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.

KEY:
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 news 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.

jueves, 25 de mayo de 2017

Capturing the scent of a book

A smell can evoke memories of a certain time, place or experience – now scientists at University College London are documenting scents as a way of recording culturally significant artefacts. Helen Drew explains.



We read them, we learn from them, some of us even write them. Books old or new, falling apart or unread. Here at University College London's Institute of Archaeology library it’s the largest collection of conservation-related books in London. But it's not just the words written on these pages that are important. According to scientists, the smell of these books has a significance that should also be recorded.
Smells have a big impact on our everyday life: how we feel, how we think and even how we behave, so we started looking into those smells that might have cultural value to us as a society and so our first challenge was to find, identify smell that we knew people valued and the smell of old books and historic libraries appeared as a very clear case.
In this lab scientists from UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage are collecting chemicals on a tiny sensor which they then pop into a machine to separate the individual chemical compounds. These chemicals can then be used to recreate that smell in the future.
What do you think of the smell of books?
They have a rather particular smell for sure and I think it’s lovely, it's sort of musty but it's… it's really enjoyable. I love the smell of old libraries.
The smell of a book becomes associated of what you read in the book, well that can lead to all sorts of associations and sometimes the smell is enough just to remind you of what a book is.
Always when you get a new book and it's like the new smell, it's a kind of part of the experience.
At the moment smell is rarely recorded.
If you go to a gallery or to a museum, a hundred percent of the time the objects communicate with you visually, you can see the shapes, you can see the colours but you cannot touch them and you cannot smell them.
There are also … archives to recreate the potpourri from a National Trust house in the 1700s, so that when visitors walk in, they're transported back in time. The whole project isn't just about recording smells but also the emotions they evoke.
Helen Drew, BBC London news.

miércoles, 24 de mayo de 2017

Talking point: Libraries

This week's talking point is libraries. 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.
  • Are libraries a thing of the past and e-Books and other mobile devices the present and future of reading?
  • Do libraries put pressure on users to read books quickly?
  • Where do you find it easier to study, at home or in a library?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of each?
  • Is the Internet a much more resourceful space than a library?
  • Do libraries provide enough resources for everybody?
  • What is the importance of traditional books?
  • How would you describe the atmosphere of libraries?
  • Do you find them inspiring and encouraging to research and study?
  • What is the role of libraries in society?
To illustrate the point you can watch the video on Syracuse University Library.



    Welcome to the Syracuse University Library. We’d like to take a few minutes to introduce you to the resources and services that we have to offer at the SU library. There are five library locations on campus. Bird library is located on University Place next door to the Schine Student Center. Adjacent to Bird you will find the Belfer Audio Laboratory and archives.

    The Carnegie Building on the Quad is home to Science & technology and Mathematics libraries. The Geology library is in Heroy Hall. And you’ll find the Architecture Reading Room is Slocum Hall. The sixth storey E.S. Bird Library is considered the main library on campus. It’s home to the Learning Commons, an open active environment, where we can not only find traditional library services like the check-out desk, but you also find our Technology Assistant desk for borrowing laptops, headphones and cameras. You can get help with scanning and printing and photocopying.

    And of course there are plenty of places to study either on your own or with a group. Research assistance is available on the drop-in basis, or you can make an appointment to consult with the librarian subject specialist. The Learning Commons is also where you will also find Pages, the library café, where you can grab a cup of coffee or something to eat. The second floor is the great place to relax, read or study. You can browse the stacks. Use the reference collection or browse current periodicals. On the third floor you can get assistance with the Maps and Government Information collections.

    The Map Room houses thousands of maps and atlases. On the third floor you’ll also find the microfilm collections. As well as the Geographic and Statistical Information Center. The fourth floor is home to our fine arts collections. You’ll find a media area for viewing our film, video and DVD collections. And a listening area for LPs and CDs collections. Be sure to check out the exhibits and visit the Biblio Gallery.

    The fifth floor is a quiet floor with plenty of study tables available. Take the elevator to the sixth floor to find the Special Collections Research Center. There you can browse their exhibits. And get assistance with their collections by signing in in the Reading Room. On the sixth floor you will also find the Safire Room, a great place for quiet study. We hope you have enjoyed this brief tour of the Syracuse University Library. To learn more, visit us at library.syr.edu

    martes, 23 de mayo de 2017

    Will fossil fuels run out

    Greg Foot, from BBC's Earth Lab, looks into the dirty world of fossil fuels. Will we run out of fossil fuels and what cost will we likely pay for their use?



    We've all heard that fossil fuels won't last forever but why. And if they are set to run out, how much is left and when will that happen. To dig to the bottom of this one, we first need a quick refresher on how the fossil fuels are created, and sadly, no, they're not mostly dead dinosaurs.
    You see, the vast majority of our fossil fuels come from the remains of plants and animals. They lived around 300 to 400 million years ago. We don't see the first dinosaurs until around about 230 million years ago, so when these plants and animals died, that very, very long time ago, they were covered in layers of earth or silt, and because of the combined actions of three things: one, the compression from the weight of all that stuff; two, the microorganisms in there decomposing the contents; and three, the heat underground that transforms them into potential fuels.
    Coal is the remnant of ancient plants while oil and natural gas mostly come from marine creatures. The natural gas being made in deeper hotter regions, where the oil gets a little bit more cooked.
    Now we dig or drill this stuff out of the ground, and because it has been accumulating for a long time, initially there was a lot, but because it takes so long to make, we're using it much, much faster than it can possibly be replaced. This means that there is effectively a fixed amount of fuel on earth and we're using it up.
    So, yes, fossil fuels are going to run out but what is left and when will that happen. Well, we can fairly easily tally up what's known as our proven resources, the supplies that we know the locations of and we think we have a good chance of getting to.
    In their statistical review of world energy, BP estimated that the world had just over 1,700 billion proven barrels of oil in 2014. That's enough to make 52 and a half years of global production. They also estimated just over 187 trillion cubic meters of natural gas. That's enough for 54 years. Then 891,531 million tons of coal, enough for a whopping 110 years of global production.
    But there's also the stuff that we know about can't reach but think we might be able to get to some day. Hard figures on that are understandably tougher to come by, but oil and gas consulting firm Rystad Energy estimates total probable global oil reserves at 2,092 billion barrels, which is enough for about 70 years if our use doesn't go up.
    The total fuel resource, the amount of fossil fuels that could be out there that we know nothing about, could, of course, be even higher, but around four years ago an idea came out that there actually is plenty of oil left, just that we haven't got around to getting it out of the ground yet. This means the numbers for the potential oil out there could, in fact, be way higher.
    We've already seen humanity use new technologies to access new fuels that we couldn't get to before. Things like new techniques to extract oil where it's all mixed up in fine grained sedimentary rocks like shale or using high-pressure fracking to extract more oil and gas from the ground. One thing stopping us using these new technologies to extract fuels is that the rising energy cost of extracting it could be just as damaging as the oil running out.
    Despite the cost of oil, the amount being extracted has actually remained constant, about 75 million barrels per day since 2005, and this means a plateau has been reached where supply cannot match demand. It's also worth pointing out that fracking is far from ideal. It's been claimed that it has been linked to earthquakes and toxic tap water.
    We've already seen how the economics of getting to the fuel can outweigh humanity's demand for it. In 2016 around 460,000 barrels a day of high cost production like fracking was shut down in the US due to the cost. But that just means surely it’s there for later, when the economics are right, right?
    Well, maybe we need to leave it there. The planet is warming due to the burning of those fossil fuels. Burning fossil fuels releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, trap heat and it causes a greenhouse effect. It's been estimated that we cannot burn more than about a third of those proven resources if we have any hope at all of meeting plans to keep the temperature rise at 2 degrees centigrade or less. Although it may feel that we don't seem to be in a particular hurry to look for alternatives, energy transitions have always taken a long time. It took over 50 years for coal to replace wood as the world's leading source of energy, and another 50 years for oil to overtake coal.
    So here's a promising thought. In the end, with so many options for renewable sources of sustainable power being developed, we might actually never have to answer this question of what happens when the oil is finally all gone.
    Right, this is where we really want to hear your opinions about this whole subject. Put your thoughts down in the comments below, subscribe to the channel if you haven't already, and then you'll get to know whenever we release a new one, and if you'd like to know if you can become a fossil, click here, it's an interesting one. See you soon.

    lunes, 22 de mayo de 2017

    Listening test: Marathon running

    Listen to Jemma talking about her experience of running marathons and choose the option A, B or C which best completes each sentence.


    1. Jemma
    A. disliked running at school.
    B. has been running on and off.
    C. is a professional runner.

    2. Jemma goes running
    A. because she lives in the country.
    B. no matter what the weather is like.
    C. to be with some other people.

    3. Jemma
    A. has run three marathons.
    B. ran the London marathon with her husband.
    C. trained for a year to run the London marathon.

    4. In the London marathon
    A. Jemma ran over Tower Bridge.
    B. Jemma’s children called out her name.
    C. there’s a festive atmosphere.

    5. When she participated in the London Marathon Jemma
    A. couldn’t really hear the spectators shouting.
    B. ran alone.
    C. was about to abandon.

    6. Jemma
    A. hit a wall when she crossed the finish line.
    B. took over four hours to complete the marathon.
    C. was too tired to feel anything when she finished the race.

    7. At the end Jemma says that she had never done (…) until yesterday.
    A. a half marathon
    B. a half marathon abroad
    C. a half marathon at home

    London's Cutty Sark during the marathon

    We're talking about running. With me is Jemma. Hi. Jemma.
    Hello
    Now Jemma, you're not a professional runner but I know that you take running very seriously...
    Yes. Well, when I was at school I always enjoyed running anyway and then I stopped for a few years but then in the early 1980's there was quite a big boom of ...people to encourage people to start running again, to keep fit. So that sort of promoted me back into running again, so yeah, so I've been running, I suppose, ever since, on and off, yeah.
    What is it about running that you like as an exercise?
    I think it's to go out in the fresh air. Whether it's cold or windy or even if it's raining, it's just nice to be out in the country. You have some time just to yourself, to go out and just have that space and that sense of freedom, just go out and run for an hour or an hour and a half, it's just lovely, it's sort of my time just for me.
    ...and I know you actually have done a marathon, haven't you?
    I have, yes. Many years ago I have to say. In 1994 I actually did the London Marathon. That was my first and to date the only marathon I have ever done and it was a fabulous experience, I really enjoyed it.
    Tell me about the training that you had to do for that.
    Well, I sat on the settee at home and I watched in 1993, I watched the marathon and I said to my husband, I'd really like to do a marathon. So I applied and I was fortunate enough to be accepted so throughout that whole year I gradually increased the amount of miles I was running each week so through the year I did three half marathons, which is 13.1 miles, and that led me to being fit enough to do the London Marathon the following year.
    It must have been an amazing experience. How... do you know how many people took part that year?
    I can't remember that year. It was still quite early on in the the popularity of running. It's certainly much, much bigger now. But it was the biggest race I had ever run in, it was just a sea of people and I just remember running under Tower Bridge and past the Cutty Sark and there were bands playing and I had my name on my T-shirt so all the children would call out your name and give you sweets and things like that so the atmosphere was fantastic and the crowds in some places were about five or six people deep even, you know sort of fifteen years ago so it was, it was amazing I don't think I would ever forget that. It was fantastic.
    So do you think all those people calling out your name, that kept you going?
    Oh yes, very much so, yes, I mean it was lovely, because they would say, Go Jemma, go on, well done. And just that encouragement, when you're feeling quite tired and your legs are really feeling a bit heavy just to have people calling you by your actual name makes it much more personalized; they're not just cheering anybody, they're cheering you specifically so that made a big difference because obviously I didn't have family with me, I was just running it by myself so that was lovely, yes.
    How did you feel when you crossed the finishing line?
    Well, it was very emotional actually because it was such a sense of achievement and I was so proud of the time that I'd run it in.
    Can you remember how fast you did it?
    Oh, I was four hours twelve minutes. You never forget the time of your first marathon. So I was very pleased with that and I never hit, they have a term called hitting the wall. [Right.] where if you haven't trained properly or if you run out of energy you really find it difficult to even walk let alone run and I never felt that. I felt well throughout the whole of the run, I ran continually and didn't stop.
    Fantastic. You've just done a race recently. What was that?
    Yes, well, I was very pleased to have done the Lisbon Half Marathon, just yesterday and that was fantastic. I hadn't run a half marathon for quite a few months. I did, I'd done one at home in November and this was my first one actually abroad, that was lovely.
    Well, fantastic Jemma and long may you keep on running.
    Thank you very much.

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

    domingo, 21 de mayo de 2017

    Extensive listening: The future we're building — and boring

    Elon Musk discusses his new project digging tunnels under LA, the latest from Tesla and SpaceX and his motivation for building a future on Mars in conversation with TED's Head Curator, Chris Anderson.

    Elon Musk is the CEO and product architect of Tesla Motors and the CEO/CTO of Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX).

    At SpaceX, Musk oversees the development of rockets and spacecraft for missions to Earth orbit and ultimately to other planets. In 2008, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft won the NASA contract to provide cargo transport to space. In 2012, SpaceX became the first commercial company to dock with the International Space Station and return cargo to Earth with the Dragon.

    At Tesla, Musk has overseen product development and design from the beginning, including the all-electric Tesla Roadster, Model S and Model X, and the rollout of Supercharger stations to keep the cars juiced up. (Some of the charging stations use solar energy systems from SolarCity, of which Musk is the non-executive chair.) Transitioning to a sustainable energy economy, in which electric vehicles play a pivotal role, has been one of his central interests for almost two decades. He co-founded PayPal and served as the company's chair and CEO.

    You can read a full transcript here.

    sábado, 20 de mayo de 2017

    Reading test: The ridiculous story of airline food and why so much ends up in landfill

    In this week's reading test we are going to practise the multiple choice reading comprehension type of task. To do so, we are goint to use The Guardian's article The ridiculous story of airline food and why so much ends up in landfill.

    Read the text and choose the option A, B or C which best completes each sentence.

    The ridiculous story of airline food and why so much ends up in landfill

    You probably know about the waste problem in our oceans. But how about the one in our skies? Airline passengers generated 5.2m tonnes of waste in 2016, most of which went to landfill or incineration, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) estimates. That’s the weight of about 2.6m cars. And it’s a figure set to double over the next 15 years. Toilet waste is included in that statistic. But so are miniature wine bottles, half-eaten lunch trays, unused toothbrushes and other hallmarks of air travel.
    The airline industry has taken criticsm for its growing greenhouse gas emissions as passenger numbers rise. But could its massive waste footprint be solved without affecting the sector’s growth? A Spanish project launched last autumn by a group of companies including Iberia Airlines and Ferrovial Services is taking up this challenge. The scheme aims to recover 80% of cabin waste coming into Madrid’s Barajas airport by mid-2020 through simple measures such as using trolleys designed for waste separation, says Juan Hermira, Iberia’s lead for the project. About 2,500 cabin crew members will be trained in the basics of waste separation as part of the push, he says.
    It’s one of a handful of initiatives that suggest parts of the industry are waking up to waste. Last year, Gatwick opened an on-site waste-to-energy plant, reducing the need for lorries to transport waste elsewhere. The power produced currently goes back into the plant, but Gatwick hopes the facility will eventually help to heat the north terminal. Like Heathrow, it is also targeting a 70% recycling rate by 2020.
    America’s United Airlines has switched to compostable paper cups and last year began donating unused amenity kits to homeless and women’s shelters – it expects to divert more than 27 tonnes-worth by the end of the first year. Virgin, meanwhile, has set up a system for recycling all parts of its headsets, including ear sponges, which are used as flooring for equestrian centres.
    Despite actions like these, the mountains of airline waste continue to grow. So what more can be done? For Michael Gill, IATA’s head of environment, regulation is key. At the moment EU animal health legislation, drawn up as a reaction to diseases like foot and mouth, dictates that all catering waste arriving from outside EU borders be treated as high-risk and incinerated or buried in deep landfill. A coffee cup from the US, for example, will be treated as hazardous waste because it might have had milk in it. Donating uneaten food to charity is impossible. A more rational approach is needed, Gill says, one which identifies elements of cabin waste that actually pose a risk to health and takes into account the stringent hygiene standards airlines are already subject to. He points to a forthcoming IATA-commissioned report which concludes that dairy and honey in airline waste pose a negligible threat to animals.
    Better procedures on the ground would also help ease the classification problem, says Magda Golebiewska, group environment manager at TUI Airlines. East Midlands and Gatwick airports have started tagging rubbish bags with their origin but elsewhere it’s common practice for waste from inside and outside the EU to get thrown together and processed collectively as international catering waste, she says.
    Most important, however, is getting the cabin crew’s buy-in, says Golebiewska. This can be a challenge since the crew is already busy meeting on-board sales targets and looking after passengers, she says, but it is crucial: “How well the [waste] segregation is done really depends on how much effort they put into it.”
    The environment is not the only concern on the minds of Golebiewska and others. Cabin waste costs the industry $500m (£400m) per year, according to IATA, a figure that it says is rising faster than waste volumes thanks to growing disposal costs. Bringing this down will require airlines to take a different approach to procurement, says Matt Rance. If they can be persuaded to focus on a product’s full life cost, rather than unit price, then investing in more durable headsets or blankets and ditching disposables starts to make sense, he says.


    1. The waste airlines produce
    A. does not only refer to food.
    B. is all burnt.
    C. is twice as much as it used to be 15 years ago.

    2. The Spanish project launched last autumn
    A. contemplates the separation of waste without any human intervention.
    B. intends to separate waste on board.
    C. is trying to reduce the airlines waste by limiting the sector’s growth.

    3. In Britain
    A. Gatwick Airport is planning to open a plant to recycle waste.
    B. Heathrow Airport currently produces 70% of its power through recycled waste.
    C. they are reducing road transportation of waste in some of the main airports.

    4. In US
    A. United Airlines cups can be used as fertilizers.
    B. United Airlines donates uneaten food to homeless and women’s shelters.
    C. Virgin recycles all parts of its headsets to make floors.

    5. For Michael Gill,
    A. dairy and honey from airlines could well be used to feed animals.
    B. donating food is a sensible solution.
    C. waste from airplanes should be incinerated or buried.

    6. According to Magda Golebiewska, in EU
    A. all waste is processed equally, no matter what its origin is.
    B. airports mark waste bags with their origin.
    C. the waste from inside and outside the EU is separated.

    7. For Magda Golebiewska
    A. airlines’ ground staff have a crucial role in waste segregation.
    B. flight attendants are already doing a lot of work.
    C. pilots should be responsible for waste segregation.

    8. In the last paragraph, it is said that
    A. not using disposable products would be a good solution.
    B. the price of getting rid of waste is not going up.
    C. waste volumes are being successfully controlled.



    KEY
    1A 2B 3C 4A 5A 6A 7B 8A

    viernes, 19 de mayo de 2017

    The hotel that time forgot

    Across the border from Syria, in a forgotten Lebanese city, sits an unexpected building, the Grand Hotel Palmyra.



    Just across the border from war-torn Syria, in a forgotten city, is an unexpected sight: the Hotel Palmyra.
    This hotel is different than others because time has washed away the walls, time has left this impact. It is, it is a journey into the past. So many people has passed through this hotel.
    This hotel has been here since 1874. And this is why we try to keep it as it is. The city of Baalbek has changed, of course. It's feeling the impact of the war on one side of the borders, but it's also feeling the effects of economic depression that's affecting the whole country. At one point, there were no visitors to speak of, and that was very difficult.
    The hotel used to be a haven for visitors because of the ancient Roman ruins just outside its doors.
    It is a constant reminder of the importance of Baalbek. And this is something that was not accidentally built here.  If I wanted to describe the view in front of me daily, when I look out of the window, when I come to the hotel, I'd be speechless. And generally, it's hard for me to be speechless.
    The smell of this hotel is of carpets, old walls, and uh, rusty faucets, but that makes me smile. And this is, I think, essentially what memories are all about.
    The old personnel that has been here since the '50s and some, from the '60s, have stayed with us
    because, to them, it's home.
    And this is the feeling that keeps them going, even with tourism dwindling in this region.
    We have never closed the doors of the hotel. No one has a right to touch Hotel Palmyra, except for time.

    jueves, 18 de mayo de 2017

    This gardener regularly grows 100-pound vegetables

    Growing up in a very large family, Phillip Vowles learned to appreciate the effort it took to feed all his brothers and sisters. So when he started harvesting his own crop, he decided to supersize his project. As Phillip says, “big vegetables feed big families.” Today, his giant veggies top-out at over 100 pounds and can feed more than just a few families.



    Good day!
    We grow giant marrows, four foot in a month. 45 inches. These marrows would taste exactly the same as a normal marrow. Nice and tender and lush. Some of them look a bit tough, but once you cut into them, they cut like butter.
    My name is Phillip Vowles. I live in Llanharry, Wales and I grow giant vegetables. I've been growing giant vegetables now for the last 30 years.
    I come from a very large family. My mother had 17 children. 13 of us survived, and I think, you know, that was something, you know, big vegetables feed big families.
    You know, I’m up here every morning, every night, every single day of the week. There's a lot of love and care goes into it. Sometimes I do a bit of talking to them as well to encourage them to grow, which is a bit of, you know, a bit of fun.
    I think he's just about finished growing there now.
    I got to be very careful the wife is not about when I start talking to my vegetables, but it's all good fun. I broke the world record for the heaviest cucumber what, 25 years ago. It weighed 18 1/2 pound and it was just incredible the way it grew.
    When I started, if we had a marrow 20, 30 pound in weight, you had a big marrow. Now, we're up over a 100 pound in weight. A normal cabbage would be two pound in weight, but we're growing 'em 120 pound. You know, you can feed 120, 130, 140 people off one cabbage. This is why I supply the local pub, and they use 'em up for Sunday lunch.
    I've developed my own strain, more or less, now. I select my own seed every year, the biggest and the best seed, and it just seems to be improving which is incredible. I grow organically.
    I had to think, if I can do it, anybody can do it, and it's a big thrill every day. The wife say, "What am I doing up the lot every day?" And when she comes up she realize.

    miércoles, 17 de mayo de 2017

    Talking point: Playing

    This week's talking point is playing. Before getting together with the members of your conversation group, go over the questions below so that ideas come to mind more easily the day you get together with your friends and you can work out vocabulary problems beforehand.

    How often do you play these days?
    How often did you use to play as a child?
    What games do you remember from your childhood?
    How do children play?
    How do adults play?
    What do children and adults gain from playing?
    Do today’s children play differently from in the past?
    Consider these areas and the photos to help you think of ideas:
    physical skills – social skills – experience – knowledge
    What is your attitude to online gaming?
    How do you think playing online games can be useful?

    Do the statements below express your attitude to play? Discuss.
    ‘Adults have lots of different forms of entertainment but only children really play.’
    ‘Everyone should play an organised sport. Playing sport is good for us –physically and mentally.’
    ‘Toys and games should be educational so that children learn while they are playing.’
     ‘Childhood is a time when you should play as much as possible –there’s plenty of time for work when you’re older.’





    martes, 16 de mayo de 2017

    After life-shattering loss, Sheryl Sandberg reaches out to others in grief

    As one of the best known female executives in the world, Sheryl Sandberg had resources and support when her husband died at 47, but that didn't stop grief from engulfing her and their children. In her new book Option B, Sandberg writes about grief and resilience in the face of adversity, and offers advice for others experiencing personal tragedy. Sandberg sits down with Judy Woodruff.

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



    1. Sheryl Sandberg’s husband died over two years ago.
    2. When she returned to work, Sheryl had difficulties controlling her grief in public.
    3. After all this time, Sheryl sometimes cries and sometimes feels she can’t control her urge to cry.
    4. One of the most difficult things for Sheryl was connecting with people when she went back to work.
    5. The tips Sheryl has included in the book are based on her own attitude and behaviour with people going through extreme situations in life.
    6. Sheryl’s attitude after her husband’s death was an obstacle for her recovery.
    7. It is quite common for a worker to get paid time off work if a close relative is all or has died.
    8. Sheryl has been accused of sometimes having a conservative outlook on life.
    9. The US is the only developed country in the world without paid maternity leave

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Finally tonight, a conversation with Sheryl Sandberg about coping with grief and resilience in the face of adversity.
    That’s the subject of a new book in which she writes candidly about a personal tragedy, the loss of her husband, Dave Goldberg.
    I visited her at Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park, California. Our interview took place nearly two years after Sandberg and her husband went on vacation in Mexico with friends. Sandberg woke up from a poolside nap, saw that Dave wasn’t there, and soon went looking for him.
    She found him lying on the floor of the hotel gym next to the treadmill. As they later learned, he had suffered a cardiac arrhythmia. He was just 47 years old.
    As the chief operating officer of Facebook, and one of the best known female executives in the business world, Sandberg had all the resources and support one could imagine. But none of that would lessen the grief that engulfed her and their two young children.
    SHERYL SANDBERG, Chief Operating Officer, Facebook: In those early days and weeks, it feels like you’re not going to get through a minute, let alone a day.
    My biggest fear was that my kids would never be happy again, that their happiness would have been wiped away in that same instant we lost Dave.
    There are people who had been through loss and been through real adversity who told me it gets better. And I didn’t believe them.
    JUDY WOODRUFF: Ten days later, when she returned to work, it was hard to focus on running a social media giant, with 17,000 employees and more than a billion daily users.
    Suddenly, one of the most successful women in business was struggling to hold it together at the office.
    SHERYL SANDBERG: When Dave first died, I felt like I was in a void, like I couldn’t breathe, or catch my breath.
    I thought at first — I just thought, I’m never going to get through this. I can’t contribute. I can’t even get through a meeting without crying.
    JUDY WOODRUFF: A month after his death, she posted a tribute to Dave on Facebook. She wrote about mistakes she had made in the past when friends lost loved ones.
    She included advice from a close friend about how to handle a father-son event. Option A, Dave, wasn’t available. Instead, the friend said it was time to grab onto option B. But he used stronger language than that. It became Sandberg’s mantra, and it’s the name of her new book.
    SHERYL SANDBERG: There are things you can do, steps you can take to help yourself and your kids recover.
    And I learned that resilience, it’s not something we have one set amount of. It’s a muscle, and we build it. And if this helps anyone, even just a little bit, themselves or a friend, then I think I will have found some meaning in this.
    JUDY WOODRUFF: Is the book also about helping you get through it?
    SHERYL SANDBERG: The book is trying to help other people hear what I couldn’t hear at the beginning.
    It does get better. I will always miss Dave. I miss Dave every day. But that feeling of not being able to breathe has passed. I can breathe now. And, sometimes, I think of him and cry, but, sometimes, I think of him and smile. And my children can think of their father and smile. And I want other people going through this to know it’s possible.
    JUDY WOODRUFF: “Option B” is not just about Sandberg’s personal journey and loss. It offers ideas and advice for people who’ve experienced their own trauma.
    Co-written with psychologist and bestselling author Adam Grant, the book puts a big emphasis on what Sandberg calls the elephant in the room.
    SHERYL SANDBERG: It’s not just the loss, or the cancer, or losing a job, or someone in your family going to jail. It’s the silence that surrounds that.
    And so, when I lost Dave, I had this overwhelming grief, but also just this isolation I had never felt in my life. I had always felt really connected to my friends, neighbors and family, people I work with.
    But when I came back to work, people barely spoke to me. They looked at me like I was a deer in the headlights. And I know they meant well. They were afraid to say the wrong thing, so they said nothing at all.
    JUDY WOODRUFF: What’s just one of the ways that people should be able to take away from your experience about how to reach out to someone who’s going through something like this, something traumatic like this, and for those who are going through it themselves, who aren’t accustomed maybe to reaching out, or who aren’t comfortable, for whatever reason?
    SHERYL SANDBERG: If you’re trying to help someone who’s facing adversity, the first and most important thing is to acknowledge the pain.
    Before, if I had a colleague or a friend who had lost someone, who was going through cancer treatment, I thought bringing it up to them was reminding them. So, I was silent.
    Losing Dave taught me how absurd that was. You can’t remind me I lost my husband. I know that every minute of every day. And so, when people said nothing, particularly in the beginning, how are you felt like, how are — how am I? I just lost my husband.
    And they were asking. I took that as the standard American I’m supposed to — greeting. I’m supposed to say fine and move on. But they meant it. And when I learned to say, I’m not great, or I’m really sad today, or thanks for asking, I don’t want to talk about it right now, I was letting them acknowledge.
    And so it’s really on both sides to acknowledge.
    JUDY WOODRUFF: Sandberg also writes about how important it is not to blame yourself.
    SHERYL SANDBERG: When Dave first died, I thought it was my fault.
    The initial report said he’d died of head trauma from falling off an exercise machine. My brother’s a neurosurgeon, and he told me that wasn’t true.
    When we got the autopsy, we realized he had died of a cardiac arrhythmia. But I still blamed myself, and I blamed myself for a long time. But when Adam told me that, because I was blaming myself, I was going to keep my kids from recovering, because I was going to keep myself from recovering, that really helped.
    We have to show ourselves compassion, the same compassion we would show a friend.
    JUDY WOODRUFF: Sandberg said that, ultimately, family, friends and co-workers, including her boss, Mark Zuckerberg, made a huge difference.
    Not everybody may go back to a supportive environment, making it even harder for them. So, what do you say to people who are thinking, how am I going to face co-workers, what if my employer doesn’t give me the time or the space or the understanding that I need?
    SHERYL SANDBERG: Yes, we have so much to do to make it easier for people at work.
    I’m really lucky. Facebook has great policies. We offer a lot of bereavement leave, a lot of leave of all kinds. And we have done even more since Dave died for people. But we need our workplaces and then our public policy to give people the paid, paid time off they need, because, for a lot of people, if the time is unpaid, they can’t take it.
    JUDY WOODRUFF: Sandberg has become increasingly outspoken about the workplace, family life and women’s equality.
    Her 2012 book, “Lean In,” served as a call to many women to become more assertive. But, to some, Sandberg’s tone smacked of wealthy white privilege. She was criticized in some quarters for failing to appreciate what single parents and non-traditional families go through.
    Now she’s expanded the message to stress the role of government and society in the lives of women.
    SHERYL SANDBERG: We are the only developed country in the world, the only one, without paid maternity leave. And we need that, and paid paternity leave, so men and women are equal.
    We’re one of the only developed countries without paid family leave. I think a lot about going through everything I went through, and also worrying about paying a basic health care bill, about single mothers who wake up every day in this country and worry about whether they can take care of a sick child, or lose their job that they need, about the minimum wage we have.
    Two-thirds of minimum wage workers are women. Minimum wage hasn’t been raised at the federal level in forever. That’s unacceptable.
    JUDY WOODRUFF: Unexpectedly, joy is also an essential message in the book. It’s something Sandberg feared she would never feel again.
    SHERYL SANDBERG: I thought it would always feel that way. And the sadness is still here, but it doesn’t feel like I’m trapped in a void anymore.
    And I have joy, and I have laughter, and I have moments with my kids where we remember their daddy with real joy, and we look at pictures and videos. And I want anyone going through hardship to know that it does get better.
    We all have things we can appreciate. We all have moments that we can notice the joy. We all can find gratitude for being alive. And that doesn’t mean that every story has a happy ending, because it doesn’t. But there are things we can do to build resilience in ourselves and each other that make us stronger.
    JUDY WOODRUFF: Sheryl Sandberg has not only written this book, “Option B,” about her experience. She’s encouraging people going through tragedy to form support groups to be there for each other.

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

    lunes, 15 de mayo de 2017

    Listening test: Mohter's Day

    Listen to a report on Mohter's Day. Match each extract with the corresponding heading A-I. There are two headings you do not need to use.


    source: 5perc Angol

    A - A capitalist celebration
    B - A day to celebrate some other existing traditions
    C - A day to honour all mothers
    D - Attempts to create a day for all mothers
    E - Changing date
    F - It took many years to become popular
    G - Men against Mother’s Day
    H - Origins
    I - Prohibition of the celebration



    Extract 1
    Mother’s Day has been celebrated around the world since ancient times, sometimes as part of a religious event, more and more as a commercial holiday, but always to honour motherhood and mothers, their roles in our families and society.
    Extract 2
    However, the celebration of this holiday falls on various dates in many parts of the world. In most cultures it is held sometime in spring, mostly on the second Sunday in the month of May. In Hungary Mother’s Day falls on the first Sunday of May. It has been a holiday since 1925 when it was first celebrated by the Hungarian Red Cross Youth in connection with the Catholic traditions honoring the Virgin Mary. Three years later it was made an official school holiday.
    Extract 3
    Some say the tradition of Mother’s Day can be traced back to Ancient Greece, the spring festivals dedicated to Cybele, mother goddess of fertility and Rhea, mother of gods, and later to the Romans’ Hilaria festival. The Hindu religion also preceded the Western-type holiday by a couple of centuries with its “Mother Pilgrimage fortnight” celebration. It has also been present as the religious Mothering Sunday celebration in the United Kingdom since the 17th century. However, its modern-day, capitalist version originated from America.
    Extract 4
    There could be some debate about who actually started the Mother’s Day tradition in the US. In 1872 Julia Ward Howe created a special day for mothers through a protest for peace in Boston, remembering all mothers who were left without sons and husbands following the Franco-Prussian War. However, Anna M. Jarvis’ attempts to establish a nationally and internationally acknowledged public Mother’s Day holiday were far more effective. She chose the second Sunday of May for the day to commemorate her own and all the other mothers of the world. She dedicated seven years of energy and time campaigning to reach her goal.
    Extract 5
    In 1914 President Woodrow Wilson officially recognized Mother’s Day as a holiday. To Jarvis’s great sorrow and disappointment, it soon became commercialized by florists, greeting card companies, candy and gift shop merchants. It is through their propaganda that Mother’s Day soon appeared on the European continent as well and spread throughout the world in its modern form. Anna Jarvis, however, spent the rest of her life fighting against the holiday she had established.
    Extract 6
    The reason why the ‘original’ date of Mother’s Day was changed in some countries and cultures was because people wanted to fit it into already existing religious, historical, legendary or even political celebrations dedicated to motherhood. For example, Mother’s Day in Bolivia is also the date of a battle in which women participated and in some ex-communist countries people honor mothers on the socialist International Women’s Day.
    Extract 7
    Father’s Day, which is celebrated around the world on the third Sunday of June and on other dates, also originates from America. It was founded not long after Jarvis’s Mother’s Day in 1910 in Washington by Sonora Smart Dodd who felt her father, a Civil War veteran raising six children as a single parent, deserved to be honored as any mother, together with other fathers of the world. Although at first it did not become as successful as its counterpart, soon it was also discovered by manufacturers of ties, tobacco, pipes and other typically father-presents who helped Sonora spread the holiday with commercial promotion. Eventually, decades after its creation, it only became truly accepted and popular in the mid 1980’s.

    KEY
    1C 2E 3H 4D 5A 6B 7F

    domingo, 14 de mayo de 2017

    Extensive listening: The ten-item wardrobe

    Jennifer L. Scott discovered the ten-item wardrobe concept while living in Paris with Madame Chic and her family.

    In this talk she shares her endearing story, tips on how you can make a ten-item wardrobe work for you, and why living with fewer clothes can not only improve your style, but change your life.

    Jennifer L. Scott is the internationally bestselling author of Lessons from Madame Chic and At Home with Madame Chic (Simon & Schuster) and creator of the blog The Daily Connoisseur.

    You can read the subtitles for the talk by activating the CC option on the player.

    sábado, 13 de mayo de 2017

    Simple English Videos revisited

    We posted about SimpleEnglish Videos back in 2012 but Vicki and Jay refurbished it some weeks ago, so we thought it would be a good idea to remind everyone of the site.
     
    Simple English Videos intends to help learners to speak more fluently and with confidence. To do so, Vicki and Jay show how English is used in real life with videos, ‘with jokes along the way’. They shoot the majority of the videos themselves in their home or in locations nearby with the help of friends and acquaintances.

    Students will find more than one hundred videos on the site grouped under three levels: Elementary, Intermediate and Advanced. The videos are also grouped according to these categories: British and American English; Business English; Grammar; Hangouts; Short conversations; Social English; Songs and stories; Vocabulary.

    In addition, every Sunday they broadcast The English Show live on their YouTube channel, which is full of language practice, game, conversation and raps. 

    Every week the show revolves around a different English-learning aspect: How to improve your listening and vocabulary by watching movies; English questions; English to advance your career; National Fairy Tale Day; Improve your listening with podcasts; Celebrate St Valentine’s Day; UK and US pronunciation differences; How to sell and convince in English; and so on.

    viernes, 12 de mayo de 2017

    Marking 100 years of The Ivy

    The Ivy's been recognised with a green plaque for its contribution to London life. BBC's reporter Frankie McCamley has been behind the scenes of the world famous venue that started life as a small Italian café.

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



    1. What is The Ivy celebrating?
    2. Who was the Royal at the Ivy Miranda Richardson talks about?
    3. When did The Ivy last go over a major refurbishment?
    4. Why is it so difficult to stay at the top of the restaurant world in London?
    5. What famous English dessert is mentioned at the end?

    A familiar sight outside of one of London's most popular haunts for the rich and famous. But today they're not here just to catch a glimpse of the celebrity A-listers on the guest list. The Ivy is celebrating its hundredth anniversary with a commemorative green plaque from Westminster City Council. And behind the iconic stained glass windows is one of the many famous regulars, not short of a story to tell.
    Coming in here with some friends who will remain nameless, on the same evening that Princess Margaret arrived and my friend, disappearing from the table at some point, coming back extremely giddily, she said, I’ve just worn Princess Margaret’s coat.
    This is one of the most sought-after tables here in the restaurant where the likes of Tom Cruise and Kate Moss have sat. It's a million miles away from where it first started, where there were lino floors and paper napkins. Now we're surrounded by famous artwork and dishes made by some of the top chefs in the capital.
    The venue has had different owners over the years and a major refurbishment in 2015 as it’s tried to adapt and keep up with competition in the city.
    It's very difficult to stay at the top in an incredibly and increasingly competitive restaurant world. And people like new. People want to go to the next hottest place, so for restaurants like The Ivy that have been around for a hundred years it's… it's a job to stay relevant.
    And that it has. With a host of celebrities caught on camera here over the years, including the supermodel Kate Moss and Vogue editor Anna Wintour, Posh and Becks, and the American film star Jack Black.  One of the people capturing those moments with Max Cisotti.
    The Ivy was always very important because you always get a good calibre of celebrity. It's just seeing, you know, the lifestyles of the rich and famous and in their more candid situation, sometimes, not always just at official events.
    Along with its infamous shepherd's pie, it's clear this venue has been part of the city’s theatrical history. Now the hope here is it will remain that way in the years to come.
    Frankie McKinley BBC London news in the West End.

    KEY:
    1 its 100th anniversary
    2 Princess Margaret
    3 2015
    4 people like to go to new places
    5 shepherd’s pie



    jueves, 11 de mayo de 2017

    The pupils who went on strike for their teacher

    Some years ago a teacher in Stepney was sacked from his school for encouraging pupils to write poems reflecting life in the East End. Now, he's back with another project.

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



    1. When did Chris Searle teach at Sir John Cass School in Stepney?
    2. What were the poems about?
    3. What did Chris do against the wishes of the head teacher?
    4. How long did the students remain on strike?
    5. According to Faridha Karim, what are the children not interested in?
    6. How many schools did Chris do poetry workshops at?


    Let if flow, Joe
    Let your feelings speak for you
    Let the people know what you know

    They're the honest words of young EastEnders which got this former teacher the sack. Chris Searle taught English at Sir John Cass School in Stepney back in the 70s and encouraged pupils to write poetry about their lives.
    They looked at their area and they saw what was good about it, but they also saw what was bad about it, and that's what came out in their poetry. Quite a lot of their poems talked about bad housing because at that time housing in this area was quite grim for some families.
    Against the wishes of the head teacher he published a book of their revealing work. He was told to leave and hundreds of children walked out in support.
    And I can remember, even as I came out here, there was one of the parents who I knew, who had been quite active in the postman’s strike, he was a postman, and he was teaching them how to picket at the school gates. I mean, this was very much a part of life in East London during that period.
    The children went back after three days but it took Chris two years to be reinstated, so he set up a writers group for his students and other locals, some of whom were young Bengalis.
    It's like a way for these young people who are quite dissociated from what was going on, not interested in education, not interested in… well, not… not feeling like they're involved or included in school and education, and then they kind of came out of their kind of comfort zone.
    Chris has been back in East London working with young people again as part of a new Spoken Word Project.
    The young people that I met in the four schools that I did the workshops in were tremendous, they were full of spirit and full of pride of being East London young people.
    And this new anthology of young East End voices has been published without controversy.
    Ayshea Buskh, BBC London News.

    KEY:
    1 in the 70’s
    2 the good and bad things in the area / bad housing
    3 he published a book with the poems
    4 for three days
    5 their education/school
    6 four

    miércoles, 10 de mayo de 2017

    Talking point: Boredom

    This week's talking point is boredom. 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.

    What is your idea of boredom?
    Which of these situations that make people very bored have you experienced?
    Listening to specific people
    Watching some films or reading some books
    Doing some housework like ironing
    Long-haul flights
    When you are stuck indoors because of the weather
    A dull lecture or class
    Not having anything to do
    Going window-shopping

    What is the most boring aspect of your job or studies?
    Which would you imagine are the most boring aspects of these jobs?
    police detective – airline pilot – teacher – writer

    Does being bored have any benefits?
    Does being bored have any dangers?
    Do people find it harder to deal with boredom today than in the past?
    What physical reactions and body language do we show when we are bored?
    Do you think there might be different types of boredom (like people who actively search boredom or people whose boredom amount to depression)?
    Do animals get bored?

    To illustrate the topic you can watch the video How boredom can be good for you. You can activate the cc captions to read the subtitles.


    martes, 9 de mayo de 2017

    Last call for the phone booth?

    Yes, there's nothing like reaching out and touching someone from a phone booth. They used to be everywhere, but they are now rare coin-operated curiosities. CBS's Mo Rocca looks into the history of the once-ubiquitous phone booth, and of the wi-fi kiosks that are now replacing them in New York City.

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



    1. What kind of birds attacked Tippi Hedren in The Birds?
    2. What question did Peter Ackerman’s son ask him one day?
    3. What does ‘1889’ refer to?
    4. How many pay phones were there in America in the 1990’s?
    5. What does the Payphone Project consist of?
    6. What services are the kiosks replacing the phone booths in New York offering?
    7. How much does a telephone call cost in the remaining telephone booths in Manhattan?

    It’s Sunday Morning on CBS and here again it’s Jane Pauley.
    Those tumbling boxes in the 1980 film Aeroplane are wooden telephone booths like this shinier 1950’s era model with its rotary phone. For some of our younger viewers, a phone booth might as well be a monolith from another world. With Mo Rocca, we remember the good old days...

    [What is this made of?] Some of you may recognize this coin-operated curiosity: [It’s ringing! Hey! Where are you, it’s Mo.] It’s called a phone booth.  Phone booths used to be everywhere, providing an office for agent Maxwell Smart and a sanctuary for Tippi Hedren from killer seagulls in The Birds. Now, they’re so rare that Peter Ackerman wrote a children’s book about this one, one of only four remaining outdoor phone booths in all of Manhattan.
    I walked past this phone booth every day with my kid when he was three years old, and at a certain point, he said to me, ‘Why is that phone in a box?’ And I realized that he didn’t know what a phone booth was, which is so bizarre!
    Are you coming to use a phone booth?
    He is.
    Are you serious?
    Yes.
    For kids, the phone booth has become something of a novelty.
    Kids today hanging on the phone all day long.
    But grown-ups [It’s a phone booth.] can’t be bothered.
    Now you can call anyone but it sounds better if you use the pay phone.
    Would you like to use one? [No.] Could you make a call? You can call anyone with it! Okay.
    The first public coin-operated pay phone appeared in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1889. The first phone booth debuted in the early 1900s. The 1970s brought those semi-enclosed pedestal-style pay phones which, for most of us, Superman included, found lacking. By the 1990s there were nearly three million pay phones in America. But now just a small fraction remain.
    Hello?
    Hi! Is this Mark Thomas?
    Hi, this is Mark, yes.
    Mark, I think this is far easier if we do this face to face.
    Oh, look at that.
    I’m Mo, I was just talking on the phone.
    Mark Thomas  created the Payphone Project, an online database that keeps track of the remaining pay phones around the world.
    What did the payphone do to deserve this?
    Well, the payphone didn’t do anything; the cell phone came along.
    That’s right, our phones got smart, so smart they began putting pay phones out of business.
    Do you see the cell phone as sort of an arriviste, as someone that sort of came along and stole the thunder of the payphone?
    It stole its relevance, and it made communication so simple and so trivial even, that this became a laborious way to make a phone call.
    In New York, and maybe coming to a city near you, pay phones are being replaced by kiosks offering phone calls, free wifi, Internet service, and a port to charge your cell phone.
    Aren’t people with their cell phones enough?
    Jen Hensely is with the company installing them.
    Well, people are on their phones all the time, and this allows them a free way to offload their data plans for people who don’t have access to mobile plans or data. We’re offering that for free. So we think it’s a really important public service.
    I approached this sleek and shiny upstart gingerly and called the only person whose number he actually still remembers: his mother.
    I’m calling you from a special free phone on the street. You’re on TV right now!
    Oh! What channel?
    CBS, Ma. The show that I’m on. CBS Sunday Morning.
    Okay, okay. I’m going to look.
    No, wait, Ma, you’re not on live right now. Are you still there?
    My mother hung up on me, but I can’t blame the kiosk for that. Yet even with all these bells and whistles, my heart belonged to the old-timey phone booth.
    I’ll make a call.
    I knew you would! I knew you’d come around!
    You can call anyone.
    Adam?
    Yes, there’s nothing like reaching out and touching someone from a phone booth.  Oh, and it turns out Manhattan’s four remaining outdoor phone booths are free of charge.
    Now everyone will want to use the pay phone!
    So, yes, we got our quarters back.

    KEY:
    1 (killer) seagulls
    2 Why is that phone in a box?
    3 the year when the first pay phone appeared
    4 almost three million
    5 an online database that keeps track of the remaining pay phones around the world
    6 phone calls, free wifi, Internet service, and a port to charge your cell phone
    7 Nothing, they are free of charge

    lunes, 8 de mayo de 2017

    Listening test: Hair washing

    Listen to a report on hair washing and complete the blanks in the sentences below with up to THREE WORDS. 0 is an example.


    0 Example:
    Queen Elizabeth I of England took a bath about 4 times a year

    1. In the 16th century bathing wasn’t considered to be a _________________ thing to do.

    2. When the narrator grew up, they didn’t have _________________ for their clothes.

    3. Gary Barlow tweeted that he hadn’t washed his hair for _________________ .

    4. The narrator’s _________________ also agrees that washing your hair isn’t necessary.

    5. The anti-washing people say that after ten days the grease goes, the skin calms down and the hair _________________ .

    6. According to the National Hairdressers’ Federation, shampoo is not harmful and it can make your _________________ .

    7. The narrator _________________ using a normal deodorant some years ago.

    Portrait of Queen Elizabeth I at the Royal Museums Greenwich

    Queen Elizabeth I of England took a bath about 4 times a year, they say, even if she didn’t need to. At that time, in the 16th century, bathing was not considered a very healthy or safe thing to do. It wasn’t so much that people didn’t like to be clean; it was more a fear of immersing yourself in water. You might catch something from the water. People, or rich people at least, preferred to wipe their bodies with clean, wet cloths. When I was growing up, many people used to bath and wash their hair only once a week. And people didn’t change their clothes nearly as often as they do today. There were practical explanations for this. The bathroom in the house where I grew up, for example, was freezing in the winter. And we didn’t have modern washing machines for our clothes.
    I was thinking of all this the other day, when I was reading about Gary Barlow, one of the members of the famous Take That boy band, along with Robbie Williams. He tweeted that he had just washed his hair for the first time in 14 years. This produced a lot of reaction, as you can imagine. A number of other celebrities then revealed that they too have given up washing their hair. There’s a group of people who think that washing your hair is not necessary. And my daughter is one of them. They say that not washing your hair is good for both your hair and the skin on your head. But if I don’t wash my hair for a week, my head gets itchy and my hair gets greasy. These anti-washing people say, however, that you have to be patient and that after about 10 days, the greasiness goes, the skin on your head calms down and your hair starts cleaning itself.
    The story was on the BBC website, and of course, the BBC always has to be balanced in its reporting, so they asked somebody from the National Hairdressers’ Federation what they thought. ‘There’s nothing wrong with washing your hair,’ they said. ‘Shampoo does not harm your hair or the skin on your head, and it can make your hair look better. Hair cannot clean itself.’ Well, perhaps, we might expect a hairdresser to say that.
    So what should I do? Follow the no-wash trend? I probably won’t, but you never know, I did give up using a normal deodorant some years ago. I switched to using what’s known as a crystal deodorant, and I’m very happy with it.

    KEY:
    1 healthy or safe
    2 modern washing machines
    3 fourteen years
    4 daughter
    5 starts cleaning itself
    6 hair look better
    7 stopped / gave up / did give up

    domingo, 7 de mayo de 2017

    Extensive listening: A video game to cope with grief

    When Amy Green's young son was diagnosed with a rare brain tumor, she made up a bedtime story for his siblings to teach them about cancer. What resulted was a video game, "That Dragon, Cancer," which takes players on a journey they can't win.

    In this beautiful talk about coping with loss, Green brings joy and play to tragedy. "We made a game that's hard to play," she says, "because the hardest moments of our lives change us more than any goal we could ever accomplish."

    Amy Green writes and designs video games for Numinous Games, whose first title, That Dragon, Cancer, was an intimate autobiography of the life and death of her son Joel Green. Along with her husband and a team of six other developers, she used a video game to artistically portray the surreal emotional landscape of raising a child with a terminal illness.

    You can read the full transcript here.


    sábado, 6 de mayo de 2017

    Reading test: Seven top tips for driving long distances with children

    In this week's reading test we are going to use The Guardian article Seven top tips for driving long distances with children to practise the heading-matching kind of task.

    Read the article and choose the heading A-I which best suits each of the extracts. There are two headings you do not need to use.

    A - Asking the wrong question
    B - Disconnect to connect
    C - Divide the day in well-defined stages
    D - Don’t say you’ll do something you may not be able to do
    E - Get together with other travellers
    F - In-transit activities
    G - Leave early, go slow
    H - Set great destinations
    I - The great distractor

    My wife and I had just bought an old motorhome online so  40,000km, 30 countries and one year later by trial and error and with many tears, often mine, we discovered the best ways to have a great family road trip.

    1
    After a week of solid driving north through the Norwegian fjords towards the Arctic Circle, my family staged a revolution by way of a sit-in, demanding a no-drive day. Revelling in this break, from then on we slowed down, ensuring we were stationary for at least one day in every three. On particularly long driving days, we left early, ensuring everybody was fresh, and arrived before the kids’ witching hour. We stopped regularly at parks or playgrounds, where, unlatched from their seatbelts, the kids ran free like puppies off leashes. This child-friendly pace of dawdling tea stops and long, lazy lunches created as much entertainment as the awesome destinations.

    2
    Armed with colouring and reading books and paper, and with no mobile internet, the kids started entertaining themselves. We sang silly songs, told stories, and sometimes they slept. Occasionally, we counted cows, castles or yellow cars through the windows. At these times I tried not to be game-competitive – there’s little dignity in screaming “I won!” at a two-year-old.

    3
    Being with my children 24/7 for an extended period, I discovered how food constantly simmered in their little minds. Promising it, making it, drawing it, from anticipation to devouring, food was the thing that stopped them from paying attention and focusing. Just murmuring the word gelato could produce well-behaved discipline an army sergeant would yearn for. We also maintained a spare crisp packet in the glovebox of the vehicle at all times, cracked open like a glass-fronted fire alarm, only in emergencies, which seemed to occur quite often.

    4
    Promises of climbing castles, eating food and petting zoo animals could tame even the surliest child. But the great parental trap, the ill-thought-out promise, was to be avoided. When I found there was no gelato in the High Atlas Mountains in Morocco and no Ice Hotel in Sweden (it melts in summer), the disappointment blowback was extreme.

    5
     “Has everybody been to the toilet?” seemed like a reasonable question at the start of each drive. Invariably, the kids said yes. Within five minutes of being on the road, however, the toilet concept sunk in, forcing an emergency pullover. We stopped mentioning it.

    6
    Driving for weeks towards the north pole became a pumped-up adventure once the kids knew they would visit Lapland’s Santa Claus and feed his reindeers. Turkey? Easy – underground cities. Oxford? The grand hall of Hogwarts. Involved in the upcoming stages of our journey, the children would chirp like excited squirrels, making the journey that much better.

    7
    No TV, internet, tablets or phones – it seemed like a good idea to reclaim “old-fashioned” family time and let the kids’ imaginations run wild. And it was – for a week. Soon we began to crave a hit of Google. But immersed in the rarefied air of each other’s company and discovering a new level of mutual attentiveness, we played games, lit fires, counted the bonging of church bells and connected as a family as never before.



    KEY
    1G 2F 3I 4D 5A 6H 7B