Friday, September 25, 2009

A Dutch Girl's Ambition

Six Minute English describes how a Dutch girl's ambition to sail round the world by herself was halted by the Dutch authorities. They said that at the age of thirteen she was too young.

Before you listen, read these questions:

1. (Official question):
Some ambitious parents encourage their children to become the youngest to accomplish a gruelling (in other words, extremely exhausting) feat. Which phrase do you think she uses to describe this? Is it
a) a rat race to become a 'superchild';

b) a mousetrap for child competitors, or
c) a three-legged race?

2. What precise reason did the Dutch authorities give when they stopped Laura from sailing round the world?

3. Does Julie Thomas, of the Children's Legal Centre, agree with this decision? How do we know?

Now listen to the programme and give your answers in a Comment.

And now for your opinion. Do you think the Dutch authorities were right to stop her? Why (not)?

Coming soon: "The Digital Divide" on Six Minute English.

=>NB: check List of Useful Websites in the right-hand column. I have added the BBC Radio 4 "Today" programme" to the "Listening and Video" category, and have made additions to the Indian Newspapers and Dictionaries categories.

Ciao4now! - Mike

Thursday, September 24, 2009

What Pizza?

From Yahoo News of today: what pizza to avoid when in the UK.


More very soon,
- Mike

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Authentic Listening

Hello everyone.

In our current Level 3 Intermediate course at the British Council Rome, we have been exploring the idea of experimentally changing your job and doing something completely different.

We saw the example of a young girl working as a librarian who was trained, in one month, to become a tough, professional politcal reporter on TV.

To follow up this lesson, I demonstrated the BBC Radio 4 website for the "Today" programme. The "Today" programme, which is broadcast (or which "goes out") every morning on British domestic radio, often carried interviews with politicians. Occasionally these lead to quite heated discussions.

We started watching Lord Ashdown, former head of the Liberal Democrats, giving his views on the future of British involvement in Afghanistan, but did not have time to listen to everything. So I am giving you the link: click here to go straight to the interview with Lord Ashdown.

Tell me how much you understood - leave a comment or post to the Tag Board. Use the Comments for longer answers.

And do explore the rest of the Today Programme site.

More soon,

- Mike

Sunday, September 20, 2009

New-look Blog

For some time I have been promising changes to the appearance of this blog. It's essential for web sites to change their appearance from time to time to avoid looking static.

So I have changed the image at the top of the blog. I welcome any comments on the choice of picture. And I'd like to invite you to contribute your own images. If you have a picture which captures the essence of Rome, and which would look good at the top of the Blog, just send it to me. Use this address:

Your picture should be in JPEG format and should be 760 pixels wide to fit the width of this page. It should not be too deep - about 200 pixels is fine. Please leave some space at the top for the "Rome English Blog" title. Don't worry if the 760-pixel width causes distortion, as it has done in the current image. Distortion can look artistic.

If you like, I can put your name at the bottom of the picture so that you are credited, as in Photo by Michael Ivy.

At the beginning of the week I'll add another "Six Minute English" comprehension exercise. And I'll draw your attention to further web sites which could greatly help you to practise your English.
More soon,
- Mike

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Six Minute "Chinglish"

This week's episode of "Six Minute English" focuses not on how to use English correctly, but on how not to use it. Before you listen, here are some questions to help you with your comprehension.

1. Official question for this week:

Which of these types of incorrect English do you think we are mainly focussing on? Is it
a) Chinglish

b) Spanglish, or
c) Hinglish?

2. What is a very common cause of mistakes in English on notices in China?

3. What is the difference between "valuables" and "values"?

4. (a) Why is this notice, "If you are stolen, please call the police at once", funny?
(b) Which word in the notice is wrong?
(c) What would be the correct word?

Now listen to the programme. Then write your answers in the Tag box or in a Comment.

Many thanks to September students Francesca, Serena and Annunziata for their recent posts to the Tag Board. And special thanks to former students Alessandro Abbouda and Iacopo, who loyally returned to this Blog long after their courses had finished.

Coming soon: small changes to the Blog's appearance; review of useful web sites to help you practise your English.

Keep visiting us!
- Mike

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Welcome back after Summer 2009

Of course, it is still really summer here in Rome, but we're mostly back to work now.

And this week I'll post a further activity on the Blog. How about some more Six Minute English?

Meanwhile, please do check out the lists of web sites down the right-hand column of this Blog. Especially the listening sites. I will be checking them myself. And I welcome any new recommendations from you.

Another thing: I will be changing the appearance of the banner at the top of the Blog.

So watch this space!
Ciao4now - Mike