lunes, 23 de enero de 2017

Listening test: Man breaks the world record for slowest marathon

Listen and complete the blanks in the sentences below with up to THREE WORDS. 0 is an example.

source: Deep English

0 Example:
We rarely hear about the weakest or slowest athletes in the world.

1 Shizo Kanakuri took over ______________________ years to finish the Olympic marathon.

2 Before going to the 1912 Olympics, Shizo had set a ______________________ time of just 2 hours, 32 minutes and 45 seconds.

3 Shizo Kanakuri was a fast but ______________________ of 20 years of age.

4 When Kanakuri and his teammate arrived in Sweden, they had problem with ______________________ , which resulted in his teammate getting ill.

5 When Kanakuri collapsed on the marathon race, some ______________________ looked after him.

6 Out of the sixty-eight marathon runners who had taken part in the race, only ______________________ finished it.

7 When 50 years later the Swedish authorities discovered that Kanakuri was ______________________ in Japan, they invited him to finish the race.

The Olympics are a chance to honor the strongest and fastest athletes in the world, but we rarely hear about the weakest or the slowest. Shizo Kanakuri is the exception. He holds the world record for the slowest time in the Olympic marathon. He finished the race after 54 years, eight months, six days, 5 hours and 32 minutes.
Kanakuri was not a slow runner. On the contrary, before going to the 1912 Olympics, he had set a world record marathon time of just 2 hours, 32 minutes and 45 seconds. He was the favorite to win the marathon at the Stockholm Olympics. It was the first time for Japan or any Asian nation to participate in the Olympics. Kanakuri was one of just two athletes sent to represent his country.
Despite being the favorite, the odds were stacked against Kanakuri from the very beginning. He was fast, but an inexperienced athlete of just 20 years of age. On top of that, to get to Stockholm, he had an 18-day ship and train journey to deal with. Kanakuri ran around the ship and around each train station at every stop to get in some training time during the exhausting trip. When he finally arrived, both he and his teammate had trouble dealing with the local food. His teammate became ill, and Kanakuri had to take care of him, further cutting into his training time.
The day of the marathon was a scorcher. Twenty-seven kilometers into the race, Kanakuri collapsed from overheat and was taken care of by some local farmers. Kanakuri was not alone. Runners were dropping like flies that day, and fellow runner Francisco Lázaro even died. Sixty-eight runners from around the world entered the race, but only half crossed the finish line. Unlike the other runners who dropped out, Kanakuri never reported his failure to finish to the race officials. He was listed as missing.
Kanakuri returned to Japan, continued his training and ran in two other Olympics in Belgium and France. In his home country, he was known as the Father of Japanese Marathons, but in Sweden, he was known as the missing marathoner.
After 50 years, the Swedish authorities discovered he was alive and well in Japan. In 1967, they invited him back to finish the race. At 75 years of age, he finally crossed the finish line. He said, “It was a long trip. Along the way, I got married, had six children and ten grandchildren.”

1 fifty-four
2 world record marathon
3 inexperienced athlete
4 the local food
5 local farmers
6 half / 34
7 alive and well

domingo, 22 de enero de 2017

Extensive listening: Are you a giver or a taker

In every workplace, there are three basic kinds of people: givers, takers and matchers. Organizational psychologist Adam Grant breaks down these personalities and offers simple strategies to promote a culture of generosity and keep self-serving employees from taking more than their share.

In his groundbreaking book Give and Take, top-rated Wharton professor Adam Grant upended decades of conventional motivational thinking with the thesis that giving unselfishly to colleagues or clients can lead to one’s own long-term success.

Grant’s research has led hundreds of advice seekers (and HR departments) to his doorstep, and it’s changing the way leaders view their workforces.

Grant’s new book Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World examines how unconventional thinkers overturn the status quo and champion game-changing ideas. 

You can read a full transcript of the talk here.

sábado, 21 de enero de 2017

Read Listen Learn

Read - Listen - Learn is a collection of graded reading activities ranging from elementary to advanced level.

Most of the texts have audio recordings, so learners can read and listen at the same time. Similarly, the stories have a glossary and some graphic aids to help the student understand the most complex vocabulary in the stories.

The stories can be either fictional or non-fictional and they range  between 1,000 and 2,000 words.

To select which story to read, just click on the Find articles tag at the top.

Read - Listen - Learn is free, but you have to log in with through Facebook.

viernes, 20 de enero de 2017

Meeting the child brides of Ethiopia

A major report by Save the Children has found that one girl under the age of 15 is married every seven seconds. The study says girls as young as 10 are forced to marry much older men in countries including Afghanistan, Yemen, India and Ethiopia. Model Poppy Delevingne has been to Ethiopia to talk to some young girls about their experiences.

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

1. Why is the reporter in Ethiopia?
2. How old was Selam when she was propositioned to get married?
3. What position is she at her school now?
4. How old was she when she married?
5. When did she get pregnant for the first time?
6. Why didn't Selam go to school after she got married?

We are here in beautiful Ethiopia, somewhere that I’ve always wanted to travel to since I was a little girl. And here we’re going to be investigating child marriage and female genital mutilation and the issues that concern us around these topics.
So, we've just arrived in …, which is a small village in Lalibela. This is where they run the Save the Children programme Keep It Real, and I'm going to be speaking to some young girls about child marriage.
Pleased to meet you, how are you?
OK, so right now I am with the beautiful Selam. We are at her school, and she's just been telling me all about her stories about child marriage. She was 11 years old when she was propositioned to be married. And with the help of Save the Children's Keep it Real programme, she learned about all the problems within child marriage, and with the help of her brother and sister, they managed to persuade her parents that child marriage was not a good thing.
She is now at school, and is number one, number one in her class and she even told me that I should ask the teacher if that was true, and it was true.
Selam, I hear that you were married as a child. Would it be OK for me to come to your home and hear all about it?
So, I spent my afternoon with the lovely Selam, who was a victim of child marriage. When she was just 13 years old, she was married. By the time she was 14, she was pregnant with her first child, but when she was nine months pregnant, she left her husband as he was physically abusive, and moved back in with her family. But not only that, when she was engaged to him, he promised her that she would still have an opportunity to have an education, something he totally went back on, and instead, she did house chores and had to work unbearable hours, something a 13-year-old really shouldn't have to do. I have a 13-year-old cousin, and the idea of her getting married and then even next year having a baby, to me, is just... totally incomprehensible, and something that I can't believe
is happening in this world today still. Lovely Selam has got a bright future ahead of her, and it was truly an honour that she shared her story with me.

1 to investigate child marriage and female genital mutilation
2 eleven years old 
3 number one
4 thirteen
5 at fourteen
6 she had to do house chores and worked very long hours

jueves, 19 de enero de 2017

Welcome to the spa run on human waste

A waste treatment plant in Hong Kong has opened its own spa, to make use of the human waste it uses to generate electricity. The unlikely combination of sludge processing and thermal pools has been created at the T. Park facility, but some are concerned about its impact on the environment.

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

1. Where in Hong Kong is T. Park?
2. What idea has Hong Kong's government had to treat sludge?
3. How many households receive electricity from T. Park?
4. Why do some people complain about T. Park?

This may look like a normal spa but there's more to it than you'd expect. The water is nice and warm but it's heated by burning sludge, that's the waste you get from treating sewage.
This is T Park, a plant on the outskirts of Hong Kong. It treats sludge, the thick mud waste from the sewers and toilets.  Sludge is smelly and it's been filling up Hong Kong's landfills. But the government says it's found a solution: turning the sludge into energy.
T Park incinerates more than a thousand tons of sludge each day. Burning the sludge makes it ninety percent smaller and easier to bury. It also generates enough electricity for the whole plant and 4000 households. Even the waste water is treated, so it can be used to water the plants. The government says T Park is key for sustainability in Hong Kong.
T Park is the first waste-to-energy facilities in the Hong Kong. It’s the first step of Hong Kong government's waste-to-energy journey. It reduces the burdens to the landfills. It provides a sustainable solution to the sewage sludge disposal in Hong-Kong.
Hundreds of people visit the plant each day for an educational tour or for a free spa session. But critics say not everyone has benefited.
There are lots of smells from the sludge when it’s being transported and incinerating the sludge causes air pollution too. This affects local residents.
The government says it follows stringent standards and that all emissions are tested before being released, and they'll be hoping visitors leave the plant feeling pampered and with a new interest in sustainability.
Helier Cheung, BBC News, Hong Kong.

1 ont eh outskirts
2 turn sludge into energy 
3 4,000
4 because of the smells and the air pollution

miércoles, 18 de enero de 2017

Talking point: Change

This week's talking point is change. 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.

Compare today’s lifestyles with those of the 1980’s. Think about the differences in:
Working practices
Transport and travel
The ability to be patient and wait for things to happen
Communications at home and at work
Subjects people can study at school and university

Discuss the changes the main characters have in the films below.
Can you think of any other films, books or stories where the protagonist is transformed in some way?

Do you know any real stories of transformation?
Do you think change is important?
Is change always good?
Have you made any recent changes in your life?
(You can talk about appearance, relationships, something you have bought, some decision you have made.)
What is the most difficult change you have ever had to make?
What is one thing that you think you will never change about yourself?
If you won a million dollars, what would you change about your life?

martes, 17 de enero de 2017

The Art of Shoji

At Miya Shoji, a father-son team takes a different approach to business and to life, keeping craft as the guiding principle.

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

1. What analogy does Hisao Hanafusa, the father, use to describe a business?
2. What did Hisao Hanafusa make for his mother and father as a child?
3. How did Zui Hanafusa, the son, apply for the job in his own father's shop?
4. How big was the workshop back in the 70's?
5. What is Hisao Hanafusa's approach to his work?
6. What do they not think about when they talk about their business?

Our business philosophy is something like every day we go to work, we try to make something beautiful, so it’s more of an artist’s way of thinking through business.
Many people ask about how we run the business or how business is successful or how does it actually revolve within the shop itself. My father always said it was like a bicycle business. You pedal, bicycle can move. No profit. But sometime, down he'll come. You don't have to pedal.  Still go. Then hit the bottom. Then you have to get off.  You have to push the bicycle with it. So it's going this.
Woodworking.  I'm always interesting philistine.  I was maybe nine years old. My mother said, I wish I had a window here. So I was nine years old. Cut the wall.  Made the window for her. Then my father say, I wish I had a fireplace. So I made a fireplace. I liked it something to make.
When I was in the corporate world, I was there constantly. One day I was walking down the street, heading towards the shop. And everything looked very not kept well. And my father was actually working on some designs. But you could see him from outside. I thought, one day, I should hang out next to him. Not just learn in depth about the business itself, but learn more about our family itself. That's where the whole thing kind of took off. Like, maybe I should just be here full-time. I applied for the job with a resume. And my father actually thought it was a joke, since most of the times I'm kind of taking everything for fun. I started the next week.
Growing up back in the 70s wasn't exactly like the situation we have now. Workshop was maybe 3/4 of the space. And the showroom was only 1/4. But every day after school, come back to help out, clean up, watch several carpenters working.
Why I create? Fun. Fun.  Should be fun, not serious. I check all my family.  They don't have a business mind, traffic mind. Nothing. Just art kind of stuff.
When people talk about certain things like, what's your business model? Do you have any annual reports?
You know, it's not about money that we're thinking. Actually, the first thing we're thinking is about the business itself, which would be the design.
With nature it’s easy. We don't have to work anything. We don't have to design anything. Just find a nice old wood. Slice it. Beautiful, you use it. If not beautiful, you don't use it. Very simple. We never learn business. More like a craftsman. 

1 He compares a business to a bicycle.
2 A window for his mother and a fireplace for his father 
3 He sent a resume.
4 Three quarters of the space
5 He wants to have fun and doesn't have the business in mind
6 Money