jueves, 20 de octubre de 2016

Man builds 65 ft whale-shaped boat to sail across the Atlantic

Man builds 65 ft whale-shaped boat called 'Moby' to sail across the Atlantic.

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

1 What was Tom Mclean's job?
2 What does '3,500' refer to?
3 What is Mclean's objective with his journey?
4 What is Tom Mclean's job now?
5 How old is he?

Thankfully this isn't another beached whale on the British coastline… This is a rather unusual boat shaped like a whale and named Moby of all things after its namesake novel by Herman Melville. Former SAS soldier Tom Mclean has spent a mammoth 100,000 pounds and 2 decades building the 65 foot boat in preparation for a 3,500 mile voyage across the Atlantic. The big question is why?
Yeah, maybe why not, I would say. I’m the first man to have rowed the North Atlantic alone and I’ve sailed it and I’ve crossed it in a bottle boat. You can go in many shapes, and I thought, well, why not a whale. I want to clean up the planet, and environmental companies want to be involved with me and well, here we are, Moby.
The boat with the big environmental message will sail down from Loch Nevis in Scotland to London and then New York in stages next year. And it’s guaranteed to be a whale of a time for the retired serviceman.
I’m 73. I feel good. You could say I’m mad but I’m happy with that, I’m getting on doing things. I’m getting off my backside and doing things rather than sitting and watching the telly.
The Loch Ness may have its monster but we reckon Loch Nevis' whale is giving it stiff competition.

1 (SAS) soldier
2 3,500 mile voyage across the Atlantic he intends to make
3 to clean the planet
4 he's retired
5 73

miércoles, 19 de octubre de 2016

Talking point: Happiness

This week's talking point is happiness. 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.

What is happiness for you?
Is happiness a goal for you?
What makes you feel happy?
Are you happy most of the time?
What makes you unhappy?
What's the most miserable you've been?
When was the happiest time of your childhood? And of your life?
Can you be happy if you are rich/poor?
How happy are you compared with your friends?
Do you wake up happy every morning?
Do you agree that older people are less happy?
Are the people in your country generally very happy?
Do you think some nations are happier than others?
(source for questions: iteslj.org)

How important are these factors to achieve happiness?
Discuss them and choose the three most important ones for you.
Then try to agree with your partner(s) on a common list.
excellent health and fitness
an interesting and worthwhile job
material wealth and a high standard of living
being good-looking and having a great figure
being content spiritually
a wide circle of supportive friends and family
achieving promotion and/or respect at work

To illustrate the point you can watch the video And the secret of happiness is...

Happiness isn’t just a pleasant thing you feel. Science proves it’s much deeper than that. Feeling happy also makes you live a long and healthier life – but how? Well, a large part of our happiness is tied to our social connections. In fact, if you don’t have at least one close friend, you’re less likely to be happy. Each of us have these things called telomeres. Those are tiny caps on our DNA chromosomes that measure our cellular age. It turns out they also measure how many friends we have. No friends equals shorter telomeres. So by simply being social, you can actually slow down your biological age; living longer and happier. Another way to boost your level of happiness is by meditating. Research shows as little as twenty minutes a day can lower your stress hormones. Have you ever heard of a Buddhist monk named Berry Kerzin? Barry meditates with such focused attention he says he can instantly generate his own bliss. People believed him but doctors wanted some scientific proof. So they did an MRI scan of his brain and they showed that, while he meditated, he activated the area of the brain where happiness lives – the left prefrontal cortex. Time of a pop quiz: Is this glass half empty or half full? If you said half full, you’re on your way to feeling happier and healthier. A Harvard study found that optimists are 50 percent less likely to have heart disease, a heart attack or a stroke. Keeping an overall optimistic attitude actually offers protection against cardiovascular disease. Science doesn’t fare as well for pessimists. They not only have lower levels of happiness compared to optimists but research shows that people with negative thoughts are three times as likely to develop health problems as they age. So what do you do if you’re not a naturally happy person? Well experts say the key is to act as though you’re an optimist, even if you’re not.

martes, 18 de octubre de 2016

My That's English revisited: War of the Sexes

My That's English! revisited is a new section of the blog in which we look back at some of the most outstanding and popular entries so far. Today... War of the sexes.

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

1 How many Americans fight over housework?
2 How many women feel they do all the housework?
3 What are typical chores that men do?
4 What effect does sharing the housework have on a marriage?
5 What pieces of advice does the psychologist give on how to handle housework? (She gives five)
6 Why should all the family get involved in the housework?
7 What is the least popular chore?

Male presenter: This morning on Today's relationships, the chore wars. There's a new survey that found that one out of every five Americans admits to fighting over housework with their spouse every month.
Female presenter: So how do you end this battle of the sexes. Psycotherapist and contributor Robbie Ludwick has some advice for keeping the peace. This is a universal problem, a lot of couples can relate to this and the survey was very telling.
Robbie Ludwick: Clr did a survey, and they were really the first to look at this problem, how are men and women different when it comes to cleaning, who cleans more and how do people really feel about it? And no surprise 69% of women feel that they did all of the house work or most of it and 53% of the men said no, I disagree, I really feel like I pull my weight.
Female presenter: Was that surprising?
Robbie Ludwick: No, because I think men are really doing a lot more than they ever did before, so to them, taking out the garbage and maybe picking up after the kids feels like they are doing half the work, but women are working outside the home, so there is this kind of idea shift that's going on.
Male presenter: And while these little fights can seem trivial, but they can actually be damaging to a marriage?
Robbie Ludwick: They can, because what the study also showed was women who felt that they were overburdened and taking on most of the responsibility really were angry with their husbands and not feeling as good about their marriages. But on the up side, women who felt that their husbands were helping and that things were fair and square really felt good about their relationship and this is something that comes up on a regular basis, one out of five couples on a monthly basis argue about it. It's reality.
Male presenter: So you say one of the things you should do is assign appropriate assignments.
Robbie Ludwick: Right. So what you want to do is don't go against the grain. If your husband likes doing the laundry, let him do the laundry, if you like cleaning the dishes, separate it along the lines where people are actually good…
Female presenter: Consider compliments.
Male presenter: Where?
Robbie Ludwick: You should all be complimenting. Nagging doesn't work, if your partner, let’s say, really one day cleans up the table, say thank you, that really meant a lot to me. Success builds on success. And that’s the way to really help somebody do more of what you want them to do.
Male presenter: And you said also baby steps, start small.
Robbie Ludwick: Right. It's overwhelming to clean a house, who wants to do it. Do it in five minute intervals, it's amazing what can get done in five minutes. And after a while you start to realize, well, we’re really cleaning up the space together, but if you start small it’s more manageable, less resistance.
Female presenter: And you get the kids involved?
Robbie Ludwick: I did this summer. If you make it a family activity, you can burn calories, it's something everybody does together and then you reward yourself after the fact with movies or a nice dinner out. But get everyone involved. Everybody's messing up so everybody should clean up.
Male presenter: I remember I'm saying to my mom, we should get a dishwasher, she said I've got six of them already. And one of the things you say, just do it.
Robbie Ludwick: Yeah. You're not going to like cleaning all the time. Clr also studied that cleaning the toilet is the least popular thing to do.
Male presenter: Really?
Robbie Ludwick: Big surprise there. But sometimes you just have to do it. A clean home has a better chance of being a happier home so you have to do things in life you don't want to do all the time, so just make yourself do it.
Female presenter: And it sounds like you should also come up with a plan for these things so that everyone knows up front what they're doing.
Robbie Ludwick: Don't surprise me with an assignment. Don’t compare,  I did this, you did that.  We have a personality quiz that you can get on Clr chorewars.com/, it's also on the todayshow.com site. So you can find out what is your cleaning personality and find a way to make that work in your house. Mine is a can-do. I took the quiz, I'm a can-do instead of a honey-do. Are you a honey-do or are you a can-do?
Male presenter: I'm avoiding you as a possibility. I'm hiding in the closet.
Female presenter: Avoidance is not the solution. You can take that cleaning personality quiz on our web.

1 one out of five
2 69% 
3 taking out the garbage and maybe picking up after the kids
4 couples are happier 
5 assign appropriate assignments; compliment; take baby steps; get the kids involved; have a plan ready
everybody's messing up so everybody should clean up
7 cleaning the toilet

lunes, 17 de octubre de 2016

Listening test: Breastfeeding expert defends nursing two-year-olds

Listen to this radio news item on breastfeeding and choose the option A, B or C which best completes each sentence. 0 is an example.

source: Radio Sweden

0 Example:
The child
A is five years old.
B is two years old.
C was never breastfed.

1 The mother was accused of
A abusing breastfeeding.
B abusing her daughter.
C not paying enough attention to her daughter’s health.

2 According to expert Sofia Zwedberg,
A breastmilk doesn’t contain all nutrients that a child needs.
B babies should be exclusively fed with breastmilk until six months old.
C babies should always receive additional iron and vitamin C while being breastfed.

3 The problem with the child is
A she has shown signs of malnourishment.
B she’s small for her age.
C she wasn’t breastfed as a baby.

4 In Zwedberg’s opinion
A breastfeeding being bad for older children is a myth.
B breastfeeding sometimes leads to maltreatment.
C mothers can force a child to breastfeed.

5 The mother
A admits being careless with her daughter’s health.
B has been reported to social services.
C has had mental problems as a result of the controversy.

6 The mother
A has admitted that her child is often ill.
B says the importance of breastfeeding goes beyond food.
C was given advice on how to feed her daughter.

7 Expert Sofia Zwedberg says
A a hundred years ago children were breastfed until the age of 5.
B children enjoy breastfeeding.
C the breastfeeding experience is similar in all mothers.

A Swedish mother faced being reported to social services for breastfeeding her two-year-old, but one expert says children should ideally be breastfed up to age five.
Earlier this year, the mother was told by a nurse at a child health care centre in Luleå, in northern Sweden that her daughter was not growing fast enough and that unless the she stopped breastfeeding her, she would be reported to social services. The mother was told that breastfeeding her two-year-old was tantamount to child abuse and that it was hampering the child’s growth, local newspaper Norrländska Socialdemokraten reported earlier this month.
But other breastfeeding experts disagree. Speaking to Swedish Radio, Sofia Zwedberg, a midwife and a breastfeeding researcher at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, said she would prefer to see more mothers breastfeeding their two-year-olds.
Zwedberg said breastmilk contains all nutrients that a child needs and that the global recommendation is for mothers to breastfeed exclusively for six months and then to combine breastfeeding with other feeding for two years or more to ensure the child receives enough iron and vitamin C.
According to the mother in northern Sweden, at two months her child was small and below the growth chart that shows the standard ranges for height and weight. Her daughter had apparently been fully breastfed for six months and after that partially breastfed, but she wasn’t eating enough food. But the mother said that the girl showed no signs of malnourishment, nutrient shortage or iron deficiency.
Zwedberg, breastfeeding expert at Karolinska Institute, told Swedish Radio that the idea that it is terrible to breastfeed older children is a “social construct”. Zwedberg said a mother can never force a child to breastfeed and so it is not a question of maltreatment.
And speaking to the newspaper Dagens Nyheter, the mother in Northern Sweden said she was distressed after being told that she needed to stop breastfeeding completely or risk being reported to social services. She said “I had a breakdown. Would I, who had always done what I thought was best for my child, be reported for child abuse?”
The mother herself reported the child health care centre in Lulea to the Health and Social Care Inspectorate, stating that she did not receive any other advice apart from the order to stop breastfeeding. She told Dagens Nyheter that for her and her child, breastfeeding “was about much more than just food”. She said it was a way for my daughter to fall asleep, to feel closeness or just to cuddle in the morning.” And she added “breastfeeding was also a saviour when she was ill and had a fever and neither ate nor drank”.
Sofia Zwedberg, at the Karolinska Institute, said women have different experiences breastfeeding and that each case has to be treated individually. However, she said that “biologically speaking, we are meant to breastfeed up to age five but, she insisted, our lifestyles mean that women today choose to stop breastfeeding early.” “If it were up to the children,” said Zwedberg, “we might see more older kids breastfeeding.”

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

domingo, 16 de octubre de 2016

Extensive listening: Why you should talk to strangers

"When you talk to strangers, you're making beautiful interruptions into the expected narrative of your daily life — and theirs," says Kio Stark.

In this delightful talk, Stark explores the overlooked benefits of pushing past our default discomfort when it comes to strangers and embracing those fleeting but profoundly beautiful moments of genuine connection.

You can read the transcript for the talk here.

sábado, 15 de octubre de 2016

Radio Sweden -News in English

Radio Sweden broadcasts a daily news programme in English which students at an intermediate and advanced level may find of interest.

The show lasts about 26 minutes and is downloadable as a podcast. In addition, individual news items are showcased so we can choose them if we just want to listen to a three- or four-minute segment on a specific topic.

On the minus side, it must be said that the daily show doesn't come complete with transcript, but many of the individual segments have been transcribed, at least partially.

As you can imagine, a good share of the news deals with domestic issues, which can help us to get acquained with life and culture in that part of the world.

viernes, 14 de octubre de 2016

Japan's retirees: industrial waste or a silver lining?

Working after retirement is not something many plan for, especially in Japan, where most white collar workers - known as salarymen - still devote their lives to one employer for an average of four decades.

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

1 What is the retirement age in Japan?
2 What does Koreisha mean in Japanese?
3 What are some of the occupations retirees can choose from in Koreisha?
4 What is the reason why Japanese retired workers want to work?
5 What does 'one third' refer to?
6 What is one of the problems retirees have to face when working after retirement?

Tending to a client's rooftop garden in central Tokyo. Three years after retiring from his lifelong employment with Tokyo Gas, 68-year-old Rikizo Takano signed up for part-time work. This is the company which got him the gig. Koreisha means "the elderly" in Japanese. Its mission is to help retirees who are still keen to be part of the country's workforce. Today it has over 750 registered members. The average age is 69, with the oldest at 81 years old. They can choose from various assignments, such as cooking at restaurants or being personal drivers.
At our age, most of us don't want to work full-time, but putting in two to three days a week doesn't affect pensions, and being able to earn an extra 1000 US dollars a month is nice. But more than that, our members say it's great to be able to work again, because myself included, we feel like our energy and talent is wasted.
Japan has one of the fastest ageing populations in the world, and it is a burden on the economy, with a falling birth rate, it means there are fewer people paying social security. Spending on health care and pensions already accounts for a third of the national budget, and it's ballooning fast. But instead of doing away with the old, the Government wants companies and communities to see them as a silver lining.
Here in Kashiwa, these retired businessmen greet the children every morning and make sure they get to school safely. 75-year-old Masatoshi Tsuneno is the leader of the group, and he's been volunteering for ten years.
He says the key to a successful transition after retirement is to shake up the hierarchy entrenched in the working world.
I was an engineer for a company, he told me. But he won't discuss his professional past. He says it's important for people in his group to be able to treat each other equally, even if someone was a chief executive or diplomat.
It’s the end of the academic year and the school children have put together this surprise ceremony to thank the volunteers. The mix of young and old has been a hit for this community, but it's still a rare success story.
Mariko Oi, BBC News, in Kashiwa.

1 65
2 the elderly
3 cooking at restaurants or being personal drivers
4 they feel their energy and talent is wasted
5 public spending out of the national budget on health care and pensions 
6 the traditional hierarchy of Japanese companies is difficult to get rid of