miércoles, 26 de noviembre de 2014

Talking point: Success

This week's talking point is success. Before getting together with the members of your conversation group, go over the questions below, so that ideas can flow more easily when you meet up with your friends and you can work out vocabulary problems beforehand.
  • Are you an ambitious person? What are your ambitions?
  • Which ambitions have you already achieved?
  • What would you say were the major achievements of your life so far?
  • What else would you like to achieve?
  • Have you ever won anything or come first at anything? If so, how did you feel?
  • Are you a competitive person who likes to win, or do you prefer to just take part and set personal challenges?
  • What do you understand by 'success'?
  • What is the best way to achieve it?
  • Discuss these five different ideas of success and how to achieve it? Which idea do you identify yourself with best?
- having good sales figures (how: self-discipline and perseverance)
- enjoying what you do and feeling happy (how: adopting a positive attitude in life)
- getting what you want (vg, learning to use the computer; proving somebody wrong) (how: self-confidence)
- doing something positive and useful with your life (how: leaving a legacy, vg having children, writing a book)
- doing your best (how: training, preparation)

To illustrate the topic watch Richard St. John talking on the 8 factors that lead to success.

Richard St. John's 8 secrets of success
This is really a two hour presentation I give to high school students, cut down to three minutes. And it all started one day on a plane, on my way to TED, seven years ago. And in the seat next to me was a high school student, a teenager, and she came from a really poor family. And she wanted to make something of her life, and she asked me a simple little question. She said, "What leads to success?" And I felt really badly, because I couldn't give her a good answer. So I get off the plane, and I come to TED. And I think, jeez, I'm in the middle of a room of successful people! So why don't I ask them what helped them succeed, and pass it on to kids? So here we are, seven years, 500 interviews later, and I'm gonna tell you what really leads to success and makes TED-sters tick. 

And the first thing is passion. Freeman Thomas says, "I'm driven by my passion." TED-sters do it for love, they don't do it for money. Carol Coletta says, "I would pay someone to do what I do." And the interesting thing is, if you do it for love, the money comes anyway. 
Work! Rupert Murdoch said to me, "It's all hard work. Nothing comes easily. But I have a lot of fun." Did he say fun? Rupert? Yes! TED-sters do have fun working. And they work hard. I figured, they're not workaholics. They're workafrolics. Good! 
Alex Garden says, "To be successful put your nose down in something and get damn good at it." There's no magic, it's practice, practice, practice
And it's focus. Norman Jewison said to me, "I think it all has to do with focusing yourself on one thing" 
And push!  David Gallo says, "Push yourself. Physically, mentally, you've gotta push, push, push." You gotta push through shyness and self-doubt.  Goldie Hawn says, "I always had self-doubts. I wasn't good enough, I wasn't smart enough. I didn't think I'd make it." Now it's not always easy to push yourself, and that's why they invented mothers. (Laughter) Frank Gehry -- Frank Gehry said to me, "My mother pushed me." 
Serve! Sherwin Nuland says, "It was a privilege to serve as a doctor." Now a lot of kids tell me they want to be millionaires. And the first thing I say to them is, "OK, well you can't serve yourself, you gotta serve others something of value. Because that's the way people really get rich." 
Ideas. TED-ster Bill Gates says, "I had an idea -- founding the first micro-computer software company." I'd say it was a pretty good idea. And there's no magic to creativity in coming up with ideas, it's just doing some very simple things. And I give lots of evidence. 
Persist. Joe Kraus says, "Persistence is the number one reason for our success." You gotta persist through failure. You gotta persist through crap! Which of course means "Criticism, Rejection, Assholes and Pressure." So, the big -- the answer to this question is simple: Pay 4,000 bucks and come to TED. Or failing that, do the eight things -- and trust me, these are the big eight things that lead to success. Thank you TED-sters for all your interviews! 

martes, 25 de noviembre de 2014

Madrid Teacher: Product placement

In our Madrid Teacher series, three teachers discuss product placement and publicity this week. As usual, that gives us an opportunity to revise some of the features of spoken English native English speakers use in their conversation.

First of all, watch the video through, so that you can get the gist of what the conversation is about.

Now watch the video more carefully, paying attention to the following:
  •  Making suggestions: Let’s start again; What about…?
  •  Use of hedging to introduce our opinions so as not to sound so dogmatic: I guess, I suppose
  • Use of vague language: kind of; or something
  • Use of tag questions asking for confirmation: doesn’t it
  • Use of actually for emphasizing the information you are about to give 
  • Use of actually for introducing a bit of surprising information
  • Use of for instance and for example to give examples
  • Use of fillers to gain thinking time: er, erm; you know; Well
  • Use of so as a linking word

Now it's over to you. If possible, get together with a friend or relative and discuss product placement in TV series, films, press conferences or any other event. How do you feel about this advertising strategy? How ethical is it for you? Should any restrictions be implemented?

In you conversation, don't forget to use some of the features of spoken English we have revised in this post.

What I wonder is if you both think it is ethical in different movies or maybe different events or anything to place products so people see it indirectly…
Like subliminal… messaging?
Let’s start again.
What I wonder, and I would like both of your opinions regarding this, is if you think it’s ethical for them to place products in different movies or different events in order to… what’s the word?
Give a subliminal message.
I guess it’s kind of manipulative in some ways, especially in children’s films or films which...
It depends on the product, doesn’t it?
Of course.
Ah, but actually that’s an interesting point for children’s films. What about…?
I’ve seen a film, for instance, called Over the Hedge, and it’s all these little animals, er, who, they’re all, erm, hibernating animals and they collect all their nuts and, erm, goodies and food for the winter etcetera, until a fox comes along from the city and tells them about garbage cans and how amazing they are. And, er, and, then he makes them all work for him, because he’s actually working for a big bear, who’s er a rubbish junkie and has, you know, a really insatiable appetite. And so he has these, this sweat shop of little animals working, working for him, emptying rubbish bins.
But do they show products?
Yes! And the products are everywhere, you empty... It’s kind of a satire on suburban consumerist society so I suppose that’s negative in a sense, but there’s, you know, it doesn’t matter, they say that whatever publicity a film gives a product, it’s, the publicity is still, the point of it.
Any publicity is good publicity, [Yep.] that’s interesting, that’s what they say.
So it reminds me of, for example, Back to the Future, I know that we’ve seen that film at least a hundred times…
And always they have the product of Pepsi.
Yeah, Pepsi.
Well Pepsi’s a big one, and Coca-Cola, absolutely. But also cereals, I remember they’re always having breakfast and there’s always a big box, you know, a bigger box than I’ve ever gotten of life cereals or something.
Yeah, well it’s just like life. It’s a big box.

lunes, 24 de noviembre de 2014

History of Thanksgiving

We have moved this week's listening test to Thursday 27 November so that teachers and students can do the video activity History of  Thanksgiving well in advance of the holiday.

The history of Thanksgiving Day is a short educational video that covers how Thanksgiving became a national holiday.

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

The activity is suitable for intermediate 1 and intermediate 2 students.

1. When did the Mayflower arrive in the new world?
2. How many colonists died during the first winter?
3. What did Quantum show the colonists to do?
4. What did the king of the Wampanoan, Massasoit, donate to the feast with the pilgrims?
5. What event was commemorated on December 18, 1777?
6. When did President Lincoln declare the last Thursday of November to be Thanksgiving Day?
7. What event is organised by Macy’s Department Store on Thanksgiving Day?
8. Why was Thanksgiving Day moved to the fourth Thursday in November in 1941?

Turkey, pumpkin pie, family, football, and parades. Where did these traditions come from and how did they become a part of a national holiday we call Thanksgiving?
To understand the origins of this holiday, we must take a look back at the origins of our country itself, particularly at the Plymouth Colony and it’s crucial first year.
In the fall of 1620, the cargo ship Mayflower transported a group of 102 English men, women and children to the new world.  A portion of this group were separatists, people who had religiously separated themselves from the Church of England, and wanted to come to the new world to find religious freedom. In time, these people would come to be known as the pilgrims.
The Mayflower arrived in the new world in December 16, 1620 (1), weeks later than they had originally hoped and landing much farther north than they had planned, putting them in present-day Massachusetts. These unfortunate circumstances made for a particularly harsh winter — nearly half the colonists died (2) and those who did not, fell ill.
As the spring of 1621 approached, the luck of Plymouth Colony began to change. The colony was visited by several local Indians, or Wampanoan people. One of these visitors was Quantum, otherwise known as Squanto. Squanto spoke English and showed the pilgrims how to use fish as fertilizer (3) to grow crops on sandy land. He was their interpreter. He even chose to live among the colonists at Plymouth.
By November 1621, things were looking up for the pilgrims. They had survived their first year in the new world, and had a successful enough harvest to continue living there. The pilgrims collected their harvest which could have included corn, pumpkins, squash, and some grain. They caught fish and gathered together wildfowl and birds, such as ducks, geese, and even wild turkeys to feast on in celebration.
The mighty king of the Wampanoan people, Massasoit, joined the pilgrims with 90 of his men. He also donated five deer (4) to this great feast which lasted for three whole days.
To the pilgrims, this celebration was not the start of a new holiday. It was a common harvest festival much like the ones held in Europe, after every fall after a good harvest.
On December 18, 1777, Washington held a national day of Thanksgiving to commemorate the defeat of the British Army in Saratoga (5). Through the remainder of the Revolutionary War, Washington proclaimed several national days of Thanksgiving to commemorate special days.
By the end of the war, individual states, particularly in the North, had gotten used to having a yearly Thanksgiving Day, though there was no official national holiday and the date of the feast would vary from state to state.
Thanksgiving as we know it today was made possible largely by the efforts of a 19th century writer named Sarah Josepha Hale. She was America’s first female magazine editor, and author of the famous nursery rhyme ‘Marry had a little lamb’. During the Civil War, Hale was convinced that a national Thanksgiving Day would awaken in American hearts the love of home and country of thankfulness to God and peace between brethren.
She wrote letters to governors and even to President Abraham Lincoln. A few days after receiving her letter, on October 3rd, 1863 (6), President Lincoln, issued a proclamation declaring the last Thursday of November to be Thanksgiving Day.
Year after year, Americans continue to celebrate this day of feasting and thanks even though Congress had not yet ratified it as an official holiday. Over the years, the date seems to coincide with the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. In 1924, Macy’s Department Store started their Thanksgiving Day Parade (7) which route heads down the streets of New York and ends at the store.
Also in the 1920s, the Detroit Lions came up with the idea of a Thanksgiving Day football game. In order to boost dwindling attendance. It was not until 1941 that congress finally made Thanksgiving a legal holiday. When they did, they moved the holiday up one week so that official day of Thanksgiving would be the fourth Thursday in November. This was done in an attempt to extend the Christmas shopping season (8).
Today, more than anything else, Thanksgiving is about family. Though the way we serve our turkey and our pumpkin may have changed, and our entertainment varied over the years from archery and display of arms to football and parades, Thanksgiving has become a welcome day of rest to spend with loved ones in recognition and appreciation for all the blessings for which we are thankful.

domingo, 23 de noviembre de 2014

Extensive listening: Who were the Greeks?

Think of the ancient Greeks and we form a picture in our heads either of old bearded men talking philosophy or ripped warriors tearing their enemies to shreds. Ancient Greece seems full of such contradictions. A place that invented democracy but also ran on slave labour, that idolised youth but left children to die through exposure. The key questions for Dr Michael Scott in  Who Were The Greeks? – the two-part series he wrote and presented for BBC Two – was how to make sense of those contradictions, how to understand what made ancient Greece tick.
What was really exciting about this challenge was bringing together traditional historical investigations with hard-core archaeology and science. The use of infra-red imaging in the British Museum, for example, to see ancient coloured paint (Egyptian blue) never seen before on the Parthenon marbles. For Dr Scott, the most thought-provoking piece of evidence was the well in Athens containing the bodies of infants and dogs, which is examined in the first part. It symbolised how different this world was. Why throw dogs into a well with dead babies?
But, in seeing the bones of these children, and in recognising the markings of killer childhood diseases like meningitis, or defects like cleft palate, it was impossible not to be overwhelmed by sadness, grief and pity. The same human emotions I suspect that affected the mothers and fathers of these children 2,000 years or so before.

You can read the transcript for the first ten minutes of the documentary here.

sábado, 22 de noviembre de 2014

Reading test: Kindles inferior to paperbacks for memorable stories

In this week's reading test we are going to use Charlotte Rancie's article Kindles inferior to paperbacks for memorable stories in the Telegraph to practise the 'insert a sentence' kind of task.

Seven sentences have been taken out of the text below. Insert one of the sentences A-I in its corresponding gap 1-7 in the article. There is one sentence that you do not need to use. 0 is an example.

Sales of ebooks are growing at a rapid pace, rising by 20 per cent last year and prompting some concerns (0) …  .
But according to a new study, the increasing popularity of ebooks may have an impact on the way we absorb and remember what we read. The study, conducted in Norway, claims (1) … than if they'd chosen to read the same text on paper.
Researchers gave 50 people a 28-page short story by Elizabeth George to read. Half of the participants read the story on a Kindle, and half in paperback form. They were then tested (2) … .
Those who had read the story as an ebook found it much harder to remember its events in the right order than those who had read it in paperback.
Anne Mangen, one of the researchers behind the study at Stavanger University, said: "The Kindle readers performed significantly worse on the plot reconstruction measure, ie, (3) … ." One explanation, the researchers have suggested, could be that "the haptic and tactile feedback of a Kindle does not provide (4) … as a print pocket book does".
"When you read on paper you can sense with your fingers a pile of pages on the left growing, (5) … ," said Mangen. "Perhaps this somehow aids the reader, (6) … , and hence the story."
Mangen hopes that her research into the impact of digitisation on reading, and evidence that reading in general is becoming more "intermittent and fragmented", will eventually be used to recommend (7) … .

A - and shrinking on the right
B - on what they remembered
C - people struggle to remember what they've read on e-readers
D - providing more fixity and solidity to the reader's sense of unfolding and progress of the text
E - that fans of ebooks may find they have fewer memories of their reading
F - that the days of traditionally printed books may be numbered 0
G - the same support for mental reconstruction of a story
H - when they were asked to place 14 events in the correct order
I - which texts are best read digitally and which offer more benefits when read on printed paper

 Photo:  Kindle by sm0k1nggnu under Creative Commons

1E 2B 3H 4G 5A 6D 7I

viernes, 21 de noviembre de 2014

CNN explains fracking

CNN explains fracking to us.

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

The activity is suitable for intermediate students.

1 The traditional drilling for oil and gas and the new technique of fracking do not differ very much.
2 Fracking involves breaking the rock.
3 US is the leading country in the world as far as fracking goes.
4 US has abundant amounts of oil and gas if compared to other countries.
5 US laws allow fracking in the same places as traditional drilling.
6 Fracking companies use air to push fluid down into the rocks and fracture them.
7 Fracking companies are reluctant to explain their technique.
8 Fracking is safe as far as pollution goes.
9 Fracking is synonimous with money.

One of the things that oil companies and gas companies and geologists always kind of knew is that there were pockets of oil and natural gas under big rock formations, big layers of rock that you couldn’t get at by drilling straight down, so this process involves drilling horizontally.
Fracking gets its name from hydraulic fracturing. And what that means? Hydraulic, they are using water and a lot of chemicals and some sand and other things and they fracture the rock by pushing it out at a very high speed. That fractures the rock and releases the oil and the natural gas.
About 87% of the fracking that was done last year worldwide was done in North America. The Bakken Shale which is out in North Dakota, you have the Marcellus Shale, which spreads through New York and Pennsylvania, so that’s the kind of rock, shale, that you find these oil and gas pockets underneath.
The US doesn't have that much oil or gas if you look at it compared to the rest of the world. And also, remember there are a lot of places in the US where you can't drill for oil and gas: the governement only allows it in some places so they allow fracking in different places that they do, say, traditional drilling. It is also and can be less expensive to frack for natural gas in, say, Pennsylvania, than it is to drill for oil off the coast of Louisiana.
This is the image that people know about fracking, right? A drinking water tap catching on fire. That happens when you have methane in the drinking water. So what you hear from advocates, environmentalists or those who live near there is that the drinking water is contaminated either because there is natural gas in it or because there’s chemicals that is… that are being used to kind of push the fluid down into the rock, fracture it and it could seep into ground water.
A lot of these chemicals are dangeours. We don't quite know exactly what’s in it because nobody requires the companies to say exactly what's in it and they say that if they told us the secret ingredients, that would put their business model at risk.
This is the central debate about fracking : whether or not things get in the ground water. The companies who do this say, no, it's completely safe largely because there’s space, there’s a lot of rock in between the fracking operations and drinking water, be it wells or reservoirs.
Fracking can bring a lot of money, a lot of development and a lot of jobs to an area that didn't have that option. So there are places in Pennsylvania, there are places in North Dakota that because of fracking have put a lot of their residents to work. Then also you have these companies who pay home owners to be able to drill on their land so they make money out of it too.

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

jueves, 20 de noviembre de 2014

Taylor Swift announces new album

In mid-August this year Taylor Swift announced that she was to release a new album.

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

The activity is suitable for intermediate 2 students.

1 Why is Taylor Swift making history that day?
2 What does 'two years' refer to?
3 What's the key word of what may happen in two years?
4 When was Taylor Swift born?
5 What's the lesson she has learnt in these two years?
6 What two things does she think about all the time?
7 What greatly reflects life and who we are?

You can check the answers by reading the transcript below

Welcome to this live stream extravaganza adventure-a-thon! Tonight they’re telling me that we’re making history because this is the first ever worldwide live stream for ABC and Yahoo to get together (1) and I’m so excited I can’t even!
Well, I’ve been working on a new album for two years (2). And two years gives you enough time to grow and to change (3), and to, you know, change your priorities, change where you live, change your hair, change what you believe in, change who you hang out with, what’s influencing you, what’s inspiring you. And in the process of all of those changes that happened in the last two years, my music changed.
I’m thinking about how this new album is a bit of a rebirth for me because it’s so new. I’ve never really made these kinds of changes before. And having been born on December 13th, 1989 (4), this album is called 1989.
The song that… the idea came up with and what I wanted to write about was the idea that, I’ve had to learn a pretty tough lesson in the last couple of years that people can say whatever they want about us at any time. People can say whatever they want about us at any time and we cannot control that (5). The only thing we can control is our reaction to it. And I figure that we had two options. You can either let it get to you, let it change you, let it make you bitter or not trust people. Option two, you see, you just shake it off.
I wanted to tie this to this metaphor that I’ve been thinking about a lot because all I think about are metaphors and cats (6). My idea was that life itself and who people actually are can be greatly reflected in how they dance (7). We basically decided that we would get this huge group of incredible professional dancers of all different types of dance and throw me into the middle of them and see what happens. So fun fact, at the end of the video, you will see a group of about 100 fans. Those are people we plucked from Instagram, Twitter, website, letters, everywhere. Can I get a round of applause?
Thank you to the fans in New York and around the world. Thank you to ABC and Yahoo. This is the most unbelievable party you threw for us. And to go, pre-buy the album go to taylorswift.com. You know what they say. There’s no sale like a presale. No one says that. I love you. Thank you for watching with us.