domingo, 31 de julio de 2016

Extensive listening: Who are you, really? The puzzle of personality

What makes you, you? Psychologists like to talk about our traits, or defined characteristics that make us who we are.

But in his TED talk Who are you, really? The puzzle of personality, Brian Little is more interested in moments when we transcend those traits — sometimes because our culture demands it of us, and sometimes because we demand it of ourselves.

Watch Brian Little as he dissects the surprising differences between introverts and extroverts and explains why your personality may be more malleable than you think.

sábado, 30 de julio de 2016

Reading test: What happens when your child’s hobby dictates your holiday

In this week's reading test we are going to use the Telegraph article A power station and a Reading leisure centre- What happens when your child’s hobby dictates your holiday to practise the multiple choice reading comprehension sort of task.

Read the article and choose the option A, B or C which best completes each sentence.

A power station and a Reading leisure centre -What happens when your child’s hobby dictates your holiday

A converted nuclear power station near Düsseldorf isn’t the kind of venue many look for in a family holiday but, as I’ve found out, being the parent of a child in a street dance crew can pitch you up in places you’d never usually visit.
Wunderland - an amusement park on the edge of the River Rhine, built on the site of SNR-300, a nuclear plant that never went online due to protests - is the latest dance competition venue we’ve visited on a family trip.
We travelled there a few weeks ago, via Amsterdam, for the European Street Dance Championships where my son’s group, Defiance, and his hip hop dance school, Streetfunk, were competing.
Last year’s big competition took us to Glasgow; next month it’s a regional qualifier in a leisure centre in Reading – destination wise, competition travelling runs from the surreal and marvellous to the mundane.
As a family, it’s a different kind of travel that has opened us up to new places and new feelings as we ride the emotional rollercoaster of the competition circuit. There’s a solidarity with parents, teachers and children in your group, and it’s a complete change of scene, giving you the opportunity to reconnect – the last competition a refreshing getaway after Y6 SATs week.
The new film, Streetdance Family, explores this life on the journey of one under-16 UK crew from East London all the way to the World Hip Hop Championship in Germany. Made by award-winning documentary filmmakers Debbie Shuter and Adam Tysoe, it brings to life the intense, behind-the-scenes emotions of the trainers, crews and their families in their bid for glory.
It’s a funny, sad and uplifting story that captures individual characters’ quirks well and in its portrayal of commitment, raw highs and lows, anxiety and celebration, is sometimes reminiscent of the seminal 1994 American basketball documentary, Hoop Dreams.
As the competitions begin there’s a lot of running around - to get registered, to get the right wrist band, to get matching crew hoodies, to get hair and make-up done, assess any injuries and hunker down for a final team talk. On the floor, everywhere you look, people from Belarus to the Netherlands are dancing: practicing in corridors, drilling in the hotel lobby, flipping and break dancing in corners. That’s even before the routines and results…
Travelling like this can be invigorating and exhausting but becomes a tight bonding experience as a family, visiting new places that leave a lasting impression. We’d never heard of Kalkar, Rees or Kleve before visiting Germany, and loved exploring these small areas by the bucolic Rhine. I never imagined, either, that we’d be visiting a nuclear museum inside a theme park where, just outside, one of the old cooling towers now painted with a mountain scene, has a swing ride that pops out the top. Planned Plutonium has given way to pony express train rides, flying elephants and a speedy log flume. And the kids love it.
Other destinations such as Glasgow may not seem a big deal, but it’s a city I wouldn’t have got round to visiting if it wasn’t for a competition. Getting there meant being able to escape for a little while to The Glasgow School of Art and take a tour to learn about Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the city’s incredible art movements.
Just as I tapped up an German ex-flatmate for Rhine travel tips, you also find yourself re-connecting with other old friends around the country. In Glasgow, we took on a friend’s restaurant recommendations to eat delicious Haggis Pakora at The Wee Curry Shop and Tuscan and Ligurian food at Fratelli Sarti, both of which we still talk about. It was slightly pre-planned (dancers need fuel, so food becomes a priority) but there still seems a large amount of serendipity on trips like these that add to the excitement.
Travelling for a pastime (such as sport, performance and activity clubs) helps you uncover another corner of the world afresh. And you move as a unit - when we broke down off the M25 on the way to a competition, the other crew parents were there to rescue us faster than the RAC. It may just be street dance, but it’s taken us down new roads. Where have your child's hobbies taken you?

1 Wunderland
A is the place where the writer’s child competed.
B stopped working as a nuclear power station a long time ago.
C used to be a fairground.

2 The writer
A finds it difficult to engage with other parents.
B is fed up with travelling around so much.
C welcomed the last competition.

3 Streetdance Family
A can be described as a road movie.
B is starred by the writer’s son and his team.
C was directed by the writer himself.

4 In Hip Hop competitions
A appearance is as important as performance.
B everybody seems to be rushing about.
C dancing isn’t the main priority.

5 According to the writer,
A Hip Hop competitions bring the family together.
B his family found the Rhine area unpleasant.
C you can see some animals in Wunderland.

6 The writer
A became familiar with Glasgow’s cultural life.
B had always intended to visit Glasgow.
C managed to escape from his busy lifestyle by visiting Glasgow.

7 The writer says they
A ate with a friend in Glasgow.
B enjoy discovering pleasant things by chance.
C visited an old friend in Germany.

8 Travelling for a pastime
A can sometimes be dangerous.
B has made them familiar with a lot of roads.
C promotes solidarity among the families.

1A 2C 3A 4B 5A 6A 7B 8C

viernes, 29 de julio de 2016

Shock of anorexia in later life

New research by the BBC's Breakfast programme shows a rise in the number of people in England and Wales who are middle-aged or elderly and struggling with eating disorders.

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

1 How old was the first lady when she was diagnosed?
2 What is the accepted wisdom about eating disorders?
3 By how much has increased the number of people in their 60’s receiving specialist outpatient treatment?
4 Ideally, when should treatment be given?
5 What did Chris lose in four years?
6 Who are the beneficiaries of the government's investments in this area?

I was 44 years old and it was a massive shock … massive.
What am I going to eat? When am I going to eat. What plate am I going to eat of? You know; is that too much? Is that too little; it dominates your life very much.
You didn’t believe that this could be happening to somebody with your age?
I believed it doesn’t happen to older people and it definitely didn’t happen to me.
The accepted wisdom is that eating disorders strike the young, but Julie and Chris are two of a growing number of older people with anorexia.
For me being that age when I was diagnosed, I really felt that I should have known better.
While the overall rate of eating disorders is thought to be in decline, research carried out by Breakfast, show that in older age groups it is significantly increasing. The number of people in their 60’s receiving specialist outpatient treatment increased by almost a quarter in the last 4 years. For those in their 50’s there was a sharper increase of almost a third. Last year one in every 6 who received specialist treatment was over 40. Why might this be? In some cases like Chris, it is patients who slipped through the net over previous decades.
If you don’t get treatment early on, then recovery becomes difficult. You end up going back to hospital again and again and again.
But experts we’ve spoken to believe that in many cases like Julie’s the illness struck late in life out of the blue.
I knew I wasn’t eating, I knew I was depressed, but I had no idea that I couldn’t physically eat. In the 4 years, I lost two thirds of my body weight. I lost my husband and my job and I almost lost my life.
We showed our findings of Age UK who said eating disorders for older people are a serious issue and often overlooked by health professionals. There is a need for better awareness and support in treatment which is largely focussed on the young.
If there were people of a similar age that I’ve got a connection with, I would acknowledge that this does happen to people like me; its not just young people who suffer.
The government is investing in the area, but only to improve services for the young. In a statement they say: “We are investing £150 million to develop services for children and young people and have set targets for their care. There are also plans to develop standards that will improve care for adults with eating disorders”.
The last time I was in hospital, it really brought me face to face with what I’d lost. To anybody who is funding treatment or anything like that I’d say, give those people a chance, give them the treatment now, because it can stop.

1 44 
2 that they strike the young 
3 By almost a quarter
4 Early on
5 Two thirds of body weight, her husband, her job and almost her life
6 The young

jueves, 28 de julio de 2016

London’s first naked dining experience opens

London has a new restaurant serving raw, or "naked" food, and its customers are asked to dress accordingly.

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

1 What do customers have at the bar?
2 What are they given in the changing rooms?
3 What restrictions does the dining area have?
4 What did the restaurant open?
5 Apart from being a restaurant, what is Bunyadi?

We are in South London, at a pop-up restaurant called Bunyadi. But unlike most restaurants, this restaurant doesn’t require you to wear any clothes. Let’s see.
Hello, I’m Ignacio, the architect, the manager of the Bunyadi, London, a restaurant where everything is naked. When customers come in, they are welcome to this bar. Some of them travel all around the world to come here and they don’t know what to expect. They have one drink or two, and then they are taken to the changing room, where we give them gowns and slippers. After they get changed, we take them to the dining area, where no phone or any electrical devices are allowed. They are taken to the tables and then they can enjoy and experience the amazing food.
It’s about enjoying nakedness when it comes to bodies, food, nakedness from technology, basically a space where you are free from the modern trappings of the world.
We launched it a couple of weeks ago. We have, are now a waiting list of 4 to 5 thousand people. One of the biggest reasons why we started Bunyadi was naked food, our food is sauce to plate, raw without any preservatives, colour. I think the second reason is liberation from technology while you’re eating. I think we all get annoyed when the phones come out during dinner. So when you go to the toilet, if you’re with someone and you come back, the other person is waiting for you to finish the conversation and not literally on their phones.
Perhaps the most important thing is giving these people the space where they’ll be comfortable. I think, I think it’s not only about a restaurant. It’s a social experiment. There is a big problem all over the world with objectification and sexualisation of bodies, and I think people need to think of ideas which will help to desexualise this aspect of… this very physical aspect of human, humans which everyone has.
So I think you bring all these things together and you’ve got a recipe of a space where people feel comfortable being naked and not judged.

1 one drink or two 
2 a gown and slippers
3 no phone or any electrical devices are allowed
4 two weeks ago 
5 a social experiment

miércoles, 27 de julio de 2016

Talking point: Talent

This week's talking point is talent. 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.

How long does it take to learn something well?
What’s the best time of day to learn something new for you?
How important is memory when we learn something new?
Which of these factors are most important to be talented or become successful at something?
genetic make-up and natural ability
support from the community/family
training and practice

Do you know anyone who excels at anything? If so, how did this person reach this level of mastery?

Think of something you’ve done that you have put a lot of effort into. For example:
your job
a free-time activity
study of some kind
playing a musical instrument
learning a language
some craft or art

Make notes about these questions:
What special skills or talent do you need?
What level of ability do you think you have achieved?
Have have you learnt new information necessary for this activity?
Do you need to remember a lot of things to do this well?
How much time have you put into it?

Now tell the members of your conversation group about it.

To illustrate the point, you can watch this video from Britain's Got Talent.

martes, 26 de julio de 2016

Can success be built from failure?

Tavis Smiley, an American journalist and TV personality, is interviewed for MSNBC about the publication of his latest book, Fail up.

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

What do the figures below refer to or what does Tavis say about the following?
Two examples of Tavis’s own personal failings
Barak Obama’s failings
two criticisms to Barak Obama
Tavis’s message to Obama today

ANN CURRY: Back now at 8:44am with social commentator and TV host Tavis Smiley. He is celebrating 20 years in broadcasting on PBS and public radio, and his 15th book hits stores on May 1st. It is called, Fail Up: 20 Lessons On Building Success From Failure. Tavis Smiley, good morning to you.
TAVIS SMILEY: Good to see you. Welcome back, we missed you.
CURRY: Oh c'mon! That's sweet of you.
SMILEY: You deserve it, but we're glad to have you back.
CURRY: Well let's talk about this book…
CURRY: …because just in time for graduation you're writing a book about personal feelings that even people close to you don't even know about. You talk about a check-kiting episode that got you arrested. An open-mic incident that spoiled an interview. A relationship with a well-known Hollywood director. And a firing from BET. Now, now why now? Why are you revealing all this now?
SMILEY: I think I'm comfortable in the skin that I'm in. These success scars I'm ready to show now. No one who's successful in any field of human endeavor, if they're being honest, won't tell you that they've learned more from their failures than from their successes. I think we learn more from failure than from success.
CURRY: This is a real effort to help other people with this?
SMILEY: I think so. And I think people can situate themselves in the stories in this book. I start out each chapter talking about my own personal failings. But I love what Samuel Beckett, the great Nobel Laureate once wrote. He said, very simply, "Ever tried? Ever failed? No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better." I love that. "Try again. Fail again. Fail better." Failure doesn't have to be final. It doesn't have to be fatal. And we live in a world right now where everybody is so, I think, frozen by failure individually, in our families, in our country. We are afraid of the future. And I think we can fail through these things if we learn the lessons.
CURRY: You, you chronicle in your book the criticism, for example, that you faced when, when you used your broadcast forums to, to hold President, candidate and then President Barack Obama accountable. We should explain that as a social commentator you had been known…
CURRY: …having a good reputation for holding politicians accountable. So what exactly happened here?
CURRY: Because you were actually, you know, really reviled for this.
SMILEY: Yeah. Well, the short answer is that, that black folk who had waited 400 years for this moment - and I understood that. I was on the anchor desk with Brian Williams and Tom Brokaw the night that NBC called this election for Barack Obama. One of the highlights of my 20 year career - being on that desk, at NBC, that night. But black folk waited 400 years for this moment, I understood that. They wanted him to win, if I can take Malcolm X's phrase, and if by any means necessary. So having somebody talk about holding him accountable - even though I had done that for every presidency during my broadcast career - there was something about this guy, this black guy, who they wanted to see elected and they didn't want to hear any kind of critique or accountability talk about it. So I didn't change, many in black America did. But that's part of what it means to learn from lessons in life. You have to stand in your own truth with courage, conviction and commitment and know, that over time, folk will catch up with you, if you're telling the truth and you're doing it in love.
CURRY: You were called a traitor. You were called a sell-out.
SMILEY: I got called everything. And the funny thing about is, Barack Obama, President Obama is the best example of failing up in this country. He ought to be the poster child. When he ran for the House seat, years ago, against a guy named Bobby Rush - Bobby Rush beat the breaks off of him 3 to 1. He came back a few years later, ran for the Senate, his opponents started falling off like flies. He walks into the Senate. In 2000 he can't get into the building for the Democratic Convention in my hometown of L.A., and in 2008 he's President of the United States. Pardon my English, if that ain't failing up, I don't know what is?
CURRY: Well as president then, since you bring it up, what do you think his greatest failure has been so far?
SMILEY: Well I think he's got a, he's got a full plate. But I think he's gotta be held accountable for a number of different standards. I think he's wrong on these wars. I think he's given too much time, too much attention to the rich and the lucky, not enough attention to the poor. Not enough focus on jobs. Again, there's a lot on his plate and I'm empathetic toward that. But ultimately are you gonna side with the weak or are you gonna side with the strong? And we gotta focus more attention on the weak in this country and less on the strong.
CURRY: You think this budget battle, this, this tangle…
SMILEY: I think…
CURRY: …is an opportunity for the President?
SMILEY: Yeah, I think that budgets are moral documents. Budgets are moral documents. You can say what you say, but you are what you are. And when you put your budget on the table, we know what you believe in and there's some questions, some real questions to be asked. The Republican budget is no better, but budgets are moral documents. And it's this budget here, says a whole lot about what our values and priorities are and quite frankly I don't like any of them.
CURRY: One of the priorities needs to be about finding people jobs.
SMILEY: Absolutely. That's, that's, that is the message.
CURRY: So, so, so what is it that you think needs to be done? What's your message to President Obama…
SMILEY: I think, I think…
CURRY: …and the Congress this morning?
SMILEY: I think the way to cut deficits is to provide jobs. That's the simple answer. If you want to reduce the deficit, get Americans back to work. That's true for Republicans and Democrats. Jobs, jobs, jobs. This country has to fail up as well.
CURRY: Alright. A man who never lacks for an opinion. Thank you so much, Tavis Smiley. The book is called Fail Up.

20 years in broadcasting on PBS and public radio
his 15th book is called Fail Up: 20 Lessons On Building Success From Failure.
Personal failings:
-a check-kiting episode that got you arrested
-an open-mic incident that spoiled an interview
-a relationship with a well-known Hollywood director
-a firing from BET. 
Black folk waited for 400 years to have a black president 
Obama's failings:
-when he ran for the House seat against Bobby Rush, Bobby Rush beat him 3 to 1.
-in 2000 he can't get into the building for the Democratic Convention in  L.A.
Criticisms to Obama:
-he's given too much time and attention to the rich and the lucky and not enough to the poor
-not enough focus on jobs
Message to Obama today: create jobs

lunes, 25 de julio de 2016

Listening test: Stay-at-home dads

Listen to this piece on stay-at-home dads and choose the option A, B or C which best completes each sentence.

1. The number of stay at home dads in the U.S. has
A. doubled.
B. tripled.
C. quadrupled.

2. Economists suggest that today's stay-at-home dads
A. are less educated than working fathers.
B. lost their jobs during the recessions.
C. place a higher priority on relationships than on money.

3. According to the text, one reason women are earning more money now than in the past is
A. jobs performed by women are currently in high demand.
B. laws guaranteeing fairer salaries for women.
C. more women are graduating from college.

4. Being a stay-at-home dad can be good because a father's parenting style
A. develops a child's confidence.
B. is less emotionally involved.
C. is more comforting and reassuring for the child.

5. Working mothers
A. connect well with their children.
B. find it difficult to engage with their children.
C. tend not to have much influence on their children’s upbringing.

6. Stay-at-home dads
A. are likely to lack social recognition.
B. are often unable to go back to their professional lives.
C. usually have little self-esteem.

7. The most satisfied stay-at-home dads are dads
A. who also work from home.
B. who have chosen to stay home.
C. whose wives earn a very comfortable salary.

In the past, being a stay-at-home dad was borderline unthinkable, but recent statistics show that in the past twenty years, the number of stay-at-home dads has doubled in the U.K. and tripled in the U.S. Although families in which the father stays home still represent a very small percentage, the rapid growth may indicate the early stages of a trend.
Economists have speculated that men who were laid off during the two recent recessions have been unable to find another job, thus leaving their wives as the sole breadwinners. Also, according to a recent study in the U.S., 28% of women now earn higher salaries than their husbands; this makes the prospect of being a stay-at-home dad more financially feasible. Women’s increased earning power is thanks to a higher number of female college graduates – and this trend is bound to increase, as women now outnumber men in American universities.
Researchers have suggested that having a stay-at-home dad may actually be better for the child, because a father’s parenting style can be more beneficial for the child’s development in the early years. While mothers usually comfort and reassure kids who are sad or frustrated, fathers tend to encourage a more proactive approach to coping with the situation. This helps the child become more confident and emotionally stable.
In addition, studies have shown that mothers who work outside the home frequently engage with their children despite having a full-time job. This is not the case for men – when the father works full-time, he tends to have little influence or connection with his children. This leads to the conclusion that having a working mother and a stay-at-home dad is the best way for children to form equally strong bonds with both parents.
There are a few cons to reversing the stereotypical gender roles. Stay-at-home dads may face a lack of social support or even be ridiculed for their role in the family. Stay-at-home dads might also struggle with their own self-esteem, feeling that they are less manly because they perform the activities traditionally done by women. Some also worry that they will fall behind in their professional lives, as they are folding laundry and changing diapers while their peers are climbing the career ladder.
In general, men who have made the conscious choice to be stay-at-home dads are more satisfied with their status than men who have been forced into the role due to a layoff.
It is clear that being a stay-at-home dad is a complex issue. From a gender equality standpoint, the fact that men now feel more comfortable taking on this role is certainly positive. However, stay-at-home dads continue to face unique challenges, as this family arrangement is still far from being the norm.

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

domingo, 24 de julio de 2016

Extensive listening: The truth about Magaluf

Stacey Dooley travels to Magaluf, on the Spanish island of Mallorca, a resort is which is famous for the drunken antics of the British tourists who go there, but Stacey wants to find out what it's like for the thousands of Spanish workers who serve, police and clear up.

What starts out as a regular shift at a bar or cleaning hotel rooms often ends up with Stacey uncovering a darker side that only the workers and residents get to see. Working in a bar Stacey is not only surprised to learn how much free alcohol is on offer to young British tourists, but she's horrified when she witnesses the sexually explicit drinking games the drunk tourists are encouraged to play. When she spends a morning cleaning hotel rooms, not only does she learn about the vandalism and mess tourists leave behind, but she meets one member of staff who's been left traumatised after he saw a young girl fall to her death at the hotel earlier this year, leaving him constantly worried about the safety of inebriated guests. Stacey discovers that the high numbers of tourists who die or are badly injured every year is linked to heavy drinking.

But it's when Stacey rides along with an ambulance crew and a police patrol car over a busy weekend that she discovers things are really getting out of control in Magaluf. She hears how the emergency services have seen their worst year ever, cases of violent fights and rape are on the rise, women posing as prostitutes are ganging up on young, and often British, tourists and robbing them. Sadly this year, they've seen more deaths in the resort than ever before, mainly due to a craze called balconing.

sábado, 23 de julio de 2016

Down to Business English podcasts

Down to Business English is a podcast for people who use English as a Second Language in their work environment and are trying to improve their overall language skills.

In each episode, Down to Business English hosts Dez Morgan, who lives in Tokyo, and Skip Montreux, who is based in Auckland, discuss business stories making the news around the world.

Through their discussions, Skip & Dez introduce business-related vocabulary and phrases, review grammar, and identify cultural differences in international business situations.

Although the 15-minute podcasts are mainly business-oriented, general English learners in the intermediate-to-advanced bracket will greatly benefit from Down to Business English, as most of the topics dealt with have a universal appeal (millenials, music streaming, Uber, youth unemployment, gaming, the future of restaurants, and so on).

The podcasts are free to download and a courtesy transcript is offered to those users who register, but a subscription is required to have access to all transcripts .

viernes, 22 de julio de 2016

Dog Whisperer Trainer Walks Pack Of Dogs Without A Leash

Augusto de Oliveira can walk huge groups of unleashed German Shepherd dogs. The dog trainer, 23, is a web sensation and turns heads wherever he goes.

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

1 What is Augusto doing differently today?
2 Where did Augusto grow up?
3 What does Augusto have, according to Cynthia?
4 Why does Augsuto walk the dogs on their leash at first?
5 What does the woman say about her own two dogs?

Leader of the pack Augusto de Oliveira became an internet star after uploading this video of himself walking unleashed dogs through a quiet town, showing an amazing bond with his animals. But today, he's raising the stakes by attempting to repeat the feat on busy city streets.
Augusto grew up on a farm in Brazil with dozens of dogs and he learned from a young age to communicate with them. Today he lives, breathes and even sleeps with his pack, as part of his work, running Griffin Shepherd Kennels.
My dogs know me as part of the pack. I spend a lot of time with them.  I feed them, I let them out, I exercise them. I do everything with them.
Augusto’s landlady, Cynthia, is amazed by what she sees every day.
I believe Augusto has a gift, and his dogs, all dogs, not only his, respond amazingly to Augusto.
To test his training, Augusto has decided to try the unleashed pack walking in a busy environment the dogs aren’t used to.
Today I’m taking my pack for a walk in Boston, Massachusetts. I have Hannah, Jenner, Harmony, Griffin, Brazil and Savannah today. I start with my dogs on the leash, get them used to the position they have to walk in and to stay by my side before I start to let them off-leash.
And then, one by one, Augusto lets the dogs off their leash, keeping each one under control in a distracting environment.
And as they can see they have to remain the same position unless I change them.
Eventually, all six German shepherds successfully walk into Hill and the dogs are proving a big hit with the Bostonians.
I would love to have a dog as well behaved as those. I have two dogs that are horribly behaved and this would be amazing but I don't think I can ever replicate what he does. You can tell that these dogs are amazingly well trained, they’re calm, he has complete control of them.
I love spending time with my dogs. I just feel like there's so much I can do with them, I can spend time training them. I can spend time just taking them places. I can spend time playing with them. I never get tired of it.
After a hard day's work, the pack grabbed the first chance they can for a well-earned nap.
Dogs they had fun?
Yeah, they’re all tired, as you can see.
Time for bed!

1 Walking with his dogs in busy streets. 
2 On a farm in Brazil.
3 A gift
4 To get them used to the position they have to walk in
5 They are horribly behaved

jueves, 21 de julio de 2016

Woman shares her home with cats

Lynea Lattanzio has given up her large home to more than a thousand felines. 

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

1 How many cats has Lynea lived with throughout her life?
2 How many cats are currently living in her home?
3 How big is the house where the cats live?
4 When did she discover her love for cats?
5 What did she do to help keep the animals’ medical costs down?
6 What is the cost of running the cat sanctuary?
7 How often does the vet visit the sanctuary?
8 How did Lynea manage to expand the grounds for the sanctuary?
9 What's Lynea's main aim?

I’m gonna say that I am at the top of the list of the eccentric crazy cat ladies.
I like cats because they are independent, they are beautiful, they are just graceful, and I enjoy watching them. I have taken in and lived with 28,000 cats. That’s probably a record.
The Cat House on the Kings is California’s largest no-cage sanctuary for feral and abandoned cats. Founded by Lynea Lattanzio in her home, the sanctuary currently houses around 800 adult cats and 300 kittens, and the sheer numbers have forced Lynea to move out of the main house.
This is my boy.
There wasn’t a room for me anymore. I ended up with 60-something cats in my bedroom, with dogs, and I just said that’s it, and I moved out. We had a rental on our property, and I moved to that rental. I went from 4,200-square-foot 5-bedroom home with a pool, and a wet bar and a view of the river to a 1,600-1,800 sq foot mobile home with a view of a rusty metal shed. I’ve come up in the world. This is my cat free zone. Ha! Ha!
In 1992, Lynea’s father had asked her to help him find some new cats. She went to an animal shelter and brought home 15 kittens. By the end of the year, she’d rescued and re-homed 96 cats. It was then that she realised she’d found her calling.
When I first started this endeavour, I was out of my own pocket for seven years. I spent my retirement, I sold my car, I sold my wedding ring.
He is so fat.
In 1993, she became a veterinary technician to help keep the animals’ medical costs down, and the number of cats continue to grow. The sanctuary is now so big that Lynea has staff and a team of volunteers to help run it.
Currently for food, litter, maintenance, staffing, vet, medical, we are at 1.6 million US dollars a year.
We come in about 4 o’clock in the morning and, you know, we start by feeding. It usually takes us, like maybe like thirty minutes to an hour to feed everyone.
I first started here, I wasn’t really a cat person but after that, you know, you work with them five days a week, you get attached to them. Everybody has different characteristics, and you get to know them, and they get to know you. They kind of wait for you when you walk in the gate. It’s pretty cool, man.
This is our ICU. We have a hospital and an ICU, a kitten quarantine, a senior quarantine, but that is where our critically ill cats stay. We have a vet that comes once a week to check our animals. We take animals into him every day for check. And we have seven vet techs on staff.
When a generous donor left Lynea her estate in 2004, the profits from the sale allowed her to buy the neighbouring land and expand the grounds to twelve acres and install cat-proof fencing around the perimeter, meaning all the cats could roam freely.
See, under the trees, all those are cats over there. There is one on the straw. There is, that’s their feeding station, and their bedding, and their heater back there but, see there is a cat over there.
As much as Lynea loves the cats, her aim is to find them new homes; not to keep them for herself.
If you are interested in adopting, you would go to our website and fill out the adoption form. There is five hundred up for adoption that are friendly and ready to go.
I must be allergic to cats.
Bless you.
Thank you.

1 28,000
2 1,100
3 4,200-square-foot 5-bedroom home
4 In 1992, when her father asked her to find new cats
5 She became a veterinary technician 
6 1.6 million US dollars a year
7 Once a week 
8 Thanks to a generous donor, who left Lynea her estate in 2004
9 To find new homes for the cats

miércoles, 20 de julio de 2016

Talking point: Survival

This week's talking point is survival. 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 was the last time you went to some kind of natural environment?
What did you do there?
How did you prepare for your trip?
What advice would you give to people that are planning to do these activities?
Camping in a forest
Backpacking in a foreign country
Swimming in the sea
Hiking in the mountain

A visitor is coming to stay in your country or region. What would you tell them about the following?
- endangered species and where you can find them
- dangerous animals or other creatures (e.g. birds, fish, insects)
- other possible risks or dangers (e.g. diseases, dangerous places, travel, weather)

Think of a dangerous situation that you or someone you know was in, or it could be something you know about from a book, a film or the news. Make notes about the following questions:

Where and when did it take place?
Who was involved?
What was the scene or background to the story?
What were the main events?
How did you / the person feel?
What was the outcome?

To illustrate the topic you can watch the video planning for backpacking around the world.

martes, 19 de julio de 2016

The necessity of failure

Nancy Jean Dubuc is the current President and Chief Executive Officer of the American media company A&E Networks. Here she talks with The Times’s Corner Office columnist, Adam Bryan about leadership, management and success.

Self-study activity:
Watch the video and complete the gaps in the transcript below with the missing words.

The drug of success is great but it’s (1) ... . You know, the exercise and the nutrition that you have to do to get the drug of success is failure.
Nancy, you’re in the business of making big (2) ... and you’ve made a lot of them over the years. Famous shows you greenlit like Iceroad Truckers, the miniseries Hatfields McCoys – that’s a creative process. How do you do that? How do you think through those things?
We take risks every day and not all of them work but everyone remembers the successes. And, you know, for every Iceroad Truckers, there was an evolution – Jurassic (3) ... ... – there were other shows that didn’t work.
Was there a moment early in your career when you started to feel like, “I have a gut for this.”?
Yeah, you know, I’ve always loved television. I’ve loved watching television. I look for things I want to watch and I think that’s an interesting balance in our business. Too often companies are making very creative decisions based on (4) ... ..., based on data, brand. There’s a lot of things that wouldn’t get through brand filters that are huge hits on our air today. It does, at its (5) ..., come back to gut.
I’d love to talk about Abbe Raven, your predecessor at A&E, your mentor for many years. It’s so rare in corporate America for a woman CEO to pass the (6) ... to another woman.
Yeah, it’s pretty lonely being a CEO and there aren’t that many people that you can talk to in confidence with no agenda. You know, Abbe and I understand the symbolism of a woman CEO handing off to a woman CEO but the interesting thing about our relationship is that we never put it in the context of woman-to-woman. She doesn’t tell me what she knows I’m going to discover on my own but she (7) ... ... at the right moment to say, “I know what you just discovered. Are you okay?” and that’s invaluable.
Have you had some moments over your career where you felt like you were being treated a certain way just because you were a woman?
I wouldn’t even say it’s deliberate but it does happen where women who are, you know, strong-minded, strong-(8) ... and (9) ... , there’s this likeability factor – there’s lots of studies around that. That you know, attributes are likeable in men, those same attributes are (10) ... in women. I don’t think women alone can change that. I think women and men have to work together to change that. And in a world of social media, where all of the (11) ... is liking something, I worry that that’s going to get even more complicated for this next generation of women.
Now you’re CEO and you’re mentoring other people in your company.
You know, I think mentorship has become a management (12) ... but it often boils down to: What’s stopping you from doing what you think should be done? What’s keeping you from taking that (13) ... ? You know, when you’re growing in a—from a career standpoint and when you’re really advancing, it’s uncomfortable and you’re going to feel uncomfortable and you have to somehow find some comfort in the discomfort.

1 fleeting
2 bets 
3 Fight Club 
4 financial return
5 core
6 baton 
7 pops up
8 willed 
9 opinionated
10 unlikeable 
11 currency
12 buzzword 
13 swing

lunes, 18 de julio de 2016

Listening test: Streaming music

Listen to part of a radio programme where the reporters are talking about streaming music and complete the sentences below with up to THREE words. 0 is an example.

0 Example:
Spotify, Pandora, Amazon Prime and Apple Music are examples of streaming service companies.

1 These companies have a huge _______________ , which the listener can listen for free.

2 Premium members of Spotify can enjoy unlimited access to _______________ for $10 a month.

3 We must differentiate between streaming music and the _______________ .

4 iTunes takes _______________ of the price the user pays.

5 The money the label pays the songwriter is called _______________ , which is about 8 cents per song.

6 The artist usually gets between _______________ percent of the list price.

7 The artist usually has to pay back _______________ to the record label for publicizing.

8 Taylor Swift makes about $3 _______________ , download or physical record.

So let’s start off with just explaining how streaming music works. So there are many different streaming service companies out there. Uh, the most famous being Spotify, Pandora, uh, Amazon Prime and now most recently Apple Music is joining the group and most of them are free listening so they have a huge library of music and, uh, a listener can sign up and listen for free as long as they’re willing to hear advertisements once in a while. But most of the services like Spotify, you can upgrade to a premium membership which usually charges about $10 a month and that is for unlimited access to ad-free music.
Hmm, and if you think about what your music budget, what your entertainment budget is for the month, $10 a month for unlimited music, you know, for the price of a CD a month is just astronomically a good deal for, uh, listeners.
Sure. It is a great deal from the listener’s point of view but, uh, I wonder what it’s like for the artist. Uh, Sam, can you tell us a little bit about the digital download model versus this new streaming model?
Yes. So digital downloads have been a long, uh … around for a long time as well and, uh, they’ve started to see … they had their controversy from when they initially started as well. Let’s get an idea, say, you buy a download off of iTunes. So iTunes takes it cut which is about 30% of the list price and then they remit the rest of that to the label then the label pays the songwriter, the songwriter, I think, that’s not the performer and necessarily, not all of the time it’s called a mechanical royalty which is typically about 8 cents per song. So for a 10 song album, you get about 80 cents for the download. Um, then the label also has to pay the artist who is signed to their label, um, is not necessarily always the same person. As I said, it’s the songwriter so the royalty that’s typically between 12 to 18 percent of the list price. So on a $10 list price of a download say, the artist would see about a dollar 50 per download. Now, also the artist has, remember–that is signed to that label, also has to payback depending on what their contract said, um, marketing costs back to the record label for, um, publicizing, uh, recouping some of the cost that the label has already spent to market their record in the first place. So, around $1.50 per download which doesn’t, say, seem like a lot but it’s something. At least they could make something from it. So for artists and especially for big artists like Taylor Swift who writes and co-writes the majority of her music anyway, um, she’s one of the rare artists who she of course recoups the money that her label spends on making the record and marketing her records as well. Uh, so she’s set in the vicinity to make about $3 per record sold, um, download or physical record sold and when we’re talking the millions and millions and millions that Ms. Taylor sells, she’s making herself a lot of money.

1 library of music
2 ad-free music
3 digital download model  or digital downloads
4 30%
5 (a) mechanical royalty
6 12 to 18
7 marketing costs
8 per record sold

domingo, 17 de julio de 2016

Extensive listening: The Brain with David Eagleman: What Is Reality?

The Brain with David Eagleman is a BBC series in which Dr David Eagleman takes viewers on an extraordinary journey that explores how the brain, locked in silence and darkness without direct access to the world, conjures up the rich and beautiful world we all take for granted.

What Is Reality? begins with the astonishing fact that this technicolour multi-sensory experience we are having is a convincing illusion conjured up for us by our brains. In the outside world there is no colour, no sound, no smell. These are all constructions of the brain. Instead, there is electromagnetic radiation, air compression waves and aromatic molecules, all of which are interpreted by the brain as colour, sound and smell.

We meet a man who is blind despite the fact that he has eyes that can see. His story reveals that it's the brain that sees, not the eyes. A woman with schizophrenia, whose psychotic episodes were her reality, emphasises the fact that whatever our brains tell us is out there, we believe it.
Visual illusions are reminders that what's important to the brain is not being faithful to 'reality', but enabling us to perceive just enough so that we can navigate successfully through it. The brain leaves a lot out of its beautiful rendition of the physical world, a fact that Dr Eagleman reveals using experiments and street demonstrations.

Each one of our brains is different, and so is the reality it produces. What is reality? It's whatever your brain tells you it is.

sábado, 16 de julio de 2016

Reading test: British teenagers among least satisfied in western world

In this week's reading test we are going to practise the 'insert-a-word' kind of task.

Read the Guardian article British teenagers among least satisfied in western world and choose the word or phrase that best fits into each space 1-12. There are four words you do not need to use. 0 is an example.

British teenagers among least satisfied in western world

British teenagers feel pressured at school, worry they are too fat and drink too much alcohol, according to an international study that finds they are among the least satisfied with their lives compared with their (0) … around the world.

Researchers who conducted the study of children in 42 countries concluded that 15-year-old girls in England, Wales and Scotland appeared to be at particular risk, suffering from high levels of (1) … and worries about health.

The World Health Organisation report found that 15-year-olds in England and Wales were among the least (2) … to report high levels of satisfaction with their lives, with only children from Poland and Macedonia being less satisfied.

(3) … boys and girls in England, Scotland and Wales were also among the most stressed at school, with Scottish 15-year-olds feeling most pressured by schoolwork in the UK and coming second only to Malta.

Dr Joanna Inchley, the deputy director of the child and adolescent health research unit at the University of St Andrews, pointed out researchers were struck by the (4) … in life satisfaction among young people between the ages of 11 and 15.

“Particularly concerning is the increase in school-related stress which may be contributing to poorer mental wellbeing, especially among 15-year-old girls. It is essential that we look at ways of (5) … support to young people to help them navigate the challenges they (6) … during adolescence.”

The study of almost 220,000 young people across Europe and North America found that girls reported poorer mental health than boys. By the age of 15, 20% of girls described their health as fair or poor, (7) … half experienced multiple health complaints more than once a week.

Obesity is higher among boys, yet girls were more inclined to think they were fat, with a quarter of 15-year-old girls being (8) … a diet.

One UK success story is that (9) … of weekly drinking and smoking have halved in the last decade, but the report still showed that drunkenness among British teenagers persists.

Internationally, sexual activity appears to have declined, dropping from 29% to 24% and for girls from 23% to 17%. Boys were more inclined than girls to (10) … they had experienced sexual activity, except in England and Wales where girls reported it more.

Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab, the WHO European regional director, commented: “Health behaviours and social habits and attitudes acquired in the critical second decade of a young person’s life can carry on into (11) … and affect the entire life-course. Despite considerable advances in adolescent health, (12) … the welcome reduction in adolescent smoking behaviours, many still have to deal with huge inequities; girls and children from lower-income families consistently report poorer physical and mental health and lower rates of physical activities than boys and children from more affluent families.”

peers 0
such as


1 stress
2 likely
3 teenage
4 decline
5 providing
6 face
7 while
8 on
9 rates
10 say
11 adulthood
12 such as