viernes, 30 de enero de 2015

Ikea, experience the power of a bookbook

Watch this original ad of the latest Ikea catalogue presented as a mobile phone.

Self-study activity:
Watch the video and complete the blanks in the transcript with the missing words. The activity is suitable for intermediate students.



You know once in a (1) ... , something comes along that changes the way we live, a (2) ... so simple and intuitive, using it feels almost familiar.  Introducing 2015 Ikea catalogue. It’s not a digital book, or an e-book. It’s a bookbook.
The first thing to note is no cables, not even a power cable. The 2015 Ikea catalogue comes fully (3) ...  and the battery life is eternal. The interface is 7.5x8 inches, but can expand to 15x8 inches. The navigation is based on (4) ...   ... technology that you can actually feel. Content comes pre-installed via 328 high definition pages of inspiring home furnishing ideas. To start (5) ... , simply touch and grab, right to left to move forward, left to right to move backwards.
Notice something else? That’s right, no (6) ... . Each crystal clear page loads instantaneously, no matter how fast you (7) ... . If you want to get a quick overview, just hold it in the palm of your hand, and using just your thumb to (8) ...  ... the content. If you find something you want to save for later, you can simply (9) ... it and even if you close the application, you could easily find the (10) ... again. Amazing.
What about multiple users, for that we introduced a simple (11) ...   ... system to avoid confusion. If you want to share a particularly inspiring item, you literally share it. Another special feature is password protection, which is voice activated. Excuse me, that’s mine!
At Ikea we feel the technology, this (12) ...-..., should be in the hands of everyone. So the 2015 Ikea catalogue is free. You can download one from your (13) ...   ..., the one you open with a key. If it is not there, try to (14) ... the next day or you can upload yourself to the Ikea store and find one there.
Experience the power of a bookbook.

Key:
1 while 2 device 3 charged 4 tactile touch 5 browsing 6 lag 7 scroll 8 speed browse 9 bookmark 10 bookmark 11 colour coding 12 life-enhancing 13 mail box 14 refresh

jueves, 29 de enero de 2015

Are electronic cigarettes safe?

Is there any medical evidence which proves that electronic cigarettes are bad for your health?

Self-study activity:
Watch the video and say whether the statements below are true or false. The activity is suitable for intermediate 2 students.



1 The number of people using e-cigarettes in the UK has doubled in two years.
2 The World Health Organisation has stated that e-cigarettes are safe.
3 Taking nicotine without toxicans is as safe as drinking coffee.
4 People using e-cigarettes are as likely to end up smoking as any other person.
5 Most teenagers have tried e-cigarettes.
6 The Welsh government has banned smoking e-cigarettes in closed public places.
7 According to Professor Robert West, prohibiting e-cigarettes would mean a lot of smokers would continue smoking conventional cigarettes.

They are vaping, not smoking, and they are not alone. New figures today show the number of people using e-cigarettes in the UK has trebled in two years to 2.1m.
I smoked for years and this is potentially better for you, I guess, you know, you haven’t got any tar.
When you’re smoking an e-cig you just get just nicotine and nothing else.
Despite the enthusiasm here, the British Medical Association and the World Health Organisation have recommended banning e-cigarettes in public places. They say there isn’t enough evidence that they are safe or effective.
Queen Mary University in London. Ian is having the levels of carbon monoxide in his body tested.
That’s showing a 4, that’s a non-smoking reading…
Ian now uses an e-cigarette. It works by heating liquid nicotine into a vapour which is then inhaled. The test is overseen by Professor Peter Hyak.
Many people out there think that nicotine itself is a dangerous poison but if nicotine is taken without the accompanying toxicans, then the health effects will be very similar to drinking coffee.
So that’s a four, that’s exactly the same e-reading as before the e-cigarette.
So e-cigarettes contain no discernible toxins or carbon monoxide. The final test, what reading will Ian get after getting a normal cigarette?
So you got 10 less, that’s officially a smoker reading.
Experts say e-cigarettes are orders of magnitude safer than normal cigarettes but do they work? Professor Robert West in one of the country’s leading addiction experts. He studied 5,000 people who were using different methods to try and stop smoking: patches, gum, e-cigarettes and nothing. His results are published next month.
What we found was that there are those who use e-cigarettes were about 60% more likely still not to be smoking than those who use either the licensed product or nothing at all.
Despite that evidence serious concerns remain. Does the market of e-cigarettes make them attractive to children? One study last year found 12% of 14-to-17 year-olds had tried them.
We already have data which can actually check this worry. If a child tries a conventional cigarette there’s a 50% chance that they’ll become daily users. If a child tries e-cigarettes, so far we have no evidence that they’ll progress to regular use.
There are other worries. The Welsh government says e-cigarettes glamorize and will renormalize smoking. They proposed a ban in closed public places.
They’ll question those someone..., you know, looking at someone using that and thinking they’re smoking, so you’ve got to think, okay, so it’s not dangerous to be near someone who is using an electronic cigarette. There’s really no evidence and actually very little reason to believe that it’s going to renormalize smoking, so what’s the problem?
The problem in the end may simply be the word e-cigarette. The vapour that looks like smoke.  A sense that they just don’t feel right.
I can understand people wanting to be cautious but if we fail to take this opportunity that electronic cigarettes potentially are providing, then we’re really condemning people to death, who would otherwise have lived. That’s what’s at stake.
Nonetheless, regulators are clamping down on e-cigarettes. Concerns remain about safety, efficacy and limited regulation.

Key:
1F 2F 3T 4F 5F 6F 7T 

miércoles, 28 de enero de 2015

Talking point: Extreme job interview questions

This week's talking point is extreme job interview questions. Here are 20+ questions that interviewers like to ask job-seekers to surprise them and make them think on their feet. It seems that this kind of bizarre, even funny questions are getting more and more popular in job interviews. Before getting together with your friends, go over the questions, so that ideas flow more easily when you get together with your friends and you can work out vocabulary problems beforehand.
  • Which one aspect of your personality would you change if you could, and why?
  • If you could have dinner with anyone from history, who would you choose?
  • If you were an insect, which insect would you be?
  • When did you last lose your temper? Describe what happened.
  • If you had to spend the rest of your life on a deserted island (with plenty of food and water), which two things would you choose to have with you?
  • Which TV or film character would you most like to be?
  • What’s the best (or worst) decision you’ve ever made?
  • If I came to your house for dinner, what would you cook for me?
  • Which three adjectives describe you best?
  • If you were a type of food, what type of food would you be?
  • How do you normally treat animals?
  • Who do you admire most, and why?
  • If you could be a super-hero, what would you want your superpowers to be?
  • Tell me about something in your life that you’re really proud of?
  • If Hollywood made a movie about your life, who would you like to see play the lead role as you?
  • If you could have six months with no obligations or financial limitations, what would you do with the time?
  • You’re stranded on a desert island. You have 30 seconds to choose people of 5 professions to come with you. Who would you choose?
  • What sort of dinosaur would you be, and why?
  • What would you make you kick a dog?
  • What animal would you like to be reincarnated as, and why?
  • What’s the best idea you’ve had in the past month?
  • How would you describe your own personality?
  • If you could retire today on a reasonable pension, what would you do to fill your time?
  • What do you dislike in general?
  • What’s your biggest weakness?
To illustrate the topic, you can watch this famous Heineken video about the selection process of a candidate out of 1,700 for an event and sponsorship job.

martes, 27 de enero de 2015

Madrid Teacher: Andy talks about food

In this week's Madrid Teacher video, Andy talks about food, which gives us a great opportunity to focus on some of the features of spoken English he uses.

First of all, watch the video through to get the gist of what the conversation is about.

Now watch the video more carefully and pay attention to the following:
  • Conversation fillers to gain thinking time: Erm; U; okay; you know; Ah, well
  • Use of so as a linking word
  • Use of adverbs to emphasize adjectives, adverbs and verbs: quite good; quite well; quite nice; very nice; quite hard; really, really soft; just incompatible; I quite like
  • Use of actually and really to introduce a bit of surprising information
  • Reacting to what you have just heard: Oh, that’s not a bad idea!; Oh, yeah?
  • Showing agreement: Oh, no, I’m with you, I like ‘al dente’.; Absolutely
  • Use of definitely to emphasize the information



Now it's over to you. Get together with a friend or relative and talk about how good a cook you are and whether your family enjoys the dishes you make. Like Andy, you can tell each other how to prepare your favourite dish. Do not forget to use some of the features of spoken English we have revised in this post.

Andy, let me ask you a question.
Okay, go ahead.
Can you cook?
Yeah, I think I'm a pretty good cook.
Yeah, what do you like to cook?
Erm, I once lived with this guy, this Italian guy, he showed me a few Italian dishes so I think I’m quite good at a couple of Italian dishes, I don’t know how authentic they are, but this one I make with mushrooms, just basically cutting up mushrooms, frying them and then with a bit of onion, a bit of garlic and cooking the pasta at the same time, and then you add some cream to the onions and the mushrooms, and you just leave it cooking for half an hour and it comes out, it comes out quite well, Michael (like um), it’s quite nice, you mix it with the pasta, what I do,  I tend to do more than actually need and then I keep… I freeze some and then I can eat it later.
Oh, that’s not a bad idea!
Yeah, …save, a good way of saving money and… yeah, and if you are unfreeze pasta it doesn’t taste too bad. Some food, that you freeze, it’s pretty… like potatoes, have you ever frozen potatoes, then unfrozen them, they’re not very nice, but pasta comes out okay.
Alright, so do you do most of the cooking in your house?
Um at the weekend I cook. What happens is my, my wife doesn't actually like the food I cook, okay,
I like spicy hot food, I like curry, for example the pasta I, I like it ‘al dente’, what I say ‘al dente’…
Oh, yes.
… and it’s quite hard and she likes it really, really soft like soggy and I can’t, I can’t eat that.
Oh, no, I’m with you, I like ‘al dente’.
I can’t eat that, so the whole range of things like that, we are just incompatible, but I like her food though, I eat anything really. They used to call me the dustbin at school ‘cause… when people, you know, we were sitting down for lunch and people had finished, and they hadn’t finished all their food, I would always eat it for them.
Oh, yeah?
So I was constantly battling against my weight ‘cause I’ve got this desire to eat lots of food.
Alright! So… if you’ll eat anything, do you have a favorite, a favorite kinda food?
Ah, well Indian food, definitely I just love curry and… but when I eat Indian food I quite like to eat in a restaurant…
Okay.
And there’s quite a few cheap Indian restaurants here so it’s good.
Absolutely.

lunes, 26 de enero de 2015

A Photographer Revisits the Forgotten Land of Song

National Geographic photographer Aaron Huey travels back to Svanetia, a remote region of Georgia, to revisit the people and the place that inspired his future career.

Self-study activity:
Watch the video and answer the questions about it. The activity is suitable for Intermediate 2 students.



1 What was Aaron doing when he first went to Svanetia?
2 What was special about the Svanetia language, according to the German linguist?
3 What was Aaron's plan when the bus stopped?
4 What was Aaron's adopted family celebrating?
5 What did Aaron write in his journals to help him learn about the language and culture?
6 What was the family doing all the time?
7 What are some of the themes that run through the songs?
8 What was Aaron's reaction when he reunited with Nuna, her adopted mother, after 13 years?
9 What does Aaron say the job of a reporter is?

To check your answers, you can read the transcript below.

The first time I went to Svanetia I was not planning on going to Svanetia. I wasn’t a photographer yet.I was a backpacker (1) but this is the story that made me a photographer.
I met
a German linguist who told me about a place where people spoke a language that had never been written (2), that was surrounded by seventeen, eighteen thousand foot peaks, so this German linguist drew a map on a napkin for me and I transferred it into my journal and I left the next day.
And on a bus ride into the mountains a woman turned round me after about two hours and said where are you going and I said, Well 
I'm going to camp when the bus stops at the end of the road (3) and she just looked at me and said, no, God, please don't do that and she took me with her and she took me to a wedding.
And
that wedding was of the eldest daughter of the family (4) that ended up adopting me in this region and they got me drunk and made me dance and I woke up the next morning in their home and they probably felt some pity on me and thought we should shelter this kid, he doesn't know what he's doing. That started a three-year relationship, that's now I guess a sixteen-year relationship, now that National Geographic sent me back.
Yeah, my journals really are pretty pedestrian at times. I was very young. They’re embarrassing to read sometimes but there are some things I still really love in the journals.
I wrote down recipes and I wrote down vocabulary so I would have like daily language lessons for myself and, of course, the song. I wrote down all the songs (5).
I saw the potential for a story that was a little bit more like poetry, that was revealed more about the soul of people and the space and it was that third year that I returned specifically to try to make a story with pictures and that became my first photo story.
That was some of my first rolls of film. It’s the first story that made me fall in love with the people, with the place. That really is what it is, like the story made me fall in love with a whole community. It was imagery of that family, that family is central to all of those early trips and the photographs. They were beautiful people, they were musical and their home was filled with song. All the time I would wake up to
singing (6). I would go to bed to the family singing together and from the very first trip they taught me their songs. And I remember those songs when I came back 13 years later.
You know I might think,
the songs are about heroes and about love and about your friends having you back (7), all good things that good country songs are about.
The reunion with my adopted family was a little embarrassing because a Georgian television crew followed me and I told them they had to stay back at the gate. It was really emotional for me, you know, and I saw my, my mother from that family, Nuna. I went to her and I, I hugged her and it just
made me start weeping (8).. Like the songs that were really buried in me that, they just came out like I, I love this woman and that came out when I saw her and when I held her and it was exciting to see them and it was confusing to see them in how you restart a relationship after 13 years but the fact that they wanted to bring me in again, that they had not forgotten me, that they still thought of me in that way was very moving to me. And they did, they took me in again.
so I found this, I found all the families again. I sat down with them again, and sang with them again, and talked to them about their lives. And the old man still played chess in the backyard in the same spot. And the girls, the whole family still sings in the kitchen. And there are some other things that just never change and I found a lot of those again.
There were, other scenes that I found that weren't necessarily literally the person in the same place, but I found the same scenes again. I found the dancers and the traditional singers and it brought back that memory of those first images when I see them together side by side like I see what has survived.
These stories are not just about making pretty frames. We, we tell the stories of entire peoples, so if we do the story right, we preserve those things, you know, in…
that's what our job is, to preserve that poetry (9).
 So many people that have never heard of Svanetia or this region in the Georgian Republic or where these people, these ones, this may be the only thing they ever read about these people and I think that's what I look for now in all of my projects is can I can I keep finding that? Can I keep carrying that much?

domingo, 25 de enero de 2015

Extensive listening: Blurred lines, the new battle of the sexes

Blurred lines, the new battle of the sexes is a BBC documentary about changing attitudes to women on today's world. The BBC introduced the programme this way:

"From extreme laddism at universities to rape jokes in the school yard... Kirsty Wark explores whether there's a new culture abroad in which it's acceptable to write about, talk about, and feature women in a sexually offensive, even abusive way. Or whether the female of the species just needs to 'man up', learn to enjoy a gag, and get used to the 21st century world."

You can read the transcript for the first ten minutes of the programme here.

Warning:
Contains some violent scenes, and strong language and scenes which some viewers may find upsetting from the start.




sábado, 24 de enero de 2015

The core and quirks of English grammar

The core and quirks of English grammar is a site for learning the basics of English grammar different from anything you may find on the net.

It offers explanations of the key points of English grammar  through timelines, visuals and examples.

The grammar points explained on the site so far include:
- The tenses and modal verbs.
- The passive voice.
- Reported speech.
- Conditional sentences.
- Relative clauses.