miércoles, 31 de agosto de 2016

Talking point: Medical science and other health issues

This week's talking point is medical science and controversial health issues. 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.

Health issues
  • Do you think it should be obligatory for parents to vaccinate their children?
  • Is it ever right to switch off the life support of a patient in a vegetative state? Why? Why not?
  • Should hospitals be allowed to presume consent for organ donation unless objection has been registered?
  • Should smoking be made illegal everywhere, including inside people’s homes, in cars and outside?
  • Should smokers pay the full cost of their medical treatment?
  • What are the arguments for and against free healthcare for everyone?
  • Will imposing a sugar tax help curb obesity?
  • Should marijuana be a medical option?
  • Do you think alternative medicine (acupuncture, acupressure, chiropractic, homeopathy, hypnosis, hypnotheraphy, herbalism, osteopathy, reflexology) is fraud?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of genetic engineering (designer babies, cloning human beings)?

Medical advances
Rank these medical advances from the most important (1) to the least important (9). Give reasons.
  • Completion of the sequencing of the human genome project
  • Stem cell research which may lead to cure diseases and repair damaged tissues
  • Targeted cancer therapies to interfere with the spread of cancer
  • Laparoscopic surgery (minimally invasive surgery)
  • HPV vaccine to protect against cervical cancer and genital warts
  • HIV cocktails
  • Face transplants
  • Bionic limbs
  • Nanomedicine

martes, 30 de agosto de 2016

Dinner for Six in a Bite-Size Space

What does a night in one of New York's new micro apartments look like?

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

1 How big is the apartment?
2 How much does the rent cost?
3 How wide is it?
4 How long is it?
5 What does ‘six’ refer to?
6 What does the desk transform into?
7 How do New Yorkers usually get their food when they entertain friends at home?
8 What used to be the legal minimum size for an apartment in New York?

When The Tiny House Movement comes to New York City, you get this: the micro apartment, full living quarters in a modest 300 square feet. That's me, Penelope.  I'm a reporter for the "Times," and I'm about 5' 8" tall. This micro apartment is located in the Carmel Place development in Manhattan, where 32 market rate studios rent for about $2,400 to $3,200 a month. 
If you think you can make the leap, that is, downsize to 300 square feet, consider this. You'd be occupying a space that's about 1/100 the size of Grand Central Terminal's main concourse and about the size of this bathroom in the Elizabeth Taylor suite at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. At its widest, it measures about half the width of your typical New York commuting platform, and at its longest, about a third of the length of this Metro North car. It's just smaller than the inside of the Metropolitan Museum's Temple of Dendur, which, by the way, has three bedrooms.
But then again, we New Yorkers have evolved to appreciate small spaces.  We dine in them regularly.  I can walk from one end of this apartment to the other in 6 seconds.  But the space, designed by the architecture firm N Architects, is surprisingly functional, with lots of closets and nooks to hide any mess.
The kitchen is outfitted with a refrigerator, electric stove tops, a microwave, and even a dishwasher.  Most of the furniture is multi-purpose and made to conveniently stow away when not in use. Take this desk.  In a couple of minutes, it'll transform into a fully extended dining table.  While the bathroom has a shower stall instead of a bath tub, it manages to feel… well, at least by our studio apartment standards -almost castle-sized.
But there are a compromises like the Murphy bed. If not raised into the wall, you'd find it taking up most of your living space all together. Putting it out of the way every day would get you your daily upper body workout. So it's a space purpose-built for one.
But what if you're the type who likes to entertain? Well, first of all, if you're like many New Yorkers, you'd probably skip cooking and order in. Having six at the dinner table is pushing it, but not if you're close friends.  It'll be cozy, and seating arrangements are tricky, and so is stepping over each other to use the facilities. You've probably seen wide angle shots like this used in apartment advertisements to make things look roomier than they are in real life.
So to put this shot into perspective, that's our video producer in the foreground, and she's standing just about here, close to the farthest end of the apartment opposite where we're hanging out.  New York City waived regulations requiring that apartments be at least 400 square feet so that the Carmel Place development could be built. 
Still, it's yet to be seen whether or not this style of living will catch on.  The apartments are about half the size of an average studio in Manhattan and cost considerably more in rent per square foot.  But it's a new, modern, and legal nook all of your own, without roommates, and perhaps with all the space one person might need as a haven from the city.
This is Penelope Green for the New York Times.

1 300 square feet
2 between $2,400 and $3,200
3 half the width of a platform
4 a third of a (train) car
5 the time the reporter takes to walk the apartment from one end to the other.
6 a dining table
7 they order it
8 400 square feet

lunes, 29 de agosto de 2016

Listening test: Life without wireless

Listen to a man talking about how it is possible to live without technology in US today and complete the blanks in the sentences below with up to THREE words. 0 is an example.

source: Deep English

0 Example:
In today’s technology-saturated world, it’s hard to imagine living life without a wireless connection.

1 The Quiet Zone in Green Bank is a ____________________ mile area that protects two telescopes from any signal interference.

2 Restrictions mean that not even ____________________ in this area.

3 People who suffer from electromagnetic hypersensitivity experience headaches, nausea, ____________________ problems.

4 Diane Schou started experiencing the first symptoms of the disease when a new ____________________ was installed near her home.

5 She started looking for a place in US where she could escape ____________________ .

6 Diane didn’t find it easy to adjust to Green Bank and suffered ____________________ at the beginning.

7 It is difficult to imagine how long we could survive ____________________  of modern technology.

Invisible rays are all around us, and most of us never even notice. In today’s technology-saturated world, it’s hard to imagine living life without a wireless connection. But in one American town, wireless is actually illegal. Green Bank, West Virginia is a small town located in the United States’ National Radio Quiet Zone. The Quiet Zone is a 13,000 square mile area that protects two telescopes from any radio or wireless signal interference. That means no Wi-Fi, no cell phones, no Bluetooth, no microwave ovens, no TV, and even no radio is allowed in this area.
While many of us would shudder at the thought of pulling the plug on our cell phones, laptops, and televisions, the wireless ban has attracted people who suffer from electromagnetic hypersensitivity. Many of these people have decided to live in the town to get relief from their condition, which causes severe headaches, nausea, pain and heart problems.
Diane Schou is one of these people with electromagnetic hypersensitivity. In 2003, after a new cell-phone tower was installed near her home in Iowa, Diane began to experience an onslaught of negative symptoms. First came heart palpitations, then fatigue, nausea and migraines. After learning about electromagnetic hypersensitivity, Schou set off on a journey across the United States, looking for a place where she could escape wireless signals. When a park ranger told her about Green Bank, Schou went out on a limb and moved to the town, and she hasn’t looked back. In Green Bank, she says, she can finally live a life free of pain.
Living in Green Bank is no easy feat, Schou says. Coming to the town is a culture shock, and adjusting to a world with little technology beyond electric lights and heating is hard for many. But for people suffering from electromagnetic sensitivity, it is one of the only places where they can find relief. Today, the town has become a gathering place for a few dozen electrosensitives from around the United States.
While most of us couldn’t imagine life in Green Bank, for the electrosensitives who live there, it’s hard to imagine life outside of it. How long could you survive without all of the conveniences of modern technology.

1 13,000 square
2 radios are allowed
3 pain and heart
4 cell-phone tower
5 wireless signals
6 (a) culture shock
7 without the conveniences

domingo, 28 de agosto de 2016

Extensive listening: The surprising science of happiness

Dan Gilbert, author of Stumbling on Happiness, challenges the idea that we'll be miserable if we don't get what we want. Our "psychological immune system" lets us feel truly happy even when things don't go as planned.

Dan Gilbert is a Harvard psychologist who says our beliefs about what will make us happy are often wrong — a premise he supports with intriguing research, and explains in his accessible and unexpectedly funny book, Stumbling on Happiness.

You can read a full transcript for the talk here.

sábado, 27 de agosto de 2016

Reading test: Ways to be a fabulous grandparent

In this week's reading test we are going to practise the heading-matching kind of task. To do so, we are going to read part of The Guardian article 10 ways to be a fabulous grandparent.

Read the text and match each of the paragraphs 1-6 with its corresponding heading. There are three headings you do not need to use. 0 is an example.

A - Accept that you have no control
B - Avoid jealousy
C - Be clear about cash
D - Break the rules a bit
E - Brush up on your skills
F - Don’t admit your fears 0 Example
G - Don’t Project
H - Don’t spend a fortune
I - Manage long distance
J - Only offer what you can give

Your beloved adult child is about to embark on a lifelong commitment about which they understand nothing. So it’s not surprising you’re as alarmed for them as you would be if they were sailing the Northwest Passage in flip-flops. Whichever phrase of warning or concern springs to your lips, however, hold it in. Your child needs support, not panic. So if you can’t pretend you’re thrilled, find something supportive to say. It will be appreciated.

Perhaps you had a nightmarish birth, featuring forceps, hallucinations and seven junior doctors moving around like women of the bedchamber. Maybe your baby was a shocking sleeper, or refused to eat anything but peas for the first three years. None of this, however, means that your children will have the same experience of parenthood. So while empathy and practical support are useful, constantly referring back to your own parental traumas is not.

“I really don’t understand why she buys our grandson those terrible clothes …” If you’re not careful, your remarks about the other grandma could turn you into a obsolete Mrs de Winter in Rebecca, constantly obsessed with your counterpart, living with the building paranoia that she’s somehow better, more loved, and more of a gran than you’ll ever be.
Nobody wants to be juggling a new baby and your easily bruised feelings, so biting remarks about the tastes or childcare practices of the other gran are unacceptable. It’s not a competition – it’s a family, although there’s often a fine line.

The general assumption is that grandparents are selfless. But even if you’re retired, you’re used to owning your time and offering flexible childcare can fast become a very long piece of string indeed. So it’s vital to consider how much time you can provide – and make the arrangement as formal as possible. Nobody wants to be sitting round the table with a lawyer; equally, you don’t want your loving arrangement of two afternoons a week turning into three days, two evenings and a Saturday morning, unless you’re willing.

While you may have been able to change a nappy with one hand and puree a cauliflower with the other 30 years ago, it’s likely that you have forgotten more than you ever knew. Although some of it will return, there are some areas where times have changed. What babies can eat, for example. Where they sleep and how pushchairs work. So don’t go in unprepared – do some research before the baby arrives.

After sweets and bedtimes, perhaps the most difficult issue of grandmother-hood is money. Nobody wants to quote a babycare price to their nearest and dearest, but with almost half of families with children reliant on grandparents for at least part-time childcare, if you spend between three and six days a week doing the hard work, is it reasonable to do it all gratis or should you be demanding some recompense for your labour? There’s no rule, though many grandparents find the whole idea of charging distasteful. Plus if you take a wage, you need to be a registered childminder and then it becomes complicated. Some avert the issue by accepting expenses, others just view their costs as part of the grandparental lot. What you must do is clarify your position at the outset.

Spoiling, of course, is often just another word for spending. And as a new grandparent, watching your adult children struggle to afford the raft of baby equipment and clothes and toys required can start an avid credit-card finger. Not only will this diminish your resources, it may also make your children feel inadequate.
Few parents like to feel that they can’t manage so if you want to buy a gift, consult them first. Keep presents appropriate and affordable.

1G 2B 3J 4E 5C 6H

viernes, 26 de agosto de 2016

Why are so many Americans behind bars

More people are in prison in America than anywhere else in the world. President Obama and politicians from both parties want to change that. Rajini Vaidyanathan looks at how the US prison population got to record levels.

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

1 Which country has the world’s largest prison population?
2 How much money does American spend on incarcerating people?
3 How much time have the 46 non-violent drug offenders whose sentences president Obama commuted served?
4 How much time had they been sentenced to serve?
5 When were tougher penalties for non-violent drug offenders introduced?
6 What race is the largest proportion of non-violent drug offenders?
7 What does ‘$31,000’ refer to?

America has the world’s largest prison population. More than half of those in federal prisons are serving time for non-violent drug offences. Many people think that’s too harsh a penalty, including President Obama.
Over the last few years a lot of people have become more aware of the inequities in the criminal justice system. The fact is that we spend over $80 billion a year incarcerating people, oftentimes who have only been engaged in non-violent drug offences.
The president commuted the sentences of 46 non-violent drug offenders who’ve served more than a decade, bringing the total to nearly 90 throughout his presidency.
These men and women were not hardened criminals, but the overwhelming majority had been sentenced to at least 20 years, so their punishment didn’t fit the crime.
What the president is doing he is sending a strong message to the American public that we need to rethink how we deal with drug offences.
This is the change of course for America’s war on drugs in the 1980’s, when tough penalties were introduced for non-violent drug offenders. This graph shows how the prison population rocketed after many states introduced three-strikes policies and mandatory minimum sentences, putting more people behind bars.
And race placed a big part. The largest proportion of non-violent drug offenders is black.
The war on drugs had a tremendous impact on African-American community, turning of the public’s eye to how those incarcerations have negatively impacted the community as a whole, not just the African-American community. It’s a big important step that the president has taken.
Another big reason people are pushing prison reform is money. It costs around $31,000 a year to house every inmate, and with Republicans and Democrats struggling to balance budgets, President Obama believes now it’s the time for reform.
But I believe at its heart America is a nation of second chances, and I believe these folks deserve their second chance.

1 America
2 $80 billion a year
3 (more than) a decade
4 (at least) 20 years
5 in the 1980's
6 black / African-American
7 money spent on each inmate every year

jueves, 25 de agosto de 2016

Utility vs Homeowners Over Solar Power

In Hawaii, where 12 percent of the homes have solar panels, handling the surplus power is putting pressure on the state’s biggest utility, which is fighting to reduce what it pays for the energy.

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

1 How long has Joyce been waiting to have solar panels installed?
2 How much does Joyce’s neighbour pay for their electricity bill?
3 What kind of power does the American public want?
4 What problem does the traditional utility circuit power have?
5 How long did Michael John take to have the system installed and running in his home?
6 How much does he pay for electricity in June and July?
7 How much does the maintenance of the power system cost?
8 When will Joyce have her panels finally installed?

I have been waiting three years, three years, to have solar panels installed. My neighbour across has solar panels. The ones that already have solar panels, they just pay $18 a month. I pay 395, almost $400. They say that the grid is full and I have just to wait and so… I’m still waiting.
Hawaiians have some of the highest electric bills in the country, and so they have rushed to install photovoltaic or PV systems on their rooftops, so they can make their own power.
We’re not just talking about saving the planet here. We’re talking about saving the paying from being held hostage by the utility companies. The American public wants solar energy. I don’t care whether they’re in Oklahoma, New York, California or Hawaii. Whatever happens in Hawaii is gonna happen in the main land. It’s just a matter of waiting.
Nationwide, Hawaii is on the forefront of solar adoption, and other states are watching to see how HE Co, Hawaii’s main utility, reimagines its business.
We don’t have the luxury to look at another state and say how was it done there and instead we sort of have to figure out on our own. The traditional utility circuit power starts off at Hilla substation and flows power one way to each home that we serve.
And the challenges the grid was designed to handle the power flowing in one direction but now it’s going back and forth between our customers’ rooftops back into the rest of the grid.
The combined output of all of our rooftop solar systems up the circuit back into our substation feeding into the grid can really potentially bring the entire island’s system out.
Infrastructure upgrades to avoid that worst-case scenario are expensive and HE Co has moved slowly, some critics say too slowly.
What should have been a ninety-day project turned into five, four months to yet completely install, set up and running. And now I make more electricity than I use, usually June and July it’s free, so that was great.
But, of course, if you play the model business out to the end whereby you get full credit for every bit of electricity that you produce, then the utility company doesn’t make any money and they go out of business. And, of course, we don’t have the grid that we can have the solar energy.
Providing basic electric service, power at night, back-up power, all of that PV customers are not paying for fully and instead of being paid for by customers of ours who don’t have PV systems, and right now it’s to the tune of over $50 million.
Hawaiian Electrics wants to cut the rate it pays customers for their solar energy in half so that the solar customers will be paying their fair share of overall service costs.
Now I’m a total abdicate for this because what it does to us it allows the business model play out to the end. The utility companies, their job becomes store the energy, manage it, move it where is need it, let the public create generation facilities by benefitting everybody.
So it’s an extremely interesting time, you know, it creates a lot of burden for us, a lot of pressure. We have some customers who have been waiting for quite some time. We committed to caring 90% of them by April of this year.
I’ve waited, I’ve waited so long but when you say it’s April, and so I’m all excited. I’ll save lots of money, am I correct?

1 three years
2 $18
3 solar energy
4 the grid was designed to handle the power flowing in one direction
5 five, four months
6 nothing
7 $50m
8 in April

miércoles, 24 de agosto de 2016

Talking point: Cashless society

This week's talking point is cashless society. 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.

Think of things you’ve bought in the past week. Why did you buy them? How did you pay for them?
What does the expression ‘Money doesn’t grow on trees?’ mean?
When do people say it?
Do you and your family have a weekly budget?
Do you know the typical interest rate on your credit cards?
Do you try to put aside savings? If so, how often? If not, why not?
Do you feel that you know how to make investments?
Have you ever taken out a loan? If so, what for?
Who do/would you turn to for advice before making an investiment? 

We seem to be getting close to living in a ‘cashless society’, where all payments are made by putting a plastic card into a machine and entering our pin code, or by simply waving the card in front of the machine. What are the advantages and disadvantages of a ‘cashless society’ as opposed to the traditional ‘paper money’? You can talk about convenience, health (bacteria in notes), saving/spending, crime/dishonesty.

Do you agree with the statements below? Explain your reasons.
Which advice do you think is most relevant?
1 The reason people get into financial trouble is that they’re not taught how to manage personal finance. This needs to be introduced as a subject in schools.
2 Financial experts tend to oversell the need to save money. They forget that people need to enjoy life and that often means spending money.
3 There are too many financial experts saying too much about personal finance. This doesn’t help, it just creates confusion and people feel under pressure.
4 A lot of people are so obsessed with their personal wealth that they forget  about giving money to charities that can help people who are less fortunate.

martes, 23 de agosto de 2016

Brooklyn’s Most Cluttered Bookstore

John Scioli, the owner of the Community Bookstore, in Brooklyn, prepares to shutter a neighborhood institution.

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

1 John Scioli has a bad reputation in the neighbourhood.
2 He knews where each book is.
3 Nobody knows how many books there are in the bookshop.
4 John Scioli is making a lot of money.
5 His second wife died in 2002.
6 John is turning 69 next month.
7 John is planning to open another bookshop.
8 He's planning to keep living in the same area.

I don't know if I'm allowed to curse on here, but the first impression was holy shit. It's like a cavern of books.
It's my first time in here. I've gone by this place several times in the past seven or eight years.  I've never come in.  And tonight, we had dinner across the street. The door was open, the lights were on, and this place is definitely incredible. It reminds me of my grandmother's basement.
What's up with this guy?
Wh… what is… like, what is this black hole of a hoarder's nest?
I… I don't know.  I… I don't know if I could work through that, but whoever owns this… clearly, it works for them.
He has a compulsion, obviously. 
Certainly not a neat freak.
I would imagine him to be a bit of a pack rat.
In my mind, it's somebody who lives somewhere in the building and, like, never leaves. That's what I want it to be. 
He seems nice.
An eclectic man of the neighborhood. He's always extremely helpful.
Yeah, it's just a person who knows that, like, the place that we find ourselves is in literature.  Even if it were better organized, it's kind of like, well, no, fuck it, like, let's just give them as much as we can possibly give them.
How do you find anything?
He knows where every book is, this guy.
"Man's Search for Meaning," Viktor…
… Frankl.
All the way in the back.  I might have a new one, a new paperback. I don't think I have a used one.
Take a look.
Yeah, I have one. I have a new one.
Oh, good.
How many books do I think are in here?
Oh, this is like a jelly bean jar question?
Oh, my god, millions. 
Infinite.  There are an infinite amount of books in here.
This is like high-stakes Jenga in here.
You don't have to worry about knocking anything over, because it's going to happen.
Oh.  I did not do that.  I didn't even touch a book!
Sir, I'm telling you right now…
I didn't even touch a book.
No, OK, all right.  That's all right.
I'm attached to it. Yeah.  I love it and I hate it.  It's a lot of work.  It's a very difficult business, yeah. It gets harder and harder to make ends meet. You know, one year at a time.  It's like… I came here in 1985.  Then I met my second wife in about 1988. She helped a lot with the store.  She passed away in 2002.  It was hard just to live, not just to go on with the bookstore.  She was like the opposite of me, because she was always straightening everything out. Now it's gotten to the point where even she couldn't straighten it out.  It's just too much. It's too much work.  I'm 69 years old.  I just can't go on doing it. You can make a lot of money and kill yourself. And what good is that?
Every time I pass here, I think, I mean, I wonder how John's doing.  I haven't seen him in so long.
I'm still half sane.
You have so many more books than even a couple years ago. This is amazing to me. 
I sold the building, so…
Oh, you did?
Yeah, next May, I'm gonna close the store.
Oh, no.
I have to close the store.
So is it gonna be like a… like a restaurant or something?
And I heard that it's somebody… the people who bought it own a Victoria's Secret or something in Herald Square, which is really sad.  I find it really sad.  I mean, it's sad to lose things like this, but I feel like it's more of a responsibility on the next generation to make things like this happen. We can't just expect them to, like, stick around forever.
Where do you see yourself going?
You mean to live?
Not as a bookstore. I wouldn't start another bookstore.
Perhaps eventually buy me a small apartment. But I'd like to stay in the neighborhood, because it's a wonderful neighborhood.
It's fun and then it's very difficult, too. So I just decided to stop.
Good for him.  That's sad, though, for us. 

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

lunes, 22 de agosto de 2016

Listening test: Movie news

Listen to five film news items and match each of the headings below with its corresponding heading. There are two headings you do not need to use.

A - Back home
B - Hollywood star, safe and sound
C - Latest technology for classic film
D - No solidarity these days
E - The protagonist had second thoughts
F - Unhappy ending
G - Worldwide project

A film that Canadian director Denis Villeneuve says is meant to pose a question about violence and the brutality of the Mexican drug trade had its New York City premiere. “Sicario,” which means hitman in Latin America, creates a hellish Juarez, Mexico, where cartels turn the town into a war zone. Emily Blunt plays FBI agent Kate who gets recruited into a high-risk, CIA-led drug operation across the border. Benicio Del Toro co-stars as a shadowy Colombian working with the U.S. agencies. Josh Brolin plays Matt, the CIA team leader. Brolin said he’d originally turned down the part of Matt but was glad friends convinced him to change his mind. “Sicario” hits U.S. theaters on October 2.

Kate Winslet and Liam Hemsworth walked the red carpet Monday at the Toronto International Film Festival for the world premiere of their film “The Dressmaker”. The movie sees Winslet playing a high-fashion dressmaker who returns to her tiny Australian hometown, which she left as a young girl after being suspected of murdering a boy. While there, her character begins to transform the town with her haute couture creations. The film is set for release in Australia in early October, and the rest of the world later in the year.

It might be something that so many of us take for granted. But for those in Calais’ migrant camp, the chance to sit down with friends and watch a movie was a luxury few would have seen coming. Secret Cinema on Saturday arrived in the northern French port bringing with it an inflatable screen, a DJ, and a chance to escape reality for an evening. That’s something that founder Fabien Riggall believes they needed.
We believe passionately that culture and art can change the way that people think about issues that are affecting people today, and we hope with this project “Love Refugees” that we will actually begin a cinema network across the worst-affected places on earth.
More than 1,000 migrants huddled together among the sand dunes for the screening. There were cheers as the Bollywood classic on show concluded, followed by smiles and gratitude.

Officials say the plane went down in the mountains of San Pedro de los Milagros. Three people were on board, but actor Tom Cruise was not among them. The crash killed U.S. pilot Alan David Purwin and Colombian Carlos Berl. The third person, Jimmy Lee Garland, was injured. Officials say the crash was reported around 5:30 p.m. local time.
Rescue workers from the nearby municipalities were immediately dispatched. They found one person still alive who was transferred to a medical centre in Medellin and two people who died whose bodies have been recovered.
Cruise was in Colombia filming “Mena,” the story of U.S. pilot Barry Seal who worked for Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar before becoming an informant for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. The investigation into the crash remains ongoing.

The Jungle Book is back. Rebooted, and live action, almost 50 years after its animated Disney release. The new live-action/CGI hybrid is being steered by Iron Man director Jon Favreau, and packs a stellar cast including Idris Elba, Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson as the snake Kaa. Walt Disney’s teaser trailer has a somewhat serious tone to it. While no voices other than Kaa’s are heard though, there is a familiar song heard after the trailer’s dramatic conclusion.

1E 2A 3G 4B 5C

domingo, 21 de agosto de 2016

Extensive listening: Is Earth overpopulated

Using state-of-the-art 3D graphics and the timing of a stand-up comedian, world-famous statistician Professor Hans Rosling presents a spectacular portrait of our rapidly changing world.

With seven billion people already on our planet, we often look to the future with dread, but Rosling's message is surprisingly upbeat. Almost unnoticed, we have actually begun to conquer the problems of rapid population growth and extreme poverty.

Across the world, even in countries like Bangladesh, families of just two children are now the norm - meaning that within a few generations, the population explosion will be over. A smaller proportion of people now live in extreme poverty than ever before in human history and the United Nations has set a target of eradicating it altogether within a few decades.

In this as-live studio event, Rosling presents a statistical tour-de-force, including his 'ignorance survey', which demonstrates how British university graduates would be outperformed by chimpanzees in a test of knowledge about developing countries.

sábado, 20 de agosto de 2016

Comma Queen

Comma Queen is video series published by The New Yorker.

In 25 episodes Comma Queen (Mary Norris) explains a number of controversial and difficult grammar points. The series includes videos on “I vs me”, “which vs that”, "dangling participle", "singular their", "prepositions", "less vs fewer", "who vs whom", and so on. It also explains the correct use of punctuation.

The videos are concise, clear, and come complete with examples.

Mary Norris also delivered the talk The nit-picking glory of The New Yorker's Comma Queen at TED early this year.

You can read the full transcript here.

H/T to Lesson Plans Digger.

viernes, 19 de agosto de 2016

Turning Problems into Solutions

'Turning Problems into Solutions' is an animation that looks at the Solutions Focus approach to coaching and mentoring.

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

1 How can we repair a car?
2 Why can’t Alex get a better position in his company?
3 What happened to Alex in his childhood?
4 What would Alex be doing differently if he was confident enough?
5 What is the solutions focus?
6 What resources do people have to make their solutions happen?

Atom Wave presents turning problems into solutions.
If people were cars, fixing people problems would be easy: check the engine, find the cause of the trouble, replace the faulty part and move on. But people are not machines. Focusing on problems and their causes is a great way to get of getting cars back on the road, but it's not much use when you're trying to help people move forward.
Take Alex. He wants to step up to a higher management role but he lacks confidence. Some people might try to help Alex by asking why he feels this way. Perhaps the answer lies in his past.
When I was a child, a teacher humiliated me in front of the class.
The other kids teased me.
But concentrating on the causes of his problem soon leaves Alex buried under an avalanche of painful memories. He knows why he lacks confidence but nothing in his life has changed. He’s still feels just the same.
Focusing on problems turns you into an expert in what's wrong. To become an expert in what's right, you have to start thinking about solutions. A helpful question to Alex would be, let's just suppose that something happened and you had all the confidence you needed, what would you be doing differently?
I’d have the courage to be honest with my team when giving appraisals. I’d be able to say what I really think in meetings. I’d be speaking at conferences and enjoying it.
Now that Alex has a picture of how he'd like to be, he has something to work towards. This novel way of turning things upside down is called the solutions focus. Instead of emphasizing what's wrong -why didn't you meet this month's sales target?-, solutions talk encourages people to think about what's right - well done for selling five insurance policies last month, how did you manage that? What did you do?
People have all the resources they need to make their solutions happen. Some of those resources are inside them like previous experiences and others lie within easy reach like support from other people. It's all about building on success. If something works, do more of it and if something isn't working, do something different.
Contact us at Atom Wave to find out how our solutions-focused approach to coaching and mentoring could benefit your business.

1 By checking the engine, finding the cause of the trouble and replacing the faulty part.
2 Because he lacks confidence.
3 A teacher humiliated him and other children made fun of him.
4 He would be honest with his team, h’d be able to say what he really thinks in meetings, he’d be speaking at conferences and enjoying it.
5 A way of thinking that focuses on what is right.
6 Previous experiences and the support of other people.

jueves, 18 de agosto de 2016

In-Flight Entertainment Gets High-Tech

Virgin America is the cream of the crop when it comes to high-tech in-flight entertainment, says tech columnist Molly Wood.

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

1 You can order food and drink from your seat on Virgin America planes.
2 Only Virgin America international flights enjoy these in-flight entertainment amenities.
3 The new Jet Blue internet service, fly-fi, is already available.
4 You pay $8 per flight for internet connection with Southwest.
5 Delta Studio is only available for free on backseat screens.
6 You can watch the traditional overhead TV with United and American.
7 High-speed satellite wi-fi will be usual on almost any flight in a few years’ time.

Let’s face it. The only thing that makes air travel bearable anymore is upgrades or hours and hours of in-flight entertainment. Airlines are starting to realise that in-flight technology makes all the difference, and the cream of the crop, Virgin America.
Virgin America does it all and all from the screen on the seat in front of you. There’s wi-fi on every plane, there’s free satellite TV, movies on-demand, music, video games and touch-screen ordering of food and drinks. You can even send someone else a drink at another seat. There are also power outlets and USB plugs on every seat and all these amenities are available on every flight.
The next best checked airline is Jet Blue. Like Virgin they have power outlets at the seat, live streaming TV and movies and other entertainment on demand, but they’ve also just announced a new faster internet service called fly-fi. It includes free basic web surfing and there’s some content that you can get for free too, like college classes from Corserian, cooking shows, box TV and even books. Jet Blue says the system is coming this spring, so you won’t probably see it on  every plane just yet.
Now if you’ve ever been on a Southwest flight, you know those planes are a little bit more barebones, so they’re not going with the full seatback entertainment setup, they are more about letting you bring your own device. You can pay for a wi-fi for $8 a day and you can serve gate-to-gate on Southwest, which means you can actually use the web on the ground. But they also offer some free content without hooking up to their wi-fi, on your tablet or your phone you can watch free-dished TV, a couple of shows. You can also listen to some B-playlists.
As for the old school domestic carriers, Delta is probably the best. They’ve just announced a new programme called Delta Studio that gives people free access to movies, TV, music and games on either their own devices or seatback screens and Delta said anyone on a flight over 90 minutes will have one of those options. The content varies, though. If you’re in couch, expect to pay for the good TV and movie content.
After that, there’s a previous team dropoff in in-flight tech depending on what plane you get. United and American lead all kinds of a hotchpotch of seatback entertainment, personal device options and the dreaded overhead TVs. Domestically, they all use Gogo for in-flight wi-fi, which is more expensive than something like Jet Blue and usually a lot slower too.
But overall things are looking up for high-flyers. In a few years, high-speed satellite wi-fi will be the norm on almost any flight you take, so until then take advantage of one of the last places on earth where you’re not expected to be working, blogging, tweeting and emailing. Just disconnect.

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

miércoles, 17 de agosto de 2016

Talking point: Smart cities

This week's talking point is smart cities. 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 have people’s lifestyles changed in your country during your lifetime?
How has your city/town changed in your lifetime?
What are the good and bad points of living in your city/town these days?
How do you think your city/town will be like in 50 years’ time?
What do the pictures below show about city life?
How do you feel in situations like this?
What other pictures of city life stress would you add?

What do you understand by the term ‘smart city’?
Do you agree with these ideas to make a city more liveable?
  • Cars have to pay to enter the city centre
  • A single card is needed for the whole public transport system
  • Solar panels provide all the energy the city needs
  • There is a large park with lakes in the city centre
Smart cities
Look at this list of ideas for making cities ‘smarter’ or better to live in. Do any of them already exist in the city you live in or one you know?
If so, how useful are they?
If not, would you use the app or facility if it were available?

1 an app giving information about new projects and impending legislation in the city
2 parking apps to show drivers the nearest available parking space and how much it costs
3 apps to let users ‘adopt’ city property, such as litter bins, trees, flower beds, and volunteer to maintain them
4 digital parking payment systems, allowing you to pay for parking by smartphone, without using coins or tickets
5 free wi-fi everywhere in the city, including on trains, buses and the underground
6 screens in public places which display traffic information, weather and local news
7 an app letting residents communicate with the city maintenance services to let the city know where there's a problem - something's broken or out of service
8 an app giving information about all the trains, buses and underground and when they are due, delays, alternative routes
9 solar-powered artificial trees that enable residents to charge their mobiles, laptops and other devices

martes, 16 de agosto de 2016

The Computer Collector

Lonnie Mimms has a massive collection of vintage computers he keeps outside of Atlanta.

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

1 Mr Mimms likes being called a nerd.
2 He regrets throwing away some computers.
3 He was determined to start a collection from the very beginning.
4 At some stage Mr Mimms considered that computers reflected the way society was changing.
5 He has been offered $1m for his collection.
6 None of his children has inherited his passion for collecting.
7 His family considers him eccentric, to say the least.
8 Mr Mimms has a computer museum.

I used to be teased for being a nerd. Now I definitely view it as a compliment. If I use one of my old computers that still run, I can't even explain the emotion that I'm feeling. It's more than reminiscing.  It's a very strong memory retrieval. I never threw away any of the computers I had. And it ended up becoming a collection without consciously collecting them.
You wake up one day and you've got 15 of these things in the basement or your bedroom or whatever. It just hit me that these were important devices and that this was the beginning of a whole change in society.
At first when he was telling me about his collection, I thought, yeah, he's a collector. But then when I saw it…
Old computers are fascinating because there is so much variation.  In the early days, there wasn't a common platform. It was like beta and VHS, but on steroids. And that just made things a lot more interesting. The collection at this point in time… it's very hard to say what it would be worth. But I mean, it would have to be over a million dollars. I probably have that in it, maybe even more. None of my three sons are collectors. They must have gotten their mother's genes in that regard. I think within one family, I may be enough of that.
What does your family think about your obsession?
Well, the nice word is eccentric. We've created an Apple pop up exhibit at King's Market Shopping Center in a former CompUSA building. If there was such a thing as an inanimate object having a personality and having charisma, then Apple is off the chart.  Let's show them where it came from because the history is going to be important. At some point, we look back and go why didn't we save that? Where can I get one of those?  Anything that is in the collection, no matter how primitive to a previous generation, it would be magic.
I can't wait to see the end result. It's going to take a couple of years. It has taken many to get to where he is now. And I just can't wait to see the end result.
It's never complete. A collection… a collection is never complete. The universe of computers is big enough. that I don't see it ever being finished.  My goal now is to have a museum that will outlast me… you know, that will be more of a legacy. 

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

lunes, 15 de agosto de 2016

Listening test: Pets in America

Listen to two friends discussing the topic of pets in US and choose the option A, B or C which best completes each sentence. 0 is an example.

0 Example:
Americans consider pets
A as important as family.
B as important as friends.
C more important than family.

1 In general cats and dogs
A are outdoors most of the time.
B sleep outdoors.
C stay inside at night.

2 In US pet owners
A generally live alone.
B may keep a pet for therapeutic reasons.
C usually have no friends.

3 Dogs are
A a convenient conversation starter.
B a good excuse to meet people from the other sex.
C usually walked around parks by moms.

4 Designer dogs
A are a mixed breed of dog.
B are a very unusual breed of dog.
C usually cost over $1,000.

5 A teacup is
A a bag to carry a dog.
B a very small breed of dog.
C an accessory for a dog.

6 If a dog owner leads a busy life, they can leave their dog in (…) while they are at work.
A a dog break
B a dog hotel
C a doggie day care

7 In America
A it is not unusual to see wild dogs.
B one of the girls was attacked by a wild dog.
C wild dogs are brought to a shelter by animal control.

Hey, Gabby.
Hey, Lindsay. How’s it going?
All right. I am also wondering today- why is it that Americans are so pet crazy?
Yeah, that’s a great question. And the pet trend in America continues to increase. I think this is a big, growing market in the US. And I think, you know, we’re gonna touch on some points why Americans are so pet crazy but, you know, one of the biggest reasons is that we consider pets our friends and part of our family.
Family member more than friends, absolutely.
How do we know that? Well, most pets live inside at least at night.
They’ll sleep indoors.
Sometimes a cat might go out during the day…
Sure, or a dog.
…if it’s an outdoor cat, right.
But most dogs and pet cats stay inside.
All the time, yeah.
Yeah, that’s right. And, you know, my personal opinion is that this might have to do with people feeling lonely and so they enjoy having a pet to keep them company and also for some people who have experienced illness, a pet can be a great treatment, like a therapy ... dog or, or cat or pet.
Yeah, and it’s not just – it’s also in addition to having the company, it’s also a way – I know that for example, for New Yorkers, maybe Bostonians…
…they use it as a way to meet other people. But a lot of people do that. You know, it’s very easy to start a conversation when you have your dog on a leash near – out at the dog park with the other dog moms…
…and dog dads, right.
That’s right. Because it is a very common way to start a conversation around a pet. So it’s a great way to meet people.
And so what about this concept of designer dogs?
Yeah, you know, I, I think you know more about this than I do but, it’s… it’s kind of a – like designer clothes. You look for a specific brand.
Yeah. So my brother has a designer dog and the dog has been bred to be a combination of a pug and a beagle. And our neighbors here in Cambridge have a – that, sorry, my brother’s dog is called a puggle.
That’s so cute.
A pug and a beagle. And my, my neighbors have a labradoodle, which is a lab and a poodle.
I love those names.
I know. But the price tag is pretty – you probably wouldn’t love the price tag.
What, on average, what do people pay for a designer dog?
I can’t back this up with science but I think…
…it’s between $500 and $1000, a grand.
Wow. There’s a type of dog that’s very small, called a, a Teacup …
Lindsay: Very cool.
…type of dog because it fits in a teacup. I think it’s kind of a relative of a, a Chihuahua or, or something like that. But it’s the kind of dog that you can carry around with you.
In your bag.
And, yeah, in your bag, in your purse or in a dog bag. And it’s almost like an accessory.
An accessory, oh my god.
That’s so common.
There’s a lot of, related industries now that are growing for, for pets like Clothes for Pets, what else? Like hotels…
…pet hotels.
Yeah, and doggie day care.
Don’t forget.
Doggie day care.
You can take your dog to day care when you’re at work to do a walk.
Health insurance.
Health insurance.
Of course, veterinary practices. That’s, I think that’s common. And there was something else – the doggie day care, dog insurance, oh, and the tax breaks. There’s an initiative, I don’t think it’s passed but to give a tax discount or break for people who own pets.
Yeah, so…
Isn’t that interesting?
Yeah, that’s super interesting. So here, like you don’t really see wild dogs, do you?
That’s not common at all.
No. I remember when I was in Thailand riding a bike around one of the famous sites I was being chased by wild dogs…
Oh, yeah.
…and I was like, “Oh, my God, what’s going on?”
So you don’t see wild dogs. If there were a wild dog, we’d have animal control, would come out and get the dog…
That’s right.
…and bring the dog to a shelter.
That’s right, yeah. So it’s interesting because when I go travel to a country where there are wild dogs that’s a little scary to me…
…because I’m not used to seeing wild dogs on the streets.

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

domingo, 14 de agosto de 2016

Extensive listening -Why I keep speaking up even when people mock my accent

Artist Safwat Saleem grew up with a stutter — but as an independent animator, he decided to do his own voiceovers to give life to his characters.

When YouTube commenters started mocking his Pakistani accent, it crushed him, and his voice began to leave his work. Hear how this TED Fellow reclaimed his voice and confidence in this charming, thoughtful talk.

You can read the full transcript here.

sábado, 13 de agosto de 2016

Reading test: The science of the quieter home appliance

In this week's reading test we are going to practice the multiple choice vocabulary and grammar task by reading The Times article The science of the quieter home appliance.

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

The science of the quieter home appliance

Whirring extractor fans, buzzing washing machines, vibrating fridge freezers — is your home full of electrical appliances that (0) … distracting or loud noises? Our homes, (1) … should be calm retreats from the frenetic world outside, are not as quiet as they used to be because they are full of noisy appliances. These harsh sounds often compete with (2) … —people turn up the volume on the television, for example, if someone is vacuuming (3) … —and collectively they produce excessive noise. Yet most of us put up with the din, unaware that we can do something about it.

We have more home appliances than ever but certain factors have exacerbated the problem. With space (4) …, people are living in smaller homes and in shared households, making it harder to escape from noise. Conjoined spaces, (5) … an open-plan kitchen and sitting room, are more common nowadays; these can be very noisy if there isn’t a separate utility room.

Most of us would struggle without household appliances but must we live with a cacophony of daily noise? The good news is that (6) … are beginning to stock “quiet technology” — appliances designed to be less harmful to our ears. The initiative comes from Quiet Mark, a not-for-profit scheme run by the UK’s Noise Abatement Society.

If products pass the acoustic and performance tests, carried out by a team from the Association of Noise Consultants, they are (7) … a purple Quiet Mark symbol. Poppy Szkiler, the founder and managing director of Quiet Mark, says: “The logo is an aid for buyers who want high-performing products that produce softer sounds. We look at every aspect of sound to (8) … the products are not producing painful or intrusive sounds.”

Szkiler, who is the granddaughter of John Connell, the founder of the Noise Abatement Society, (9) … the organisation three years ago. “Sound is central to our lives, (10) … we’re not always aware of it and often have little power to change the sounds that surround us,” she says. “Unfortunately, we too easily accept that noise is the price we pay for evolution and our ever-developing society. If we don’t (11) … something about this soon, our ability to hear the (12) ... sounds around us will disappear.”

So far, 80 products have been given the logo and the categories are continuing to grow. John Lewis, a businessman that stocks Quiet Mark products, has seen a huge increase in sales of small appliances that have been recognised for reducing their noise emissions.

Recent research (13) … by John Lewis shows that people are becoming more aware of how noise from appliances affects their lives. Nearly half of the 2,004 people asked said that they (14) … sound an important factor when they choose such goods.

Szkiler adds: “Manufacturers are putting investment into changing the sound at the design stage. The next era of design will consider sounds and acoustics.”

A create
B do
C make

A that
B where
C which

A each other
B others
C themselves

A closely
B near
C nearby

A abundant
B at a premium
C plentiful

A as
B such as
C unlike

A buyers
B shoppers
C retailers

A accorded
B awarded
C rewarded

A assure
B insure
C make sure

A delivered
B set up
C thought up

A although
B despite
C however

A do
B invent
C make

A sharp
B strident
C subtle

A carried out
B performed
C studied

A consider
B regard
C see

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