miércoles, 29 de junio de 2016

Talking point: Ageing and health

This week's talking point is ageing and health. 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.

‘Ageing is one of the most profitable fears of our time’. How do you interpret this quote?

Which of these anti-aging treatments would you be willing to try? Money is no object:
  • Snail slime cream –potents anti-ageing treatment that helps to reduce acne and skin rashes as well as smoothing wrinkles
  • Emu oil –Used for centuries for its healing powers, emu oil leaves you with a glowing complexion
  • Bee sting venom –The venom from the sting is tranferred into a gel and then rubbed on the face as part of an intensive facial.
In the future, how likely do you think it is that medical science will keep people alive for much longer than today?
Would you like to live for 1,000 years? Why (not)?
Why do people follow special diets?
Have you (or has someone you know) ever had to follow a diet? How was it?
What are your opinions of these statements? Talk about your own experiences.
-How old someone feels depends entirely on their health.
-TV ads represent older people in realistic ways.
-It’s easier for people under 40 to get a job than those over 40.
-The longer you live, the more eccentric you become.
-Companies which sell anti-ageing products don’t want people to feel good about themselves.

INTERACTION -Choosing a diet
You and your partner have decided to start a diet. Read about the diets below and choose the most convenient diet for you to go on. If none of the diets is of your liking, suggest another one.

The 5:2 diet
The 5:2 diet is based on a principle known as intermittent fasting (IF) – where you eat normally for five days a week and fast on the other two days. On top of losing weight, fans claim the 5:2 diet can improve lifespan and brain function, and protect against conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer's.

The Dukan diet
The diet has four phases. During phase one you can eat chicken, turkey, eggs, fish and fat-free dairy. This is for an average of five days to achieve quick weight loss. No vegetables are allowed and seriously restricts fat. The next three phases of the plan see the gradual introduction of some fruit, veg and carbs, and eventually all foods. There's no time limit to the final phase, which involves having a protein-only day once a week and taking regular exercise.

The alkaline diet
The alkaline diet, whose celebrity fans reportedly include Gywneth Paltrow, Jennifer Aniston and Victoria Beckham,  recommends cutting back on meat, wheat and other grains, refined sugar, dairy products, caffeine, alcohol and processed foods in favour of "alkaline foods": Plenty of fruit and vegetables. Some followers adopt the "80/20 rule", consisting of a diet based on 80% fruit and veg and 20% grains and protein.

The Cambridge diet
It iis based around buying and eating a range of meal-replacement products. There are six flexible diet plans ranging from 415 calories to 1,500 calories or more a day. The bars, soups, porridges and shakes can be used as your sole source of nutrition or together with low-calorie regular meals. While on the programme, you receive advice and support on healthy eating and exercise from a Cambridge adviser.

martes, 28 de junio de 2016

What Oysters Reveal about Sea Change

Head out with ​M​ark Bittman as he braves the elements and cruises along the waters off of Marshall, CA. There, UC Davis researchers are helping local food producers like Hog Island Oyster Farm monitor the effects of ocean acidification on the marine ecosystem.

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

1 Mark Bittman  lives in San Franscisco.
2 Oysters were discovered 2,000 years ago.
3 Ocean water is being deprived of carbon dioxide.
4 The high acidity in the water is happening all year round.
5 Terry cultivates oysters all year round.
6 Tessa Hill is conducting nationwide research into the acidification of ocean waters.

Mark Bittman: I've been to the San Francisco Ferry Building many times since its reopening as a food destination. But now that I'm living out here, Saturday morning visits have become routine. The views never get old, and the markets and the raw bars are big draws.
For the most part, you can't get fresher seafoods than an oyster. Shucked raw on ice, grilled or fried, oysters have been cultivated for at least 2,000 years and consumed since prehistoric times. But there are troubled waters ahead for oysters, in large part because of ocean acidification. This is basically a change in the chemistry of ocean water brought about by absorption of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. And it's affecting the marine ecosystem, including the shellfish so many of us love.
Tessa Hill of UC Davis is helping monitor the impact of ocean acidification on marine invertebrates all along the Pacific Coast, including oysters harvested at the Hog Island Oyster Farm. So I met Tessa at the farm along with Terry Sawyer, who's one of the co-owners of Hog Island Oyster Company.
Let's see. I'm going to guess that water is sequestering carbon.
Tessa Hill: Right, so 30% of what we put into the atmosphere ends up in the ocean. When you add that carbon dioxide into the sea water, it changes the acidity of the water. And animals have a harder time finding their building block to make a shell.
Mark Bittman: You're changing their environment, and you're robbing them of the level of pH that they want.
Terry Sawyer: A lot of these stresses that we're talking about are also bringing about disease or bacterial effects. So you got hatcheries over there, very high densities. These animals get stressed, your hatchery would just be completely wiped up.
Tessa Hill: What you end up with are animals that are weakened. They take longer to get to reproductive age.
Mark Bittman: For now, the research shows that high acidity in the water is seasonal and related to upwellings. So hatcheries, like Terry's, are responding by not spawning new oysters when conditions are bad. But by 2030, upwellings are expected to last longer, and they may even be year-round in many places by 2050. Tessa's collaboration with Terry has become a model experiment.
Tessa Hill: What we started by doing is just deploying an extra set of sensors out on his sea water intake lines. The idea was, "Look, we're learning some interesting things from this data. Terry can plan around some business decisions. We're learning about the Tomales Bay Watershed, and the oceanography in this bay." And people started to take notice. Our regional system got money from the National Ocean Observing System to pick this as a site to monitor for climate change and ocean acidification.
Mark Bittman: What's next on the national project?
Tessa Hill: The West Coast program will extend from California all the way up to Alaska. The northeast coast and the Gulf Coast, in particular, are very susceptible to these impacts of ocean acidification, and so I would expect that monitoring systems like these will start to crop up in those locations as well.
Terry Sawyer: So then it's policy. It all has to be taken to the state and national levels to put money towards alternative forms of energy, transportation, whatever.
Tessa Hill: Absolutely.
Mark Bittman: As we headed back to shore, I could see tourists at the farm. Shucking oysters by the bucket and settling in to eat out al fresco. We joined in. As we gobbled out a few dozen just shucked oysters, I thought about the impact of this research. One thing it will do is help keep such delights on the table, but this type of collaboration will also lead to policies that will promote a healthier marine system and planet. That's something we can all hope for.
University of California Global Food Initiative Berkeley Food Institute
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1T 2F 3F 4F 5F 6F

lunes, 27 de junio de 2016

Listening test: Message in a bottle

Listen to envinronmentalist and writer Bea Johnson talking on the ways we can reduce our food waste and complete the blanks in the sentences below with up to three words. 0 is an example.

0 Example:
Bea Johnson is the author of the book Zero Waste Home.

1 The bottle with waste Bea carries with her wherever she goes is the size of _________________ .

2 The five rules Bea and her family follow are refuse, _______________  and rot.

3 The first rule of the zero waste lifestyle is _________________  to the things we don’t need.

4 Bea works a _________________  and has a busy life.

5 Making other people have access to the things you don’t need boosts the _________________  and allows you to share your resources with other people.

6 In Bea’s opinion, those things that we don’t have won’t need to be _______________  maintained and eventually discarded and repurchased.

7 People who live in apartments can leave their compost system on their balcony or in a spot in _________________  .

8 Waste-free products can be found in both health food stores and at _________________  .

Bea Johnson is a zero waste guru and an author of a best-selling book called Zero Waste Home. She proudly carries a bottle around with her which contains all the waste she and her three member family have created over the last year. It’s about the size of a marmalade jar. And Bea was one of the stars at the Zero Waste conference, hosted by the non-profit organisation Bezobalu, which took place in Prague this week. I met her prior to the conference I asked her if she could outline the main ideas behind the philosophy:
Zero waste aims at eliminating a maximum waste from your life. So we have been able to eliminate ours to just one jar per year. All we do is simply follow five rules in order: we refuse, reduce, reuse recycle and rot, so at the end we are left with very little waste.
So first rule, for example, is to refuse what we do not need, because in the consumerist society we are the targets of many consumer goods that are free, but every time we accept them, we are creating a demand to make more. So every time we take a free plastic bag, for example, it is a way for us to say that we love plastic bags, and we want more oil to be drilled from the ground to create a replacement and the replacement will be created. So we’ve simply learned to say no to these things and that’s the first rule of the zero waste lifestyle.
Isn't it too complicated, because that’s what many people say, that it’s time-consuming to live this way of life?
People that say that it’s too complicated do not know zero waste lifestyle and I am here to share all the misconceptions that are associated with this lifestyle. I work a full time job and I have a very busy schedule. If I am able to do it, I believe other people are able to do that too.
What takes the most time is actually to find a system that works for you. It also takes time to declutter your life from the things that you do not really need. That’s the second rule of the zero waste life style: to reduce the things that you do need.
So it takes a while to go through the things that you have so that you can let them go and make other people have access to them, so then you are boosting the second-hand market and sharing those precious resources with other people.
But once the system is in place you'll discover that it really saves a lot of time, because it is a life-style that is based on simplicity. Simplicity, by definition, is not there to complicate your life but to simplify it, to make room in your life for what matters the most. What you don’t have won’t need to be cleaned, stored, eventually repaired, maintained and then eventually discarded and repurchased.
Some people also say that it’s complicated, for instance, if you live in a city like Prague, there are no package-free shops. If you live in an apartment you can’t compost your biodegradable waste.
There is a compost system out there for every situation. For people that live in an apartment have a choice of either a worm bin, some people put it on their balcony or they find a spot in their cupboard. It actually doesn't smell. People are afraid of it because they think it is going to smell, it does not smell, so don’t worry about it.
Otherwise, there is actually a system that can be plugged. It’s a kind of composter that you plug in, it does require electricity but it is much faster than a worm composter and you can even add meat and fish bones to it.
And then as far as the bulk food stores, well there is one here in Prague, but also people need to understand that waste-free products is not just what we find in health food stores. It’s also at the farmers markets. It’s anything that you find without packaging, so it’s the bakery shop, your local butcher shop or your local fish shop. You just bring your own containers to these things to stop packaging at the source.

1 a marmalade jar
2 reduce, reuse, recycle
3 saying no
4 full time job
5 second-hand market
6 cleaned, stored, repaired
7 their/a cupboard
8 (the) farmer markets

domingo, 26 de junio de 2016

Extensive listening: The passing of time, caught in a single photo

In this TED talk, photographer Stephen Wilkes crafts stunning compositions of landscapes as they transition from day to night, exploring the space-time continuum within a two-dimensional still photograph.

Journey with him to iconic locations like the Tournelle Bridge in Paris, El Capitan in Yosemite National Park and a life-giving watering hole in heart of the Serengeti in this tour of his art and process.

You can read a full transcript here.

sábado, 25 de junio de 2016

Listen Current

Listen Current is a US education website that selects the best clips of American public radio, mainly from the National Public Radio (NPR) for use by teachers, who can use them to both build their students' listening skills and help English-language learners and others who need a boost with language literacy.

Listen Current brings authentic voices and engaging non-fiction stories to the classroom on a range of topics ranging from immigration to science to literature.

You can sign up for free and gain access to the almost one thousand audio clips in the platform, together with their listening comprehension questions and discussion themes.

Some extra features on the platfrom include transcripts, lesson plans, key vocabulary in the stories and extra materials, although a subscription is needed to gain access to them.

All in all, Listen Current is an excellent platfrom for students in the intermediate-to-advanced level to develop their listening skills.

viernes, 24 de junio de 2016

Why are UK train tickets more expensive than in Europe?

Train fares have gone up in the UK and new research shows that it has some of the highest season ticket prices in Europe. Some passengers spend up to 13% of their monthly salary just to get to work. Graham Satchell looks at how UK rail fares compare with the prices elsewhere in Europe.

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

1 How long will the train journey take?
2 What is the average cost of a season ticket in the UK?
3 How much does an annual season ticket for that journey cost?
4 And a season ticket in Germany?  
5 What's the difference in money between what the German government and the British government put it on the railway systems? 
6 What three adjectives are used to described the British rail industry?

It’s 7.30 on a wild wet morning in Lancashire. This is the commute from Tooley to Manchester. We’re travelling about 25 miles. It will take forty, forty-five minutes. We are trying to answer this question, why are rail tickets in Britain the highest in Europe? We’re going to get some help from my colleague in Germany, Damian.
Thanks, Graham. I’m in Ausberg on my way to central Berlin. It’s just coming up to 8 o’clock here, so people are rushing on their way to work. I’m also travelling 25 miles.
The train to Manchester fills up quickly. It’s standing room only. You can understand why some passengers are less than happy.
It’s like sardines in a tin. They charge us full prices and then we’re supposed to stand up every day.
It surely can’t be right for us to be crammed in like cattle.
The average cost of a season ticket is now just under two and a half thousand pounds, but some can be much more. 11, 12, 13 thousand pounds. And for this journey, an annual season ticket has just gone up to £1,884.
Train tickets here in Germany are much cheaper than in the UK, typically around a third of the price. A season ticket, for example, costs 936€, that’s about £700, but does that mean that travellers here on German rail are happy with the service?
It’s cheap, and normally it’s fast.
Often too late, it’s dirty, not so good.
So it seems that German railway is not quite as punctual as you might think. Now the main reason the German railway network is so much cheaper than in Britain is because of the amount of money the German state puts into it.
Last year in Britain the government put in about 5 billion pounds to the railway network. It’s about half what the German government puts in. But this is not all about the amount of taxpayers’ money. Experts say the British rail industry is fragmented, inefficient, overregulated.
We’re on time. And the German system is far from perfect, but most experts agree that because the way the ownership is set up and because that’s much clearer, the end result is a service to passengers which is simpler, more efficient and generally just a bit better than the British service.
This is Manchester Piccadilly, our journey’s end and we’re on time too, but these commuters have paid more than double for their annual season tickets than commuters in Germany who travel exactly the same distance.

1 forty-five minutes
2 (just under) two and a half thousand pounds
3 £1,884
4 936€
5 Twice as much money in Germany / Half the money in Britain 
6 fragmented, inefficient, overregulated

jueves, 23 de junio de 2016

Is this safest place in the world?

A special vault has been built in the Arctic to store thousands of seeds, as scientists fear the impact of climate change and prolonged conflicts could have devastating consequences on food crops around the world.

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

1 How often do scientists get the deliveries of seeds?
2 How many lines of securities are there?
3 What has the store been designed for?
4 How long can the crops survive?
5 What's the temperature in the last barrier to the store?
6 How many plastic packets with seeds are there?
7 Apart from drought, what other threat is mentioned?

In the punishing cold of an Arctic mountain, in the remote Svalbard islands, a doorway leads to what is meant to be the safest place on earth. Scientists are on their way, approaching through this isolated and hostile terrain. And I am with them. As they are carry a precious cargo of seeds, to be kept out of the way
of whatever climate change might bring.
How often do you get these deliveries?
We have deliveries three times a year.
The box of seeds is about to go through the first line of security. There are half a dozen in all. I have just come down the access tunnel that is cut into the mountain. This place is 130 metres above sea level, because if the worst happens and global warming melts all of the polar icecaps, this project will still be safe. The deeper inside the mountain we go, the more the temperature drops. The store is designed to survive any natural disaster.
The seeds can last here for a very long time. It depends on what the crop is, but some of the crops may survive for more than 4,000 years.
You're really imagining this place functioning, keeping the seeds safe for 4,000 years?
It's difficult to say. I'm sure that the pharoahs thought their pyramids would last long, and they did.
The last barrier to the store itself. Inside here, it is minus 18 Celsius. The rows of shelves are filling up with seeds from all over the world. There are samples of nearly half of the most important food crops, brought here just in case. Samples of seeds used to be held in glass test tubes. Now they are kept in little plastic packets and there are more than 800,000 of these in this vault. Everywhere you look there are examples of why this place matters.
There are seeds from Syria, plants that are good at coping with drought, and some have just been returned to the Middle East. When harvests are ruined by extremes of weather, having backup copies of key seeds is essential.
Another threat is flooding, which can damage national stores of seeds. This happened in the Philippines. And with industrial scale farming, most food comes from just a dozen varieties of plants, so keeping different genetic types helps to guarantee supplies.
It is for the survival of mankind in the future. We need diversity. All the different kinds of plant material, to get food for the future. We have a lot of problems now, climate change, environmental problems, and to tackle that, we need genetic variation.
So, in these remote mountains, this place is meant to be a safeguard against apocalypse, an insurance policy for a warming world.
David Shukman, BBC News, in Svalbard in the Arctic.

1 Three times a year 
2 Half a dozen (6)
3 To survive any natural disaster
4 (For more than) 4,000 years 
5 -18ºC
6 800,00
7 Flooding