sábado, 5 de septiembre de 2015

CNN Student News

CNN Student News is a ten-minute, commercial-free, daily news programme designed for US secondary-school schools available throughout the school year from Monday to Friday.

CNN Student News can be watched as a streamed video or downloaded as a podcast.

Each programme lasts around ten minutes, and three or four news items are dealt with every day. Both closed-captioned subtitles and a full transcript are available to help comprehension.

CNN Student News is a very good option for advanced students of English to get acquainted with authentic listening.

viernes, 4 de septiembre de 2015

The Indian village famous for its bouncers

Famous for its wrestlers, the village of Asola-Fatehpur Beri is now making a name for itself supplying doormen to the Indian capital's upmarket bars and clubs. Life as a bouncer in the city could not be more different to the village, as one of the men told BBC News.

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

1 How old is Vijay Tanwar?
2 Where's Asola-Fatehpur Ber?
3 Why didn't Vijay Tanwar become an Olympian?
4 What does the diet he follows have?
5 What food and drink has he never tried in his life?
6 What does Vija's wife never do?
7 What kind of clients do they have a great difficulty with?
8 What's Vijay's dream?

My name’s Vijay Tanwar. (1) I am 39 and I live in Asola-Fatehpur Beri (2) on  the outskirts of Delhi. This village is famous for its wrestlers. Wrestling runs in our blood. I wanted to be an Olympian but (3) my father died and that shattered my Olympic dream. I was very young and (3) had to leave school and also my wrestling career to support my family. I started a wrestling pitch here to train young boys. We follow a strict regime. We exercise daily and eat healthy. (4) Our diet has vegetables, fruits, butter and lots and lots of milk.
About ten years ago a lot of night clubs and pubs opened in Delhi, that’s where I found work as a bouncer. Then there were more clubs which needed more bouncers. I have helped more than a hundred young boys from the village to earn a living through this profession.
The two worlds I experience don’t meet. (5) I’ve never touched alcohol and meat in my life. In the clubs I see not only men but also women drinking alcohol. Young kids can be seen smoking and drinking.
I have a wife and two sons. (6) My wife doesn’t step out of the house on her own, let alone going to a nightclub. I wonder how parents allow their daughters to be out till late night.
We try to keep our cool, but sometimes people get drunk and abuse us. Some (7) people come from influential families and it gets very difficult to control them. Then we have to use force. The police also favour them. These rich people don’t know the value of hard-earned money.
Life in the village is honest and simple. These modern and educated people are out of touch with their roots.
I am a bouncer, but my passion lies in training the younger generations. (8) My dream is to see them compete at the Olympics one day.

jueves, 3 de septiembre de 2015

35 year old who lives in 1946

Ben Sansum is 35. But he lives in 1946. His clothes, his house, the music he listens to - all come from an era before he was even born. BBC News went to meet Ben at home in Cambridgeshire.

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

1 How old is the Victorian range he's still using?
2 What does Ben do?
3 What's one of the favourite parts of the house? Why?
4 What concession has he made to the 40's?
5 Is Ben into a relationship?
6 Who was the original owner of the Victorian mangle he inherited from his grandmother?
7 What does Ben think of personal relationships these days?

I guess I was always the funny boy at school who had this interest, strange interest. But gradually as I grew older I loved the music, and the cars and the fashion. My name is Ben Sansum, and for years now I’ve been fascinated with history, particularly the 40s, so I decided to recreate the 40s as much as I could in my own home.
I’m 35 now. My parents probably thought I would grow out of this but I will always live by this now, I will never grow out of it and I shall probably die living like this but that’s fine because I’m ensuring their way of life isn’t forgotten.
And the heart of the house really is the Victorian range, 1890’s, fully restored, every nut and bolt working perfectly in and after (1) 120 years, marvellous. I use it all the time in winter. It’s fantastic. Endless supply of hot water and great fun but hard work. Blacking the range every day is filthy.
I have a very sort of modern life in one sense. (2) I’m BA cabin crew, so sort of jetting off, then I like to come home and retreat and go back in time in my own little period house.
This is the master bedroom. Being a Victorian house, it’s more Victorian up here because in the 30’s visitors used the bedroom, the front room, so that’s where you had all the art décor and modern stuff, but the older part of the house where visitors wouldn’t see, it had all the hand-me-downs of Victorian furniture.
(3) One of my favourite parts about the house is the location, the view outside this window hasn’t changed for perhaps 1,000 years, being the older town church. It’s a pity we have the modern traffic, can’t do much about that.
I’ve got one or two concessions to the 40’s. I don’t do microwaves and dishwashers, I don’t go that far but (4) I do have a fridge I’m afraid, meat saves not great these days. I’ve got a fridge, sorry!
I think years ago I used to hope that one day I’d have someone live with me and be sort of compatible, but I think my interest is so strange that (5) my partner has a modern house and I have a period house, so we have a house each, it’s great because not everyone wants to live like that, I appreciate that.
This is my older walk-on back yard, the court yard garden. My absolute pride and joy is a locally made mangle here. My grandmama actually used this, (6) belonged to a neighbour of hers. And it’s made right here in our town, it’s a Victorian, again survived a hundred years. What can you buy now that you’ll still be able to use in a hundred’s years time. It’s incredible, really.
I think it’s so true now that the world moves so incredibly fast. I… I mean, I’m 35 and I can’t keep up with it. I don’t understand Twitter and iphones, and I really don’t understand… technology moves so fast. I think we are more isolated today, I mean, we can have hundreds of friends on Facebook but do you go out and chat to your next-door neighbour over the fence of the house, you know, it’s scary. (7) Today I think we are more isolated and we’ve lost such a lot that I’m just trying to hold on to some of the old, old world charms of that period for as long as I can.

miércoles, 2 de septiembre de 2015

Talking point : Religions and beliefs

This week's talking point is religions and beliefs. Before getting together with the members of your conversation group, go over the questions below so that ideas flow more easily when you meet up with your friends and you can work out vocabulary problems beforehand.
  • Do you consider the people in your country to be religious?
  • How does the situation compare with 50 or 100 years ago?
  • How important is religion in your life?
  • What religious festivals or holidays are important in your region/country?
  • How do (religious) people celebrate them?
  • What pilgrimage sites of the world do you know? And in your country?
  • What do you know about these sites?
  • What are some of the most significant religious buildings in your country?
  • Should religion be taught as a subject in the curriculum? Give your reasons.
  • Should religious schools receive government funding? Give your reasons.
To illustrate the topic, you can watch this video on The Way of St James.

For over a thousand years, pilgrims from all over the world, have followed the road that leads to Santiago de Compostela, the city that grew up around the tomb of the Apostle Saint James. 
Since its beginnings the Camino de Santiago was not just a road for religious pilgrimage.  As a meeting place for people from different backgrounds,  it gave an eye to a culture based on the exchange of ideas and the artistic and social occurrence  until a political and economic activity that helped to forge Modern Day Europe,  acting as its first unifying channel. 
Today, in the 21st century, Santiago continues to be visited, via a variety of routes,  by pilgrims from every continent and every social background.  The French Way, traditional the best known, reaches Spain across the Pyrenees. 
Although the Portuguese or the Northern Way,  scattering the Bay of Basque Coast line, also lead to Compostela.  One of the Camino’s permanent features is its hospitality.  Nowadays, there exist a large number of hostels, scattered all along Saint James route,  opening their doors for pilgrims and it turns there’s also appeared  a modern range of hotels and rural tourism houses,  diversifying the Camino services and attractions. 
Compostela is the goal for walkers and travellers  and at the same time is the starting point for a new journey,  when you reach the Plaza do Obradoiro.  After fulfilling a ritual at the Portico de la Gloria and embracing the Apostle,  pilgrims can watch the spectacular flight of the largest incensory in the world, the “Botafumeiro”, skilfully handled by the “Tiraboleiros”.
Proudly seal their “Compostela”, which demonstrates they have completed the "Camino"  and later explore the “forest stone”,  that is the City of Santiago, offering an unbeatable collection of sights,  that is, monasteries, churches, palaces, squares and popular streets  that have consolidated its international fame as a historical and cultural centre,  confirmed everyday by the thousands of pilgrims and tourists who visit it.

martes, 1 de septiembre de 2015

10 Questions with Jack Devine

Watch this Time interview with Jack Devine, former CIA Deputy Director, for the 10 Questions with series and say whether the statements below are true or false.

1 Jack Devine worked for the CIA for thirty-two years.
2 Jack Devine is unwilling to share the jobs he pretended to be doing during his missions.
3 Jack Devine thinks teenage was not the best age to tell his children about his job.
4 Jack Devine thinks it was better to tell his children about his job when the family was in US.
5 Jack Devine has killed people in his job.
6 A spy always has to do as he/she is told.
7 Jack Devine is willing to pardon Edward Snowden.
8 In the spies' world, yesterday's enemies are today's friends.
9 The way you look is important to be a spy.

I’m Belinda Luscombe from Time. I’m here with Jack Devine, who is a thirty-two-year veteran of the CIA. Mr Devine, welcome.
Thank you for inviting me.
So you have written a book, Good Hunting, Aren’t spies supposed to be kind of covert, especially those who are in operations? Why write a book?
Well, I was covert for virtually all of my career and then at a certain level you’re publicly known because I was an official, appeared in Congress, met every foreign service around the world. So they lift your cover at that point.
When you were overseas in some of your postings, what job did you say you were doing?
Well, I was under cover, I’m just going to leave it at that, and if you look at the record you’ll see that I served in different countries, and in the case of the few places where I became public, in Chile, I was with the American embassy. I have had official titles and they are pretty well documented so I looked like a foreigner and a diplomat.
You take, you write in the book about how you had to do this delicate dance with your kids. You don’t want to tell them too late and you don’t want to tell them too soon.
What is the perfect age to break to your child that you’re actually a spook?
Let me put a marker down. I only learned this the hard way, all right. This is not like a course which tells you, look, when you’re handling your family, you have to do it this way, but I have six children, so I had a chance to practise, I had what I thought was great success. I would only do it in the United States. I would do it in their early teens, thirteen, fourteen, with hindsight, almost the perfect time. They’re not looking at the world in complicated ways and I do it in the United States so that they don’t run out the next day and tell their friends, you won’t believe what my father does, you know? So I’d do it in the United States, and I’d catch them at that point, and I also, we try and catch them on a one-and-one occasion. It might take me weeks during the summer, but invariably one of them had the bad fortune to ride with me from Washington to the Jersey seashore, and when I would get to the Delaware Bridge, I would say,, now I wanna tell you something that’s really important, you know. The first couple of sentences, that’s great, that’s terrific, what time’s dinner?, you know. They took it in stride. But I caught my teenage, mid, middle daughter at sixteen and the response is, you know, one of those stunning things that you’re just not prepared for, my father is an assassin. So it’s not what you expect to hear from your daughter.
Have you, in fact, assassinated anybody?
Absolutely not.
What did you do when you didn’t, when you doubted the goal of your job, when you were given a task to do and you doubted it?
Well I think there are two things, and I’ll be very candid with you on this. One is you can bureaucratically move. That’s what, look, like a job in Japan. So you move out of the way of the bullet. But that doesn’t always work. And then when you’re confronted with it, and frankly that happened very rarely to me, you then have to stand up and be prepared to say, I’m not gonna do this one, and you can either move me or, you know, I’m gonna have to step down. And I think this is a key to public service. I think all government officials should be in that position that if they don’t feel that something is right and they can do it, they should step, make their position known and step down.
Do you think, on that subject, that Edward Snowden should be pardoned?
Not in your wildest dreams, I didn’t call.
What a shock.
I didn’t call it Good Hunting for nothing. He would be right on my list. He was in this system. He knew what the system was. There are ways to appeal, bring the problem if you’re not satisfied with the Inspector General and the General Council, you go to Congress. I mean, there are a number of things you can do, but he deliberately went in and, and, and drew out information. And what’s his motivation? I mean, I think, every defector I know, Rick Adams, they all have some big story wrapped around it. At the end of the day, it’s usually psychological, they’re usually underperformers, they’re usually well read and they think they’re smarter than everyone else, and they’re just not. They tend to be lazy, and as a result your career doesn’t function, and then you become angry. I don’t know of any government since the beginning of time that hasn’t had secrets in it. I mean, just cannot function, you can’t put your best technology out there. So, if you agree that you will abide by those principles, then you need to stand up and if you want to make this speech, if you want to do damage to it, then you need to face the courts, make your case before the American people. The American people will, if you have a real story, if you can make a convincing case, I believe our justice system will handle you appropriately. He’s afraid to come back, and not physically. He knows that he can’t make that case.
Do you now find yourself working with people who you would have considered enemy operatives when you were an employee of the CIA?
Oh, absolutely. God bless capitalism. There’s a culture, even, and regardless of what country is, if you work in the intelligence business, there’s a, perhaps like journalists, there’s a common language, a common experience, there is a way that you deal with information. There’s a responsible way of dealing with it. So there’s a huge cooperative base there. And the difference is, it’s for non-state matters, it’s about individuals, companies, and sort of the environment they’re operating in. So I’m very comfortable dealing with some of my old adversaries. And I think they’re comfortable with me. We’re not fighting, we, we’re working together to sort of find an answer to a problem that’s mutually beneficial.
Do you understand that might strike heart in the fears of people to think that there is this sort of intelligence brethren around the world whose only uniting force is that they have a client that, that money is what’s oper... driving them now, rather than patriotism?
Well, welcome to the free market. No, I miss it, I believe in patriotism. I staunchly support the CIA. This is one of the strongest books you’re gonna find the important mission that it has in this space. So it’s not that I’m without deep feelings, but I have, I have served as a public figure, my time ran out, and now I’m in the private sector. So I’m commercially, information is part of our life. You’re in the business of information. The newspaper and a CIA operative are almost twin sisters. I mean, because who, what, when, where, how. Reliability, variability.
Are you saying I could be a spy? Is that what you’re saying?
I didn’t doubt it from the first moment I met you.
Right, especially in the quiet outfit.
As I said to you, it’s now how you look, it’s how you move in the darkness.
Right. Mr Devine, thank you so much.
Thank you.

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

lunes, 31 de agosto de 2015

Listening test: Interview with Donna Leon

In this week's listening test we are going to listen to seven excerpts of a BBC interview with American crime writer Donna Leon. Listen and match each of the headings A to I with its corresponding extract. There are two headings you do not need to use.

A - Attitude to life
B - Describing a hero
C - Family life
D - Not in control of everything
E – Discussing a project
F - The story of a failure
G - True character
H - Two jobs
I - What a town is like

… is a Venitian, Venitian, Venitian whose, I’d like to think, intelligent, articulate, humorous, well-educated, well- read in the classics, whose job it is to investigate crimes of some importance that are committed in these books supposedly in Venice but crimes like these seldom happen in Venice.

He’s married to a nice, intelligent woman. He has two decent kids. He lives well. He eats well. His wife is a university professor. They talk about books, they talk about literature, they talk about art, they talk about painting, not because these are snobbish people but because this is what people at that level of education talk about, I think.

I think that cynical is too strong a word. I really do. I think that they are resigned and accept, because Italians are very good at this, they’re resigned to accept human nature as it is. They have no illusions about human nature or human society or human politics, so they are distressed to find that things don’t work, but things don’t work.

I still believe that the bulk of the Italians that I’ve, I know that the bulk of the Italians I chat with are decent, hard-working people and I believe that that is true of most of the people in the country, but I believe that Pollyana-like of most people. I think most people are basically good, otherwise we wouldn’t, we wouldn’t be able to wake up every morning safely in our beds. I think that Italians just don’t have illusions about human behaviour, and they don’t attempt to perpetuate them.

I think, what I provide, I like to think what I provide is a view of Venice that is not romanticized, that is not transmuted into some Disneyland idea of the magic fairy city, the beauty, beauty, beauty place. Venice is a small provincial town where people gossip, they gossip about people’s grandfathers, they gossip about people’s fathers. Everybody knows everybody. There are no secrets. It’s really a small town, 58,000 people, that is disguised as a cultural hub and a sophisticated modern city. It’s none of those things.

It’s probably easier to write a detective novel because you just sit in your desk and you go on until it’s done. But with an opera first you have to decide which one. Then you have to figure out who to sing the different parts, and then who to play in the orchestra and then you have to find out who of them is free. Then you have to find the place to record, you have to find the recording company, and then you have to find places that will agree to take it as a concert because in order for any opera recording today to be made it must be able to defray some of the cost by a concert tour which will get back some of the money spent for the recording.

I had lunch with people from the BBC yesterday. We’ve been talking with increasing agreement for the last couple of years and I’m reasonably optimistic that this will happen in the next couple of years, that the BBC will produce them, and I’m very enthusiastic about that.

1B 2C 3A 4G 5I 6H 7E

domingo, 30 de agosto de 2015

Extensive listening: Medieval Lives- A Good Birth

Medieval Lives is a BBC documentary series in which historian and author Helen Castor explores how the people of the Middle Ages handled the most fundamental moments of transition in life - birth, marriage and death.

For a medieval woman approaching the moment of labour and birth, there were no antiseptics to ward off infection or anaesthetics to deal with pain. Ms Castor reveals how this was one of the most dangerous moments a medieval woman would ever encounter, with some aristocratic and royal women giving birth as young as 13. Birth took place in an all-female environment and the male world of medicine was little help to a woman in confinement. It was believed that the pains of labour were the penalty for the original sin of humankind - so, to get through them, a pregnant woman needed the help of the saints and the blessing of God himself.