jueves, 31 de marzo de 2016

Some Starbucks drinks contain 25 teaspoons of sugar

Campaigners have issued a new warning about the high levels of sugar in drinks sold in high street coffee chains.

Self-study activity:
Watch this short news report and answer the questions below.



1 What are some of the health problems sugar consumption can bring about?
2 How many teaspoons of sugar does a can of coke have?
3 What does '3' refer to when the Starbucks hot mulled fruit drink is mentioned?
4 Why does the man interviewed drink black coffee?
5 What advice are we given at the end?

For many of us the day doesn't properly begin until we've had our morning fix of coffee. Now analysis has shown that what we're drinking isn't just milk and caffeine but worrying levels of sugar.
These are hot drinks and they're very calorific as a result of the sugar content and will contribute to tooth decay, weight gain, particularly when you're not usually associating those products with that much calories and sugar.
As an example, a can of coke has an average of 9 teaspoons of sugar but that's nothing compared to a Caffe Nero's Caramelatte with 13 teaspoons of sugar. A Costa chai latte has 20 teaspoons of sugar but the worst offender was a Starbucks hot mulled fruit drink with 25 teaspoons of sugar, which is over 3 times the recommended daily intake.
The drinks with the highest levels of sugar were found to be flavoured coffee such as mochas and lattes, with many people not realising how much hidden sugar they are drinking.
I'm diabetic so I can't have that.
There are definitely a lot of sugars, I know, in coffee generally. That's why I drink black coffee.
Well, I had a caramel machiatto, so there was plenty more than that in my drink that I chose for myself but it's not something that I frequently have, so it was something that was a treat.
It's a burnt caramel latte so it's probably got even more than that. Love it. Love sugar.
Costa and Starbucks say that they are committed to reducing sugar content, but the advice is to choose hot drinks with less sugar and make it an occasional treat.

miércoles, 30 de marzo de 2016

Talking point: Life-chaning experiences

This week's talking point is life-changing experiences. Before getting together with the members of your conversation group, go over the questions below so that ideas flow more easily when you meet up with your friends and you can work out vocabulary problems beforehand.

Can you think of a time when you made a mistake?
What did you learn from it?
Can you think about an experience you had when you were younger which have been useful to you in later life?
What is one of the most harrowing things you have ever experienced?
And your most rewarding experience so far?
Have you experienced any of these activities? Describe them.
  • Driving very fast
  • Staying out all night
  • Sleeping under the stars
  • Getting lost
  • Doing a parachute jump
  • Giving birth
To illustrate the talk you can watch Diana Laufenberg's talk at TED How to learn? From mistakes.You can read the transcript here.




    martes, 29 de marzo de 2016

    Serving Up School Lunches of Tomorrow

    In this New York Times video, Mark Bittman visits a middle school in San Francisco to learn about a new initiative that aims to engage kids to eat more healthful meals.

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



    1 The way young people eat is important for their health and their future.
    2 There is a statewide food pilot programme in San Francisco schools.
    3 Before the programme, those students who paid got better foods.
    4 The canteen where students have their food looks very much like any other canteen.
    5 Students have the option to rate the food they eat.
    6 Ham is an ingredient in the lunch the reporter tries.
    7 The project in San Francisco is part of a national study.
    8 In some schools students can't get their lunch served lunch before they have to go back to class.
    9 All schools in San Francisco will adapt this programme next year.
    10 The reporter thinks money might be a problem for the implementation of the programme.


    It's back to school time and that includes me, too, as I continue my appointment with the University of California. For most kids, this means rising early, homework, and yes, cafeteria dining. School lunches were never considered fancy fare, but these days we're not only talking about better choices in school lunches, we're talking about food justice and social equity issues. But no matter how you look at it, one thing is clear, if we want to raise healthy people, helping shape the way members of future generations eat is paramount.
    At Roosevelt Middle School in San Francisco there's a pilot program whose aim is to figure out ways to make school food an enjoyable experience for all students, citywide. Zetta Reicker, who directs the San Francisco Unified School District's Student Nutrition Services, walked me through a bit of the background behind their new project, called The Future Dining Experience.
    Historically, we had kind of a one size fits all for our meal program. We've been making changes over the last 10 years. We eliminated a la carte and competitive food so all students have access to all meals.
    So before that, if you paid you got better foods than if you got a free lunch?
    I wouldn't say better food, but different. You had more choice if you had cash and that's not really in line with our goals around social equity.
    But it's not just about providing kids tastier, nutritious food, it's about the whole experience like the actually comfortable lounge we're sitting in.
    Students, they want to have their senses stimulated and then…
    …they don't want to have the food thrown at them.
    Yeah.  They want to feel connected to food, and so the dining space redesign found that students wanted to have a space to do activities. Having a dining space that was just institutional, all the same tables, wasn't fitting their needs. We are also implementing what we call distributed deliciousness, choice through distributed points of service and a different variety of meals, say a grab and go cart, maybe a sandwich or a wrap, things that can be eaten on the go. We are developing a smart mail app, where students can provide input.  But we definitely want them to be able to rate the food, give feedback.
    Speaking of feedback, Zetta had me sample some of their menu items.
    I'm just a fan of free lunch, so…
    Yes, absolutely. Especially when it's delicious, free lunch. So this is the chicken pizza party salad.
    Lettuce, grated cheese, chicken.
    Yes.
    And tomato sauce.
    Yes, and it's antibiotic free chicken.
    Good for you.
    And your sourcing has been OK? Talking and eating at the same time isn't that easy for me.
    I know it has been a little bit more challenging this year, but we're still able to do it and keep within the contract price.
    It's really great. Congratulations. That's really good.
    Yeah, we're very proud.
    This all looks and sounds great, and the food wasn't bad either, but can it really work? That's where Kris Madsen comes in. Dr. Madsen, of the UC Berkeley UCSF Joint Medical Program, is leading a study to evaluate the project.
    We come in and we overlay a scientific evaluation that will hold water with other schools, other districts, both locally, across the state, and even across the nation. And we look to see what really happens? Do kids change their dietary habits? I mean, do they actually eat more fruits and vegetables? Does their diet improve? Can we decrease plate waste in the schools? So how can we get kids to feel like this is my choice, this is what I want, and therefore I'm eating and I'm eating all of it?
    A big question, too, is can this really be used to get the school to improve stuff per the kids desires?
    What really drives their behavior, convenience is huge. So have you ever been in a high school during lunch?
    Well, not for many years.
    Not for many years, right? The lines are out the door, so kids can't even get their meal before the bell rings to go to the next class. So what if you could get your food in a hallway, a mobile cart that sold hot food and you could pick it up and then eat with your friends out in the quad? How do you make the easy choice the healthy choice?
    So when is this starting?
    The school that we're in today, Roosevelt, is one of the pilot schools. We'll tweak it based on what kids say and then next year is when it gets rolled out into 12 schools. And we'll continue to monitor because we want to see what happens in the real world.
    I'm interested in the real world, too, so I joined two students for a meal from a mobile cart to see what they thought.
    I like the food here a lot.
    They just picked you because you were going to say that.
    No, actually it's really good.
    Yeah. This is food that I would make at home.
    It'll be interesting to see how this turns out and if it's socially and financially sustainable because really, anything that can be done to improve kids' nutrition and increase their awareness of our food system should score high marks.


    KEY:
    1T 2F 3F 4F 5T 6F 7T 8T 9F 10T

    lunes, 28 de marzo de 2016

    Listening test: Charities in the UK

    Listen to the description of five British charities and choose the heading A-G that best fits each. There are two headings you do not need to use.



    A - This charity helps members integrate in society
    B - This charity helps people have equal opportunities
    C - This charity was founded almost 300 years ago
    D - This charity was founded by the Queen
    E - This charity was unusual when it started working
    F - This charity works closely with local administrations
    G - This charity works through autonomous projects



    1
    The RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) was the first organisation dedicated to the well-being of animals anywhere in the world. In England and Wales alone, the RSPCA employ more than three hundred inspectors whose job it is to investigate reported cruelty to animals. The SPCA was set up in London in 1824. At this time it was considered strange that people should care about cruelty to animals. They were regarded as either food, transport or sport. In 1840 Queen Victoria gave the organisation permission to be called a royal society: The RSPCA. These days there are almost two hundred branches in the UK.
    2
    The RNIB (Royal National Institute of the Blind) is the UK’s leading charity for the blind. Sight loss is one of the most common disabilities in the UK with over a million people suffering from either partial or total blindness. The RNIB challenges the disabling effects of sight loss by providing information and offering practical services to help people lead as normal a life as possible. The organisation also works on the underlying causes of blindness working towards its prevention, cure or alleviation. The RNIB have centres all over the UK.
    3
    TBG (Tidy Britain Group) is an independent national charity fighting to improve the quality of the local environment. They aim to make people more aware of the negative effects of litter, dog fouling, graffiti and vandalism and to get everyone involved in doing their bit to keep Britain clean. Volunteers work closely with councils and businesses to organise educational programmes. The TBG’s sister organisation, Going for Green, concentrates on pollution issues. The two groups share premises and have the same Chief Executive.
    4
    Mencap is a charity which is dedicated to fighting against discrimination towards those people who suffer from any kind of learning disability. Most of Mencap’s work is campaigning. People with learning disabilities are disadvantaged because of discrimination and lack of funding of community care. Mencap raises awareness by working at local, national and European levels to raise the profile of those issues that affect people with learning disabilities. It also provides services of education, housing and employment as well as support and advice for families and carers of sufferers.
    5
    EveryChild is a relatively new charity which was created when two existing organisations, the CCFGB (The Christian Children’s Fund of Great Britain) and the ECT (European children’s Trust) decided to merge in 1983. The organisation works with children, families and communities in twelve countries. The organisation believes that every child has the right to grow up and develop to their full potential in a secure, safe, family environment, free from poverty and exploitation. EveryChild identifies the needs of a particular community and then sets up sustainable projects to ensure that children in these communities have basic rights such as healthcare, education, social services and community development. EveryChild sets up the projects so that they are self running. The organisation then moves on to new projects, leaving things in the hand of locals.

    KEY:
    1E 2A 3F 4B 5G

    domingo, 27 de marzo de 2016

    Extensive listening: Are Robots Hurting Job Growth?

    This CBS 60 Minute segment deals with the increasing role that robots are playing in our lives and, above all, in the job market. This is the way reported Steve Kroft introduced the segment.

    'One of the hallmarks of the 21st century is that we are all having more and more interactions with machines and fewer with human beings. If you've lost your white collar job to downsizing, or to a worker in India or China you're most likely a victim of what economists have called technological unemployment. There is a lot of it going around with more to come.

    As we reported earlier this year, at the vanguard of this new wave of automation is the field of robotics. Everyone has a different idea of what a robot is and what they look like but the broad universal definition is a machine that can perform the job of a human. They can be mobile or stationary, hardware or software, and they are marching out of the realm of science fiction and into the mainstream.

    The age of robots has been anticipated since the beginning of the last century. Fritz Lang fantasized about it in his 1927 film "Metropolis." In the 1940s and 50s, robots were often portrayed as household help.'

    You can read a full transcript here.

    sábado, 26 de marzo de 2016

    Reading test: 10 ways to feel less busy

    In this week’s reading test we are going to use The Guardian article 10 ways to feel less busy to practise the heading-matching kind of task.

    Match the headings A-H below with their corresponding paragraph 1-6. There are two headings you don’t need to use.

    A - Accept defeat
    B - Build up walls
    C - Give your time away
    D - Practise strategic incompetence
    E - Respect your rhythms
    F - Slow down
    G - Stop feeling proud about how busy you are
    H- Try to-do lists

    10 ways to feel less busy

    1
    “There are no solutions; there are only trade-offs,” said the economist Thomas Sowell – meaning that with resources such as time or money, spending some of it on one thing always means not spending it on something else. It’s literally impossible to get everything done – time is limited; “everything” isn’t – and that’s great news, because it means you needn’t feel guilty for failing. You can turn, instead, on the far more manageable question of which things to deliberately not to do. The vacuuming? The weekly meeting that nobody cares about? Start from the assumption that something’s got to go, and focus on figuring out what.

    2
    If you want more productivity from a machine or a computer, you just run it for more hours, and it’s tempting to assume that humans are the same. But in fact, we’re creatures of pace: two hours of intense work, when you’re at your most focused and refreshed, can be vastly more worthwhile than six when you’re feeling exhausted. If you have the flexibility, organise your day so that the most important matters get your best time, not necessarily the most time.

    3
    In office jobs, there’s one way to avoid being given certain time-consuming tasks: develop a reputation for being rubbish at them. Act as if you don’t understand and panick around the stuck coffee machine, or a frozen computer, and you’ll soon find nobody asks you to deal with it next time around.

    4
    When you’re doing things quickly, it seems sensible to keep your time, saving as many minutes as possible. Yet research on the experience of time suggests we’ve got things wrong: a better way to gain a sense of “time abundance” is to be generous with your time, for example through volunteering. The explanation for this curious effect, researchers speculate, may be the feelings of self-efficacy caused by the voluntary work: successfully do something useful, and you’ll be subconsciously reassured of your capabilities, making you more confident about the chances of getting more useful things done in future.

    5
    The last thing you want to hear when you’ve got lots of tasks to do is that cultivating patience might be part of the solution. But our urgency-addicted culture is at the centre of the busyness problem, according to the addiction researcher Stephanie Brown. We’re convinced that with just a bit more speed we could stay in control. When you’re already on this urgency dynamics, it can feel painful to try to go slowly – but you may end up getting more done if you try. Experiment with doing nothing at all for 10 minutes between tasks: the harder that feels, the more you may need it.

    6
    Complaining about how busy you are is “pretty obviously pride disguised as a complaint,” in the words of the essayist Tim Kreider: “Your life cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day.” But the truth is that all that pride probably makes you feel even busier, because we believe the things we tell ourselves, while making others feel rushed, too. And if you insist that, no, you’re genuinely that busy… well, are you sure you can spare the time to be complaining about it?




    KEY:
    1A 2E 3D 4C 5F 6G

    viernes, 25 de marzo de 2016

    BBC Animated Travel Shorts -Barcelona

    Find out what happens when you out an eccentric con artist in Spain.

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


    BBC Travel Shorts, Ep1: Barcelona from Dacapo on Vimeo.

    1 What was the relationship between the protagonist and Kate, his wife, at the time this story happened?
    2 What time of the year was it?
    3 Why did Kate want to buy a couple of these marionettes?
    4 How did the marionettes work, according to the vendor?
    5 What did the protagonist shout when he noticed how the marionettes really worked?
    6 What did Kate do after the commotion? 

    There's a great museum in Barcelona devoted to Pablo Picasso, a Museo Picasso, and Kate, my wife, although she was my girlfriend at the time, and I had just walked out of that museum and noticed a crowd of people standing around watching a street vendor. And we moved closer, as if pulled in by some kind of tourist tractor beam.
    What the guy was selling were these dancing cardboard cut-outs. They were in the image of Disney characters and other cartoons, and each cut-out had two legs made of coloured yarn and little black magnets for feet. And they were dancing to the tune of the beat coming out of his cassette boombox. They were cute, these little cardboard Bart Simpsons and Pokemons, bopping back and forth and he demonstrated them - when he stopped the music, they stopped dancing. When he started the music, they started again.
    It was right before Christmas. He was making a killing with these magical copyright-flaunting stocking-stuffers. The people in the semicircle around him were thrusting money at the guy.
    "Homer Simpson, por favor!"
    "Yo quiero SpongeBob SquarePants!"
    But when Kate reached for her wallet to get a couple of them for her brother, I told her to hold on. But how did they work? I asked her. How could cardboard with string legs dance? She shrugged. Not interested.
    The vendor didn’t speak English and I didn’t speak Spanish but that didn’t stop me from asking him how they worked and he picked one of his little miracle marionettes up and showed us the back of it. There was a little plastic hook. “Vibration”, he said.
    “Vibrations”, Kate repeated, and at a tone that marked my ignorance of basic physics. “It’s science”, she said, and then she went back to her wallet.
    Well, that makes no sense. Vibrations? My eyebrows furrowed and I crossed my arms like a cross between Indiana Jones and a Jedi, which is how I like to think of myself. Then I squatted down and squinted at the cardboard cartoons as they jerked on their little string legs to the beat of the music. And suddenly, I was staring at the guy's legs, so I looked up.
    "No, no, no, no!", he shouted at me. He waved his finger in my face. That's when I knew something was rotten in Denmark. I might have given up if he hadn't done that, but it was the glove slap across the cheek, the gauntlet thrown down - I now had to prove it was a scam.
    He walked off to go help an eager buyer throwing cash at him, and I gingerly stepped to the edge of the semicircle of people. And I put my head so close to the wall that I could see behind the dancing Disneys - and behind his boombox. Behind the boombox, a little plastic stick moved back and forth. And from the end of the stick I followed a nearly invisible line of fishing wire to where it attached to the wall. Lisa Simpson and SpongeBob were hanging on the wire, the stick moved to the beat of the music. It was as ingenious as it was fraudulent.
    I stood up and shouted above the music and the tourists and announced, "It's a scam!” "They're dancing on fishing wire, it's a scam!" The crowd froze in place, except for the motion of reinserting euros back into their wallets, and the scammer angrily stopped the music and threw his tiny dancers to the ground in a huff. He angrily stared at me as I walked across his little stage area, smugly smiling back at him and into the crowd.
    No-one thanked me, but that didn't hurt. What hurt was that when I looked around for Kate and that look of admiration I expected on her face, she had gone. She ran off. When I later caught up to her, she told me that the scam artist was so angry that she thought he was going to hit me or attack me or something, so instinct told her to run.
    "Let the Wookiee win," that's her philosophy.

    jueves, 24 de marzo de 2016

    Trans-fats in foods you might not expect

    Trans-fats are unsafe to eat and must be banned from the food supply within three years, US regulators have said.

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



    1 How many burgers are cooked at that restaurant?
    2 What did Chef Jeff Tunks stop doing several years ago?
    3 What does '7,000' refer to?
    4 How much have transfats been reduced in the last decade?
    5 In which product are transfats usually hidden?
    6 What illnesses are Americans struggling with?

    5,000 burgers are cooked every week at this restaurant. None of them contain transfats. Chef Jeff Tunks stopped using the controversial ingredient [transfats] several years ago after becoming worried about his own health. He welcomes a wider ban.
    Transfat is a hidden fat in a sort of deceiving us sometimes you go to a restaurant with the expectations of fresh food, prepared wholesome stuff for you but there’s the underlying thing of how is the food cooked, what’s the fat that is fried in and stuff, so I think it’s a great ban that people can go down and be confident there’s more transparency.
    Transfats are linked to a number of health problems. According to regulators, eliminating it could prevent an estimated 7,000 deaths from heart disease and 20,000 heart attacks a year. But some Americans don’t want the government telling them what to eat.
    I think people need to make more informed choices about what they’re eating, so maybe telling people that there is or is not transfat is a good idea. I don’t think the government should really have any say in it necessarily.
    I don’t think a lot of people pay attention to nutrition so much, so one day see something that looks tasty they are just go for it and it may be better to have a little bit of paternalism, a little bit of somebody looking over your shoulder to say, well, that’s probably not so good for you.
    The food industry has already taken strides in the last decade to reduce transfats by 85%, but they are still used to prolong shelf-life in some mass-produced food.
    Well, we’ve got a very yummy-looking burger here, but a lot of people will be surprised to learn that the transfat is more likely to be hidden in the bread.
    Yes, most definitely. If you’re buying from a commercial bakery in high quantity and stuff for stabilisers and preserve shelf-life, transfat I’d probably be more in the bread than it is to be.
    Shelf Tunks now makes his own bread but the Restaurant National Association that option isn’t open to smaller businesses and other foods containing transfats simply can’t be replaced.
    There is certain applications like the baked goods and the pizza crust and the whipped toppings where there is just really no good alternative from that standpoint. So finding those other alternatives that are being able to meet the demand from the food supply standpoint but also be healthier alternatives.
    Government’s advice on nutrition has not always been good. At one point transfats were thought to be better than other fats, but as America struggles with obesity and other diet-related illnesses, more food regulation seems inevitable.
    Jane O’Brian, BBC News, Washington.

    miércoles, 23 de marzo de 2016

    Talking point: Memory lane

    This week's talking point is memory. Before getting together with the members of your conversation group, go over the questions below so that ideas flow more easily when you meet up with your friends and you can work out vocabulary problems beforehand.

    Do you have a good memory or have you got a memory like a sieve?
    What methods do you use to help you remember things? Choose from the list below.
    lists - repeating information to yourself - 
    mobile phone reminders - making up a story - 
    associating words with pictures - 
    putting up reminder notices
    When you forget something, what are useful ways to jog your memory?
    Have you ever had problems with forgetfulness?
    Have you ever had an embarrasing experience because your mind went blank?
    What can a person do to improve their memory?
    How has your memory changed compared to 10 or 15 years ago?
    What is old people's memory like?
    What kind of music, smells or tastes brings back memories for you?
    What is your earliest memory?
    Have you ever been a witness to a crime or a serious incident? If so, was it difficult to remember all the details?
    Which of these things help you best to recall past events? How and why?
    music - smells - photographs - objects - 
    tastes - talking to family and friends

    To illustrate the topic you can watch this video about memory and old age.



    Will I lose my memory when I get old?
    Your brain is shrinking. Well if you're over 30 it is. After that, on average, you lose a bit less than 0.5 percent of your brain volume every year. Reach ninety and you may have lost over a third of your hippocampus, the seahorse-shaped bit of the brain vital for making memories, and you’ll have said goodbye to 14 percent of your cerebral cortex, the grey matter  responsible for useful things like thinking, emotions and speech. Worse still, scientists used to believe the adult brain’s fixed and unable to change like concrete. So losing some was a serious matter.
    In 2000 researchers began to investigate a group of London taxi and bus drivers. The bus drivers trained for six weeks and then rode the same routes every day, whereas the taxi drivers had trained for up to four years memorizing some 25,000 streets. The researchers took MRI scans of both bus and taxi drivers but it was the cabbies' brain that showed something incredible: Their brains contained far more gray matter in the back part of the hippocampus than the bus drivers.
    Here is what scientists think was going on. Inside our brains are trillions of synaptic connections, chemical and electrical impulses, that transfer messages between the body and the brain like millions of cabbies taking millions of patrons to different destinations. In memorizing and using their mental matter, the cabbies’ brains adapted and changed creating more synaptic connections. So it turns out the brain isn't like concrete but more like putty or plastic, able to adapt to our demands. Scientists call this adaptability neuroplasticity. This new discovery is great news because while you might not be able to stop your brain shrinkage it seems you can compensate by building new connections if you stay mentally active, challenging your brain like a London cabbie.
    To discover more about your plastic brain go to you www.hellobrain.eu.

    martes, 22 de marzo de 2016

    Brothers of invention

    This is a New York Times video about the Weller brothers and how they ended up working together in the same start-up company.

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



    1 Marcus and Mitchell got on very well when they were kids.
    2 Marcus and Mitchell run several companies together.
    3 It was Marcus who had the idea for the Skully helmet.
    4 Marcus is the thinker of the two and Mitchell the doer.
    5 Marcus and Mitchell's dad also helps in the business.
    6 When they were children the family was quite wealthy.

    Our mom used to say when we were kids and we’d fight, we’d argue. She’d say, ‘some day, you guys gonna be best friends’. And I was like, no, no. That’s no way. I’m never gonna be friends with Mitch.
    We’re not several-time Silicon Valley tech entrepreneurs. This is our first company together and we are doing something not because something is something we know we can do but it’s something that we really feel we have to do.
    This is me… This is us. And then you get the heck out of here and go finish those slides.
    Thanks, brother, for taking away my dignity.
    So the Skully helmet is, essentially, a fighter pilot helmet for motorcyclists.
    It's an augmented reality motorcycle helmet that takes a 180-degree viewing angle, rear-facing camera, GPS navigation, and telemetry information, and presents it in an infinite focus head-up display.
    Marcus brought the first prototype, the kind of alien-headed prototype, over to family Christmas. And so I tried it on for the first time. And it sucked. It was obvious that this was, like, the first one. But it showed promise to the advance that this could have.
    I first thought about bringing Mitchell out to help with Skully when the business started really taking off. It was basically in November of last year where I said, I think you should come out here and help, you know. I want you to know that failure is still more likely than success right now. And there's a good chance that I won't be able to pay you for a while. But you can sleep on my couch.
    When the opportunity came around, I was like, this is my brother.  I mean, he needs my help. And so as soon as he said it, we just got down to brass tacks and made it happen. In the dynamic that Marcus and I have, he's thinker, I'm the doer. I don't really consider myself to be a tech executive. I'm just the guy that makes stuff happen.
    It's so critical to have a co-founder that you've got a very, very strong relationship with, one that you can trust, and one that you know you can depend on. And Mitch and I have done that our whole lives.
    Whoo, the life story. Okay, so I am born and raised in Minnesota, born in St. Paul, and have basically moved around all of the different suburbs with Marcus and my mother. I don't know who was more mischievous. I think it was him. We both went through different phases of different things. And my dad kind of went out of the picture. So we were on our own. And our mom was raising us. And she was just really trying her best to provide an environment for us that was good. And as I look back on it, I have memories of going to the food bank and getting our groceries for the week. But we always had each other's back. If somebody messed with my brother, they were going to get it. They were going to get it hard. 
    Is a filet going to be a good choice? Or is there a better steak here? 
    No. The filet is definitely the way to go. But I will say that the burger is the bomb.
    It was definitely a surprise that Skully pulled the family together. I completely was prepared to have that regret—how I spent too much time working and not enough time, you know, spending time with family. 
    This is definitely better than grandma's.
    I wouldn't go that far.
    How's she doing?
    Not well. 
    What does Mom say?
    I mean, at this point, it's just pain management, comfort.
    It's interesting now. My brother and I are facing these challenges together. It sort of holds everything together and the attention in the one place, whereas we all had our separate things going on. And so we'd have to find an excuse or reason or a holiday to pull that all together.  But now, it's very easy for my mom to call. And I just put it on speakerphone. And Mitch is right there. And we just have this jam session.
    She's just been very happy that we found something in our lives that has brought us together and combined the efforts of both of us, and, you know, of the entire family, around a common cause.  I think it's probably pretty gratifying for our mother as well, to know that she was right.

    KEY:
    1F 2F 3T 4T 5F 6F

    lunes, 21 de marzo de 2016

    Listening test: On family and friends

    Listen to a radio programme on family and friendship. For sentences 1–8 complete the gaps with the missing information. 0 is an example. You will hear the information twice.



    On family and friends

    Example:
    0. Euripides was born in  Greece.

    For Euripides a good friend is as good as  1 _________________ relatives.

    Jenny Lewis has written a book on the importance of 2 ______________.

    In Jenny’s opinion today the family unit is a vital 3 _________________.

    Friends share interests or enjoy 4 _________________ .

    Family is 5 _________________ to control than friends.

    Two important qualities we demand of friends are 6  ________________ and being 7  _________________ .

    People with good close friends are happier and 8 _________________ .



    Presenter On tonight’s programme we look at the issue of friendship. According to the Greek dramatist Euripides ‘one loyal friend is worth ten thousand relatives’ and for many of us our friends may have more influence on us than our family. But who is really more important? With us in the studio is family psychologist Jenny Lewis, who has just written a book on the importance of friends in our lives. Jenny, if we could choose, would many of us put our friends before our family?
    Jenny I don’t think so. Interestingly, although family structures are changing radically and traditional models are, to some extent, disappearing, many of us still see the family unit as a vital part of our lives.
    Presenter So, why do we need friends?
    Jenny Well, friendships are basically connections between people who might share similar interests or simply enjoy each other’s company. Another point is that we can control friendships more easily than other relationships. Remember another well-known saying ‘You can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family’. There’s a lot of simple truth in that.
    Presenter Do we normally have the same idea about what friendship means?
    Jenny Not really. In my book there are a lot of case studies which illustrate very different points of view. You might see your friends once a week and enjoy doing something together and then not see or speak to them again for another week. But other people demand more of their friends and expect them to always be there in times of crisis. Qualities such as loyalty and being reliable are often mentioned as important to friendships. A lot of it is to do with self-esteem and choice. We choose each other as friends and this makes us feel important and happy.
    Presenter Do we usually have a lot of friends or one close friend?
    Jenny Again, it varies. However, studies have shown that we probably have about up to 30 friends in our lives but only about six of them would be considered ‘good’ friends. There is evidence that people who have close friends tend to be happier and live longer.
    Presenter Jenny, thank you for coming in. If you’re interested in Jenny Lewis’ book you can call us on 0207 946 0353.

    KEY:
    1 – 10,000
    2 – friends [in our lives]
    3 – part [of our lives]
    4 – each other company
    5 – more difficult
    6 – loyalty
    7 – reliable
    8 – live longer



    domingo, 20 de marzo de 2016

    Extensive listening: The Truth about Your Teeth

    This is the first episode of a two-part BBC documentary about how the British look after their teeth.

    BBC reporter Jasmine Harman meets Sam, a talented singer who has been silenced by the look of her mouth. Can lead dentist Serpil Djemal build up her teeth and her confidence so she can sing again?

    We also meet Joe, a young man who has the teeth of an old-age pensioner. Serpil must use all her skill and artistic talent to make his mouth match his age.

    And the clinic welcomes a family from Birmingham with six kids, all with a seriously sweet tooth! Together they discover the secret to snacking is not about what you eat but when you eat it. And they uncover the truth of how to brush your teeth perfectly.

    Dr Chris Van Tulleken continues his investigation to find the latest scientific discoveries that can change how we look after our teeth. He gives himself gum disease to see if a healthy mouth can add years to your life. He also investigates the hidden sugars in food, and finds out if the drinks we thought were harmless are really dissolving our teeth.

    sábado, 19 de marzo de 2016

    Bangkok Post: Developing listening and vocabulary through the latest news

    At the turn of the year Jeffrey Hill (who else?) posted about Bangkok Post in The English Blog.

    The newspaper from the Thai capital sports a more than interesting section for English language learners which we can find by clicking on  the heading "learning" after displaying the menu.

    Here we will find a wide choice of updated news for English students at advanced, intermediate and elementary (easy) level.

    Most of the news items come together with an audio file and can be listened to and downloaded. In addition, a detailed glossary for vocabulary development is included.



    viernes, 18 de marzo de 2016

    What is a leap year?

    This is a great video to understand leap years.

    Self-study activity:
    Watch the video two or three times and explain leap years in your own words.




    You probably know that this year, 2012, is a leap year, and that means that this year we get an extra day on February 29th. So instead of having 365 days this year there'll be 366. Great, an extra day, who really cares? Well, people born on February 29th on some previous leap year, also known as leaplings, they care because they finally get to celebrate their real birthday. But for the rest of us it's just a day like any other day -whoop dee doo!
    So why do we go to all the trouble to have a leap year? Well, I'll explain. Now we all understand a day. One full day is actually how long it takes for the Earth to spin around exactly once. And a year is how long it takes for the Earth to orbit the sun exactly once.
    So while the Earth orbits around the sun in a full year it spins around 365.25 times. In other words, one full year equals 365.25 days. This is called the astronomical year. But here's the problem: Our calendar year is only 365 days, and that's because there's really no way to have a .25 day. And so those extra .25 days, they just keep accumulating, and what they do is make it so that the stars slowly drift out of sync with our calendar.
    So this is where Leap Year comes in to save the day. Every year we set aside those .25 days, until the fourth year when they equal one full day. And then on that fourth year we put that extra day on February 29th and we call it Leap Day. Bam! We're back in sync. That's why February 29th exists. Cool.
    But the real interesting thing is how we humans figured this all out. It really was the Egyptians who first figured out Leap Year. They noticed by watching the stars, specifically the Sirius star, that the astronomical year was actually 365.25 days, and they noticed this by seeing the Sirius star slowly drifting out of sync.
    But the western world wasn't so fast to figure this all out. It wasn't until many centuries later when Julius Caesar, with the help of an astronomer, discovered just like the Egyptians first did that the year is really 365.25 days.
    And they created the Julian Calendar with the Leap Year that we know and love to fix that problem. Well done, Julius.
    Well...not so fast. You see, if you want to get really exact about it, the astronomical year is actually 365.2422 days which is 11 minutes 14 seconds shorter than the Julian Calendar. And that means in 128 years from now, if we use the Julian Calendar, we'll be off again by one full day.
    So today, we use a revised version of the Julian Calendar. It's called the Gregorian Calendar because Pope Gregory initiated it. The Gregorian Calendar is just like the Julian Calendar, but it's got a few more rules.
    So while every fourth year is a leap year, every year that's divisible by 100 are now no longer leap years. And that means that years 1700, 1800 and 1900, those were not leap years, even though they normally would be.
    And here's another rule: If the year is also divisible by 400, then it is still a leap year, which means that the year 2000… that was a leap year.
    And with all those complicated rules, our calendars can stay in sync with the stars for millennia to come.
    But... one more thing. Did you know that the earth's rotation is slowing at a rate of .005 seconds per year? And that means in about 2 billion years we're gonna have to have to add one more leap year to keep us in sync. But don't worry, we've got plenty of time to revise the calendar and fix that.

    jueves, 17 de marzo de 2016

    Is This The Most Dangerous School Run In The World?

    Inhabitants from the Dhaing village in Nepal have no choice but to face danger on a daily basis. They are forced to endure a hazardous river crossing by rope bridge to attend school, go shopping or meet friends and family who live the other side of the Trishuli River.

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



    1 Why is Nepal’s Trishuli River well-known?
    2 How many of these bridges are there in Nepal?
    3 Why don't people use permanent bridges?
    4 What happened in 2010?
    5 Which plan has the Prime Minister announced?

    Could this be the most extreme school run in the world? The rapidly flowing waters of Nepal’s Trishuli River might be well known to (1) adventure sports enthusiasts, but these residents of the Benighat district take their lives in their hands often several times a day using hand-operated cable crossings to reach the other side.
    (2) There are almost a dozen of these crossing in the area and many more throughout Nepal, which villagers use to reach shops, visit relatives and friends, or simply to go to school.
    (3) There are few permanent bridges on the river and they are many miles apart, forcing the locals to use these more direct if less safe routes.
    In recent years, accidents have increased demand for foot bridges to be built in the area. (4) In 2010, 5 people died falling into the water when a cable snapped, and many others have suffered injuries, including losing fingers.
    Recently, Nepal’s Prime Minister K.P. Oli announced a plan to (5) replace the cable crossings with 366 suspension bridges over the next 2 years, and in January 2016 the first of these bridges connecting the villages of Manthali and Gimdi over the Baghmati River was opened.
    As the rest of the bridges are built, it could mean the end for the cable crossings. But for now, they remain the only direct route for thousands of people living in remote areas.

    miércoles, 16 de marzo de 2016

    Talking point: Bullying

    This week's talking point is bullying. Before getting together with the members of your conversation group, go over the questions below so that ideas flow more easily when you meet up with your friends and you can work out vocabulary problems beforehand.

    What is the relationship of this picture with school life?
    What recent (news) stories have you heard about it?


    DISCUSSION
    1. What different types of bullying are there?
    2. What kind of person is a bully?
    3. What kind of person is bullied?
    4. Why do people bully other people?
    5. Is bullying a big problem in Spain?
    6. Was bullying a problem when you were at school?
    7. What advice would you give to someone who is being bullied?
    8. What can be done to prevent bullying?
    9. What do you know about cyber-bullying?
    10.What advice would you give to someone who is being bullied online?

    What are the PROS and CONS of the solutions below?
    •All classrooms should have web cameras so children could be monitored at all times.
    •Bullies should be put in special children’s schools away from normal children.
    •Parents of bullied children can sue the school.
    •Parents of bullies should be held legally responsible for their children’s behaviour.
    •Teachers should receive better training to understand bullies and stop them.
    •Teachers who cannot control their classrooms should be declared unfit for the job.

    To illustrate the topic, you can watch the short film New Boy about a young African boy who starts school in Ireland, and finds out quickly exactly what it means to be the new kid.You can download the transcript here.


    martes, 15 de marzo de 2016

    36 Hours in Boston

    Boston has emerged from its brainy, introverted shell to offer a livelier mix of cultural offerings, not to mention an exploding food scene.

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



    1 What was built in 1912?
    2 What was founded in 1903?
    3 Where can you buy beer?
    4 Where can you eat a big burger and fish?
    5 Where can you have a beer outdoors with your children?
    6 Where can you have oysters and beer?
    7 Where can you listen to music four nights a week?
    8 Which place has been inspired by places in New York, Paris or London?
    9 Which place opens 365 days a year?
     


    Boston across the board punches way above its weight.
    The cultural offerings here are so far greater than you might expect from a metropolis of its size.
    I would certainly compare Boston restaurants to any other city in the country as far as quality of what we're doing and the talent that's here.
    Of course, the history of Boston is the story of America. The Freedom Trail is here.  Boston Tea Party happened just right around the corner from here.
    It's a very knowledge-based city with universities, the researcher institutions.
    And we've got the best sports city in the world, so how are we going to complain about that?
    I like the passion of everybody in Boston. It's a very passionate place.  They're opinionated, but they're also very, very passionate.

    Row 34
    Boston has grown and evolved far beyond the pub and the old school thick chowder. I mean, you can still get a good bowl of chowder in Boston, but it's much better than it used to be. We're all about oysters and beer, and we have a lot of both of those. So it's oysters, and fish and chips, and lobster rolls, and what you would expect from a great Boston seafood restaurant. I think that's what we've been able to to-- is surprise people at what a great time they have from the time they walk in to the time they leave and are surprised that an oyster bar can deliver the experience that we deliver. Get a lot of oysters, get a really cold beer that you like, and enjoy the ride is really what we're all about.

    Bee's Knees
    Bee's Knees means to us as a company the best of things and a focus on how things are made, where they come from.  Good food for humans is what we like to say. We're a provision store with craft beer, fine wines, cheeses, charcuterie, delicatessen, cafe. Whether a customer or guest is coming in for a meal or some provisions to take home, we want an environment that is fun, informative, and relaxing.

    The Gallows
    When we opened The Gallows, we wanted to design a restaurant that we would want to go to, a neighbourhood bar that you could come and get a great burger.  You could get an awesome dish of scallops, great cocktails, and hospitable service. 
    Gallows is great.  There's something about it.  It just feels cool when you go there, and it's the best comfort food in the city, I think-- is at The Gallows.  Amazing.
    You could take a date here, and he or she will be very happy, or you can bring your parents here, and they'll be psyched, too.

    Fenway Park
    Fenway Park is a cathedral of sports.
    We are in the oldest major league ballpark in America. It was built in 1912. People who came here saw Babe Ruth pitch. They saw Ted Williams hit.  All kinds of history here.  The tour we take people all through the ballpark. We go sit in the oldest seats in major league baseball. We go up on the green monster.  We go into the press box.  The Red Sox are very important to Boston. We've suffered with them.  We've won championships with them, so they're really part of the fabric of the city.

    The Lawn on D
    It is an experimental interactive open space for the people of Boston.  A lot of times when parks have been designed, inadvertently you send signals don't walk on the grass. Don't do anything.  This is intended to encourage people to play in the grass. It's OK to have an adult beverage. It's OK to do things that are fun and interactive. You just want to have a beer, be outdoors. We chatted up with some local Bostonians who are friendly and just having some fun. This is the place to do it.

    Gardner Museum
    The Gardner is the original immersive experience in museums.  Founded and opened in 1903 it went very much against the grain.  Mrs. Gardner's vision was for people to come in and have an unhindered aesthetic
    experience.  It's a small institution that is distinguished by an incredibly rich and important collection.  When you walk into any of the Gardner's galleries, you begin to forget that you're in an institution, and you feel like you've received an amazing invitation from a hostess.

    Wally’s Jazz Cafe
    It's the oldest black family owned and operated jazz club in the world, started in 1947 by my mother and my father.  This place is always crowded on any given night with live music seven nights a week 365 days a year. I think this atmosphere is intimate. The audience can connect with the musicians, and the musicians can really connect with the audience.

    Lucky’s Lounge
    It's sort of a retro Vegas Rat Pack vibe. I want everybody to feel cool, kind of like you know about something that other people don't.
    Lucky's is an institution here in Boston, and you have this great time, but then when you want to try to find it again, unless there's a line around the door, you're like, where was that?
    We live music here four nights a week.
    On Sundays, we have a Sinatra brunch, a Sinatra dinner show. Basically from noon to close is just an homage to Frank.

    Bastille Kitchen Chalet
    We're in what we refer to as the subterranean cocktail lounge for Bastille kitchen.  It's a very cool loungey space. It's inspired by places like Rose Bar in New York City or great places in Paris or London. We connect as a nightlife piece for people, but it's not an aggressive nightclubby kind of place. It's romantic. It has some cool style.  I love the sensibility of this city. People in Boston love their history and love their traditions, and that's what makes this city very unique to the world.

    KEY:
    1 Fenway Park
    2 Gardner Museum
    3 Bee’s Knees
    4 The Gallows
    5 The Lawn on D
    6 Row 34
    7 Lucky’s Lounge
    8 Bastille Kitchen Chalet
    9 Wally’s Jazz Café