domingo, 18 de junio de 2017

How to travel the world with almost no money

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

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

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

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

sábado, 17 de junio de 2017

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

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

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

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

Paris canal is officially clean enough to swim in this summer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

viernes, 16 de junio de 2017

Dangerous overcrowding in London homes

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

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

jueves, 15 de junio de 2017

Shakespearean theatre uncovered in London

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

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

miércoles, 14 de junio de 2017

Talking point: Culture

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

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

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

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

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

martes, 13 de junio de 2017

Amsterdam, first city of the modern age

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

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

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

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

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

lunes, 12 de junio de 2017

BBC News summary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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