ken Chandler feels his mother was being neglected in the nursing home.
    2 Essie May Chandler never lived with Ken Chandler and his family.
    3 Ken Chandler’s mom had an accident at the age of 90.
    4 The Chandlers were unaware of the complaints filed against Rosewood Nursing Home.
    5 The problem with the rating of nursing homes is that the homes rate themselves on three factors: health, staff and quality.
    6 Essie May Chandler had a fall while eating in her bedroom.
    7 Essie May Chandler used to have a shower three or four times per week.
    8 Essie May Chandler died in the nursing home after her fall.

    I had visited her the day before, she seemed fine. I went back in the next day, she was completely bruised to her chest, the back of her arms, her back. Nobody was watching my mom, nobody was really tending to her. They were just pushing her in a hallway or leaving her in her room to eat alone.
    The government’s website shows this is the best of the best facilities, and so does the facilities website shows it’s the best of the best facilities, and they are proudly displaying their five-star rating. It’s the industry that is being protected, not the patient who is in there.
    My mother’s name was Essie May Chandler. She lived with me and my wife and her family for six years. She enjoyed kids, she loved her grandkids. It was like five in the morning, my wife heard a thump, and we went in there and she’d fallen to the floor.
    Ken Chandler’s 90-year-old mother had broken her femur. After a successful surgery, the family had one day to find a rehab facility for her recovery, close to their Sacramento home. They chose Rosewood.
    When you walk in, there’s a big billboard and it has orange stars on it, and it’s um listing why it was five stars.
    On Medicare’s nursing home compare website, Rosewood received five stars, the highest rating awarded. The Chandlers had no idea that despite Rosewood’s top ratings, it was the subject of one hundred complaints filed to the state of California since 2009. Advocacy groups say the number’s closer to 160, double the state average.
    They’re not putting state violations on the federal websites, so it really doesn’t give an accurate picture because they don’t have all the data.
    Carole Herman has been an advocate for the elderly for over thirty years.
    I went in and here’s Rosewood Post Accute. So the overall rating is a five star. The health inspections was average.
    Of the three factors that determine an overall rating, only the health inspections are conducted independently. The other statistics, staffing and quality measures, are self-reported by the nursing home. This self-reported statistics can boost a three-star rating into a five-star rating overall.
    The federal agency that runs Medicare came up with this five-star rating system as a consumer tool, as a great idea.
    Lesley Clement is representing the Chandlers in a lawsuit against Rosewood and its operating company, North America Health Care.
    The problem is, you know, it’s garbage in, garbage out, so whatever they’re telling the feds, the feds are not… Federal government isn’t going in and double-checking that their numbers are accurate.
    Dr Patrick Conway, who helps to oversee the nursing home compare website, says the star rating has successfully motivated facilities to improve their care.
    What kind of reassurance can you give to families that they can be comfortable with the accuracy of these ratings?
    Yes, I think for a family selecting a nursing home for their loved one, I’d say a few things. I think, one, I think the five-star rating is a starting point, but then I would highly encourage the family or caregiver to visit the home, to visit it multiple times, to really get a sense of the home and its culture.
    You don’t have a lot of time to go out and check these facilities, how are you supposed to know. If you get any notice, maybe it’s a day.
    I think the government website as it’s currently operated it’s very dangerous because people rely upon it, and right now there are people looking at the website and making a choice.
    These are the Rosewood Post-Acute complaints in this file…
    Carole Herman’s advocacy group has helped families help complaints about Rosewood to the state.
    Elder abuse, insufficient staffing, falls with injury, broken hip, bed alarm is not working, failure to treat, failure to chart, again insufficient staffing, delay in sending the patient to an acute hospital, insufficient hydration which can cause death and I believe in this case the woman died.
    It happened on the 14th of February and the nurse practitioner called us and told us everything was fine. She had a fall and I said, out of bed, and she said, no, she was eating dinner in her room and the nurse came back in the room and found her lying on the floor. I go, why is she in her room eating alone again. And she, she couldn’t explain why, I don’t know. Me and Lesley looked to the records and she actually started on levaquin the night she fell. When they left her in her room by herself eating, what were you thinking?
    This is the hallway where Essie resided. This is the nurse’s station, that’s the med cart. So in addition to this pattern of falls, they weren’t toileting her and they weren’t bathing her. When you look at the records, she goes ten days or more without a shower, she has repeated urinary tract infections, plus she’s given all this psychotropic drugs on top of it. Every case comes down to under-staffing. Nobody is looking at her as a human being and what her needs are.
    North American Health Care, which operates Rosewood and thirty-four additional facilities, disputes the claims in the Chandlers’ lawsuit and denies any false reporting of staffing levels. The company’s CEO declined to appear on camera but in a statement defended the company’s dedication to quality care.
    It’s not a natural way to die, so they, they…
    They just didn’t do their job, and I’m sorry, I mean, I’m not trying to blame it on the staff but I do think whoever owns these places is their responsibility to make sure there’s enough staff to take care of these elderly people.
    Dr Conway hopes to improve Medicare’s oversight of staffing levels.
    We are working on a system right now to actually bring in payroll data reliably across 15,000+ nursing homes. We are also making sure we do not have people that are, for example, over-reporting or self-reporting in a way that is inaccurate.
    During her six months at Rosewood, Essie Chandler suffered eleven falls, the final fall resulted in two broken legs. She returned home 40 pounds lighter with her legs bound in braces. She died six months later at home with her family.
    People always have guilt after care-giving and you always think you could have done more but it’s, it’s torture, Sid will never forgive yourself.

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

    jueves, 16 de julio de 2015

    People don't believe I am Japanese, says Miss Japan

    Ariana Miyamoto has become the first bi-racial woman to be crowned Miss Japan. The question of whether a person of mixed race should be eligible to win the competition has since provoked a heated argument on social media in Japan.

    Self-study activity:
    Watch this BBC clip and answer the questions below.

    1 Who are Hafus in Japan?
    2 What has been the Japanese media's reaction to Ariana's victory?
    3 What is the myth on Japanese people?
    4 What nationality are Michael's parents?
    5 How many mixed raced children are there in Japan?

    She looks like an aspiring supermodel, but this young woman is something a little more special. Ariana Miyamoto is the first mixed-race woman ever to win the title of Miss Japan. Ariana is what is known here as (1) a Hafu, not foreign, but not fully Japanese either.
    I’ve lived in Japan all my life, but if I’m say I’m Japanese people reply, no you can’t be, they don’t believe it. It sounds strange but for us, mixed kids, we need this word Hafu, it gives us an identity.
    While the foreign media is flocking to meet her, the Japanese media has all but (2) ignored Ariana’s victory.
    I’m definitely getting more attention from outside Japan. When I walk down the street here no Japanese people recognise me. A lot of foreign tourists stop and say, congratulations.
    In fact, the reaction of some Japanese on social media has been downright hostile: Is it okay to select a hafu to represent Japan? tweeted one. It makes me uncomfortable to say she’s representing Japan, another.
    This place still looks incredibly homogenous, and Japan still has a very narrow definition of what it means to be Japanese. (3) It’s built on a myth that Japanese are special, unique, even genetically separate from the rest of us. Of course, it’s not true. Japanese are an ethnic hotchpot, part Korean, part Chinese, part south-east Asian, but the myth is still strong, and that makes being different here very hard.
    Michael was born in Japan to (4) Japanese mother and German father. Now she lives in Australia.
    I feel like I... that Japan belongs to me but I don’t belong to it. It’s hard for me to say I am Japanese because like I said before I feel resistance from other people if I say that, you know, they’ll say, no, you’re half. I feel like I just accepted my place in this society as what I am and who I am, so it only hurts when I try to be Japanese.
    But people like Michael and Ariana are part of a growing trend. (5) One in fifty children born in Japan today is biracial, 20,000 thousand babies a year.

    miércoles, 15 de julio de 2015

    Talking point: A question of taste

    This week's talking point is A question of taste. 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's your taste in food and clothes?
    • Do some nationalities have better/worse taste in clothes?
    • Can you think of someone who has a poor taste in clothes?
    • What international cuisines have a better reputation? Why is that?
    • How often do you give dinner parties at your house?
    • What food do you usually serve on these occasions?
    • What traditional food from your country do you find most/least appealing? Why?
    • What kind of food is soul for you? Why? (food that makes you feel good because it's tasty and nutritious)
    • What feelings do you associate with it?
    • What things are considered bad taste in your country? You can talk about the following:
    - showing off sex and money
    - flaunting that you're rich
    - burping after eating
    - talking about your salary
    - expressing opinions that divide people
    - disrespecting elders
    - lining up for things properly
    - make bad jokes about race and sex

    To illustrate the point you can watch this Richmond video where Tom and Alex express their opinions about Mexican food.

    martes, 14 de julio de 2015

    10 questions for Natalie Maines

    Singer Natalie Maines talks on motherhood, the future of the Dixie Chicks and why she can't go back to country music in the Time Interview.

    Natalie Maines is a singer song-writer. She’s best known as the lead singer of the Dixie Chicks, who are best-known for their album Taking the Long Way, which won lots and lots of Grammys and sold lots and lots of copies. And I’m super glad to say she’s here with us today, she’s got a new album called Mother. Natalie, thanks for coming.
    Thank you.
    Okay, so the last time you were in Time Magazine, you were on the cover, it’s almost seven years ago to the say since that happened and then, what you been doing?
    I’ve been being a mother, raising my two boys, Slade and Becket with my husband Adrian.
    The new album’s called Mother. Why did you, is it because of the break that you took for motherhood that you called it that?
    I felt like it was a word that everyone would have some sort of emotion about ‘Cos everyone has a mother, so whatever emotions your mother conjures up for you. You know, I just felt it would make people feel something.
    In the Time story, one of the things you said was that what shocked you about the controversy over your remarks at the London concert was that people seemed to be asking you to change who you were. And I wonder if seven years on, and having seen, having been through motherhood and, and different things, if you still hold that view, that you can’t change who you are.
    I mean, I recognize things in myself I wanna change and I work on those, but that particular circumstance or incident isn’t one of the things that I feel proud that I spoke up and that I, you know, exercised my right to free speech, and I think it’s very scary that so much of the country criticized me for doing that.
    It did at the time cause a huge ruckus, and I’m sure you get asked about it all the time. And for a while you had to have quite serious security. I mean,  there was, it was quite alarming, though.
    Appropriately. Has that all died down now or is it still?
    It has, I do worry a little bit, that being out, you know, I’ve sort of disappeared so I wasn’t on people’s mind, so it crossed my mind do I wanna get back on people’s minds? Will this lead to something scary? I hope not.
    Since Taking the long way, which was, as we’ve discussed, an enormous success, there hasn’t been another Dixie Chicks album. How come?
    After the Grammys that night something just felt like the ending of a chapter to me, the ending of a battle. And I was victorious, and I was walking away. So, country music is not something I’m dying to get back into.
    According to what I’ve read, which may or may not be true, since it’s on the ever-reliable Internet, you are actually more of a holdout that Emily or Marty. They would actually like to get back to making music and reform the Dixie Chicks, and you’ve been the reluctant one, is that true? I mean, they have kids as well.
    I know. We’d have to ask them. But, yes, they would probably be up for it before I would be. But they understand.
    Do you think if the country music establishment had stood by you more when you did make those remarks that you would be less reluctant to return and make another album?
    Yeah, probably. That definitely had something to do with it. It never felt like I fit into that country genre before I joined it, and then when we were so accepted I thought, oh, it’s not what I always thought it was. It’s not so close-minded and conservative. Here they are accepting me. Well, they thought I was something else, I guess, I never, you know, tried to hide my politics or my liberalism, but I don’t know, I guess people see what they want to see, so it was really sort of a disappointment to me to see that all the stereotypes that I thought of as a child about country music, they really were, they really were there, are there.
    Natalie, thanks so much.
    Thank you.

    lunes, 13 de julio de 2015

    Listening test: Why we love films that make us cry

    In this week's listening test you will listen to part of a BBC radio programme where two reporters, Rob and Feifei, discuss films that make us cry. In each of the spaces given in the sentences below, complete the missing information with up to THREE WORDS (numbers count as one word). 0 is an example. You will hear the information twice.

    0. The particular film that made Feifei cry was Turner and Hooch.

    1. The film that made Rob cry was ……………………………………………………… .

    2. The event recently held that Rob and Feifei mention was the 85th  ……………………………….  .

    3. The mark of good films is that they cause us to reveal …………………………………… .

    4. According to Dr Averil Leimon, people want to have their emotions ………………………………… so that they can have them.

    5.    In a film the style of the pictures and the music or ………………………………………………… are used to affect our emotions.

    6.    Grown men cry when seeing Toy Story 3 because they become nostalgic about their ……………………………………………………… .

    7. According to composer Philip Sheppard, in films people find a way out for their emotions, especially when they are ……………………………………………………… .

    8. The film that has won the most Oscars was made in ………………..……… .

    Rob: Hello, I'm Rob, welcome to 6 Minute English. With me in the studio today is Feifei. Hello there.
    Feifei: Hi Rob.
    Rob: In today's programme we're discussing films that make us cry and why we actually enjoy watching something that makes us burst into tears.
    Feifei: I'm afraid yes, I have done that.
    Rob: Is there a particular film that's made you cry?
    Feifei: I think, Turner and Hooch (0)… and how about you Rob?
    Rob: Well, being a man, obviously I would never cry - well almost. There is an old children's film called The Railway Children (1). At the end when the children's father returns from exile, his daughter runs down the station platform shouting "my daddy, my daddy!" That makes me misty-eyed.
    Feifei: You big softie!
    Rob: Of course, the 85t Academy Awards (2) – better known as The Oscars – were held recently and there was one major weepy that won several awards. And that film was Les Miserables. I've seen it and it really is a tearjerker. So why do we choose to see a film – or movie – that makes us get so emotional?
    Feifei: Well, I suppose it's the mark of a good film if it causes us to reveal our emotions (3). A really sad story, if it's well acted and directed, can really make us blub. And a sob story – one where a character tries to get our sympathy for him or her – can have the same effect. But what is it about a film that can makes us cry when we can't cry in real life?
    Rob: Well, according to psychologist, Dr Averil Leimon:
    Dr Leimon People want to have their emotions manipulated (4), because then they're allowed to have them. We spend so much of our life being told you shouldn't feel like that, you don't feel like that when in fact we do feel like that. And both the visual and the, you know, the auditory allows us to know what emotion we're meant to feel.
    Feifei: In real life we are told how we should feel.
    Rob: But when watching a film, at the cinema for example, we can let our emotions loose. But there is something else in a film that effects our emotions.
    Feifei: So that's the style of the pictures and the music or sound effects (5) that are used.
    Rob: Like the music in the Jaws movie, although that's not really a tearjerker.
    Feifei: Come on Rob, I bet you cried at the scary bits?!
    Rob: I told you, men don't cry. Although there is one film that has had grown men crying their hearts out. That's the film Toy Story 3.
    Feifei: Really?
    Rob: Yes. I don't think it's because the film is sad but because watching it makes men nostalgic about their youth (6) and perhaps they can see their kids reflected in the story too.
    Feifei: Well I bet these men were crying alone. They wouldn't want to be seen crying in public?
    Rob: Well not according to Philip Sheppard who composes – or writes – film music.
    Sheppard: All of us sort of need to find a catharsis, especially with in a group (7) to have this sort of place to have an emotional response. It ends up being something where you need to have that kind of release. As British people we're terribly bad at it I think. But when people find an outlet for it such as a film, especially when they are in a crowd (7), people's emotional responses are much more instantaneously responsive.
    Feifei: So if one person cries then other people will start to cry too. Unless you're British of course!
    Rob: That's what Philip Sheppard thinks.
    Feifei: OK Rob, well let's not cry over spilt milk!
    Rob: Which film has won the most ever Oscars? The answer is actually Ben Hur. The 1959 (8) film has won 11 awards – the same number has also been won by Titanic and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of The King. Thanks Feifei. Well, it's a crying shame but we're out of time.
    Both: Bye!

    domingo, 12 de julio de 2015

    Extensive listening: Is sugar toxic

    A couple of years ago CBS 60 Minutes aired Is Sugar Toxic, on the negative effects that this key element of our daily diet might be having on us.

    This is the way reporter Sanjay Gupta introduced the segment.

    "The chances are good that sugar is a bigger part of your daily diet than you may realize which is why our story tonight is so important. New research coming out of some of America's most respected institutions is starting to find that sugar, the way many people are eating it today, is a toxin and could be a driving force behind some of this country's leading killers, including heart disease.
    As a result of these findings, an anti-sugar campaign has sprung up, led by Dr. Robert Lustig, a California endocrinologist, who believes the consumption of added sugars has plunged America into a public health crisis."

    To watch the segment, click on the link here or the picture below.
    You can read a full transcript of the segment here.

    sábado, 11 de julio de 2015

    Pronunciation of -ED by Woodward English

    A few weeks ago Woodward English published this video in which they look at the 3 different ways of pronouncing the ending -ED at the end of regular verbs in English.

    They go into detail about the rules necessary to know the correction pronunciation of any -ED ending: These rules are  for regular verbs in the past tense, for regular past participles and for adjectives that end in ED.

    There is a special section about voiced and voiceless (or unvoiced) sounds in English.

    You will also find the Woodward -ED Pronunciation chart where you will hear how each each word is said.

    You can find more details about the correct pronunciation of ED at the end of words in English here.
    Pronunciation of ED in English Game (20 questions).
    Pronunciation of ED in English Game 2 (50 questions).

    viernes, 10 de julio de 2015

    Take a Wild Ride on Kenya's Minibuses

    New York Times reporter Jeffrey Gettleman rides on the unregulated minibuses that are fighting a move toward electronic payments in Nairobi.

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

    1 The matatus is a risky means of transport.
    2 All the matatus use a transit card for payment.
    3 The owner of Hitler named his matatu after a childhood friend.
    4 Leigh is very close to the city centre of Nairobi.
    5 You need a gmail account to get a transit card.
    6 The reporter was arrested for refusing to show his identification.
    7 Money is the only sure-fire way of payment in Nairobi's public transport.

    Where, where we going?
    We’re taking the Nairobi subway system right now and we’re about to jump in. We’re riding in one of Nairobi’s infamous matatus. They’re the mass transit of Kenya. Millions of people every day ride these mini buses.
    While this is Nairobi’s mass transit system, there’s no real regulations. The driver and the conductor are incentivized to bring in as many passengers as possible, drive as fast as possible. It’s often like a drag race out here. It’s also a bit of an underworld. There is a lot of corruption. Some of the owners of matatus are known mafia figures. Police officers frequently stop the matatus and ask them for kitu kidogo, a little something.
    The government of Kenya has been trying for years to clean up the matatu industry, so there’s this new plan a foot to eliminate cash in the matatus, to have all the passengers use like a New York subway transit card, but the problem is these guys are used to running their business a certain way, purely cash. Some people say they hide the money from the government so they don’t pay taxes, so many of the matatus including the one we are in, Hitler, have been refusing to use the new technology.
    But wait a second, what’s the name of this matatu?
    This matatu is called Hitler.
    But how did it get that name?
    The owner told me that when he was a little kid he was like a bully in his neighbourhood and all the kids in his neighbourhood called him Hitler.
    Are there any objections to this?
    No, a lot of the matatus have kind of controversial names like Gangsta. Yesterday I saw one called Psycho. So now let’s find one of these new cards that we’ve heard about that supposedly work on all the matatus.
    ... (Swahili) beba card. Beba card. Not that many people know about these new beba cards. A lot of the people looked at me like I was crazy when I was asking for them.
    The bringing of technology to the masses here in Kenya, the challenges of a poor country, so the government struggle and they try to bring in this technology to everybody.
    There is no beba cards that we can find in Nairobi. We have to go to a little place called …Leigh which is about twenty minutes outside of Nairobi and we’re going to see if there’s anybody up there that can sell us one of these cards.
    I hear some people that are selling them, right here.
    Habari yako a beba card?
    Google developed this technology for free, but the catch is everybody who gets the card has to have a gmail account. So all this can be done on the street, which is pretty amazing actually. We’re standing here in the dirt of this matatu station.
    Thirty minutes out of town.
    Yeah, we have to go out of town. So this is my new card. So now that we got this, we can go anywhere, anywhere in Nairobi with our new beba card.
    We swipe or tap?
    It works, he tapped this, it took off sixty shillings but it looks like on this bus even though this beba card is everywhere that we might be the only one on the bus using this.
    So we just got arrested by some undercover police officers who thought we were terrorists.
    [You can’t arrest us. We work for the New York Times, man.]
    When I refused to pull out my ID, they handcuffed me and then they took us to the police station, we worked everything out, we are all friends now, but the problem here there’s been a number of terrorist attacks in Nairobi, there’s even been some matatus that have had bombs put on them. So everybody is on edge.
    Let’s see if I can use this matatu card to get home.
    You take beba pay?
    Beba pay?
    It looks like Hitler is not alone. None of these matatus are taking this technology. I got to use old-fashioned cash.