domingo, 30 de abril de 2017

Extensive listening: 3 ways to plan for the (very) long term

We increasingly make decisions based on short-term goals and gains — an approach that makes the future more uncertain and less safe. How can we learn to think about and plan for a better future in the long term ... like, grandchildren-scale long term?

Ari Wallach shares three tactics for thinking beyond the immediate.

Ari Wallach challenges the perception that "the future" is solely a technology-fueled project occurring at some far off point in time. By exploring the underpinnings of civilizational potential over the ages he shows the future is actually manifesting right now, and that it is very much human.

You can read the full transcript here.

sábado, 29 de abril de 2017

A war of words

900 teenagers from around the world participated in The New York Times' latest 15-Second Vocabulary Video Contest.

The New York Times invited teenagers to create a short video that defines or teaches any of the words in their Word of the Day collection, which has now over 1,600 words.

Drop by The New York Times to have a look at the winners listed in alphabetical order as well as a list of runners-up.

The videos were chosen on the grounds of their originality and how well each video showed an understanding of the word and its use in a specific context.

viernes, 28 de abril de 2017

The Academy Where Butlers Are Born

Learning to serve as a certified butler is both a skill and an art, and the world’s most elite butlers come from one place: The International Butler Academy in Simpelveld.

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

1. What makes the profession of butler so difficult?
2. Where's Simpelvel? 
3. Where do the students come from? 
4. How long does the training course last? 
5. What is the most important quality in a butler? 
6. What three things do all employers want? 
7. What does '17 years' refer to? 

A professional butler is somebody who is loyal, flexible, discreet, hard-working, honest, but most important, it is a person who has the ability to put somebody else's wishes before your own. That is what makes this a profession so very, very difficult.
At the age of 21, I became a butler. Nowadays, I am chairman of the International Butler Academy. The International Butler Academy is located in the beautiful village of Simpelveld in the Netherlands. You have about 135 rooms, 80,000 square feet completely dedicated to the training of butlers.
Our students live here in our building. They come, literally, from every country in the world. Age from 18 to 68.
Okay, five minutes, guys.
Students learn about housekeeping, house management, estate management, regular things, like even suitcase packing, silver shining, shining shoes, the list is enormous. There's an incredible amount of training to be done in 10 weeks.
Discipline here at the International Butler Academy is very, very important. In order to get a job done, you need discipline. I think in order to be successful, you need discipline and discipline here at school is something we embrace and not something that we are afraid of.
Here at school we always joke about what employers want. They need a clean toilet. They want a warm bed and they want a hot meal and those three things are most important for everyone.
You go right, you go left.
My wife and I, we have our own butler. I'm very fortunate; I've had a private butler now for the past 17 years and this person is very, very important to me.
Being a butler can certainly be a wonderful career simply because if you are responsible for the well-being of the family, for their happiness, that is obviously very, very, very important.

1 The have to put someone else's wishes before their own
2 In the Netherlands 
3 From anywhere in the world
4 Ten weeks
5 Discipline
6 a clean toilet, a warm bed and a hot meal
7 The time the director of the school and his wife have had a butler for

jueves, 27 de abril de 2017

Welcome to Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwyllllantysiliogogogoch

Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwyllllantysiliogogogoch is a town name really difficult to pronounce.

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

1. Where is the town?
2. How many people speak Welsh in the town?
3. How many letters does the name have?
4. Why was the name invented in the mid 19th century?
5. What does the name mean?
6. What is the short version of the name?
7. In what area does the town have the longest name in the world?

Any more passengers for Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch?
Nope, anybody for Fan-Merc?
Plans-clull Llanfair
It's a small town in Northern Wales.
Around 76% of the population here speaks Welsh. It's also the longest town name in Europe with 58 letters. There are literally four Ls next to each other. Right there. What is with this name?
Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch is not the original name of the village.
You've got to be kidding.
In the 1860s, the name was contrived by the local cobbler, and it was meant to bring in people and tourists.
Alun, help us break this name down.
The name means places within the village.
You've got the Church Mary, in the hollow of the white hazel, near to the rapid whirlpools, at the Church of Tysilio, and the red caves.
Okay, so, let's say you wanna mail a letter. Do you have to write the whole name, Postmaster Jim Evans?
You could. But you'd have to write very small. Or, you could use a shortened version, which is the first 20 letters.
If you play for the local football league, does the name fit on your jersey, team manager Steve Smith?
It does, and it's the longest name of any football team in the world. And it just about fits.
Can you say it after a pint, pub owner Kevin Bryant?
I'm sure I can.
Let's see.
God, you did it.
But, can you put it in a song?
Wow, apparently you can.
Llanfair, Llanfair, Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.
It might be the greatest PR stunt of the mid-1800s. I don't know, even of today. After all, we're here.
Here in  Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch. I think that's pretty good.

1 In Northern Wales 
2 76%
3 56 
4 to attract people and tourists 
5 places within the village
6 the first 20 letters 
7 football team

miércoles, 26 de abril de 2017

Talking point: Study habits

This week's talking point is study habits. 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 plan when you are going to study?
If so, how much time in advance do you plan?
Do you prefer to study late at night or early in the morning?
Do you usually find excuses to postpone starting to study? If so, which ones?
What places do you like studying in?
Do you like to be away from people or do you prefer to study with one or more friends?
Do you like studying with background music?
What sort of light do you like to study with?
Do you like studying in public places like a library?
Do you find it difficult to concentrate while studying?
If you are studying for a long period do you prefer: no breaks / several short breaks / one or two long breaks?
What do you do while you are taking breaks, have a chat, check your mobile, have a snack?
Do you quickly revise everything you have done during the study sessions when you are finishing studying?

martes, 25 de abril de 2017

What makes me different from todays Syrian refugees? Just fate and timing

As a Syrian-American journalist who has covered Syria’s refugee crisis, Alia Malek understands where they are coming from and where they’re going.

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

1. Alia Malek arrived in the States in September 2015.
2. Alia was pregnant when she left Syria.
3. Alia’s dad was already in the States.
4. Alia’s parents didn’t intend to live in USA for ever.
5. Alia’s parents are American citizens.
6. Americans had a very good opinion of Arabs back in the 1970’s.
7. The Syrian mother Alia was travelling with came from a poor background in Syria.
8. The woman’s children found it very difficult to adapt to the hardships of the journey.
9. Many American citizens followed a similar path to that of Alia’s.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Finally tonight: reflections on coming to the United States from author Alia Malek, who considers the various journeys Syrian refugees take on their many roads from Damascus.
ALIA MALEK, Journalist: In September 2015, I felt I had to drop everything and go to Turkey to report on Syrians as they hurriedly made their way to Europe, trying to beat the rapidly closing borders.
As a Syrian-American, their fate was one I had only accidentally been spared.
As I accompanied them on this journey, I couldn’t help thinking of how different their circumstances were from how my own Syrian family had ended up in the diaspora, of how my mother, pregnant with me, herself had left Damascus.
Unlike the dangerous Mediterranean Sea crossings and the trek through the Balkans, her trip itself wasn’t treacherous, and it wasn’t undignified. She was traveling to Baltimore to join my father, a medical resident at the University of Maryland.
While emotionally painful, her journey couldn’t have been easier. She wasn’t facing imminent death or displacement, as people are today. In fact, both my parents meant to eventually return to their homeland.
But when it became clear what life would be like under the Assad regime, they gave up their dream to return. Years after all their children were born American, they too finally became naturalized Americans.
When my family arrived here in the ’70s, being Syrian wasn’t a barrier to becoming American. Even if Arabs weren’t well-perceived generally, Syrians specifically didn’t hold much of a place in the American imagination or consciousness.
In fact, I remember the best a schoolyard bully could do was tell me that, as a Syrian, I ate too much cereal. Oh, for those days.
In these past six years, as Syria has disintegrated, taken over the headlines, and as Syrians have become the foreign menace of the day, I have often thought about the vagaries of fate, of how accidental and unintended occurrences are what separate me from the Syrians unfairly maligned, banned, and banished today, how our lot depends on when we decided to leave, where we landed, and how we got there, whether we boarded flights with regular tickets and visas, or were piled on top of each other on flimsy rafts and left to drift across the sea unguided, how our future depends on what suffix happens to follow Syrian on arrival.
Is it refugee? Is it immigrant? Is it American? I’m lucky to be that last one.
A Syrian mother I was traveling with across Europe worried at each new border, what would happen to her children? In Syria, they had been comfortably working class. Her husband was a baker, and she was a stay-at-home mom.
At the beginning of the trip, her children were horrified to have to relieve themselves outdoors and in public. Within days, though, she was pained to see how they had quickly adjusted to their new reality.
I instead approached each crossing with a guilty confidence of a passport-carrying American. I was completely aware that my fortune was in large part by chance and circumstance.
But, rather than make me unique, I imagine that makes me like many other Americans whose families were also once upon the time among the lucky, favored by fate to have made it to these shores when and how we did.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And that’s a perspective we need to hear, Alia Malek.

1F 2F 3T 4T 5T 6T 7F 8F 9T

lunes, 24 de abril de 2017

Listening test: Entertianment News April 2017

Listen to some news related to the world of entertainment and choose the heading A-G which goes with each extract. There are two headings you do not need to use.

A - And they lived happily ever after
B - Battling a long-term addiction
C - Long battle to recover artist’s own creations
D - Social media addiction
E - Star sentenced to prison term
F - Stormy relationship
G - Wrong identity

1 Stormy relationship
Spice Girl Mel Brown, also known as Scary Spice or Mel B, has filed for divorce from her husband of 10 years, Stephen Belafonte. Citing irreconcilable differences, the performer filed the papers on Monday March 20 at the Superior Court of California County of Los Angeles. The couple married on June 6, 2007 and the court papers specify the pair separated on December 28, 2016. They have one child together, Madison Brown Belafonte. Belafonte is a film and television producer behind films such as ‘Thank You for Smoking’, and, with his wife, recently invested in Serafina, an Italian restaurant in West Hollywood. No statements from either party have been given regarding the split.

2 Wrong identity
Grammy award-winning hip hop artist Wyclef Jean said he was handcuffed and treated like a criminal when he was briefly detained by law enforcement officers in Los Angeles as they investigated a robbery. In tweets and video of the incident posted on his Instagram and Twitter feed, the Haitianborn former Fugees singer said he appeared to have been the victim of “another case of mistaken identity” and threatened to sue. Jean blamed the Los Angles Police Department for the incident, which occurred around 1 a.m., but in fact it involved sheriff’s deputies, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said. The department said Jean was
briefly detained while deputies were looking for a suspect matching the description who had carried out an armed robbery at a gas station in West Hollywood. The singer was placed in handcuffs and released without charge when it was determined he was not the suspect. Jean emigrated to the United States from Haiti at the age of 9, but has maintained his Haitian citizenship. Tuesday’s incident comes amid heightened sensitivity about racial issues and the US justice system following shootings by police of unarmed black people.

3 Social media addiction
Pop star Selena Gomez said she cancelled her world tour last year and went to therapy because she was depressed, anxious and her self-esteem was shot. 24-year-old Gomez, who has more than 113 million Instagram followers, also said in an interview with Vogue magazine that she was freaked out by her social media obsession and no longer has the Instagram app on her phone. “As soon as I became the most followed person on Instagram, I sort of freaked out. It had become so consuming to me. It’s what I woke up to and went to sleep to. I was an addict,” Gomez explained in a cover story of its April edition. The former Disney Channel star and actress made headlines last August when she abruptly quit her “Revival” world tour, saying she needed to take time off to deal with panic attacks and depression. She told Vogue she had entered a treatment program for three months saying: “My self-esteem was shot. I was depressed, anxious. I started to have panic attacks right before getting on stage, or right after leaving the stage. Basically I felt I wasn’t good enough, wasn’t capable. I felt I wasn’t giving my fans anything, and they could see it - which, I think, was a complete distortion.” Gomez said that she also found it hard - as have other young stars like Miley Cyrus and Lindsay Lohan - to shake off her perky “Wizards of Waverly Place” persona from her Disney days. “For a guy there’s a way to rebel that can work for you,” she said. “But for a woman, that can backfire. It’s hard not to be a cliché, the child star gone wrong.”

4 Long battle to recover artist’s own creations
Paul McCartney’s potential hold. The singer has waited decades to reclaim ownership of hundreds of Beatles’ songs and Sony/ATV Music Publishing says he should wait a little longer rather than continue his US lawsuit. In a filing with the US District Court in Manhattan, a lawyer for Sony/ ATV said the publisher had never challenged the validity of McCartney’s notices to terminate its copyright in the songs, starting in October 2018. As a result, McCartney’s lawsuit “impermissibly seeks an advisory opinion on a hypothetical claim” and
should be dismissed for the time being, a lawyer wrote. McCartney was outbid in 1985 for the rights to the songs he created with John Lennon such as “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” “Yesterday” and “Hey Jude” by pop star Michael Jackson. The rights were rolled a decade later into Sony/ATV, a joint venture with Sony Corp. Jackson’s estate sold its stake in the venture to Sony for $750 million last year. Lawyers for McCartney did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

5 Battling a long-term addiction
Hollywood star Ben Affleck says he’s completed treatment for alcohol addiction. The ‘Argo’ director posted on Facebook on Tuesday that the treatment was the first of many steps towards recovery. He also said he wanted to be the best father he could be and thanked his ex-wife Jennifer Garner for her support. The Batman actor wrote I have completed treatment for alcohol addiction; something I’ve dealt with in the past and will continue to confront. The two-time Oscar winner is currently working on upcoming film The Batman, in which he stars as the caped crusader himself.

1F 2G 3D 4C 5B 

domingo, 23 de abril de 2017

Extensive listening: Know your worth, and then ask for it

Your boss probably isn't paying you what you're worth — instead, they're paying you what they think you're worth. Take the time to learn how to shape their thinking.

Pricing consultant Casey Brown shares helpful stories and learnings that can help you better communicate your value and get paid for your excellence.

Casey Brown is a pricing geek and professional speaker. She leads an organization that helps companies improve profits through better pricing. She speaks at conferences, trade associations and networking groups around the world. She is on a mission to correct the injustice of underpricing.

You can read the full transcript here.

sábado, 22 de abril de 2017

Reading test: The economics of beard popularity in the US

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

In the Vox article The economics of beard popularity in the US, a number of words and phrases have been taken out. Insert the word A-M in the corresponding blank. There are three words/phrases you do not need to use. 0 is an example.

The economics of beard popularity in the US

You (0) … think people grow beards (1) … their fashionability or warmth, but author and professor Stephen Mihm says there might be (2) … reason. In a New York Times piece, he claims that in Western countries, trends in beard popularity often closely follow (3) … in capitalism.

(4) … the mid-19th century, communists and labour radicals grew thick Karl Marx–style beards as a form of protest. Members of the business community viewed these movements (5) … scary and threatening to the establishment, and as a result, beards became not allowed in general society. But (6) … these protests ended and capitalist enterprises could safely show their supremacy again, beards came back into fashion, and titans of the business world began to put on impressive displays of facial hair as a means of showing an image of strength and masculine individuality.
In the early 20th century, beards again began to be associated with anti-capitalist movements, and for (7) … a century they were nowhere to be seen in corporate boardrooms and many parts of society.

Then along came the tech boom, (8) … made many untidy computer geeks in Silicon Valley rich and powerful members of the capitalist landscape. People like Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, and Jack Dorsey redefined (9) … we view powerful business heads and have helped bring in a new period of beard acceptance and popularity.

A - another
B - as
C - because
D - because of
E - during
F - how
G - like
H - may 0 Example
I - nearly
J - once
K - other
L - trends
M - which

1D 2A 3L 4E 5B 6J 7I 8M 9F

viernes, 21 de abril de 2017

China's Baby Boom

China has abandoned its controversial one-child policy because of concerns about its increasingly elderly population.

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

1. How old is the woman who is about to have a child?
2. When did she have her first child?
3. What sex is the child?
4. Who was worried about the sex of the baby?
5. How many good embryos does Yemin have?
6. When did China’s one child policy change?
7. Which women are at an advantage with the new policy?

Heartbeat of an imminent arrival, a last ultrasound scan for a 48-year-old mother-to-be. She had her first child through fertility treatment 16 years ago. The hospital kept her frozen embryos, and now that China's one-child policy has become a two-child policy, she's about to have her second miracle baby. More good news for Fan-fun-nian, it’s a boy.
She tells me she’s thrilled. She's got a daughter already and would be happy with another, but the in-laws want a grandson. A two-child family is still a great novelty here, so a big fuss at the clinic for a special visitor, especially as this miracle was conceived here in a petri dish, and frozen as an embryo for years, until China's policy changed and she could become somebody's little sister.
As soon as I heard about the policy change, I was terribly excited. I ran to the hospital immediately. My second child had been frozen there for too long. I couldn’t wait to take her home.
Not everyone is so lucky. Yemin is desperate to have a second child, but there are questions over
whether her embryos are viable.
I only have three embryos left and the doctor says one is good, one is average and one is poor, but I'm staying optimistic. I hope heaven will give me this gift.
Blessings born from frozen embryos, many of them second children, after last year's policy change. Older mothers with fertility problems are now suddenly at an advantage, because they have frozen embryos to fall back on, where other older women don’t. Fan-fun-nian back home and getting ready
for the new arrival. Baby clothes from the first time round, 16 years ago. Hospital bag ready for the birth, and she's already decided if the two-child policy becomes a three-child policy, she’ll go for a third.
Carrie Gracie, BBC News.

1 forty-eight years old
2 sixteen years ago
3 a boy
4 her in-laws
5 only one
6 last year
7 older women with fertility problems

jueves, 20 de abril de 2017

Longest-serving lollipop lady retires

After 45 years on the road, Britain's longest-serving Lollipop lady, Margaret Cattle, has retired.

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

Every day, every morning, every afternoon, in all (1) ..., winter, summer, autumn and spring, Margaret has patrolled this crossing for four and a half (2) ... and now she's decided to call it a day as Britain's longest-serving lollipop lady. She explains how she felt on her first day.
Very (3) ... , never done it before.
45 years on and the kids she helped that day have all grown up. They remember her well.
So when you’re walking around and somebody (4) ...-headed and older-looking shouts, hey lollipop, you think, oh dear.
She is retiring under (5) ...   ... to put her feet up. For kids and for parents, it's a sad day.
She's really nice and she gives you lollies sometimes and (6) ... ... .
Now we've seen her every morning and every night and she always says hello, she’s always got a big (7) ... on the face.  She's lovely but we're gonna miss her right away.
She makes us feel like we're not gonna get hurt.
Her real (8) ... in 45 years, the number of children hurt on this crossing, not a (9) ... one.
I am proud, very, very, and I really will miss them all but I've got to stop sometime.

1 weathers
2 decades 
3 nervous
4 bald
5 doctor's orders
6 Christmas cards
7 smile 
8 achievement 
9 single

miércoles, 19 de abril de 2017

Talking point: Fashion and trends

This week's talking point is fashion and trends. 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.

1. Do people in your country have a reputation for dressing well or badly?
2. Do you think women pay more attention to their appearance than men, or vice versa?
3. Are people generally very fashion-conscious?
4. What is in fashion at the moment for men and women?
5. What are the “current tribes” of young people? What do they wear? Do you like the way they dress?
6. Why are some people obsessed with the way they look?
7. Why is sometimes beauty more valued than intelligence?
8. Do people tend to judge others by the way they dress?
9. Do you think you dress like a typical person from your country? Why (not)?
10. It’s better to buy cheap clothes that don’t last because then you can buy new ones more often. Do you agree?
11. People who follow fashion are usually vain and superficial. Do you agree?
12. It’s very risky to buy clothes online. Do you agree?

Describe these people's appearance:

martes, 18 de abril de 2017

As faith declines in Spain, so do Seville’s glorious convents

Everywhere you turn in Seville, Spain, there are reminders of a rich religious past, including its cloistered convents, which have been part of the fabric of the community for hundreds of years. Yet few women in Spain heed the call to join the sisterhood anymore, and once-bustling communities are now the victims of decay. Jeffrey Brown reports on efforts to save the endangered convents.

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

1. When was the convent of Santa Ines founded?
2. What does ‘15%’ refer to?
3. What are some of the reasons for the lack of vocations in Spain, according to the prioress?
4. How were convents supported?
5. When was Santa Paula established?
6. What does Santa Paula’s massive church portal combine?
7. How did architect Marta Villanueva get into the field of restoration?
8. What purpose do some of the abandoned convents serve?
9. What does a convent without nuns mean?

JUDY WOODRUFF: But first: Today is Good Friday, when Christians around the world commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, ahead of Easter Sunday. One of the largest public displays occurs each year in Seville, Spain, but declining faith among the Spanish people is threatening a longtime pillar of the Catholic Church, its cloistered convents. Jeffrey Brown has that story. It’s part of our continuing series Culture at Risk.
JEFFREY BROWN: Everywhere you turn in Seville, tradition and history, reminders of a rich religious past. But rarely seen, Seville’s cloistered convents, cities within cities behind high walls, a piece of the fabric of the community, yet separate and apart, places like the convent of Santa Ines, founded in 1372 by Maria Coronel, whose body still lies in repose in the church’s chapel. Prioress Maria Rebecca Cervantes Cisneros joined the sisterhood when she was just 13 years old.
MARIA REBECCA CERVANTES CISNEROS, Prioress, Santa Ines Convent: Many people might say that a person doesn’t know what she’s doing at that age, but I think that it is a gift from God, and that he is free to call for you whenever he wishes. And, to this day, I do not regret having heeded that call.
JEFFREY BROWN: Yet, in Spain today, few women heed that call. Only about 15 percent of the population even attends mass. Twenty-five years ago, there were 41 cloistered convents in Seville, the highest concentration in Spain. Today, just 15 active ones remain, and at Santa Ines, eight nuns, practicing what’s known as their vocation, watch over this entire complex. Six of them come not from Spain, but from Mexico, including the prioress.
MARIA REBECCA CERVANTES CISNEROS: Here in Europe, there’s a very general crisis of vocations. Perhaps there’s also a lack of knowledge. Maybe we need to promote ourselves more, because people aren’t very familiar with us. Many people think that the life of a contemplative is like a useless life.
JEFFREY BROWN: Convents like Santa Ines here in Seville are hidden treasures from an earlier era, once small, but bustling communities, now fewer inhabitants now, and walls that are decaying. The murals lining the courtyard, which illustrate biblical stories and are said to date to the 1400s, are cracking and flaking away. So, too, are many of its Spanish tiles. Some are held in place by fabric. The structural beams supporting the entrance to the outside world, through which everyday citizens enter daily to buy sweets through the turnstile, are cracked, in danger of collapsing. Weeds grow out of every nook.
PABLO LONGORIA, World Monuments Fund: This is one of the two, three convents that is in worst shape.
JEFFREY BROWN: Pablo Longoria directs projects in Spain for the world monuments fund, which last year added Seville’s convents to its endangered heritage watch list. With his help, we were given rare access during the season of Lent. Even still, many of the nuns preferred to remain away from our cameras.
PABLO LONGORIA: Convents are very old buildings that were usually kept by the donation of citizens, religious people that would give the convents money and products, and by the nuns. So, 50 years ago, you would have 80 nuns in this convent. Now you have eight left.
JEFFREY BROWN: With much less support.
PABLO LONGORIA: With much less support and with many more years. The average age must be 75 to 80 years.
JEFFREY BROWN: While Santa Ines has imported its nuns from Mexico, at Santa Paula, another convent less than a mile away, most of the 20 nuns are from India. Santa Paula was established in 1473 by the Order of Saint Jerome and, thanks to the largess of the noble family of a former prioress, is in better shape.
JEFFREY BROWN: Which is your favorite?
WOMAN: This.
The nuns here sell their sweets from a shop, and even have a small museum often open to the public. But with only about a third of its former population, the problem of maintaining this huge place remains.
This massive church portal, designed by Italian sculptor Nicola Pisano and dating to 1504, combines Gothic, Moorish and Renaissance styles, but it’s been slowly destroyed by water damage, spiders nests, an overall lack of care.
MARTA VILLANUEVA, Architect: It’s more dark here. That’s because of the water.
JEFFREY BROWN: Marta Villanueva has been coming here since she was a little girl, and followed her father into the field of architectural restoration. She’s now working on a two-year project to restore this portal, funded by a $200,000 grant from the U.S.-based Annenberg Foundation.
MARTA VILLANUEVA: This facade is absolutely one of a kind. There are no others like it in all of Spain. The most unique aspect is the capacity it has to unite different currents, both aesthetically and in thought. It’s a synthesis of the culture that was enriching all of Seville.
JEFFREY BROWN: But, she says, the needs of this convent and others far outstrip the means of the nuns’ orders, which own them.
MARTA VILLANUEVA: This type of monument needs continual maintenance, and that requires means to see them through. The resources aren’t always there.
JEFFREY BROWN: The World Monuments Fund is attempting to bring stakeholders together in Seville, the religious orders, the surrounding communities and the regional government, to catalogue the damage and prioritize the greatest needs.
PABLO LONGORIA: The best case scenario is, we find, through careful study of the building, a way to make it sustainable through time, a way in which the nuns can stay, they can keep their traditions.
JEFFREY BROWN: Many convents have been lost already, abandoned or converted into offices for the municipal government, museums or event spaces.
JAVIER RODRIGUEZ BARBERAN, University of Seville: You feel here like if you work in a part of the convent.
JEFFREY BROWN: Javier Rodriguez Barberan is a professor of art history at the University of Seville and, like many here, grew up around the convents.
JAVIER RODRIGUEZ BARBERAN: Imagine there are no nuns inside the convent. You can see beautiful building, you can see beautiful works of art, but it’s no more a convent. It would be a museum. It would be a hotel. It would be a restaurant, I don’t know, but no more a convent.
JEFFREY BROWN: Which would mean the life of the place is gone.
JEFFREY BROWN: At Santa Ines, Prioress Cervantes is asking the regional government to make good on a decades-old pledge to help restore her convent. She hopes they won’t have to close this sanctuary, but is at peace in any case.
MARIA REBECCA CERVANTES CISNEROS: Even though we are concerned about the shortage of vocations and such, I think you simply forget the present, leave it aside and give your life and devotion to the vocation we have received as a gift, and the rest is up to God.
JEFFREY BROWN: For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Jeffrey Brown in Seville, Spain

1 in 1372
2 the percentage of people who attend mass
3 a lack of knowledge; contemplative life is not promoted; people feel contemplative life is useless
4 by the donations of citizens
5 in 1473
6 Gothic, Moorish and Renaissance styles
7 through her father’s influence
8 they have been converted into converted into offices for the municipal government, museums or event spaces
9 that the life of the place has gone

lunes, 17 de abril de 2017

Listening test: The car accident

Listen to Melanie telling the story of a car accident she once had. Complete the blanks in the sentences with up to THREE  words. 0 is an example.

0 Example:
Melanie has been driving for 20 years.

1. Where she lives, they drive on the __________________ of the road.

2. The accident happened at __________________ .

3. Melanie assumed that the cars in the other direction _______________ because the car in front was moving.

4. The other car slammed into Melanie’s __________________ .

5. An off-duty __________________ in the car behind Melanie’s saw the accident.

6. The police explained that both drivers were responsible and gave them __________________ .

7. After the accident, Melanie avoids making __________________ as much as possible.

I consider myself a good driver. I’ve been driving for over 20 years. I’ve only been in one accident and I’ve only gotten one speeding ticket. Still, I hate making left turns, because I got in an accident once making a left-hand turn. We drive on the right-hand side of the road in North America, so when you make a left turn, you’re driving in front of cars coming in the opposite direction.
The accident happened at a busy intersection. I’d been waiting a while in the left-hand turn lane at the traffic lights, and there was one car in front of me. The light turned amber and the car in front of me turned left. I followed the car hoping to beat the red light. I’d just assumed that the cars in the other direction had already stopped since the car in front of me was turning left.
I saw too late that a car had sped up and was trying to beat the red light. I was hit in the middle of the intersection. The car slammed into my passenger-side door. I completed the left-hand turn and pulled over to the side of the road. There was an off-duty police officer in the car behind me who witnessed the accident. I don’t remember who called the police, but an officer arrived at the scene. He explained that both drivers were at fault and he gave both of us tickets. I shouldn’t have tried to rush through the amber light. I should have checked that all the cars had stopped before I started the left turn.
I wasn’t hurt. The other driver wasn’t hurt, either. There was damage to the passenger-side door and it cost me a lot of money to repair the door! I didn’t fight the ticket in court. I paid the fine. Now, I avoid making left-hand turns as much as possible, especially at a busy intersection!

1 right-hand side
2 a busy intersection
3 had already stopped
4 passenger-side door
5 police officer
6 tickets
7 left-hand turns