martes, 31 de marzo de 2015

Madrid Teacher: PR disasters

In our weekly Madrid Teacher series, a group of teachers discuss marketing mistakes companies have made. As usual, it gives us the opportunity to pay attention to some features of spoken English.

First of all, watch the video through to get the gist, the main ideas, of the conversation.
Now watch the video more carefully, paying attention to the following:
  • Use of conversation fillers to gain thinking time: like; so; you know
  • Showing agreement: Yeah
  • Asking questions to show the speaker you're interested in the conversation: The George Orwell?
  • Reacting to what the speaker is saying: Sounds very nice
  • Use of actually to introduce a piece of surprising information
  • Use of just to emphasize the verb
  • Showing surprise: Wow!; Really?
  • Use of I mean to paraphrase what you have just said and make yourself clear
  • Use of auxiliary + infinitive to emphasize the verb: it did sink

You guys know about Amazon Kindle?
It’s an e-book reader. Yeah. Like it’s an American e-book reader from a company called Amazon, which I think it’s the world’s biggest…
Yeah, I’ve heard about Amazon.
Yeah, so it’s the number 1 e-book reader. And I just connect it to a network like a mobile phone type net…
So they sell books, e-books.
And… so the company made a mistake last year. They, they, they had sold some copies of 1984.
The George Orwell?
Yeah. And the company who had sold this didn’t actually have the rights to the books, so what Amazon did was just reach into everybody’s Kindle who had bought the copy of 1984 and they deleted them. Major leak mistake, it’s like Big Brother…
Big Brother, yeah?
Going in and…
They couldn’t have chosen a better book, did they?
Terrible choice.
Wow! Great marketing.
Yeah. Did you hear about that PR disaster with Rolls Royce, you know, the big luxury car manufacturer? They brought out this car called Silver Mist which in England you know, sounds alright…
Okay, it’s a good name.
Sounds very nice.
… and they tried to sell it in Germany, and in German mist means 'cow dung'…
So the Germans didn’t really take to that.
They didn’t sell too many cars there?
No, no. And they had this, I heard there was a curling iron as well for hair and it was called Mystic as well, so that it had similar…
Not too good.
Not good. Didn’t sell too well in Germany, no.
The biggest disaster in terms of PR ever has to be Titanic. I mean, they, they talked it up so much as the greatest ship ever, unsinkable, and as we know it, it did sink.
In its maiden voyage, yeah.
It did.
I don’t know anything about other company problems but I was watching the news once and a woman was talking about a man who’d climbed a mountain, you know, seems like a simple feat. She said, but the problem, he’s gay. I’m sorry. He’s blind, and then they cut the news cast right there. I couldn’t stop laughing for about fifteen minutes.
How could she get confused with those two words?
No idea.
So he was gay?
No, he was just blind.
He wasn’t gay.
He was blind.
Oh, I heard about it.
Is that climbing Everest was it?
Perhaps, I’m not sure.
I think so, yes. I’d heard about that, but I hadn’t heard about that, the newscaster.
Where did that come from?
Was she from the States?

lunes, 30 de marzo de 2015

English superstitions

In this week's listening test we will be practising the open-ended questions that students sometimes have to answers in exams.

Listen to this BBC radio programme about English superstitions and answer questions 1-7 below.

0 What should you touch if you want good luck? Wood

1 What doesn’t Alice like doing because it brings bad luck?
2 What example does Alice give of a lucky charm?
3 What do the seagulls following boats represent in Scotland?
4 What does each of the calls of the cuckoo represent?
5 What do they have in Switzerland, Germany and Austria?
6 What advice does Alice give for when you hear a cuckoo?
7 How does Alice define the superstitions known as old wives’ tales?

Rob: Today we're talking about superstitions. Superstition is the belief that certain events can bring good luck or bad luck. For example, a lot of people think that the number 13 is unlucky, or that you can avoid bad luck if you touch wood.
Alice: Mm, in fact people even say 'touch wood' if they're hoping for something good to happen.
Rob: That's right. So Alice, are you superstitious?
Alice: Well I am, a bit. I don't like (1) walking under ladders for example.
Rob: Me too. Now animals, birds and nature feature a lot in British superstitions. We've already mentioned that people touch wood or knock on wood for luck. So could you tell us a few more British superstitions involving nature Alice?
Alice: Well one that I can think of off the top of my head is a (2) lucky rabbit's foot. Apparently if you carry a rabbit's foot around it will bring you good luck. It's what we call a lucky charm. So a rabbit's foot is a charm that brings good luck to the person carrying it.
Rob: But not to the rabbit! Dr Paul Walton, from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, spoke to the BBC about some superstitions surrounding birds in Scotland. Here he is talking about seagulls and the traditions associated with them.

Partly it must be because Scotland's such a fantastic place for birds, I think over the years these superstitions have developed because these are the living things that we share our lives with. For example, there's a long tradition in Scotland among sailors and fishermen of seeing the gulls that follow the boats as actually being the embodiment of (3) dead sailors, and to kill a gull is still in many places considered to be very back luck.

Rob: So it's bad luck to kill a seagull in Scotland because they're the embodiment of dead sailors. Let's listen to another bird superstition from Scotland. This is Paul Walton again talking about another of his favourite superstitions. Listen out for the bird noises in this clip and see if you can identify which bird he's talking about. What you should do when you hear its call?

One of my favourites is the cuckoo [Cuck-oo cuck-oo] If you hear a cuckoo calling and then you start to run away from it as quickly as you can, the number of times you hear the cuckoo calling before it fades into silence is (4) the number of years you've got left to live.

Rob: The cuckoo is a bird with a long tail and a very distinctive cry.
Alice: You can find (5) cuckoo clocks in Switzerland, Germany and Austria, with the cuckoo making a distinctive cry every hour.
Rob: But in Scotland, if you hear the cuckoo calling then you should run away from it as quickly as you can. And the number of times you hear the cuckoo is the number of years you've got left to live.
Alice: Oh dear. So surely you should (6) walk away very slowly – then you'd hear more calls and live longer? It seems like a very odd superstition to me – it's a real old wives' tale. An old wives' tale is what we call superstitions that are (7) totally untrue and ridiculous sometimes.
Rob: Thanks Alice.
Alice: See you next time!
Both: Bye!

domingo, 29 de marzo de 2015

Extensive listening: Darpa, nobody's safe on the internet

Darpa, nobody's safe on the internet is the segment that CBS 60 Minutes aired last month on
the man the Department of Defense has put in charge of inventing technology to secure the Internet. Dan Kaufman. a former video game developer turned cyber warrior, heads the software innovation division of DARPA - the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, tasked with maintaining the US military technological superiority.

You can read a transcript of the segment here.

sábado, 28 de marzo de 2015

Reading test: Zoella and publishers confirm that Girl Online was ghostwritten

This week's reading test is taken from an article in The Telegraph, Zoella and publishers confirm that Girl Online was ghostwritten, which we are going to use to practise the kind of task in which we have to insert full sentences in a text.

Eight sentences have been taken out of the text below. Insert each sentence in the corresponding gap in the text. One sentence is not needed. 0 is an example.


When Zoe Sugg, (0) …………………. YouTube superstar Zoella, released her first novel Girl Online in November, it scored the highest first-week sales for a debut author since records began, selling 78,109 copies in seven days. But as more people have read the book, some have begun to ask if it was written entirely by Zoe Sugg.
Today, a spokesperson for Penguin Random House told the Sunday Times that "to be factually accurate you would need to say Zoe Sugg did not write the book Girl Online on her own". Later, Sugg posted a message on Twitter saying: "Of course I was going to have help from Penguin's editorial team in telling my story, which I talked about from the beginning. (1) ………………….. . The story and the characters of Girl Online are mine. I want to thank all of you who have taken time to support the book.” The publishers have signed a two-book deal with Sugg.
Speculation began because of 24-year-old Sugg's acknowledgements page in Girl Online, which reads: "I want to thank everyone at Penguin for helping me put together my first novel, especially Amy Alward and Siobhan Curham, (2) ………………….  .” Alward is Sugg's editor. Curham's exact role is unclear, but she usually works as a novelist and freelance writer of young adult fiction.
Some bloggers claimed to have found an archived, deleted post on Curham's website about being asked to write a novel in six weeks, which could in theory fit with the timeline from Zoella announcing her novel to its release. (3) ………………….   , Sugg rarely mentioned working on her novel, which is about a teenage girl whose blog goes viral after she meets a rock star, before publication.
Ghostwriting is a common feature of celebrity publishing. Former glamour model Katie Price (4) …………………. were ghostwritten by Rebecca Farnworth, who died last week at the age of 49. Katie Price's novel Crystal, written by Farnworth, outsold the entire Booker Prize list the year it was published.
Actors, musicians, athletes and politicians work with ghostwriters as a matter of course. Sometimes they are credited - as in the case of Roy Keane's recent book with Roddy Doyle, or Alex Haley's co-authorship of the Autobiography of Malcolm X; at other times they are not. The authors of such ghostwritten books are people who are famous (5) ………………….  . Zoella has a following thanks to viewers of her video blog, not because she is the new Zadie Smith.
Inevitably, some people have asked if how much it actually matters that the book may be ghostwritten. As the Bibliodaze blog put it: "80,000 sales in one week speaks a hell of a lot louder (6) …………………., and many of Sugg’s fans will remain dedicated to their idol."
Plenty of popular novels, especially those aimed at children and young people, have been ghostwritten. Although Anne M Martin wrote many of the hugely popular The Baby-Sitters Club series of books published under her name, a number were ghostwritten by Peter Lerangis. Similarly, Francine Pascal's Sweet Valley books for teenagers (7) …………………. .
On the back cover of Girl Online, Sugg is quoted as saying: "My dream has been to write a book, and I can't believe (8) ………………….  . Girl Online is my first novel and I'm so excited for you to read it." The biographical details on the book say that Sugg "has been writing stories ever since she was little".
The Telegraph's Anita Singh called Girl Online "sugary as a frosted cupcake... Even Winnie the Pooh might regard it as a bit twee". Siobhan Curham could not be reached for comment.

Photo: REUTERS/Luke MacGregor through The Telegraph

although they tend not to acknowledge this fact (not needed)
better known as 0
Despite chronicling much of her life on social media 3
Everyone needs help when they try something new 1
for something other than writing 5
it's come true 8
makes no secret of the fact her novels 4
than this kind of discussion 6
were largely written by a range of ghostwriters 7
who were with me every step of the way 2

viernes, 27 de marzo de 2015

Patricia Arquette Grows Into Boyhood

Watch this interview with Patricia Arquette a few weeks before the Oscar Award ceremony 2015 and say whether the statements below are true or false.

1 Patricia Arquette has been in the show business for 30 years.
2 She has just made the move to cable TV.
3 The film Boyhood was filmed over 12 years.
4 She doesn't seem to be giving much importance to the possibility of winning an Oscar award.

You can only be the girlfriend object of desire for so long. Then you can be the good-looking wife for a minute too, but that’s pretty boring part. And if you hold on to that too long, you can never be the grandma.
After 25 years in show business, working with such directors as Martin Scorsesse, David Arussel, David Lynch and then Richard Linklater, Patricia Arquette has reached the high point in her career, a career she forged that of steering clear of what she calls stereotypical on to new roles
[Call girl]. Even though her breakout role wasn’t true romance as Alabama Whitley [No, I’m a call girl, there’s a difference, you know] and ingénue if ever was one.
People expected you in a way to stay frozen as Alabama, the ingénue and this was something you never wanted to do in your career.
A calculated move I always made was to try to kind of jump out of one category prematurely and try to break into the next one.
She also made the move to network television years before other film stars began appearing in cable shows.
At the time I wasn’t reading very good films. I was becoming at this weird age where I was like the boring wife part like three scenes, just being supportive because I grew up in the punk rock world where you questioned authority. I didn’t like this authority concept about this form of art is better than this form of art, so I said why shouldn’t I read to be?
Did it impact you for how people saw you as an actress?
I think it did, yeah. I think people do have those really obvious ways of looking at an artist and at talent and I think part of me always felt like I’m not gonna challenge that.
[‘Do you still love Dad?’ ‘I still love your father.’]
With the film Boyhood, filmed over twelve years Ms Arquette embraced the idea of aging naturally on screen.
[Do you know what I’m realising, my life is just gonna go like that. These series of milestones, getting married, having kids, getting divorced. The time that we thought you were dyslexic.]
I think we see her flaws, her exhaustion, her hopes for her kids, her selfishness, her dream of things.
She also spent this awards season collecting multiple prizes for her role as Olivia and is the favourite in the Oscar race for Best Supporting Actress.
You don’t seem to take the Hollywood Hoopla machine seriously. You have a lack of anxiety about it.
I might just be… I wonder if I’m dissociated, I think looking to them am I really taking… I mean I’m not poopooing it or something like, it’s something bad, it’s a beautiful thing. I love being part of the history of entertainment and all the different dramas of film and television.
I felt like I should prepare a speech just to be responsible, I mean, because I was in a category with Meryl Streep so God knows, good luck to you.

1F 2F 3T 4T

jueves, 26 de marzo de 2015

Walking Tour Guide: Shakespeare's Globe Theatre London

Watch this short guide of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London and say whether the statements below are true or false.

The activity is suitable for intermediate 2 students.

1 The Globe Theatre was originally built in the 16th century.
2 The plays were performed at night.
3 The cheapest seats were in the open.
4 Women were not allowed in the public.
5 The Church did not approve of theatre.
6 Umbrellas were not allowed.
7 The audience had an active part in the plays.
8 Hearing the play was more important than seeing it.
9 The Zodiac signs represent the sky or heavens.
10 The building where the theatre is burnt twice in the 16th century.

Behind me is Shakespeare's theatre, rebuilt recently but it was originally constructed in the seventeenth century. And its name is the Globe, which comes from the expression everyone in the world is an actor.
The conditions at the time when this would have been built were very different from the way actors work now. It was all done during the day because they didn't have enough money to afford candles to put on the plays at night. So there would have been far more interaction between the public and the actors. And in fact, the groundlings, which were the cheapest seats just under the open cover, they would shout at the actors and throw things at them if they didn't like the play.
At the time, as well, none of the actors were women because they weren't allowed to be in plays. And also the church was very critical of theatre. It called it the nest of the devil and it was usually just outside the city walls because it wasn't really allowed in those days. It was seen as something very popular and affordable because just as I said before, the cheapest seats could be afforded by everyone.
So this is where the groundlings stand and to come here it’s only five pounds to see a play and they say it's one of the best places even though if it rains, umbrellas aren't allowed so you're going to get wet. But they say it would have been the best place as well because the audience participated as well so you are right next to the actor's foot. You could see up his nose and if he spat down at you, as I said, there's no umbrellas allowed. So it would have been a big problem. But there's great participation because the audience can see you, the actors, everybody's involved in the play which makes kind of a difference from the typical West End play where everybody's in the dark. Here, you felt like you were really part of it.
Signs of the zodiac known as the heavens, there's a trap door in heaven as well, which is open at the moment, and you come down from heaven... it does look quite dangerous...
The Globe Theatre puts on plays mainly by Shakespeare and they're pretty authentic even down to the finest details like the original seventeenth century underwear. So its probably not that comfortable. And nowadays we go and see a play but back then the most important thing was the acoustics. It was more important that you heard the play and so wherever you sat, the more expensive seats were the ones that had the best sound.
The stage represents three different elements, the top with the Zodiac signs, it's painted blue, represents heaven or the sky. There's even a trap door you can come down from. And the stage itself represents the earth and there's a trapdoor to go underneath which represents hell.
This round shape kind of increases the sense of participation. The building itself though was hard to get permission for because remember in the seventeenth century it had burned down twice. So to make this thatched kind of roof after the Great Fire of London was pretty tough to do. It took them eight years to get permission but they finally managed to go ahead with it.
Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? Not if it’s a summer's day in London.

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

miércoles, 25 de marzo de 2015

Talking point: Eating

This week's talking point is eating. Before getting together with the members of your conversation group, go over the questions below so that ideas flow more easily when you get together with your friends and you can work out vocabulary issues beforehand.
  • Can you cook?
  • What's your best dish?
  • Who's the best cook you know?
  • Who does the cooking in your house?
  • What kind of thing do you usually eat?
  • Are you a fussy eater, an unadventurous eater or an adventurous eater?
  • Do you prefer to eat out at a restaurant or at home when celebrating something?
  • When you eat at home on special occasions, what do you like to cook?
  • Do you eat much foreign food?
  • What's your favourite?
  • Are there many specialist shops selling [foreign] food in your city/town?
  • What food from your country would you miss if you went to live abroad?
  • What's the strangest food you have ever eaten?
  • What food from your country do foreigners usually find strange?
  • Do you watch cooking programmes on TV?
  • Why have they become so successful?
  • Do you look up to any celebrity chef?
To illustrate the point, watch this short video about the importance of a healthy breakfast.

We've got some delicious items to kick-start your morning. And Joe, you're absolutely right. We cannot skip breakfast. We have to eat something to fuel our bodies for the day. First, I wanna illustrate a typical breakfast to show what we might want to avoid. While this is delicious – these eggs, hash browns, bacon and biscuits, it's really high in fat, calories and saturated fat, which can lead to heart disease. A great alternative is a vegetable omelet. You can pick your favorite vegetables. Here, I have mushrooms, tomatoes, onions, and peppers. Be sure to use egg substitute to cook it in. You can have some sliced strawberries to go with it, and a piece of whole-grain toast.

Another really great breakfast, actually, is cereal. You wanna stay away from the sugary cereals and try to choose whole-grain cereals that have a lot of fiber. You wanna add some low-fat or fat-free skim milk, and top it with some fruit. Another great breakfast item is some cottage cheese. Low-fat or fat-free, with some peaches. You could have a whole-grain bagel with some sugar-free jelly as well.

Lastly, we have some Canadian bacon. For those of you who have to have your bacon in the morning, choose Canadian bacon. It's a lean meat, and you can have it with English muffin, some oatmeal, and some raisins on top.

And there you have some excellent, tasteful, and healthy breakfast items.