miércoles, 30 de noviembre de 2016

Talking point: Cheap holidays

This week's talking point is cheap holidays. 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.

Read some of the ideas for cheap holidays. Discuss the questions with a partner.
1 What do you think are the pros and cons of each idea?
2 Do you know anyone who has done any of these things? Were they happy with the experience?
3 Think of some other ideas for saving money on a holiday and share them with the members of your conversation group. Which tips are the most useful? Which ideas would you be more willing to try?

1 Go couch-surfing. On websites like couchsurfing.org, local people will let you sleep on their sofa for free. It's not luxury travel, but you'll meet friendly locals and see how they really live.

2 Swap houses. Exchange houses with someone in the place you're going to visit. You stay in their place, and they stay in yours. Websites like homelink.org can arrange this for a small fee.

3 Save on travel costs. Book early for good offers with low cost airlines. Use special services such as InterRail for travelling around Europe by train, or check out car-sharing websites like ridefinder.eu.

4 Eat street food. In many cities, even really expensive ones, you can find food which is both tasty and cheap at stalls in the street. For example, try crépes in Paris, kebabs in Istanbul, tacos in Mexico City. Most places have their own delicious specialty.

5 Try voluntourism. These holidays combine volunteer work and tourism. Help in an orphanage, work on an organic farm, and more — all for free. You'll save money and have experiences you'd never find on a package holiday.

6 Don't move from home: Staycation. A staycation is a period in which an individual or family stays home and visits places within driving distance, sleeping in their own beds at night. Staycations are usually organized around a theme: visiting monasteries, visiting cellars, doing advanture sports.

To illustrate the topic, watch this eHow video where writer Sophie Uliano tells us how to organise a staycation.

Hi, I'm Sophie Uliano, author of "The Gorgeously Green" book series, and today I want to talk to you about how to create a staycation.
Now, what is a staycation, and why on Earth do a staycation? Well, a staycation is as it sounds. You're going to stay at home in your own city instead of getting on a plane and traveling somewhere else.
Why on Earth do that? Well, two very good reasons. One, it's going to save you a tremendous amount of money, and two, it's also going to really reduce your carbon footprint because obviously you're not getting on an airplane and flying somewhere, which is always a very, very positive thing for mother Earth.
So what are the few things, a few key points that make for a very successful staycation? Number one is the planning. Now, make sure that you plan it as you would a regular vacation. So, on a regular vacation you're going to be getting on line and you're going to be picking your hotel. You're going to be picking your activities. You're going to be basically creating an itinerary. So, for your staycation, do exactly the same because if you don't plan an itinerary you're going to end up just slipping back to your hold habits. Oh, I'm just going to go to the office, I'm just going to check my emails, I'm just going to lie around vegging out. No, no, no, no, no, you've got to have that itinerary. So planning, very important, what day are we going to start it, what time of the day are we going to start as a family, two o'clock on Friday afternoon, and then you're going to start planning things like let's plan such and such a museum or art gallery. Let's go to a botanical garden that we've never been before, etc. Now, the next point is to be a tourist in your own city which is, this is what I really like because we never are, so maybe take a tour bus and go and look at sites that you would never even dream of going to see, really fun especially if you have kids. Go and look at local sites that probably everybody comes to your city to see but you never do.
Now I would say that one of the primary rules, there's only got to be one rule on this staycation, and that has got to be turn it off, and I cannot stress the importance of this because I find it's, obviously we all do. Now, it's so tempting just to check the BlackBerry and the emails or the computer, and I think that as a couple or as a family, you have to all sit down and say right, this is what we're going to do. We're going to pretend we're on, it's like a beach in Hawaii where we wouldn't be sitting, hopefully we wouldn't be sitting or checking things, and we're going to pick a time, two o'clock on Friday afternoon when everything will be turned off and phones will all be put away in one place. Now, good for you as a family if you can take three days with absolutely no switching it back on and if you can do that, I promise you you will have a sense of peace and wellbeing that you haven't had for a very very long time.
Now, if there are some really urgent concerns, if you have teenagers that say no way or you have a serious office emergency, then maybe plan a check in time, ten minutes a day when you'll all just spend that ten minutes to check in. So, these are some very simple things that you can do to create a very simple staycation.
Finally, just think about the exercise factor because in your own city or your own environment you can do things like take hikes that you've never hiked before. You can all hire bicycles and decide that for three days instead of even getting in your car you're going to bicycle around your city. So, to have a wonderful relaxing vacation you do not have to get on a plane or book an expensive hotel. Try having a staycation at home in your own city. So, I'm Sophie Uliano and you can always do things yourself for less money and do it gorgeously.

martes, 29 de noviembre de 2016

Changing face of California agriculture

Mark Bittman visits the Central Valley to learn how Hmong farmers can sustain and expand their businesses in the face of huge cultural changes.

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

1 Where and when can you buy a Japanese eggplant in California?
2 How far from the market do the Hmong families live?
3 When did the Hmongs arrive in US?
4 What are some of the challenges that the Hmong farmers are facing?
5 On how much land does Bentley Vang grow his crops?
6 What is the new project Jennifer is initiating with Hmong farmers?
7 What is the other project that she mentions?
8 What are some of the new measures the Hmong farmers have implemented as a result of the second project?

I'd like pretty much everyone to know that I've never had more fun cooking than I have since moving to California. One recent meal was a simple eggplant sandwich, but it wasn't your normal run-of-the-mill globe eggplant but a Japanese eggplant, which you can pick up at almost any decent market in the Bay Area, or for that matter, the state, most times of the year.
At the downtown Berkeley farmer's market there are several Hmong families selling their produce. They drive more than three hours from Fresno, which is home to the nation's largest Hmong farming community.
On a chilly morning, I was joined to the market by UC Berkeley's Jennifer Sowerwine. She helps small scale Hmong farmers sustain and expand their businesses. I sat down with Jennifer to learn more about what she calls the changing face of California agriculture.
The Hmong farmers, they've been farming since they arrived from Laos, beginning in around the 1980s or so. They were able to access small plots of land and adapt a lot of their cultural practices in farming here in the Central Valley, you know, in this hotbed of corporate agriculture. And so they began slowly cultivating a lot of the crops they were familiar with and then they began looking, seeking out markets.
So I was out there in Fresno a couple of years ago, saw some Hmong farmers. And I thought it was really interesting. They were struggling, needless to say. You have all these small farmers doing real food, mostly for their communities, but when you go to standard supermarkets you might as well be in Boise. What's happening with the food in Fresno that small farmers are growing? Where is it getting to?
You're right. The Hmong farmers, you know, are up against a lot of challenging odds. They've had huge challenges with limited English language and limited ability to access connections. So a lot of them have turned to farmers markets where, you know, it's fairly easy to get in. And they produce a lot of these vegetables for their customers all across the state.
One of those farmers is Bentley Vang, who leases land in Fresno County and is a regular vendor at the Berkeley farmer's market. Like many Hmong farmers he fled Laos and the aftermath of the Vietnam War. But since arriving in the US he's been farming, and he now grows a huge number of crops on around eight acres.
Jennifer travels often to the Central Valley to work with local regulating agencies to provide more culturally accessible training for Hmong farmers.
So what's your current work and what are you hoping to get done?
I'm just initiating a new project to look at the impact of the drought on Hmong farmers. So what we're going to do is interview about 150 farmers just to get a sense of what strategies are they using to cope with the drought and the extent to which they're able to access the government support programs. Another project we're looking at, too, is food safety. There already have been some implications where the buyers are requiring the Hmong to have food safety certification, and that's very costly. So we are already seeing evidence that some of the Hmong farmers are losing market.
Wow. Oh, that's delicious.
So we developed a very straightforward training program for a number of Hmong farmers in the Fresno area and it's a very hands-on applied food safety class. I mean, it's just washing your hands, making sure that you have a hand washing station next to the bathroom and you have paper towels. And one of the farmers, because he went through the food safety training, now he's able to sell to Fresno Unified School
District. And so it was really exciting to see the benefits of those classes on some of the farmers instituting a lot of the practices. And we would like to see more farmers being able to access markets like this.
Meanwhile, the stands at Bay Area farmer's markets do brisk business as new and repeat customers like Jennifer and me pick up tender cooking greens, squashes, and yes, the best eggplant.
I love these little eggplant.

1 at almost every market in the state most times of the year
2 a three-hour drive 
3 in the 1980's or so
4 limited English, limited ability to access connexions
5 eight acres
6 the impact of the drought
7 food safety 
8 washing their hands, using paper towels

lunes, 28 de noviembre de 2016

Listening test: Identity

Listen to a BBC radio programme on ethnicity and choose the option A, B or C which best completes each of the sentences below.

1 Neil is
A in his 30’s.
B thin.
C white skinned.

2 If a girl is described as a typical English rose she
A has a pale skin colour.
B is not very beautiful.
C was born in a rural area.

3 New York City actress and playwright, Sarah Jones
A has some European roots.
B is adopted.
C is white on her dad’s side.

4 Alice’s neighbours
A eat meat at Christmas.
B haven’t integrated into British culture.
C have lived in Britain all their lives.

5 In Julian Baggini’s opinion, who we are depends on
A both ourselves and the others.
B the people around us.
C ourselves.

6 The percentage of the UK population who describe themselves as ethnically mixed is
A 0.9%.
B 5.9%.
C 9%.

7 The real percentage of ethnically mixed population is
A around 2%.
B around 3%.
C around 12%.

Hello and welcome. I'm Alice…
And I'm Neil. So, Alice, what do you see when you look at me?
Well, male, Caucasian, early 40s, short auburn hair, bushy eyebrows, thin lips...
OK. So that's how you see me? It sounds like a police report, and I'm not sure I like your observation about thin lips. Caucasian means white skinned and European, by the way.
And today the show is about identity – who or what a person is. And the way people see us forms part of our sense of identity, while another part comes from our ethnic – or racial – identity. Now, Neil, you are, of course, many more things than my physical description of you!
I'm glad to hear that. And it's true, that until you actually hear somebody speak, there are lots of things you can't know about them. For example, which country they're from, what language they speak…
Yes. So looking at me, what would you say, Neil?
I would say Alice that you're a typical English rose.
Thanks, Neil – and English rose describes an attractive girl with a pale delicate complexion – or skin colour – but you can't actually tell where a person is from by the way they look.
Yes, I suppose you're right.
Well, let's hear from New York City actress and playwright, Sarah Jones, talking about her complicated ethnicity.

My family on my dad's side, my grandparents, are from the South. There's some Caribbean in there, black Americans from the South and the Caribbean, and then on my mother's side there are people from the Caribbean, from Ireland but you know Irish American, German American. People would ask me if I was adopted when they saw my mother's white skin – she's actually mixed but she's white from a distance, and I'm black from a distance.

Sarah Jones there. Well, Sarah has family from all over the world! And people think Sarah is adopted because she looks so different to her mum.
But I expect Sarah sees herself as American. New York is where she was born and raised.
That's right. But her grandparents weren't. Do you think you change when you go and live in another country with people different to you?
Yes, I do. My neighbours are Turkish but they've lived in England for 45 years so they've integrated into our culture. They enjoy English things like… our TV soap operas, cooking turkey at Christmas, and drinking tea with milk. So Neil, to what extent does the way other people see us, actually change us? Let's listen to Julian Baggini, a writer and philosopher here in the UK and find out what he thinks.

It seems very evident that our sense of self isn't something that comes entirely from within. And of course we're affected by the way other people see us. And that's one of the most formative things in creating our sense of identity. I mean, I think it's kind of a two-way process that's ongoing. Our sense of who we are is always a response in part to how other people see us.

So Julian Baggini believes the way other people see us is formative in creating our sense of identity – or who we are.
So if enough people see you as an English rose, you might start to see yourself as an English rose, even if you aren't ethnically English.
I'm not so sure. The friend I talked about earlier, she comes across as much more Brazilian than English in the way she behaves. She doesn't have the famous English reserve – but you'd never know it by looking at her. OK, I think it's time for the answer to today's quiz question.
Okey-dokey, fair enough. I asked you: What percentage of the UK population described themselves as ethnically mixed? Is it … a) 0.9%, b) 5.9% or c) 9%?
I said a) 0.9%.
Yes. And you were on the money today, Neil! Well done! According to a survey conducted by the BBC in 2011, when asked about their own ethnic origins, 0.9% of the UK population said they were mixed race, although it's thought that the real figure is 2% more.
And that's the end of today's 6 Minute English.

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

domingo, 27 de noviembre de 2016

Extensive listening: Why open a school? To close a prison

Our kids are our future, and it's crucial they believe it themselves. That's why TED Fellow Nadia Lopez opened an academic oasis in Brownsville, Brooklyn, one of the most underserved and violent neighborhoods in all of New York City — because she believes in every child's brilliance and capabilities.

In this short, energizing talk, the founding principal of Mott Hall Bridges Academy, and a star of Humans of New York, shares how she helps her scholars envision a brighter future for themselves and their families.

Nadia Lopez is the founding principal of Mott Hall Bridges Academy, where she is showing the world how underprivileged communities can beat the odds and create positive institutions that have a global impact.

You can read the transcript here.

sábado, 26 de noviembre de 2016

How to pronounce names in English

Throughout the years we have posted on the online pronunciation dictionaries below, but we have decided to bring them to your attention once again to remind you of these useful tools, which might help you get around the pronunciation of difficult English or foreign names.

What's the correct pronunciation of these names: Rachel Weisz, Rebecca Romijn, Hermione, Granger, Joe Pesci?

The Name Engine provides the correct name pronunciations of athletes, entertainers, politicians, newsmakers, and more. Even well-known names are often pronounced in different ways, leaving you to wonder what the correct pronunciation is. You'll find the right answer here. Better yet, you'll actually hear the right answer.

Another site that can help us get around the problem of pronouncing difficult names is Pronounce it right, run by Patrizia Serra and Laura Mazzoni.

Patrizia and Laura have organised the names by categories and nationalities. In addition, they include categories like 'the newest 100 pronunciations' and even a pronunciation test.

Drop by Pronounce it right and explore it.

Also, do not overlook two great online pronunciation dictionaries, where you might also find how to pronounce a lot of names:

viernes, 25 de noviembre de 2016

Startling number of mental patients behind bars in US

The UK's prison problems, with many inmates suffering from mental illness, are mirrored around the world. In America there are thought to be three times more psychiatric patients in prison than in hospital. BBC correspondent Aleem Maqbool was given special permission to film inside Cook County Jail, Illinois, and to speak to the prisoners at this Chicago prison.

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

1. What is the percentage of American inmates suffering from mental problems?
2. What has Robert been charged with?
3. How many inmates live in the same room?
4. How much bigger is the percentage of incarcerated people with mental problems compared to patients in mental hospitals?
5. What are some of the words André uses to describe the hard life in prison?
6. Is there some provision for psychological treatment in the prison?
7. How can the problem of the massive number of inmates with mental problems be resolved?

This is what checking into America's largest mental health institution looks like. It's not its official role, but when 30% of people being shuttled around from cell to cell and locked away in this jail are thought to have psychiatric problems, that, by default, is what it's become.
We watched as this man was processed into the jail, having his mugshots taken. He was charged with criminal trespass, sleeping on someone else's property 42-year-old Robert is homeless and he has schizophrenia. We saw as he shuffled off into what is a tough world.
In parts of the jail, up to 400 inmates are kept in a single room, where they eat, sleep and live all together. Many, of course, have committed far worse crimes than Robert. Those we spoke to complained of the conditions they lived in, but didn't want to be recorded for fear, they said, of repercussions. But the number of those among the prison population with mental health problems appears to be ever-increasing. It's now thought there are more than three times the number of psychiatric patients incarcerated in America than are in hospitals.
People like Andre. He's been locked up because he stole groceries that he said he needed to eat. He, too, is schizophrenic.
Being incarcerated is no way to live. Not only being kept from your freedom, but surrounded with the people that's here, the people that's here, the violence, the ignorance, the incompetence, the mentality of the individuals that you're locked up with. It can really get hard, it can be dangerous.
There are some areas of the jail that do have the look of a treatment center. Those running this facility have at least recognised that mental health provision needs to be a huge part of what they do. The new warden of the jail is even a psychologist. But what they can't change is a system that means so many people who should be treated in the community end up being in a place like this.
We have people who are sick, not criminals, they’re sick, no different than if they had diabetes, but they have a mental illness. It’s not being treated. Why isn’t it being treated? Well, guess what States throughout the country, throughout the United States, have decimated the mental health programmes, so there are none, people scramble to find anything. So where do these people end up then in mass, in the jails, in prisons. And it's been going on now for decades.
There does seem to be recognition that too many people in America are going to jail, particularly those with psychiatric problems. That can only be resolved with fundamental changes in the justice system here and improved mental health provisions outside prison. But both those things feel a long way off.
Aleem Maqbool, BBC News.

1 30%
2 criminal trespass, sleeping on someone else's property
3 up to 400 inmates 
4 three times bigger
5 violence, ignorance, incompetence, mentalityof the individuals
6 yes
7 by introducing changes in the justice system and improving mental health provisions outside prison

jueves, 24 de noviembre de 2016

Hugging robots and electric cars

Hugging companion robots, long-lasting fuel cell phone batteries and virtual reality headsets - the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is once again showcasing some of the most advanced developments in technology. Vehicle manufacturers have also been keen to show off their sleek concept designs.

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

1. How many people have already ordered Pepper in Japan?
2. How is Pepper different from other digital devices in the way people can interact with it?
3. How can Buddy help when the owner of the house is out?
4. What is the reporter's battery level?
5. How long will the fuel cells developed by Intelligent Energy keep mobile phones charged?

Is this the year you get a robot for your home? In Japan, 7,000 people have already ordered Pepper, a robot which is a companion offering a hug or a high five, rather than a purely practical device.
For us, the robot is very different from the other digital devices, because the way you interact with it is very natural, there is no keyboard, there is no screen that you touch on.
And here is Buddy, another robot interacting with humans in Las Vegas. As well as following you around and looking cute, this robot, due to go on sale later this year, does have some practical uses.
When you're out of the house, Buddy can act as a sort of night watchman, watching out for strangers like me turning up.
Virtual reality is another big theme here with all sorts of VR headsets on show. This one combines the real and virtual worlds so you can see your fingers and use them to spin the Earth around.
Of course, it is all very well having these wonderful new gadgets but they all need power. My phone’s down at 7% right now and anyone with a smartphone knows it is very hard to get through the day without a charge but one British firm thinks it’s got the answer.
Intelligent Energy is developing fuel cells to power all sorts of devices. This prototype is for a smartphone and keeps it charged for a week. It’s bulky now but could be built into the phone one day, and the firm says visitors to the show could see a big change for the better.
Well, they will never have to plug into the wall once. They will have a device that will be charged and powered for the whole week while they are here at CES.
And you… you're saying that’s a realistic prospect within the next five years?
Yeah. most definitely, it is an inevitability.
This electric concept car, developed by a Californian firm with Chinese money, is one product that will never go on sale, but at this show, motoring is yet another industry that the technology firms think they can transform.
Rory Cellan-Jones, BBC News, Las Vegas.

1 seven thousand people
2 there is no keyboard or screen 
3 by acting as a night watchman
4 7%
5 for one week

miércoles, 23 de noviembre de 2016

Talking point: Education

This week's talking point is education. 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.

Look at the photo and describe what you can see.
Are there any similarities between the classroom and any classrooms you have studied in?
How has education changed over recent years?
Do you think these changes have been for the better or for the worse? Why?

Read these sentences connected to education. How many of them can you use to describe schools and universities you know or you have heard of?

1 It's a bilingual school, so some subjects like PE and science are taught in English.
2 It's very traditional. Pupils wear uniforms and there's very strict discipline.
3 It has a big Master's programme that attracts a lot of international students.
4 It has a very good academic reputation. They really push pupils to achieve high marks.
5 It's difficult to get into because the entry requirements are very high, especially for Medicine.
6 It's in a rough area, so they have to deal with quite a few social problems.
7 Lectures are very crowded. and research facilities are a bit limited.
8 They have some alternative approaches to teaching and learning, which the headteacher introduced.
9 The school fees are so high that only wealthy families can afford to send their children there.

Look at the rules below connected to education from around the world. Discuss the questions.
Do you have any of these rules or similar ones in your country?
Which rules do you think are good/bad? Why?
Why do you think these rules were introduced?
What results might these rules cause?
Do you think any of these rules should be introduced (or reversed) in your country? Why?
  • In the UK, if a child skips school, the parents can be fined.
  • In Italy, if you fail three or more subjects, you have to repeat the whole year.
  • In some states in the USA, teachers get increased pay if their students get good exam results.
  • In China, you can't graduate (whatever the degree) unless you pass an English test.
  • In Canada, in some academic jobs you can't ever be fired unless you break a law.
To illustrate the topic you can watch this short film on Durham school.

martes, 22 de noviembre de 2016

Tiger Woods on his comeback and his one regret

Golfer Tiger Woods has a timeline for his return to the game. He sat down for a one-on-one interview with Charlie Rose on Rose’s PBS programme.

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

1. When did Tiger Woods start his foundation?
2. How old is he?
3. What is Tiger's best natural talent for playing golf?
4. Who taught Tiger everything he knows about golf?
5. How was 'being Tiger Woods' a burden?
6. Which is his one regret about life?
7. Who are the people who have supported him most throghout his life?
8. What is his relationship with Elin, his ex-wife?
9. How does his tell his children dad and mom aren't together anymore?

Awkward Tiger Woods has a new timeline for his return to the game. We sat down yesterday afternoon for a rare interview, the first time he’s sat down for an-hour interview. The Tiger Woods Foundation he started with his father is celebrating a milestone. The Tiger Woods Foundation is turning 20. We spoke about his struggle to come back after a series of injuries, the fallout from controversies involving his marriage and the one decision that remains his single biggest regret.

When do you think you’ll come back?
I’m hoping to come back in December.
You are. You believe you can do that? You’ll be ready? Something will happen between withdrawing from Safeway and competing there?
More hard work.
More hard work. Here is what’s interesting about you, more than any golfer, any athlete I know. It’s not just you. It’s us. We can’t let you go. I mean, there’s is a sense that we never…
Oh, you care?
Well, yes. But there is a sense that we never understood how it was to be so brilliant on a golf course. We didn’t get how one could be so dominant in a sport. We didn’t understand how you could lose that, either. You’ve thought about that?
Of course, Charlie. You know, I miss being out there. I miss competing. I miss mixing it up with the boys and coming down the stretch.
You like being Tiger Woods?
I like beating those guys. And that’s why I practice all those hours... is to be ready to take on those guys down the stretch. And do I miss it? Absolutely, 100 percent. And to be at my age now, at 40 years old… I’m the first one to admit: I can’t do the things I used to be able to do. But most people can’t at my age, versus when they were younger. I have to find different ways to go about it.
You have to find other ways to win?
Yes, I do. But I’m naturally a tactician. Even when I was hitting the ball long and blowing over the top of bunkers, that was the strategy. And so, I used my mind, and then eventually the method I used allowed me to master my craft.
But that’s why the mind is so important. I mean, you used your mind. You learned that, you know, at… you learned that from your father, I assume.
You learned mental toughness. You learned how to win. You still have that.
Oh, yeah. That part hasn’t left me. I know how to get it done. I just need to get into a position to get it done.
Some have said to be Tiger Woods was both a gift and a burden. How was it a burden?
Well, it’s a burden in the sense that it… the amount of obligations that I have at a tournament. The anonymity that was lost, you know, one… the… you know, if you look back, the only regret I have in life is not spending another year at Stanford, and I wish I would’ve had one more year.
That’s the only regret?
That’s the only regret, I wish I had.
Of all the things that’s happened to you?
All the things and that’s all.
All the things I’ve learned, all the things that I’ve been through are tough, yes. They’ve been tough, but they’ve been great for me, but I wish I would’ve gone one more year at Stanford.
Would you be the golfer you are without your dad?
You would not be the champion that you became.
Without my dad or my mother. There’s no way. There’s no way. No.
Because your mother stood by you and stood by him.
My mother was so supportive and so loyal, and so great as a mother that there’s no way.
She was also supportive after Thanksgiving 2009 when you had a public humiliation. Some would suggest, obviously, that that humiliation you went through publicly, your private life, exposed, has a lingering effect on your mind and your game.
I’ve heard that, too.
I know.
I look at the fact that, yeah, I’ve… I made a bunch of mistakes. But in the end, Elin is my ex-wife. She’s one of my best friends. We’ve had two beautiful kids.
How do you tell your kids why mama and daddy are not together?
It’s because daddy made some mistakes. Daddy made some mistakes. And I’d much rather hear, have them hear it from me. And so…
So, you’ve sat down and said, I regret what I did and…
No. No. I don’t. I haven’t said that. I said everybody makes mistakes, and the reason why mommy’s living in her house and daddy’s living in his house is because daddy made mistakes, and it’s okay.
You had all the tools, but the mental stuff is so important. I mean, you wanted to win, and you wanted to win. And you also didn’t just want to win. You didn’t just want to win that tournament. You wanted to beat the hell out of everybody who was there. That was the mindset that you had. You were a killer.
Winning was fun.
A killer.
Winning was fun. Beating someone’s even better.
Why is that?
I don’t know. I’ve always had that. You know, if you win a race, you know, you win a meet by a second or two, it sure feels a lot better if you win it by five or six, you know? Striking four or five guys out. But you know what? Throwing no hitters is even better.
Do you believe you’ll get 18 majors?
To be honest with you, no.
You don’t?
You’ve accepted that?
I’ve accepted I’m going to get more.

…our next hour will be about the memorable dinner Tiger shared with Arnold Palmer, and you can see the full conversation tonight on my PBS programme. He is a warrior, whether he’ll be able to come back, only he knows, he believes so, but he also knows he’s got a lot of work to do.
I loved that winning is fun but beating someone is always better. He’s fierce!
That’s why he became what he was. He basically said I don’t have more ability, I don’t have more strength, I don’t have more talent. I just work harder. And that’s why he believes we’ll get him back.
It will be interesting to watch, Charlie.

1 twenty years ago 
2 forty years old
3 he's a tactician, he uses his mind in the game 
4 his dad
5 the amount of obligations, the anonimity that was lost
6 not spending another year at Stanford
7 both his dad and his mom 
8 She is one of his best friends
9 because daddy made some mistakes

lunes, 21 de noviembre de 2016

Listening test: The passport

Listen to a Canadian citizen talking about the problems she once had with her passport and complete the blanks in the sentences below with up to THREE words. 0 is an example.

0 Example:
The woman used to work as a tour guide in Europe.

1 While doing her job, the woman had a lot of _________________ stamps in her passport.

2 By mid 2005, her passport was full and there was _________________ for more stamps.

3 As a new passport was going to take very long, the embassy official _____________________ to the passport.

4 When she arrived at the Toronto airport, she went to _________________ as usual.

5 Before getting her bags, she had to _________________ to another agent.

6 The officer carefully looked through the woman’s passport to make sure it was _________________ .

7 The woman started _________________ when she realised she might not be allowed into the country.

I used to work as a tour guide in Europe. For five summers starting in 2002, I led tours all over Europe. I crossed a lot of borders during that time, so I had a lot of entry and exit stamps in my passport plus a few visas. By the middle of 2005, my passport was full and there was no room for more stamps. I went to the Canadian embassy in London to apply for a new passport. It was going to take too long to get a new passport and I couldn’t wait because I only had a few days before my next tour. The woman at the embassy added extra pages to my passport and told me to get a new one when I was back in Canada.
I flew home a few weeks later. I arrived at the Toronto airport and went to customs and immigration as usual. The border agent didn’t say anything while he looked at my passport, but I don’t think he had ever seen a passport full of stamps with extra pages in it. He made a mark on my declaration card, but the agents always do that, so I didn’t think anything of it. Before I could leave the customs and immigration area to go get my bags, I had to hand my card to another agent, and that was when I discovered the mark on my card meant something. It meant that I had to go to the immigration office, where they decide who gets into the country and who doesn’t.
I didn’t know why I was there, and that made me nervous. The immigration officer didn’t say anything while he was looking through my passport. I guess he just wanted to make sure it was legitimate. He started asking me questions about Canada and my life, but the questions were hard and I couldn’t answer some of them! I started panicking thinking I wasn’t going to be allowed into the country! He ended the investigation with an easy question that I could answer, and then he smiled and told me to go get a new passport.

1 entry and exit
2 no room
3 added extra pages
4 customs and immigration
5 hand her card
6 legitimate
7 panicking

domingo, 20 de noviembre de 2016

Extensive listening: Secrets of the Mona Lisa

The Mona Lisa: bewitching, seductive, world famous. In the minds of millions, she is the ultimate work of art. Yet behind the enigmatic smile, she remains a mystery, fuelling endless speculation and theories.

But is that all about to change? Is the world's most famous painting finally giving up its secrets?

Presented by Andrew Graham-Dixon, this landmark film uses new evidence to investigate the truth behind her identity and where she lived. It decodes centuries-old documents and uses state-of-the-art technology that could unlock the long-hidden truths of history's most iconic work of art.

sábado, 19 de noviembre de 2016

Reading test: Phil Collins marks comeback with European tour

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 Phil Collins marks comeback with European tour.

Read this text and choose the best sentence (A - K) for each gap. Three of the sentences do not correspond to any of the blanks. Gap 0 is an example.

A - after 10 years – 0 Example
B - after nerve damage
C - at which Nicholas played drums
D - his other hits include One More Night and Another Day In Paradise.
E - that enjoyed more UK top 40 singles than any other artist of the 1980s
F - to go out on the road, do some new things
G - which included the hit single In the Air Tonight
H - whose hits include In The Air Tonight and Against All Odds
I - will happen
J - will take place
K - would fill in for his dad on tour

Rock veteran Phil Collins is coming out of retirement (0) … with dates in London, Paris and Cologne. The star, (1) … , will play a five-night residency at London's Royal Albert Hall next June. That will be followed by two dates in Paris and two in Cologne.
Collins announced his retirement in 2011, (2) … left him unable to play the drums, but revealed last year he planned to go on tour. Although he has recovered some dexterity, he said he was unlikely to sit behind the kit on the new tour.
The star, now 65, said he would practice the iconic drum riff to In The Air Tonight on "a drum kit in the garage" as that was "something I feel I should do”. However, he said his 15-year-old son, Nicholas, (3) … .
Collins made a tentative return to the stage at a one-off show for his Little Dreams Foundation last year, (4) … "and all the band were very impressed". The star also sang two of his hits at the opening of the US Open tennis in New York in August.
"I thought I would retire quietly," Collins said. "But thanks to the fans, my family and support from some extraordinary artists I have rediscovered my passion for music and performing. I changed my mind. I'm living with my young kids and they want me (5) … and there's no reason why not."
Collins first came to prominence as the drummer and then frontman of Genesis. He made his solo debut with his 1981 album Face Value, (6) … . But the star played down his image as a 1980s soft-rock balladeer.
The Royal Albert Hall concerts (7) … on 4, 5, 7, 8 and 9 June. The Cologne dates take place on 11 and 12 June with the Paris dates the following week. Tickets go on sale on 21 October. Collins's memoir Not Dead Yet: The Autobiography will be published later this week.

1H 2B 3K 4C 5F 6G 7J

viernes, 18 de noviembre de 2016

Shift in South Korean tradition sees men enter the kitchen

The biggest TV shows in South Korea are about cooking and the stars are men - a sight which would traditionally have been taboo. However, more men in the kitchen does not mean more women in top jobs in business.

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

1. Who dominates TV ratings?
2. How old is Park Kyoun Hee?
3. Why did Park learn to cook?
4. Why did Park's daughter get surprised?
5. What is changing in South Korea as the country modernises?
6. What happens when women reach 30?

Turn on the TV in South Korea and all you see these days is men in the kitchen. Zap through the channels and male celebrity chefs dominate the ratings. Sam Kim is a star in the studio, and in his own restaurant.
You want to spend your time with your family and he goes to a public place. Everyone wants to come to see me and wants to take a picture together. Even if you do house chores, you go outside to empty the trash, everyone wants me.
The rise of male cooking shows how this very traditional country is changing fast. This is a cooking competition for men. Park Kyoun Hee is 65. He had a spell working abroad while his family stayed home in Korea, so he did what his father never did, he learned to cook.
In the past in Korea, men or boys cannot approach the kitchen, and they do not know how to cook. Men cannot live without a wife.
So it was a big surprise when I heard he started cooking classes in here. So it was a very big surprise and I was very delighted to hear that.
Is he a good cook?
Yes, I was really surprised. He is a really good cook.
Men in aprons is one sign of changing gender roles. As South Korea modernises, traditional ideas of what men should do and what women should do are changing gradually.
Men, what a performance, always cooking the big meal for the special occasion. I wonder if these guys ever do the cooking at home.
While the men completed the cooking, the women stayed next door looking after the children. Young women now get jobs and work just as much as men, but the figures show that when they reach 30, they leave work to have children. More men in the kitchen doesn’t yet mean more women in top jobs in business.
Stephen Evans, BBC News, South Korea.

1 male celebrity chefs
2. sixty-five years old 
3. because he worked abroad
4. because he had started taking cooking classes
5. the traditional ideas of what men and women should do
6. they leave work to have children

jueves, 17 de noviembre de 2016

Extinction warning for Africa's rhinos

Africa's rhino population could face extinction, animal welfare experts warn.

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

1. How many rhinos are illegally killed in South Africa daily?
2. What are the horns used for?
3. When could rhinos be extinct if the situation doesn't change?
4. What are private rhino owners setting up to deal with the problem?
5. What sex are the members of the team?
6. How does the anti-poaching team raise awareness about the importance of wildlife conservation?
7. When was rhino orphanage opened?

Another brutal year for the rhino population. The onslaught has taken a turn for the worst and authorities are struggling to contain the carnage. There is no indication that rhino poaching is under control here. At least one rhino is killed by poachers here in South Africa every day. And that has devastating effects on their population.
One private game farmer lost six rhinos in just the last three years. The animals were slaughtered for their horns, which are used in traditional Asian medicine and regarded as a status symbol. The horn is worth more than the animal, even more than an ounce of gold, and there are fears that the rhino could be extinct within ten years.
I think there is a very real chance that the only place our children will see a rhino is in a zoo. Unless something changes quite dramatically. And that, unfortunately…, you know, all the efforts that are on the table now from demand reduction to better global law enforcement to community projects, are long-term projects, these are not things that can be solved overnight. There are no easy answers, there are no easy solutions.
Private rhino owners are setting up security groups to tackle the problem. The Black Mambas anti-poaching unit is an all-female team which patrols private game reserves.
So barely an hour patrolling with the Black Mambas and we have already come across snares, which are traps that have been set up by poachers. This may be a small group for now, but it is hoped that their eyes and ears will play a powerful role in anti-rhino poaching.
What I'm here to teach you about is...
The anti-poaching team visits schools to teach children about wildlife conservation in the hope that the next generation will take conservation seriously for the sake of the environment and the economy.
The most vulnerable victims of poaching are rhino calves. Many of them are taken to a rhino orphanage which was opened three years ago. Humans play their surrogate parents. The calves which have been brought here usually witnessed their mothers being slaughtered by poachers.
They all come in very traumatised, very shaken up, they have lost their mothers, they’ve been betrayed by our species, humans, and now we have to work to gain that trust back.
Three-month-old Gavello sets out on his morning walk with the one person that he trusts. For now, he is protected, but once released back into the wild, his safety is not guaranteed.

1. one
2. for traditional medicine and as a status symbol
3. in ten years 
4. security groups 
5. female
6. by visiting schools 
7. three years ago

miércoles, 16 de noviembre de 2016

Talking point: Houses

This week's talking point is houses. 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.

Where do you think this photo was taken?
What do you think would be good/bad about living in a place like this? Think about:
- the house
- where it is
- the local facilities
- the people who live there
- the way of life
Would you like to live there? Why (not)?

Which of the things below do you have where you live?
Of the things you don’t have, whicn ones would you most like? Why?
Which two things could you most easily live without?

wood floor
back garden
individual heating
swimming pool
open fire

Which things make the biggest difference to the price of a house/ flat in your country?

How many times have you moved in your life? Why?
Have you ever done any redecoration work on your place? If so, what?
Have you ever shared a room? How was the experience?
Have you ever lived in rented accommodation?
If so, what are the advantages and disadvantages of rented accommodation compared to owning your own house/flat?
Are small towns better than cities to live in? Give your reasons.

Photo: Icelandic Meadow Retreat