viernes, 30 de septiembre de 2016

Nicola Thorp high heels at work row

A London receptionist was sent home from work after refusing to wear high heels, it has emerged.

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

1 What job was the woman supposed to do?
2 What shoes was she wearing on the day she was sent home?
3 What option did the company give her before sending her home?
4 What did the employment hotline say to Nicola?
5 Why don't many companies follow the dress code laws?
6 What was she supposed to do in the job?
7 What's Nicola's opinion of female workers who want to wear high heels?
8 What were high heels originally designed for?
9 When was Price Waterhouse Coopers, the company that hired Nicola, aware of the controversy?

Now a woman who says she was sent home from a receptionist job because she refused to wear high heels is petitioning Parliament to change the law.  Nicola Thorp was employed by an agency who then sent her to work at a management consultancy in London. The agency that employed her, Portico, has said to us their personal appearance guidelines are in line with standard industry practice.  Well, I've been speaking to Nicola Thorp. She said that she was laughed at when she pointed out that male colleagues weren’t subjected to the same demands when it came to how they dress.
That day I was wearing flat black shoes and they gave me a dress to wear, and a jacket which I put on and the supervisor said, well, you know, you're not going to wear those, we only have women in heels in reception. And I said, well, I think that's ridiculous. I pointed to a male colleague, I said, he's wearing flat shoes, why can’t I? And, of course, that’s laughed at and I understand because that’s a much bigger issue for people to get their heads around. They then said to me, you can go and buy a pair of heels if you like, we’ll let you work. I refused and was sent home.
Without pay.No pay.
Without pay, no. I'm told I can’t work for them so…
So the agency said you, you can't work for us again.
The agency actually really understood. They said, yeah, unfortunately this is what the client requires so I called an employment hotline, and said you know, this is what happened to me, this can't be legal, you know, this is, this is my fundamental right as a woman and they said, well, I'm sorry actually dress codes laws state that an employer can make employees wear a formal dress code, which I agree with, and they can distinguish between male and female. As it stands, flat shoes are not considered to be formal or smart for a woman to wear, and I think that's unfair.
And that still stands, and so were you surprised to discover that that is.
Really, really surprised. Many companies obviously don't take that on board, they’re forward-thinking and think, you know, this is a really outdated, quite sexist dress code, but there are some companies who think that the way a woman should look in a corporate environment is to be two to four inches taller and to change the way, I suppose, they carry themselves.
And there's no doubt in your mind that, that the flat shoes you were wearing were in keeping in terms of they were smart, they were neat, they allowed you… the point is, I think, that potentially you were gonna be on your feet for a nine hour shift because you're walking around the offices showing clients around…  I mean… what… Nicole, I’m sorry… I didn’t know that was the law either…
…or that it was written in that way…
It’s so wonderful, it sparked this debate, the only difference is… I mean, I'm wearing pretty much the same shoes now. I would just.. you couldn't tell from the front I would have just been two inches taller.
And what about a woman who might say, oh but I, I actually feel better in heels, I feel stronger, I…
Brilliant! I would… I would encourage women to… this is my point, it's my heels, it’s my choice, I should be able to choose whether to wear heels or not. If a woman wants to, then absolutely fine, that's up to her. If a company wants to have everyone wearing the same, I think it really needs to listen to the women who are saying this is uncomfortable and you're not really treating us very fairly.
And part of the point is that this is a ruling that was probably set in stone many, many, many years ago.
Many years ago, many, many years ago. High heels were originally designed for men so that they could keep their feet in stirrups whilst riding a horse. Now they're not still wearing heels because fashion changes and moves forward so I think it's about time that corporate fashion followed suit. 
That was Nicola Thorp in the last hour. Now we did ask the various people involved for a comment. We heard first from PwC, that is the company that the agency sent Nicola to work for. PwC,  Price Waterhouse Coopers, says it outsources its front of house and reception services to a third party supplier. We first became aware of this matter on the 10th of May, some five months after the issue arose and the dress code referenced is not, in fact, a PWC policy. We also spoke to the recruitment agency who directly employed Nicola, that’s Portico. Portico said in line with industry standard practice we have personal appearance guidelines across many of our corporate locations. These policies include recommendations for appropriate style of footwear for the role. We will now be reviewing our guidelines in consultation with both our clients and our team members.

1 receptionist
2 flat black shoes 
3 buying a pair of heels
4 what the company had done was legal
5 because they are outdated and sexist
6 walking around the offices showing clients around
7 she doesn't object to that, that's their choice 
8 for men to ride horses
9 on 10th of May, some five months after the issue arose

jueves, 29 de septiembre de 2016

The doctor who saved 100,000 eyes

Nicholas Kristof travels to Nepal to meet an ophthalmologist who may have cured more people of blindness than anyone in history.

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

1 How many peoplas has Sanduk Ruit personally cured?
2 How long does the eye surgery festival last?
3 How many peoples does the Himalayan Cataract Project operate on in that time?
4 When will the patient see well again after the operation?
5 How much does each eye surgery cost in Nepal?
6 What is Dr Ruit helping do?

Tully Maia is blind. Without her vision, she can no longer farm, and her family risks going hungry. For centuries the only option for people like Tully Maia was to accept a life of blindness. But now, somebody is changing that.
I’m Nicholas Kristoff. I’ve come here to Nepal, a country still struggling from this year’s earthquake to visit a public health legend.
Dr Ruit…
Thanks for coming!
Such a pleasure to see you!
Dr Sanduk Ruit may have restored sight to more people than anyone else in history.
We claim that the vision outcome is as good as anywhere any the world.
He’s bringing inexpensive eye surgery to poor people with cataract blindness, and not just a few. He has personally cured more than 100,000 Nepalese and counting.
People have come from around the region, some of them trekking all day to attend the eye surgery festival put on by Dr Ruit and his organisation, the Himalayan Cataract Project. Over just two days, Dr Ruit and his team operate on more than a hundred people. It’s an assembly line of hope.
Dr Ruit we brought you a patient. This is Tully Maia.
Tully Maia.
So what are you doing now?
You know, Nick, I am opening the gateway to the eye. There’s a membrane that I’m opening. There are not many medical interventions where the investment is so strict and the return is so straight. I know the patient is going to see very well tomorrow. I’ll get you to have a look at the nucleus.
Wow! That is the cataract that was making her blind.
Cataracts cause half of all blindness worldwide. In places like American removing them is no big deal. In fact, my mother just had the surgery this summer, but the standard operation is much too expensive for places like Nepal. So Dr Sanduk Ruit created a grassroots network that screens villages for cataracts, then gathers them together for surgery all at once. His biggest innovation was simplifying that surgery so it costs just $25 per eye.
That’s it a few minutes per eye and you’re done.
Assistance like this would have never been developed in the West, where it’s just not necessary. And now that it’s proven in Nepal, Dr Ruit is helping bringing it to Africa, meaning a heroic doctor who’s already cured hundreds of thousands may soon be responsible for curing millions more, allowing them to see again, work again and get their lives back.
Twenty-four hours later, it’s the moment of truth.
How many fingers am I holding up?
You can go.
Very good.

1 more than 100,000
2 two 
3 more than 100
4 the following day
5 $25 per eye
6 developing the same scheme in Africa

miércoles, 28 de septiembre de 2016

Talking point: Looking for a job

This week's talking point is looking for a job. 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 about some family members and friends or acquaintaces that are employed at the moment.
What do they do?
How did they get their jobs?
What different methods do people use to find a job?

What do managers look for when they employ someone new? Choose the four qualities that you think are most important.
creative thinking
good grades
work experience
good problem-solving skills
a friendly personality
the ability to work in a team
a positive attitude to work
practical skills

Here are some things that school students can do to help them prepare for their working lives.
Talk to each other about how useful these experiences might be.
Then decide which experience would have the greatest effect on preparing students for their working lives and finding a job. 
meeting employers at a careers day
learning about money management
working part-time
roleplaying  job interviews
doing volunteer work
Have you ever had a job interview?
Was it a good experience? Why (not)?
Did you prepare for it? If so, how?
What questions were you asked at the interview?
What unusual job interviews have you heard of or experienced yourself?

To illustrate the point you can watch the famous The Candidate Heineken job interview video.

What's your management style?
Passionate... Passionate... Passionate...
And what's your biggest weakness?
Being stubborn... stubborn... stubborn I think...
Can you give me one reason why I should hire you...
Because sports is my passion...
I'm really passionate about football...
I really like football...

All job interviews are the same.
Same standard questions. Same prepared answers.
When you are looking for a job... for an interview, paint or brush, you look good, you feel good...
How to find the right talent for an event and sponsorship internship among 1734 applicants?
HEINEKEN presents THE CANDIDATE. The first job interview you can't prepare for...

Hi, hello, how are you...
Vincent Mamela
Ok, Vince
And so you liked it when we were walking hand in hand?
It made me feel comfortable, yes...
Ohm interesting, we'll see what happens...
well thank you very much for your time I suppose...
thank you very much... thank you...

Sir, do you, are you sure...
I'm fine, I'm just... I'll get a little water in a second...
Ok, if you say no
Stay with us
If we'd talk about money, how much money do you think you would like to have...for the position?
Last time this happened it was at a disco...
The discotheque?

Fiery and passionate or cold and calculated...
I would say cold and calculated because...
Wrong answer...
Fiery and passionate ...other people get infected by my enthusiasm...
You think I'm getting infected right now?
We need to go...come on Simon, Mr. Ross...Please...
Come on...we need to get going...
We're missing a hand here... Can you help us please?...
Can you help us? Please. We have a gap here...Sir...
Ok it's Ok...
come on, jump... come on...
The best 3 interviews were voted by the Heineken Internet community on an internal portal.
The most voted candidate was brought to the Juventus Stadium for a final test. JUVENTUS-CHELSEA.
Guy Lutching. You got the job. Guy is now working at Heineken... Still infecting people with his enthusiasm. HEINEKEN. OPEN YOUR WORLD.

martes, 27 de septiembre de 2016

Alison Chung, a digital detective

Alison Chung is not wired like most people. This can present challenges socially, but from a business perspective, it’s her competitive advantage as the owner of a consulting firm that is essentially a digital detective agency.

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

1 How often does Alison use digital devices when she's with her family?
2 What was Alison's upbringing like?
3 In what languages did she read detective stories?
4 What subject did she excel at?
5 How much was the write-off the client had written to the law firm?
6 How long had Alison been answering questions when she was enquired about box 97?
7 Who usually hires her company?
8 What is the worst part of her job?

Sometimes people ask me, you know, ‘when does it get busy for you?’ And I say, you know, ‘whenever there’s lying, cheating and dishonesty, it’s busy. And I’m sorry to say, we’re a little bit on the busy side.’
TeamWerks is a technology consulting firm with a particular focus in computer forensics. Whenever there’s a question as to who did what when, it is probably on some digital device, ready for somebody like me to find. We can tell you the text messages that were sent even if they’re erased. 
My family members will not allow me to be in the presence of their digital devices. When I visit, everybody locks everything up.
I had a very traditional upbringing. My parents were very strict. When I was naughty and my mother would say go to your room, I was thrilled because behind closed doors I would be doing puzzles and pretend to solve crimes. I read every detective novel in English and Chinese that was available.
I really liked math because it was easy for me. I was good with numbers.
That was a time during the tech boom so there was a lot of business to be had. So I just kind of went with my gut and said, you know what, I just want to form a small company and I just want us to work on tech projects.
Ok, we just received this hard drive.
We fell into the forensics. I received a call from some law firm partners I had known and they said we need somebody to go through more than 20 boxes of computer code because their client had written a one-line $50,000,000 write-off and the IRS’ questioning whether or not that write-off is valid.
I’ll never forget this; there were five men in half-glasses and they looked very stern and they said ‘Good morning. Who is that girl?’ And, one of the attorneys said ‘Oh, that’s our expert.’ The five IRS lawyers started laughing and they said ‘How much do you want to bet that we can break her down?’ And the first half-glasses looked at me and said, ‘Yes, Ms. Chung, our expert witness here, would you care to explain to us what happened in box number 78?’ And I said, ‘Yes, I would be delighted to.’ And so, the inquiry went on and on, and box after box. I think it was at the end of the fourth hour, the question was ‘OK. What happened to 97?’ I said ‘Oh, that was an exciting time. 97 was a good box.’ And at that point, I smiled to myself, I knew I had them.
When they said that we won, I was screaming for joy and I said ‘Give me another one! Give me another one!’
Embedded in all this code, that is a nugget of information that will be prove to be useful.
We get hired by the lawyers to examine computers and then, it’s not until you get into the bowels of the system and you look at who is talking to whom, and you realize, ‘oh my gosh, this is organized crime.’ And so at this point, I have a decision to make: I could resign or just tell the truth. It is dangerous, it is risky.
I have thought that I might be in physical danger doing this job because of the robberies but because I am Buddhist, I believe that when it’s my time, that’s when it will be. I’m not fearful. But I have taken the necessary precautions and I think that’s enough.
I always wanted to solve mysteries, I just didn’t know that I was going to be a digital detective. I think differently, I look at things differently. I mean, sometimes, I go to social events and see somebody and I’m wondering, ‘Wow, I wonder what’s on their computer.’

1 never
2 strict
3 English and Chinese
4 maths
5 $50,000,000 
6 four hours 
7 lawyers
8 the risk of physical danger

lunes, 26 de septiembre de 2016

Listening test: Shakespeare, my hero

Listen to two friends talking about Shakespeare and choose the option A, B or C which best completes each sentence.

1 Melissa
A. has a degree in English studies.
B. has taken part in Shakespearean performances.
C. knows Shakespeare well.

2 Saying Macbeth
A. is preferable to saying ‘the Scottish play’.
B. might make you do silly things if you’re an actor.
C. will usually bring you bad luck.

3 Melissa enjoys Macbeth because
A. it is fast-moving.
B. it is less violent than other tragedies.
C. it is not as profound as other plays.

4 Melissa
A. used to be a teacher before becoming an actor.
B. has played the role of Lady Macbeth
C. says Shakespeare is boring for children.

5 In Melissa’s opinion (…) to remember the lines.
A. actors usually have problems
B. plays with rhyme and rhythm make it easier
C. knowing what you’re saying is key

6 For actors interpreting Shakespeare
A. is always a challenge.
B. is only motivating if they belong to the Royal Shakespeare Company.
C. represents the most successful point of their career.

7 Shakespeare is relevant today
A. because human nature hasn’t changed.
B. despite the fact people have changed.
C. the world’s problems are similar to those in Shakespeare’s times.

Hello, again, Melissa.
What about historical heroes for you… from Britain?
I’d have to say William Shakespeare.
Definitely. Studied a lot at school and at university and I’ve seen performances obviously. But I just think it’s…
What’s your favourite play?
Macbeth, I think.
Well, …
Ah, you’re not meant to say Macbeth!
Oh, the Scottish play.
The Scottish play.
Bad luck, isn’t it, is to say it.
Well, only if you are in a theatre, I think.
And lots of actors are very superstitious about it and may have all these techniques if you say you have to run round the theatre three times or something to cancel the bad luck.
Ok. And, yes, so why, why is that your favourite?
Well, it’s very action-packed, more than the others. I don’t know, that sounds strange when talking about Shakespeare because people think it’s dry and deep…
A bit car-chase.
Yeah, explosions and all sorts… Yeah, it’s quite violent, a lot of the tragedies are quite violent, but it’s sort of got a bit of everything. There’s like the light relief, a bit of comedy, occasionally, so it’s not too much doom and gloom.
Something for everyone.
Yeah, absolutely, a bit with the dong.
Hold on. Weren’t you a bit of a thesp before you were a teacher?
I was, yes, I did a bit of Shakespeare.
Enthralled of the boards.
I did, yes, or tried to.
And you did Shakespeare in plays?
Yes, yeah. I worked with a company who did, well, performed Shakespeare plays in schools, in primary schools around England.
And did the kids get it? Did they understand it?
Yes, absolutely, yeah, yeah, because we didn’t do just the whole play straight with nothing else, because that’s a bit boring for children. We kind of stopped and talked about what was gonna happen next and the characters…
So did you actually do Macbeth?
Yes, yes, we did Macbeth…
So were you Lady Macbeth ouch damned spot?
I unfortunately wasn’t. I’d love to do that scene because it’s fantastic, who doesn’t want to go mad on stage…
… and just run around and scream and all the crazy things she does, it’s brilliant. But I, no, unfortunately I wasn’t Lady Macbeth.
Ok… and what, what were you then?
I was the narrator kind of person. I kind of got the kids involved, they got up and did some lines and…
Oh, really?
… helped them understand what was happening, and things like that I’d say.
And something I’ve always wanted to ask actually for someone who is a Shakespearean actor.
Oh, that is me yes.
How do you remember all those lines? What’s the system?
Well, I suppose everyone has their own system, I don’t think there’s one way, but they’re quite easy to remember in terms of… they rhyme for a start and there’s a regular pattern like a rhythmic, a regular rhythm so you can follow to help yourself as well. And if you understand what you’re saying and why, then it’s natural to say it, so it becomes part of… the emotions.
Ok, and as a thespian, a thespian, do… is Shakespeare the zenith of the acting world?
I guess it is, yeah, it’s like the pinnacle of everybody’s ambitions, especially like working with the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford it’s, yeah, it’s very important for a lot of people and rightly so, I think.
And do you think the… ok it’s in all the English, but what about the themes in Shakespearean plays, are they actually relevant anymore?
Oh, yeah, I think so. I mean, have humans really changed that much in the last four hundred years in terms of…
I’ve changed in the last five minutes.
That’s just because you’re a fashion god but like emotionally I don’t think human beings have changed, the world we live in has changed enormously but in terms of our relationships with each other, the things we want, our ambitions, our dark sides, our…
So they are timeless universal themes, eternal truths.
Absolutely, yes, that’s a good way to describe it, yeah.

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

domingo, 25 de septiembre de 2016

Extensive listening: 3 lessons on success from an Arab businesswoman

Professional Arab women juggle more responsibilities than their male counterparts, and they face more cultural rigidity than Western women. What can their success teach us about tenacity, competition, priorities and progress?

Tracing her career as an engineer, advocate and mother in Abu Dhabi, Leila Hoteit shares, in this TED Talk, three lessons for thriving in the modern world.

You can read a full transcript here.

sábado, 24 de septiembre de 2016

Reading test: For the first time in a century wild tiger numbers go up

In this week's reading test we are going to practise the 'insert the word' kind of task. To do so, we are going to use the Huffington Post article For the first time in a century wild tiger numbers go up.

Read the text and choose the word (A to O) which best fits in gaps 1 to 10. Four of the words are not needed. 0 has been completed as an example.

For the first time in a century wild tiger numbers go up

For wild tigers, the numbers have not been kind.
In 1900, an (0) … 100,000 tigers wandered about free on our planet. Yet within a hundred years, that number gone down by more than 95 percent — the result of uncontrolled poaching and (1) … habitat loss.
But it seems the tide may finally be (2) … for the majestic cat. On Sunday, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) announced that wild tiger numbers were on the (3) … for the first time in over a century.
There are now about 3,890 tigers in the wild, up from about 3,200 in 2010, said WWF, citing national tiger survey numbers.
The increase could partly be attributed to growing tiger populations in India, Russia, Nepal and Bhutan as well as better protection of the (4) … species globally, the organization said. The improved count could also be the result of other factors, (5) … better survey methods.
(6) … still cautious, conservationists regarded the new global count as a positive (7) … forward for the world’s tigers.
“More important (8) … the absolute numbers is the trend, and we’re seeing the trend going in the right direction,” Ginette Hemley, WWF’s senior vice president of wildlife conservation, said.
Carter Roberts, president and CEO of WWF, added in a statement: “We’ve watched tigers (9) … for decades and have dreamed of bending that curve in the other direction. In a sea of bad news on the environment we are (10) … significant progress on one of the greatest comeback stories in conservation.”

A - as
B - decline
C - doing
D - endangered
E - estimated 0 Example
F - increase
G - like
H - making
I - rise
J - step
K - than
L - that
M - turning
N - while
O - widespread

Photo: AlexTurton via Getty Images

1O 2M 3I 4D 5G 6N 7J 8K 9B 10H

viernes, 23 de septiembre de 2016

A cure for diabetes in India?

Could a simple change in the diet of expectant mothers prevent their children from developing diabetes?

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

1 What are the two arguments Professor Fall gives against making middle-aged people lose weight to prevent diabetes?
2 Where does Professor Fall's plan to prevent diabetes rely on?
3 What chemical element is important to bone growth?
4 How many snacks are made in the kitchen every day?
5 How many women have participated in the project?
6 Why is it important that the women come to the centre and have the supplement there?
7 As well as having their mental development tested, what other elements of a baby's growth are measured and recorded?
8 Despite the improvement in mothers' diet, which potential problem are the scientists coming across?

Inspired by David's ideas, his colleague, Professor Caroline Fall, is leading a study with the potential to fix the diabetes epidemic in India.
At the moment, if you talk about preventing diabetes, people are talking about making middle-aged people lose weight, and A, that's impossible to do, and B, it doesn't seem to work very well anyway. And so the idea that you could build a human being that was more resistant to this disease was amazing to me.
Caroline's plan to halt the diabetes epidemic doesn't rely on high-tech labs or fancy science. It rests mainly on these women and one kitchen. These recipes contain all the crucial building blocks needed to build a body resistant to disease.
Folic acid, calcium, iron, vitamin A. The calcium will be important for bone growth. The green leafy vegetables contain small quantities of essential fatty acids which are important for brain growth. All of those nutrients are important in different tissues of the body. The foetus, at a very, very early microscopic stage, is sensitive to the nutrients around it and if we miss that, we feel that we would be missing the most important stage of development.
Every day, over 1,500 snacks are made in this kitchen. There are nutrient-rich recipes and others that are green vegetable-free to act as scientific controls. They are taken to about 50 clinics in the slums across the city. In total, over 6,700 women have participated and each must begin eating the supplements well before they fall pregnant. It's a logistical nightmare where the utmost care must be taken to be scientific.
I'm very glad to have met Meera. It's been hard work, it's been hard work setting up a study like this. To carry it out on the ground in a population like this is very difficult.
It's mandatory for a woman to come to the centre and have the supplement in front of the project clerk because it is very important, you know, because if they take it home, somebody else can eat it. They can throw it out or the child can eat it. We are not sure who the supplement has gone into, whose stomach, so it's very important to have women coming to the centre.
The centre is full of women eating supplements from well before pregnancy until they give birth. And there are also babies who must be measured at one, three, six and 12 months. Their weight, length and body fat are recorded, and they are even testing their mental development. It is an ambitious long-term project.
For seven-and-a-half years.
How many more?
Forever, I think.
So nice!
The results of this study will begin to come in next year.
We're providing better nutrition into the mother, but the mother herself has had a poor early development, which may affect the quality of her eggs. It certainly affects the size of her uterus and the quality of the blood supply to the uterus. So she is still constraining the development and growth of that foetus.

1 a) that's impossible to do; b) it doesn 't seem to work very well
2 the kitchen or cooking or diet or recipes
3 calcium
4 1,500
5 6,700
6 to make sure that they actually have it 
7 weight, length and body fat
8 mothers themselves had a poor early development, which may affect the quality of their eggs

jueves, 22 de septiembre de 2016

Gori, birthplace of Stalin

Hugh Bonneville and Jessica Hynes find themselves travelling to Gori (Georgia), Stalin's birthplace.

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

1 What does Hugh say about the road?
2 What does Hugh want to see in Gori?
3 What is the message in the inscription Jessica reads?
4 What is the surprising thing you can see in the shower?
5 Why is Hugh concerned when he leaves the museums?
6 What did the minister of culture write about the museum?
7 Who wrote the message in the visitors' book Hugh reads out?

I don't want to tempt fate, but this is a remarkably good road.
You've blown it now, Hugh.
They're driving to a small town called Gori whose place in history relies solely on the fact that it's the birthplace of communist dictator Joseph Stalin.
So, Gori, where we're going to, Stalin's birthplace, there's a museum. I'd be interested to see how honest an account or how much of the rest of the world's view of Stalin is included in the museum in his birthplace.
A huge memorial has been built around the house where Stalin was born and several surrounding blocks flattened to make way for the museum dedicated to Gori's favourite son.
So, this is Stalin's house, literally kind of sitting on its own in the middle of nowhere. There's something really exciting about coming somewhere like this. It's such living history, and imagining Stalin as a little boy looking at exactly this, all the notches on the wood. Wonder if there's any initials.
JV was here.
You can go inside.
It's incredible to think of him sort of sitting at that table and kind of... living here.
So, this carriage used to belong to the Tsar and was appropriated by Stalin. There's even a bar for the shower. There was a meeting of the Allied commanders of Stalin and Churchill and Roosevelt on a train. I wonder if it was this one. You definitely feel ghosts in here, you do, when you consider what Stalin meant for millions and millions of people.
Hugh searches the museum for some answers. But comes away more concerned about its omissions.
I think my thoughts about this place are solidifying. I feel quite angry now. There's a statement downstairs from the minister of culture, I guess it is, saying that this museum is being left as it was, as part of an objective history of his life and his birthplace. It's not. This is a shrine to Stalin really, I feel, and I don't think I could put it any better than… This is the visitors' book I've been looking at and there's a couple from New York who wrote this:
How can you expect the world to support you in your just struggle against the Russians if you have no courage to judge Stalin and his crimes against humanity?
Yeah, that's pretty much it.

1 it's remarkably good
2 a museum
3 JV was here
4 a bar  
5 because of its omissions 
6 it is an objective history of Stalin's life and his birthplace
7 a couple from New York

miércoles, 21 de septiembre de 2016

Talking point: Learning English

This week's talking point is learning English. 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.
  • In how many languages can you have a basic conversation in (to order a meal or to greet people)?
  • What languages do you have a good grasp of?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of learning a language using these methods?
being immersed in the language/culture
studying grammar and vocabulary
attending a language school
keeping in touch with people who speak the language through social media and new technology
  • Do you know any other ways of learning a foreign language?
  • Which ones have you personally tried?
  • Which one has really worked for you?
  • How often do you hear foreign languages where you live?
  • How important do you think memory is to learn a foreign language?
  • What do you want to be able to do with English?
  • How far away from that objective are you at the moment?
  • Do you ever review what you have learnt?
  • How often do you watch or read things in English?
  • How often do you communicate with native speakers?
  • Do you keep a small notebook to note down and revise new expressions?
  • Are you subscribed to any podcasts that you listen to while you are doing housework or travelling or waiting?
  • What are you doing to learn English at the moment?
  • Are you having any problems with English at the moment?
  • Do you enjoy learning English?
To illustrate the topic you can watch this video about Memrise, a new system to learn a foreign language.

martes, 20 de septiembre de 2016

I like being afraid

For some kids, the playground isn’t enough – extreme sports like snowboarding or motocross are the best ways to have fun. But are they safe?

Who ...?
A - enjoys being around people
B - enjoys the feeling of being scared
C - has been doing the sport just in the last year
D - is fully aware of the danger the sport poses
E - started doing the sport when he/she was a toddler
F - thinks the sport has an influence on personality
G – would be wasting his/her time is they weren’t doing this sport

My name is Luke Ruben Acuna, I'm 12 years old. I've been chair skating for about a year now. For all those that think that chair skating is really dangerous, it, it is. That is true, but there are certain things that us chair skaters do to not let ourselves get hurt. It's only dangerous if we let it to be dangerous.

My name John Givoni Connolly. I'm nine years old, and I, I started snowboarding when I was two. To overcome fear trying something new, I just do it.

I am Tessa Milan. I am 11 years old, and I am from Carlsbad, California. I like being scared, and sometimes when I'm like, airing on a half pipe, it makes me feel scared, so I like that feeling.

I am Charlie Gray. I am 11 years old, and I'm from Mammoth Lakes, California. Snowboarding is awesome because you're outdoors, get to be around people that you like. It's, like, the best sport ever.

My name is Verastess, and I live in Petaluma, California. Started skateboarding when I was about, like, almost one in diapers. If I didn't have skateboarding, I'll probably just lay around on the couch all day and watch TV. When I'm really scared to try something, I just think to myself, if you wanna do it really bad, you can do it.

I'm Brian Cullen. My kids are Michael. He's 8 years old. And Kylie, she's 10. Climbing for us has really brought the family together, and I love to see that. It's just really exciting to see what it's, you know, what it's done for them physically and mentally. I mean climbing is, is problem solving.

My name is Eric Ferdell. I am 11 years old. I'm from Courts Hill, and started riding about three years ago. Definitely, this sport is very dangerous. Every time you go out there, you keep it in the back of your head saying, oh, yeah well, I coud break an arm, or I could die doing this. But really, it's how much will you put into it? What I enjoy most is just the feeling you have when you're going, you know, 70 miles an hour, up to a jump, and then launch about 60 feet in the air. And, anything you can think of on a dirt bike, you can do it.

A Charlie Gray (snowboarding)
B Tessa Milan (snowboarding)
C Luke Ruben Acuna (chair skating)
D Eric Ferdell (motocross)
E John Givoni Connolly (snowboarding)
F Brian Cullen (climbing)
G Verastess (skateboarding)

lunes, 19 de septiembre de 2016

Listening test: Sugar tax

Listen to a report on the British government's plans to set a tax on sugary drinks and complete the blanks in the sentences below with up to THREE WORDS. 0 is an example.

0 Example:
UK citizens are expected to pay a tax on sugary drinks in two years' time.

1 The Chancellor of the Exchequer announced the government's plans in the latest government _______________________ .

2 The tax will be imposed on what is UK's biggest single source of excess sugar: _______________________ .

3 The tax will be imposed on the volume of sugary drinks that a company _______________________ .

4 Both milk-based drinks as well as _______________________ will not be taxed.

5 The money collected will be used to _______________________ in schools.

6 The effect the tax has had in some other countries has been positive, at least in the _______________________ .

In two years the UK is going to have a new tax on sugary drinks. I’ve talked before about the latest thinking on the links between sugar consumption and medical problems such as obesity, Type 2 diabetes and so on. In the latest government budget statement, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced that he’s responding to demands from the health sector to do something about reducing our sugar consumption by imposing a tax on what is our biggest single source of excess sugar: high sugar drinks, which are particularly popular with children and teenagers. The drinks that’ll be affected are things like classic Coke and Pepsi, energy drinks, Fanta and tonic water. The tax will not be on the product as such but on the company. The tax will be on the volume of sugary drinks that a company produces or imports. The tax will be in two bands: one for drinks with more than 5g of sugar per 100 millilitres, and the second band for drinks with more than 8g. The price of a can of Coca-Cola will rise by about 10%. Milk-based drinks as well as pure fruit juices will not be taxed. The drinks industry has two years to get ready, and I’m sure they’ll be lobbying until the last moment against the tax. A feature of the tax will be that the money raised will be kept separate from general taxation and it’ll be used specifically to promote sport in primary schools.
So will the tax have its intended effect of reducing national sugar consumption? Other countries that have already tried something similar include Mexico and Hungary where the short-term result at least has been positive. The debate goes on, however, about the morality of the government trying to control what we consume. 

1 budget statement
2 high sugar drinks
3 produces or imports
4 pure fruit juices
5 promote sport
6 short term

domingo, 18 de septiembre de 2016

Extensive listening: Let's teach for mastery, not test scores

Would you choose to build a house on top of an unfinished foundation? Of course not. Why, then, do we rush students through education when they haven't always grasped the basics?

Yes, it's complicated, but educator Sal Khan shares his plan to turn struggling students into scholars by helping them master concepts at their own pace.

In 2004, Sal Khan, a hedge fund analyst, began posting math tutorials on YouTube. Twelve years later, Khan Academy has more than 42 million registered users from 190 countries, with tutorials on subjects from basic math through economics, art history, computer science, health, medicine and more.

You can read the full transcript here.

sábado, 17 de septiembre de 2016

The Current

The Current is Canada's most listened-to radio programme.  

The Current is a current affairs daily radio programme that mainly deals with news stories in Canada. However, very many of the issues the programme touches on have a universal appeal and are of interest to listeners from all over the world.

The Current can be a more than interesting listening resource for both English teachers and advanced English students, as they can find attractive and up-to-date topics to listen to. In addition, the programmes  can be downloaded either totally or on a segment-basis, and a transcript is also available. There is also an archive that stores the programmes broadcast in the previous three months.

viernes, 16 de septiembre de 2016

Designer brings 'Modern Slavery Garden' to Chelsea Flower Show

Designer Juliet Sargeant brings 'Modern Slavery Garden' to Chelsea Flower Show to highlight ongoing problem in the UK.

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

1 How many modern-day slaves are there in the UK?
2 What colour are the insides of the garden doors painted in?
3 Why are there a couple of doors open in the garden?
4 Which two businesses does Juliet mention at the end?

You may think that slavery is something of the past and something that wouldn't exist in the UK.
But this advert released by the Home Office aims to raise awareness of the 13,000 people in the UK who are thought to be held or forced to work against their will.
From the depravity of humanity… to the beauty of nature. The Chelsea Gardens. But this year modern slavery will have light shed on it at the Chelsea Flower Show, thanks to the work of Juliet Sargeant.
It’s been… well, quite a shock, really, and a real learning curve for me to realise that slavery still exists today and in the UK, in London and in every major city. It’s unbelievable, but it’s true.
The artist’s garden seeks to highlight the hidden nature of the crime to those who visit.
I wanted that to be the first thing that people sees, so they’ll see the colourful doors and bright flowers but then if they stop at the garden and look into the center, they’ll see that it’s dark and the doors on the insides are painted black, and that represents the dark heart of slavery, modern slavery. Handles and letterboxes are just on the outside so the idea being that if you’re a slave, you can’t communicate, you can’t free yourself. There are a couple of doors on the garden that are open because I wanted to reflect the idea that there is hope.
Despite the fact it's hidden by nature Sargeant wants to bring modern slavery to the forefront.
It would be really nice if people started talking more about modern slavery. It’s just really a matter of having our eyes open as we walk down our own street or go shopping, just to be aware that that person in the nail bar or in the restaurant might be there against their will.
Whilst nature is permitted to exist freely… the hope is that all people too can live freely.

1 13,000
2 black
3 to represent hope
4 a nail bar and a restaurant

jueves, 15 de septiembre de 2016

Road trip across Bolivian Salt Flats

Phill Jupitus and Marcus Brigstocke attempt to cross the stunning salt lake Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia.

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

1 How much salt does the lake contain?
2 What is the one feature of Salar de Uyuni that is outstanding on planet Earth?
3 How fast should they drive when crossing the lake?
4 Where can Salar de Uyuni be seen from?

It's estimated the lake contains 10 billion tonnes of salt. Below the crust lie pools of brine thought to contain over half the world's lithium reserves. As the surface edge is flooded, entering the lake is a dicey proposition.
I'm nervous about that, actually.
That's quite a way, isn't it?
That's a way in water, and there's now way of seeing how deep that gets.
Look at it, look at this! Look at the sodium chloride!
I really want to taste some.
I have, it's salty.
You just tasted?
This is unbelievable. It's so crunchy.
I'd come across, but I'm wearing suede shoes.
It's dreamlike, it's so weird. For a kick-off, the brightness. It's the brightest place on the planet I've ever been, and it's just...there's a beauty to it. Over my shoulder there, there's a line of horizon you can't quite make out. It's just absurd and beautiful and wonderful and I can't wait to get on it.
That's deeper than it looks.
It's loose as well.
Right, OK, so that's how it's going to be for the wheels as well.
Yeah, yeah.
We're just going to need to take it very steady because also, if you flick this water up into the engine and stuff, not that I know what happens, but something bad happens.
I've seen some things in my life but, my God, this is just... and the volcano.
How deep do you think that gets?
Well, we'll find out. We've got to go real slow, but we've got to keep moving.
It's been an honour, sir.
Right, keep it under 10 miles an hour, we were told.
Yep, nice and steady.
How do you feel about just driving into a lake, Phill?
I feel very weird.
Yeah, that's pretty deep, man.
This is mad.
Oh, my God!
Careful, man. What are you doing?
Water ballet, my friend!
Easy, don't spray it up into the engine.
I won't, I won't.
What way are we headed?
We're going in exactly the right direction.
Yeah, so this line here. You see the end of that headland there? I'm going to keep pointing at that. Very occasionally I get a surge of fear that it's going to crack,
and we're going to disappear into many metres of water beneath.
A lake of brine.
It's kind of scary, I've got to say.
They say you can see the curvature of the earth once you get out here to the middle. Isn't that crazy? Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong could see this from the moon.
Just keep a steady speed, yeah?
Shall do.
Oh, my God!
Phill, it's incredible.
I'm so glad I'm dressed like this. Dude, you're going to have to try this when I drive. It's awesome.
I'm 50 this year.
Also, it's quite a small window.
You'll be fine.

1 10 billion tonnes
2 its brightness
3 10 miles an hour
4 from space / from the moon

miércoles, 14 de septiembre de 2016

Talking point: Talking

This week's talking point is talking. 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.

Do/did you talk a lot at school/university?
Do you talk a lot when you are with your friends?
And what about with your family?
Do you think you should change anything about the way you talk (e.g. talk more, talk less, more loudly, more quietly, pay more attention)? Why (not)?
When was the last time you were in the following situations?
a face-to-face conversation
expressing your feelings
at a job interview
telling a joke
speaking in public
giving opinions
socialiasing with friends
talking on the phone
talking to someone from a different country
speaking English
talking to older/younger people
What of the situations above do you enjoy the most/least?

Do you have any difficulties communicating with people of a different generation from yours?
If so, which difficulties do you face?
What topics you feel more comfortable talking about?
What topics do you usually avoid?
Are there any taboo topics in your family or in your group of friends?
Do you ever gossip?

To illustrate the topic, you can watch the video The Art of Conversation.

martes, 13 de septiembre de 2016

Fashion vs Art

Fashion occupies a prime position in our culture and economy. But is it art?

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

1 What's the name of the tour?
2 How much of the object of art is what the characters are wearing?
3 What were the three 'arts' that constituted art as opposed to the 'decorative arts'?
4 What did the soldiers capture their enemies' wives in ancient Greece?
5 What does '1450' refer to?
6 What two elements does fashion combine in today's world, according to Anne Winterthur?
7 What is the name of John Singer Sargent's painting?
8 What was a suntan a symbol of in the Industrial Revolution?

There is the perennial debate about whether or not fashion can ever be art. It has, in some instances, to do with intention.  But just because it's clothes doesn't mean it can't be art.
The name of this tour is Fashion and Art.
Fashion is laden with cultural, social, aesthetic ideas, everything that we subject the criteria of art to.
What we do is look at the objects of art… masterpieces and highlights of our collection from a very interesting viewpoint. What are the people wearing in the object of art? And more than that, what does it mean? This is something almost nobody talks about. But sometimes it's 60% to 70% of the object of art anyway. So I hope that you will see fashion is not trivial.
When I started off as a curator, art was considered to be painting, architecture, and sculpture.  Anything outside of that was decorative arts and quite frankly, looked down on, costume and fashion being one example of that.
Our first object dates from ancient Greece. The basic garment was made by one long length of linen. The flax had to be picked, it had to be spun, it had to be woven by hand.  And in war, the soldiers who were victorious would kill the man and capture the women as slaves to do the spinning and the weaving. So the fabric represents a great deal.
Fashion is still considered more in the female domain than something like painting. And I think that's a reason why some people are quick to dismiss fashion as art.
So we will move on to another culture altogether, another civilization altogether.
It's our role as a center of art and culture to give fashion and costume respect and that attention.
Fashion should be recognized for how it defines a time, how it can be controversial, how it can be revolutionary.
So right now, we are in Burgundian France. And these are courtiers in a rose garden. This is one of the earliest examples we have of cut and tailored clothing.  With the growth of big, powerful courts, people began to want to outdo each other in a fashion sense. You are looking at the red carpet of 1450.
Fashion seems frivolous and trivial to the 19th-century attitudes about fine art. There's a kind of puritanical tradition, and we hate the notion that there might be commerce associated with anything, because somehow, that makes it less pure. But as the definitions of art have become more elastic, you know, post-Dada, post-Warhol… we're no longer bound by the 19th-century categories of art.
In the world that we work in, you need the mixture of art and commerce. They have to exist hand in hand.
High fashion paired with celebrity becomes something bigger than both…
All right, we're going to finish the tour with John Singer Sargent. This is Madame X.  People wanted the artists of the day to advance themselves. And the artist of the day wanted the famous people in order to advance their career.
The art of what someone wears is as important and as revealing an artefact as a particular portrait painted at a particular time.
Why did she wear this white duck skirt? One day, she came in from playing tennis, and her face was all flushed, and her eyes were sparkling. But what we don't see is what it's saying about society. In the industrial world, when people were in factories all day long, it suddenly became a status symbol to have a suntan. So this dress shows a complete switch in values.
Fashion can be used to tell stories about gender, race, and identity, and challenge us to rethink what is beautiful, and challenge our prejudices, and our expectations.
Everyone aspires to go higher in life, to be better than they are. And these moments in a museum give you moments of betterment. Escapism, yes.  But this could be inspiring.  This could inspire someone.
This is the achievement of having no delineation between what is high and low culture, what is right and wrong history.
Cara, how you…

1 Fashion and Art
2 60% or 70% 
3 painting, architecture, and sculpture
4 to have them as slaves making clothes for them
5 the year the red carpet was painted
6 art and commerce
7 Madame X
8 status

lunes, 12 de septiembre de 2016

Listening test: TripAdvisor's top destinations

Listen to a report on TripAdvisor's top destinations and choose the heading that best describes each of the cities. There are two headings you do not need to use.

source: VOA News

Which city…?
A - combines sightseeing and enjoyment
B - has a famous clock
C - has an independent state within
D - has the market area surrounded by a wall
E - is full of natural spaces
F - is home to alternative cultural movements
G - is ideal for people whose hobby is history
H - is well known for its wide streets

Siem Reap

Here’s a look at TripAdvisor’s most popular cities to visit!

1. Marrakech, Morocco –The market area is surrounded by a wall
Marrakech is known as the “red city” for its rose-colored buildings. The city’s walled medina, or old city, is a UNESCO world heritage site. One-thousand-year-old monuments remain within the medina, including the Koutoubiya Mosque, the Kasbah, and several gardens. Today, the medina is a crowded marketplace with traditional Moroccan goods for sale. Make sure to visit the Jamaa El Fna Square, an outdoor theater where storytellers and musicians perform.

2. Siem Reap, Cambodia -
The small city of Siem Reap is home to Angkor Wat, the world’s largest religious monument. Visitors can also see hundreds of ancient Buddhist temples in and around town. After a long day at the temples, tourists can enjoy one of Siem Reap’s many bars, restaurants, and nightclubs.

3. Istanbul, Turkey
Turkey’s largest city has one foot in Europe and the other in Asia. As the former capital of the Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman empires, Istanbul is a haven for history lovers. Visitors must see Istanbul’s most famous religious buildings: the Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque. At night, sail on the Bosporus Strait, which separates the European and Asian areas of this extraordinary city.

4. Hanoi, Vietnam
Vietnam’s capital has tree-lined streets, lakes, and some 600 temples and pagodas. Visitors should not miss the Temple of Literature. It was built in the year 1070. It is one of several temples in Vietnam dedicated to Confucius.

5. Prague, Czech Republic
This Eastern European city is the modern capital of the Czech Republic and the historical capital of the kingdom of Bohemia. Walk across the Charles Bridge and visit the John Lennon Wall to get a sense of the city’s quiet revolutionary soul. From the unique art of David Cerny — often hidden in plain sight — to the growing counterculture scene, Prague is full of surprises.

6. London, England
The largest city in Western Europe is a world capital of culture and fashion. Visitors can tour rooms in Buckingham Palace, the official home of the Queen of England. They can investigate the Sherlock Holmes Museum or walk across Abbey Road, just like the band The Beatles did in 1969. And make sure to check the time at the famous clock tower, Big Ben.

1D 2A 3G 4E 5F 6B

domingo, 11 de septiembre de 2016

Extensive listening: Why Brexit happened — and what to do next

We are embarrassingly unaware of how divided our societies are, and Brexit grew out of a deep, unexamined divide between those that fear globalization and those that embrace it, says social scientist Alexander Betts.

How do we now address that fear as well as growing disillusionment with the political establishment, while refusing to give in to xenophobia and nationalism? Join Betts as he discusses four post-Brexit steps toward a more inclusive world.

You can read a full transcript for the talk here.

sábado, 10 de septiembre de 2016

Reading test: Big Basket building in Ohio to be sold

In this week's reading test we are going to practise the 'insert the sentence' kind of task. To do so, we are going to read the BBC article Big Basket building in Ohio to be sold.

Read the text and fill in the blanks with the corresponding sentence A-J. There are two sentences you do not need to use. 0 is an example.

Big Basket building in Ohio to be sold

An iconic building shaped (0) … in Newark, Ohio, home to a basket-making company, is to be sold. Nicknamed the "Big Basket," and belonging to the home decor Longaberger Company, the building is looking for a buyer. Employees (1) … the seven-storey basket building are being moved to another location in Ohio.
It opened in 1997 and once housed 500 employees of the company, the Columbus Dispatch reports. Now, the company is facing (2) … . The last employees working in the building are moving out this week.
"The Big Basket is like the St Louis Arch," Jim Klein, a former Longaberger president, told the newspaper.  He wants (3) … on the National Register of Historic Places. "It's a really important part of south-eastern Ohio history."
The building's shape was the company's founder's idea, the Dispatch reports. It cost $30 million (£22.5 million) to build. Dave Longaberger had a very specific idea for the building, the Dispatch reports, and would not settle on a design (4) … to make it look exactly like one of the company's baskets.
A Facebook group titled "Preserving the Longaberger 'Big Basket' as a National Treasure" has 1,683 members. Mr Klein keeps members updated on his mission to have the Big Basket registered on the National Register in the group. "Wish we could all donate enough $ to buy the big basket and turn it into a museum. I realise this isn't feasible at all, but (5) …," one member writes.
Not everyone at Longaberger is sad to be leaving the basket, though. Brenton Baker, director of marketing and communications for the company, told the Ohio Advocate that the office they are moving to is more convenient and they look forward to (6) … .
"It is not a sad thing we are leaving," Mr Baker told the newspaper. "People keep saying they feel sad for the employees. Don't feel sad for us. I cannot wait for next week. For me, next week (7) … . For the people on the outside, it's probably not that way."

A - be located in more modern premises
B - being closer to their colleagues
C - can't come fast enough
D - hard economic times
E - if it was possible
F - like a basket 0 Example
G - to get the building
H - until architects agreed
I - who work inside
J - wishful thinking

1I 2D 3G 4H 5J 6B 7C

viernes, 9 de septiembre de 2016

Where did sugar come from?

Brian Cox looks into where sugar originally came from and talks to a sugar historian about when it arrived in Britain. 

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

1. As well as sugar what other commodities were available to our ancestors part of the year?
2. Where was wild cane first farmed? 
3. When did sugar first come into Britain?
4. Who could afford to buy it?
5. Apart from being an additive to food and drinks, what was sugar used for?
6. How much sugar did Henry III order?
7. How much sugar could you find across the entire kingdom back in Henry III's times?

Back in the Middle Ages, sugar was only available to our ancestors part of the year, as fruit or honey. Sweetness was in short supply, so where did sugar, as we know it, come from? Well, it originated centuries before as a giant wild grass in the South Pacific, where its value was so recognised.
Legends from there tell of a story of how a sugar cane sprouted a man and a woman, who founded the human race. Wild cane was first tamed and farmed in New Guinea, and over time, spread by travellers, across the globe.
By the 13th century, it had migrated to the Middle East, where traders discovered it, and carried it to Europe. A commodity so rare, sugar's value equalled that of precious gems.
And what about its first appearance in Britain? My journey begins in Cumbria, where I'm going to meet a sugar historian, whom I'm told has a rather hands-on approach to this subject.
All of the sugar we imported into this country came from the Arab world, via the Venetians. The Venetians were the sugar controllers, they bought it from the Middle East, and then they shipped it out to every other European nation and they put a huge premium on it. If we go back into the 13th century, small quantities of it are coming to this country, but they are only being purchased by royal palaces.
Because it was quite expensive?
It was very expensive, and it was rare. Sugar in the early modern period is very much a symbol of status. But it was used as a plastic medium, as an art form.  We have some marvellously detailed images of these sugar sculptures.
My gosh.
There is one piece of sculpture which was six-feet high, entirely made out of sugar.
Six-feet high!
Yeah, so it is standing like that on the table.
And this would be consumed, they wouldn't be ornamental?
No, no, no it was totally ornamental.
You are talking about a kind of decadence. Ordinary people eat food just to sustain themselves, but the very wealthy use it to show off, and having a sugar sculpture, six- foot high, on your table, is the equivalent of having a Maserati nowadays.
And all we have is this evidence of it.
The only evidence we have are the actual images we have of them. The other bit of evidence, that is not really obvious, we also have some of the tools we used to create it. So, for instance, this lovely wooden mould has got these four little goddesses on it. I’m going to get you actually to have a go at making some of these….
Okay, that’s it, one more there, it’s sticking there. If you just drop it on to the surface, you have your perfect grinning gibbons.
My goodness me!
One of the first recorded royal requests for sugar was by Henry III in the 13th century, who ordered three pounds of it, if so much is to be had, he’s reputed to have said.
It was so rare and luxurious that today’s equivalent of a bag and a half from a supermarket might be all there was across the entire kingdom.
You have created your own beautiful little thing.
I am impressed, I am, because I'm so cack-handed normally.

1. fruit and honey
2. New Guinea
3. 13th century
4. royal palaces
5. art, ornaments 
6. three pounds
7. (the equivalent of) a bag and a half (from a supermarket)

jueves, 8 de septiembre de 2016

Are smart homes at risk from hackers?

Smart household technology is increasingly being installed into millions of homes across the world and it promises to change the way we live forever.

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

Where does the outside world stop and private space begin? What details of your life are you willing to share with strangers? Take this house. Every morning, lights come on. Coffee (1) … automatically.   Technology just like this is increasingly being installed into millions of homes across the world and it promises to change the way we live forever.
So there are sensors of all kinds, there’s lights and (2) ... and thermostats and once they’re connected then our platform can make them do whatever you want them to do. So as an example, if I wake up in the morning, the house knows that I’m waking up. It can wake up with me. When we walk in the kitchen, it will play the local news and sort of greet us into the day, tell us the (3) ... ... so we know how to dress for the day and so on.
This technology is known as the internet of things, where the objects in our houses - (4) ... ..., anything electronic - can be connected to the internet.  But for it to be useful, we’re going to have to share intimate details of our private life.
So this is my things app. It can run on your mobile phone or on a tablet or something like that. I can do things like look at the (5) ... ... ... of family members. It can automatically detect when we come and go based on our mobile phones or you can have it detect your presence with a little sensor, you can put it in your car or something like that. So when we leave the house, and there’s no one home, that’s when it’ll lock up and (6) ... ... all the electricity used and so on.
For most of us, this is deeply private information. Yet once we hand it over, we have to (7) ... a company to keep it confidential.
The consumer really owns 100% of their own data so they’re opting in. It’s not something where that data would ever be shared without their giving their permission.
This house represents a new normal, where even the movements within our own home are documented and (8) ... . It’s a new frontier. The internet is asking us to redefine what we consider private.

1 brews
2 locks 
3 weather forecast 
4 kitchen appliances
5 comings and goings
6 shut down
7 trust 
8 stored

miércoles, 7 de septiembre de 2016

Talking point: Ambition

This week's talking point is ambition. 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 people have ambitions, what kinds of expectations do they have of themselves?
Do you think people are sometimes unrealistic in setting goals for themselves? Why?
What are the positive and negative consequences of having high expectations of yourself?
Does ambition always bring success?
Who is the most ambitious person that you know?
Do you think younger people are inherently more ambitious than older people? Why/not?
Imagine that you're a parent. How could you instill a healthy sense of ambition in your child?

Read the quotes below about believing in your dreams. Which one do you like most? Why?
  • ‘Work hard and dream the biggest dream you can –you’ll see amazing things happen!’
  • ‘Dreams are all about what’s going to happen tomorrow. Don’t let  your dream get in the way of being the best person you can be –right here, right now.’
  • ‘You need dreams when life gets boring or difficult –they’re what gets you out of bed in the morning and keeps a smile on your face.’

What do you think is the most important ingredient in realising your dreams? Why?
believing in yourself 
hard work 
knowing the right people 

Do you agree with the statement below? Why (not)?
‘If you’re going to succeed in something, you need to get started before you’re too old. If you leave things too late, you lose the ability to change and learn.’

Think of someone you know who is older than you  (a relative, a family friend, a colleague, someone well-known in your country) and has done something  you think is brave or amazing. Tell the members of your conversation group about this person and their achievements.

To illustrate the point you can watch the video What is ambition?

martes, 6 de septiembre de 2016

Homeless in New York: The Other Millennials

They’re recognizable by their overstuffed backpacks, dogs, and cardboard panhandling signs. They’ve been given many labels: gutter punks, crusties, street kids.

In New York, their base is the East Village, that long-time hub for young people on the fringes; when the weather grows cold, many will hitchhike or “hop freight” to warmer cities in the South or out West.

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

1 People are eager to get more and more stuff, according to the first girl.
2 The couple met through a dog.
3 The boy was thrown out of his parents' home.
4 The second girl was homeless as a child.
5 The girl with the dog resents people taking pictures of her.
6 The three of them are happy with their life style.
7 The boy is trying to find himself.

Shut up!
People always want more, I guess. I grew up listening to my stepfather be like, oh if only I had a house. And then he gets a house.  And then it's like, if only I had a car in the garage. Then you get a car, and it's like, if I just had a boat. A lot is lost in wanting more stuff.
I don't want too much. It would be nice to have a lot of things, but at the same time, I feel like if I had them, I wouldn't feel good about having them, so… so why want them, really?
Everybody's trying to help you defeat the homeless problem, get back on your feet, like we tripped a little bit. There's not a place for this to exist, we just do it anyway.
We came here to try and make money to get a new pack.
Once I figured out happiness without money, it seemed really silly to compromise myself to make money.
Do you want me to brush your hair?
How'd we meet?
She came up and talked to my dog.
In Portland.
I'm from Springfield, Missouri, and I'm always welcome in my parents' home. I'm my own person.  I've heard my mom say that a couple times with just a touch of forced pride. 
What pants are you going to wear? Because I'm wearing your pants.
They have a board with a world map on it with pins from where everybody's from that's eaten here.
My parents just lost our house, so my childhood home is now gone.
I'd say most of us have had huge structural failures in their life support system.
It's Charlie.  That's my baby.  Greatly appreciated.  People like the dog.
Can you not take my picture, please? Thank you.
People do that all the time.  They just stop in front of you like you're in the zoo or something and take your picture.
All right.  Now he's ready to play.
We really know how to clear a place, huh? It's OK. Shake it off.
Probably most of us are leaving something we don't like. And then once you start free-falling, everywhere, there's just this culture that will reach out and help you stand back up. Or keep going.
There's a bunch of kids around the corner if you guys want to hang out with them.
If you're sitting on the ground someplace here people don't sit on the ground, they know something's wrong.
Is something wrong?  No.  I suppose I may be taking advantage of that misconception.
Let's hope for better days.
Because I don't give them their money back and explain, oh no, you have misjudged the entire situation.
I actually am OK doing this.
I'm really happy right now.  It's almost my job to just eat that discomfort.
I really don't know what the hang up is. I like working.  I like getting up and having something to do and feeling accomplished, and doing that and getting my paycheck at the end of the week, earning something. But I doubt if I got it, that I'd be satisfied.
Self-exploration is only possible when you have a multitude of different experiences.  If you're doing the same thing over and over again, you don't have any idea who you are in another place, doing another thing.
I just want to enjoy myself. For now, I mean, I plan for the future… I just do it differently.  And the adventure parts a lot of fun.
Yeah, it's all about the adventure.

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