Thursday, January 28, 2010

Lark or Owl? Are You a Morning or Evening Person?

Hello again. In this week's Six Minute English we will be hearing about sleep. This is connected with what we've been doing in our course book: are we living faster or slower than we should?

But first, the answers to the 6' English quiz on New Year's Resolutions.
Question 1: (a) for men, (b) for women!
(2) Kate's resolutions: be healthy and travel more.
(3) The disc jockey would like to keep on working hard, being happy and healthy and sleeping well.
(4) (a) over three-quarters of a million; (b) fewer than forty thousand.
(5) Dan has resolved to run a marathon in April.

Congratulations to Marianne, Mario, Giovanni and Savina. Savina, it's 'travel' with one 'L', not two! But well done everyone who took part. But where is everyone else out of 100 students?!

Well, this is your chance to participate for the first time if you have not yet done so. This week's Six Minute English is about our sleep. Many of us realise that we do not get enough.

Read the questions and then listen:
1. On average, how long do people sleep every night? Is it:
(a) six and a half hours; (b) seven and a half hours; (c) eight and a half hours?

2. Are the presenters larks or owls?
(a) Dan (b) Kate)

3. Before we had electricity, our lives were regulated by ___________ [one or two words]

4. How are people who naturally stay up late affected by normal working habits?

5. The best way to adapt your body clock is to __________ [short phrase]

6. How does the average level of light in a house or office compare with natural light?
(a) just after dawn (b) at midday? [Answer using a multiplication factor.]

Now listen to Six Minute English.
When you have finished, write your answers on the Tag Board or in a Comment at the end of this post.

I'd love to see a few more people participating! Not only is it good listening practice. You also get to learn some interesting new facts.

More very soon,
Kind regards from
- Mike

Thursday, January 14, 2010

New Year's Resolutions

Hello everyone!

I am very pleased to see Giovanni and Alessandra responding to the "think about/of" quiz questions. But before I post the correct answers, I'd like to give people more time to reply. Watch this space early next week!

Now for this week's Six Minute English. Have you made any resolutions this New Year?

Here are the questions. Read them before clicking on the link and listening.

1. What is the most common goal for people making New Year's resolutions? Is it:
(a) to sort out their finances and money?
(b) to lose weight?
(c) to learn a new language?

2. Kate's resolutions are: to do some more exercise, be _______ and _______ more.

3. The disk jockey would like to keep on _______ hard, being _______ and _______ and ________ well.

4. Many people try to give up smoking. According to a report, how many people in the UK
(a) tried to give up smoking?
(b) succeeded in giving up smoking?

5. What is Dan's New Year's Resolution? [give a short answer]

Now listen to this episode of Six Minute English and write your (short) answers on the Tag Board!

More next week!
 - Mike

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Think "about" or "of"?

This is something that came up in a lesson with Level 3 two days ago. So here's a short test: insert the correct preposition:

1. We were thinking _____ calling him Tosca after one of my favourite operas, until we realised he was a boy.
2. All those people who might have been thinking _____ Singapore as a regional office will now have to reconsider Hongkong.
3. We weren't thinking _____ giving the money to anybody.
4. I am still  thinking _____ being an actor.
5. But I have been doing a lot of thinking _____ my life and seeing a lot of things I don't like.
Your answers (just the sentence number and the correct preposition) on the Tag Board!
More soon & have a nice day,
 - Mike

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

"Shall" versus "Could"

Savina has just asked a question about the use of "shall" or "could", as in the question, "How shall we get into the city centre?" (see her post on the Tag Board.)

The two words carry different meanings. If we ask, "How shall we get into the city centre?" ("to" the city centre is more correct), we are inviting a suggestion. "Shall we go by bus? Or shall we go by taxi?"

But if we ask, ""How could we get to the city centre?", we are discussing possibilities. "We could go by bus. Or it might be possible to go by taxi." The suggestion is that we are uncertain as to the available methods of getting to the city centre.

Both "shall" and "could" belong to that family of verbs known as 'modals'. For further information, check out the British Council's Learning English site. Here's a direct link to 'Modal Verbs (1)'.

Unfortunately, "shall" is not discussed here. To get an idea of how "shall" is often used, try the Virtual Language Centre Concordancer to see examples. Type in "shall" as a search word, and see what you find. Then type in "could", and compare and contrast the differences between the two words.

Tell us about your findings in a Comment after this post. You can also try the Tag Board but there is a limit to how much text the Tag Board will accept.

Good luck and more soon!

 - Mike

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Happy New Year 2010!

A very happy New Year 2010 to all readers of the Rome EFL Blog!

And I hope you all managed to have a very nice break, without too much inconvenience. The severe winter weather in Europe continues to make news headlines.

Today I'm going to give you the answers to the most recent Six Minute English listening exercise:
1. The oldest contestant was 84.
2. Talent shows are events in which people demonstrate their skills in a particular area. In this case it's singing.
3. People participate in talent shows because they want to be famous.
4. Neil finds the music 'too mainstream' for his taste. By this he means that the music is too ordinary and unoriginal.
5. Pete Waterman says that Simon Cowell has an 'ego' and is 'driven'. This means that he has a very strong, self-centred personality, and is focused on a particular objective.
6. A 'single' is just one song, while an 'album' is a collection of songs in a particular format.
7. The participants' careers tend to be 'short-lived'; that is, they do not last very long. Notice the spelling of 'career', not 'carrer' as some of you wrote. It's pronounced 'ker-rier' with the accent on the second syllable. Unfortunately I can't use the International Phonetic Symbols on this blog.

Honourable Mentions go to Sabrina, Savina and Anna. Thanks to all three of you for participating, and well done for getting the answers right.

But where was everyone else??? That is the question! With 107 students in my various classes, and many more former students reading this blog, I hope in future that crowds of people will be joining us.

Don't forget: whether you are a current student or a former student, you are strongly encouraged to participate in this blog. Visit the sites listed down the right-hand column, and tell us about your experiences by leaving a message on the Tag Board or in a comment.

I plan very soon to add another Six Minute English exercise. Watch this space.
More soon and kind regards to you all from

 - Mike