domingo, 25 de septiembre de 2016

Extensive listening: 3 lessons on success from an Arab businesswoman

Professional Arab women juggle more responsibilities than their male counterparts, and they face more cultural rigidity than Western women. What can their success teach us about tenacity, competition, priorities and progress?

Tracing her career as an engineer, advocate and mother in Abu Dhabi, Leila Hoteit shares, in this TED Talk, three lessons for thriving in the modern world.

You can read a full transcript here.

sábado, 24 de septiembre de 2016

Reading test: For the first time in a century wild tiger numbers go up

In this week's reading test we are going to practise the 'insert the word' kind of task. To do so, we are going to use the Huffington Post article For the first time in a century wild tiger numbers go up.

Read the text and choose the word (A to O) which best fits in gaps 1 to 10. Four of the words are not needed. 0 has been completed as an example.

For the first time in a century wild tiger numbers go up

For wild tigers, the numbers have not been kind.
In 1900, an (0) … 100,000 tigers wandered about free on our planet. Yet within a hundred years, that number gone down by more than 95 percent — the result of uncontrolled poaching and (1) … habitat loss.
But it seems the tide may finally be (2) … for the majestic cat. On Sunday, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) announced that wild tiger numbers were on the (3) … for the first time in over a century.
There are now about 3,890 tigers in the wild, up from about 3,200 in 2010, said WWF, citing national tiger survey numbers.
The increase could partly be attributed to growing tiger populations in India, Russia, Nepal and Bhutan as well as better protection of the (4) … species globally, the organization said. The improved count could also be the result of other factors, (5) … better survey methods.
(6) … still cautious, conservationists regarded the new global count as a positive (7) … forward for the world’s tigers.
“More important (8) … the absolute numbers is the trend, and we’re seeing the trend going in the right direction,” Ginette Hemley, WWF’s senior vice president of wildlife conservation, said.
Carter Roberts, president and CEO of WWF, added in a statement: “We’ve watched tigers (9) … for decades and have dreamed of bending that curve in the other direction. In a sea of bad news on the environment we are (10) … significant progress on one of the greatest comeback stories in conservation.”

A - as
B - decline
C - doing
D - endangered
E - estimated 0 Example
F - increase
G - like
H - making
I - rise
J - step
K - than
L - that
M - turning
N - while
O - widespread

Photo: AlexTurton via Getty Images

1O 2M 3I 4D 5G 6N 7J 8K 9B 10H

viernes, 23 de septiembre de 2016

A cure for diabetes in India?

Could a simple change in the diet of expectant mothers prevent their children from developing diabetes?

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

1 What are the two arguments Professor Fall gives against making middle-aged people lose weight to prevent diabetes?
2 Where does Professor Fall's plan to prevent diabetes rely on?
3 What chemical element is important to bone growth?
4 How many snacks are made in the kitchen every day?
5 How many women have participated in the project?
6 Why is it important that the women come to the centre and have the supplement there?
7 As well as having their mental development tested, what other elements of a baby's growth are measured and recorded?
8 Despite the improvement in mothers' diet, which potential problem are the scientists coming across?

Inspired by David's ideas, his colleague, Professor Caroline Fall, is leading a study with the potential to fix the diabetes epidemic in India.
At the moment, if you talk about preventing diabetes, people are talking about making middle-aged people lose weight, and A, that's impossible to do, and B, it doesn't seem to work very well anyway. And so the idea that you could build a human being that was more resistant to this disease was amazing to me.
Caroline's plan to halt the diabetes epidemic doesn't rely on high-tech labs or fancy science. It rests mainly on these women and one kitchen. These recipes contain all the crucial building blocks needed to build a body resistant to disease.
Folic acid, calcium, iron, vitamin A. The calcium will be important for bone growth. The green leafy vegetables contain small quantities of essential fatty acids which are important for brain growth. All of those nutrients are important in different tissues of the body. The foetus, at a very, very early microscopic stage, is sensitive to the nutrients around it and if we miss that, we feel that we would be missing the most important stage of development.
Every day, over 1,500 snacks are made in this kitchen. There are nutrient-rich recipes and others that are green vegetable-free to act as scientific controls. They are taken to about 50 clinics in the slums across the city. In total, over 6,700 women have participated and each must begin eating the supplements well before they fall pregnant. It's a logistical nightmare where the utmost care must be taken to be scientific.
I'm very glad to have met Meera. It's been hard work, it's been hard work setting up a study like this. To carry it out on the ground in a population like this is very difficult.
It's mandatory for a woman to come to the centre and have the supplement in front of the project clerk because it is very important, you know, because if they take it home, somebody else can eat it. They can throw it out or the child can eat it. We are not sure who the supplement has gone into, whose stomach, so it's very important to have women coming to the centre.
The centre is full of women eating supplements from well before pregnancy until they give birth. And there are also babies who must be measured at one, three, six and 12 months. Their weight, length and body fat are recorded, and they are even testing their mental development. It is an ambitious long-term project.
For seven-and-a-half years.
How many more?
Forever, I think.
So nice!
The results of this study will begin to come in next year.
We're providing better nutrition into the mother, but the mother herself has had a poor early development, which may affect the quality of her eggs. It certainly affects the size of her uterus and the quality of the blood supply to the uterus. So she is still constraining the development and growth of that foetus.

1 a) that's impossible to do; b) it doesn 't seem to work very well
2 the kitchen or cooking or diet or recipes
3 calcium
4 1,500
5 6,700
6 to make sure that they actually have it 
7 weight, length and body fat
8 mothers themselves had a poor early development, which may affect the quality of their eggs

jueves, 22 de septiembre de 2016

Gori, birthplace of Stalin

Hugh Bonneville and Jessica Hynes find themselves travelling to Gori (Georgia), Stalin's birthplace.

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

1 What does Hugh say about the road?
2 What does Hugh want to see in Gori?
3 What is the message in the inscription Jessica reads?
4 What is the surprising thing you can see in the shower?
5 Why is Hugh concerned when he leaves the museums?
6 What did the minister of culture write about the museum?
7 Who wrote the message in the visitors' book Hugh reads out?

I don't want to tempt fate, but this is a remarkably good road.
You've blown it now, Hugh.
They're driving to a small town called Gori whose place in history relies solely on the fact that it's the birthplace of communist dictator Joseph Stalin.
So, Gori, where we're going to, Stalin's birthplace, there's a museum. I'd be interested to see how honest an account or how much of the rest of the world's view of Stalin is included in the museum in his birthplace.
A huge memorial has been built around the house where Stalin was born and several surrounding blocks flattened to make way for the museum dedicated to Gori's favourite son.
So, this is Stalin's house, literally kind of sitting on its own in the middle of nowhere. There's something really exciting about coming somewhere like this. It's such living history, and imagining Stalin as a little boy looking at exactly this, all the notches on the wood. Wonder if there's any initials.
JV was here.
You can go inside.
It's incredible to think of him sort of sitting at that table and kind of... living here.
So, this carriage used to belong to the Tsar and was appropriated by Stalin. There's even a bar for the shower. There was a meeting of the Allied commanders of Stalin and Churchill and Roosevelt on a train. I wonder if it was this one. You definitely feel ghosts in here, you do, when you consider what Stalin meant for millions and millions of people.
Hugh searches the museum for some answers. But comes away more concerned about its omissions.
I think my thoughts about this place are solidifying. I feel quite angry now. There's a statement downstairs from the minister of culture, I guess it is, saying that this museum is being left as it was, as part of an objective history of his life and his birthplace. It's not. This is a shrine to Stalin really, I feel, and I don't think I could put it any better than… This is the visitors' book I've been looking at and there's a couple from New York who wrote this:
How can you expect the world to support you in your just struggle against the Russians if you have no courage to judge Stalin and his crimes against humanity?
Yeah, that's pretty much it.

1 it's remarkably good
2 a museum
3 JV was here
4 a bar  
5 because of its omissions 
6 it is an objective history of Stalin's life and his birthplace
7 a couple from New York

miércoles, 21 de septiembre de 2016

Talking point: Learning English

This week's talking point is learning English. 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.
  • In how many languages can you have a basic conversation in (to order a meal or to greet people)?
  • What languages do you have a good grasp of?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of learning a language using these methods?
being immersed in the language/culture
studying grammar and vocabulary
attending a language school
keeping in touch with people who speak the language through social media and new technology
  • Do you know any other ways of learning a foreign language?
  • Which ones have you personally tried?
  • Which one has really worked for you?
  • How often do you hear foreign languages where you live?
  • How important do you think memory is to learn a foreign language?
  • What do you want to be able to do with English?
  • How far away from that objective are you at the moment?
  • Do you ever review what you have learnt?
  • How often do you watch or read things in English?
  • How often do you communicate with native speakers?
  • Do you keep a small notebook to note down and revise new expressions?
  • Are you subscribed to any podcasts that you listen to while you are doing housework or travelling or waiting?
  • What are you doing to learn English at the moment?
  • Are you having any problems with English at the moment?
  • Do you enjoy learning English?
To illustrate the topic you can watch this video about Memrise, a new system to learn a foreign language.

martes, 20 de septiembre de 2016

I like being afraid

For some kids, the playground isn’t enough – extreme sports like snowboarding or motocross are the best ways to have fun. But are they safe?

Who ...?
A - enjoys being around people
B - enjoys the feeling of being scared
C - has been doing the sport just in the last year
D - is fully aware of the danger the sport poses
E - started doing the sport when he/she was a toddler
F - thinks the sport has an influence on personality
G – would be wasting his/her time is they weren’t doing this sport

My name is Luke Ruben Acuna, I'm 12 years old. I've been chair skating for about a year now. For all those that think that chair skating is really dangerous, it, it is. That is true, but there are certain things that us chair skaters do to not let ourselves get hurt. It's only dangerous if we let it to be dangerous.

My name John Givoni Connolly. I'm nine years old, and I, I started snowboarding when I was two. To overcome fear trying something new, I just do it.

I am Tessa Milan. I am 11 years old, and I am from Carlsbad, California. I like being scared, and sometimes when I'm like, airing on a half pipe, it makes me feel scared, so I like that feeling.

I am Charlie Gray. I am 11 years old, and I'm from Mammoth Lakes, California. Snowboarding is awesome because you're outdoors, get to be around people that you like. It's, like, the best sport ever.

My name is Verastess, and I live in Petaluma, California. Started skateboarding when I was about, like, almost one in diapers. If I didn't have skateboarding, I'll probably just lay around on the couch all day and watch TV. When I'm really scared to try something, I just think to myself, if you wanna do it really bad, you can do it.

I'm Brian Cullen. My kids are Michael. He's 8 years old. And Kylie, she's 10. Climbing for us has really brought the family together, and I love to see that. It's just really exciting to see what it's, you know, what it's done for them physically and mentally. I mean climbing is, is problem solving.

My name is Eric Ferdell. I am 11 years old. I'm from Courts Hill, and started riding about three years ago. Definitely, this sport is very dangerous. Every time you go out there, you keep it in the back of your head saying, oh, yeah well, I coud break an arm, or I could die doing this. But really, it's how much will you put into it? What I enjoy most is just the feeling you have when you're going, you know, 70 miles an hour, up to a jump, and then launch about 60 feet in the air. And, anything you can think of on a dirt bike, you can do it.

A Charlie Gray (snowboarding)
B Tessa Milan (snowboarding)
C Luke Ruben Acuna (chair skating)
D Eric Ferdell (motocross)
E John Givoni Connolly (snowboarding)
F Brian Cullen (climbing)
G Verastess (skateboarding)

lunes, 19 de septiembre de 2016

Listening test: Sugar tax

Listen to a report on the British government's plans to set a tax on sugary drinks and complete the blanks in the sentences below with up to THREE WORDS. 0 is an example.

0 Example:
UK citizens are expected to pay a tax on sugary drinks in two years' time.

1 The Chancellor of the Exchequer announced the government's plans in the latest government _______________________ .

2 The tax will be imposed on what is UK's biggest single source of excess sugar: _______________________ .

3 The tax will be imposed on the volume of sugary drinks that a company _______________________ .

4 Both milk-based drinks as well as _______________________ will not be taxed.

5 The money collected will be used to _______________________ in schools.

6 The effect the tax has had in some other countries has been positive, at least in the _______________________ .

In two years the UK is going to have a new tax on sugary drinks. I’ve talked before about the latest thinking on the links between sugar consumption and medical problems such as obesity, Type 2 diabetes and so on. In the latest government budget statement, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced that he’s responding to demands from the health sector to do something about reducing our sugar consumption by imposing a tax on what is our biggest single source of excess sugar: high sugar drinks, which are particularly popular with children and teenagers. The drinks that’ll be affected are things like classic Coke and Pepsi, energy drinks, Fanta and tonic water. The tax will not be on the product as such but on the company. The tax will be on the volume of sugary drinks that a company produces or imports. The tax will be in two bands: one for drinks with more than 5g of sugar per 100 millilitres, and the second band for drinks with more than 8g. The price of a can of Coca-Cola will rise by about 10%. Milk-based drinks as well as pure fruit juices will not be taxed. The drinks industry has two years to get ready, and I’m sure they’ll be lobbying until the last moment against the tax. A feature of the tax will be that the money raised will be kept separate from general taxation and it’ll be used specifically to promote sport in primary schools.
So will the tax have its intended effect of reducing national sugar consumption? Other countries that have already tried something similar include Mexico and Hungary where the short-term result at least has been positive. The debate goes on, however, about the morality of the government trying to control what we consume. 

1 budget statement
2 high sugar drinks
3 produces or imports
4 pure fruit juices
5 promote sport
6 short term