jueves, 26 de mayo de 2016

Helping Immigrant Students Adjust to New Schools New Lives

A growing community of Somali immigrant families in St. Cloud, Minnesota, has presented multiple challenges for local educators who have been dealing with not only how to meet the students' linguistic and educational needs, but also how to create a learning environment where they feel safe and welcome.

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

1 What number is the district where Bashar and Ahme work?
2 Why did the Hassans leave Somalia?
3 What do they do at St. Cloud apart from bridging the cultural gap?
4 How many Somali students does St Cloud have?
5 How will you succeed, accoridng to Ahmed?

This is one community, with a different culture. It's a very diverse city.  People who live in this city came from different parts of the world.
We are this community. And we are this community that's changing and growing, and continuing to grow and continuing to change.
This is who I am. I want people to understand who I am, but also I don't want to abandon from my culture, who I am. My name is Ahmed Hassan, I'm a Bi-lingual Communication Support Specialist at Talahi Community School, for the district 742.
My name is Bashar Hassan. I work for the St. Cloud area school district 742 as a Bi-lingual Communication Support Specialist.
- My name is Bashar Hassan. 
- My name is Ahmed Hassan.
- I'm also a son.
- I'm a son.
- And older brother.
- And an older brother.
I was born in Somalia. Grew up in Kenya as a refugee migrant. I came to Kenya in 1991 from when the Civil War broke out in Somalia. I lived in Kenya as a refugee migrant for 17 years.
Finally, I get the opportunity to come to the United States of America. There's no question that whenever you are starting a new life, there's always a challenging. There are a lot of people like Shadehe who are new to this country every day. And when they go to the schools, they need someone who understands their language, someone who knows their culture, someone who actually bridge that gap.
This is an awesome growth.
I do a lot of interpreting, a lot of translation. I also work with pretty much everyone in the building as needed, and also I'm here to bridge that gap of cultural differences between the school personnel and the community.
I'll be speaking both in English and Somali here today, whenever we have new students who don't speak English, what's our role? I mean what's our job? You're job as a leader in the classroom is to help interpret for that person if you…
It's extremely important, first for the community, to see that we are hiring staff that mirrors our community. And we can't do that if we don't hire staff that speak Somali, are Somali. Of those students in the program that I have, we probably have about 1,750 of our students who are Somali. So they're really bringing unique perspectives, their bringing languages, their bringing all kinds of things to our classrooms that we have to really make sure that we value and we show the community that we value, so we build that relationship.
It's good to have someone who speaks your language and who knows your culture, to be here in the district and in the community. I'm really proud to serve this community and to be who I am today. It's not an easy thing, but if you have the courage and the intention to do what you're doing, you will succeed.

H/T to Larry Ferlazzo.

miércoles, 25 de mayo de 2016

Talking point: Volunteering

In the twenty-first century, characterized by endless problems everywhere (the leading economies, the emerging countries and the third world), caring has become a major public issue.

Brainstorm some of the sectors of the population who are badly in need of help and who could benefit from a helping hand.
Example: prisoners, immigrants, families with no economic means, families who have been evicted from their home, health issues in the third world, famine.

Discuss the organisations that are trying to help those groups.
Example: Stop desahucios is trying to help families who are evicted from their home.

How can individuals contribute in the above-mentioned organisations?
Do you know any volunteers who lend a helping hand in these organisations?
What does their job consist of?
Would you like to volunteer in one of these organisations?
Which one(s) do you find most appealing?
What are the rewards of being a volunteer?
What are the disadvantages?
What are the government's duties and responsibilies?

Interaction: Choosing a charity to volunteer
Choose A or B, tell your partner about your charity and together decide which one you both would like to join.

A) Worldwide restoration
The aim of our organisation is to empower women and provide decent housing for families, not only in the USA, but in many other countries in the world. We work to train volunteers in building skills. Our primary goal is to teach women how to solve problems for themselves through training in practical areas, such as making cement or plumbing and dealing with general house repairs. However, men are also welcome! Our volunteers work together with homeowners to rebuild or restore deteriorated houses and give disadvantaged families a place to live. We welcome volunteers but also need donations to buy materials and support our training programmes.

B) City education project
The mission of our project is to improve conditions for children and teachers in slum areas in Bangladesh. If you volunteer with us, you may be asked to help renovate a classroom in an existing school, carry out repairs to roofs or windows or even help to build extra facilities for the school. Traditional materials and techniques are used, but you don’t need any special skills because you will be supervised by local builders and carpenters. However, you should be fit and healthy and ready to work in all weather! You will stay in the school where the project is taking place, but it won’t be like home. Take a mat to sleep on and remember there are no showers, just a bucket of water.

To illustrate the point you can watch this video of The Duchess of Cambridge on the charity Children's Hospice.

As Patron of East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices, I’ve been fortunate to see at first hand through remarkable work that they do for children and young people with life limiting conditions and their families. It is simply transformational. There are forty-nine children’s hospice services across the UK, all providing similar, invaluable and life enhancing care to thousands of families. Children’s Hospice Week is the time to recognize, celebrate and support the inspirational work of those Hospices and those who provide palliative care to these children and families. Children’s hospices provide lifelines to families at a time of unimaginable pain. The support they give is vital. In order to carry out this wonderful work, our help is needed. With our support those providing children’s palliative care can continue to offer these extraordinary services. It does not bare thinking about what these families would do without this. I hope that you’ll join me this Children’s Hospice Week, in supporting your local service.
To find out more about how you can help, please visit TogetherForShortlives.org.uk
With your support we can ensure that these children and their families can make the most of the precious time they have together.

martes, 24 de mayo de 2016

36 Hours in Dubai

Dubai has emerged as an ethnically diverse metropolis where the world’s populations mingle in markets, galleries and international restaurants, both humble and high-end.

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

1 Over 95% of the population are foreigners.
2 Tom & Serg is in the city centre.
3 The chef at Tom & Serg changes the menu every day.
4 Cucumber is an ingredient of the felafel sandwich.
5 SPM houses art collections with artists from all over the world.
6 Burj Khalifa is the second tallest tower on earth.
7 Forty-three years ago Dubai was a desert.
8 40 Kong is in the basement of a hotel.
9 At Musichall each band performs for two or three minutes.
10 You can dance in the open air at Pacha.

Dubai, it's a city that you come visit. It's young. It's vibrant. It's energetic. It's cosmopolitan
Everyday you wake up, it's sun, you can go to the beach.
…and beautiful, beautiful parks, incredible architecture.
Locals in Dubai are some of the warmest, friendliest people.
All people are here. The population of Dubai are two million. More than 92% of these are foreigners.
It's a dream city. Anything you can dream in Dubai, you can do it.
Zaroub means the narrow streets or the alleys that Syria, Lebanon and Palestine are famous for. And there are small restaurants in every one of those narrow alleys. We wanted to join all these small restaurants in one spot. My favorite dish is the shawarma. The meat shawarma is a sandwich, wrapped in either saj Bread or Lebanese pita bread. We add pomegranate molasses, and that's our specialty. Other restaurants don't use it in their shawarma.
We were the first place in Dubai to really have a restaurant in the middle of the industrial area. Dubai is very well known for its five star hotels, and its shopping malls, but not so well known for its food and dining scene, in a more grungy sort of way. I change the menu every two to three weeks, so that people can come and try something new every time.
Dubai is one of my favorite places to eat. It's always a great atmosphere. Everybody was doing fusions, but we never heard of an Arabian fusion. Our food is exquisite, our design is captivating. We deconstructed that felafel sandwich to form it into a salad. We took the regular chickpeas in a felafel. There's a compressed cucumber with it. I would love Qbara to give an impression that the Arabian culture has much more to give than what is basically perceived by the world today.
Most of the places of Dubai are new and modern. So where is that tradition of Dubai? It is here.
We have saffron, spices, mixed spices of all kinds, perfumes, incense… everything you want we have it here.
If you want to see a traditional Eastern city, you come to the spice market.
SPM, it's a very dynamic, contemporary, vibrant art place. It all started with the private collection of Mr. Salsali. We do have a collection of over 800 art works. Artists from Iran, European artists, and American artists. There is a very, very vibrant scene going on here. And I would love people to know that Dubai became the art spot of the Middle East right now.
Dubai taught us to be different. Burj Khalifa is the tallest tower on earth. From the front angle you can see the old Dubai, the new Dubai and the new upcoming projects in Dubai. If you go back 43 years, all Dubai was just a desert. Building the tallest tower is not only an achievement, it's American.
Everything in Dubai goes bigger, and we’re opening the biggest nightclub and the biggest restaurant and the biggest this and the biggest that. We wanted to kind of go against the current, and we said, you know what, why don't we open something small. We were actually the first open rooftop lounge to open in Dubai. We did a whole new signature cocktail menu for this season. One of my absolute favorite of our signature cocktails is one called Say Yes. Visually stunning. It comes with this ice bowl, which has a rose petal frozen into it. I've never met anyone who doesn't like it.
2013, we inaugurated the music hall of Dubai. The idea is to bring culture to nightlife. On the stage of the music hall, you have more than 12 bands per night, each band only performing for 10 to 12 minutes. It's a unique world night. In one night, flamenco, Cuban music jazz, rock, Oriental music. We are shifting from different worlds within 2 to 3 minutes. I like the people to feel that they travel in space and in time.
Pacha is one of the largest nightlife brands in the world. We change our entertainment team every 8 weeks or so. So we have everything from singers to dancing acts, to jugglers, to aerial acrobats, that kind of stuff.
But we do have other aspects to us as well. We've got a very popular roof terrace, which has great views. It's a great place to be. It's a very very fun atmosphere. Very vibrant. Full of people who are generally happy and here for a good time. Dubai is a cultural hotpot really. There's just so much to do here, so much to see. You could spend a lifetime and not get everything done.

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

lunes, 23 de mayo de 2016

Listening test: Bangladesh

In this week's listening test we are going to practise the kind of multiple choice sort of task.

Listen to a girl talking about her holiday in Bangladesh and choose the option A, B or C which best completes the sentences below.

1 When the girl visited Bangladesh
A not many people used to go there.
B there were no tourists whatsoever.
C the place was already a popular tourist destination.

2 She wanted to visit Bangladesh
A and she went there with another friend.
B to admire the wildlife.
C to see the famous forests.

3 The girl stayed at the hotel because
A it was a holiday and everything was closed.
B she didn’t feel like going out.
C women aren’t allowed out on Fridays in Muslim countries.

4 The guide they finally managed to find
A took them to his private villa by boat.
B was a guest at the hotel.
C was the owner of a travel agency.

5 While they were on the boat the girl
A changed her mind about what she really wanted to do.
B got frightened of the mangrove trees.
C got sick.

6 On the boat ride the girls
A could see a tiger swimming.
B didn’t see any wildlife.
C sang non-stop.

So, my first question is where did you go?
Well, I was backpacking through Asia, so the story takes place in Bangladesh.
Bangladesh. That's a really cool place to visit I'm sure.
Yup. It is. And their tourist slogan is actually “come before the tourists come.”
So you got in there before the rest of the tourists?
Exactly. It was a really cool experience because there weren't a lot of tourists and people were really curious and really friendly.
That's awesome. So what did you do while you were there?
Well, actually the reason we picked to go to Bangladesh was ‘cause we wanted to go see a Bengali tiger in the Sundaraban Forest.
Wow. Yeah, that would be amazing.
Yup. I've been obsessed with tigers since I was a kid, and I thought this is the perfect opportunity.
OK. So you went to go see the tiger. How were you going to see the tiger? You weren't just going to walk into the forest by yourself.
That's the funny story because we arrived, and we were four. But two of us weren't feeling well. I was just sick, and I didn't wanna go look for a tour guide. So I stayed in the hotel lobby all day with my friend, and our other two friends went looking for a tour guide. They went to all these different tourist offices and other hotels to try to find a guide. But what we didn't plan for was first it was Friday, so most of the offices were closed.
Really? On a Friday?
Yup. Bangladesh is a Muslim country and so they take Friday as their day of rest.
OK. I see.
And also it was some sort of national holiday for the next couple of days, so we couldn't find any tour guides.
Oh yeah. That would be really hard to book a trip during that time.
Yes. But the lucky thing was that because we were feeling sick and we were hanging out in the hotel lobby all day, we kinda became friends with the staff there. And they found out what we were doing and what we were trying to find, and they hooked us up with a tour guide.
Wow. That's great.
Yeah. It was really cool. It was actually the owner of the hotel who has a tour agency on the side, and he took us to his private villa where had a boat that took us to the Sundaraban Forest.
Wow. It's crazy that that hook up happened. That's very convenient.
Yeah. It was completely by chance, but it was such an amazing experience because we went to this beautiful home in a small village, and we actually got to go meet a lot of the villagers. And then we took this small boat, and we went deep into the forest. And I have to be honest though, once we got into the Sundaraban Forest, it's got the mangrove trees, which have their roots in the water, so you’re…
Yeah. I was just going to ask. I was a little bit confused. You were taking a boat into the forest. How does that work?
It's beautiful. I'll try to post a picture with this episode. But basically it's the mangrove trees that their roots go into the water. So you're going in this boat through these small passageways with big trees, and you're really close and it's small passages, and I started singing because I didn't want to see a tiger.
You didn't want to see a tiger?
I got scared. I didn't realize how close you were to the trees and how close a tiger really could be to you.
Yeah. And do these tigers swim? Could it come up to the boat? I guess tigers do swim, don't they?
They do. And they could have come, so we got a bit scared by talking to some of the villagers, so we sang a bit during the boat ride.
I'm curious, what song did you sing? Do you remember?
We actually sang “Oh Canada” over and over again because we couldn't think of the words to any other song.
That's hilarious. OK. Good. So in the end, did you see a tiger?
No. But it was still an amazing experience, and the Sundaraban Forest is absolutely amazing. So beautiful.
Did you see any other animals?
We saw a couple of different birds, but I don't remember the names of any of them.
OK. Cool. That's a great story. That's sounds like a really interesting experience.
It was amazing and one of my favourite travel stories.
Cool. All right. Good, well thanks for sharing with us.

1A 2B 3B 4C 5A 6C

domingo, 22 de mayo de 2016

Extensive listening: The surprising habits of original thinkers

How do creative people come up with great ideas? Organizational psychologist Adam Grant studies "originals": thinkers who dream up new ideas and take action to put them into the world.

In The surprising habits of original thinkers, learn three unexpected habits of originals — including embracing failure. "The greatest originals are the ones who fail the most, because they're the ones who try the most," Grant says. "You need a lot of bad ideas in order to get a few good ones."

You can read the transcript here.

sábado, 21 de mayo de 2016

Reading test: Today’s worship of children borders on the perverse

In this week's reading test we are going to practice the multiple choice reading comprehension task, which is based on The Guardian article Today’s worship of children borders on the perverse by Tim Lott.

Read the text and choose the option A, B or C which best completes each sentence. 0 is an example.

Today’s worship of children borders on the perverse

Every Father’s Day or Mother’s Day, when our children are required for a few hours to acknowledge their parents’ unstinting efforts on their behalf, I am asked by one of them, usually resentfully: “Why isn’t there a children’s day?” The answer reliably comes back: because every day is children’s day. Then I found out there is a children’s day after all – National Children’s Day on 15 May.

Doubtless the idea of this day is to bring attention to those children who suffer hardship and neglect. However, I have a suspicion that were my nine and 13-year-old daughters to find out about this occasion they would simply assume they were going to be entitled to some extra privileges. Nevertheless, I was somewhat encouraged to learn from the press release that it was going to “raise awareness about the importance of adult wellbeing … adult happiness … and [adult] mental health in the UK”.

Adult happiness – there’s a concept I could embrace. However, it sits uneasily with the rest of the release which announces that the way we are to achieve “adult wellbeing” and (apparently incidentally) produce “heartful and mindful” children, is to “enjoy” informal activities such as “a playing out day for local families, carrying out daily random acts of kindness during the week, holding a street party, and ‘a go home on time’ week for working parents to spend time with the family.” Which sounds a lot more like simply more fun for the kids to me.

I may be sounding a trifle sour at the moment. This is because a few days before writing this column a couple of things happened that made me slightly less mindful and heartful than my darling children. As a family we took The Complete Walk of Shakespeare’s plays along the South Bank in London and after an hour or so we reached a screen with chairs in front.

My wife and two younger daughters found chairs, but I couldn’t see one. A little weary, I asked Louise, my nine-year-old, to let me sit down (I am 60, not incidentally) and to sit on my lap. She did so, but a minute later decided she wanted her chair back. I refused. As a result I was turned on as if by a trio of velociraptors, not only by Louise, but my wife and older daughter, who both insisted I was being unconscionably selfish. The atmosphere remained frosty for some time and I found myself looking forward to the catharsis I might get seeing the excerpt from King Lear.

On the tube home, a young couple got up to give their seats to two kids who looked about seven. It seemed strange to someone of my generation. Once upon a time it was normal practice for children to give up their seats for adults.

The most important shift in power in the last few generations is the welcome historical movement away from men towards women. It may be that the shift in power from parents towards children is part of the same phenomenon. But this worship of children does seem to be bordering on the perverse to me – much as I adore my own.

Perhaps now that we have given up on political ideology, romance and God, children are the last place we can go where we might find some kind of religious relationship. For it seems that they have indeed become objects of our veneration. If so, they are better idols to worship than an almighty God, or Karl Marx or a passing romantic fancy. But that doesn’t mean that sometimes it feels like they get spoiled rotten. That is to say, as a worshipper myself, I sometimes to lose my faith.

I only hope my children will find the heartfulness and mindfulness to forgive me.

0 Example:
The writer’s child
A complains about the fact his/her family doesn’t celebrate children’s day.
B doesn’t know there is a children’s day.
C feels gratitude towards his/her parents.

1 Children’s day
A celebrates parents’ happiness.
B draws people’s attention to social inequality.
C is a day for children to receive presents.

2 To celebrate children’s day
A families are encouraged to help other people.
B parents are allowed to leave work earlier.
C street parties are organised.

3 A few days ago the writer and his family
A saw some Shakespeare’s plays in the open.
B went to the park with a book by Shakespeare.
C went to the theatre.

4 During the trip
A everybody found a chair eventually.
B the writer felt tired.
C the writer got angry with his daughter.

5 On the tube home.
A a child gave his seat to the writer.
B the parents left their daughters their seats
C the writer was surprised by a young couple’s behaviour.

6 The writer points out that
A children are also gaining power.
B children have become dictators.
C women have taken away too much power from men.

7 These days it seems
A children are all spoilt.
B children are the centre of attention.
C religion is making a comeback.

 Photograph: Alamy for The Guardian

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

viernes, 20 de mayo de 2016

Man Builds a House In a Cave

Watch this video where Angelo Mastropietro explains how he went from being a successful businessman to build his own house in a cave.

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

1 How much has Angelo spent on his cave house so far?
2 How old is he?
3 What condition was he diagnosed with?
4 How old are the sandstone cliffs near the Wyre Forest?
5 Who has done the most demanding work on the cave?
6 How did he excavate the 70 or 80 tons of rubble?
7 Where is the heating in the shower room?
8 How deep is the hole he gets water from?
9 What does Angelo use the house for?
10 How does Angelo feel about his achievement?

My life before I became a caveman was really quite different.
The pressures of modern life mean that most of us have probably dreamt at one time or another of fleeing to the hills. But Angelo Mastropietro has made his hermit dream a reality by spending over £160,000 making a house out of the cave.
I am 38 years old and I’m a caveman. You know, I love a challenge. I mean, I guess coincidentally my surname actually means Master of the Stone. So you know, maybe it’s kind of in my blood.
He did most of the work himself, even more incredible when you consider the only a few years ago, the businessman was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. I had a lapse that left me paralysed essentially which was really the catalyst to make a review where I was at, where I was going and obviously my lifestyle. The rock house kinda came along, you know without a shadow of a doubt. I was as passionate about that as I was about setting up my company.
The 250-¬million-¬year-¬old sandstone cliffs near the Wyre Forest are said to have inspired Tolkien when he was writing Lord of the Rings. It was here that Angelo spent £62,000 on this 700-¬year-¬old abandoned cave which he would turn into his very own hobbit hole. With a renovation budget of £100,000, Angelo set about doing most of the physically demanding work himself.
In the end, I had spent somewhere round about 1,000 hours basically breaking rock, cutting rock, burrowing rock. You know, total somewhere around about 70 or 80 tons of rubble that I excavated out of this rock house by hand, and really proof of that is the whole of the terrace outside, is literally 100 square meters of terrace out there. None of that was there when I started. So that is all of the rubble that I have excavated.
The completed rock house’s impressive features are anything but Stone Age. It even has Wi¬Fi.
One of the things that’s kind of impressive about the restoration is really what you don’t see. We’ve put ventilation channels in the floor. One of the things that I was quite passionate about doing was trying to retain the integrity of the rock house by not cutting the many casings into the hard wires. This could originally have been the bedroom. These little nooks either side which I have lit up to give the illusion of kind of light channels kind of casting light down. Coming through into the shower room. So we have got under floor heating in here. One of the biggest kind of engineering feat. This is where I have excavated this kind of shelf and then subsequently I dug down and created this shower.
All of the fresh running water, comes from Angelo’s own borehole which he sank 18 metres into the ground.
This was originally two separate spaces. So the first task was that I’ve excavated this doorway. Start off at the top and literally cut down, repeat the process so that the whole of the area that you are looking to remove was set into stripes, and then remove the sections of rock, and just literally repeat, repeat, repeat. 11 days later, it kind of made my way through.
Although the cave house was originally built as a holiday let, Angelo still harbours the ambition of one day living full time in his unusual property.
When you’re actually here, when you see it in person, you get a feel for the place. Literally had people in tears. You know, I feel incredibly happy, very proud, very honoured. Yeah, it’s been a very inspiring chapter I think.