miércoles, 30 de septiembre de 2015

Talking point: A good read

This week's talking point is reading. Before getting together with the members of your conversation group, go over the questions below so that ideas flow more easily when you meet up with your friends and you can work out vocabulary problems beforehand.
  • What kind of fiction do you prefer (sci-fi, romance, crime, historical, horror)?
  • Are you interested in non-fiction or self-help books? Why? Give examples.
  • What are your favourite books or readings from childhood?
  • What is your favourite all-time book? Talk about the setting, the plot, main characters, film adaptations if any, main topics running the book.
  • Which is the last book you read: What did you choose to read that book? What is about? Would you recommend it?
  • Do you read book reviews or follow someone's advice before reading a book?
  • Who are the greatest writers and poets in your country? 
  • Have you read any of their books?
  • Do you know any bookworms?
  • Does/did your school use to have a book club?
  • Do you think book clubs are a good way of encouraging reading?
  • Have you ever subscribed to a book club (to buy books at a reduced price)?
To illustrate the point you can watch Ken Follet talking about his book Fall of Giants.

Fall of Giants begins in 1911 as a prologue, in 1911. The real story begins in 1914 and covers ten years. The second book will cover the Second World War and the third book in the trilogy will cover the Cold War.
Fall of Giants is about five families, one American, one Russian, one German, and two British families, and it’s about their destiny, and it's about them getting, falling in love and getting in, getting married and going to war and making money and losing money, all the things that novels are always about. But it's also about their experience of the great events of the first part of the 20th century, so the people in Fall of Giants live through the First World War and the Russian Revolution and the aftermath of those events in the early 1920’s.
So it's not really, it's not a history book, it's a novel. And it's about individuals and their passions, but it's also about their experience of history. It’s about them living through great historic events.
I didn't want to take any liberties with history. I wanted this insofar as I'd say what happened on the world stage, in war, on the battlefields, in parliaments, that's all true, that's exactly how it happened. And the way I do that is I usually I put a fictional character in the room, so one of the people who we're reading about, one of the young men on one of the young women, is there on the scene at some real event and finally, when I have done all my own reading, I hired actually eight history professors to read the typescript and correct it. And so… I hope with all that there should be no mistakes.
Social divisions have always, all through history, have always been undermined by romance and so for me this is a way of bringing people from different levels of society together, and even though they may be hostile to one another in principle and maybe across a political divide, certainly across a social divide, they may nevertheless be very attracted to one another, and that of course messes everything up, and that’s where drama comes from.
My subject is all of western civilization uh... It’s not from the point of view of one country. I’ve tried to see all the important events from international points of view. And the subject isn’t even just a war, you know, it's not just about the First World War. The Russian Revolution takes up just as much of the story
and it's just as important and of course the two are linked, everybody knows. So when I was thinking, you know, who should I read to see how they've tackled this challenge, I basically found that nobody's tackled this challenge, I’m on my own.

martes, 29 de septiembre de 2015

10 Questions for Jillian Michaels

Jillian Michaels is an American trainer who helps people lose weight with her workouts, exercises, recipes, videos, and books. Here's she's interviewed for Time Magazine.

Self-study activity:
Watch the interview and say whether the statements below are true or false. The activity is suitable for advanced students.

1 Jillian is reluctant to name any brands.
2 Jillian advises eating Pop Chips.
3 Newman’s own Alphabet Cookies are not a suitable snack.
4 Morbid obesity is genetic and we cannot do anything about it.
5 Having a specific goal is going to make it much easier for you to lose weight.
6 Only diet and exercise can speed your metabolism.
7 Jillian's main mentor health-wise was her skiing instructor.
8 Jillian's show starts at 8.

I’m Brian Alexander with Time Magazine and I’m here with Jillian Michaels. Jillian is the author of the Master Your Metabolism cookbook which is on bookshelves now.
You got it!
Thank you very much for doing this.
No, thank you for coming.
Zachary Phelman from Tyngsborugh, Massachusetts, says I’m an art teacher and I always try to ensure snacks in my classroom are healthy but kids prefer naughty treats. What are some healthy alternatives?
Okay. Easy. Go with Pop Chips instead of like the… I don’t want to bash any brands but…
Bash a brand!
These days I don’t… I have to be very careful about everything I do and say. So the obvious like Cheez Doodles, processed, fried chip with preservatives and chemicals…
I don’t say it, you said it. Then pretty much anything else in that category or genre has got a lot of garbage in it, whether it’s chemical TBHQ, or transfat or MSG. Bottom line is pop chips are awesome, they’re all natural, there are 100 calories in a little snack bags, I’m obsessed with them and I give them the… all my parents and… they put them in their kids’ lunchboxes, they’re fantastic. Another like really simple kids swap, give them so kids aren’t drinking so much sodas, give them Vitamin Water Zero, all natural, no calories, leave of stevia, it’s really great, and then for like grab-and-go snacks give them organic skim cheese sticks to take with them to school and another thing that is really great is the Newman’s own Alphabet Cookies, really good, 10 calories a piece and all organic, natural, nothing bad in them.
Gwen Brandenburg from Reno, Nevada, says or asks, most of the contestants on The Biggest Loser come to some sort of realization of their emotional situation that led to their obesity. Is obesity about emotional trauma, bad genes or poor habits?
Oh, gosh, such a good question.  I believe that morbid obesity is often about emotional trauma and you can be predisposed genetically, but it’s not a sentence. So the bottom line is that if you’re overeating, you’re eating poor foods, some people can get away with it while others will gain a lot of weight. There’s a genetic predisposition, I’m genetically predisposed, but I manage my weight. The root of obesity is usually emotional and then I think the poor habits or a symptom of the emotional issue.
Lauren Schuman from Williamsport, Pennsylvania, says, what’s the best way to motivate yourself in starting a new workout plan or diet?
Great question. Okay. The best way to motivate yourself is to establish the reasons why you want to change and then make every decision with that goal in mind, so every choice you make, you think about the ultimate goal. For example, you know, what is your why? If you have a why to live for, you can tolerate any how, so whether it’s seeing your grandchildren grow up and go to college or looking amazing at your 28th wedding anniversary, whatever your reasons might be, reversing diabetes, whatever they might be, every time you make that decision about what you’re gonna have for breakfast, are you gonna go to the gym or not, think about how is it getting you closer to that ultimate goal. You’ll find that when you put your life in perspective like that, having quality and quantity is gonna be worth so much more than a doughnut, you know, it’s just about being very mindful and keeping the bigger picture always in the forefront.
Dan Riley, from Watkinsville, Georgia, asks, for years I’ve watched The Biggest Loser and over and over again you’ve stated there are no magic pills that will help you lose weight but I see your name endorsing diet supplements. Why?
It’s not an endorsement deal. It’s a licensing deal. What that means is that I work with a lab and doctors, of course, to create supplements that, I believe, help enhance your metabolism. It’s just… they’re all natural and the bottom line is that there are certain things that speed your metabolism in conjunction with diet and exercise. For example, vitamin C inhabits cortisol, which is the stress hormone that puts weight around your middle, caffeine can speed metabolism by up to 6% when you take it in the right dose. Just it is… it’s just a fact, so this isn’t a magic pill nor is it meant to be, but it is meant to help you see results faster and better, like instead of two pounds a week, what about three?
Janessa Hertig of Froid, Montana says, you always push people to their fullest potential. Who pushed you to achieve everything you have accomplished?
Gosh, I’ve had many mentors and teachers along the way. I’ve been very fortunate but the person that started it out for me was definitely my martial arts instructor, and that’s when I was about twelve years old, you know, and he worked with me until I was twenty-one, and he changed my life, he really did, and he demanded that I lived up to my potential and, you know, if I didn’t he was like I’m not wasting my time, so you either meet me halfway or don’t bother. He was the person that really was that mentor, kind of… my mom called it, my mom is a shrink, she called it the good enough father, he was the good enough father for me. He saved my life as a kid.
Thank you very much Jillian Michaels. The Master your Metabolism cookbook is on bookshelves now and Losing it with Jillian premiers on June 1st. What channel is that?
In The Biggest Loser timeslot, at 8 o’clock.
Okay. Thank you very much.

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

lunes, 28 de septiembre de 2015

Listening test: Office life

Listen to Steve and Helen discuss six office-related situations and choose the option a, b or c which best answers each question. 0 is an example.

Conversation One
1. Who is going to go to Brussels?
a) William and Charlie.
b) Barry and Susan.
c) Barry and Charlie.

Conversation Two
2. Why did Harbon Industries win the contract?
a) They promised something Helen and Steve’s company couldn’t.
b) They made a promise to build a new factory.
c) Their factory construction deal was cheaper.

Conversation Three
3. What device is Steve trying to use?
a) Photocopier
b) Laminator
c) Scanner

Conversation Four
4. What is Helen’s biggest concern?
a. The deal is going to be cancelled.
b. There isn’t enough time to do everything.
c. She has to write the proposal.

Conversation Five
5. Why does Helen think that the relocation meeting was a waste of time?
a. Because she’s not interested in moving house.
b. Because everything’s already been decided.
c. Because she needs to spend her time looking for a new job.

Conversation Six
6. What does Steve find frustrating about the situation?
a. There seems to be some duplication in the file organization.
b. That Helen didn’t save the file where she should have.
c. That somebody has lost the documents.

a laminator: a device to apply plastic on posters, photos and documents to preserve them

Conversation One
Steve: Do you know who is going to Brussels for the product launch?
Helen: Barry and Susan, I think.
Steve: Barry needs to stay here to prepare next year's budget. William told me Charlie would be going.
Helen: Oh, now I remember. It's Susan who has to prepare the budget so it must be Barry he'll accompany.
Conversation Two
Helen: Did you hear we didn't get the ComTel contract?
Steve: I don't believe it. What on earth happened?
Helen: They told us that the costing of the factory construction was too expensive.
Steve: I suppose Harbon Industries won it, did they?
Helen: Yes, they were willing to guarantee that the factory would be built in Egypt and that swung the deal.
Conversation Three
Steve: Do you have any idea how this works?
Helen: Switch it on using the red button. Wait until the green light shows, which means it's hot enough. Then slide the document in and it comes out the other side.

Steve: I need to use a plastic sleeve, don't I?
Helen: Yes, put the document inside it.
Conversation Four
Helen: Tomorrow is Monday the fourth, isn't it? That's the deadline for the Spain project. We'll never get it finished in time.
Steve: What are you worried about? The deadline isn't until Friday. That's the eighth.
Helen: Steve, what are you talking about? Didn't you get the memo changing the deadline? I thought we were going to cancel the project and, instead, we have to get it done by tomorrow. There's too much to do still: the sales projection, wages, overheads and somebody has to write the proposal.
Steve: Look, I spoke to Mr. González yesterday and he said it would be fine to wait until the end of the week. We've got nearly a week.
Conversation Five

Steve: Did you go to the meeting about relocating next year?
Helen: I did. Some people got a bit hot under the collar.
Steve: How come?
Helen: Well, the management is presenting this as something that is really exciting, but I'm not sure that everybody sees it that way.
Steve: What did you say, Helen?
Helen: I said that meetings like that are a huge waste because nothing we say will change anybody's mind. I think we will have to find a new job or move house.
Conversation Six
Steve: I'm looking for the file we were working on the last week, you know, the Woodward contract.
Helen: It should be in the folder, "Germany".
Steve: Why do we have a folder called Germany when there is also a folder called Europe. That's the type of confusion which results in lost documents. Are you sure it hasn't been deleted? It's not in the Germany folder.
Helen: I don't know what to say. I wasn't the last one to work on it.
Steve: Oh, look, it's sitting here on the desktop. Someone must have saved it there by mistake.

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

domingo, 27 de septiembre de 2015

Extensive listening: Natalie Portman Harvard Commencement Speech at Harvard

Natalie Portman, the Academy Award-winning actress, returned to Harvard on May 27 2015 to address graduating seniors during the annual Class Day celebration in summery Tercentenary Theatre.

Portman, 33, who attended Harvard College from 1999 to 2003 and earned an A.B. in psychology, reflected on her own experiences at the University and in her career as she battled self-doubt. Even 12 years after graduation, with an enviable body of work and a rich personal life, she confessed to still feeling pangs of insecurity.

You can read the transcript here.

sábado, 26 de septiembre de 2015

Reading test: The Unexpected Pleasure of Doing Things Alone

For this week's reading test we are going to use The Atlantic article The Unexpected Pleasure of Doing Things Alone to practise the sort of grammar and vocabulary multiple choice task.

Read the article and choose the option a, b or c which best completes the gaps 1-14 below. 0 is an example.

The Unexpected Pleasure of Doing Things Alone

Two years ago, a Dutch creative agency opened a concept restaurant in Amsterdam that would be, in the words of its founder, “the perfect place to dine in pleasant (0) … .” The restaurant is called Eenmaal—this name has been translated into English as “dinner for one”—and was launched in an attempt to start dissolving the stigma attached to going out alone. Apparently picking up on the same cultural drift, a new fast-casual restaurant in Washington, D.C., has tiered, bench-like seating with individual trays, a(n) (1) …. that caters to solo diners.

As antisocial as those ideas may sound, it’s surprising that the world hasn’t seen more of them. Today, more than a quarter of American (2) … are home to just one person—a figure that has tripled since 1970. Also, the median age at which Americans get married has recently reached a record high. Given these demographic shifts, one would think that by now, going out to the movies or to dinner alone wouldn’t be the radical acts they still are.

A study in the Journal of Consumer Research gets at why most people are so (3) … to leave home and do fun things on their own. In a series of experiments, the University of Maryland’s Rebecca Ratner and Georgetown’s Rebecca Hamilton demonstrated that when it comes to going to the movies or to dinner, individuals consistently think they won’t (4) … as much if they aren’t going with any of their friends. "People decide to not do things all the time just because they're alone," Ratner told The Washington Post. "But the thing is, they would probably be happier going out and doing something."

A study in the Journal of Consumer Research gets at why most people are so unenthusiastic to leave home and (5) …  fun things on their own. In a series of experiments, the University of Maryland’s Rebecca Ratner and Georgetown’s Rebecca Hamilton demonstrated that when it comes to going to the movies or to dinner, individuals consistently think they won’t have as much fun if they aren’t going with any of their friends. "People decide to not take part in things all the time just because they're (6) …," Ratner told The Washington Post. "But the thing is, they would probably be happier going out and doing something."

Some of Ratner and Hamilton’s experiments had subjects trying to imagine themselves in certain situations—running (7) …, watching movies at home, going out to dinner—alone or with others, and forecasting how pleasure they would take out of them. But the experiment that is the most telling compared subjects’ predictions to how the experiences actually played out. The researchers stopped 86 (8) … in a college’s student union—some of them recruited while walking alone, others in a group—and asked them to stroll through a nearby art gallery, but only after they’d predicted how much they’d enjoy it. Comparing those results to surveys after the trip, the researchers found that the solo gallery-goers predicted lower levels of enjoyment, (9) … they ended up enjoying the experience about as much as those who went with company.

The researchers determined that the main reason people didn’t think they’d have as much fun is that they were afraid other people would think they didn’t have any friends. (That effect was only present for public activities—watching a movie on the couch wasn’t (10) … less appealing when done alone, but going to a theater was.)

Another experiment revealed the irrationality at the core of this fear. The researchers found that individuals assume the judgments they receive for being alone are going to be much harsher than those they’d pass on others in the same situation. They thought they’d be seen as unusual, antisocial, and strange for going somewhere without friends, but said they wouldn't attach these labels as strongly to someone they witnessed, (11) …, sitting alone at a movie theater.

Ratner and Hamilton also ran some experiments to see how they might be able to nudge people to go out by themselves. They realized that there wasn’t the same mental block against going to the grocery store alone, and theorized that this was because shopping represented (12) … . Sure enough, subjects who pondered going to a coffee shop on their own thought it sounded more enjoyable when they were told they had reading material and could be productive than when they were going simply to enjoy a drink. Getting people to think of an experience as an accomplishment might make them more (13) … to do it without a friend's company. The researchers’ other advice to marketers was to try and revise social norms by, for example, designating sections at concerts for music lovers who are there alone, or building communal tables for individual diners at restaurants.

The next step in revising the way solo activities are thought of, (14) …, is about how present people are when they do them: In the absence of fellow diners, many of the customers at Eenmaal, the blog Food Republic reported, ended up staring at their phones anyway. These days, when a phone is never farther than an arm’s length away, "alone" just doesn't mean what it used to.

a) isolation    b) loneliness   c) solitude  

a) arrangement   b) organization   c) plan

a) families   b) households   c) houses

a) fond   b) reluctant   c) willing

a) enjoy   b) enjoy themselves   c) amuse

a) do   b) join   c) make

a) alone   b) friendless    c) lonely 

a) businesses   b) errands   c) races

a) passers-by   b) subjects   c) walkers

a) despite   b) even if   c) even though

a) considered   b) regarded   c) seen

a) like   b) say   c) such as

a) getting something   b) getting done something  c) getting something done

a) likely   b) possibly   c) probably

a) although   b) though   c) nevertheless

Photo: The Atlantic

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

viernes, 25 de septiembre de 2015

Man walks 200 miles to prove how kind strangers can be

As part of Airbnb’s Daily Kindness bulletin film maker Leon Stuparich travelled from London to Glastonbury relying on the kindness of strangers.

Self-study activity:
Watch the news item and answer the questions below. The activity is suitable for Intermediate 2 and Advanced students.

1 How much money did Leon Stuparich have on his pilgrimage?
2 What did the lady on the campsite offered?
3 What exactly did the man they found on the road bring them five minutes later?
4 What was the group doing in the arts centre?
5 Where was the house they were offered?

The idea of the peace pilgrimage really to try and take the lessons I learned from the Dalai Lama when making Road to Peace and put it to the test and to see if kindness and love is enough that we can survive on in 21st century Britain, doing a walk 200 miles, (1) without money, penniless, from London to Glastonbury to see if it was really possible to live through kindness; would people take us into their homes, would we even find somewhere to stay.
When you meet somebody with a smile and you take time to understand that story as well, people come forward and they will naturally be kind. People automatically turn round and say, well what can we do for you, what can we offer?
One lady came out the campsite one morning and we said, oh, we're on a pilgrimage, you know, going walking two hundred miles, and she said, oh, (2) would you like some rice? I cooked some rice last night I've got a load leftover I can give me some!
Where we stayed the first night was literally by the side of the road and we woke up to this guy walking his dog, and he's like I'll come back in five minutes. You guys like a cup of tea?, and he turns up with (3) a kettle, mugs, tea bags and the kettle with boiling water inside just making us all cups of tea.
It was probably the most drastic night where we didn't, we didn't know where we're going to stay and one of the group, she got really sick and (4) we were screening the film Road To Peace in an arts center that night and then somebody in the Arts Center said, you can come in, you can come and stay in our flat, you know, here's the keys. Let yourself come and go as you please; it's actually (5) across the road from the hospital. Giving somebody the key to your house that four hours before you'd never met and trusting them with that, I think there's something really special about that.

jueves, 24 de septiembre de 2015

Close to home ad

The Close to Home ad is quite predictable. In it we are introduced to six characters on a perfectly average day but their lives are irrevocably changed all of a sudden.

Self-study activity:
As well as becoming aware of the dangers involved in texting and driving, we are going to use the ad to develop our listening skills. Watch the ad and answer the questions below. The activity is suitable for Intermediate 2 and advanced students.

1 How much is the man charged for the petrol at the station?
2 What does Elizabeth, the doll, want?
3 How much is the lottery jackpot?
4 What does the woman finally agree to do?
5 What did the girl forget?
6 What does the mother say everyone loves?

31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 44... Who loses one shoe? Hmm… no dog today.
Grace…let’s do this baby girl. Say goodbye to the gang.
Elizabeth wants to come too.
Ok, Elizabeth can come, but that’s all. Come on.
Sorry guys.
Pump 7.
(1) That will be $36. Rewards card?
Nope. You know what, give me one of those lottery tickets too. The big one.
Hey, what’s up?
Hey, so I think I’m going to skip out early and try to catch a few innings of Danny’s game.
Oh, I’m sure he would love that.
Hey, what do you want to eat tonight?
Would you eat at Mizzoni’s?
Uhh…don’t make me.
Alright that’s ok. I’m good with whatever.
Mommy…(2) Elizabeth wants some ice cream.
Well, she’s a good girl. Maybe we can get some on the way home.
Oh, Erin called. She left a message with the other broker.
Ok…so now what?
Now we wait.
Oh. Well don’t worry because we are about to become filthy rich anyway.
(3) Yeah, lottery is over $200 million. I got a ticket so I think we’re good.
Oh…why didn’t I think of that?
Well that’s what you have me for?
Hey, do you want me to pick anything up?
You know what? (4) I will eat Mizzoni’s, I don’t care.
Hey! Alright!
Love you.
I love you!
Mommy…(5) I forgot my crystal bracelet.
That’s ok sweetheart, it will still be there when we get back.  Ohh. (6) Everyone loves the picture I posted of you.
AT&T reminds you – It Can Wait.

miércoles, 23 de septiembre de 2015

Talking point: Competition

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

Do you consider yourself to be a competitive person?
In what ways are you competitive (with family or friends, at work or school, in sport or games)?
Who is the most / least competitive person you know?
Which of these quotations do you agree most with?
Winning isn't everything, it's the taking part - Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing
'Challenges give meaning to life'. Do you agree?
Have you ever been  the first to achieve something?
Have you ever won the first prize in something?
Do you remember any occasions when you did something for the first time?
Do you excel at something?
Think about a moment in your life when you achieved a goal: What did you achieve? How difficult was it? What strategies did you use to achieve that goal?

To illustrate the point you are going to watch Laila talk about a time she did something personally challenging. Click on the image below to watch the video.

martes, 22 de septiembre de 2015

10 Questions with Maggie Gyllenhaal

Maggie Gyllenhaal talks to Time on how to be human, her views on Obama and why she won’t talk about the Middle East. 

Self-study activity:
Watch the video and say whether the statements below are true or false. The activity is suitable for Advanced students.

1 Maggie Gyllenhaal has released a new series.
2 Maggie Gyllenhaal is reluctant to express her opinion on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
3 Maggie Gyllenhaal has an immovable position on the conflict.
4 Maggie Gyllenhaal is disappointed with Obama.
5 Nessa, Maggie Gyllenhaal's character, is idealistic.
6 Maggie Gyllenhaal thinks everybody should try and live a full life.

Your new series, The Honorable Woman, is about, was centered on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I know you gonna get this question a lot but do you take a side in that conflict?
I feel like the show I made, the piece of art I made, does articulate really beautifully so many things I feel about the conflict better than I could say in three sentences to you now and I'm trying to keep my personal politics out over the press about it at least until people have seen the show. I also feel like this particular conflict, in my opinion, it’s very difficult for me to have a hard and fast, immovable position on it, how I feel and how I think shifts all the time... by small degrees I do believe in compassion. I believe in the possibility of reconciliation. I am hopeful even in times when it seems impossible, I don't know what else we have. And I think the show takes a similar position.
I'm from Time magazine so I have to ask... you have said that Obama has broken your heart, would you like to say why?
I really believed in him and I'm not sure what he believes in anymore. I thought, probably naively but there's certainly an element of me that is naive, I still, somewhere, I, I root for him, I hope for him one day I think he’s gonna come out and stand up for all the things  he promised he was gonna stand up for but I feel a little hopeless right now.
Was there a little... particular decision or event that kinda pushed you over the edge?
I feel really disappointed with the way he's handled the NSA stuff and...
Too aggressive, not aggressive enough?
Not aggressive enough.
Nessa sleeps in a really crazily secure panic room, do you... you know, you’re a celebrity, you've got a famous husband, do you relate to that kind of fear?
I really took panic sometimes, I mean, I think one of the things that's happening with Nessa is that she is going from being somebody who performs herself all the time and feels that she has to be extraordinary and remarkable and pushes out the human flawed sides of herself, to somebody who, you know, is actually a human being.
Are you saying that some of the performative aspects of being an actress...
Well, look, I think it maybe it’s an occupational hazard of being an actor more than other people but I think that's something that all human beings can relate to: performing themselves, thinking they're supposed to be a kind of fantasy of what they imagined they were gonna be when they were twenty, you know, and then like, look, I'm 36, I feel like so much of my thirties has been having to... that performance just not working anymore and so then you have two choices, either you can slowly die or you can come alive and be in the river and be a human being and like do the best you can.

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

lunes, 21 de septiembre de 2015

Listening test: One thing to change in my country

Listen to six people talk about the main problem their country has and match each of the speakers with the corresponding heading A to H. There are two headings you do not need to use.

A - Bleak future for most people
B - Dishonesty everywhere
C - Money-related criticism
D -No problem other than this
E - Our lifestyle is too fast
F - People just don’t care
G - Time-consuming system
H - Violent young people

1 Sunny / Korea – Our lifestyle is too fast
I'm from Korea, and it's developed very recently in a rapid pace, so I think competition is the one thing that people always have in mind, and I hope Korea can be a little slow-paced and relaxed.
2 Tim / United States – People just don’t care
In America, I think it would be very helpful if people were more considerate about others, not necessarily people that they would interact with, but also people that they'll never see. So, if people could try to not litter so much or keep things in public areas much cleaner, or just do things that would be more helpful in the future, I think that would help things a lot.
3 Rese / Botswana – Time-consuming system
Yeah, I wish the public transportation was better, because currently it takes a long time to get from one bus station to another, and the buses are crowded, you cannot really get a good seat.
4 Gareth / England – Violent young people
I think my country is too violent. I'm from England, and there's a lot of youth violence, a lot of stabbing. In England, we don't have so much gang culture; it's a little bit in the cities, but it's mainly violence from fighting, like brawls. And I would like to stop this.
5 Kat / Germany – Money-related criticism
One thing I'd like to change about Germany is how many taxes we have to pay. Some people pay up to fifty percent of what they own to the government, and I think that's just too high, so I'd really like to change the tax system.
6 Katia / Mexico – No problem other than this
One thing that I would like to change about the country is perhaps have a little bit of less violence. Right now, it's a little bit critical situation, but I think that's the only thing that I would like to see changed in my country.

1E 2F 3G 4H 5C 6D

domingo, 20 de septiembre de 2015

Extensive listening: Britain at the Bookies

Britain at the Bookies is a three-episode BBC documentary series that follows the fortunes of high-street bookmaker Coral as it battles to remain competitive in the betting industry.

Manager Tony has been asked to try to turn around the fortunes around of the Cherrytree branch in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, which has a reputation for disruptive and often violent customers and is failing to hit its profit targets.

Meanwhile at HQ, betting specialist Gary works out the odds for the new series of Strictly Come Dancing, while the marketing team devise a scheme designed to attract people into opening online accounts.

sábado, 19 de septiembre de 2015

Pronunciation poem: The problems of spelling and pronunciation

Here's the famous poem by T.S.Watt (1954) which originally appeared in The Guardian and that has been used countless times in the English class.

The poem is read by Joanne Rudling, from How to spell.

The words highlighted in bold in the poem are those which I think an Intermediate 2 student should know. The rest of the words the poem illustrates would fall into the advanced level.

I take it you already know
 Of tough and cough and dough?
 But what about, hiccough, thorough and through?

 Beware of heard, a dreadful word
 That looks like beard and sounds like bird,

 And dead: it's said like bed, not bead
 For goodness sake don't call it 'deed'!

Watch out for meat and great and threat...
 They rhyme with suite and straight and debt.

(meat-suite, great-straight, threat-debt.)

 There isn't a moth in mother,
 Nor both in bother, or broth in brother,

 And here is not in there
 But ear is in dear and fear
 But not in bear and pear;

 And then there's dose and rose
 But lose, goose and choose,

 And cork and work and card and ward,
 And font and front and word and sword,

 And do and go and thwart and cart
 Come, come, I've hardly made a start!

 A dreadful language? Man alive!
 I'd learned to speak it when I was five

 But will I write it before I die?
 I hope so, I say with a sigh!

viernes, 18 de septiembre de 2015

Aboard One of the Biggest Container Ships in the World

In the competition that has global powers looking for new ways to move goods around the world, the Mary Maersk and nine other sister ships are the biggest pieces.

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

1 A lot of people are jealous of  captain Holmberg's job.
2 80,400 containers can be stacked in the Mary Maersk.
3 The captain is worried strangers might get on board the Mary Maersk before setting out.
4 Controlling the Mary Maersk is similar to the way one drives a car.
5 The crew work eight hours non-stop each day.
6 The Mary Maersk cost $190m to build.
7 The crew consists of 27 people.
8 Regulations demand that local pilots control ships so big when getting to port.

We are aboard the Mary Maersk the massive Triple E the biggest container ships in the world. At the moment we are away from Gothenburg to Bremerhaven.
Captain Holmberg has one of the most coveted jobs in the maritime. He’s in command of the Mary Maersk, part of the new class of ships called the triple E that in 2013 became the largest in the world.
Of all 18,400 containers, they can be stacked ten high. Here we’ve got four high, which means we can actually put six more containers on top of the stack here.
Stretching over 1300 feet, the Mary Maersk is as long as the Empire State Building. It contains enough steel to make eight Eiffel Towers. The Maersk shipping company launched the triple E line in June of 2013. Ten of the ships now ply the seas from Europe to Asia, in part to satisfy the hunger for European goods among China’s rapidly growing middle class.
It’s 2.20 in the morning and the operation is almost completed now, so we are making ready to sail. Rest of the crew, they are doing stowaway check at the moment. There’s a definite risk that some people might sneak on board. Most of them think that any ship is going to America which apparently it’s where they all want to go, so they will be solidly disappointed here, obviously.
This ship is so big that you have to think in advance. It’s not like the car, that you can sit the brake and you can stop. You really have to think in advance and plan your actions and what to do. Gothenburg port is quite a good port for this type of ships. It’s a good dredge channel. You always have safety distance under the kilt to make sure that the boat doesn’t hit the bottom.
So working at least eight hours a day in splits of four hours on, eight hours off, that’s the time on the bridge being a lookout or figuring out what’s doing any kind of given situations or in the pilotage. I ship around for about three months on any one vessel.
I’m a second engineer, I’m from the Ukraine, living in Odessa. My grandpa, he was a seaman, my father is also working as an engineer. I enjoy this life. It’s tough life for a... it’s very exciting because of this extremely expensive machinery and you are actually the one who is running it and depending on your judgement or your decision you know, either you will be in big trouble or you will be a winner. The propeller is right there behind this wall, so it is the one that is actually moving the vessel forward.
At $190m each, the new ships are a big gamble for the Maersk company, which is betting heavily on an improving global economy during a time of lingering uncertainty. Currently, many of the world’s major ports cannot yet accommodate ships this large, limiting their ability to be fully loaded as they cross the globe.
It’s not just building a ship, all the ports they need to make quite big, big investments as well.
For a ship so big, the crew is small, just 27 people on this trip, all men. When they are not working, the crew enjoys hot meals, a cinema, a swimming-pool, and a workout room.
I built it here.
Under sail, the ship burns approximately 100 tons of fuel a day, its single largest cost. The company says, however, that it achieves significant savings through its unique design.
A great deal of ship building it has been put into finding the optimum haul shape. There is no other form of transport that can even compare closely to the fuel ton cargo ratio. There is nothing that is even close.
Because this ship is more than 345 metres in length, the German regulations states you have to check the pilot pretty far out at sea … since it’s so far away from everything, the pilot he will be arriving by helicopter. Any port we go in, there will always be pilots. They have local knowledge and they communicate with the talks. We believe that I own the car but they own the parking lot, and if I want to park in their parking lot they want somebody there as well.
What is that like to drop in like that? You look like a navy commander.
I don’t know but that’s not so easy, especially if you have stormy weather, but in these circumstances it’s pleasant.
Every time that a new ship is come out everybody said that this is it, now can’t get any bigger, and then, a few years after then they just add a little bit more.

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

jueves, 17 de septiembre de 2015

Can signatures survive the digital age

A new exhibition at the National Archives in Washington explores the stories behind the famous and little known signatures that have made their mark on history.

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

1 What document of Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun can we see on the video?
2 What new law did Bill Clinton sign digitally in 2000?
3 What says a lot about us when writing emails?

Signatures are deeply personal. For centuries we’ve used them to make our mark on the world. Even the humble ex can be legally binding while the flourishes and swells of famous names have become linked with moments in history.
Jennifer Johnson is the curator of an exhibition about signatures at the National Archives.
The signatures on the document carried the force of law and can impact many people.
On display a shoe pattern signed by the pop star Michael Jackson. A card from the former Iraqui dictator Sadam Husseim and (1) the marriage certificate of Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun.
Gives you goose bumps, and that one is especially unique in that it is what I call… its multiple signatures, on one page you have Adolf Hitler, Eva Braun but Joseph Gobbles and Martin Boardman signed as witnesses.
But technology is replacing pen and paper. In 2000 President Bill Clinton used a smart card encrypted with his digital signature to e-sign (2) a new law that made online contracts legal.
Just imagine if this had existed 224 years ago, the founding fathers wouldn´t have had to come all the way to Philadelphia on July 4th for the Declaration of Independence. They could have emailed their "John Hancocks" in.
The US National Archives now collects millions of pieces of digital data every year.
If we were to look at the same exhibit a hundred years from now, it would have a combination of some of the quaint artifacts of today, the paper with the signatures and a really interesting and creative, I think, snapshot of the various ways people have been communicating and making their mark in an electronic environment.
But what technology could replace a signed sports shirt? And what do we learn about a person whose signature includes, excuse the typo, sent from my cell phone. Experts say electronic signatures can still create a unique impression.
What do you use as your closing for your email, your signature line, then we have of course options of fun. Now getting too out of control would be, you know, using the colours and the exciting pastel backgrounds and things that dance around. But I think that (3) just showing what signature line you use and how you close out your emails says so, so much about you.
What historian will make of our electronic communications is anybody’s guess, but one thing is already certain: the pen maybe mightier than the sword but it’s no match for email.
Jane O’Brien, BBC News, Washington.

miércoles, 16 de septiembre de 2015

Talking point: Public services and complaints

This week's talking point is public services and complaints. 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.
  • Have you ever complained about services in public places, restaurants, hotels?
  • If so, what happened?
  • When was the last time you were dissatisfied with a service but didn’t complain about it?
  • Why didn’t you complain?
  • Which advice on handling complaints positively would you give?
  • Can you give an example of a business which offers a good / bad customer service?
  • Do you agree with the remark that 'the customer is always right'?
  • What typical complaints people make about your line of work or company?
  • Who is the most/least skillful person at DIY jobs you know?
  • What kind of repairs are you more willing to do yourself / ask a friend or relative to do for you / hire professional people to do?
  • Do you ever volunteer to help friends, family or colleagues if they have some repairs to do?
  • Would you volunteer your time to help people in need or your community?
  • In what areas do you think you could be more helpful? 
To illustrate the topic you can watch the beginning of the Fawlty Towers episode Communication Problems. What would you have done if you had been the receptionist?

Number 17, please. 
That'll be fine, thank you.
Goodbye. Thank you so much.
Hello, Fawlty Towers.
Oh, hello, Mr. Hawkins.
I've arranged your car for 2:00 this afternoon.
Thank you.
Well, you did say today, Mr. Hawkins.
You do accept checks? 
With a banker's card, yes.
Well, we have to cancel the order then.
Yes. No, no, 5:00 will be fine.Goodbye
Polly, Brenda can't start till Monday so would you mind doing the rooms until then?
Oh, no. I could do with the money.
Oh, good
There you are
Thank you, Mr. Yardley
Oh, hello. Can I help you?
Girl, would you give me change for this, please?
In one moment. I'm just dealing with this gentleman.
Yes, Mr. Thurston... 
Thank you, I was wondering if... 
I need change for this!
In a moment. I'm dealing with this gentleman.
But I have a taxl driver waiting. Surely this gentleman wouldn't mind if you just gave me change.
Do you? 
No, no. Go ahead.
There you are.
Can you tell me how to get to Glendower Street?
Now, I've booked a room and bath with a sea view for three nights.
Glendower Street? 
You haven't finished with me.
Mrs. Richards. Mrs. Alice Richards.
Mrs. Richards, Mr. Thurston.
Mr. Thurston, Mrs. Richards.
Mr. Thurston is the gentleman I'm attending to at the moment.
Mr. Thurston is the gentleman I'm attending...
Don't shout. I'm not deaf.
Mr. Thurston was here before you, Mrs. Richards.
But you were serving me!
I gave you change, but I hadn't finished dealing with him.
Now, Glendower Street...
Isn't there anyone else in attendance here? Really, this is the most appalling service!
What a good idea!
Manuel, could you lend Mrs. Richards your assistance in connection with her reservation?
I've reserved a very quiet room with a bath and a sea view. I specifically asked for a sea view in my written confirmation, so please make sure I have it.
"KC"? What are you trying to say?
No, no, no, no.
Qué: What. 
Sí. Qué... what.
C.K. Watt? 
Who is C.K. Watt?
Is he the manager, Mr. Watt?
Oh, manaher! 
He is?
Ah, Mr. Fawlty!
What are you talking about, you silly little man?
What is going on here?
I ask him for my room, and he tells me the manager's a Mr. Watt, aged 40.
No. No, no.
"Faulty"? What's wrong with him?
It's all right, Mrs. Richards. He's from Barcelona.
The manager's from Barcelona?
No, no, no. He's from Swanage.
And you're in 22. 
You're in room 22. Manuel, take these cases up to 22, will you?

martes, 15 de septiembre de 2015

10 Questions for Paul Farmer

Paul Farmer talks about saving lives in Haiti, Rwanda's healthcare system and how to improve humanitarian aid.

Self-study activity:
Watch the video and say whether the statements below are true or false. The activity is suitable for Advanced students.

1 Paul Farmer is a doctor.
2 We have the technological and human resources to make healthcare available for all the people in the world.
3 Accompaniment is usually criticised for being very expensive to implement.
4 Paul Farmer is an asthmatic.
5 Paul Farmer's patient suffering from asthma finally died.
6 Paul Farmer received a present for his action.
7 Child mortality has increased in Rwanda in the last 10 years.

Paul Farmer is a physician who has tried, and actually kind of succeeded in bringing gold standard healthcare to the poorest people in the poorest nations. He has a new book, To Repair the World, and I’m delighted to say that he’s here with us at Time today. Dr Farmer, welcome.
Thank you very much.
You say the biggest failure that we have in providing healthcare to the people who are very poor is a failure of the imagination.
It must be a failure of the imagination because a lot of the technologies that you need or the human resources that you need to do a good job in settings of poverty, we have them elsewhere. You know, the idea that you could send a rover to Mars but not, you know, build a healthcare system for... that protects poor people is, is just not possible that we couldn’t do that.
You write in the book about accompaniment rather than aid. Can you explain what that means?
Well, you know, accompaniment is what a physician ought to be doing, or a nurse. That is, you don’t say to a patient, hey, here’s the beginning of your illness and here’s the end of it. You really say, okay, I’m gonna be your doctor for a long time. It seems to me, looking at aid that it would be a better model than some of the other ones that have preceded it.
So you think that this idea of accompaniment, you are a champion of, of great healthcare for the poorest. And the problem that a lot of people have with that is that is really expensive and really difficult to provide such healthcare.
Great healthcare may be less expensive than a radically administered or tardedly administered healthcare, at least I think it is. I’ve been lucky enough to work in places where there is, you know, enormous constraint on healthcare expenditures, rural Haiti, rural Rwanda, and seeing you can build systems that can provide compassionate prevention and care for the whole population with a focus on serving the poorest, probably for relatively limited amounts of money.
So there’s a story you tell in the book about happening upon a man who was about to die from an asthma attack. And it just so happened that the only piece of medical equipment you have on you at the time was an inhaler because you yourself are an asthmatic. and you managed to get enough of this inhaler substance into the man that he could recover. I mean, what, what do you take away from that story?
I had been there, in his village, in Haiti for another reason, for a community meeting, and I didn’t have a stethoscope and I didn’t have my bag. His wife said, please, doctor, please. And  so I went, and, if you’re having an asthma attack and you can get... his medication was just Albuterol, it feels, it looks like a miracle, but it’s not a miracle. Then the next day he came to see me in the clinic, and brought me, you know, a rooster and he prays on me and everybody in the village did. And you kind of like that when you’re a doctor.
Right, who doesn’t want a rooster? Right.
And who doesn’t want a rooster. I was thinking more of the praise. But then to say, you know, the best thing you can do, of course, is build systems that protect people from that kind of risk.
So it sound to me that it exhilarates you more to actually change public policy, to get prevention in place rather than the hands-on healing of one guy.
Yeah. In the last 10 years life expectancy has almost doubled in Rwanda. Child mortality has plummeted. Death during childbirth and deaths from patients who already have Aids or tuberculosis has dropped precipitously. Now, is that because someone like me went and delivered care to an individual patient, or is it because people thought about the systems of healthcare delivery and how to bring them up to scale for all Rwandans? It’s really the latter.
Dr Farmer, thank you.
Thank you very much, Belinda.

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

lunes, 14 de septiembre de 2015

Listening test: Cocaine chicken

You will listen to part of a BBC radio programme where two reporters, Rob and Jennifer, discuss a crime. 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.

0. Roast chicken is traditionally eaten with potatoes and vegetables as well as stuffing.

1. The Nigerian man used to work as ………….………….……. in Brazil.

2. The value of the drug he wanted to smuggle was …………………………..……………… .

3. The investigators found the drug in packages which looked like ……………….……. .

4. The Nigerian man had planned to ……………….…….  with the money made from the drug sales.

5. Nigerian authorities have recently found drugs inside ……………………………………, wigs and stethoscopes.

6. Three years ago a man on his way to Detroit was spotted with a bomb hidden in …………………………………………  .

7. The chicken is the ………………………………………… to an extinct species, the gigantic and terrifying tyrannosaurus rex!

Jennifer: Hello and welcome, I'm Jennifer and with me today is Rob.
Rob: Hello there.
Jennifer: Now, Rob, are you a fan of roast chicken?
Rob: Definitely. There’s nothing better than a lovely roast chicken on a Sunday, with all the trimmings, of course!
Jennifer: Here in the UK, people traditionally eat roast (0) potatoes and vegetables with their chicken, as well as stuffing.
Rob: Stuffing is a mixture of breadcrumbs and herbs which is stuffed, or pushed, inside the roast chicken. And it is delicious!
Jennifer: Well, you might be surprised to learn that today’s story is about stuffing roast chickens with something rather different…  Let’s return to our story now, which is all about a failed attempt at drug smuggling in Nigeria. Our story is about a Nigerian man, living in Brazil, who was struggling to earn a decent living. The man had been working as (1) a mechanic in Brazil, but decided he could earn more money if he smuggled drugs to sell back in his native country of Nigeria. Let’s listen to the first part of a report by BBC correspondent Leana Hosea. How did the mechanic try to smuggle drugs into Nigeria?

A Nigerian mechanic has been caught by the Drug Enforcement Agency in Lagos airport, Nigeria, attempting to smuggle (2) $150,000 worth of cocaine in roast chickens. Investigators say they found over 2.5kg of the unusual stuffing, wrapped up in tin foil, (3) [eggs] egg-shaped packages.

Jennifer: He was very inventive as he hid the drugs in egg-shaped packages.
Rob: It’s certainly risky, though. So why did he try to bring drugs into Nigeria?
Jennifer: Well, it seems he had a plan for the money. Here’s the second part of Leana Hosea’s report:

They called it a remarkable seizure, saying they never expected to find thousands of dollars’ worth of drugs in roast chickens. The suspect had flown in from Brazil, where he had been allegedly struggling to make a decent living for years. A spokesman for the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency says this was the suspect's retirement plan, and he had been hoping to (4) start a business with the drug sales.

Jennifer: Smugglers are using increasingly imaginative ways to conceal their drugs.
Rob: Recently the Nigerian authorities have found drugs hidden in the lining of (5) suitcases, in wigs and even in a doctor’s stethoscope!
Jennifer: Let’s listen to the final part of the report.

Nigeria is a major transit point for drugs, but the authorities have made efforts to improve security after a Nigerian man was discovered on a plane to Detroit, attempting to explode a bomb in (6) his underpants three years ago. The Nigerian authorities say airport body scanners have helped identify more than one hundred drug carriers last year.

Jennifer: It’s really an ongoing battle, but they are trying to improve security, particularly at airports.
Rob: Thankfully the drugs hidden inside the chickens did not make it into the country this time.
Jennifer: Indeed. Now, speaking of chickens, the chicken is the (7) closest relative to an extinct species. The chicken is actually the closest living relative of the gigantic and terrifying dinosaur, the tyrannosaurus rex!
Rob: I’ll never look at a chicken, or eat a chicken, in the same way again!
Jennifer: Bye for now!
Rob: Bye.

domingo, 13 de septiembre de 2015

Extensive listening:Rare Earth Elements

A few weeks ago CBS 60 Minutes aired the segment Rare Earth Elementsm which deals with the fact that China dominates the industry of unusual metals our daily lives depend on: from smartphones to cars to defense missiles. This is the way reporter Lesley Stahl introduced the segment:

"What do cars, precision-guided missiles and the television you're watching right now have in common? They all depend on something called rare earth elements, unusual metals that are sprinkled inside almost every piece of high-tech you can think of. Most people have never heard of them. But we have become so reliant on rare earths that a few years ago, an intense global power struggle broke out over their free flow. The reason is that one country has a virtual monopoly - roughly 90 percent -- of the mining, refining and processing of rare earths -- China. And in 2010, it used that power to disrupt the world's supply. As we first reported last March, it's especially troubling, because it was the United States that started the rare earth revolution in the first place."

You can read the full transcript here.

sábado, 12 de septiembre de 2015

Reading test: The rise of the 'extreme commuter'

Read the BBC article The rise of the 'extreme commuter' and choose the option a, b or c which best completes each of the sentences 1-7 below. 0 is an example.

Most people hate commuting, a modern-day necessary evil. So why would anyone choose to build a lengthy commute into their lifestyle, asks Karen Gregor.
Marcus used to live in London, but moved to rural Suffolk to give his children a bucolic upbringing. In doing so, he created a commute of - on a good day - two hours and 45 minutes in one direction. On a bad day (snow on the line, the wrong kind of leaves) it can take him anything up to three and half hours from home to office.
The journey starts off by car - a quick spin through the lanes to the station. He hops on a single-engine train at 05:40 GMT, which rattles to Cambridge carrying exhausted-looking painter-decorators and builders - there are very few suits around at that unearthly hour. At Cambridge a speedy modern train takes him to King's Cross. From there, he has a 25-minute canal-side walk to his office.
According to Lizzie Crowley of the Work Foundation, Marcus is officially an "extreme commuter". Anyone whose return journey to work amounts to three hours and over fulfils this criterion. Crowley points out that a recent survey by the recruitment organisation, Randstad, showed that while the recession has led to a drop in the number of people commuting as people lost their jobs - there has been an increase in people travelling more than three hours a day.  The survey, which looked at the commuting patterns of 2,000 workers between 2008 and 2013, found that almost one in 10 respondents were now travelling for that period a day - compared with one in 20 previously. "It's difficult to unpick the reasons why this is happening," says Crowley. "You could say it's a response of highly skilled earners to a tougher labour market. They've expanded their job search to areas further from their home."
Another, more reluctant, commuter who may fall into this bracket is James. He travels by car and train from Trowbridge in Wiltshire to Hook in Hampshire each morning - a door-to door journey of around two hours and 30 minutes. He works as a consultant and his main client, who used to be based 10 minutes from his home, moved their head offices to Hampshire. Instead of relocating - which wouldn't suit family life - he makes the journey almost daily. "If I had a choice," he says, " I'd like to not have such a long commute, but you just have to go where the work is in these tough times. The fact that I have a job is a good thing. I'd rather not do it, but it's required."
While many extreme commuters may find that the travelling time has no adverse impact on their health, Crowley warns of a "potential for extreme stress, chronic fatigue and an increased likelihood of developing indicators that might lead to a heart attack".  Then there is the impact the commute can have on family life.
Jane and Doug live in the Midlands. When Doug was made redundant from a local job he found a new one over two hours' drive away. The commute, as such, wasn't a problem for him but it was proving very disruptive for family life.  Inevitably, Doug would arrive home just as his young brood were in the middle of the crucial bedtime routine, and order would quickly turn to chaos. Between them Jane and Doug decided it might be more sensible for Doug to stay away two nights a week. This he does, and it's working well for the family.
Marion makes her five-hour-a-day return commute from Essex to central London by car and tube. The train is prohibitively expensive. She's not the only commuter in her single-parent family, though. Her daughter doesn't travel the same kind of distance but her daily routine involves being dropped at a friend's house, who then takes her to a child-minder, who delivers her to school.
A commuter in the making, perhaps?

0 Commuting
a) is commonly accepted as part of our everyday life.
b) is disliked by a minority.
c) is largely enjoyed these days.

1 Marcus
a) doesn’t spend the same time travelling every day.
b) spends around three hours travelling every day.
c) was transferred from London to Suffolk by his company.

2 On his journey to work Marcus
a) crosses a canal.
b) travels with blue-collar workers on the train to Cambridge.
c) has three different parts.

3 During the recession
a) the best qualified workers have shown a tendency to look for a job in the area where they live.
b) the number of extreme commuters has increased.
c) the number of workers commuting has increased.

4 James
a) didn’t want to move his family.
b) has his workplace very near the train station in Hook.
c) was made redundant and had to find a job somewhere else.

5 Extreme commuters
a) are unaware of the impact of travelling on their health.
b) generally feel tired and stressed out.
c) usually have problems at home.

6 Jane and Doug
a) have decided to separate.
b) have more than one child.
c) used to lead a chaotic life.

7 Marion
a) goes to work by train.
b) has a friend who is his daughter’s childminder.
c) isn’t married.

Photo: BBC

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