lunes, 8 de febrero de 2016

Listening test: A patient in hospital

Listen to Melanie talking about her sick aunt and complete sentences 1-7 with up to THREE WORDS. 0 is an example.

0 Example:
Over two weeks ago Melanie’s aunt had a hemorrhagic stroke.

1 Melanie’s aunt called ____________________ and was taken to hospital.

2 The local hospital didn’t have the necessary ____________________ to deal with her condition.

3 Melanie thinks she is going to ____________________  by setting foot in a hospital.

4 One of the women in the same room as Melanie’s aunt ____________________  all day, as she can’t speak.

5 So as not to be in the room Melanie’s aunt goes to ____________________  , where a man tried to hit on her.

6 Melanie’s aunt has now recovered her feeling in ____________________  and leg.

7 Melanie and her parents visited her and they had lunch, ____________________  for two hours.

Last week my parents and I went to visit my aunt in the hospital. About 2 ½ weeks ago she had a hemorrhagic stroke. It’s a stroke that occurs when one of the arteries leading to the brain suddenly tears or bursts. She lives by herself, so it was pretty frightening for her. The entire left side of her body was suddenly paralyzed. She immediately called 911 & the ambulance came to her house & took her to the hospital.  Her local hospital didn’t have all the necessary equipment to diagnose a stroke, so a couple days later she was transferred to a hospital in a larger city. 
I really dislike hospitals. They’re full of sick people and I feel like I’m suddenly going to catch an illness just by setting foot in a hospital. I know it’s crazy but I’m sure I’m not the only person who feels like that.
Being in the hospital has been a horrible experience for my aunt. She is in a room with 2 other stroke patients who are in far worse condition than she is. One lady can’t speak so she just makes noises all day. Another lady is completely paralyzed on the right side of her body. She says terrible things to my aunt like, “I’m praying to God that something bad will happen to you.” To escape her room my aunt sometimes goes to the TV lounge, but once, a strange man tried to hit on her. Can you imagine hitting on someone after they just had a stroke? That’s a bit weird.
My aunt has almost fully recovered from the stroke now. She goes to therapy every day and she has regained the feeling in her left arm and leg. She can walk up and down the stairs by herself and she’s regained her balance. She doesn’t want to be in the hospital anymore and finds it very stressful, but she calmed down while we were there. We sat outside in a park in front of the hospital for the afternoon. We ate lunch, and talked and laughed for 2 hours. She felt much better.

1 911/the ambulance
2 equipment
3 catch an illness
4 makes noises
5 the TV lounge
6 in her left
7 talked and laughed

domingo, 7 de febrero de 2016

Extensive talk: This is what happens when you reply to spam email

British comedian and writer James Veitch delivered this talk at TED just a few weeks ago.

Suspicious emails: unclaimed insurance bonds, diamond-encrusted safe deposit boxes, close friends marooned in a foreign country. They pop up in our inboxes, and standard procedure is to delete on sight. But what happens when you reply? Follow along as  James Veitch narrates a hilarious, weeks-long exchange with a spammer who offered to cut him in on a hot deal.

You can read the transcript here.

sábado, 6 de febrero de 2016

Five Shakespeare's plays on video for B1-B2 students

The British Council has uploaded five Shakesperean plays on video in the Literature UK section of their site Learn English Teen.

2016 sees the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death and to mark the occasion The British Council has put together a number of resources so that (young) students of English get to know Shakespeare and his works better.

The five plays are Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Much Ado about Nothing and The Tempest. The set of materials for each play consists of a 5-minute video, listening comprehension and vocabulary exercises, key and transcript.

An article which explains five famous Shakesperean phrases ('To be or not to be...'; 'Blood will have blood') can also be found here.

Click on Literature UK to get to the plays or on the image below.

viernes, 5 de febrero de 2016

Study on loneliness

BBC World News interviews Dr. Carla Perissinotto about her study on the link between loneliness and serious health problems and even death among older adults.

Self-study activity:
Watch the video and complete the blanks in the transcript with the missing word.

The interview starts at 0’:25” and goes up to 3’28” .

Now loneliness is bad for your head, health. That's the conclusion of two (1) ... medical studies in the United States which concluded that people living alone have a shorter life (2) ... . Scientists from the University of California studied 1600 elderly people over six years. They found that those who lived on their own were 45% higher risk of death. A separate study with more than (3) ... people suggested that those living alone with heart disease also tend to die sooner. Well, I’m joined now from San Francisco by the lead author of that report, Dr Carla Perissinotto from the University of California in San Francisco.
Why is it that people who live on their own are likely to die earlier, do you think?
You know, it's an interesting question and I think an important part of the study is not necessarily that they're living alone but rather even if when someone is living with someone else, if they are feeling (4) ... lonely,  this is what is placing them at greatest risk. The thought is that there may be something related to their biology, whether it's increased inflammation or whether it's something socially mediated like an inability to (5) ...   ...  oneself as well.
So, in other words, how did you measure loneliness? So you did have people in your study who were married, perhaps, but still declared themselves to be lonely, is that correct?
That's correct. That is, again, one of the most fascinating parts is that we asked people over the age of 60 to describe whether they felt that they (6) ... companionship, felt alone or felt socially isolated and when someone answered ‘yes’ to these questions, we classified them as lonely and it didn't mean that most of the people who reported feeling lonely actually were living with someone else or who were married, so again this relates to an issue of social connectivity (7) ... you could be surrounded by people but feel, still feel (8) ... about being alone.
So do you think it's a psychological component to that, I mean, if you're lonely, if you feel lonely, you're less likely to perhaps look after yourself or pay attention to your health?
That’s exactly right, and I think that's where the next step is needed to focus on, is seeing where the exact mechanism is. There are, there are studies that postulate that there may be a difference in sleep, ability for someone to remember to take their medications, for example, go to the doctor's office. But we don't… our study did not exactly look at that causation. What it did show is that as (9) ... , as geriatricians, as family members, we need to be paying attention to our (10) ... and to older adults around us, and think about what other factors could be influencing their health, their risk of losing independence and, ultimately, their risk of death.
Dr Perissinotto, thank you very much.

1 major 2 expectancy 3 44,000 4 subjectively 5 care for 6 lacked 7 whereas 8 distressed 9 physicians 10 elderly

jueves, 4 de febrero de 2016

Indian e-tutors teach British children maths

Last week we posted the video Indian e-tutors teach British children maths as a visual support to our talking point Numbers. Some students have asked for a listening activity on the video clip, so here it is with the corresponding transcription.

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

1. How far away from London is Ludhiana?
2. What two pieces of equipment are used for students and tutors to communicate?
3. How much money do online tutors make in Ludhiana?
4. How many students are there on the online class?
5. What is the main disadvantage of the programme, according to the teachers union representative?

Now school in Britain has taken outsourcing to a whole new level by using call centre staff in India to help with math lessons here.
Children at a national primary school in North London have one-to-one computer sessions with tutors in the Punjab to supplement their school work.
The BBC's Howard Johnson's travelled to Ludhiana in India to find out how the long-distance lessons actually work.
(1) 4,000 miles away from London in North India's industrial heartland is Ludhiana, a city best known for its knitwear factories and manufacturing plants. But now it provides a new export: online tutorials in maths…
If I asked you what’s fifteen times 3…
…delivered straight into British homes and classrooms.
Pupils and tutors communicate with each other (2) using headsets and an interactive whiteboard. Lessons are designed to cover UK primary and secondary school curricula and can be arranged 24 hours a day.
(3) Tutors here in Ludhiana earn around seven pounds an hour, that’s roughly three times a local minimum wage. Now the British-based company that offers the services says that all have been security checked and must be from a maths teachers or graduates.
Ashmount Primary in North London became the first school in Britain to use the service. But what do their pupils make of their e-tutors.
It’s fun because it’s on a computer, not doing it down in your book.
When you’re in class doing maths, you don't really want to pay attention because the teacher is right in front of you, but now it’s on the computer and you, you’re speaking to somebody in India and you don’t want to waste the opportunity.
It’s fun because you’re talking to someone from somewhere else.
Ashmount teachers say the service is cost-effective but is of a high standard.
The biggest advantage is that it's affordable and, you know, we can get more children getting (4) one-to-one tuition and within the national curriculum framework, and so we know they're making progress and also the children really enjoy it, they like using the computer and, you know, they’re enthusiastic about the lessons.
But a teachers’ union says there are downsides to using the service.
These sorts of methods (5) wouldn't give you any sort of emotional connection between the teacher and the child, and we think that's a vital part of learning. Teaching isn't just about having maths knowledge. It's about having that connection with the child, knowing how to enthuse them. It's also about reporting back to their class teacher, so we don't think this method will work very well for children.
Despite criticism, Brightspark Education hope that by joining on the country’s shared history and language its service will expand into more British classrooms soon.
Howard Johnson, BBC News, Ludhiana.

miércoles, 3 de febrero de 2016

Talking point: Persuasion

This week's talking point is persuasion. 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.

Are you good at persuading people?
How easy is it to persuade you to do things?
Do you ever change your mind once you have decided (not) to do something?
Talk about a time when you managed/didn't manage to persuade someone to do something.

What do you think are common influences which persuade people to do things? Choose your top three from this list.
-the media
-friends / peer pressure
-feeling guilty about something
-feeling sorry for someone
-passion and conviction
-convincing arguments

Which of the following do you have strong opinions about? Which do you have more of an open mind about?
-clothes and what to wear
-ecological and green issues
-gun control
-food and diet
-gender roles
-the healthcare system

How strongly do you think you are influenced by advertising?
Can you think of powerful or effective ads?
Have you ever bought an item because you had seen an ad?
What campaigns do you remember where the government is/was trying to persuade citizens (not) to do something?
How effective are/were the campaigns?
What effect do sales people and shop assistants have on you when you want to buy something?

To illustrate the topic you can watch and discuss the Lonely Hearts McDonald's ad.

So nice to meet you.
It's really nice to meet you.
Yeah, me too.
So, what's the plan?
There's an art gallery I know around the corner.
It's inspiring, isn't it?
Yeah, I love animals.
I've got a dog.
Great. I've got a cat.
So do you?
Who's Steve?
Nice to meet you.
Yeah, it's been, it's been fun.
Okay, bye.
Hi, can I get a Big Mac.
Strawberry milk shake, fries, and some barbecue sauce.

martes, 2 de febrero de 2016

10 questions for Daniel Yergin

Energy expert Daniel Yergin speaks on peak oil, fracking and how to power the U.S. Economy in this Time Magazine interview.

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

1 Yergin doesn't think the world is running out of oil.
2 Yergin doesn't think we should be careful with energy resources.
3 The Japanese are planning to turn towards nuclear energy again.
4 As people live longer and longer, that means that oil consumption is going to increase in US.
5 The Chinese buy more cars than the Americans.
6 Yergin is in favour of the shale gas industry.
7 The US very much depends on coal.
8 Yergin seems optimistic about a growing awareness towards energy consumption and preservation.

Daniel Yergin is an energy expert and economic expert, an international relations expert, a Pulitzer prize winner, the author of many books and today’s subject of our Ten Questions. Welcome, Mr Yergin.
Thank you.
In your new book, The Quest, you don’t seem that worried about the world running out of oil. Can you explain why?
Because I don’t think the world is running out of oil. It turns out that when you apply technology the resources that were not accessible or were not economic, as times goes on people crack the code and, and add to the supplies. With that said it’s not we’re saying the resources there, there’s still a lot of things to worry about above ground.
How are you feeling about the story around nuclear energy?
I think Fukushina has definitely changed the nuclear story. Prior to that, people were talking about a nuclear renaissance, the Japanese themselves were talking about going to 50% of their electricity from nuclear, they’re now saying we’re going to have a different kind of mix, going to look for more renewable, other alternatives. We’ll use more gas to generate electricity.
What do you see for our cause down the future?
Well, people talk about peak oil, that we’re gonna run out of oil. But actually I think that in the United States we’ve run into what we might call peak demand. We’ve had the high point of oil consumption, and our oil consumption’s gonna go down. It’s gonna go down because we drive more efficient cars, people are not gonna continue to drive more and more miles. It’s gonna go down because of demographics, because the population is ageing and they drive less. And also we had a big surge in the United States of driving as women entered the labour force, not they’re at the same level as men, so…
A little higher in some cases.
Yeah. But, on the other hand, as you point out in your book all those Indians and Chinese are gonna start driving.
China now consumes more energy than the United States, and it’s really astonishing to see what’s happened in automobiles. In 2000, there were 17m cars sold in the United States and just about 2m in China. Last year, there were 17m cars sold in China and 11m in the United States.
The government gave a $500-m loan guarantee to the company that makes solar panels that went out of business very shortly afterwards. Can we have a manufacturing industry within the United States that can make these things economically compared to, say how cheaply they can make them in China?
For the solar panel manufacturers, they’re competing with Chinese manufacturers who are very driven to drive costs down. The leading solar company a few years ago was in Germany. It really has just been knocked on its back now by the Chinese who are big beneficiaries of German renewable energy legislation. So… but this is a part of a larger picture of how we compete and on what basis we compete.
There’s a lot of promise and controversy around shale gas. What do you think needs to be done so that we can extract the gas in shale and protect the border?
Well, it’s gone from being virtually nothing a decade ago to being 30% of our natural gas production in this country. It’s a major part of our energy mix. It’s developed rapidly, brings us a lot of energy security, and were we not doing shale gas, we would be we would be spending tens and tens of billions of dollars to import liquefied natural gas. And by the way, this also has creates several hundred thousand jobs at a time when jobs is the number one economic issue in the country. But, with that said, you know, it has to be done in an environmentally sound way, and the public has to be convinced of that.
Could there be a lot of green jobs, or is that a…?
The thing is we have a really big complex energy system that sits underneath our -$14 trillion economy. It doesn’t change overnight, so there are green jobs and people have them but I don’t think they’ve been as plentiful as had been expected and it really depends upon  the pace at which renewables themselves grow.
I come from a country that loves its coal, loves it coal and has built a super duper cappuccino fueled economy totally pretty much on coal. Is there a danger with building an economy totally on a sort of a fuel sort.
Yes, we, your… Australia is also, of course, now that they’ve built it internally, but Australia’s economic growth and the strength of the Australian currency is related to the exports of coal and these other raw materials…
I mean, so much of what’s happening in the world economy now is really being set by what’s happening in China. 20m people a year are moving into cities, and these cities are coming from nowhere, and they’re the biggest cities in the world. When you see what’s happened with the price of oil, often now it will move in terms of what’s the latest manufacturing data from China.
Do you get really annoyed when you see people doing really energy wasteful things?
People say, well we waste energy and obviously we can look around and find it. But what strikes me when you look in the last 30 years what’s happened is we’ve become twice as energy efficient as we were in the 1970’s. If you go in the campus in Massachusetts Institute of Technology five or six years ago, there was not an Energy Club. Now there’s an Energy Club and it has several thousand students in it so, kind of this…
I bet that’s the party scene. The Energy Club, MIT.
They go…
Pushing the ladies away.
They go way past nine o’clock at night, I bet. It’s that wild.
Ok. Great. Thank you so much.
Thank you.

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