domingo, 18 de junio de 2017

How to travel the world with almost no money

Many people daydream about traveling the world, but all of them have the same excuse - lack of money. Tomislav, after traveling the world for years with almost no money, shows how it is possible for everyone to do the same, if they really want to.

Tomislav Perko, 29, is a travel writer from Croatia. After a career of a stockbroker, broke because of the financial crisis, he hits the road and turns it into his home. He uses alternative ways of traveling – hitchhiking, couchsurfing, working/volunteering, and manages to wander around the world with just a little bit of money in his pocket, meeting the most amazing people on the way.

Five years later, he publishes a book 1000 Days of Spring and goes around giving lectures about what it means to live on the road. Find out more on his website:

You can read the English subtitles for the talk by activating them on the CC icon on the player.

sábado, 17 de junio de 2017

Reading test: Paris canal is officially clean enough to swim in this summer

This week's reading test is taken fron The Independent article Paris canal is officially clean enough to swim in this summer.

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

A - after test results confirmed the water is clean enough for swimming – 0 Example
B - if it is considered a success
C - pollution has reduced by 25 per cent
D - that means many residents escape the city
E - the much-loved Paris Plages programme gets new water feature
F - the third is reserved for swimmers with a depth of 2 metres
G - to clean up its waterways for years
H - where people were allowed to swim in the Bassin
I - which has been running for 15 years
J - which links the Canal St Martin and the Canal de l'Ourq in the north east of the city

Paris canal is officially clean enough to swim in this summer

This summer Parisians will be able to cool off in the city’s canal (0) … . The city council had already voted in favour of canal swimming last year but the final go ahead hinged on the health tests results. Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo tweeted the good news on Sunday with a message that read: "We promised! From this summer for Paris Plages, you will be able to swim in the Bassin de La Villette."

But water lovers will not have to negotiate the canal without assistance. Three swimming pools will be built bankside along the Bassin de la Villette, (1) … , at a cost of £1.1 million. Water for the pools will come directly from the canals. The Bassin sits along the south side of the Quai de la Loire in the 19th arrondissement. The temporary pool structures will be 90 metres in length and 16 metres across with varying depths. The smallest of the three pools will be reserved for children at 40cm deep. A pool for loungers will be up to 120cm deep and (2) …

The Bassin is one of the locations of the Paris Plages summer beach festival, (3) … . Paris traditionally sees an August exodus due to the combination of uncomfortable heat and tourists. In 2002, then mayor Bertrand Delanoë set up the first beach on the Rive Droite, bringing in sand and deckchairs to provide a haven for overheated city-dwellers. The scheme has been a huge hit and last year there was a popular one-off “open day” event (4) …, preparing the way for the pools.

Paris has been taking proactive steps (5) … . Celia Blauel from the City Council said: “The results show 15 to 20 traces of bacteria per millilitre, while the top limit is 100 per millilitre. We have been taking action for five years and the water is of a high quality.”

The city of lights has also been trying to improve all aspects of life around the river. Last autumn City Hall banned cars and motorbikes from the banks of the Seine, renovated pedestrianised areas and created a 10-hectare park known as the Rives de Seine filled with green spaces and sports pitches. Since traffic was banned (6) … .

The pools are scheduled to open on 15 July and will be accessible until the end of the summer, with the city estimating up to 1,000 visitors a day. They hope to repeat the scheme in 2018 (7) … .

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

viernes, 16 de junio de 2017

Dangerous overcrowding in London homes

An enforcement team targeting overcrowding, discovered twenty-six bunk beds in a four-bedroom house in Wembley. Those living there were mostly migrants. They say that despite the appalling conditions, it's the only way they can afford to live in the capital.

It’s a four-bedroom house, and a team of enforcement officers have arrived at dawn to look inside. What they find is shocking. There are 26 beds.
How many people live in this room, sir? 1, 2, 3 bunk beds, six sleeping spaces…
Another four more in this tiny room.
You pay £55…
£65 per week each.
It was time for the enforcement team to do some maths. What might the landlord earn from this one property in Wembley?
We think there are up to 26 people living in this property, paying somewhere between £60 and £65 a week so we’re looking at an income on this property of around £1,500 a week, which is around £80,000 a year income.
But there was even more to come. Outside, inspectors found a shack, and inside, two more beds and a woman living here, who wasn’t happy with the conditions.
So you can’t stand the mice and the rats scurrying around midnight.
Dreadful, isn’t it, to think that somebody can be exploited to living in what isn’t even a shed, it’s a lean-to.
So how many people might be living in conditions like this across London? Well, Brent Council has a ready prosecuted 30 landlord in a year, and taking in other councils there have been at least 300 raids in 12 months. This house in Kingsbury has now been boarded up. Inside, inspectors found 17 beds. The men living here, thought to be Romanian, have now moved on. In Harrow, there's another four-bedroomed house, not quite so crowded. Until recently 13 people, mainly from Hungary, had been living here, but they are not happy. One of the tenants has armed himself with a baseball bat.
Because I’m gonna protect ourselves.
The tenants here claim their landlord gave them just two weeks’ notice to get out and when they objected, two strange men turned up outside the property.
Walking up and down, punching in the air.
Just jumping around, preparing to the fight.
Harrow Council has now warned the landlord to respect tenants rights. He’s declined to comment, saying it’s going to court. The tenants say they have no choice but to live in conditions like these.
I think because this is the cheapest where you can find a room.
And back at that Wembley house with 26 beds, Bagarald told us he lives here because his job as a carer for the elderly pays so little.
I’m paid twenty pounds per day.
Meish works as a casual builder and downs sixty to eighty pounds a day but says even living here his life is better than back home in India.
This country is money. Our conditions is money.
The landlord here now faces prosecution, but without alternative very cheap accommodation, many thousands of low-paid workers may continue to live in similar conditions.
Gareth Furby, BBC London News.

jueves, 15 de junio de 2017

Shakespearean theatre uncovered in London

Under an old warehouse in Shoreditch, secrets of London's 16th Century Theatreland are being painstakingly uncovered. Thousands of artefacts have been uncovered giving us more clues about Elizabethan life.

Three meters under what was an old warehouse in Curtain Road Shoreditch, secrets of London’s 16th century theatre land are painstakingly uncovered.
It’s a hugely exciting project to be part of, and it’s not just that here we are with all that chance to look at one of this really rare buildings which is connected to people such as William Shakespeare, but it’s also what’s gonna happen to the archaeology at the end.
The Curtain Playhouse was one of London’s first theatres. Historians believe this was the first place where Shakespeare performed some of his plays. The rectangular shape of the stage and the mysterious underground tunnel are puzzling archaeologists.
You realise the size and shape of the stage, but these were doorways that would allow access under the stage so, again, you know, how were actors using that space, how does that influence what you can form on the stage itself. It’s asking a whole range of questions that can really kind of change our understanding of the evolution of early English drama.
We’ve got this lovely drinking jug…
Thousands of Elizabethan artefacts have also been found, including the cones everyone carried for tackling headlights.
These are tops from ceramic pots that would’ve been used to collect theatre-goers takings. They were sealed to prevent theft, and taken to a special office to break them open and transfer the money to a strongbox, hence the term box office, still in use today.
16th century audiences were apparently a rowdy bunch.
There would’ve been thousands coming to these places. We know about pawnshops, in fact there was a famous pawnshop at the door of The Curtain in 1613, we know people were eating and drinking, we know that people would throw rotten apples or whatever at the actors if they didn’t like it.
The Curtain Theatre and artefacts will be on show to the public when an office and housing development opens near the sight in 2019.
Yvonne Hall, BBC London News, Shoreditch.

miércoles, 14 de junio de 2017

Talking point: Culture

This week's talking point is culture. 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.

If you were visiting a foreign country and wanted to learn more about its culture, which of the following would interest you most? Why?
a performance of traditional music and dances
a theatrical performance
visiting a museum
visiting historical and archaeological sites
eating local dishes
attending a local ceremony, like a wedding
graffiti on the walls of buildings

The ancient Greek dramatist Menander (342BC-292BC) said that 'Culture makes all men gentle'. What do you think he meant?

Imagine that your school is organising an exhibition entitled 'Aspects of our culture'. Talk together about the various aspects of culture represented in the pictures. Then suggest two other aspects of culture that you would like to see represented in the exhibition.

Which two activities in the pictures above do you find the most appealing? Why?
In what ways are cultural activities important for society?
What are some of the customs and traditions in your country which are more representative of its culture?

martes, 13 de junio de 2017

Amsterdam, first city of the modern age

It's the fishing village that grew to become one of the largest ports in Europe: capital of the Netherlands, birthplace of the modern stock market, home to Rembrandt, Vincent Van Gogh and Anne Frank.

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

1. What does '60' refer to?
2. Why was the city's location a threat to its residents?
3. What did the residents of Amsterdam pioneer in the centuries that followed after the city's foundation?
4. How many 'cities' within Amsterdam are mentioned?
5. What was the purpose of the piece of wood coming out the top of buildings with a hook on it?
6. What did Rembrandt capture in his paintings?
7. Why are there no curtains in the windows?
8. What can you buy in a coffee shop?
9. What does the Dutch word gedogen mean?

Welcome to Dam Square, the site of a long-ago dam, they put the dam in Amsterdam. It’s the bustling centre of the city. I’m with the Royal Palace right behind me, the perfect starting-off point.
Perhaps the best way to tour this city is by boat, along its 60 miles of canals.
Here it was in the Middle Ages people started coming here and they…
Our guide is Russell Shorto, author of a bestselling history of Amsterdam. From its founding in the late 12th century, this city's location on a river delta that often flooded, posed a challenge for its residents.
And this is the crucial point, they started banding together in small groups in their communities and building dams and dikes and canals in order to control this problem of water, and make it work for them.
Their success in transforming their natural environment led to a re-shaping of their entire approach to life.
They started to realize, you know, we've got something here. We’ve got this… it changed their mentality, and then they built on that.
What the people of Amsterdam built in the centuries that followed were the first businesses of the modern age: shipping, insurance, the first stock exchange, and international trading enterprises, like the Dutch East India Company. As the economy grew, so did the city, with eye-catching details we saw at every turn.
This is the Herengracht, the Gentleman's Canal, one of the great 17th century canals. This is the Golden Age city that we're in. And you had the Medieval City first, and then the City Fathers made this plan where they were going to lay out this ring of canals around it, because the city was expanding so rapidly.
The canals were lined with the townhouses of Amsterdam's thriving merchant class, each adorned with special architectural details, like these stones to show the owner's profession.
If you look over there, those gables, to… the ones… that’s called a spout gable. You see the piece of wood coming out the top with a hook on it, that's a hoist beam. You would bring your goods on the canal up to your door, and then you would hoist them up, and you would store them in your attic.
And it wasn't all business; genius and talent also flourished in the arts during Amsterdam's Golden Age of the 1600s.
Where we are now, the Doelen Hotel, this is Rembrandt area. You see the guys up there with their fluffy era Rembrandt-era hats on.
Rembrandt's paintings of the city's leading citizens, including the famous Nightwatch, fill Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum. He captured all his subjects' outward signs of success, but also, author Russel Shorto says, something more.
He seemed able to paint who you were inside. And if you look at those paintings, you see that, you feel that, you feel these people thought about themselves, for the first time, the way we think about ourselves today.
Along with Rembrandt, there was Van Gogh. There’s an entire museum devoted to his works. And one of the city's most visited sites is the Anne Frank House, where young Anne wrote her famous diary during the two years she and her family hid from the Nazis during World War II.
These days, it seems, there is a refreshing openness about life here. And what’s with the young, no curtains in the windows.
You know, some people say that that is, 'Look, we have nothing to hide.' Or 'We're decent, ordinary people here.’, you know.
Nothing to see here!
Exactly, because, you know…
Another thing an American visitor notices, Amsterdam's tolerant attitude toward everything from marijuana use to sex. The nearly 200 coffee shops here don't just sell coffee; you can also legally buy marijuana, and smoke it on the spot. And there's the famous red light district, where prostitutes legally display their wares. Shorto says the city's tolerance is of long standing.
That is a tricky thing to try to understand, and I don't know if any foreigner, any outsider can really get it, but there's a Dutch word, gedogen, which means -this is my definition of it- it means 'technically illegal, but officially tolerated'.
Put everything we’ve been seeing on our cruise together, and you begin to understand Amsterdam's unique draw.
It's the city itself, it's the city of canals and of canal houses, which are built for individuals. It's a monument to the ordinary individual person and ordinary individual families. This is in many ways the birthplace of our modern sense of ourselves as individuals. This was where that started.

1 The number of miles that canals stretch around Amsterdam
2 It often flooded 
3 The first businesses of the modern age
4 Two: The Golden Age City and the Medieval City
5 To bring the goods from the boats into the houses
6 Both the outward signs of success and the person's inside
7 The younger generation has nothing to hide
8 Both coffee and marijuana
9 Technically illegal, but officially tolerated

lunes, 12 de junio de 2017

BBC News summary

Listen to six short BBC news items and choose the option a, b or c which best summarizes each. 0 is an example.

0. Example:
a) The new book shows you how to purify water by adding copper and silver nanoparticles.
b) The new book's pages are contaminated with copper and silver nanoparticles.
c) The new book's pages are used as filters which can clean dirty water.

a) A new superbug has been found which can’t be cured by antibiotics.
b) A new superbug has been found which can only be cured by Colisten.
c) A new antibiotic has been developed which can cure superbugs.

a) The Solar Impulse has had to make an emergency landing in the Pacific Ocean.
b) The Solar Impulse is exactly halfway through its journey across the Pacific Ocean from Japan to Hawaii.
c) The Solar Impulse is crossing the Pacific Ocean and is unable to land until it gets to Hawaii.

a) An unarmed black teenager has been shot dead at a rally in the US state of Missouri.
b) Two people have been killed after shooting at each other during a rally in the US state of Missouri.
c) People have started shooting guns at a rally in the US state of Missouri.

a) Maria Sharapova has been banned from playing tennis after drugs were found in her body.
b) One of Maria Sharapova's sponsors has stopped employing her after drugs were found in her body.
c) Maria Sharapova has denied using banned drugs after a banned substance was found in her body.

a) The World Health Organisation has published a report about red meat and cancer.
b) The World Health Organisation has published a report which says red meat causes cancer.
c) The World Health Organisation will publish a report on research about red meat and cancer.

a) Researchers say there are only 2,000 types of plants left in the world.
b) Researchers have discovered 2,000 types of new plants but also say many are at risk.
c) Researchers say 2,000 plants are at risk of dying out.

Researchers in the United States have designed an instruction book on how to purify water, with the pages themselves doubling as water filters. Tests show that when ripped out, the pages, which are impregnated with copper or silver nanoparticles, killed almost all of the bacteria counts in contaminated water.
Health officials in the United States say a superbug resistant to all known antibiotics has been found in the country for the first time. The case involves a woman infected with a strain of the e-coli bacteria resistant to Colisten, an antibiotic of last resort.
The team behind a solar-powered plane, which is aiming to fly around the world, say it's past the point of no return on the longest leg of its journey. The Solar Impulse is crossing the Pacific Ocean from Japan to Hawaii – a journey that will take five days. It's risky because there's nowhere to land in an emergency.
There's been an outbreak of gunfire in the city of Ferguson in the US state of Missouri towards the end of a rally to remember an unarmed black teenager, shot dead by a white policeman a year ago. Two people were shot in an exchange of fire. One person was seriously wounded.
The sportswear company Nike says it's suspending its relationship with the Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova after she announced that she'd failed a drugs test at this year's Australian Open. Nike said it would await the outcome of an investigation. Sharapova earlier said she had tested positive for meldonium, a drug used to treat blood flow restriction, and had failed to notice that the tennis authorities had moved it to the list of banned substances last December. She said that she had let her fans down.
The World Health Organisation is due to publish a report today on whether some kinds of meat can increase the risk of cancer. The WHO's agency for research on cancer has been reviewing evidence on red and processed meats.
A new report on the state of the world's plants says that more than 2,000 new species were discovered last year alone including a three-metre-tall orchid and a sprawling insect-eating sundew plant from Brazil. But the researchers from the Royal Botanic Gardens in London warned that a fifth of all plants were at risk of extinction – vulnerable to climate change, habitat loss or disease.


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

domingo, 11 de junio de 2017

Extensive listening: OK GO, How to find a wonderful idea

Where does OK Go come up with ideas like dancing in zero gravity, performing in ultra slow motion or constructing a warehouse-sized Rube Goldberg machine for their music videos? In between live performances of This Too Shall Pass and The One Moment, lead singer and guitarist Damian Kulash takes us inside the band's creative process, showing us how to look for wonder and surprise.

Singer and video director Damian Kulash, Jr. and bassist Tim Nordwind met at summer camp in 1987, and a decade later they formed OK Go. With Dan Konopka as drummer and Andy Ross as guitarist and resident computer programmer, they've built a unique career at the intersection of music, visual art, technology, and science. They're among an emerging class of artists whose 21st-century brand of experimental creativity dissolves the traditional boundaries between disciplines.

'When our band started, music and art were actually different things,' says Kulash. 'Musicians made plastic discs and artists made objects for galleries. Now we all make ones and zeros, so the categorical distinctions don’t make much sense anymore.'

You can read a full transcript here.

sábado, 10 de junio de 2017

Preparing the EOI B1 and B2 exam with Marek Connel

Marek Connell is an English teacher with a YouTube channel who regularly posts videos on aspects of oral English for intermediate-to-advanced learners.

He has put together a collection of videos to help Spanish students of English prepare for the Escuela Oficial de Idiomas speaking exam at intermediate (B1) and upper-intermediate (B2) level by giving them examples of what a native speaker would/could say in the oral paper.

Each video deals with a different topic and in them Marek provides strategies and vocabulary which prove really helpful for students to resort to.

I have compiled a list of all the exam-related videos Marek has made. The B1/B2 tag is Marek's and it is very likely that it doesn't coincide with the level the topic is assigned to in the students' region.

Healthy eating
Leisure time
Living in a city or the country
Illegal downloading
Work conditions

Stress (B1)
Parental Relationships (B1)
Sports (B1)
Animals and pets (B1)
Education (B1)
Stereotypes (B1)

Travelling (B2)
Mad about shopping (B2)
Science and technology (B2)
Breaking the law (B2)
Relationships (B2)
The world of work (B2)
Environment and climate change (B2)

viernes, 9 de junio de 2017

How to save money every day

Making simple changes to your spending can be an easy way to help you start saving. Learn how to save money on everyday expenses like groceries, transportation and entertainment.

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

1. What can you do not to buy on impulse at the supermarket?
2. Why may sales or discounts not be advisable?
3. 'It is advisable to save on the things that are important to us.' True or false?
4. How can you prevent throwing away spoiled groceries?
5. What time of the day is electricity cheaper?
6. How can you find out what petrol stations offer the cheapest fuel?
7. What is ‘a spontaneous meal out’ an example of?

You probably already know some of the basics, like how making your own coffee or bringing your lunch to work can help you save hundreds of dollars a year. If you're doing that, definitely keep it up. But let's look at a few other ways you can save on everyday expenses and how some simple decisions that you make every day can help you save money.

The supermarket is a great place to start because there are a lot of easy ways to cut down on your shopping bill. You may already be doing things like making a list to cut back on impulse buying, clipping coupons, or using apps to find deals, and even looking at the price per unit to help you get the most for your money.
But there are even more ways you can save. For example, when you see a sale or discount, be strategic. Sales and discounts can be great opportunities to save on things you need, but stores often offer incentives for items that a lot of people wouldn't normally get. So it can pay to be selective when considering any discounts you might be offered.
And while you're considering priorities, spend on what's important, save on what's not. For example, for some people, things like organic food or your favourite brands might be important to you; for others, what's important may be different. The point is that it might be worthwhile to spend a bit more on the items you care about but look for ways to save on the things that are less important to you to keep you on budget. Making simple trade-offs like these can help you save money without giving up what's important.
Finally, before you even make a shopping list, consider your actual eating and cooking habits. A good idea is to plan your meals ahead of time or challenge yourself to eat at least one more meal at home each week. This may help prevent you from tossing out spoiled groceries that you didn't eat or ordering takeout because you didn't buy enough food for the week. This can save you hundreds of dollars each year.

Keeping with household expenses and bills, you probably already turn off the lights when you leave a room and unplug gadgets when you aren't using them, right? But there are some other small changes you can make that can help you save even more around the house. For example, did you know that most utility companies charge more for electricity during different parts of the day? Peak hours, like the middle of the day, when more people are using electricity, often have substantially higher rates compared to early mornings or late at night. Doing your laundry or running your dishwasher off peak can likely help you save on your utility bill. You can check out your utility company's website to see if they list their peak hours or contact them directly.

Let's move on to transportation. Gas prices can be unpredictable, but technology could be a way to help you save. There are plenty of websites and apps that can help you locate which gas station in your area might be offering the cheapest prices. And depending on how often you drive and where you live, you may consider ditching your car altogether. Public transportation might be one option, and there are a number of car-sharing programs that allow you to affordably rent vehicles short term. And for the truly dedicated, how about biking? It's certainly a cost-effective and healthy alternative to both driving and public transportation.

It can be easy to follow others into overspending, but try getting creative and occasionally plan activities with your friends and family ahead of time that can help you avoid temptations, like a spontaneous meal out.

Saving money doesn't have to mean sacrificing fun! It pays to take some time to figure out where you're spending and what you're willing to cut back on. You don't necessarily have to do the math on every single decision you make, but being mindful of where your money is going and how simple trade-offs here or there can add up over the long run can help you get creative and find your own ways to trim costs every day.

1 make a list, clip coupons, use apps to find deals, look at the price per unit
2 because many people don’t need those products
3 false
4 by having one more meal at home each week
5 in the early morning or late at night
6 through websites and apps
7 temptations that lead to overspending

jueves, 8 de junio de 2017

Emilia Clarke gives advice to her 18-year-old self

Emilia Clarke gives heartfelt advice to her 18-year-old self. From her career, to dating, to school, to family, and everything in-between, Emilia reveals what she wishes she knew at that formative age.

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

1. What is the journey going to bring for Emilia?
2. What doesn’t she need to do at parties?
3. How does she see herself physically?
4. How does she feel with some relationships?
5. What effect is a heartbreak going to have on her?
6. What does she have to do with the people she really loves?

Dear Emilia,
You just turned 18. So, as your future self, here is some advice that I'd like to give you.

This particular journey that you're on is unlike any one of your friends that you're with right now. What they're doing is gonna bring them joy and happiness, and what you're doing is also gonna bring you maybe a little more struggle, and some joy and happiness as well. There are gonna be times when someone says that dream that you've had, your entire life, the moment when someone says that's not possible, it is. I know you didn't get into drama school this time around, but you will. You have the strength to overcome it.

And you can go to the parties, and you're gonna have fun at the parties, but you don't need to do everything that everyone's doing. You know, ain't nothing wrong with a Diet Coke, ain't nothing wrong.

Eighteen-year-old Emilia, I'm gonna quote this sunscreen song at you. I know you know it. You are not as fat as you think you are. There are some women who look some way, and there are other women who look another way, like, a whole other way. And the way that the other women look, people love, because they look like women.

So, when it comes to relationship advice, there's other things that come along with relationships. You think that they're, like inspecting everything and, you know, and kinda looking at you in a way of, sort of, that makes you feel uncomfortable or judged or whatever it is. Chances are they're not. Chances are they're just super happy to be there.

You're gonna feel some serious heartbreak. You're gonna feel some, like, proper... some proper things. And the reason why it's gonna hurt so much... It's because that heartbreak is gonna make you doubt yourself. You put yourself out on a plate and you bare everything, and someone says that they don't really like that. So that makes you feel... like you're not worth it. But you are, and there's lots of people who are gonna tell you that you are worth it.

The people in your life, when all the lights are off, the real people who you really love, just hug them, like, every day.

Okay. So parting words, little Emilia... littler Emilia, I'm just gonna say that, um, you know, it's autumn right now, because it's October, but... winter is coming. And wear sunscreen!

Love, Emilia

1 struggle, happiness, joy
2 everything that everyone is doing
3 fat
4 uncomfortable or judged
5 it’s going to make her doubt herself
6 hug them every day

miércoles, 7 de junio de 2017

Talking point: Travel

This week's talking point is travel. 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 you like travelling? Why (not)?
What is the difference between a tourist and a traveller?
Look at the list of some benefits of travelling. Rank them in order of importance.
broadens your mind
enables you to get first hand experience of new places.
enables you to learn about new cultures
gives you the opportunity to try out foreign cuisine
helps you get away from your daily routine

Look at the following types of holidays.
Which of them do you have experience of?
Which of them do you find most appealing? Why?
A cycling holiday
A skiing holiday
A working holiday
A relaxing holiday
An adventure holiday
A camping holiday
A cruise
A city break

People now travel more than in the past. Why do you think this is?
‘Getting there is half the fun.’ How far do you agree with this?

To illustrate the topic you can watch Alain de Botton's documentary The art of travel.

martes, 6 de junio de 2017

88-year-old retires and lives on cruise ship

An estimated 24 million people are expected to take cruises this year. One report showed more than a quarter of them are age 60 or older, and more than one-fifth are retired. For many of those passengers, the ships are like a second home, but for one woman, ocean liner Crystal Serenity is her only home.

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

1. How often does Lee Wachtstetter talk to her family?
2. How long has she been living on the Crystal Serenity?
3. What is the last thing Lee’s husband told her?
4. What does she say about her grandchildren?
5. Why does she love it when everybody goes touring and she stays on board?
6. What does ‘5.15’ mean?
7. How much do it cost for Lee to live on the ship?
8. How long did it take a ship to cross the Northwest Passage when it was first done?

An estimated 24 million people are expected to take cruises this year. One report showed more than a quarter of them are age 60 or older, and more than one-fifth are retired. For many of those passengers, ships are like a second home, but for one woman, the ocean liner is her only home. CBS News travel editor Peter Greenberg met her while covering another story on board. Peter, good morning.
Good morning, Nora. Part of the reason cruises are so popular for retirees is because so much is taken care of for them, the cooking, cleaning, entertainment, all the activities. But when the cruise is over, most of them return home to their regular lives. But Lee Wachtstetter showed us how she found a way to travel the world without ever leaving home.
Did you miss me?
I did.
You could say 88-year-old Lee Wachtstetter has earned her sea legs.
How often are you talking to the family at home?
I talk to them every day.
I’ll talk to them twice a day if it means I don’t have to be there.
Aboard the Crystal Serenity, she’s known simply as Mama Lee and she’s been living there for the past eight years.
I don’t have to shop, I don’t have to cook, I don’t have to do anything. I do what I want, when I want, if I want.
She and her late husband, Mason, took nearly 100 cruises together before he died in 1997.
The last thing he ever said to me, this was the day before he died, ‘Don’t you quit cruising.’ I started frequent cruising. But I got very, very tired of packing and unpacking. So I said, there’s got to be a better way to do this.
And the answer was, how about I don’t leave it at all!
Mama Lee sold her house in Florida, along with her car and most of her belongings, and never looked back.
Everybody knows her, she knows everybody.
Birger Vorland is captain of the Crystal Serenity.
She’s a little bit of a diva, in a good way. She gets along with her day, and she makes herself busy, and she has her things and her opinions, and she’s a wonderful person.
At your age, there are a lot of people who would say, ‘Well, I’m going to go to a retirement place.’
Oh, no, no, no. [Really?] Not me. Why do that? I’m now a great-grandmother. My grandchildren are having children. But I don’t want to be there every minute for that.  I love babies, but they grow up!
Mama Lee has now done more than 240 cruises around the world, and visited hundreds of different ports. But where the ship is going? Irrelevant. For Mama Lee, these days, the ship is the destination. 
Everything is ‘Been there, done that.’ If I’ve been there and done that, I don’t go off the ship. And I love it when everybody goes touring. I got the whole ship to myself with all the help.
You’ve got this figured out!
Oh, absolutely.
And you don’t really get off the ship anymore?
What for?
Cruise director Rick Spath considers himself part of her extended family at sea.
That’s Lee, she doesn’t care where the ship goes, she loves to dance her way around the world.
I dance every single day at 5:15, 7 days a week.
Do you ever sit back and think about what your life would be like if you weren’t on the ship?
Very boring. I think I live a fairy tale existence. It’s not a real life, I realize that. Not everybody does this. But a lot of people could.
I still think I do the same dance at seven every dance.
Yes, you do, but that’s okay.
Thanks, Charlee.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. How much does it cost Lee Wachtstetter to do the cruise? He estimated about $175,000 a year. And by the way, since she goes on the cruise wherever the ship goes, she’s one of a thousand passengers who spent $22,000…, that’s the other story we’re covering, this ship was actually the largest ship ever to attempt the Northwest Passage. They started sailing from Seward all the way north going 500 miles north of the Arctic Circle back to New York. It’s a thirty-two voyage, and to put this in perspective, when it was first done in 1903, it took them three years.
Is there one place she will get off the ship?
Yes, when the ship goes into dry dock, here’s what happens, it only happens once every like six or seven years, they literally pull up to the harbour, pull up to the dock, there’s another ship there and they walk her 50 feet and she goes on another ship.
Where does she get her doctor’s appointments and stuff like that? I mean, does she… I mean…
So far she’s dancing.
Yeah, that’s great!
On the Crystal Serenity. Peter, thank you.

1 every day
2 for eight years
3 don’t you quit cruising
4 they are having children now. She’s a grandmother
5 because she has the ship to herself
6 the time she dances at every day
7 $175,000 a year
8 three years

lunes, 5 de junio de 2017

Listening test: A description of Anuta

Listen to some extracts from BBC's From Our Own Correspondent about the remote Pacific island of Anuta and choose the heading A-I which best corresponds to each extract. 0 is an example.

A - A long and boring journey – 0 Example
B - A principle applied in all areas of their life
C - How to solve conflicts
D - Not a varied menu
E - Opposing worlds
F - Some misunderstandings
G - The most welcoming community
H - We might not go back
I - Youth problems

Sailing from Santa Cruz, in the eastern Solomons, it took us five days to reach Anuta. It was one of the most tedious journeys I have made, the continuous pitching of our small yacht making it impossible to either read or write. So it was with some relief when the speck of land that was Anuta finally appeared on the horizon.

We were their first visitors in two years. For a moment though, the feeling of isolation was overshadowed by Joseph’s T-shirt, which was emblazoned with the words ‘Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas’. It would be hard to imagine a greater contrast between two places. Las Vegas, the capital of excess, and little Anuta where even a mirror is considered a luxury. But while Anuta’s remoteness may have severely limited the quantity of consumer goods reaching the island, its isolation has forged a community spirit that would be very hard to beat.

The Anutans have their own word for this, aropa, which means love and compassion. It is an ideology that is applied to almost everything they do. You can see it at work in the way food and tasks are shared, but it goes further than this. Bizarrely they even adopt each other’s children. Joseph’s oldest daughter was adopted by a couple who gave him their son in return a few years later. When I asked Joseph about this, he simply said that it wasn’t an issue as Anutans saw children as communal. What was important was that everyone who wanted a child had one.

During our two-week stay we had at least one meal in at least every one of the 24 households. Sitting on the floor of each hut we were served communal dishes of fish and glutinous puddings of taro or manioc, all wrapped up in forest leaves. The meals, prepared by the women, were virtually identical from one hut to the other, but this was all about aropa, affection through sharing.

When I asked Joseph what the biggest changes have been in the last 20 years, he said ‘young people playing ukuleles’. Was this a problem? I asked, rather jokingly. ‘Well’, he replied more seriously, ‘before the ukuleles the younger generation would dance every evening. Now it is rare’. I got the same response from at least half a dozen other adults. As trivial as this sounds, it does make one think about our own, supposedly advanced, society. We worry about our children getting in with the wrong crowd, taking drugs, drinking, teenage knife crime, Anutan parents worry about their kids playing homemade ukuleles.

On the day we left, a group of men came onto our yacht and, with little notice, broke into their farewell song, ‘Sorrow come to us’. One of the chorus lines was: ‘Sorry we will never see your faces anymore’. It was enough to bring a lump to my throat. The lyrics had a point however. Anuta’s isolation has meant that few visitors ever return. But then, this is probably just as well. The beauty of the Anutan way of life comes from the relative absence of outside influence.

In the end it was easy to see what the island’s 300 people saw in the place. As a hardened traveller I do not say this lightly, but the Anutans were the most harmonious and hospitable people I have ever met.

1E 2B 3D 4I 5H 6G

domingo, 4 de junio de 2017

Extensive listening: Poverty isn't a lack of character; it's a lack of cash

"Ideas can and do change the world," says historian Rutger Bregman, sharing his case for a provocative one: guaranteed basic income.

Learn more about the idea's 500-year history and a forgotten modern experiment where it actually worked — and imagine how much energy and talent we would unleash if we got rid of poverty once and for all.

Rutger Bregman is one of Europe’s most prominent young thinkers. The 28-year-old historian and author has published four books on history, philosophy and economics. His History of Progress was awarded the Belgian Liberales prize for best nonfiction book of 2013. The Dutch edition of Utopia for Realists became a national bestseller and will be translated in 16 languages this year. Bregman has twice been nominated for the prestigious European Press Prize for his journalism work at The Correspondent. His work has been featured in The Washington Post and The Guardian and on the BBC.

You can read a full transcript here.

sábado, 3 de junio de 2017

Reading test: Russian explorers find 'swamp' of Soviet money

Read the BBC article Russian explorers find 'swamp' of Soviet money and choose the option A, B or C which best completes each gap. 0 is an example.

A group of explorers in Russia have found around a billion roubles in old Soviet money at an abandoned mine, but it's all completely (0) … .

The group from Saint Petersburg, who publish a blog on abandoned sites across Russia, (1) … the money after following rumours that large quantities of cash (2) … in old missile silos near Moscow after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Komsomolskaya Pravda news website reports. After travelling for several hours across rough terrain in Russia's Vladimir region, they found the mine literally overflowing with cash.

The site contains an estimated one billion roubles ($18m; £13.5m at current exchange rates, or $33.3m at the "official" Soviet rate in 1991) in Soviet Union banknotes of various denominations issued between 1961 and 1991, all (3) … legal tender in the Russian Federation. The mine (4) … in recent years, leaving what was essentially a swamp of banknotes bearing the face of Vladimir Lenin, the explorers' YouTube channel shows.

According to their (5) … of events, elderly locals told the team about the mine, but said that nobody (6) … go near the place because it was linked to the Soviet Union's ballistic missile programme, and contaminated with radiation. (7) …, Geiger counters showed that this was not the case.

Team member Olga Bogdanova said that the sight of such "riches" was difficult to convey in words. "There's delight and some sadness, (8) … you realise that this is a bygone era which will never return, that all this money would have been more than enough for anybody," she said. Just 100 roubles would have been a very good salary back in Soviet times.

Fellow explorers Anton Alekseev and Sergey Volkov were (9) … interviewed on Rossiya1 television, where the presenter noted that the (10) … was dumped following a government decision at the end of the Soviet Union, and that this might be one of at least three such sites across Russia.

The video has caught the imagination of social media users, many of whom wish that the money was (11) … legal tender. "I would dive in there like Scrooge McDuck," says one user, while another exclaimed, "I wish I (12) … have a time machine, return with a pack of those banknotes and buy myself a controlling stake in Google, Gazprom, Rosneft, and never work again."

0 Example:
A. priceless
B. valuable
C. worthless

A. came across
B. came round
C. came up to

A. had been dumped
B. have been dumped
C. have dumped

A. any longer
B. any more
C. no longer

A. drowned
B. flooded
C. inundated

A. account
B. narrative
C. tale

A. could
B. dared
C. tried

A. Although
B. Despite
C. However

A. because
B. even though
C. so

A. additionally
B. incidentally
C. subsequently

A. bucks
B. cash
C. currency

A. already
B. still
C. yet

A. can
B. could
C. will

Photo: BBC

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

viernes, 2 de junio de 2017

I live in an airplane

Bruce Campbell lives in an airplane. The Portland-based aeronautics enthusiast makes his home in a converted Boeing 727 that was once used as a Greek aircraft until the mid-1960s and now resides in a forest near Portland.

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

1. What are jetliners basically, in Bruce's opinion?
2. What are their qualities as homes?
3. Why might some people object to living in a jetliner?
4. When does Bruce retract the aft (at the back) airstairs?
5. Where does he sleep?
6. How many jetliners retire per day?
7. What do we do with them?
8. What do people ask Bruce about the jetliner where he lives?

Jetliners are basically flying homes. It's a sealed pressure canister. It's incredibly strong. It will last practically forever.
I'm Bruce Campbell, and you're inside the cockpit area of my 727 home. I can appreciate that some folks might feel a bit isolated or that it might simply strike them as an unusual living environment. But for me, it's always felt completely natural.
The entry is via the aft airstairs, which are retractable and are retracted whenever I leave for an extended time.
The aft area of the aircraft now is my living space. My very primitive shower is located there. The two natural aft lavatories are both functional.
Sleeping quarters are there, in the form of a simple futon sofa. And a bench, where I spend lots of time embellishing elements of the aircraft.
Jetliners retire at the rate of about three per day. For the most part, I think we shred them. And then we spin around 180 degrees and make a home, after having just shredded an aerospace class home sized structure.
If you were an extra-terrestrial looking down on this behaviour, you'd wonder whether this species has all its marbles in place or not.
People have asked me whether it crashed here, and I simply restored the wreck. That's an odd thing to hear. It's completely impractical.
Next time you're in a jetliner, close your eyes for a moment, in your mind, remove all the seats and all the other people and then open your eyes with that vision and consider the expanse of the living room.
It's a good environment, it really is.

1 flying homes 
2 incredibly strong, will last forever
3 they might feel a bit isolated or find them an unusual living environment
4 when he leaves for an extended period of time
5 on a (futon) sofa
6 three
7 we shred them
8 whether if crashed there and he restored it

jueves, 1 de junio de 2017

Bird’s Eye View Of Norway’s Picture Perfect Lofoten Islands

While leading a photo tour with fellow photographer Magali Tarouca, Portuguese photographer Joel Santos dedicated as much time as possible to documenting Norway’s Lofoten Islands famous landscape with his drone camera.

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

On a recent visit to Norway, photographer Joel Santos was able to capture the beauty of Lofoten. Lofoten is an archipelago, known for its incredibly dramatic (1) ... . And though it (2) ... within the Arctic circle, because of the Gulf Stream, the weather here is much (3) ... than other parts of the world, which are found on a similar latitude.
The landscape here is characterised by snow-capped (4) ...-..., stretches of snow covered beaches and (5) ... inlets.
For over 1000 years, the islands of Lofoten have been at the center of Atlantic cod (6) ..., especially during the winter months, when cod migrate south to spawn, right off the coast of the area.
The picture perfect cherry coloured (7) ... ... of Reine and Hamnøy were particularly (8) ... for Joel, who had always being intrigued to see the dramatic fjords.
During his visit, Joel was able to make the most of the (9) ... as the daylight during April starts from the very early hours of the morning and lasts until 11 o’clock at night.

1 scenery
2 lies 
3 warmer
4 mountain peaks
5 sheltered 
6 fishing
7 fishing villages
8 captivating 
9 landscape

miércoles, 31 de mayo de 2017

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.

Do you think the education system in your country is satisfactory?
Why (not)?
How do you think teaching and learning will change in the years to come?
How important is a good education in order for someone to be successful in life?
Do you think that academic success leads to happiness?
How difficult do you think it is to work and study at the same time?
If you had to choose between attending a course at university and doing a course online, which would you prefer and why?
What are the advantages and disadvantages of taking an online course?

Look at the following objectives of education. Prioritise them in order of importance:
Acquisition of knowledge
Building of character
Career orientation
Creation of a competent workforce
Creation of individuals with a desire for learning
Development of skills
Instilling of values and ideals

Discuss these quotes:

martes, 30 de mayo de 2017

Gisele Bündchen talks modelling career, new book and family

After nearly 20 years, Gisele Bündchen remains one of the world's most famous supermodels. Since 2002, Bündchen has been the most high-paid model in the world. But she says her successful career is just a chapter of her life.

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

1. Gisele is going to stop modelling altogether.
2. Gisele started modelling at 17.
3. Good looks have been the best asset for Gisele to become the best top model.
4. Gisele herself cleans her own apartment.
5. Gisele was discovered in a disco.
6. Gisele is now a totally different person from when she was a child.
7. Gisele the model and Gisele the person are very much alike.
8. At 25 Victoria Secret offered her a $20 million contract.
9. Gisele was unable to bring together being a Vogue model and being a catalogue model.
10. Gisele is as competitive as her husband.
11. Tom, Gisele’s husband, has three children.
12. For Gisele’s father, relationships is the most important thing in life.
13. Gisele doesn’t exactly know what she’s going to do in the future.

After nearly 20 years, Gisele Bündchen remains one of the world's most famous supermodels. At 35 she’s releasing a limited edition book through the German publisher Taschen. The collection of photos of Gisele already sold out despite a 700-dollar price tag. We spoke with her about her book, her family and turning the page on modelling.
Since 2002, you have been the most high-paid model in the world for a long time, 13 years. But there is a sense that it's a moment to refocus, to rethink who you are and where you’re going.
Yes, for sure. I think, you know, I'm so grateful to be where I am right now because I feel fulfilled. I feel like I gave in a lot of energy and dedication and focus to that, you know, and I think, 20 years is like more than half my life doing that, I feel like it’s long enough, you know, and I feel like I still have some contracts and they're going to be still going forward, there’s still some things I am going to be doing, but it's not my focus by any means anymore.
This is your life!
Well, this is a chapter…
A chapter of your life!
In her new book, Gisele Bundchen tells the story of Gisele the model.
How young were you then?
I was like 17.
It captures her transformation from a fresh-faced teenager…
Barking stocks, as you can see I had no idea of fashion and I really didn't care, I was just like, hey…
… into the world's greatest supermodel and more.
Oh, that’s Vida!
Ah, there's your dog, your famous Vida. She’s no longer with us?
When did she die?
Sorry! Three years ago.
It is a personal photo album that's also a work of art.
This one was Alberto Marcos…
It features every great photographer in the industry.
This was Helmut Newton.
Fashion photographers have always loved her but she says it has nothing to do with her looks.
Are you the best because of the look that you had…
Not at all.
…or because… No.
I don't think so, not at all.
Is it because what?
I think because of my personality, yeah, I think I've never complained, you know, I think that if they say…
That’s what they say?
…if they say, Giselle, go there, it's below zero in a bathing suit and start jumping and I'm like that's what I do, you know, hey Giselle, it's a hundred degrees in the Death Valley, go shoot like, you know.
Because you want it so badly?
Because I wanted to do my best. If I choose to say yes to something and if somebody is putting their trust in me, I don't want to disappoint anybody, I'm just not that person, you know. I think I'm a person who strives to be the best that I can be. I think if I'm going to clean my apartment, you're going to be able to eat on the floor. I mean, I'm that person, you know, what I'm saying?
Yes, I do know what you’re saying.
Whatever it is that I'm going to make the time to do it, I'm not going to be there if I can’t show up a hundred percent.
She was only 14 when she was discovered in a shopping mall in Brazil. She was a tall, lanky tomboy who had no interest in fashion but five years later the Brazilian beauty was on the cover of American Vogue, the days of heroin chic were declared over, curves were in.
You changed the face of modelling. It was no longer Moss, it became Bündchen.
I think I was in the right place at the right time, you know, I think I was lucky.
…where the world was ready to switch to a different kind of look.
Yes, and then I was there.
And you were that look.
I was their look. I felt like I was at the right place, at the right time, with the right attitude. You have to remember there was always a part of me who felt like the underdog, right, so I'm like, here I am and people giving me a chance…
Because as kid you were gawky, and you olive oil and you were all that.
And I think that sticks with you. There's a part of that that no matter how… I'm telling you there is a part of that that stays with you.
It’s not unusual. We carry what we learned in our childhood throughout our life.
Okay, but did you begin to think inside I'm pretty… Because there is some people who never believe they're pretty because growing up they never thought they were pretty.
But you began to realise.
I began to realize that I had something to… that I could do with this.
There was some magic that happened between you and a camera.
Yes, I feel very comfortable with the camera. And I think the reason why I felt very comfortable is because I've always separated her, Gisele, this idea.
The persona.
The persona, then Gisele the goofball me, tomboy. You know what I'm saying, because I think the fashion wanted to, create this ideal of glamorous and sexy and all that stuff.
And you understood that and you were willing to serve that thing.
Yes, I was. Yes.
And it served her well. She's graced more magazine covers than any other model ever. And she’s earned more money than any of them too. Her first big break came when Victoria Secret offered her a $25 million contract. She was just 20 years old.
At that time it was like either you are a Vogue model or you are a catalogue model. So it was a big decision. Even though it was a lot of money, you know, it was like, I remember talking with my agent, I remember she said, you know, this is a decision you have to make because you might never do a Vogue cover again, I was like well, I have to take a chance of never doing fashion again because when am I going to make $25m again, you know, I have to take that chance.
Ever since she’s been navigating the world of celebrity, thanks in part to her relationship with a certain quarterback who would later become her husband and the father of her two children.
So when you met Tom Brady [Yes.]
What did your instinct say?
I said he was, you know, he is a very kind man.
You keep saying that.
Because he is.
Kind is what…
He's kind, you know. He’s… You know him.
But he had as much competition and competitive instinct as you did. He was every bit as competitive as you were. Was that part of the attraction?
I would say he's much more competitive than me. I would say I'm more a collaborative person because in my job, it's about collaboration.
In his job too. Why do you think those big linemen are up there?
I know but he's kind of the boss in some way, you know. Not the boss but he kind of has to dictate. He says now guys this is smack something, I don't know, some language, dot dot, I don't know what, some language.
Whatever he says.
Whatever he says, football language.
And then, you're madly in love with Tom. He's sort of scampering up to Boston every time he can. And then you found out that his former girlfriend is pregnant.
It was a challenging thing because here I am, you know, thinking I'm dating this guy, we met and we started dating. And everything is great. And then this happens, right. So I felt like I didn't know what to do. It was kind of one of those moments of like do I just run away or do I… I think now eight years later I couldn't have asked for a sweeter bonus child.
How tough was it when Tom had to go through what he just went through?
I think we have been through a few tough times together. I think that is when I think that is when you know who are your friends and who loves you. I think my father always said the quality of your life depends on the quality of your relationships. And I think no matter how challenging it was, we always have been supportive of one another and I think that's the most important thing you can have in life, you know, a support system and love.
Here's what I think is interesting about you, among many things. One is your drive; two is your sense of looking for meaning; three is that you are at a place in which you don't quite know where the future is. [Yes.] That’s rather exciting.
That is a beautiful thing.
It is scary a little bit. But it's exciting. Because you have the opportunity, because, you know, when you have no definition exactly what it is [It’s better.], everything is possible. Miracles happen that way. The magic happens that way. And I worked very hard since I was 14 years old to be it today in my life at this place to make that choice, you know.
Really nice interview, I mean we've never heard from that answer that sort of context before really nice.
And she’s very candid, very, very candid.
It was very interesting. An unlimited popular edition of the book will be released next spring.
There's lots more of this interview I know you're going to have it on your PBS show, right, and also Charlie asked Bündchen about the paparazzi and we'll post that portion of their conversation at CBS This
I like what she said that her dad said the quality of your life depends on the quality of your relationships, that is so true.
Very nice, Gisele.
What does she want to do next, whatever she wants to do so.

1F 2F 3F 4F 5F 6F 7F 8F 9F 10F 11T 12T 13T

lunes, 29 de mayo de 2017

Listening test: Are you clever

Listen to a segment of BBC's Today where John Farndon is interviewed about his book Do you think you are clever? Complete the blanks in the sentences below with up to THREE WORDS. 0  is an example.

0 Example:
One way to know how clever you are would be answering some of questions that are asked in Oxford or Cambridge entrance exams.

1 An example of a serious question is whether it is more important to focus on poverty at ____________ .

2 To weigh your own head, you find the volume of your body by immersing it ____________ , first without your head, then with it.

3 Students are completely shocked by ____________ and find them easier to remember.

4 These questions don’t normally have right or wrong answers but simply want to provoke you ____________ a bit.

5 The writer, John Farndon, thinks that in ____________ people would be driven into panic by some of these questions.

6 The reporter says that adults don’t get asked many questions like these, that it is ____________ where you get a lot of these questions.

7 Another example questions the reporter gives at the end are, If you’re not in California, how do you know it exists? Why are big fierce ____________? Are there too many people in the world?

8 When later in life you have young children and you get asked questions, the answer is always ____________.

Now, do you think you’re clever? One test would be how successful you are at answering some of the daft questions that are asked in Oxford or Cambridge entrance exams. John Farndon has compiled a book called Do You Think You’re Clever? which simply takes a bunch of those questions and he tries to answer them. He’s with us now. Good morning.
Good morning.
Let’s have some examples. There are the sort of deep ones like does a snail have a consciousness? There are the serious ones like is it more important to focus on poverty at home or poverty abroad? And there are the really interesting taxing ones like how would you weigh your own head? John Farndon, how would you weigh your own head?
Well that’s just a tricky one, it’s not one of those ones that you’re going to be asked in a scientific exam very often. Weighing it on a scale is not very practical because there’s a lot of muscle contraction, you can’t chop your head off and weigh it either, so the way round that is to use the volume, you find the volume of your body, you immerse your body in a bath to find out the volume of your body without your head and with it, and then essentially you weigh your whole body, you know what the proportion of your head is, and you can work it out from that.
Got it, it’s the use of water, very clever. These are real questions, are they? Because there are some apparently quite silly ones, aren’t there?
Yes, there are indeed, yes they are. Basically in fact quite often the silliest ones are the ones that have been memorable. They’ve all been compiled, they were compiled by the publisher and various other things, because the students who’ve been asked these questions are completely shocked and so they remember them, they report them and say, God did you remember the question I was asked, I was asked that really silly, what happens when you drop an ant?
So normally there aren’t right or wrong answers to a lot of these. [No.] They’re kind of provoking you to think a bit.
Absolutely not.
That may be the fascination of why a book like this is such a great book. You can hardly stop yourself wanting to just see the next question?
Absolutely, I think that’s one of the interesting things. I don’t think in an interview situation you… most of us would be driven into sheer panic by some of these questions, but out of that context it’s great, because what they do is they make you think along different lines, the more bizarre the question, the more thought-provoking it is.
And actually I suppose adults don’t do questions that often, do they? [No.] I mean basically you get a lot of questions at school, don’t you? And then you grow up and...
Absolutely. I mean even at school you stop thinking, but the nice thing is that actually we don’t, it’s so easy just to give a stock response to answer, and it’s the easy way out, so it’s actually very nice just to kind of relax and think, oh I can come up with an answer like this.
If you’re not in California, how do you know it exists? Why are big fierce animals so rare? Are there too many people in the world? Full of things. You’re appearing at the Oxford Literary Festival talking about it?
Yes indeed.
John Farndon, thank you very much. Thank you very much.
You do get asked questions later in life at one stage, and that is when you have young children, and the answer is always ask your mother.

1 home or abroad
2 in a bath
3 silly questions
4 to think
5 an interview (situation)
6 at school
7 animals so rare
8 ask your mother

domingo, 28 de mayo de 2017

Extensive listening: What you can do to prevent Alzheimer's

Alzheimer's doesn't have to be your brain's destiny, says neuroscientist and author of Still Alice, Lisa Genova. She shares the latest science investigating the disease — and some promising research on what each of us can do to build an Alzheimer's-resistant brain.

Lisa Genova wields her ability to tell a story and her knowledge of the human brain to talk about medical conditions like Alzheimer’s in warmly human terms.

Her writing, often focusing on those who are misunderstood, explores the lives of people living with neurological diseases and disorders. A bestselling author, her work has been transformed into an Oscar-winning film, Still Alice, but the real triumph is Genova’s ability to help us empathize with a person’s journey we otherwise couldn’t even begin to understand.

Her newest book, Inside the O’Briens, is about Huntington’s disease.

You can read a full transcript here.

sábado, 27 de mayo de 2017

100 Ways to improve your English

A few weeks ago Jeffrey Hill, the person behind The English Blog, started a number of posts under the title 100 Ways to Improve Your English.

Originally, Jeffrey intended to "post each 'way' to the blog as I finish it", having published six posts so far:

no 1 way was on Twitter.
no 2 way was on Podcasts.
no 3 way was on Language Exchange sites.
no 4 way was on Listening to the radio.
no 5 way was on BBC Learning English.
no 6 way was on Vocabulary.

At this stage the series of posts stopped because Jeffrey came up with new plans, which you can read about here.

viernes, 26 de mayo de 2017

How what we eat has changed

We’ve gone from roasting to processing over thousands of years. What does the future hold for our food? Watch the video above to see what we’ll be eating in decades to come.

Humanity’s relationship with food production has certainly been a fruitful one. Our constant pursuit of refining how we eat is one of the reasons there are billions of us alive today. But it’s also a key factor as to why we are greatly damaging the Earth.
It all begins with fire. As far back as 29,000 BC Central Europeans were using primitive forms of ovens, roasting pits covered by yurts. Back then, mammoth was on the menu.
As we invented tools like ploughs and mills to help turn resources from the earth into food in our bellies, we produced enough to feed houses, then villages, then towns. Human civilization established itself.
One feature of civilizations that evolved was a thing called trade, and we did a lot of it. That’s why most of today’s biggest cities are found close to rivers and trade routes.
As agricultural revolutions took place, our population exploded, our food became more resilient due to developments such as machine refrigeration and pasteurizing, invented by this guy, French chemist Louise Pasteur in 1864. We could send hundreds of thousands of men to war and feed them thanks to food storage in cans.
By the 20th century microwave ovens arrived, meaning the mammoth we cooked 30,000 years ago in a pit, could now spin around in our kitchens.
We reached a point where the scale of production needed to feed everyone was impacting the planet’s resources. By the 1990’s we were selling genetically modified tomatoes to ensure reliable crop results.
This brings us to today’s climate concerns. Current food production is responsible for a third of global greenhouse gas emissions. How will we continue to feed a vastly increasing population while reducing damage to the environment? How do we tackle our global obesity epidemic and encourage healthier diets? One thing is certain, we must look immediately for new approaches. We’ve achieved it many times before, so it shouldn’t be too hard too swallow, right?
Well, that was delicious.