Friday, July 18, 2014

Six Minute English: What kind of men do women find attractive?

Hello everyone!

it's the Tour de France right now - possibly the biggest cycling event in Europe along with the Giro d'Italia. And it began, strangely, in Leeds in the UK, not in France.

Although I would not personally want to be a competition cyclist, I follow both the Tour and the Giro occasionally. And I have found an interesting piece on the BBC's 'Six Minute English' in which Rob and Finn discuss the question of whether women really find winning cyclists more attractive than other men, as some research suggests. 

Read the following questions and then listen to the programme:

1. (Official): How long is the first stage of the Tour de France? Is it: a) 151 km; b) 191 km; c) 221 km ? 

2. Rob enjoys cycling for [____], as a [_____] and as a [____] to keep [____].

3. Finn bought a bike but he stopped cycling when he got ___ ___ ___ (three words)

4. Dr. Erik Postma of Zurich University found that the [___] 10 per cent of riders were [____] more attractive to  women than the [____] ten per cent.

5. Men are seen as more attractive when they are [___], [___ ___] and [____].

6. The study also showed that women [___] men with good [___ ___].

7. How many women were asked to evaluate male cyclists? (Give a short answer.)

8. What characteristic in men was rated as 'likeable but not attractive'? [____]

Now listen to the programme and post your answers on the Tag Board or in a Comment. Let's hope lots of people reply - the more, the merrier!

Today is my last day at work before the summer holidays. I'll be back regularly on 1 September. But I'll drop in to 'Rome English' from time to time. Watch this space!

And have a very good time wherever you are!

Yours,
Michael

Monday, July 14, 2014

Brazilian Music: The Answers

Hello readers! I can now post the official answers to the recent Six Minute English Quiz on Brazilian Music:. Rob was talking to Brazilian music expert Grace.

1. This week's Question:
When was the song 'The Girl from Ipanema' recorded commercially for the first time? It was: b) 1962.

The story goes that poet and composer Vinicus De Moraes wrote the song in honour of a real girl whom he used to observe walking along the beach at Ipanema every evening at sunset wearing only a bikini and high-heeled shoes. They were even together briefly; her parents disapproved of their relationship because Vinicius was much older than she was.

2. Rob definitely sings out of tune.

3. How does Monica Vasconcelos compare 'samba' and 'bossanova'? Samba is very energetic and full of life while bossanova is smoother, more understated.

4. Bossanova composers were into beauty.

5. The bossanova 'groove' is cool, funky and smooth.

6. What effect has rock-and-roll had on Brazilian music? It has flattened and simplified its rhythms.

7. For Rob, travelling is all about hearing local music, discovering local food, things that are different from things back at home.

Many thanks to all participants: Giovanni, Manola, Federica, Ada and Giovanni Prelli. I have removed one comment because it bore no relation to our Quiz.

I will be posting another Quiz very soon. Meanwhile, improve your listening skills by returning to this Blog every day and choosing a listening site such as the British Council's Learn English, the BBC's Learning English, and Real English by American teacher in France, Michael Marzio. Among many others.

More soon,
Yours,
Mike

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Six Minute English: Brazilian Music

Good day readers! The world's focussing on Brazil right now. But away from the football pitches, what do you know about Brazil's people and culture? Here's a chance to find out more on the BBC's Six Minute English. This week, Rob is talking to Grace from Brazil and exploring some of the history of Brazilian music.

As always, study the questions, then listen to the programme, and finally post your answers on the Tag Board or in a comment. 

Here are this week's questions:

1. When was the song 'The Girl from Ipanema' recorded commercially for the first time? Was it: (a) 1955: (b) 1962; c) 1969.

2. Rob says he definitely sings ___ ___ ___ . 

3. How does Monica Vasconcelos compare 'samba' and 'bossanova'? 

4. Bossanova composers were into ___ .

5. The bossanova 'groove' is ___, ___ and ___ .

6. What effect has rock-and-roll had on Brazilian music? 

7. For Rob, travelling is all about ....

Now listen to the programme and then post your answers. Don't forget to check out the useful new vocabulary in the special section below the BBC's link to the program.

And it would be absolutely fantastic if as many readers as possible could actively participate. Last week there were seven of you, but there could be many more. Remember, you don't have to be a current student to join in. Even if you were with us some years ago, your participation is most welcome.

More very soon!
Yours,
Mike

Thursday, June 19, 2014

'Mammoni' - The Answers

Congratulations to those who listened to 'Mammoni' on Six Minute English and posted their answers to the Quiz Questions. And here are the official answers:

1) This week's question: What percentage of 20 to 34-year-olds were living at home with their parents in 2013, according to the UK's Office for National Statistics? Was it: 
a) 16%; b) 26%; c) 36% 

Answer (b) is correct: 26 per cent or 3.3 million adults.

2) Even after marriage, a couple may find it too expensive to rent or buy a house.

3) The most important reason why people live with their parents is the economic downturn.

4) What's Luke Sibson's biggest difficulty over living with his mother? There's something very difficult about being an adult but living in an environment where one is still a child. He feels it limits him socially and professionally.

5) The advantages for Alberto Balagan in living with his parents are that he doesn't have to wash his clothes, make his bed or buy anything, pay taxes or bills. You're living for free.

6)  Living at home successfully depends on your relationship with your parents.

Many thanks are due to Federica, Arthur, Martina, Manola, Gianluca, Filomena and Maria Teresa.

Watch out for the next Six Minute English Quiz. I'm not sure what I will choose but I can promise you that it will be interesting.

Meanwhile check out the right-hand column on this blog with its list of recommended sites. I suggest anything connected with Listening, such as News In Levels or elementary Video - Real English - with Michael Marzio.

There's also an entertaining Blog by the Runaway Daydreamer. In her latest post she tells us about 'Flashsticks' and how they can help us to remember new words.

More soon!
Yours,
Mike

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Six Minute English: About Being a 'Mammone'

Hello everyone. This week, we talk about 'mammoni'. In Italy, living with one's parents until well into adulthood is an old tradition. However, it's becoming more common in the UK. On Six Minute English, Rob and Finn discuss the reasons behind this perennial social phenomenon.

1) This week's official question: What percentage of 20 to 34-year-olds were living at home with their parents in 2013, according to the UK's Office for National Statistics? Was it: 

a) 16%; b) 26%; c) 36% 

2) Even after marriage, a couple may find it too ... 

3) The most important reason why people live with their parents is the economic ______ .

4) What's Luke Sibson's biggest difficulty over living with his mother? 

5) The advantages for Alberto Balagan in living with his parents are ... 

6)  Living at home successfully depends on ... 

Now listen to the programme, then answer the questions. Post your answers on the Tag Board or in a Comment. 

For straight questions ending in a ?, give a short answer.
For statements ending in ..., complete the sentence according to what you hear.
An underscore, or ____ , denotes one word that fills the gap.

Don't neglect the vocabulary list. You can collect a lot of useful expressions here.

Let's see how many participants we get this week! And next week, we'll choose a more cheerful topic.

Have a good weekend!
Yours,
Mike

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

'Dark Tourism': The answers

Dear all,

Many thanks to those of you who have participated recently in this Blog. We've had two quests on the go at once: one on 'Dark Tourism', the other, on an equally dark subject: the disappearance of two people in Iceland many years ago, and the subsequent investigations and trials. But for now, let's focus on 'Dark Tourism'.

Here then are the answers to the 'Dark Tourism' quiz. Rob and Neil were speaking on this programme.

1) – Official question: Robben Island in South Africa is one dark tourism destination. It's where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 years. Do you know in which year it finally closed as a prison?
The right answer is b) 1996.
2) In ‘dark’ tourism, travellers visit places associated with death, brutality and terror.
3) Rob has been to Auschwitz, in Poland.
4) Next month Rob is going to Chernobyl, the site of a catastrophic nuclear accident in 1986.
5) What does Dr Philip Stone say about why ‘dark tourism’ is popular? "‘Dark tourism’ isn’t new. It’s human nature to be drawn to these places. It partly depends on how it is packaged by the tourist industry."
6) In Latvia, you can stay in a former prison and pay to be treated like a prisoner.
7) In Vietnam you can crawl around war tunnels while people fire guns outside.
8) At a ‘dark tourist’ site, what kind of behaviour might be acceptable, and what might not? OK to take photographs, but probably not a ‘selfie’.
9) When visiting some ‘dark tourist’ sites, what would you not write on a postcard? “Wish you were here”.
Very many thanks to Federica, Arthur, Simona, Giovanni, Marcello, Manola and Filomena. That's a record total of seven respondents this time!
In a few days' time I'll post another Six Minute English Quiz. Meanwhile, to practise listening, why not visit TED? (Technology, Entertainment and Design). Currently there is an interesting talk about "Why Veterans Miss War". In addition, there are some short 3-minute talks on subjects ranging from "8 Secrets of Success" to "How to Tie Your Shoes".
As always, visit these sites and share your thoughts with us on the Tag Board or in a Comment. That way, our site will become a community.
Many thanks for reading this.
More soon.
Yours,
Mike

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Murders in Iceland: Did They Happen?

Here's a real life mystery for you which I found on the BBC today.

It's about two people who disappeared many years ago in Iceland. Several people were arrested for their murders. And although they could not remember doing anything, they confessed and as a result spent years in prison. How was this possible?

Read the story and watch the videos, which are almost entirely in English. Then share your reactions with us. What do you think really happened?

On another subject, there is still time for you to listen to Six Minute English on 'Dark Tourism'. See the previous post. Many thanks to Federica, Filomena, Manola and Marcello, who have already done the Quiz. So can you! We look forward to your answers.

More later this week.
Yours,
Mike