Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Six Minute English: The Answers

Hello everyone!
I was very pleased to see how many people visited the Blog and tried the Six Minute English exercise. There were nine comments and various messages on the Tag Board.

By the way, if you have been trying to listen to Six Minute English about formality in the workplace, and instead been directed to a piece about Pygmy Hippos, I apologize. The URL (Internet address) of our exercise has changed at least twice. I have now changed it on the previous post to the current URL. You can
listen to it again by clicking here.

And now, my friends, for the answers. Here they are:

1. The presenters, Jackie and Neil, are on first name terms. (2 words)
2. In some restaurants you're not allowed to wear jeans. (1 word)
3. Neil thinks that five per cent of people would like to be told what to wear at work. (1 word)
4. Neil says that the BBC is a serious place to work but not formal. (2 words)
5. Carrie has been at the BBC for nearly thirty years. (1 word)
6. Carrie had to call her first boss "Mr or Mister" Bowman. (1 word or abbreviation)
7. But Carrie's boss called his "underlings" (subordinates) by their first name. (1 word)
8. In Carrie's department she had to ask permission if she wanted to go to the toilet. (2 words)
9. What happens on a "dress-down Friday"? (a short phrase) You can dress casually or You can wear what you like, or any answer expressing this idea.
10. What percentage of people would prefer to be given a precise dress code? (write a number) 85 or Eighty-five
11. Neil says, "What I'm wearing at the moment is what I wore in bed." (3 words)

Congratulations to Giordano in class 4A. He was the first person to post all the right answers, on Friday, February 20, 2009, at 2:03:00 AM! That shows serious dedication - I'll buy you a pint next time we're out on the town.

Just one correction, Giordano. You wrote, "On Friday you can coming in you jeans..." The correct version is, "On Friday you can come in in your jeans." I imagine that you were slightly confused by the two "in"s, or duplicate preposition. Don't worry - keep listening and you will become a little happier every time.

Honourable mentions go to: Alessandro, Carlo, Giorgia, Maria-Laura, Gianni, Grazia and Brunella. Thank you all very much for participating and making this Blog a community of English learners.

Here's one last question. Many years ago, radio news readers had to wear special clothes even though nobody could see then except other people in the studio. What is the name given to these special clothes?
Listen again to find out.

And can you speculate on the psychology behind this tradition?


Watch this space for the next listening exercise, hopefully towards the end of this week.

- Mike

Thursday, February 19, 2009

6 Minute English Questions

Hello.
If you have been listening to Six Minute English, which I mentioned in the previous post, here are a few comprehension questions to help you concentrate. Read these simple questions before listening again:

1. The presenters, Jackie and Neil, are on ______ _____ terms. (2 words)
2. In some restaurants you're not allowed to wear _______. (1 word)
3. Neil thinks that ____ per cent of people would like to be told what to wear at work. (1 word)
4. Neil says that the BBC is a _______ place to work but not ______ . (2 words)
5. Carrie has been at the BBC for nearly _______ years. (1 word)
6. Carrie had to call her first boss "_________ " Bowman. (1 word or abbreviation)
7. But Carrie's boss called his "underlings" (subordinates) by their ______ name. (1 word)
8. In Carrie's department she had to _______ ________ if she wanted to go to the toilet. (2 words)
9. What happens on a "dress-down Friday"? (a short phrase)
10. What percentage of people would prefer to be given a precise dress code? (write a number)
11. Neil says, "What I'm wearing at the moment is what I ____ ____ ____ ." (3 words)

I've made these questions as easy for you as I can! I've indicated the number of words needed to answer each question. Now you can listen to Six Minute English.

To answer these questions, use the "Comments" link on this page below this post. Simply write the number of the question, followed by the answer.

The first person to answer all the questions correctly will get an Honourable Mention in the next post. And maybe even a pint!

In due course I'll post the answers. But I want you to get the answers first.
More soon,
- Mike

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Six Minute English

A must for anyone wanting to practise their listening skills, Six Minute English on the BBC is a regular event. It consists of an interview or debate on a current piece of news or a topic of general interest.

This week it's about formality in the workplace. How smartly do you have to dress? Do you call your boss Mr. X, Signor Y, Herr A, Senor B, Monsieur or Madame Z, or can you address them by their first name?

You can reflect on personal experiences in your workplace, be they in Italy or any other country. Then when you listen, you can compare your ideas with those of the speakers.

On "Six Minute English", you can listen directly or download the podcast to your computer, MP3 player or Telefonino. There's also a short glossary to help you with certain unfamiliar expressions you may encounter. And you can even download the programme script in PDF format - recommended so that you can read what you heard.

And each "Six Minute English" programme comes with a question for you to think about when you begin. It will be answered at the end. This week it is: "How many people would prefer to be told what they had to wear at work?"

Click here to continue and listen to the current Six Minute English programme. As always, please do leave a message for everyone on the Tag Board, and tell us whether 6 Minute English was easy, difficult or elementary; and how it helped you to develop your listening skills. Or didn't, as the case may be.

Coming very soon: an online quiz based on the above programme. Watch this space!

Try also: BBC Learning English Words In The News and the BBC Learning English Main Page.
And check out the long list of Listening and Video Links on the right-hand column of this Blog.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Oral Exam Stress

Dear All,

Are you about to do an oral exam? This article, from the British Council's Learn English site, helps you combat the stress that we all feel when faced with any kind of exam.

There is some sound advice here. The article reminds us the Speaking and Listening skills are closely associated, so before a speaking exam, do plenty of listening practice. You should be doing this anyway at regular intervals. See the listening section in the list of sites in the right-hand column of this Blog.

Tip no. 4 is also especially valuable: concentrate on the questions the examiner is asking you, and you will forget about your stress. Remember, most examiners would prefer you to pass the exam, so they will help you to relax.

You can listen to the advice given, or read it - perhaps you should do both. And, when reading, do the comprehension activity by matching the questions to the tips.

When you have finished, please do leave a comment on the Tag Board, or in the comments area below this posting.

And explore the Learn English Professionals site: there is something here for everybody.

Many thanks to BC Rome colleague Alison Driver for this link.

- Mike

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Extra Practice

Whatever you're doing, wherever you are, it's vital to continue practising your English.

And whether you are still with us at the British Council Rome, or your course has just ended, whether you intend to come back to us, or not, you are always welcome to visit our Blog.

So this week I have found a couple of items for you on the BBC. Here they are:

1. Six Minute English: try this piece on
Mobile Phones. You'll hear two people, Doug and Jackie, talking about their relationship with mobile phones, or cellphones, as they are also called. Listen and answer the questions, and pick up some useful new vocabulary.

Note: an ex-British Council colleague recently returned to Italy after many years away. When he lived here, a "cellulare" was only a vehicle for transporting prisoners. During his absence, "cellulare" gained a new meaning.

2. Snow has been prominent in the news. Britain is regarded as a cold country, yet it is unusual for snow to be a serious problem. In "
Words In The News", listen to, and read about, the recent snow emergency in the UK.

3. Facebook celebrates five years in business. Many of us use the site every day. Here's a brief (1 min 42 sec) report on Facebook's fifth anniversary. Watch the report and answer these three questions:

(a) How many people are now registered on Facebook?
(b) How many people are now registered on MySpace?
(c) What, according to the reporter, must Facebook do in order to make more money?

Send your answers to the TagBoard or use the 'Comments' link at the bottom of this post.

And that's all I have time for now. More very soon!

- Mike