Saturday, July 30, 2011

Summer Holidays; Tag Board

Dear All,

It's now summer vacation time in Europe, Ramadan is about to start, so I would like to take this opportunity to wish our readers a happy and festive season wherever you are. I'll start posting regularly again in September. It's just possible that I may have an opportunity to create an exercise for you in August, but I cannot promise.

The Tag Board is causing mild concern. Some individuals are leaving spam messages. I have banned them and their IP addresses, but I will keep an eye on this site. If necessary, I will remove the Tag Board temporarily.

Have a very good summer holiday, and if you are observing Ramadan, I wish you a joyous month.

Yours,
Mike

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Does Italy Have A Debt Crisis? - The Answers

Hello. Here are the answers to the quiz questions on the BBC domestic radio 4 'Today' programme on Italy's debt. You had to fill in the gaps. I have indicated the answers in bold text.
1. Politicians are saying that the markets are overreacting dangerously.

2. Part of the problem is that there is no agreement on the mechanics of a second financial bailout for Greece.

3. The Dutch Finance Minister says that a precondition has to be substantial private sector involvement.

4. Italy is involved because its Prime Minister has fallen out with his Economy Minister.

5. Mr Berlusconi has accused the Economy Minister of being a "prima donna" who “thinks everyone else is a cretin.”

6. This is not what the rest of Europe wants to hear from the Eurozone’s second-largest but determinedly sluggish economy.

7. Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel says she is trying to persuade Mr Berlusconi to pass a new austerity budget as soon as possible.

8. She says Italy needs to show that it is consolidating and fighting debt.

9. Politicians who have to answer to electorates always seem to be one step behind the markets.

10. Peter Spiegel, the Brussels bureau chief of the Financial Times, says that “if Italy goes down, then it will be Lehman Brothers …. ten times as bad.”

11. The results could be "brutal".

12. Why have the markets taken so long to react to Italy? Because the markets only focus on one thing at a time.

13. The only way to solve the problem is by issuing common European bonds.

Please do continue to visit the BBC and other sites for listening practice. See the right-hand column for appropriate links. The BBC sites, as well as listening sites, are quite near the top.

Another listening quiz coming soon!

Yours,
Mike

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Does Italy have a Debt Crisis?

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. This is a slightly different listening exercise from usual. It may be more difficult. It is certainly more specialised: it is about economics and turns on the question: could Italy suffer a debt crisis like that of Greece or Portugal?
To find out more, listen to the BBC's "Today" programme .This is a programme that goes out every morning on the BBC's domestic Radio 4. First, however, look at the exercise. You should try to complete each sentence with the missing words. There is one word for each space, indicated by a short line:
 
1. Politicians are saying that the markets are ________ ________ .

2. Part of the problem is that there is no agreement on the mechanics of a ________ ________ bailout for Greece.

3. The Dutch Finance Minister says that a precondition has to be substantial ________ ________ involvement.

4. Italy is involved because its Prime Minister has ____ ____ with his Economy Minister.

5. Mr Berlusconi has accused the Economy Minister of being a “________ ________” who “thinks everyone else is a ____ .”

6. This is not what the rest of Europe wants to hear from the Eurozone’s ________-largest but determinedly ________ economy.

7. Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel says she is trying to persuade Mr Berlusconi to pass a new ____ ____ as soon as possible.

8. She says Italy needs to show that it is ________ and ________ debt.

9. Politicians who have to answer to electorates always seem to be ________ step ________ the markets.

10. Peter Spiegel, the Brussels bureau chief of the Financial Times, says that “if Italy goes down, then it will be Lehman Brothers …. ____  ____ as bad.”

11. The results could be “________”.

12. Why have the markets taken so long to react to Italy? Because the markets only focus on ____ ____ at a time.

13. The only way to solve the problem is by issuing ________ bonds.
 
Now, listen to the programme. It will open in a new window of your browser. Click on the audio play button if the audio does not start automatically. The programme lasts five and a half minutes.

Write your answers on the Tag Board or in a comment. You can also use the Tag Board or comments to add your own views on Italy's financial situation. I look forward to reading your suggestions and solutions.

More soon!
Yours,
Mike

Monday, July 04, 2011

'Posh People' - The Answers

Good day everyone. Here are the answers to the latest Six Minute English quiz. I didn't get many answers, but I expect a lot of people "lurked" and listened to the programme on the BBC. "Lurked"? We'll talk about this further down the page.

Here are the answers:

1. (Official): Which member of the pop group The Spice Girls was nicknamed Posh Spice? It was: c) Victoria Adams √

2. In the English class system, people are classified according to a number of social and financial factors.

3. ‘Posh people’ are supposed to belong to the upper class.

4. ‘Posh’ describes something that is stylish, elegant and expensive.

5. What is the origin of the word ‘posh’? It is an acronym derived from Port Outward, Starboard Homeward on the boats going between Britain and the Far East. "Mi spiego meglio" - let me explain.

In colonial times, business people, or Army and colonial service personnel and their families travelling between the UK and her colonial possessions in the East would travel by ship. The route went down the Atlantic coast of Europe, through the Mediterranean, into the Red Sea via the Suez Canal, into the Arabian Gulf and then across the Indian Ocean.

A ship sailing from west to east would be exposed to maximum sunlight on the side facing south, which would be the right-hand side. So the most comfortable, and therefore expensive cabins, not exposed to direct sunlight, would be on the left-hand side of the boat when going 'outward' from the UK to, say, India. The reverse would be the case on the 'homeward' east-west journey. And in nautical parlance, "port" means "left", while "starboard" means right.

I hope that's clearer.

6. The playwright Julian Fellowes says that ‘posh people’ need to be protected from persecution.

7. A ‘posh’ accent in English is also known as ‘The Queen’s English’. You heard an audioclip of the Queen speaking English during the programme.

8. What does the writer James Delingpole think ‘posh people’ need? Answer: A "level playing field". This means a situation in which all participants have an equal chance of success.

9. The writer Owen Jones thinks that the debate about ‘posh people’ is really about stopping discussion about the fact that politics and the media are unrepresentative of ordinary people .

A new Six Minute English quiz is coming up soon. Meanwhile, think about Your Ideal Trip. Where would you like to go? Who with? What would your priorities be?

Now listen to two people talking on the BBC about their ideal trip. Then give us your ideas. Post them in the Comments section after this post or, if your reply is short (up to 200 characters), post your ideas on the Tag Board.

Finally, I used the word "lurked" at the beginning of this post. "To lurk" means to be in a place without any apparent reason and with a furtive or suspicious manner, obviously not wanting to be noticed. On the Internet, a "lurker" is someone who visits an interactive web site, such as this one, without participating.

Now, I would like to persuade all the "lurkers" on this site to come in from the cold and leave their messages and comments on the Tag Board or in the Comments section. You will be made most welcome!

More soon!
Yours,
Mike