jueves, 23 de febrero de 2017

The Oscars' voting process awards safe movies

A Vox video which explains the Oscar's voting process.

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



1 La La Land has been widely criticized by critics.
2 Instant runoff voting is also known as preferential voting.
3 With the instant runoff voting system the members of the academy vote for only one film.
4 The film with 51% of votes is the winner.
5 In 2011 The King’s Speech won the Oscar award, despite the fact that it was considered a weak film.
6 Movies about the movies have won the Oscar award for best film in half of the years since the instant runoff voting system was set up.
7 Crash was the first film to win best picture with the instant runoff voting system.
8 Goodnight, and good luck didn't win because of the instant runoff voting system.

This year a grand technicolour film about showbiz is a favourite for best picture at the Oscars. Yes, it was well regarded amongst critics and audiences around the country. But is La La Land hands down the best film of the year? Is it good enough to beat out films like Moonlight that are widely considered more daring and unique? History says yes, because the Oscar voting process favours mediocrity.
Back in 2009 the Academy switched from a straight popular vote to instant runoff voting or preferential voting. The Academy wanted to better ensure that the film with the broadest support won. But the other side of that coin is that bold, polarizing films get pushed to the side.
At its most basic level, instant runoff voting involves ranking a number of choices rather than choosing just one. Then the choice with the fewest votes is removed. And then those who voted for that candidate have their votes counted according to their second-favourite candidate. Then the candidate that now has the fewest votes is removed, and so on. It goes all the way until a candidate has 50% plus one of the vote. This applies to both the nominations process, although that does get a little weedy, and the process of selecting the best picture winner.
So, how would instant runoff voting ultimately play out in a real scenario? Let’s look at 2011 where the King’s Speech beat out 127 hours, The Fighter, Black Swan, Winter's Bone, True Grit, Inception, The Social Network, and The Kids are Alright. All these films were probably first place picks on a lot of ballots and dead last on others. It’s very possible that the passionate fan bases of each of these films all had the King’s Speech ranked second or third. When their first place vote wasn’t enough to stay in the game, their second place votes were counted and re-added to the mix, ultimately allowing The King’s Speech to come from behind. Because the King’s Speech had the broadest support rather than the most passionate support, it took home the prize.
The new voting system seems to favour a certain type of film.
We’ve had instant runoff voting at the Oscars for six years and fully half of those years have been won by movies about the movies. And I would count the King’s Speech as being sort of adjacent to that. The King’s Speech is about giving training in speech and elocution and all things that actors have to go through.
Think Birdman, Argo, The Artist. The Academy is made of 6,687 film industry professionals who probably enjoy movies about themselves. They might not rank a film about showbiz as number one but many might place it second or third, which is precisely where it's most dangerous. In 2005, before instant runoff voting was instituted, Crash won best picture.
It’s a film people either despise or love.
I think we really want those movies that inspire extreme reactions one way or the other. Sometimes the movie wins that you hate but sometimes the movie wins that you love.  I’d rather see that than a movie that everyone was kind of okay with.
In fact, Crash beat out a film that might have easily have won in today's instant runoff system, a period film about entertainment, directed by Hollywood royalty, George Clooney.
Goodnight, and good luck.
 
Key:
1F 2T 3F 4F 5F 6T 7F 8F

miércoles, 22 de febrero de 2017

Talking point: The Internet of Things

This week's talking point is the Internet of Things (IoT). 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 would your life be different without the internet?
What, in your view, is the best thing about the internet?
What is the worst thing?
Have you heard of the Internet of Things (IoT)?
If so, how would you explain it?
If not, what do you think it means?
Which different items of technology, in today’s world, which are connected to the Internet can you think of (v.g., smart-heating systems, ticketing systems for rail transport)?
Do you think the benefits are greater than the risks?
What problems have you experienced with technology? Give examples.

How many handheld smart devices (e.g. smartphone, table) do you own?
Which do you use the most? Why?
How fast and reliable is the internet connection in your home / at work?
Have you read any news stories about internet-based security attacks?
What precautions do you take in this respect?
Do you think technology isolates or connects people? How?

To illustrate the topic, watch the Watch Mojo video Top 5 Facts about the Internet of Things.



Because of the Internet of Things, more electronic devices are being connected to the Internet, and they’re talking to each other behind your back. Welcome to WatchMojo’s Top 5 Facts. In this instalment, we’re taking a look at the Internet of Things and how it’s becoming a major part of our lives, in ways you probably didn’t know.

Number 5 The Internet of Things Is Already in Effect
The Internet of Things is an emerging technology, where machines are embedded with sensors that allow them to relay data to each other with little to no human involvement. Basically, it means all sorts of everyday items are connected to the Internet, which could potentially transform the way we live. One of the earliest examples of this concept actually goes back to the early 1970s, when the first ATMs went online. Some items you may already own which incorporate the Internet of Things include the Apple Watch, fit bits, and smart home appliances like refrigerators. Many other items are in the midst of getting the Internet of Things treatment, like cars in the street which could work together to facilitate the flow of rush hour traffic. 

Number 4 Big Businesses Are Already Investing Billions into the Concept
In 2008, there were officially more devices connected to the Internet than there were human beings, and by 2020, that number is expected to go up to 50 billion, according to Cisco. Tech companies see a promising future in the Internet of Things, claiming that it will make businesses more efficient. In a recent report, GE predicted that the IoT will add as much as $15 trillion to the global GDP in the next 20 years, and according to projections by Business Insider, these products will outperform the tablet, PC, and phone market combined. For the time being, the largest market will be smart home technology such as thermostats made by Nest, a company Google bought for $3.2 billion. According to BI Intelligence, the IoT market is estimated to be worth $490 billion by 2019, but this remains speculative. It is possible that consumers will by and large fail to see any value in having all their possessions networked, and those projections will prove grossly overblown.
It’s got a computer chip in it. Everything does.

Number 3 The Internet of Things Could Save Lives
While the IoT will no doubt make tech giants much richer, it might also benefit the rest of us. IoT technology could completely revolutionize patient care as well as improve communication between doctors and their patients. For example, at the University of Tokyo, researchers have created an electricity-conducting ink that can be printed onto clothing, and used to measure heart rate or muscle contractions, so people can easily monitor their own vital signs. IoT technology can also help in emergency situations. If someone has a heart attack or stroke, relevant data from the patient’s medical history can be sent to the doctor before the ambulance takes the patient to the hospital, giving physicians a few more crucial minutes to figure out the best treatment possible. 

Number 2 Wi-Fi Developments Will Make the Internet of Things Work Better
Scientists and engineers from the University of Washington have invented a new Wi-Fi system that transmits Wi-Fi using 10,000 times less power than current generators. This could allow for very low power sensors to be placed in just about anything. Another system, Power over Wifi, or PoWifi for short, allows enabled devices to convert Wifi signal itself into a DC current. Yes, soon new devices could be powered by Wi-Fi. If engineers could bring these or other technologies together, devices and appliances can be interconnected and continue to run on an energy loop powered by that same Wi-Fi, and this will only make the Internet of Things more efficient, accessible and convenient for us.

Number 1 The Internet of Things Could Come with Security Problems
We're sweeping every wirelessly accessible camera on the planet, cell phones, laptops. If it's connected to a satellite, it’s eyes and ears for us.
Though the IoT looks like it offers countless benefits, there are also some potential security issues. For one, it gives companies more opportunities to invade our privacy. For example, the Indian firm Silver Push has technology that can track you across multiple platforms and devices by embedding tiny sounds into websites or television programmes that while inaudible to us can be detected by our devices, and that data can be fed back to Silver Push.
That can’t be true, honey. If it were, I’d be terrified.
According to a study by Hewlett-Packard, 70% of IoT enabled devices can potentially be hacked. Kind of makes you wary of products like Logitech smart remotes or the Amazon Dash button, doesn’t it? The fear, as unlikely as it may seem to some, is that we inadvertently end up in a surveillance estate where companies watch over us like Big Brother.

So, what do you think? Will the Internet of Things improve our lives or lead to a bleak, dystopian future? For more interconnected top 10s and invasive top 5s published every day, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.

martes, 21 de febrero de 2017

Emma Stone, dancing among the stars firmly planted on Earth

In less than a decade, Emma Stone has risen from a familiar face in romantic comedies like Ghosts of Girlfriends Past and Crazy, Stupid, Love and a superhero’s girlfriend in The Amazing Spider-Man, to a two-time Oscar-nominated star, for Birdman and this year’s La La Land. With her tantalizing beauty, the gifted actress burns the screen with emotional intensity and easily commandeers the camera and the audience’s attention away from more experienced co-stars; they are no match.

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



1. Emma and her friends met at college.
2. The Amazing Spider-Man won Emma an Oscar nomination.
3. Emma and her brother Spencer didn’t get on well when they were children.
4. Emma started training to become an actress at the age of 11.
5. She had appeared in over 20 productions at the age of 15.
6. Emma’s mum was reluctant to grant her permission to move to L. A.
7. She got a degree at about the same time as she was cast in her first movie, Superbad.
8. Emma had to turn down her first leading role to look after her ailing mom.
9. Emma feels intimidated when she is around other movie stars and entertainers.

Emma Stone may be the toast of Hollywood, but she rarely hogs the spotlight. You’ll often see her sharing the red carpet with her younger brother, Spencer.
Guys, you used to have some darkness.
We some stuff.
We’ve all seen some, yeah.
And to our interview, she brought along her two best friends.
We just met last week. I hired them to do this.
She needed friends for an interview so we said like okay
I need friends, because that’s more relatable, right?
Years ago the three were roommates, struggling actors, sometimes auditioning for the very same parts.
How’d that go?
We would fist fight to the death, and then she would get all of them and we’d call it a day.
Even in their mac-and-cheese days, both Macisac and Sugar Lyn Beard had a sense that Emily, as they call her, might just own this town someday.
She’s always known exactly where she wants to go in her career, and who she wants to work with.
But she was that focused?
Always.
I think if anything ever did go a little bit south or it didn’t go as well as she wanted it to, I feel like you would come home with more fire for the next one.
If you’ve seen La La Land, you know it could almost be Emma Stone’s own story, put to music.
She plays Mia, a wanna-be actress who comes to Hollywood with stars in her eyes; toils for fame and fortune; and finds love along the way. Arm-in-arm with frequent co-star Ryan Gosling, they are a chemically-proven formula.
Did you watch a lot of Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers kinds of movies as you went through this process just to figure out how…
I mean Top Hat was… Top Hat was huge for us, yeah. The energy between them, emotionally, was something we were inspired by.
The film is a love letter to Hollywood, and Hollywood loves it back. Stone has already sung and danced her way to a Golden Globe and a SAG Award, which has a lot of people guessing she’ll have a good shot at the Oscar, too. But until a few years ago, Emma Stone was happiest with just a simple plastic blimp, the Kids Choice Award she swooped in to snag for her role in The Amazing Spider-Man.
I grew up watching the Kid’s Choice Awards and people getting slimed, and I was just like, can you imagine having a Blimp? And then, I got a Blimp, and I was like, well, that’s it for me. I’m signing off. Back to Arizona I go!
Born in Scottsdale, Stone had a passion for acting that she put before almost everything else. Which is why perhaps she takes her younger brother Spencer to all those red carpets, she owes him, big.
Like when I was little, we did our own little shows, and she was the director and bossed me around, tremendously.
He went through so much, you have no idea.
And she would be the star of the show, and I would be everyone else.
Makes me sounds like a crazy person.
To assure us she isn’t crazy…
This was like… this your home away from home.
Yes.
…she brought us to the place that she says made her sane…
It looks exactly the same.
…the Valley Youth Theatre in downtown Phoenix.
Bobb Cooper has been the artistic director here for years. He first met her at age 11 and even then saw a sparkle, and not just because of her braces.
She could project very well.
Why are you laughing?
Because I was loud beyond belief. That means that I always talked over Bobb and got in trouble.
She was willing to take any part; it didn’t matter what the character was, how big the character was, she was willing to take the part.
She was an acting machine, appearing in almost 20 productions before she was 15. At that point, she convinced her parents, using an admittedly geeky Power Point presentation, that it was time to move to Los Angeles.
Did it feel like it was a tough sell?
My dad instantly said yes and my mom was like, Whoa whoa whoa whoa, We’re going to go in another room and have a discussion and we’re probably not going to get back to you for a couple of weeks, because why and my dad was like, Sure, yep, yes.
Her mom, Krista, finally relented, and actually moved to L.A. with her, guiding her through the sometimes crushing auditions.
It’s a strange sort of combination of a job interview and a first date and a break-up, on a daily basis, like you walk into a room, and this could be the next seven years of your life, and you can buy a house and you can travel, and you can, you know, you, you just gonna be, then, wait, oh never mind, break-up, it’s over, it’s never happening. Okay, well, I shouldn’t have built that up.  Next day, are you the one? Are you the one? No? God, wow, no, you really weren’t the one … and you yelled at me.
To focus herself entirely on acting, Stone was home-schooled, getting her GED right about the time she was cast in her first movie, Superbad.
Was there a part of you that missed some of those experiences in school?
I didn’t think I did until I turned 22. And then all of a sudden, everybody that I’d grown up with graduated from college, and I was really hard on myself for like I’m not an educated person, I didn’t take that path. And then I realized I took my path. This was my story, this was how my story went.
A story that really took off after landing her first leading role, in Easy A.  Stone’s portrayal of a snarky virgin who invents a bad reputation was met with rave reviews.
And yet, behind the scenes Stone was struggling. Her mom had been diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer. It looked so bad Stone almost bailed on the part altogether.
I wanted to not do it, and she said, she was very dramatic about it, she was like, Well, you know, if you’re not doing your thing, then I’m not doing my thing. And I was like, Oh you know how to get me, wow, what a rascal. So I did.
And she did?
And she did. And…
And you succeeded, and so did she.
Yeah, yeah.
Her mom is now celebrating six years cancer-free and in that time she’s watched her daughter become the darling of Hollywood: From the society girl-turned-journalist in The Help, to the Hollywood brat in Birdman, the role that got Stone her first Oscar nod.
Despite all the success, she still gets star-struck, especially by anyone from Saturday Night Live, a totem of her youth.
I really just show up, and then they tell me where to go and what to do.
When we met up just before she hosted SNL for the third time last December, she was still positively giddy about just being given the chance.
Do you sort of pinch yourself?
Yeah, I don’t think it ever gets normal to be here.
She may have captured that timeless Hollywood dream, and yet Emma Stone hardly lives with her head in the clouds.
I think maybe there is that notion that if you have a dream and then it comes true, everything will just be great now and you’ll just be coasting, but that’s not how it goes. If anything, it just makes we more and more want to get closer and closer to those I love, and get closer and closer to the Earth, you know, like staying as firmly-planted on Earth as possible because that’s really it. That’s it, you know? That’s the real stuff.

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

lunes, 20 de febrero de 2017

Listening test: Tiny Texts

In this week's listening test we are going to practise the heading-matching kind of task.

Listen to some news from Tiny Texts and choose the best heading A-H for each one. There are two headings you do not need to use.

A - Gender differences
B - Give someone an inch and they'll take a mile
C - Helping save the world
D - Honesty rewarded
E - In danger of going moneyless
F - Less is more
G - Sticks or carrots
H - Travelling back in time


Source: Tiny Texts

Photo: Tiny Texts

1
If you visit a café and the staff are rude you can choose not to go back, but what happens when it’s the customers who are impolite? A French Café has decided to reward polite customers and punish rude ones by implementing some unusual coffee price variations. According to the menu board, ‘a coffee’ costs €7 while ‘a coffee, please’ costs a more affordable €4.50. Of course, there’s an even cheaper option: ‘hello, can I have a coffee, please?’ will cost you just €1.40. Sometimes it pays to be polite and if you are in a bad mood you can always choose another café.

2
According to a recent report, British women admit that they are no good at parking. Nearly a third change their driving plans to avoid parking in a tight space. Only one in ten men admit to doing so. Women also took 20 seconds longer than men to park an expensive Audi during an experiment at a German university. While some studies suggest that men are better at spatial tasks because of the way their brains work, it could also be true that women lack confidence rather than ability. There is some promising news, however: the 2012 national parking championship in Germany was won by a woman.

3
A Canadian family has decided to spend a year living as if it was 1986. Blair McMillan was concerned that his kids spent too much time indoors with technology. He wanted them to experience what it was like when he was growing up. That means no I-pods, mobile phones or Internet. If they need information, they have to go to the library and look up an encyclopaedia. For entertainment, they have a VHS player to watch movies and cassette tapes to listen to. When travelling, they use only paper maps and have to wait to have their photos developed. The family dress in vintage clothes, have 80’s hairdos and the dad has a true Magnum PI moustache. So far, Blair says his family talk more and are much closer.

4
A recent survey by the National Association of Professional Organizers reveals that 54% of Americans feel overwhelmed by clutter and 78% have no idea what to do with it. According to psychologists, people accumulate things because they are unhappy but having too many possessions brings stress and more unhappiness. Minimalists say you can live better if you focus only on what’s really important and get rid of your excess stuff. You can donate things you don’t need to charity. Minimalism is not new. Some of the ancient Greek philosophers were advocates, as were Mahatma Gandhi and Leo Tolstoy. There may be more joy in owning less than in constantly accumulating more.

5
Coldplay are paying the price for their flashing wristbands. The gadgets, which are given out to everyone in the audience on their latest tour are costing them a fortune. The idea was originally suggested by a fan. They are radio controlled and light up in synchronised patterns creating an amazing light show. Chris Martin and his band are trying to figure out a way to keep up this crucial part of their concert without going broke. One idea was to ask their fans to hand them back at the end of the gig. However, the band’s lawyers have advised against this as it could lead to legal problems if someone picks up a contagious condition like Herpes. There were 40,000 people at the London show, so their profits were slashed. Nevertheless, the band say the wristbands are going to stay.

6
For most people, stealing shampoo or soap from a hotel room is not a serious crime. Some even think it’s OK to help themselves to the towels. A couple of newlyweds from Oregon, U.S.A went a little too far. They tried to steal everything including the sheets, pillows and paintings. However, they didn’t get away with it. Staff grew suspicious when the two guests refused to settle the bill for a pay-per-view movie by saying their room didn’t have a TV. When a member of staff went to check the room, he found that the TV was, in fact, missing. That’s because it was with the rest of the stolen goods in the trunk of their car.

KEY
1G 2A 3H 4F 5E 6B

domingo, 19 de febrero de 2017

Extensive listening – How to get better at the things you care about

Working hard but not improving? You're not alone. Eduardo Briceño reveals a simple way to think about getting better at the things you do, whether that's work, parenting or creative hobbies. And he shares some useful techniques so you can keep learning and always feel like you're moving forward.

Eduardo Briceño leads Mindset Works, which helps people develop as motivated and effective learners through training and resources to foster growth mindset beliefs and behaviors. He co-founded Mindset Works in 2007 with the foremost growth mindset researcher, Carol Dweck Ph.D., and education expert Lisa Blackwell Ph.D. Prior to his current role, Briceño was a Principal at the Sprout Group, a venture capital firm in Silicon Valley, where he was part of the technology investment team.

Briceño grew up in Caracas, Venezuela, before moving to the US when he was in high school. He now lives with his wife in San Jose, California. He holds Bachelor's degrees in economics and engineering from the University of Pennsylvania, as well as an MBA and an MAin Education from Stanford University. Most important, he continues to enjoy lifelong learning every day.

You can read a full transcript here.

sábado, 18 de febrero de 2017

My That's English! revisited -Experience hotels

Launching a new hotel in tough economic times might seem a tall order - with some travellers inclined to seek out the safe and familiar. But in fact there is a trend for distinctly unusual new hotels which try not to compromise on levels of service.

The recession led to a whole wave of creativity in hotels design and experiences. With the help of a robotic luggage handler, Ramon Goni travelled from Switzerland to New York in search of a night away from the bland, beige box.

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



0 Example:
Travellers these days are trying to save money. True

1 Null Stern is ideally located.
2 Today's top priority for most customers is service.
3 Experience hotels have no critics.
4 Experience hotels are being opened in both Europe and America.
5 The five abandoned boats can still be rented for the summer.
6 The boatels are in a quiet location.
7 Guests at the botels are looking for luxury.
8 Technology at hotels is detrimental for hospitality.
9 In general, travellers of all ages welcome the high technology in hotels.

Switzerland, synonymous with plush hotels and luxury holidays, but with travellers looking to cut costs in tough times this hotel outside Zurich has hit the underground. Sparse and windowless this nuclear bunker was used in the Second World War and soon Zans Da Gout could be your shelter from the recession. High end is no longer as popular.
All the hotel is focused on service so there is never something missing in your stay, though the location of the setting might not seem ideal at first glance, but they argue that a clean bed and basic facilities will do. The questions is, after the biggest economic recession in decades, what are hotels saying we are really looking for?
Art insulation hotels like New Stern are really fine in luxury and quality in Europe. Stripping the frills to the minimum but focusing on personalized guest services. If you are in lockdown, you might as well have your own butler.
We believe that if the guest has to choose between a flat-screen TV and to choose between a modern butler or somebody who will recognize that you need a certain specific service, either it is to help you with your luggage, either it is to help you organise a tour, I think people today go for the service.
Such experience hotels have doubters in the luxury industry, those who see them as arty projects with little future beyond making a statement, but with internationally-acclaimed architects in touch with New Stern to build the first underground hotel in London, they could be proven wrong.
Mushrooming across Europe from sewage pipes in Austria to dockside cranes in the Netherlands and a silver mine in Sweden, unusual hotels are now also swimming across the Atlantic.
I’m here in Rockaways, an hour from New York, five abandoned boats are fully booked for the whole summer despite the planes, and yet again, this boatel does not focus on the setting or the location, but on providing a unique experience.
From check-in to check-out the staff directs guests to restaurants and lesser known local attractions, A-level of personal service even most of luxury hotels do not provide.
The demographic of the people staying here are individuals that do want that experience. I think it’s because it’s missing in other aspects of their lives in the way that the ATM has replaced the bank teller.
Meanwhile in Manhattan…
‘I am only a machine.’ ‘Next.’
This is your new bellboy. For the hotel, the high tech option could be lower costs and higher productivity.
Our idea is we are not using technology to replace human experience. It’s trying to push the human angle and that technology helps you, you know, to improve human interaction. We’re using technology to enhance the hospitality experience.
And increasingly, it seems, so are traditional hotels. Big market brands like Marriot are using technology to emulate services provided by their luxury counterparts. But it’s not for everyone. There is a generation gap.
The traditional fifty, the sixty-year-old traveler they are the most frequent, likes the personal interaction of speaking to an expert and hearing impressions and asking questions and likes that personal interaction, but that has to happen at a particular place in a particular time.
‘We’d like to see you pick up the suitcase and put it in the drawer behind you.’
‘Your move, creep.’
So can the experience be sustained? Some of these unusual hotels may flop, however, the sometimes impersonal other times diligent workforce will keep fighting for their guests’ attention…
Next?
… by all possible means.
It’s safe to say that you are hired!
Congratulations, Yobot.

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

viernes, 17 de febrero de 2017

French luxury brand inspired by Africa

When it comes to ceramic art in South Africa, the name Ardmore is widely mentioned. Their colourful hand-painted ceramics are collector’s items for many local and foreign tourists that visit their studio in the KwaZulu-Natal midlands.

Fee Halsted, the founder of Ardmore Ceramic Art, spoke to the BBC about her unique style and how the collaboration with Hermes came about.

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



1. Where does Fee Halsted get her inspiration from?
2. When were they discovered by Hermes designers? Where?
3. What do they design for Hermes?
4. Who is Betty in the Zulu culture?
5. When are they new artists trained?

It's not about perspective drawing, it's about shapes and patterns, lot of traditional patterning, Zulu patterning that is fresh to the western world and beautiful colours, the most amazing colours. We are also inspired by nature, so obviously the animals of Africa and the fauna, the flora, the beautiful botanic is our inspiration.
I will be going now for 31 years but it was three years ago, it was about 2013 and my young daughter Megan and  I were in Paris at the Journey de Ceramic, it was an art fair of ceramics from all over the world and we were discovered by Hermes designers. They were walking around the fair and they came to me and they said, my goodness, this is the most incredible design, could we have a meeting, would you be interested to design for Hermes scarves, and I said, of course, I mean, what a wonderful collaboration to be discovered by a company of that brand and association.
In 2016 we had the absolute honour of seeing our scarves in reality, and it's really been great fun and exciting to see how the public, the world renown, whether it's Dubai or Hong-Kong or Bangkok and, you know, people buying the scarves and when I was in London in May, they ran out.
So this is where the magic takes place. So Betty is the mother of birds. Today we are working with about 50 people and it's very much like an old English studio pottery. The artists come, they join winter school for two months of the year in winter when we're not too busy, and they’re now taught by a young man who I've trained called a wise man in clove (?) and what they do is they go through the artistry. We teach them sculpting, painting, glaze firing, glazing, all the basic requirements in the studio. Then we see where their talent lies, it’s either in the sculpting studio or in the painting studio, very rarely you get an artist to be as good as those.

Key:
1 Zulu culture and nature
2 In 2013 in Paris, in an art fair of ceramics 
3 scarves 
4 the mother of birds
5 In winter time for two months

jueves, 16 de febrero de 2017

Uncovering the secrets of North America's largest diamond

Africa is home to the world’s largest diamonds - but advances in mining technology are enabling other regions of the world to get in on the act. Most recently, Canada unearthed the biggest diamond ever found in North America - the Foxfire. It has spent the last couple of months on display at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington.

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



1. When did the story of the Foxfire diamond begin?
2. Why do we know the Foxfire diamond was bigger at some stage?
3. When was the Foxfire discovered?
4. How much did Deepak Sheth pay for the diamond?
5. What will happen to the Diavik mine in a few years’ time?

The story of the Foxfire diamond began two billion years ago, when it was forged by fire and forces deep beneath the Earth. Now the largest uncut diamond from North America is being studied by scientists at the National Museum of Natural History.
It looks like a lump of quartz.
I think a lot of people would agree with you and I'm sure a lot of people, if they saw that just laying along the side of the road, would probably not even think about picking it up.
Diamonds are as mysterious as meteorites. Both travel through time and space to offer clues about the origins of the universe. These diamonds perilous journey is even more remarkable as most are destroyed or splintered by the volcanic action that propels them at high speed to the Earth's surface.
We know by looking at these flat surfaces that there was more to this diamond at one time, that during either this violent descent as part of this volcanic eruption, or the explosion at the surface, or the mining operation, something caused this diamond to be broken and these flat faces are the broken cleavage surfaces, so someplace, someplace there are other pieces to this diamond.
Better get hunting.
Better get looking.  We don't know this is the biggest piece or the smallest piece. Somewhere there are other pieces that would fit on to these flat surfaces right here.
The Foxfire was discovered in 2015 in one of the most inaccessible parts of the world, the Diavik mine in the barren lands of Canada's Northwest Territories, about 130 miles from the Arctic Circle.
The mine spends most of the year frozen in snow. Last year the Foxfire was sold at an auction to Deepak Sheth, a businessman and collector.
So can I hold it?
Of course, of course, please. You’re holding a history.
Holding history that's very heavy.
Yes, it is hundred and eighty-seven point sixty-three carat diamond. It's a miracle of nature.
How much did you pay for it?
Many, many millions of dollars.
How many millions?
I'm sorry. [I] cannot divulge that.
But it's worth many, many millions, it’s a multi-million dollar diamond.
Yes, it is.
I'm feeling quite nervous you can take it back.
Sure, sure.
Mr Sheth plans to keep the diamond in its rough condition but anyone hoping to find its missing parts had better hurry. In just a few years the Diavik mine will close, leaving any treasure buried beneath the ice.
Jane O'Brien, BBC News Washington.

Key:
1 two billion years ago
2 by looking at its flat surfaces
3 in 2015
4 he won’t say, many millions
5 it will close

miércoles, 15 de febrero de 2017

Talking point: A sense of humour

This week's talking point is a sense of humour. 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 British/American comedies have you heard of?
Can you describe their type of humour?
Which are the best known Spanish comedians and comedy series?
What makes them funny?
Who’s the funniest person on TV?
Do you agree with the idea that a person’s sense of humour changes with their nationality or region?
Do you find different things funny from your friends or your family?
Do you forward funny emails that you receive? If not, why not? Can you talk about one that you did?
Do you like practical jokes? Can you describe one that you played or a friend played?
Can you tell jokes? Tell one in English.
Are the important people in your life funny?
Is humour an indicator of happiness?
If you see someone fall or bump into something, do you laugh? Do you like slapstick comedy?
Do you think politically incorrect jokes are funny? Why? Why not?
If someone makes you the subject (butt) of a joke or laughs at you, what do you do?
Talk about a person (in your everyday life, not a comedian) who makes you laugh.

To illustrate the topic, watch the scene A room with a view from British Comedy series Fawlty Towers, featuring John Cleese.



Good morning, Madam. Can I help you?
Are you the manager?
I am the owner, Madam.
What? I am the owner.
I want to speak to the manager.
I am the manager, too.
What?
I am the manager as well.
Manaher. He manaher.
Oh, you're Watt.
I'm the manager!
What?
I'm the manager!
Yes, I know. You've just told me. What's the matter with you? Now, listen to me. I booked a room with a bath. When I book a room with a bath, I expect to get a bath.
You've got a bath.
I'm not paying £7.20p per night plus V.A.T., for a room without a bath!
There is your bath.
You call that a bath? It's not big enough to drown a mouse. It's disgraceful!
I wish you were a mouse. I'd show you.
And another thing. I asked for a room with a view.
Deaf, mad, and blind. This is the view as far as I can remember, madam. Yes, yes, this is it.
When I pay for a view, I expect something more interesting than that.
That is Torquay, Madam.
That is not good enough.
Well, may I ask what you were expecting to see out of a Torquay hotel bedroom window? Sydney Opera House, perhaps? The Hanging Gardens of Babylon? Herds of wildebeest sweeping majestically...
Don't be silly. I expect to be able to see the sea.
You can see the sea. It's over there between the land and the sky.
I need a telescope to see that.
Well, may I suggest that you consider moving to a hotel closer to the sea? Or preferably in it?
Right. Now, listen to me. I'm not satisfied, but I've decided to stay here. However, I shall expect a reduction.
Why, because Krakatoa's not erupting at the moment?
Because the room is cold, the bath is too small, the view is invisible, and the radio doesn't work.
No, the radio works. You don't.
What?
I'll see if I can fix it, you scabby old bat. I think we got something then.
What?
I think we got something then!
What are you doing?
Qué?
Madam, don't think me rude, but may I ask, do you by any chance have a hearing aid?
A what?
A hearing aid!
Yes, I do have a hearing aid.
Would you like me to get it mended?!
Mended? It's working perfectly all right.
No, it isn't!
I haven't got it turned on at the moment.
Why not?
The battery runs down.
Now, what sort of a reduction are you going to give me on this room?
60% if you turn it on.
What?
My wife handles all such matters. I'm sure she will be delighted to discuss it with you.
I shall speak to her after lunch.
You heard that all right, didn't you?
What?
Thank you so much. Lunch will be served at half past 12:00.

martes, 14 de febrero de 2017

Melania Trump on her life, marriage and 2016

Mika Brzezinski sits for a one-on-one interview with wife of Donald Trump, Melania Trump, to discuss growing up in Slovenia, her marriage and her husband's campaign.

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



1. When did Melania Trump first arrive in the US?
2. What did Melania study in Slovenia?
3. How many languages does she speak?
4. What did her father do?
5. What did she see in Donald Trump when they met?
6. What does she think when she hears her husband being insulted?
7. Has Donald Trump insulted Mexicans?
8. What’s the difference between Melania’s immigration story and that of the immigrants her husband talks about?
9. Why does Donald Trump want to ban Muslims into US?
10. Do Melania and Donald always agree?
11. How does she communicate with her husband?
12. How does Donal Trump treat women?

Melania Trump first arrived in the United States from her native Slovenia back in 1996 and now, two decades later, she is facing the prospect of becoming First Lady. Yesterday I sat down with Melania Trump and got her to weigh in on everything, from her husband's rhetoric surrounding immigration to his propensity for profanity on the stump to his treatment of women. I began by asking her how the entire experience has been so far.
Well, it's amazing what's going on, and we’re having fun. I like to keep life as normal as possible for my son better Baron and I'm a full-time mom and I love it, so I decided not to be in the campaign so much but I support my husband hundred percent.
We want to understand who Melania is.
I grew up in Slovenia and I went to school there. I studied design and architecture and then I moved to Milan and Paris to live there. And I had a successful modelling career. I came to New York 1996.
How many languages do you speak?
I speak a few languages.
A few?
Yeah.
English…
English, Italian, French, German.
Tell me about your mother.
Really special. She's with a lot of elegance and style. She was in fashion industry for a long time. What did your father do?
He was a sales person and then he was a manager of the company, and once the Slovenia separated, it was possible to have his own business, he opened his own business.
What was it that you saw in Donald when you met him or fell in love with him?
His mind, amazing mind, and very smart, very charming, a great energy. We have a great relationship. We are, we are our own people. I'm my own person. He's his own person, and I think that's very important. I don't want to change him, he doesn't want to change me.
I got a list of terms that have been used to describe your husband from the left, the right and the center, and they're not pretty, from stupid to demagogue, jerk, idiot, racist, sexist, race-baiting, xenophobic, vulgarian-in-chief, textbook narcissist. It goes on. What do you make of all this when you hear it?
It's normal that it will come up it's… we are prepared for that, we have a thick skin and we know that people will judge him and people will call names, and they don't give him enough credit from June that he announced, they don't give him enough credit.
What about people who feel he is let's just go down the list because the campaign started and many felt he had insulted Mexicans no I don't feel he insulted the Mexicans.
No I don’t feel he insulted the Mexicans, he said illegal immigrants, he didn't talk about everybody. He talked about illegal immigrants and after a few weeks, like after two weeks giving him a hard time and bashing him in the in the media, they turned around and said, you know what, he's right, he's right what he's talking about, and he open conversation that nobody did.
But you're an immigrant?
Yes.
Do you ever think he's gone too far?
I follow the law. I follow a lot of the way is supposed to be. I never thought to stay here without papers. I had visa. I travelled every few months back to the country, to Slovenia, to stamp the visa. I came back, I applied for the green card. I applied for the citizenship later on after many years of Green Card, so I went by system, I went by the law, and you should do that, you should not just say, okay let me just stay here, and whatever happens, happens.
When he talked about a ban on Muslims, which can't happen for so many reasons, I mean do you ever think he's going too far with some of this, do you ever worry about it?
What he said is it would be temporary and it's not for all the Muslims. It's the one… we need to screen them who is coming to the country, he wants to protect America, he wants to protect people of America so we have a country and keep our country safe. That's very important to him, and what's going on in the world, it's very dangerous. You have people coming in the country you don't know who they are, you don't know what they will do, and that's why he was talking about that. It's temporary, we need to figure it out how and what we will do that we know who is in this country.
What about some of the language he uses, he curses.
Well, do I agree all the time, we team? No, I don't, And I tell him that. I tell him my opinions. I tell him what I think. Sometimes he listens, sometimes he don't.
In what areas do you advise him?
I follow the news from A to Z and I know what's going on. I’m on the phone with my husband few times a day. He calls me, I call him. I tell him what's going on, he's on the road. I give him my opinions.
Let me ask about women. He's taken a lot of criticism, kerfuffle, of course, during the debate with Megyn Kelly. In the Trump Organization, how are women treated compared to men?
They’re treated equal. I see him in life. He treats women the same as men. He will tell you what is in his heart, what he thinks, he will not hold it back if you're a woman. You’re human, you're human, you're not… it's a woman or a man, it's no difference, you’re human.
So I asked Melania if there are any specific issues she hopes to take on if her husband wins the White House. She said she has ideas but wouldn't reveal yet what they are, she wants to focus on their son.
Yeah.
Well, I've met her on many occasions before and so I was not surprised she's extremely cultured and articulate. She speaks many languages and thought that, you know, she put it out there and explained exactly who she is and where she's come from, and people can make their own decisions. She seems quite lovely, though, and they were very welcoming last night.
Up next, we'll head to the New York Stock Exchange for oil is once again pulling Wall Street into negative territory. Stay with us.

Key:
1 1996
2 design and architecture
3 four (English, Italian, French, German)
4 He was a sales person and then he was a manager of the company
5 His mind, and very smart, very charming, a great energy
6 She feels it’s normal, but doesn’t mind
7 No, he only spoke about illegal immigrants
8 She went by the law. She did everything legally
9 To protect America
10 No
11 On the phone several times a day
12 The same as men

lunes, 13 de febrero de 2017

Listening test: My secret to long life

Listen to a report on Emma Morano, who is the oldest person in the world. Complete the blanks in the sentences with up to THREE WORDS. 0 is an example.

Source: Deep English

0 Example:
Emma Morano was born in November 1899.

1. She is ____________________ years old.

2. As a teenager, her doctor recommended raw eggs to protect her ______________________ .

3. She has eaten over ______________________ eggs in her life.

4. Another secret of Emma’s longevity is ______________________ .

5. At the time of her separation divorce ______________________ .

6. Emma has never been lonely. On the contrary, she has many ______________________ .

7. For her birthday Emma received ______________________ from people all over Italy.

8. The idea that a person needs a romantic relationship to be happy comes from ______________________ , but it might not be for everyone.



Italian Emma Morano is the oldest person in the world. Born in November of 1899, she is the only living person to have lived in the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. At 117 years young, she is in great health and has a sharp mind. Her doctor says, “She’s in great form.”
Emma eats a diet of eggs, bananas, and cookies. When she was just a teenager, her doctor recommended raw eggs to protect against anemia, and she has stuck to it religiously. Until recently, she ate three raw eggs a day, which totals more than 100,000 over a lifetime. She has recently cut down to just two raw eggs, but she still believes they are what have kept her going all these years.
In addition to raw eggs, her other secret to a long life is staying single. In 1938, she separated from her husband after the death of her child. It was an unhappy marriage, but Emma bravely decided to go her own way at a time when separation was rare and divorce wasn’t even legal. She had many suitors over the years but rebuffed them all preferring to stay single. She said, “I didn’t want to be dominated by anyone.”
This is not to say she has lived the life of a loner. In fact, she has many deep relationships. Her doctor pins her longevity on these relationships over the eggs and staying single. He says, “The secret is in growing old with people who love you, which is different from growing old and being put up with.” Indeed, Emma was surrounded by loved ones at her birthday and received well wishes from people all over Italy.
Emma Morano’s longevity might have nothing to do with eggs or staying single, but she certainly thinks it does. And this belief flies in the face of everything that most people believe. Tropes like needing a romantic partner to complete us are all around us in popular culture. But perhaps not everyone is meant to be with someone. And maybe the key to a long and happy life has nothing to do with finding a life partner.

Key:
1 117
2 against anaemia
3 100,00
4 staying single
5 was illegal / wasn’t (even) legal
6 deep relationships
7 well wishes

8 popular culture

domingo, 12 de febrero de 2017

Extensive listening: Where is cybercrime really coming from?

Cybercrime netted $450 billion in profits last year, with 2 billion records lost or stolen worldwide.

Security expert Caleb Barlow calls out the insufficiency of our current strategies to protect our data. His solution? We need to respond to cybercrime with the same collective effort as we apply to a health care crisis, sharing timely information on who is infected and how the disease is spreading. If we're not sharing, he says, then we're part of the problem.

As a vice president at IBM Security, Caleb Barlow has insight into to one of the largest security intelligence operations in the world. His team stands watch protecting the information security of thousands of customers in more than a hundred countries. On a busy day they can process upwards of 35 billion potential security events across their global operations centers.

You can read the full transcript here.

sábado, 11 de febrero de 2017

Reading test: Travelling rules I’ve completely broken

This is part of Adi's blog post on Love the Search, Traveling Rules I’ve Broken Along The Way.

Read the paragraphs below and match them to their corresponding heading A-I. There are two headings you do not need to use. 0 is an example.

A - I ate street food and drink tap water
B - I wear skimpy clothes
C - I went to places tagged with adverse travel warnings
D - I’ve climbed mountains and hiked trails solo
E - I’ve gone to strange new countries unprepared
F - I’ve gotten too drunk to remember anything
G - I’ve travelled without ANY insurance – 0 Example
H - I’ve trusted strangers with my valuables (and my life)
I - I’ve walked alone at night many times

Traveling rules I’ve broken along the way

0
This is a big no-no! They say that if you can’t afford travel insurance then you can’t really afford to travel at all. I want it, but I haven’t really found a company that has convinced me. I’m willing to sacrifice a chunk of my hard earned savings for security. But I’m not completely sold whenever I read the fine print. For example, did you know that you’ll need to file a proper incident and police report to claim for theft or robbery? But what if you didn’t have the time for that? Also, they won't reimburse your medical bills if you’ve been found driving a motorbike without a proper licence and helmet. But the reality is, no one really cares in Indonesia where people start driving at the age of 9.

1
While traveling across Southeast Asia and Latin America solo, I’ve started to cross borders without a guidebook nor a hostel booking. Backpackers usually just show up to a place, walk around to find a hostel, which is what I did in Koh Chang. Unfortunately, it was Chinese New Year that weekend and everything was fully booked. I remember walking around the island with other travellers who arrived late on the ferry with me that night. Even the camping spots were bursting with tents and hammocks. After about a couple of hours of desperately searching, we found bungalows that were three times our budget, but at 1:00 am, we had to give in.

2
Thank goodness I’ve never had any problems with my stomach, even after traveling India where my friends remembered to brush their teeth with bottled water, yet still got the Delhi belly. I guess my digestive system is a little stronger than most. I grew up in a third world country where I eat any kind of food and drink ice from running water. Some people I’ve travelled with are so careful, they don’t even order salad because they’re not sure of the quality of water the vegetables have been washed with. So some of them just end up ordering boiled rice. Yum. I don’t know how they can pass up a delicious plate of gado-gado or a halo-halo!

3
Because of food of course. And because sometimes you really don’t have a choice. In Puerto Viejo, all the taxis are unmarked, dodgy looking cars. You wonder, “Which is safer? Walking in the dark by myself or taking an unmarked cab with an unidentified driver?” I don’t know! My advice, try to walk with other travellers or worst case scenario, walk really fast and try not to look like a tourist. Let the receptionist or someone in your hostel know what time you’re supposed to be back at the hostel.

4
It was the Yi-Peng (lantern) Festival in Chiang Mai and the whole town was in a celebratory mood. We walked to 7-11 and bought a big bottle of Chang, a brand of beer with higher alcohol percentage than what I was used to. Let’s just say, I made very bad choices that night. Never ever get too wasted to know your way home, even if you’re with friends you trust completely!

5
It was scorching hot in Cartagena, Colombia early in January. 32°C to be exact. So I wore my shortest shorts, my yoga top and of course, was catcalled by the locals the whole time. I tried to ignore each comment “Hola, chinita! Guapa! Vamos a mi cama!” as I tried to appreciate the colonial surroundings. But at the end of the day, I walked back to my hostel, sick to my stomach because of all the bad energy I absorbed. In these situations, either you die of heat wearing conservative attire, or just completely ignore everyone’s comments. It’s really your choice.

6
Hitching rides on the back of motorbikes is probably the biggest gamble I do on a regular basis. I’ve gotten in a few accidents, all in Indonesia. The worst one landed me in the ER with scrapes all over my body and a head concussion from riding with a drunk driver. I’ve learned to take my bicycle everywhere with me instead!

  Photo: Adi on Love the Search



KEY:
1E 2A 3I 4F 5B 6H


viernes, 10 de febrero de 2017

It's your future

It’s Your Future is a film about getting involved and playing an active part in democracy. Politics affects everyone, especially young people. No matter how disengaged you feel, the only way to make a difference is to take action. For change to begin, you must make your voice heard.

Self-study activity:
Complete the blanks in the transcript with the missing words.



When I was 18, politics seemed boring. I didn't go and vote, I didn't pay attention. I didn't really (1) … at what age people got their pension. That seemed (2) … away. I was just starting out. I really had no interest in what politics was about but I should have. The young are most (3)… . Most 18 to 24s don't care who gets elected, and I'm not surprised. I once felt that way, too. Why vote for a system that doesn't represent you?
Middle-aged, middle-classed, old men in old buildings, too (4) … and too rich to care about the small things, from the same schools and clubs, the same suits and same tailors to the same privileged (5) … with no experience of failures.
When we see them answer questions, a chance they should be seizing, they forget about us and resort to (6) … teasing, like children, taking part in a food fight, wasting words that have power on a false appetite that lies, that only wants first (7) … , that cares less about its people, and more what power buys.
But the government works for you, and this can all be (8) … if you stand up for what you believe in, and do your part to get involved. There is (9) … in your numbers. You are not the minority.
You only feel this way as you've been made a low priority by politicians who are chasing the vote. They won't try and please you if they think there's no (10) … . So prove them all wrong. Prove you have a voice. Do the (11) … and accept you have a choice and vote.  But first, find out the truth. Look at their policies, and how they affect the (12) … .
This world is yours to inherit. It's more your future than theirs. Don't let your life be dictated by the old and billionaires. It's the young that pay (13) … . It's the young that fight the wars. It's the young who need jobs or could end up living outdoors. It's the young who adopt the planet. It's the young who clean up the (14) … . It's the young that care for the old. So why do the young vote less?
You have a say that needs to be respected. People are (15) … for the right to have a leader that's elected.
So register to vote, be a part of democracy. Doing nothing and (16) … is outright hypocrisy. You don't have to be a whisper, your voices are real. You can be the generation that gets a better deal. If you want to make a difference, you have to grow up. Our country's (17) … is decided by those who show up.

KEY:
1 care
2 ages
3 affected
4 posh
5 upbringings
6 playground
7 prize
8 resolved
9 strength
10 hope
11 unexpected
12 youth
13 tuition
14 mess
15 dying
16 complaining
17 fate

jueves, 9 de febrero de 2017

Woman describes how she was tricked by fake profile

The number of people defrauded in the UK by online dating scams reached a record high in 2016, the Victoria Derbyshire programme has learned.

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



1. What does Judith Lathlean do?
2. What human qualities did both Judith and John emphasize?
3. Where did John go to work?
4. What did John lose?
5. How many relationships start online in the UK?
6. How much money was lost to cybercrime last year?
7. How much money did Judith send John?

Millions of us use dating websites but not everyone online is looking for love. Every year thousands of single people in the UK are conned by criminals using fake profiles on dating sites.
I woke up in the middle of the night and suddenly realized not only was it a scam but that this so-called John was part of this gang.
Judith Lathlean is a university professor from Winchester. In 2015 she decided to try online dating. John Porter, from London, was her strongest match. Like Judith, he was with a Christian who emphasized honesty and trust.
He sounded wonderful on the phone and so we started getting quite, quite friendly quite quickly really.
John claimed to be working abroad. After weeks of daily messages and phone calls, the conversation turned to money.
When he went to South Africa what he said was, I've got to have a bond of good faith against me not delivering the goods. Well, I have known people who’ve been in business and they’ve had to put up a bond of good faith, again I didn't think it was strange. He lost his passport, this is the story, the man started getting a bit frantic and I immediately, because I was so believing in him, I immediately said, don't worry, John, I can loan you some money.
You're a respected academic, you're clearly intelligent, successful, articulate. Judith, why was your judgment so poor here?
Because I believed in John. I believed that I was helping him and I was completely bowled over by him.
With as many as one in three relationships in the UK now starting online, the internet is becoming an increasingly lucrative place for cybercriminals. We’ve discovered that last year alone almost 4,000 people were conned by online dating scammers with losses amounting to a record 39 million pounds.
They are in foreign jurisdictions. They’re in West Africa, Eastern Europe and places like that and it's very difficult for British law enforcement to take action against them in those jurisdictions.
It was five months before Judith realized she'd been scammed. John Porter didn't exist. The photo was probably stolen. Judith had sent a hundred and forty thousand pounds to an organized criminal gang.
I won't get any of the money back. I have to tell myself that it was a complete fraud so feeling sorry for myself is just not an issue.
You’re dealing with the best salesmen in the world. They don't have a product. They just want to take your money, so they will groom you overtime and, yes, I totally can see why you fall for that.

KEY:
1 She’s a university professor
2 Honesty and trust
3 South Africa
4 His passport
5 One in three
6 39 million pounds
7 140,000 pounds

miércoles, 8 de febrero de 2017

Talking point: Voluntourism

This week's talking point is voluntourism. 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.

Have you ever heard of any famous people who do a lot of charity? Who? What do they do?
Is it easier to be generous if you are rich?
Can you recall any people who were not rich, but still became famous for their generosity to others?
What else can people do to help others apart from giving money?
Have you ever given unpaid help to any groups or organisations?
When was the last time you volunteered to do something?

What kind of volunteering projects do people usually get involved in?
Do you have experience or know anyone who has in this kind of activity?
If not, would you be prepared to use your holiday time to help? Why / Why not?
What are the advantages and disadvantages of this kind of activity?
What other ways can you think of to get close to local people on a holiday?

Interaction
A
You and your partner are planning to spend your summer holidays together and have decided to do some volunteer work. Choose a volunteer project that suits you, or think of another. Give reasons why you find the projects appealing or not.

1 saving cheetahs from extinction in South Africa
2 conserving the Amazon rainforest in Peru
3 helping build schools in Ghana
4 coaching sport to schoolchildren in Nepal

B
When preparing for the specific project that you chose, what could you bear in mind about ... ?
·practical preparation to learn the local customs
·psychological preparation
·positive impact of volunteers
·negative impact of volunteers
·likely personal development and life skills

To illustrate the topic, watch this video where Holbrook Travel's Stephanie Kowacz discusses voluntourism, the rewarding experience of travelling while also lending a hand in a community abroad.

Stephanie has participated in sea turtle conservation projects, reforestation projects, school renovations and more.



martes, 7 de febrero de 2017

Airbnb home trashed during wild party

A Calgary family say their home has been destroyed by partying guests who rented it on the popular accommodation website Airbnb.

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



1. The Calgary couple rented their home to two people.
2. It was the first time they were renting their home.
3. The police came round during the weekend but saw nothing suspicious.
4. When the Calgary couple arrived on Monday, everybody had already left.
5. The Calgary couple found their house flooded.
6. The Calgary couple are not living in their own home at the moment.
7. The damage to the house amounts to under $50,000.
8. The police don’t know who rented the house.
9. The fine to the person who rented the house might amount to $5,000.
10. Airbnb has issued a statement saying they cannot take responsibility for the damage.

Would you rent out your home to strangers over the internet? A lot of people do but after renting out their home on Airbnb, a Calgary couple came back to find their place trashed, furniture destroyed, garbage everywhere, chicken drumsticks left in their shoes, that's an odd touch. The couple describing the whole ordeal as unimaginable. Well, Nancy Woods following the story for us with gusto, not that you liked this at all but you're fascinated by the story.
I think like a lot of Canadians is just the worst case scenario for renting out your home and Mark and Star King thought they were renting their home to four people who were in Calgary for the weekend, for a wedding. In fact… and it wasn't their first time renting through Airbnb, they'd done it before and they had pretty good experiences. During the weekend neighbours say a bus pulled up, a party bus with about a hundred people in it and at some point the neighbours got concerned and even called the police but when the police showed up, things didn't seem to be noisy so they didn't even go into the house to see what was happening but when the Kings showed up Monday morning, the party was still going on and they basically had to beg them to leave. There was broken glass, the furniture was wrecked, the hardwood floors were buckling because there were pools of alcohol in them, the toilets were blocked with condoms, food left up to spoil, cigarette butts everywhere. Police say there was some kind of drug-induced orgy that had gone on. Now the Kings have children and they say their home will never be the same for them. In fact, they say they would rather have seen it burnt to the ground than defiled the way it was. Here's Mark King.
For me it was shock and horror and disbelief. I just feel so violated and so… bigger than the physical damage, you know, is just we don't have a home, we’re homeless, we’re you know staying with relatives and this… the sense that our lives are broken.
Such a strong language but I get it that I would not want, I wouldn't want to see this, you know.
They said they had to go away for a day and come back the next day and look at it.
So you, you look at this and you figure that's got to be criminal conduct but it's not a slam-dunk criminal case.
Oh, no. The police say there was about fifty thousand dollars worth of damage done and they say they have a name of the person who rented. They want to talk to him. They say it’s a Calgary man but here's what the constable had to say about it.
Personally, I’d like to speak to the person that rented it. We’d like to hear his side of the story and how went out of hand and who he would… like we just want to speak to him first. He's pretty much our person of interest right now.
Now, that’s Sam Horvat, Constable Horvat says he's never seen so much damage done in such a short period of time, just three days. It even made him angry to see it. And the man who rented the Kings’ house could be charged with mischief to property, over five thousand dollars. Now as for Airbnb, it put out a statement today saying we have banned this guest from Airbnb and our trust and safety team will offer its full assistance to law enforcement in any investigation of this matter. It also says that the King family will be reimbursed because it has insurance fund for this kind of occasion which it says is rare and that it is also giving them accommodations until the house can be cleaned up if a house can ever be cleaned up for something like that.
When the family members say they’d say rather it had been burned to the ground… it feels like no amount of compensation is going to make them feel better but, you know what, maybe it'll get cleaned up until they feel okay.
I hope so.
Nancy thank you very much.

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

lunes, 6 de febrero de 2017

Listening test: Talent shows

Listen to two BBC reporters discuss talent shows and choose the option A, B or C that best completes each sentence. 0 is an example.


0 In singing talent shows contestants
A are well-known artists.
B don’t compete with each other.
C want to become famous.

1 According to Neil,
A the format is successful.
B the music is generally bad.
C these shows suit his favourite music.

2 Simon Cowell
A is pleasant to the contestants.
B makes a lot of money out of the shows.
C used to be a successful singer.

3 Putting someone down is
A impolite.
B funny.
C usually done on TV.

4 Producer Pete Waterman believes Simon
A thinks a lot of himself.
B is the biggest talent in the world.
C is obsessive.

5 What motives Simon is
A artistic ambition.
B great music.
C notoriety.

6 According to George Ergatoudis, winners of the show
A are successful for two or three years.
B don’t even have a successful album.
C don’t have a long career.

7 The oldest person to audition for the X Factor was
A 84.
B 94.
C 101.


Kate: Hi Neil.
Neil: Hello Kate
Kate: Well Neil, I know you're quite a big music fan so I wanted to start the programme today by asking you what you know about the TV singing talent shows that everyone seems to be talking about.
Neil: Well, I think you mean shows like 'The X Factor', 'Pop Idol' and numerous others. They are basically singing competitions or talent shows which are aired on TV. Talent shows are events where people compete to show how skilled they are in a particular area – and here it's singing. Many people who are aspiring pop stars or performers try to impress judges with their musical talent in the hope of getting a record deal, fame and fortune.
Kate: Yes, it seems there are a lot of people out there who want to be pop stars! So we know that TV singing talent shows are very popular but what do you personally think of them, Neil?
Neil: Well it's certainly a winning format where people audition and the judges and audience voters gradually eliminate them and until there is just one winner left. This works very well so we can call it a winning format. But although many people seem to find it compelling viewing, I'm afraid I find the music too mainstream, unoriginal, predictable, and accepted by most people. It doesn't interest me at all. The type of music I like I'm afraid doesn't really feature in these shows.
Kate: Well, the man behind one of these shows 'the X Factor' is someone called Simon Cowell and he has sold his winning format to more than 40 countries worldwide including Denmark, Italy, Spain, Russian, Colombia and India.
Neil: Yes, he's been very successful – he is a judge on the actual shows, the owner of the format and the person who profits from the sales of the music after the show has ended. He is also well known for being incredibly rude to the contestants.
Kate: Let's hear an example of how he speaks to people who are auditioning:
You can't sing. Not very good and incredibly annoying
I just think you should give us a chance
But a chance to do what?
To improve.
Yeah - Girls we have weeks not decades
Neil: Comments like these can be called put downs. You can 'put someone down', which means that you are rude them and insult them as a person or their ability to do something. Not a very nice thing to do.
Kate: Now let's hear what one of fellow producers, Pete Waterman says about him:
He's got an ego – the biggest ego in the world. Simple as that. He's driven. He sees an opportunity and he's built it into the world's biggest format. Quite incredible.
Kate: So what is it do you think it is that drives Simon Cowell – money perhaps? The desire to make great music or maybe it's just down to artistic ambition? Let's hear what Pete Waterman says about this:
Artistic ambition! Give me a break – it's about being famous!
Kate: But what about the winners' musical careers after the show has ended? Next we're going to hear from someone else in the music industry. George Ergatoudis, Head of Music at BBC Radio 1. Do the artists or singers go on to have long or fulfilling careers?
Extract 4
A lot of the artists that have come through his show have pretty short lived careers. You know, they have a bright moment following the show perhaps 2 or 3 successful singles or a successful initial album and the story kind of starts to wane….'
Kate: Well this doesn't seem to stop people wanting to take part in the show and watch it.
Kate: And lastly the answer to the question I asked you. What age was the oldest person to audition for the X Factor?
Neil: I said 101.
Kate: I'm afraid they weren't quite as old as that. The oldest person was actually 84 which is still quite good going. That's all for today. Thanks for joining us today. Until next time. Goodbye!

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

domingo, 5 de febrero de 2017

Extensive listening: How to have better political conversations

Robb Willer studies the forces that unite and divide us. As a social psychologist, he researches how moral values — typically a source of division — can also be used to bring people together.

Willer shares compelling insights on how we might bridge the ideological divide and offers some intuitive advice on ways to be more persuasive when talking politics.

Robb Willer is a professor of sociology, psychology and organizational behavior at Stanford University. He studies the role of morality in politics. His research shows how moral values, typically a source of ideological division, can also be used to bring people together. His political research has investigated various topics, including economic inequality, racial prejudice, masculine overcompensation and Americans' views of climate change.

You can read a full transcript for the talk here.

sábado, 4 de febrero de 2017

Kiosko

Kiosko.net is a visual daily press directory that gives access to the world's largest news sites and displays a readable image taken from today's frontpage cover of each newspaper.

The site can be useful for both English students and teachers to compare how the same news item is reported from a different perspective.





h/t to Nik Peachy.

viernes, 3 de febrero de 2017

Lessons from 60 years as a flight attendant

Watch a CNN video on American Airlines flight attendant Bette Nash, who has been in the job for nearly sixty years.

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



1. How old is Bette?
2. When did she decide to become a flight attendant?
3. What is for Bette the most important thing in her job?
4. When was her first flight as a flight attendant?
5. How many hours a day did she use to work?
6. What were some of the requirements to become a flight attendant?
7. What adjective does she use to describe the attire/outfits (clothes) when she started?
8. What thing has changed the flying industry the most?
9. Where is all the flight information kept nowadays?
10. Why does she think flight attendants will never disappear (phase out)?

For nearly six decades, Bette Nash has been sharing her vibrant smile with the world, all from 30,000 feet. At 80 years young, it's safe to say that she's seen it all and served them all. Few people know more about the pace of change in travel than Bette, who's thought to be the world's oldest active flight attendant.
I wanted to be a flight attendant from the time I got on the first airplane. I was 16 years old, the pilot and the flight attendant walked across the hall, and I thought, oh my God! I said that was for me.
At the time, flying was a lavish experience. It was a sophisticated party up in the air. Today, glancing around the tightly-packed plane, it's far from the white-gloved glamor of the golden years. Yet Bette still loves it just as much as ever.
I love my people, and I love being on the same flight all the time that I know my customers. You know what they want. The airline thinks names are important, but I think a lot of times, people's needs are very important. Everybody wants a little love.
After 59 years, there's still no stopping her.
I started with the Eastern Air Lines, November 4, 1957, and the rest is history. Some of the trips that I flew in the beginning. I flew these 13-hour days. I remember going, you know, Detroit, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Charlotte, Tampa, Jacksonville, and Miami, and I was the only one on the plane. You worked harder physically in those days.
When she first flew, training was focused more on appearance.
People called it Charm School in those days. They took you to the beauty parlour and cut all your hair off. You could wear mascara. You couldn't wear eyeshadow. You had to be a certain height and a certain weight. And you were constantly being weighed.
And the outfits, as we saw at the Smithsonian, changed with the mood of each era.
The attire was, when I first started, was very conservative. My Gosh! Then we started getting very, you know, out there in the world. You know, we had the hot pants, the go-go boots, you know, a turtleneck shirt that came up to here and buttoned underneath. After that, then things started calming down a little bit.
Yet nothing's changed more in the industry than technology.
When I first started flying, they would chalk everything up on a board. Now you have the computer screens. There's very little left of the manual way of life. Everything was on a piece of paper before, and now everything is on a tablet. Technology really made the difference of ‘am I gonna stay or am I gonna go?’ And even if, when I think I might retire or something, then I come to work and I think, Oh, I couldn't, I couldn't do that. It's stimulating coming out here and even walking through the airport. The airlines are evolving continuously. And I think you have to evolve with them.
And Bette's neither deterred nor threatened by it.
They'll never phase out a flight attendant, because they need the human touch, and people need that human interaction.

Key:
1 80 years young
2 at 16 / the first time she flew / when she saw pilot and flight attendant in the hall
3 people's needs / love
4 November 4, 1957
5 Thirteen
6 You had to be a certain height and a certain weight
7 conservative
8 technology
9 on a table
10 because people need that human interaction