martes, 31 de mayo de 2016

Heather Sandford: Farmer Brings Home The Bacon

Heather Sandford is growing a sustainable business that raises and "harvests" animals respectfully.

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

1 Heather Sandford has loved meat all her life.
2 Animal raising runs in the blood for Heather.
3 Heather has a degree in biotechnology.
4 Heather and her husband have been an item since college days.
5 Heather gave up smoking when she started growing things in San Francisco.
6 Heather compares animal raising to vegetable growing.
7 Heather and her husband have expanded their business.
8 Paperwork is an ordeal.
9 The good thing about the business is that they are making a fortune.

Are you being a rock star, huh? You showing everyone how cute you are?
I was a vegetarian for 17 years and I was vegan for a while. So it’s been kind of a full circle process for me, but I know that my animals have a good and positive, like, life cycle. And I know people are gonna eat meat, regardless if I close shop tomorrow. And I at least would like people to have the option to buy, you know, meat that was well respected and well cared for.
We are self-taught farmers and we're self-taught butchers. We made a lot of mistakes. It's interesting 'cause we know exactly how to farm now. And we also know, like, how we can get better and we're always working on it.
Yeah? Where are they?
When I was growing up, I did not wanna be a farmer at all. I did go to Cornell and I graduated with a bioengineering degree. And at that time, I still didn't have any inclination that I was gonna be a farmer. I was actually really interested in music.
What I really need is Andrew to give us more beans.
I met my husband Brad my senior year at college. We were friends for a very long time before we started dating. And we're still good friends now.
Brad and I started going to the farmers’ markets. We started growing things in the back of this little cottage we rented outside of San Francisco. We started smoking our own meat. We started like, breaking down our own animals.
We were truly just interested in moving back here and homesteading. In that process in the first two years, we found out that we loved pigs. They're smart. They're cute, you know, we can pet 'em.
This is really nice. This is the stuff that Brad found on Craigslist.
We all fit together in this like, little ecosystem on the farm. You know, I care for these animals, we grow them up just like you plant corn, just like you plant vegetables and at some point you're harvesting it for nutrition. We can talk about they go to slaughter, we kill them, but you know, we are harvesting them for — for protein.
This turkey I’m really excited about. I think that’s coming really well.
Me too. GreenStar wants some yesterday.
GreenStar wants it yesterday?
The margins in farming and meat cutting are just whisper thin so we had to work really hard to try to figure out how to cut the carcass every week.
The Irish bacon turned out really well.
The Irish bacon looks nice.
It’s not just the tenderloin, it’s not just the porkchop, and if you’re gonna sell the animal you have to sell the rendered lard, you have to sell the pork cheeks if you can.
Uh, this is our, our, our ham, our deli slice ham we make, and on the far side is actually our bologna, um, and our pâté over there.
Ooh, that looks nice.
We wanted to look at building our business out a little bit further for higher volume and to go into the wholesale market so we could stay in business long term and be a sustainable business.
That was quite a big change. A lot of refrigeration. A lot of new equipment that we needed to enter the marketplace and stuff and also build out our new retail room. So there’s so many challenges, so many late nights, so many long hours.
It feels really good now that we've kinda re-launched, and we just got our USDA license. That is a gigantic deal. It's very dense, the amount of, like, paperwork and things that you do need to do to keep your license active. So I have an inspector at my shop every single day, you know. He looks at our facility, to control any possible contaminations or issues. It's very, very intense. We have to be good every day. Every day we have to be good.
Farmers have so many challenges against them and to overcome them over — all the time is — kind of remarkable. All of us joke like, why do we do this? This is crazy. It's hard, it's long hours, none of us make any money. You know. But it's a labor of love.
Hi! Thank you so much for letting us come and see you. I really appreciate it.

1F 2F 3F 4F 5F 6T 7T 8T 9F

lunes, 30 de mayo de 2016

Listening test: Pirates

Listen to a report on the history of pirates and choose the heading A to J that goes with each of the extracts 1-7. 0 is an example.

A - A long history of pirates 0 Example
B - Fighting off pirates
C - Idealistic vision of pirates
D - In the national interest
E - Not only a matter of the past
F - Pioneering organizations
G - Piracy beyond the ships
H - The latest attack
I - The most successful period
J - Very different forms of piracy

Piracy - the act of robbery from ships at sea - has existed for thousands of years. It was written about by the ancient Greeks and has been written about ever since. As long as some people have moved valuable cargo in ships, other people have wanted to rob them.

To most people in Britain and North America, piracy belongs to the Caribbean of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, a time known to some as ‘The Golden Age of Piracy’. This is the era of parrots sitting on shoulders, wooden legs, eye patches, metal hooks instead of hands and men with beards shouting, ‘Aha me hearties’. And people robbing ships.

Many of these ideas and images come from books, such as Stevenson’s ‘Treasure Island’, Defoe’s ‘King of Pyrates’ and Barrie’s ‘Peter Pan’. As you may have noticed, pirates are well-represented in films and cartoons, from Errol Flynn to Walt Disney right up to the Curse of the Black Pearl.
Why is this era of piracy written about so much in English literature? One obvious reason is that the pirates were British and American. While many stories show them to be cruel robbers and killers, another view of piracy is commonly depicted, in which the pirates are much more heroic and adventurous.

There are a number of reasons for this. One is that rebellious outlaws are often attractive figures, especially if they are from another time in history. More importantly, many pirates were acting in the national interest and became heroes for this. It was quite common for governments to give permission for pirates to attack ships belonging to enemy nations. These pirates were known as ‘privateers’. The British privateers in the Caribbean became famous because they were part of the long-running conflict with Spain for domination of the region and the world. One of England’s great naval heroes, Sir Francis Drake, was really just a privateer who attacked Spanish ships. The rich cargoes of gold and silver leaving South America were an attractive target for him and many others that followed.

There is another reason why pirates have a positive image in popular history. Most pirate ships were surprisingly egalitarian and democratic. It was normal for the captain to be elected and most issues were decided by a vote. The stolen goods were fairly divided amongst the crew members. Many pirates were men who had escaped from the harder discipline of the merchant ships and the navy. In their escape from authority, they created a model of a more just and fair society, many years ahead of the revolutions in America and France.

To many of us, pirates are an interesting and colourful part of history, useful as entertainment but not much else. However, modern piracy is alive and well and increasing every year. In 2002, there were 370 incidences of piracy world-wide. These days, the Caribbean is fairly quiet. The piracy hotspot now is Asia, particularly in the seas around Indonesia, where over a hundred pirate attacks took place.

Some acts of piracy are opportunistic, simple affairs – robbers boarding a ship that is waiting in a port, hoping to take money and anything else that can be easily carried. Others use advanced technology and are very organised. Sometimes, the pirates take the valuables from a ship and sometimes they take the entire ship. This is especially true if the cargo is a valuable one that can easily be transferred to another ship, such as oil or gas. Very often, a stolen ship can be repainted, renamed and reused elsewhere.

Protecting ships is difficult. Most ships have fewer sailors than they did in the past, and they no longer carry weapons. One defence mechanism now on the market is an electric fence that deters attackers with a 9,000 volt shock.

1I 2C 3D 4F 5E 6J 7B

domingo, 29 de mayo de 2016

Extensive listening: The Virtuoso Marcus Roberts

Who's the greatest American musician most people have never heard of? To many people, it's Marcus Roberts.

The Virtuoso Marcus Roberts was the title of a CBS 60 Minutes segment back in 2014.

"Marcus went blind when he was 5 years old. And soon began trying to make sense of life in the darkness. He was unusually curious, and even tore his toys apart just to find out how they worked. Roberts developed a powerful, analytical intelligence, capable of producing music that will move your mind as well as your body. The story of his genius begins with a precious gift from his parents: a piano."

You can read the full transcript here.

sábado, 28 de mayo de 2016

English Waves, the French radio station that speaks English

A few weeks ago, Jeffrey Hill posted about EnglishWaves on his excellent The English Blog.

EnglishWaves is a "French radio station that speaks English". A wide variety of programmes (on news, culture, travel, sport, films, health, cooking, technology, economy, politics) are broadcast regularly.

EnglishWaves is a more than interesting listening site for English learners in the intermediate-to-advanced level.

The live radio and the latest weekly shows are free, but if learners want to have access to the archive and to the transcriptions, they must subscribe.

viernes, 27 de mayo de 2016

Orangutan Saved From Starvation

A mother and baby orangutan who were dying of starvation when they were rescued from the forests of Borneo have been released back into the wild.

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

1 Why are Borneo's forests devastated?
2 How old is the orangutan mother?
3 How does she look on close inspection?
4 What is she unable to produce?
5 What does Mamma Nam have to go through on the day she is going to be released?
6 Who helps carry the cage through the forest?
7 How long does the walk to the release site finally takes?

After hearing reports of a starving orangutan and her baby raiding villagers crops, International Animal Rescue have driven an hour and half from their base in Ketapang to investigate. In late 2015, large areas of Borneo’s Gunung Palung National Park were devastated by forest fires. And much of the wildlife living there had to flee. They find where the apes have been nesting for the night. It takes three tranquilizer darts to subdue the twenty-year old mother. Despite how weak she must be she is stressed and highly protective of her two-year old baby. On closer examination, the team can see how emaciated she is.
The condition of this orangutan is really poor. She hasn’t eaten for quite a long time so, she really looks so skinny.
In fact, she is so malnourished she is unable to produce milk for her baby. So they decide to take the pair back to the orangutan rehabilitation center to be nursed back to health. They name the orangutans Mamma Nam and Baby Nam.
After just over two months of care at the center, the mother has gained weight and both have been deemed fit to be returned to the wild.
Today we’re going to release Mamma Nam and Baby Nam, we are going to release to the National Park here in Palung, we leave from our center at 5 a.m. in the morning.
Before they leave, Mamma Nam is sedated and given a final health check.
We’re going to take the transport cage to the release site. It’s about 3 kilometers maybe it’s around like 1 or 2 hours walking. So, yeah hope it’s going well.
They reach the national park and with the help of six local porters begin the long hard walk through the burnt forest. While human activity is still encroaching on the orangutans natural habitat, at least now authorities are trying to safeguard against such devastating fires in the future. After three hours they reach a suitable release site. This release goes to plan but the rescue and rehabilitation of each orangutan costs thousands of dollars. And International Animal Rescue rely entirely on donations.

jueves, 26 de mayo de 2016

Helping Immigrant Students Adjust to New Schools New Lives

A growing community of Somali immigrant families in St. Cloud, Minnesota, has presented multiple challenges for local educators who have been dealing with not only how to meet the students' linguistic and educational needs, but also how to create a learning environment where they feel safe and welcome.

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

1 What number is the district where Bashar and Ahme work?
2 Why did the Hassans leave Somalia?
3 What do they do at St. Cloud apart from bridging the cultural gap?
4 How many Somali students does St Cloud have?
5 How will you succeed, accoridng to Ahmed?

This is one community, with a different culture. It's a very diverse city.  People who live in this city came from different parts of the world.
We are this community. And we are this community that's changing and growing, and continuing to grow and continuing to change.
This is who I am. I want people to understand who I am, but also I don't want to abandon from my culture, who I am. My name is Ahmed Hassan, I'm a Bi-lingual Communication Support Specialist at Talahi Community School, for the district 742.
My name is Bashar Hassan. I work for the St. Cloud area school district 742 as a Bi-lingual Communication Support Specialist.
- My name is Bashar Hassan. 
- My name is Ahmed Hassan.
- I'm also a son.
- I'm a son.
- And older brother.
- And an older brother.
I was born in Somalia. Grew up in Kenya as a refugee migrant. I came to Kenya in 1991 from when the Civil War broke out in Somalia. I lived in Kenya as a refugee migrant for 17 years.
Finally, I get the opportunity to come to the United States of America. There's no question that whenever you are starting a new life, there's always a challenging. There are a lot of people like Shadehe who are new to this country every day. And when they go to the schools, they need someone who understands their language, someone who knows their culture, someone who actually bridge that gap.
This is an awesome growth.
I do a lot of interpreting, a lot of translation. I also work with pretty much everyone in the building as needed, and also I'm here to bridge that gap of cultural differences between the school personnel and the community.
I'll be speaking both in English and Somali here today, whenever we have new students who don't speak English, what's our role? I mean what's our job? You're job as a leader in the classroom is to help interpret for that person if you…
It's extremely important, first for the community, to see that we are hiring staff that mirrors our community. And we can't do that if we don't hire staff that speak Somali, are Somali. Of those students in the program that I have, we probably have about 1,750 of our students who are Somali. So they're really bringing unique perspectives, their bringing languages, their bringing all kinds of things to our classrooms that we have to really make sure that we value and we show the community that we value, so we build that relationship.
It's good to have someone who speaks your language and who knows your culture, to be here in the district and in the community. I'm really proud to serve this community and to be who I am today. It's not an easy thing, but if you have the courage and the intention to do what you're doing, you will succeed.

H/T to Larry Ferlazzo.

miércoles, 25 de mayo de 2016

Talking point: Volunteering

In the twenty-first century, characterized by endless problems everywhere (the leading economies, the emerging countries and the third world), caring has become a major public issue.

Brainstorm some of the sectors of the population who are badly in need of help and who could benefit from a helping hand.
Example: prisoners, immigrants, families with no economic means, families who have been evicted from their home, health issues in the third world, famine.

Discuss the organisations that are trying to help those groups.
Example: Stop desahucios is trying to help families who are evicted from their home.

How can individuals contribute in the above-mentioned organisations?
Do you know any volunteers who lend a helping hand in these organisations?
What does their job consist of?
Would you like to volunteer in one of these organisations?
Which one(s) do you find most appealing?
What are the rewards of being a volunteer?
What are the disadvantages?
What are the government's duties and responsibilies?

Interaction: Choosing a charity to volunteer
Choose A or B, tell your partner about your charity and together decide which one you both would like to join.

A) Worldwide restoration
The aim of our organisation is to empower women and provide decent housing for families, not only in the USA, but in many other countries in the world. We work to train volunteers in building skills. Our primary goal is to teach women how to solve problems for themselves through training in practical areas, such as making cement or plumbing and dealing with general house repairs. However, men are also welcome! Our volunteers work together with homeowners to rebuild or restore deteriorated houses and give disadvantaged families a place to live. We welcome volunteers but also need donations to buy materials and support our training programmes.

B) City education project
The mission of our project is to improve conditions for children and teachers in slum areas in Bangladesh. If you volunteer with us, you may be asked to help renovate a classroom in an existing school, carry out repairs to roofs or windows or even help to build extra facilities for the school. Traditional materials and techniques are used, but you don’t need any special skills because you will be supervised by local builders and carpenters. However, you should be fit and healthy and ready to work in all weather! You will stay in the school where the project is taking place, but it won’t be like home. Take a mat to sleep on and remember there are no showers, just a bucket of water.

To illustrate the point you can watch this video of The Duchess of Cambridge on the charity Children's Hospice.

As Patron of East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices, I’ve been fortunate to see at first hand through remarkable work that they do for children and young people with life limiting conditions and their families. It is simply transformational. There are forty-nine children’s hospice services across the UK, all providing similar, invaluable and life enhancing care to thousands of families. Children’s Hospice Week is the time to recognize, celebrate and support the inspirational work of those Hospices and those who provide palliative care to these children and families. Children’s hospices provide lifelines to families at a time of unimaginable pain. The support they give is vital. In order to carry out this wonderful work, our help is needed. With our support those providing children’s palliative care can continue to offer these extraordinary services. It does not bare thinking about what these families would do without this. I hope that you’ll join me this Children’s Hospice Week, in supporting your local service.
To find out more about how you can help, please visit
With your support we can ensure that these children and their families can make the most of the precious time they have together.

martes, 24 de mayo de 2016

36 Hours in Dubai

Dubai has emerged as an ethnically diverse metropolis where the world’s populations mingle in markets, galleries and international restaurants, both humble and high-end.

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

1 Over 95% of the population are foreigners.
2 Tom & Serg is in the city centre.
3 The chef at Tom & Serg changes the menu every day.
4 Cucumber is an ingredient of the felafel sandwich.
5 SPM houses art collections with artists from all over the world.
6 Burj Khalifa is the second tallest tower on earth.
7 Forty-three years ago Dubai was a desert.
8 40 Kong is in the basement of a hotel.
9 At Musichall each band performs for two or three minutes.
10 You can dance in the open air at Pacha.

Dubai, it's a city that you come visit. It's young. It's vibrant. It's energetic. It's cosmopolitan
Everyday you wake up, it's sun, you can go to the beach.
…and beautiful, beautiful parks, incredible architecture.
Locals in Dubai are some of the warmest, friendliest people.
All people are here. The population of Dubai are two million. More than 92% of these are foreigners.
It's a dream city. Anything you can dream in Dubai, you can do it.
Zaroub means the narrow streets or the alleys that Syria, Lebanon and Palestine are famous for. And there are small restaurants in every one of those narrow alleys. We wanted to join all these small restaurants in one spot. My favorite dish is the shawarma. The meat shawarma is a sandwich, wrapped in either saj Bread or Lebanese pita bread. We add pomegranate molasses, and that's our specialty. Other restaurants don't use it in their shawarma.
We were the first place in Dubai to really have a restaurant in the middle of the industrial area. Dubai is very well known for its five star hotels, and its shopping malls, but not so well known for its food and dining scene, in a more grungy sort of way. I change the menu every two to three weeks, so that people can come and try something new every time.
Dubai is one of my favorite places to eat. It's always a great atmosphere. Everybody was doing fusions, but we never heard of an Arabian fusion. Our food is exquisite, our design is captivating. We deconstructed that felafel sandwich to form it into a salad. We took the regular chickpeas in a felafel. There's a compressed cucumber with it. I would love Qbara to give an impression that the Arabian culture has much more to give than what is basically perceived by the world today.
Most of the places of Dubai are new and modern. So where is that tradition of Dubai? It is here.
We have saffron, spices, mixed spices of all kinds, perfumes, incense… everything you want we have it here.
If you want to see a traditional Eastern city, you come to the spice market.
SPM, it's a very dynamic, contemporary, vibrant art place. It all started with the private collection of Mr. Salsali. We do have a collection of over 800 art works. Artists from Iran, European artists, and American artists. There is a very, very vibrant scene going on here. And I would love people to know that Dubai became the art spot of the Middle East right now.
Dubai taught us to be different. Burj Khalifa is the tallest tower on earth. From the front angle you can see the old Dubai, the new Dubai and the new upcoming projects in Dubai. If you go back 43 years, all Dubai was just a desert. Building the tallest tower is not only an achievement, it's American.
Everything in Dubai goes bigger, and we’re opening the biggest nightclub and the biggest restaurant and the biggest this and the biggest that. We wanted to kind of go against the current, and we said, you know what, why don't we open something small. We were actually the first open rooftop lounge to open in Dubai. We did a whole new signature cocktail menu for this season. One of my absolute favorite of our signature cocktails is one called Say Yes. Visually stunning. It comes with this ice bowl, which has a rose petal frozen into it. I've never met anyone who doesn't like it.
2013, we inaugurated the music hall of Dubai. The idea is to bring culture to nightlife. On the stage of the music hall, you have more than 12 bands per night, each band only performing for 10 to 12 minutes. It's a unique world night. In one night, flamenco, Cuban music jazz, rock, Oriental music. We are shifting from different worlds within 2 to 3 minutes. I like the people to feel that they travel in space and in time.
Pacha is one of the largest nightlife brands in the world. We change our entertainment team every 8 weeks or so. So we have everything from singers to dancing acts, to jugglers, to aerial acrobats, that kind of stuff.
But we do have other aspects to us as well. We've got a very popular roof terrace, which has great views. It's a great place to be. It's a very very fun atmosphere. Very vibrant. Full of people who are generally happy and here for a good time. Dubai is a cultural hotpot really. There's just so much to do here, so much to see. You could spend a lifetime and not get everything done.

1F 2F 3F 4T 5T 6F 7T 8F 9F 10T

lunes, 23 de mayo de 2016

Listening test: Bangladesh

In this week's listening test we are going to practise the kind of multiple choice sort of task.

Listen to a girl talking about her holiday in Bangladesh and choose the option A, B or C which best completes the sentences below.

1 When the girl visited Bangladesh
A not many people used to go there.
B there were no tourists whatsoever.
C the place was already a popular tourist destination.

2 She wanted to visit Bangladesh
A and she went there with another friend.
B to admire the wildlife.
C to see the famous forests.

3 The girl stayed at the hotel because
A it was a holiday and everything was closed.
B she didn’t feel like going out.
C women aren’t allowed out on Fridays in Muslim countries.

4 The guide they finally managed to find
A took them to his private villa by boat.
B was a guest at the hotel.
C was the owner of a travel agency.

5 While they were on the boat the girl
A changed her mind about what she really wanted to do.
B got frightened of the mangrove trees.
C got sick.

6 On the boat ride the girls
A could see a tiger swimming.
B didn’t see any wildlife.
C sang non-stop.

So, my first question is where did you go?
Well, I was backpacking through Asia, so the story takes place in Bangladesh.
Bangladesh. That's a really cool place to visit I'm sure.
Yup. It is. And their tourist slogan is actually “come before the tourists come.”
So you got in there before the rest of the tourists?
Exactly. It was a really cool experience because there weren't a lot of tourists and people were really curious and really friendly.
That's awesome. So what did you do while you were there?
Well, actually the reason we picked to go to Bangladesh was ‘cause we wanted to go see a Bengali tiger in the Sundaraban Forest.
Wow. Yeah, that would be amazing.
Yup. I've been obsessed with tigers since I was a kid, and I thought this is the perfect opportunity.
OK. So you went to go see the tiger. How were you going to see the tiger? You weren't just going to walk into the forest by yourself.
That's the funny story because we arrived, and we were four. But two of us weren't feeling well. I was just sick, and I didn't wanna go look for a tour guide. So I stayed in the hotel lobby all day with my friend, and our other two friends went looking for a tour guide. They went to all these different tourist offices and other hotels to try to find a guide. But what we didn't plan for was first it was Friday, so most of the offices were closed.
Really? On a Friday?
Yup. Bangladesh is a Muslim country and so they take Friday as their day of rest.
OK. I see.
And also it was some sort of national holiday for the next couple of days, so we couldn't find any tour guides.
Oh yeah. That would be really hard to book a trip during that time.
Yes. But the lucky thing was that because we were feeling sick and we were hanging out in the hotel lobby all day, we kinda became friends with the staff there. And they found out what we were doing and what we were trying to find, and they hooked us up with a tour guide.
Wow. That's great.
Yeah. It was really cool. It was actually the owner of the hotel who has a tour agency on the side, and he took us to his private villa where had a boat that took us to the Sundaraban Forest.
Wow. It's crazy that that hook up happened. That's very convenient.
Yeah. It was completely by chance, but it was such an amazing experience because we went to this beautiful home in a small village, and we actually got to go meet a lot of the villagers. And then we took this small boat, and we went deep into the forest. And I have to be honest though, once we got into the Sundaraban Forest, it's got the mangrove trees, which have their roots in the water, so you’re…
Yeah. I was just going to ask. I was a little bit confused. You were taking a boat into the forest. How does that work?
It's beautiful. I'll try to post a picture with this episode. But basically it's the mangrove trees that their roots go into the water. So you're going in this boat through these small passageways with big trees, and you're really close and it's small passages, and I started singing because I didn't want to see a tiger.
You didn't want to see a tiger?
I got scared. I didn't realize how close you were to the trees and how close a tiger really could be to you.
Yeah. And do these tigers swim? Could it come up to the boat? I guess tigers do swim, don't they?
They do. And they could have come, so we got a bit scared by talking to some of the villagers, so we sang a bit during the boat ride.
I'm curious, what song did you sing? Do you remember?
We actually sang “Oh Canada” over and over again because we couldn't think of the words to any other song.
That's hilarious. OK. Good. So in the end, did you see a tiger?
No. But it was still an amazing experience, and the Sundaraban Forest is absolutely amazing. So beautiful.
Did you see any other animals?
We saw a couple of different birds, but I don't remember the names of any of them.
OK. Cool. That's a great story. That's sounds like a really interesting experience.
It was amazing and one of my favourite travel stories.
Cool. All right. Good, well thanks for sharing with us.

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

domingo, 22 de mayo de 2016

Extensive listening: The surprising habits of original thinkers

How do creative people come up with great ideas? Organizational psychologist Adam Grant studies "originals": thinkers who dream up new ideas and take action to put them into the world.

In The surprising habits of original thinkers, learn three unexpected habits of originals — including embracing failure. "The greatest originals are the ones who fail the most, because they're the ones who try the most," Grant says. "You need a lot of bad ideas in order to get a few good ones."

You can read the transcript here.

sábado, 21 de mayo de 2016

Reading test: Today’s worship of children borders on the perverse

In this week's reading test we are going to practice the multiple choice reading comprehension task, which is based on The Guardian article Today’s worship of children borders on the perverse by Tim Lott.

Read the text and choose the option A, B or C which best completes each sentence. 0 is an example.

Today’s worship of children borders on the perverse

Every Father’s Day or Mother’s Day, when our children are required for a few hours to acknowledge their parents’ unstinting efforts on their behalf, I am asked by one of them, usually resentfully: “Why isn’t there a children’s day?” The answer reliably comes back: because every day is children’s day. Then I found out there is a children’s day after all – National Children’s Day on 15 May.

Doubtless the idea of this day is to bring attention to those children who suffer hardship and neglect. However, I have a suspicion that were my nine and 13-year-old daughters to find out about this occasion they would simply assume they were going to be entitled to some extra privileges. Nevertheless, I was somewhat encouraged to learn from the press release that it was going to “raise awareness about the importance of adult wellbeing … adult happiness … and [adult] mental health in the UK”.

Adult happiness – there’s a concept I could embrace. However, it sits uneasily with the rest of the release which announces that the way we are to achieve “adult wellbeing” and (apparently incidentally) produce “heartful and mindful” children, is to “enjoy” informal activities such as “a playing out day for local families, carrying out daily random acts of kindness during the week, holding a street party, and ‘a go home on time’ week for working parents to spend time with the family.” Which sounds a lot more like simply more fun for the kids to me.

I may be sounding a trifle sour at the moment. This is because a few days before writing this column a couple of things happened that made me slightly less mindful and heartful than my darling children. As a family we took The Complete Walk of Shakespeare’s plays along the South Bank in London and after an hour or so we reached a screen with chairs in front.

My wife and two younger daughters found chairs, but I couldn’t see one. A little weary, I asked Louise, my nine-year-old, to let me sit down (I am 60, not incidentally) and to sit on my lap. She did so, but a minute later decided she wanted her chair back. I refused. As a result I was turned on as if by a trio of velociraptors, not only by Louise, but my wife and older daughter, who both insisted I was being unconscionably selfish. The atmosphere remained frosty for some time and I found myself looking forward to the catharsis I might get seeing the excerpt from King Lear.

On the tube home, a young couple got up to give their seats to two kids who looked about seven. It seemed strange to someone of my generation. Once upon a time it was normal practice for children to give up their seats for adults.

The most important shift in power in the last few generations is the welcome historical movement away from men towards women. It may be that the shift in power from parents towards children is part of the same phenomenon. But this worship of children does seem to be bordering on the perverse to me – much as I adore my own.

Perhaps now that we have given up on political ideology, romance and God, children are the last place we can go where we might find some kind of religious relationship. For it seems that they have indeed become objects of our veneration. If so, they are better idols to worship than an almighty God, or Karl Marx or a passing romantic fancy. But that doesn’t mean that sometimes it feels like they get spoiled rotten. That is to say, as a worshipper myself, I sometimes to lose my faith.

I only hope my children will find the heartfulness and mindfulness to forgive me.

0 Example:
The writer’s child
A complains about the fact his/her family doesn’t celebrate children’s day.
B doesn’t know there is a children’s day.
C feels gratitude towards his/her parents.

1 Children’s day
A celebrates parents’ happiness.
B draws people’s attention to social inequality.
C is a day for children to receive presents.

2 To celebrate children’s day
A families are encouraged to help other people.
B parents are allowed to leave work earlier.
C street parties are organised.

3 A few days ago the writer and his family
A saw some Shakespeare’s plays in the open.
B went to the park with a book by Shakespeare.
C went to the theatre.

4 During the trip
A everybody found a chair eventually.
B the writer felt tired.
C the writer got angry with his daughter.

5 On the tube home.
A a child gave his seat to the writer.
B the parents left their daughters their seats
C the writer was surprised by a young couple’s behaviour.

6 The writer points out that
A children are also gaining power.
B children have become dictators.
C women have taken away too much power from men.

7 These days it seems
A children are all spoilt.
B children are the centre of attention.
C religion is making a comeback.

 Photograph: Alamy for The Guardian

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

viernes, 20 de mayo de 2016

Man Builds a House In a Cave

Watch this video where Angelo Mastropietro explains how he went from being a successful businessman to build his own house in a cave.

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

1 How much has Angelo spent on his cave house so far?
2 How old is he?
3 What condition was he diagnosed with?
4 How old are the sandstone cliffs near the Wyre Forest?
5 Who has done the most demanding work on the cave?
6 How did he excavate the 70 or 80 tons of rubble?
7 Where is the heating in the shower room?
8 How deep is the hole he gets water from?
9 What does Angelo use the house for?
10 How does Angelo feel about his achievement?

My life before I became a caveman was really quite different.
The pressures of modern life mean that most of us have probably dreamt at one time or another of fleeing to the hills. But Angelo Mastropietro has made his hermit dream a reality by spending over £160,000 making a house out of the cave.
I am 38 years old and I’m a caveman. You know, I love a challenge. I mean, I guess coincidentally my surname actually means Master of the Stone. So you know, maybe it’s kind of in my blood.
He did most of the work himself, even more incredible when you consider the only a few years ago, the businessman was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. I had a lapse that left me paralysed essentially which was really the catalyst to make a review where I was at, where I was going and obviously my lifestyle. The rock house kinda came along, you know without a shadow of a doubt. I was as passionate about that as I was about setting up my company.
The 250-¬million-¬year-¬old sandstone cliffs near the Wyre Forest are said to have inspired Tolkien when he was writing Lord of the Rings. It was here that Angelo spent £62,000 on this 700-¬year-¬old abandoned cave which he would turn into his very own hobbit hole. With a renovation budget of £100,000, Angelo set about doing most of the physically demanding work himself.
In the end, I had spent somewhere round about 1,000 hours basically breaking rock, cutting rock, burrowing rock. You know, total somewhere around about 70 or 80 tons of rubble that I excavated out of this rock house by hand, and really proof of that is the whole of the terrace outside, is literally 100 square meters of terrace out there. None of that was there when I started. So that is all of the rubble that I have excavated.
The completed rock house’s impressive features are anything but Stone Age. It even has Wi¬Fi.
One of the things that’s kind of impressive about the restoration is really what you don’t see. We’ve put ventilation channels in the floor. One of the things that I was quite passionate about doing was trying to retain the integrity of the rock house by not cutting the many casings into the hard wires. This could originally have been the bedroom. These little nooks either side which I have lit up to give the illusion of kind of light channels kind of casting light down. Coming through into the shower room. So we have got under floor heating in here. One of the biggest kind of engineering feat. This is where I have excavated this kind of shelf and then subsequently I dug down and created this shower.
All of the fresh running water, comes from Angelo’s own borehole which he sank 18 metres into the ground.
This was originally two separate spaces. So the first task was that I’ve excavated this doorway. Start off at the top and literally cut down, repeat the process so that the whole of the area that you are looking to remove was set into stripes, and then remove the sections of rock, and just literally repeat, repeat, repeat. 11 days later, it kind of made my way through.
Although the cave house was originally built as a holiday let, Angelo still harbours the ambition of one day living full time in his unusual property.
When you’re actually here, when you see it in person, you get a feel for the place. Literally had people in tears. You know, I feel incredibly happy, very proud, very honoured. Yeah, it’s been a very inspiring chapter I think.

jueves, 19 de mayo de 2016

Mother goes through surgery to look like daughter

Watch this video where Janet Horrocks explains the reasons why she wants to look like her daughter Jane and answer the questions below about it.

1 How old are Janet and Jane?
2 How does Janet feel when she is mistaken for Jane's sister?
3 How does Jane feel?
4 Why does Janet  have the right to copy Jane’s look?
5 What surgeries has Janet had?
6 How does Jane feel about cosmetic surgery?

I based my transformation on my daughter because she is beautiful, I created her, and I wanted her look.
With their matching long blonde hair and size 8 figures, these women are often mistaken for sisters. But 57-year-old Janet Horrocks has spent £40,000 and endured extensive surgery to look like her 36-year-old daughter Jane.
When people mistake Jane and I as sisters, I feel great about myself, I feel on top of the world. And it makes me think that all the money I spent was well worth every penny. They would never in a million years think that I was her mother and she was my daughter, and it’s great, it’s a great feeling. We dress alike, we look alike, we have the same hairstyle, we have the same hair colour, we are both very slim. So why wouldn’t they mistake us for sisters?
However Jane has been less than thrilled about the comparisons between her and her mum.
When I found out first that my mum wanted to base herself on me I was terrified. I was not impressed. I didn’t want my mum to look like me. I didn’t want people thinking that she was my sister. I wanted them to know that she was my mum. My mum does not take my feelings into consideration. If my mum’s going to have surgery or do what she wants to do, she is going to do it whether I like it or not.
Jane was against it at first; she didn’t like me looking like her. It was embarrassing for her, but now she is kind of accepted it because she knows I am not going to back down, and I am just going to keep going. I have the right to copy Jane’s look because I created her in the first place. And she has already got my looks anyway so all I am doing is just emphasising, you know, that look again. To be honest I don’t care what she thinks because I am still gonna copy her anyway. It’s me and that’s just how I am.
Over the years I have had several surgeries, the first being breast augmentation. After that I had upper eyes, lower eyes, I had nose, I had laser resurfacing, I had Botox, I had fillers, I had my lips done and then I had another breast augmentation. I never want to look old. I always want to look like my daughter. So to further improve it, I will be, you know, seeking more surgeries.
Unlike her surgery obsessed mum, Jane plans to grow old gracefully.
I wouldn’t do it myself, have cosmetic surgery. I am concerned that my mum is having surgery. I’m worried that maybe something could go wrong or she might just push it too far and look totally fake. But I can’t stop her so she will just carry on.
I always want to maintain that look. It’s just me, I can’t help it, and I will continue to do so till the day I die.

miércoles, 18 de mayo de 2016

Talking point: Language learning

This week's talking point is languages. Before getting together with the members of your conversation group, go over the questions below so that ideas come to mind more easily the day you get together with your friends and you can work out vocabulary problems beforehand.

When did you start learning English?
How long was it before you could hold a conversation in English?
When did you first put your learning into practice?
Have you progressed as well as you expected?
Have you even been immersed in an English-speaking country?
How important is it to you to speak accurately?
What level of competence would you like to attain eventual?
In your experience, are native English speakers good at speaking second languages? Why / Why not?
Apart from English, what's an important second language in your country? Why is it important?
Do you speak this language? Is it widely spoken? Why / Why not?

How can these factors have an impact on second language learning?

the right mentality
financial limitations
opportunities for interaction
first language interference
natural competence
the prestige of knowing a second language

To illustrate the topic you can listen to this BBC recording on the difficulties Britons have to speak foreign language and polyglot Susanna Zaraysky's opinion on how to best learn a foreign language.

martes, 17 de mayo de 2016

Why it is hard to keep the pounds off

Rebecca Wright and her husband, Daniel Wright, have gained back a lot of the weight they lost six years ago on a TV reality show. A study of the contestants helps explain why.

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

1 How many pounds did Rebecca and her husband lose together?
2 What has happened in the last six years?
3 How healthy are Rebecca and her husband?
4 What will happen to your body if you are successful losing weight?
5 What are the people trying to lose weight fighting against?
6 What simile does Dr Hall use?
7 How do Rebecca and her husband feel when they hear how difficult it is for them to fight against their slow metabolism?
8 What have they learnt after taking part in the study?

Three. Two. Exhale. Good job.
Rebecca Wright, a personal trainer, and her husband, Daniel, first met on season eight of "The Biggest Loser." They together lost almost 250 pounds. But in the last six years, they've gained almost all the weight back.
Daniel and I have never given up since "Loser."  
We've seen some pretty big downfalls. We've put weight back on. But we've never stopped being healthy.
Wright participated in a recent study that helps explain why she and many other contestants have regained most of their weight.
Two more.
The more successful you are at losing weight, the slower your metabolism will be and the more hungry you'll be.
Dr. Kevin Hall led the study. He's a senior investigator at the National Institutes of Health in Washington, and he says the findings show how hard the body fights back against weight loss. 
These "Biggest Loser" folks, not only did they cut their calories, but they increased the amount of exercise that they're doing by an enormous amount. [High.]  However, despite that, their metabolic rate slowed dramatically.  [Up. Press.] On the metabolism side of things, your body is trying to slow down and resist further weight loss and actually promote weight regain. And you're fighting against that at the same time as you're fighting against an increased appetite. [Rip it across.  Yes.] So it's a little bit of a double whammy. And what happens to most people is that they can't keep up the fight against the slowing of metabolism and the increased appetite, and so they slip backwards. It's like asking someone to hold their breath. You can do it for a little while, but it is very difficult to do it for much longer than a minute or two. [One.]
So I think when you hear that you have a slower metabolism, you're a little disheartened. We're bombarded by messages that say, here are seven things you can do to boost your metabolism. I saw on the program at 4:00 PM today that, if I eat this, I'll have a faster metabolism.  It's this word that's been thrown around since I was as young as I can remember.
I have to stop at ALDI and get wraps for huevos.
So when you first hear you have a slow metabolism, you're a little disheartened, because you're like, well, does that mean I'm set what does this mean?
Like, I'm just doomed. I'm never gonna be able to lose weight. Does that mean you throw the towel in? No. You get to eat soon, mi amor.
So now we know why this happens to us and why it's hard. So now it's like, oh, 'cause someone, someone medically is saying, hey, it is hard. But the other answer is it's saying it's not impossible. There are people from the study who have maintained weight loss.  So I think the point from the study is, oh, here's why I've been yo-yoing.  So now what can I do to kind of design my life to not do that as much anymore?  And this time doing it reasonably and doing it slower, so hopefully there's not this big swing that we saw after "Biggest Loser."

lunes, 16 de mayo de 2016

Listening test: Sicilian driving

Listen to Gerry describing his driving experience in Sicily and complete the blanks in the sentences below with up to three words. 0 is the example.

0 Example:
Gerry’s friend has a degree in law.

1 For Southern Europeans, the important thing is to work out what you can do without breaking through __________________ .

2 In Sicily and in other parts of Europe traffic signs seem to have the function of __________________ instead of regulating traffic.

3 On Italian roads there are __________________ people killed in traffic accidents than in the UK.

4 Among Northern Europeans, Sicilian drivers have the reputation of being __________________ .

5 In Gerry’s opinion, Sicilian drivers only shout when they are __________________ .

6 In Gerry’s experience, a Sicilian driver will drive on middle of the road and will just move to the side when they see __________________ .

7 In the streets of Palermo, drivers use the horn to __________________ that a car is coming.

8 Sicilian drivers get very close to the car in front when they are __________________ .

A friend of mine with a law degree once told me that different cultures understand the concept of law in different ways. For example, Northern European cultures perceive the law as being a bit like the floor of a room. It provides a sort of foundation for what we do. Everything is based on it. Southern Europeans, by contrast, view the law more like the ceiling of the room. The important thing is to work out what you can do without breaking through that legal ceiling. Like all metaphors it’s a simplification, but I couldn’t help thinking about it when I was driving my rental car around Sicily. I came to the conclusion that road signs governing speed limits, parking restrictions, overtaking, stopping, giving way and so on seem to have a different function there. In Sicily, and other parts of Italy as well for that matter, these signs seem to have more of an advisory nature rather than legal regulation. At any rate, drivers there seem to make their own decisions rather than sticking strictly to the official rules.
I met a number of other tourists in Sicily from countries like the Netherlands, Germany and Hungary, and they all thought that the Sicilians were very bad drivers. Since I got back I looked at the statistics, and it has to be said that there are something like twice as many people killed in traffic accidents in Italy than in the UK, with Switzerland and the Netherlands close to the UK figure. But it’s Hungary and other central European countries that have the worst statistics in Europe. My Northern European friends described Sicilian drivers as aggressive. It’s true that they tend to drive fast when they can and very close to other cars, and they like to use their horns. These are all behaviours that Northern Europeans associate with aggression, but I can’t say that I found Sicilian drivers personally aggressive. I have the feeling that road rage is more of a Northern European thing than Southern. Sicilians shout at each other quite a lot but they shout when they’re chatting. Shouting doesn’t mean aggression in that part of the world.
So this is how I interpret certain aspects of Sicilian driving. White lines on the road show you where the middle of the road is: where it’s best to drive. Drive in the middle of the road and then move to the side if another car comes. You can park where you like but you should try to leave enough room for the bus to get past. In the narrow streets of Palermo, when you want to join a road it’s often difficult to see. So, it’s polite to use your horn to let people know that you’re coming. In the town, it’s OK to push into the traffic, and if somebody has pushed enough it’s OK to let them go in front of you. If you don’t push, you just block the traffic behind you. And that’s not polite.
My conclusion? Sicilians are clever, flexible and pragmatic when they drive. But a lot of them treat driving like a sport – that’s why they get so close to you when they’re overtaking; their model is motor racing. That’s probably why they have so many accidents. And they drive very extravagantly: they don’t worry about fuel consumption or the wear and tear on their brakes and tyres.

1 the legal ceiling
2 advising (drivers)
3 twice as many
4 aggressive
5 chatting
6 a/another car coming
7 let people know
8 overtaking

domingo, 15 de mayo de 2016

Extensive listening: The key to success? Grit

Leaving a high-flying job in consulting, Angela Lee Duckworth took a job teaching math to seventh graders in a New York public school.

She quickly realized that IQ wasn't the only thing separating the successful students from those who struggled. Here, she explains her theory of "grit" as a predictor of success.

You can read the transcript here.

A few days ago Angela Duckworth was invited to CBS This Morning to talk about his latest book.

sábado, 14 de mayo de 2016

ESL Culips

Esl Cupids is a site where English learners in the intermediate-to-advanced level will find a trove of podcasts on everyday topics spoken in real current English.

There are two kinds of podcasts in ESL Cupids: Chatterbox episodes, in which we can listen to interviews with guests, and Catch Word episodes, with a focus on vocabulary.

Optionally, there are learning materials for learners to further delve into the vocabulary and specific cultural aspects of the podcasts.

viernes, 13 de mayo de 2016

easyJet takes on food shopping with new store

Famous for no-frills budget flights, the famous orange signs can now be found above a corner shop, as easyJet looks to revolutionise food shopping.

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

1 Where was the EasyJet airline owner born?
2 What groups of people can benefit from the cheap groceries?
3 How much would the same item cost in a local shop?
4 How many children does the single mum have?
5 How big is the range of products on offer?
6 What EasyJet failures are mentioned?

There are no big brand baked beans here and the butter wouldn’t ring any bells but this is budget shopping, Stelios style. The Greek-born billionaire, now a knight of the realm, has taken the business model from his easyJet airline, moving from cheap getaways to cheap groceries too.
People who are, you know, pensioners, unwaged, on low wages moving off benefits into a low-wage job so they no longer entitled to use food banks, this is what caters for them. A small range of high-quality goods very, very competitively priced.
The range isn't extensive just the essentials, but for those whose cupboards are bare this food is affordable.
I think we’re struggling, whether you’re working, even if you're working now lots of people are on low wage and it’s very hard to feed the family, you know.
In the local shops it would £1,97. I’ve got a freedom pass. I come here, I can get eight for that.
Being a single mom on benefits with two little boys is very difficult to pounce the money and be able to get them treats and pounce food. I mean, I know a lot of the vegs is in tins, anything, but it’s still vegs.
There clearly is a market for cheap produce but how successful is this business going to be?
It just doesn't seem to relate to how the market has moved in recent years. I mean, people these days, most people, would want a rather more pleasant store environment and they certainly want fresh fruits, it’s a very important part of the mix at the moment… it's not just … package. I think they’d want a bigger range too, I mean families come in here, pick up a few products, then they gonna go on.
Whether it works in the long run is yet to be seen. For every easyJet success story there’s failures such as Easy Cinema or Easy Car, but with over one million people using food banks last year, affordable food may not be such a flash in the pan.

jueves, 12 de mayo de 2016

London pigeons to wear pollution monitoring backpacks

A flock of pigeons are being fitted with lightweight pollution monitoring backpacks. Report by Jessica Wakefield.

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

1 When did pigeons use to carry vital messages?
2 Why can’t the company use drones?
3 What part of the day is the company particularly interested in?
4 How high do pigeons fly?
5 How many people die in London as a result of air pollution?
6 How can you find the pollution levels in the place where you are?

Some consider them filthy vermin likening them to flying rats but could pigeons offer the chance of cleaner living?
Okay, pull the wing out. Just lift it a couple of seconds up.
A flock of the birds are being fitted with lightweight pollution monitoring backpacks, a modern version of paper letters being tied to them.
Many years ago, in the First and Second World Wars, pigeons used to carry vital messages and saving many lives and when the company approached me, said would we do this, they showed me this very good gadget on the back of the pigeons and I thought we could link the two together once again, our little feathered friends, the athletes of the sky, are providing a very good service.
We already have fixed positioned air-pollution monitors but could the birds soaring through the skies offer a new way to assess air quality?
You know, you're asking why, why pigeons I… we could’ve… people say, oh you could have used drones but actually you can’t fly drones over London and because we are particularly interested in rush hour and obviously there's a lot of traffic and you can't really circulate quite easily, so we’re like how can we go across the city and uncover as much pollution data as possible and that's when we thought about pigeons. They fly pretty low, around a hundred feet high, so the data we get is quite relevant for the people in the street as well.
Latest research estimates that air pollution causes 9,400 premature deaths a year in London.
It’s monitoring NO2 and ozone. We track two gases that impact your health. Diesel, for instance, and traffic would create NO2. Ozone comes from NO2 being transformed by photochemistry. This is really complicated science but what we know is that these are things that are bad for your health, and so if you can track how this pollution changes, broadly speaking you understand better how environment impacts our health.
And you can find out local pollution levels by tweeting @pigeonair along with the place you're in London, and they'll tweet you back telling you about the air that you're breathing in. The next evolution will be mini-monitors worn by humans as we try to get a clearer picture of London's invisible killer.

miércoles, 11 de mayo de 2016

Talking point: Stories

This week's talking point is stories. Before getting together with the members of your conversation group, go over the questions below so that ideas come to mind more easily the day you get together with your friends and you can work out vocabulary problems beforehand.

Choose a folktale or fairy story you know well and tell the story.
What would be the modern version of that folktale or fairy story?
What makes a good story?
What makes a good storyteller?
Do you know anyone who's a particularly good storyteller?
What kind of stories does he or she tell?
When did you last hear a good story? What was it about?
Do you prefer reading stories or listening to them?
How important are folktales and fairy stories in forming someone's cultural background?
Are folktales and fairy stories taught in schools?
Certain groups of people criticise myths and fairy tales for communicating an undesirable set of values. How do you feel about this?

Personal story: A change in plans
You are going to tell your partner about a time when you had to change your plans.
  • What had you planned? A holiday? A party? A career change? A new home? Something else?
  • Were you responsible for making the plans or did someone else do the planning?
  • How far ahead were the plans made? Was there a lot of planning involved?
  • What exactly was the original plan? Were you looking forward to it?
  • What happened to force you to change your plans?
  • Did the change happen at the very last minute or did you have time to make new plans?
  • How did you react when your plans fell through?
  • Did you do something else instead? Do you think it turned out for the best in the end?
  • Is there anything else you'd like to add?
To illustrate the topic you can watch the story of Little Red Riding Hood, included in Roald Dahl's Revolting Rhymes.

As soon as Wolf began to feel That he would like a decent meal, 
He went and knocked on Grandma's door. 
When Grandma opened it, she saw 
The sharp white teeth, the horrid grin, 
And Wolfie said, "May I come in?" 
Poor Grandmamma was terrified, 
"He's going to eat me up!" she cried. 
And she was absolutely right. 
He ate her up in one big bite. 
But Grandmamma was small and tough, 
And Wolfie wailed, 
"That's not enough! 
I haven't yet begun to feel 
That I have had a decent meal!" 
He ran around the kitchen yelping, 
"I've got to have a second helping!"
Then added with a frightful leer, 
"I'm therefore going to wait right here 
Till Little Miss Red Riding Hood 
Comes home from walking in the wood."
He quickly put on Grandma's clothes, 
(Of course he hadn't eaten those). 
He dressed himself in coat and hat. 
He put on shoes, and after that, 
He even brushed and curled his hair, 
Then sat himself in Grandma's chair.
In came the little girl in red. 
She stopped. She stared. And then she said, 
"What great big ears you have, Grandma." 
"All the better to hear you with," the Wolf replied. 
"What great big eyes you have, Grandma." said Little Red Riding Hood. "All the better to see you with," the Wolf replied.
He sat there watching her and smiled. 
He thought, I'm going to eat this child. 
Compared with her old Grandmamma, 
She's going to taste like caviar.
Then Little Red Riding Hood said, 
“But Grandma, what a lovely great big furry coat you have on." 
"That's wrong!" cried Wolf. 
"Have you forgot 
To tell me what BIG TEETH I've got? 
Ah well, no matter what you say,
 I'm going to eat you anyway." 
The small girl smiles. 
One eyelid flickers. 
She whips a pistol from her knickers. 
She aims it at the creature's head, 
And bang bang bang, she shoots him dead.
A few weeks later, in the wood, 
I came across Miss Riding Hood. 
But what a change! 
No cloak of red, 
No silly hood upon her head. 
She said, "Hello, and do please note 
My lovely furry WOLFSKIN COAT."

martes, 10 de mayo de 2016

Riding New York City’s Desire Line

Desire lines, says architecture critic Michael Kimmelman, are marked by economic development and evolving travel patterns. He plots today’s desire line along the waterfronts of Brooklyn and Queens.

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

1 Neighborhoods along Brooklyn and Queens have a good transport system.
2 Michael Kimmelman advocates for more cars on the roads.
3 Brooklyn Bridge Park has the power to attract young entrepreneurs.
4 The bike is a popular means of transport in some areas of New York.
5 Cars and trams can share the same road.
6  Residents of Greenpoint tend to use the train as their main means of transport.
7 Houses and business premises could be built in Astoria.
8 A swimming pool in Astoria Park was built after the Berlin Olympics.

Healthy cities welcome change. Today, neighborhoods along the waterfronts of Brooklyn and Queens are among the ones undergoing the biggest changes in New York but they’re badly served by mass transit.
I’m Michael Kimmelman from the New York Times and this is my proposal to bring back the streetcar - mostly along the route first laid out nearly a decade ago by urban planner Alex Scarman.
The route begins in Red Hook. The streetcar would start at Ikea, which runs a ferry to Lower Manhattan. Small businesses in Red Hook now cut off from customers by a lack of transit would suddenly become more accessible.
Traveling north along Columbia Street and then Furman Street we pass Brooklyn Bridge Park. Here there are more ferries into Manhattan and a link to subways in Brooklyn Heights and in Dumbo. The area is also a potential magnet for startups, tech companies, small businesses and artisan prized older buildings with open floor spaces and lots of character.
Today a city that attracts young entrepreneurs who favor these old mixed neighborhoods and industrial buildings and whose employees like to ride bikes, take public transit and live near work is thinking ahead - so is a city that doesn’t leave behind its poor citizens in neighborhoods that have long had meager access to public transport.
Go east on Flushing Avenue and then north on Kent Avenue into Williamsburg: Kent is ripe for transit which would run beside one of the city’s most popular bike lanes.
A modern streetcar with tracks buried only a few inches into the asphalt shares the road and flows with existing traffic. It’s a permanent commitment which generates economic development and becomes its own attraction.
Further north and past McCaren park, Greenpoint has been colonized by millenniums but it’s under served by the G-Train. The route here dead-ends in Newtown Creek but a dedicated bridge with bike lane and pedestrian pass would restore the old subway bridge that was torn down years ago, providing easy access for residents and workers in Greenpoint to reach the subway at Vernon Boulevard.
Property values are skyrocketing in Long Island City. It’s got PS1 and the Silvercup studios and a slew of bars and funny little shops and the feeling of a neighborhood on the make.
From there, we head north on Vernon Boulevard. Across the river on Roosevelt Island, a new Cornell tech campus is being built linked to Queens and Manhattan by the F-Train. This entire route could become, who knows, a new Silicon Alley.
We hang a right at 41st Avenue, just south of the Noguchi Museum and Socrates Sculpture Park – long marooned city gems. Then a left on 21st Street into Astoria: a strip full of parking lots and low-rise industrial buildings ready for new housing and other development. The end of the route is where the Triborough Bridge meets Astoria Park. There’s lots of new development already and a glorious public pool from the 1930’s where American swimmers practiced for the Berlin Olympics.
A streetcar could link not just underserved parts of the city, long neglected by mass transit; it would also trace a new desire line that is emerging in New York, linking waterfront areas rich in history but also crucial to the city’s future. 

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lunes, 9 de mayo de 2016

Listening test: Tiny Texts

Listening to six news items taken from the site Tiny Texts and choose the corresponding heading A-H to each of them. There are two headings you do not need to use.

A - Imaginative guy
B - I-pads for pets
C - Not the first scientific project in this area
D - Not unanimity on this
E - Online success
F - Silly ways to die
G - Stop wasting
H - Useful for almost everything

Imaginative guy
Online resumes are becoming more and more popular. Philippe Dubost has attracted the attention of the media by posting one that looks exactly like an Amazon product page. Beside his photo, there’s the message ‘only one left in stock- order soon.’ If you add him to your cart, you get his contact information. The product details include his height, languages and best marathon. Potential employers are informed
that ‘this product is for shipping anywhere in the world.’ He also has plenty of five-star reviews. Philippe clearly has a good sense of humour, as you will see if you click on ‘add to wedding registry. ‘Not happening’ means he has no intention of getting married. This guy is clever, creative and surely deserves a great job.

Not unanimity on this
CNN has chosen Scotland as this year’s best tourist destination. The dramatic scenery from the film ‘Skyfall’ has made people wish to see it for themselves. Lonely Planet, on the other hand, suggests Rio, Brazil as the value option. They recommend going there before prices rise for the 2014 world cup and 2016 Olympic games. The Rough Guide Hotlist number one is Stockholm, in Sweden where the official ABBA museum is set to open shortly. Other suggestions include Dubrovnik, Porto Rico and surprisingly, the English seaside town of Margate. So what’s your must-see destination for this year?

Not the first scientific project in this area
Scientists in Brazil have come up with a plan to save endangered species by cloning them. The agricultural research agency Embrapa has already cloned cows and horses. Now the researchers are working with Brasilia Zoological Garden to begin cloning jaguars, maned wolves and other animals. They have gathered hundreds of genetic samples from dead animals in the Brazilian outback. If the project is successful, the animals will be kept in captivity and only released into the wild if there is a risk of total extinction. The first mammal to be cloned was Dolly, the sheep who was born in Scotland in 1996. Rare animals have been cloned before but so far, nobody has successfully copied a big cat like a jaguar.

Stop wasting
How many mobile phones have you had in your life and what do you do with the old, broken ones?  Most people throw them away.  In fact, digital waste is a growing problem for society. Dutch designer Dave Hakken has come up with an amazing idea to reduce such waste.  The Phoneblocks concept is a mobile phone made up of little blocks that can be replaced when they stop working.  This means that you can keep your phone forever and just replace the broken parts.  You can also build the ideal phone for your personal needs. The designer is trying to spread the word about his idea.  His goal is to find 50,000 supporters so that the mobile phone industry will take notice.

Useful for almost everything
I-phones can do all sorts of things like telling you what the weather is like in Kuala Lumpur, making movies, and monitoring your heart rate.  Now you can even use your i-phone to open a bottle of beer.  You will, however, need to purchase a special case with a built-in bottle-opener.  ‘Opena’ was launched by an Australian company with the help of Kickstart, a funding program for creative projects.  Tens of thousands of them have since been shipped all over the world and fans include actor Ashton Kutcher and TV chef Jamie Oliver.  After purchasing, make sure you learn some cool moves from the website video to impress friends at your next barbecue.

Online success
The internet is rife with cat videos.  Now another feline has become an internet sensation.  This time, the amazing pet can do a typical magic trick – to guess which cup contains a bell, even after they are mixed up at top speed.  We have seen cats that play the piano, surprised cats, fat cats, talking cats and even cats with i-pads.  Dogs, however, are catching up.  They can do tricks too, like walking on two legs and playing dead.  The latest star is a clever dog that taught a puppy how to go safely down the stairs.  There’s no doubt that both cats and dogs are clever and cute, and maybe sometimes we prefer them to people.


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

domingo, 8 de mayo de 2016

Extensive listening: Smart Loans

Trust: How do you earn it? Banks use credit scores to determine if you're trustworthy, but there are about 2.5 billion people around the world who don't have one to begin with — and who can't get a loan to start a business, buy a home or otherwise improve their lives.

Hear how TED Fellow Shivani Siroya is unlocking untapped purchasing power in the developing world with InVenture, a start-up that uses mobile data to create a financial identity. "With something as simple as a credit score," says Siroya, "we're giving people the power to build their own futures."

You can read the full transcript here.