lunes, 29 de febrero de 2016

Listening test: A click away

In this week's listening test we are going to practise the complete-the-sentence kind of task.

Listen to two English teachers discuss the advent of the internet and the importance it has had for them and complete the blanks in the sentences below with up to three words. 0 is an example.

0 Example:
The internet has turned 40 (years old) this year.

1 The Internet didn’t become ________________________ until Tim Berners-Lee started the World Wide Web.

2 The couple’s first contact with the Internet was through a _______________________ back in the 90’s.

3 As the internet became popular when they were already adults, they had to go through that ________________________ and get the Internet and use it every day.

4 Apart from communication the big use they make of internet is to _______________ .

5 With the internet everything is ________________________ , just a click away.

6 ________________________ has also become very popular with the arrival of Skype, so students have a Skype tutor.

7 However much the internet progresses, ________________________ teaching will never disappear.

Image: Reuters

This year the Internet is 40 years old. So, Jackie, how did it all start?
Back in 1969 some US research universities they wanted to connect their computers together by a network and that was the very start of everybody all, you know, all the computers connecting together. It didn’t become worldwide of course until 20 years later, 20 years ago, in 1989 when the British physicist. Sir Tim Berners-Lee he started the World Wide Web.
He started the World Wide Web and that’s when it all really took off, didn’t it?
That’s right.
However, it didn’t really take off for me until I think, the 90s, my first connection with the Internet was actually getting a Hotmail email account, I think that was the same for you, wasn’t it?
Yeah, it’s interesting, isn’t it ‘cos I think as adults, you know, we’re adults who never had the Internet and then we’re also now adults who have gone through that transition – have the Internet and use it, well as a, as a…everyday, don’t we?
And we’re so old that we never had any computers at school.
No, not at all, or university.
So, yeah, so just as I said learnt by getting an email account, you know, when I was living in Indonesia and communicating with family and friends through email.
Yeah, I remember it was 1997 and I got my first Hotmail account, I think Hotmail was the big thing at the time.
Yes, definitely. So emailing is actually still the big part of the Internet for us, isn’t it, emailing?
Yes, we all used to write letters in the past so it’s just a much quicker form of communication but it’s not just emailing now for communication there’s all sorts of things there’s Skype of course, now we do use Skype don’t we?
Yes, for phone calls, very useful. But also not just communication but accessing information is the big thing we use the Internet for obviously.
Yes, because in the past I suppose, well for the news we used to watch the TV or listen to the radio and of course if we wanted any resources or information apart from that, we’d have to go to a library I suppose or buy books and magazines and I think to have everything at your fingertips, a click away, for me that is probably, I don’t know, for me that’s almost more exciting than using email.
Yes, and as teachers we find that we go to the Internet for resources rather than even using our little library of resources for teaching English, everything’s there.
And of course, talking about accessing information, learning and learning English.
Yes, it’s an amazing learning tool, isn’t it? And online teaching has become very popular, hasn’t it?
Yes, I know there are some people that learn, certainly learn English through Skype. They have a ‘Skype tutor’ who they speak to, something maybe we might look into in the future, I don’t know.
But I don’t think teachers are going to disappear. The Internet’s not going to get rid of teaching, is it?
Face to face teaching.
Exactly, that’s by far the best way.

1 worldwide
2 Hotmail email account
3 transition
4 accessing information
5 at your fingertips
6 online teaching
7 face to face

domingo, 28 de febrero de 2016

Extensive listening: Cats v Dogs Which is Best

Cats v Dogs Which is Best is a two-episode BBC documentary series.
Based at one of Britain's largest cat and dog veterinary centres, reporters Chris Packham and Liz Bonnin test different aspects of each animal in different rounds.

Round one begins with intelligence as Chris and Liz find out whether either species can understand numbers.
In Vienna, Chris is astonished to discover that dogs can discriminate between higher and lower numbers of dots and in a UK first, Liz tries out the test on cats with surprising results.
Round two tests their sensory powers to work out which animal has the better vision, sense of smell and hearing. Our cats and dogs have to negotiate a maze in the dark, but which one will find their way through in the fastest time? Chris challenges top sniffer dog Boris to find him in a distracting busy city and discover which species has the widest range of hearing.
The final round looks at whether cats or dogs are the most physically agile by testing which can jump the highest, which is the fastest sprinter and which the best endurance runner. With so many groundbreaking tests, who will be in the lead at the end of episode one?
On their search for answers, Chris comes face to face with a pack of wolves, whilst Liz confronts an Arabian wild cat to discover how the relationships between cats and dogs and humans have evolved. Together, they put our favourite pets under the microscope to see what really makes them tick and crucially, how they compare with each other.

sábado, 27 de febrero de 2016

Reading test: Time spent online 'overtakes TV' among youngsters

In this week's reading test we are going to practise the grammar and vocabulary multiple choice task, and we are going to use the BBC article Time spent online 'overtakes TV' among youngsters to that purpose.

Read the article and choose the option A, B or C which best completes the gaps 1-14. 0 is an example.

Time spent online 'overtakes TV' among youngsters

Young people are spending more time playing and socialising online (0) … watching television programmes, according to an annual survey tracking children's media behaviour in the UK. Staff at research agency Childwise described it as a "landmark change". Among those watching TV, the Netflix on-demand service was more popular than any conventional television channel. There was also a (1) … in children's ownership of tablet computers, up by 50% compared with last year.  The annual media monitoring report, based on a (2) … of more than 2,000 five to 16-year-olds, has been following children's viewing behaviour since the mid-1990s.

On demand
This year's findings from Childwise are being claimed as a tipping point with children (3) … from conventional television to spending time online. The average time spent online is now three hours per day, compared with 2.1 hours watching television.

Among older teenagers in the survey there is an even more pronounced move away from television, particularly at the time when it is broadcast. Among 15 to 16-year-olds, less than a quarter would typically watch television as it is broadcast, (4) … on a catch-up or on-demand service or through YouTube. Among this age group, 32% had no favourite television programme.
And across the whole age range, none of the programmes identified as favourites, (5) … Hollyoaks and Pretty Little Liars, had been seen by more than 2% of young people in the previous week. Boys had a preference for sport while girls preferred reality shows like Made in Chelsea.

Among television services, Netflix emerged as the most popular choice – (6) … all the conventional channels.
The study shows how much young people's lives are immersed in online activity and computer devices and how these forms of media are overlapping. While the average time for online consumption is three hours per day, among 15 to 16-year-olds it (7) … to almost five hours.
The most common way of accessing the internet is the mobile phone, which is described as "near universal" among young people.
But particularly among younger children, there has been a sharp increase in access to tablet computers, now owned by 67% of youngsters, with the iPad by far the most (8) … . Children go online to watch videos, listen to music, play games and (9) … their homework - and older children use it for social networking, particularly among girls.
The study reveals that (10) … young people are accessing the internet, YouTube is the dominant destination. The video-sharing website is used every day by almost half of all five to 16-year-olds, most often through a mobile phone or tablet, to watch video clips, listen to music and use games-related material. They particularly want to see "funny" content (11) … YouTube, but about a third watch "how-to" videos, including how to play computer games.

End of the CD player
Apart from YouTube, other popular online destinations are Snapchat, Instagram, Minecraft and Facebook. The study also suggests the technologies that are disappearing. A (12) … number of young people listen to music via a CD player, with mobile phones now the leading medium.
It also warns that printed magazines are losing their (13) …, with shrinking numbers of regular readers.
Simon Leggett, Childwise research director, said that this year's survey showed that "TV viewing has been redefined". "Growing access to the internet at any time and in any place, and a blurring of television content across channels and devices, brings a landmark change in behaviour this year. "Children are now seeking out the content of their choice. They (14) … find traditional TV programmes engaging but are increasingly watching them online and on-demand or binge watching box sets."

a) instead
b) than
c) that

a) raise
b) rise
c) uprise

a) sample
b) test
c) try

a) switching
b) taking
c) turning

a) in the place of
b) instead
c) rather than

a) as
b) such
c) such as

a) overtaking
b) passing
c) winning

a) goes
b raises
c) ) rises

a) known
b) useful
c) widespread

a) investigate
b) research
c) study

a) however
b) whatever
c) wherever

a) in
b) on
c) with

a) diminishing
b) reducing
c) lowering

a) appeal
b) charm
c) position

a) already
b) still
c) yet
1B 2A 3A 4C 5C 6A 7C 8C 9B 10A 11B 12A 13A 14B

viernes, 26 de febrero de 2016

Forgotten secret wartime Tube station opened

Beneath Clapham South Tube station lie a warren of tunnels which provided shelter for thousands of people during World War Two.

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

1. How deep are the tunnels?
2. How many people would the tunnels house?
3. How did London residents know which tunnel they should go?
4. Why did people in London protest at the beginning of the war?
5. What use were the tunnels put to after the war?
6. Why has the London Transport Museum opened the tunnels to the public now?

Above ground it’s a tube station like any other, but underground Clapham South hides a warren of life-saving tunnels preserved since the 1940’s.
So how deep underground are we going?
We’re going (1) 120 feet down. This is about 178 steps if we were taking… them.
This deep-level shelter was designed to take in (2) 8,000 people as bombs were dropped over South London during the Second World War.
(3) You would’ve been given an air-raid ticket which would’ve told you where to come, which particular shelter to come to, and which particular bed.
And these are the bed? These are the original beds?
These are the original beds, yes. They’ve been down here for over 70 years now, you know, they’re in pretty good condition really considering.
The tunnels would’ve been meant for people across London to come to. There was a public outcry at the beginning of the war (4) because there was not enough adequate deep sheltering for people.
So they had to build these?
They had to build them and then and they were all hand-dug during the war.
The original signs pointing the way to the various dormitories are still here, dormitories which protected those escaping bombs but, unbelievably, dormitories which (5) became temporary homes for the immigrants invited to Britain after the war.
These sheltered, also served as accommodation for the people getting off the Empire Windrush in 1948 from Jamaica. This is a picture of some of the new arrivals who were registering here at the Labour Exchange.
TFL along with the London Transport Museum have now opened up this piece of history for public visits. They say it’s a good way (6) to generate much needed income and that the area will benefit from a café and gallery space. They may have been kept hidden for decades but soon Londoners can rediscover what went on in these historic tunnels.
Alice Bhandhukravi, BBC London News.

jueves, 25 de febrero de 2016

Meet the man who owns around 80,000 magazines

In 2012, the Guinness Book of Records named the Hyman Archive the largest collection of magazines in the world. Meet the man behind it.

1. Which year do the first magazines in the archive date back from?
2. Which is the main topic that all the magazines in the archive have in common?
3. What did James's family think of his idea in the beginning?
4. What did James do before he started his project?
5. How does he get many of the magazines in the archive?
6. How does Tory Turk describe James?

My name is James Hymon and I’m the founder of Hymon Archive. We are in the stock room in London SA 18 in Woolwich. I would estimate we are up to about 80,000 magazines and 3,000 different titles. The collection spans 1910 to present-day, even yesterday, we get magazines coming in all the time and over 55% of the titles in the collection are not owned by the British Library [Yes, I’m going to need the ladder.]
This collection is curated for popular culture. That's a very broad definition, so that’s film, fashion, music, television, technology, art, sports and you have to obviously realize that in that itself you've got from the last hundred-plus years the best photographers, critics, authors, journalists, illustrators, visual artists, cartoonists. That's why it's so valuable.
[Here we go. They’re up here.]
Initially my family, they would make ties and they thought I was quite crazy doing this but as this journey has progressed and they’re seeing all the cogs fit into place and they share our vision, they see, you know, what that madness could be genius.
I started collecting, the tipping point for me really was when I was a script writer for MTV Europe in the late eighties and early nineties. You didn't have the internet, your best source of information was magazines, they were the zeiss guides, they had all the stuff that you needed information on to talk about what was going on in music, film, fashion. I valued those magazines because I really felt an emotional attachment to them to preserve what was in there. There was something in those magazines that had to be preserved, the information, the pictures, the illustrations, the photography was very important, in my opinion, and still is.
[I think this is it. Hold on. Yeah.]
I don't have that anxiety like I used to, like oh my gosh I'm missing an issue, because again we get lots of donations. For me that anxiety is gone because I have the vision for what I want to do with
[Oh, hold on, number three.]
Well as you can see behind me, there’s an incredible team who help maintain it, Alexia and Tory Turk. Tory Turk has been incredible. She’s been with me pretty much from day one on this project.
Well, I think me and James automatically bonded. I really sort of appreciate his OCD spirit and his complete-ism. I think he's a genius. It's difficult to understand how he could’ve come up with this idea so long ago when at that time he probably didn't intend it to be what is going to become.
[Got them.]
Hoarding is derogatory word. It gives the impression there’s no purpose to what you're doing. There’s a purpose here and that purpose is to digitize its contents, meta-tag it, create analytical tools to analyze the data and visualize the data, because that really unlocks the key and value of this archive. That’s something that businesses would like, researchers, students, professionals.
In twenty years’ time I see this collection as living, breathing, valued and accessible.

1. 1910
2. popular culture
3. He was crazy
4. He was a scriptwriter for MTV
5. Through donations
6. He's a genius

miércoles, 24 de febrero de 2016

Talking point: Travel experiences

This week's talking point is travel experiences. 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 enjoy travelling for pleasure? 
  • Do you think of yourself as a tourist or as a traveller?
  • Talk about your preferences when travelling: type of holiday, accommodation, destination, group or individual, means of transport, etc.
  • Describe a disastrous journey you experienced.
  • Talk about some problems you have had when travelling.
  • How often do you try to get away for a short break? Where do you go?
  • Do you prefer to be picked up and/or dropped off when going on holiday? Or would you rather do it alone? Why?
  • Do you enjoy staying at friends' places or would you rather go to a hotel? Why?
  • What is your opinion of theme parks? Do you enjoy visiting them? Talk about your experience.
  • What are the three most beautiful or interesting places that you would recommend people visit in your country? Why?
  • Do you think travel broadens the mind? Why or why not?
To illustrate the point you can watch the Speakout video Places.

A: Hi. I love travelling around my home country of Brazil and since settling in London I miss being there. But I’ve found this little café near where I live where lots of Brazilians go at the weekend, so I spend lots of time there. Today I’m going to be talking to people about travelling and their favourite places. Do you have any holidays or trips planned?
E: Um, I’ve just been on holiday, so I just came back last week from Singapore. And that was just amazing! It was a really good
time over there.
Ed: Yeah, in about six weeks I shall be going to Barbados for a fortnight, and I’m really looking forward to it.
L: Yes, I do, I’m going to Canada this summer. I go to Canada every summer because that’s where my family is.
J: Er, I haven’t got any dates planned yet but we will, shall probably be off for our usual three weeks in Spain. I think probably August.
R: Erm, I’m going to Center Parcs next week with some friends from uni. And er, then I’m going to Scotland for my cousin’s wedding and, er, I’m going to visit a friend who lives in Spain for a week as well.
Z: In about a month’s time I’m going to Kuala Lumpar, er, to visit some uni friends out there who are working, so I’m looking
forward to that.
I: Er, for the time being not yet, maybe Scotland, uh, in a few months’ time.
Ja: I haven’t got something planned er, concrete er, but I [’m] next year intend to travel to China via the trans-Siberian railway. Er, I want to start off in St Petersburg and end up in Beijing. I’ve got some friends who live in Beijing.
M: I’m here from Australia so we’re here on a working holiday at the moment so … yes, so New York in August, and we’re
hoping to get to Scotland if the money allows it.
A: Do you have a favourite place?
E: I really like to go to places where I’ve been as a child, so um, we always went to the north sea of the... of the part of Germany, Büsum. It’s a tiny village but I spent half my youth there and it was just amazing summer holidays so I like to go
back there, just for the memories.
Ed: Well, I was born in Trinidad and er, Trinidad and Tobago, and Tobago is tranquillity for me, you know.
R: Erm, I don’t particularly go to the same place a lot because I quite like to explore, so I prefer to go to all different places.
J: My favourite place to go on holiday is probably still Corfu – a little place called Ayastefanos which we used to go to until my daughter became eight and started to get bored with the village life, so we had to get somewhere more lively. Um, now, we tend to go to Spain.
Z: Erm, I do enjoy going to south Wales at least once a year. I grew up there and I enjoy going back there now, you know, just to see old friends and the old places I used to go.
I: There are a few favourite places in London that I just visit occasionally, a few parks that I like, ah, such as Hampstead Heath here.
M: Maybe my nana’s house in Melbourne. We often, we live in Ballarat, so it’s an hour and a half drive and ever since we were little girls we’ve always gone down there and stayed with our grandparents and it’s always happy memories there.
Ja: I do have a favourite place in the world actually. I used to live in er, Sydney, Australia, and there was a, erm, a hidden beach down on the south coast that erm, I used to go and erm, not many people went there. It was very quiet and I, I love going there just for a bit of peace and quiet.
A: Do you have a regular haunt that you like to visit?
E: At the moment I’m living in Hackney, so in East London, and it’s, there’s a really brilliant market, it’s called the Broadway Market. It’s every Saturday and it’s just amazing – so there’s lots of art people, lots of music people, it’s really ... good food. It’s a really, really nice place to be on a Saturday, and just to relax.
L: Well, there’s a coffee shop called Kaffeine that’s over in Fitzrovia, closer to Oxford Circus that’s, that’s got a really nice atmosphere, it’s got great coffee and great food but it’s independently owned and everyone who works there is really nice.
And it always just feels like a really comfortable place to sit around, chat with friends, or even go there and do some work.
I: There is a nice little Brazilian café that I like, basically because they make good coffee – which is important. And it’s also two
minutes from where I live.
J: I suppose my most regular haunt is probably Lord’s Cricket Ground, where I spend, according to my wife, far too much time.
But er, I go there when I can.
Ja: One of my favourite places to visit in London, er, would be Primrose Hill. I think that’s one of the most beautiful spots. London doesn’t normally have many places where you can go to get a good view of the city, er, but I think from there, because it’s a hill it’s a little bit away from the city. Um, it’s a lovely spot: sitting on the top there, there are a few benches on the top of that hill and, er, just to go there in the evenings and relax, maybe read a book and er, take in, take in the view. I would say it’s my favourite spot in London.
R: There’s actually a place called Fleet River Bakery. It’s quite near my university and it’s one of those places in London you can go and feel like you’re not in London because it’s so, quite hidden away and it’s not very touristy so I quite like it because it’s um, kind of ‘olde worlde’ and it’s got a, um, log fire and you can just get away from it all and meet your friends and it’s nice.

martes, 23 de febrero de 2016

10 Questions for David McCullough

In this Time Magazine interview historian David McCullough talks about his new book The Greater Journey and how the French influenced a generation of ambitious Americans.

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

1. The period David McCullough has written about in his book is most of the 19th century.
2. The people David McCullough writes about are politicians and high officials in the administration.
3. Augustus Saint Gaudens worked as a shoemaker.
4. The schools of art and architecture in Paris were far better than those in US.
5. Samuel Morse invented the telegraph.
6. Charles Sumner was an advocate for abolitionism.
7. David McCullough is currently working for the US Information Agency in Washington.

Hi, I’m Belinda Luscombe. I’m an editor at large at Time Magazine. Today’s 10 Questions answerer is David McCullough, the author of nine books. His newest is called The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris. Thank you so much for being here.
Thank you.
Now your new book is about a bunch of Americans who moved to Paris and they were a mix of professions, largely artists and writers. The effect it had on them and thus, I guess, the effect it had on America, it seems like a sort of strange subject considering our history. What made you think of it?
Well, I’m drawn to it because the big period of the experience of Americans in Europe and in Paris in particular about which very little had been done. And it’s the period of 1830’s and 1900. We know a good deal about the time when Franklin Adams and Jefferson were all in Paris and we’ve heard more than a great deal about the 1920’s and 30’s, the Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein time. And my feeling was that this period brought to France for a very specific kind of ambition a group of Americans who in many ways are among the most interesting and important figures in American life in that span of time. I also feel very strongly that history ought to been seen as a great deal more than just politics and the military and this was a chance for me to illustrate that with the lives of these individual people.
Who was your favourite character from the book?
Augustus Saint Gaudens is one of my favourite characters that I’ve ever written about in my writing life. Infinitely interesting man. Complicated. Immensely talented and important. An immigrant shoemaker’s son who was put to work at age 13. Street kid here in New York, who felt he had talent that could be, could be something. And he, and he was determined to excel. They all were in that period ambitious to excel, I think it’s the common ingredient in the outlook of these young people. Remember there were no schools of art, no art museums here, no schools of architecture. If you wanted to become an architect, there was no place you could study architecture, so you went to Paris.
Samuel Morse, he was one of the guys that fascinated me. How did he go from portrait painter when he went to Paris to the guy who invented like the single line telegraphs and the code?
Well, I don’t think in that day people saw that they had to necessarily belong to one category. The fact that Morse was a painter and a very gifted painter, a brilliant painter, did not mean that he couldn’t have other ideas. And while he was in Paris he got the idea for the telegraph. Now a man like Charles Sumner brought back another kind of an idea. He brought back the realization for him that we, in America, treated black people the way we did largely because of what we’d been taught, that treating black people as equals was part of the natural order of things because he saw it demonstrated in how the French students treated black students at the Sorbonne, where he was taking courses of all kinds. And that, that changed our history because Sumner, who was only a young lawyer then, decided to devote his life to politics and to the abolitionist movement, became the most powerful voice for abolition in the United States Senate. So if that, if the book were about that one man’s one experience in Paris and how it mushroomed him into a larger effect on the country, that would have made the point. But I wanted to make the point in a variety of ways because I believe so strongly that history is more than just soldiers and politicians.
Do you ever wish you stayed at Sports Illustrated?
No, I loved being in Time Inc. I worked at Architectural Forum, which is no longer being published, and I worked at Time. I worked at three different places. I got wonderful training, made great friends. I learned a lot about writing, learned a lot about self-editing, which is the real point of it all, learning to edit yourself. But I was ready to move on and when President Kennedy was elected and he called on people to do something for their country, I took it very much to heart and went to Washington to work with the US Information Agency under Edward R. Murrow and that was very exciting. And I learned  a great deal there of a different kind.
Now from the point of view of the present, we look back, we look at history and we think, you know, often in a sort of childlike way how could people have possibly owned slaves, how could that happen. [Yes.] What was the thing? How could we have thought it was okay to not educate with it. [Yes.] What do you think? Our… the people that will come after us will look back and say, how, what where they thinking? How could they have done this?
How could they spent so much time of their lives sitting, watching television. You mean, they spend seven hours a day watching that? That is a really good answer, it’s not what I was expecting. David McCullough, thank you so much for coming and seeing us today.
Thank you very much. I’ve hugely enjoyed it. I truly have. Thank you.

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

lunes, 22 de febrero de 2016

Listening test: Canadian citizenship

Listen to this CBC radio programme on Canadian citizenship and choose the option A, B or C which best complete each sentence.

1. To get the Canadian citizenship, newcomers
A. are required to have lived in Canada for 4 years.
B. must be between 18 and 54.
C. must have a specific level of English.

2. In Ermias Yoseph’s opinion, meeting the requirements is hard for immigrants because
A. a large number of them are not educated.
B. of their age.
C. they are living in difficult conditions.

3. In the past, immigrants
A. didn’t have to prove their knowledge of English.
B. didn’t have to do any tests.
C. had to prove their knowledge of Canadian culture.

4. Ermias Yoseph says that
A. some immigrants will never meet the requirements.
B. the requirements are fair.
C. the requirements don’t make any sense.

5. Ermias Yoseph also says that some immigrants
A. are making a great effort to learn.
B. can’t find work because they don’t have the citizenship.
C. don’t have the time to attend school.

Every year, about 170,000 immigrants to Canada become citizens. But becoming a citizen has become increasingly difficult. In 2010, the federal government changed the citizenship test, requiring a higher score to pass and making the questions more challenging. Then, in November of 2012, the rules were changed again so that newcomers between 18 and 54 must prove they have a Canadian Language Benchmark score of four before they can apply for citizenship. In this interview, Terry MacLeod interviews Ermias Yoseph of Welcome Place about how these changes are affecting newcomers in Manitoba.
How hard is it for newcomers to reach this benchmark level of four?
Considering the background where most of these refugees come from it’s very hard because most of our clients because of unfortunate circumstances did not have an opportunity to go to school or to get a formal education and now to require them to obtain a benchmark level of four and above is very hard for them.
How did it work before these rules came into effect?
Before these rules came into effect you didn’t have to have a required benchmark level as long as you have adequate knowledge of Canadian history and you are able to communicate in English you can and then as long as you’ve lived for about three years in Canada, you are able to apply. It was not mandatory to have a benchmark level of four and above.
Is it fair though to expect people to have a certain level of English in order to function in Canadian society?
I understand the reasoning behind this requirement. It’s a to allow or to assist newcomer families, including refugee newcomers, to be able to communicate effectively or to be able to find work easily. But it should also be understood that most of these refugees did not have a formal education. Some of them never went to school in their lives. So it’s very difficult for them to attain that. Some may not ever, may never be able to attain the benchmark level four, so considering those facts, I don’t think it’s fair for refugee families.
Now the government says the rules are in place because better English leads to greater work success for newcomers. Are these rules encouraging people to work harder because they aim for a benchmark level of four, and therefore they say, I’m going to get that, I’m going to work really hard?
Some of these people actually from the time they arrived in Canada, they’ve been attending school. They realize that it’s important for them to know the language or to have the language skills in order to be successful at work. They’ve been attending school, I know …, they’ve been attending school since they came to Canada, they’ve been working, they know that it helps but the same time, it’s also bringing some obstacles for them to be able to apply for Canadian citizenship but it’s an ongoing problem. 

1C 2A 3C 4A 5A

domingo, 21 de febrero de 2016

Extensive listening: Forced Marriage

Foced Marriage is the most extraordinary story of kidnap, survival, escape and hiding that 60 Minutes Australia aired in 2015.

13-year-old Rania Farrah was supposed to be on the trip of a lifetime, a tour of historic Egypt with her older brother. Instead, the Sydney teenager would be taken captive by her father’s family in Syria, and held against her will. She endured horrific beatings and the most horrific breaches of human rights. She would be married off to her cousin, a man she’d never met, in a land she didn’t know. Young Rania was a prisoner in the secretive and sinister world of forced marriage.

But refusing to be defeated, she secretly plotted and pulled off a daring escape back to Australia on the day she turned 18. Now, she’s forced to live in hiding, fearful her father will track her down and kill her. On 60 Minutes, Rania very bravely speaks to Liz Hayes in the hope of lifting the veil on a hidden crime that affects hundreds of Australian women.

sábado, 20 de febrero de 2016

English e-books

This is what English e-books says about English e-books:

"This site has been created to help people learn English language. Adapted books – one of the best and interesting way to increase your vocabulary. Here you can find English ebooks of different levels in epub, mobi, fb2, rtf and txt formats.

Read ebooks on you eBook reader or PC/mac, we are supporting all of them, you only should choose appropriate type, for e.g.: choose mobi for Kindle, fb2/epub for Nook or PocketBook, epub for Nook; you can read on PC/mac books in rtf, or use txt as the simplest format for reading using any device, even on your mobile-phone."

In English e-books you will find adapted readers from elementary to advanced level, and some of which come complete with audio in mp3 format.

The quickest way to find your way round the site is by scrolling down to the bottom of the home page and clicking on the tag Find book, where you will see a comprehensive list of titles classified by author, genre, level, length and audio availability.

H/T to Cristina Cabal.

viernes, 19 de febrero de 2016

Bella and her Great Dane George

The story of Bella went viral some weeks ago.

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

Meet Bella and George. Bella is (1) ... and a fifth grade, 43 lbs. George a Great Dane (2) ... lbs.
He acts really small. He acts smaller than he actually is.
Bella was diagnosed with Morquio Syndrome when she was 2 ½, a rare genetic disease that attacks the (3) ... . There is no cure.  Before George, Bella couldn’t walk on her own, she relied on crutches or a (4) ... , but this year that all changed because Bella met George at the Service Dog Project in Ipswich, Massachusetts. The connection, immediate. Since getting George, Bella has put away her crutches. He helps her get from class to class on her own.
How you doing, Bell?
She gets to her desk and he gets some (5) ... .
When I had crutches I couldn’t walk at all but now I can.
Even at lunch he’s right beneath her. Then it’s off to gym as he guides her through those (6) ...   ... .
Oh he helps me walk. I lean on him like a crutch.
Sledding last winter. (7) ...   ... in the spring. Vacation at the beach.
I think it’s given her more energy and more (8) ... .
And every night it’s bed time together before they do it all again.

1 eleven 2 131 3 bones 4 wheelchair 5 sleep 6 gym doors 7 Bike riding 8 strength

jueves, 18 de febrero de 2016

The man who discovered Harry Potter

In 1996, after many rejections, author JK Rowling at last finds a publisher for her first Harry Potter novel. BBC's Witness talks to editor, Barry Cunningham, who spotted the boy wizard's potential and helped create a phenomenon that would revolutionise childrens' book publishing, selling more than 450 million copies.

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

1 What was the weather like when Barry Cunningham got the manuscript?
2 Which element in the book Bill most liked?
3 Who helped Bill decide to buy the book?
4 How did Rowling react when Bill phoned her?
5 What advice did he give Rowling?
6 How long did they take to realise how big the Harry Potter phenomenon was?
7 What dream did Rowling have after her first book was published in US?

I guess the story started when I got the manuscript (1) one rainy night in Soho and I didn't  know of course that it had been turned down by 22 or something other  publishers. I took it home and read it at night. People often say, how much do you have to read before you know something is good? Actually, I think you know after two or three chapters. And I was just gripped, I was gripped by Harry's situation. 
The thing that I really liked about the story was (2) the friendship. You know, I liked the owls and the boarding school and the magic and Hogwarts but it was the friendship between the children that really, that really moved me.
I gave the manuscript to (3) my daughter, Alice, the night I got it and she couldn't stop reading, so  I had to tear it off her the next morning. So well, I think I am going to buy this, what do you think? She says, it’s a good idea. 
So I rang up the agent and we haggled for ten minutes on a relatively low amount of money and I bought the first two books and that was that, really. That was the end of perhaps the most significant purchase made in publishing in the last 50 years.  I laugh about it now, but, you know, I never would have guessed.
When I first rang her up, like many authors, they don’t believe it's a publisher ringing them. They think it's a joke. So after I convinced her I actually was Barry Cunningham and I actually was ringing from a publisher in London, (4) she was lost for words. I didn't know how long the journey had been, of course. I didn't know how many publishers had turned her down, and agents indeed. So, and then I invited her down to London and she said, yes, yes!  I said, do my mind a little bit of a detour? She said, no, no! She said very, very nervously, how do you feel about sequels? And I said, well, you know, I think we’re just going to get the first one out first and then we’ll think about that.
Then she proceeded to tell me the story of all the books and how Harry would actually grow up. That was very kind of revolutionary in those days because mostly sequels would just be the same book set in a different environment. But I was worried, you know. She was a single mum, she had no real income, children's books weren’t the goldmine that they've become now and so I gave her the infamous advice, really, that she would never make any money out of  children's books and (5) she should really think about getting a day job  as well.
After we published we started absolutely to get the feedback that this was going down very well, that children were recommending it to each other, that it had a very good critical response. But, you know, I don't think we realized, I don’t think Jo realized probably for (6) a year after that that this phenomenon was growing as fast as it did. And that’s when she got a huge number of offers from the United States, and they paid very large amounts of money for the American rights. And I think it is at that point we realized that something was changing in the world of children's books.
There is no question. It is a publishing phenomenon. Some of the people here have been queueing for 18 hours.
If you like, Beatlemania for Potter world began.
I also remember that after the third book was published in the United States she said, she said (7) I had a dream last night, and it was about the first meeting that we had and it never happened, that you never took the book, you never published it. And the whole thing still seems to me like a wonderful dream. And really the story of Harry Potter is like its own story. It is a kind of fairytale.

miércoles, 17 de febrero de 2016

Talking point: Heroes

This week's talking point is heroes. 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.

Which of these people is the most heroic? Say why.
1 A climber who reaches the top of Mt Everest without oxygen.
2 A nurse who has never had a day off sick in 25 years.
3 A businessperson who has created thousands of jobs.

Can you think of a self-made man or woman you feel admiration for?
Who would you say are some of your heroes or heroines? Why do you admire them?
What is the difference between a celebrity and an icon?
Which modern icons do you admire?
Can you think of an unsung hero you know? What are they like?
Can you think of a hero you used to admire but who had feet of clay?
What fallen idols can you think of? What happened to them?
What folk heroes are there in your country?
Who are some of your country’s national heroines?
Do you think their heroic status is justifi ed?

Have you ever had a moment of glory?

What characteristics do you think a modern-day hero should have? Choose from the list below or add your own ideas.
have a sense of humour
avoid conflict
be open to bribery
be compassionate
give up easily
be resilient
be courageous
be truthful
show humility

To illustrate the topic you can watch the press conference Australina Jessica Watson gave after completing a southern hemisphere solo circumnavigation at the age of 16. Do you think she is a hero?

I then, you know, I can do this, yeah, you know it was a waste of, all the boys did it, so can I!
What was it like, how daunting was it for you as you were sailing through the Heads?
I haven’t seen a person for almost seven months and suddenly seeing people everywhere, you know, faces, so much colour, so much noise, so much everything, you know, all I have seen for so long, is just empty waves, so it was just amazing and very overwhelming.
How do you feel keeping the First Minister of Australia waiting for three hours?
I’m sorry to keep everyone waiting. All I can say is that I was honestly having an amazing sail out there.
Just wondering what was the best moment of the entire journey, would you say?
You know, it’s a tough question what was my favourite part because obviously, you know, Cape Horn and today was absolutely amazing, but I think the thing I loved most about it was just like every day, you know, is simple and like just sailing alone, just getting a kick out of the small things, I suppose.
There was some divide whether you went up high enough, whether you followed the correct course. Give us your thoughts on that and also on whether you’re going to be spending any more energy fighting those sorts of crowds?
No, it’s really simple. I mean, if I haven’t sailed around the world I’d be lost the world I’d spent the last seven months doing so it’s not something that worries me because there always have been and there always will be, you know, some people who don’t choose to acknowledge the record and for me it was never was actually about the record, so I’m not worried at all.
I’m just wondering, did you have moments of doubt and when were they and how did you deal with that?
Yeah, obviously there were definitely moments of doubt, I mean, it’s pretty expected and before, but obviously then I had an amazing team of people around me and later when I was out of the water. I actually did mentally a lot better than I ever thought I would. I thought, you know, that would be one of the biggest challenges but amazingly I just enjoyed it much, much more than I ever thought I would and handled all the challenges better than I thought, which is, yeah… bonus I suppose, just you don’t actually have a choice, in the middle of a storm you’ve been knocked down, what are you gonna do, you can’t fall apart, you just have to keep going and get through.
Just wondering, what do you have to say to young women your age that are aspiring to do such amazing things that you’ve just done?
Yeah, it’s really simple. I mean, it’s just… you just have to believe in that anything is really possible if you want it enough and you put the effort in it, whatever it is you can go and go for it.
I know you said you want to get your driving licence next but what other adventures might be in store for you? Climbing Mount Everest, any other adventures around the world?
No, I definitely love to do a little bit more sailing, tons of sailing, and some impossible racing I’d love to get into that, but for now I’m really just happy to do some more slightly normal things, have a quiet few years to finish school, that sort of thing. We’ll see where sailing takes me after that.
How have you changed, how do you think you’ve changed on this voyage since you’ve been away?
Interesting one. Yeah, I suppose I really thought about it tons, yeah, but I’m definitely growing up, I mean, you know, I’m a year older… I suppose I’m much older and some of the experiences I’ve had obviously changed me a little bit but I think the one thing I also learnt is that it’s definitely about having fun and just don’t take it too seriously.
Yes, she really is a remarkable girl.
It’s been such an emotional and triumphant day for Jessica, her family and her supporters. And what a wonderful welcome home she’s had.

martes, 16 de febrero de 2016

10 Questions for Mika Brzezinski

Author and Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski talks about her food addiction, obesity in America, and how writing her book Obsessed transformed her life and that of her collaborator, journalist Diane Smith.

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

1 Mainstream scientists support Mika Brzezinski's ideas.
2 The problems that an obese woman and those of a woman who is skinny with eating disorders are fairly similar.
3 Chris Christie is a politician.
4 Diane Smith weighs 265 pounds.
5 Mika Brzezinski implies she had weight problems.
6 Mika Brzezinski's family used to be fond of McDonalds.
7 Wealthy people are usually thinner.
8 Soda pop is unhealthy.
9 Mika Brzezinski used to live on a farm.
10 Mika Brzezinski used to eat junk food in secret.

Hi, I’m Belinda Luscombe from Time. Mika Brzezinski is a best-selling author and journalist. The co-host of Morning Joe on MSNBC, and she’s written a new book about food and her own feelings about food. And I’m delighted to say that she’s here with us today. Thanks for coming.
Thank you.
You say in the book that you’re addicted to certain food. Can you explain how we can be addicted to food?
There’s actually a growing amount of science out there about certain ingredients being toxic, and sugar is one of them. And I actually add in and back up with the help of doctors and nutritionists the word addictive, which I don’t think mainstream science is ready to completely embrace that. I am, and when I confronted a friend about her obesity, we put together this book, worked on it together. She actually penned a chapter in it, but we did the research together and we discovered that there is not that big a gap between the problems that a woman who is obese confronts and the problems that a woman who is skinny with eating disorders confronts. And it revolves around an addiction to certain foods that give a brain reward, that give a physical feeling of exuberation, that you can get anywhere else if you suffer from this addiction.
You’re not worried that we are pathologising what might just be a, a problem of habits.
So, can I challenge you, and we can get into it a little bit?
Of course, my pleasure.
Okay, do you think that Chris Christie is undisciplined and just has bad habits?
It would seem unlikely that a man in his position could get to be governor of New Jersey to be completely undisciplined.
Right. So Diane Smith, an Emmy award-winning journalist, brilliant woman, do you think that she could get to 256 pounds because she’s undisciplined and just has bad habits?
Again, it seems unlikely, could be a metabolism problem which, which isn’t not necessarily though the same as addiction.
I think once you find your way into the abyss of obesity, your metabolism is destroyed and then you do have a problem. But getting there is not a lack of discipline. Getting there is not a habit problem. There is a science behind what is happening in our country, and for me to get to where I was, to look the way I did on television, you wouldn’t believe what I put myself through. So if I had to put myself through that to get there, I understand why Diane was obese. And I say was, because she’s lost a lot of weight by virtue of what we’ve done.
So, the sort of things you put yourself through, your book describes what, you were always hungry, pretty much always hungry, always thinking about food?
That was, those were the safer, more healthy days, yeah. I mean, at the height of it, I would run 10 miles and then eat a lot. Or I would just totally go crazy and eat all weekend, and then hate myself, and starve myself and exercise like crazy. It was ridiculous, it was no way to live.
Were there be certain foods that set you off more than others?
The smell of certain junk foods that I grew up on, like McDonald’s fries or Domino’s pizza or all those just hideously unhealthy foods that we would eat as families to be happy in America. My family didn’t, so I felt I was being deprived, so I went out to find them.
Should food not be so cheap, is that part of the problem?
Well, bad food shouldn’t be so cheap and good food should be more cheap. People should have access to good, healthy food and you shouldn’t have to be a millionaire to be able to eat healthy. And you notice, really, really, really wealthy people who want to eat well, look amazing, and they’re incredibly thin. You know, it’s…, come on, we can do better than this, I think. But, you know, when Mayor Bloomberg tries to put a tax on soda pop, which to me is liquid poison, and I can’t even imagine serving that to your children a few times a week, I can’t imagine why any parent would do that, but you see people absolutely throwing their arms up in the air and their hair on fire when he wants to make that more expensive. It…, maybe we do need some broad sweeping policies that are radical, I’m sorry. Someone give me a better idea. This shouldn’t be so hard.
Do you, you know, your mother raised you, she was, she was a traditional cook, she cooked, she cooked deer, she would cook like deer…
She cooked everything. We had eggs from chicken, from chicken hatch…
So you had a completely healthy, you know, options and yet you went to…
I could see it through the woods from my bedroom window, the 7/11 across Old Amminion Road, that was about two acres away. We lived in this little farmette, but there was a 7/11 around the corner from our house, and then I would go off there and get like pizza in a pocket and choc, Coco Crispies and Captain Crunch, and a pint of coffee Haggen Dazs which I would eat under a tree alone.
So for your daughters , you’ve just moved further away from the 7/11, you make sure they can’t get there?
Yeah, they actually look like they’re gonna make their own decisions. For my daughters this book, the truth, and they will have to make choices. But it’s a tough society to grow up in and eat really well and feel good about yourself, I think, as a girl.
Mika, thanks so much.
Thank you.

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