Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Concordia Catastrophe: The Answers

Hello everyone. A few people managed to listen to the BBC Radio 4 "PM" interview about the Concordia cruise ship accident near the island of Giglio off Italy's Tuscan coast. But the broadcast remains on the BBC's servers for only a limited time. So now here are the answers to the questions:

1) According to the report, what nickname are Italian newspapers giving Captain Schettino? Captain "Coward."

2) The Italian journalist Massimo Gramellini of La Stampa says Captain Schettino is a type of Italian "we cannot pretend we don't know, more full of himself than sure of himself."

Listen to Bruce Hood:

3) What adjectives does he use to describe Captain Schettino? Reprehensible, irresponsible. 

4) According to Bruce Hood, what happens when we panic? A flood of hormones invades the body, inducing us to flee or fight.

5) Does he blame Captain Schettino for his behaviour? Not necessarily, there's a separate issue between 'blame' and 'culpability'.

Listen to Admiral Parry:

6) He says, 'I feel extremely sorry for a guy' who has just lost his ship.

7) He observes that a ship is part of a professional sailor's identity.

8) How does he distinguish between the military and civilian tradition of sailing? Military sailors expect to go into dangerous situations and they are specially trained for them.

9) The Admiral is 'not so sure that the crew of the Concordia ever expected to find themselves in this sort of situation.

10) He remarks that until you're in an extreme situation, 'you don't always know how people will react.'

11) And he says, 'At the end of the day, it is a question of boys with toys.'

12) He also says that 'the sort of people you put in command of ships, they have to have egos, they have to have high self-esteem, they're alpha males.

13) And if you put 'alpha males' in a disaster situation which is possibly of their own choosing, they're going to react in very strange ways.'

Bruce Hood again:

14) 'Training is essential'.

15) People have this perception about how they think they'll react to an emergency, but this is often at odds with the reality.'

Some useful vocabulary:

"you walk through these incidents"
"bring people round"
"break lock on the panic mode"
"show off"
"spectacularly messed it up"
"alpha male"
"the acid test"
"at odds with"
"when the reality kicks in"

What do you think these expressions mean? Think of an alternative way of expressing these ideas in English. Then post them on the Tag Board or in a Comment.
More very soon! Have a very good day.
Mike


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Concordia Catastrophe

Hello everyone. For those of you who wanted to listen to the BBC Radio analysis of the Concordia disaster, I apologise for giving you the wrong reference. The broadcast was in fact on 19th January, not 18th January.

You have two days from the date if this message if you want to listen. So I suggest you listen now, and to help you focus on the discussion, here are some comprehension questions. At the end of the questions, I provide the link and the time reference point.

Here are the questions:


Listen to the discussion of Captain Schettino's behaviour. The BBC interviewer talks to two experts, Bruce Hood, head of the Cognitive Development Centre at Bristol University and Rear-Admiral Chris Parry, formerly of the British Royal Navy.


Try to fill the gaps in the questions with a missing word or phrase, or write a short answer to the question:

1) According to the report, what nickname are Italian newspapers giving Captain Schettino? 
Captain [________ .]

2) The Italian journalist Massimo Gramellini of La Stampa says Captain Schettino is a type of Italian "we cannot pretend we don't know, more [____] of himself than [___] of himself."

Listen to Bruce Hood:

3) What adjectives does he use to describe Captain Schettino? [__________, __________]

4) According to Bruce Hood, what happens when we panic?

5) Does he blame Captain Schettino for his behaviour?

Listen to Admiral Parry:

6) He says, 'I feel extremely [____] for a guy' who has just lost his ship.

7) He observes that a ship is part of a professional sailor's [_______].

8) How does he distinguish between the military and civilian tradition of sailing?

9) The Admiral is 'not so sure that the crew of the Concordia ever expected to ...........................'

10) He remarks that until you're in an extreme situation, 'you don't always know ............................ .'

11) And he says, 'At the end of the day, it is a question of [____] with [____].'

12) He also says that 'the sort of people you put in command of ships, they have to have [____], they have to have [___ ___-_____], they're [____ ____].

13) And if you put 'alpha males' in a disaster situation which is possibly of their own choosing, they're going to react in ................... .'

Bruce Hood again:

14) 'Training is [________]'

15) People have this perception about how they think they'll react to an emergency, but this is often ...................................... the reality.'

Now listen to the radio broadcast by
clicking on this link. When the window opens, slide the timing button to the 45th minute, like this: 0:45:00.

Leave your answers on the Tag Board or, better, in a Comment, as the Tag Board messages are limited to 200 characters.

I'll post the official answers at the end of this week. There is some useful vocabulary here, which I will share with you.

Good luck!

Yours,
Mike

Friday, January 20, 2012

Hopes for 2012 - The Answers

Dear all,

As promised, here are the answers to this week's Six Minute English on our hopes for 2012:

1) This week's official question:
2012 is not the first time the Olympics has come to London. It is in fact the third time London will have hosted the games. The last time they were here was 1948, but when was the first time? Was it:
a) 1918
b) 1908 The correct answer!
c) 1848

2) Rob's hopes are 'to get fit and eat more healthily'
3) Neil: will be hoping for 'more sleep'
4) The first woman interviewed is 'looking forward to going to Disneyland Paris'
5) The first man says 'I look forward to finishing [my master's degree] successfully' and to 'getting a bit of rest'.
6) The second woman 'is looking forward to going to a lot of weddings' 
7) Rob is looking forward to 'going to Lappland to meet Santa Claus' 
8) Rob's other ambition is to 'do my degree again and get a better grade'. 
9) Rob has tickets for the Olympics and the 'Para-Olympics'
10) The Olympics will 'define the year for us in the UK' according to Rob and Neil.

Many thanks to Alberto, Désirée and Catia for your messages, and to Margherita for posting the answers in a Comment.
Well done Margherita for getting most of the answers right, though compare your answer to question 10 with the official answer.

Now, about the news that is dominating the Italian, and European media right now: the strange case of the Costa Concordia and in particular the ship's captain, Francesco Schettino. Here is a short discussion of the case on the BBC Radio, with a behavioural psychologist and a Royal Navy Admiral. What is their judgment of Captain Schettino's behaviour? Leave your brief answer on the Tag Board or in a comment.

To hear the radio click on the link at the end of this message. Locate the programme of 18/01/2012. Click on 'Listen now'. Then slide the control to 0:45:00. Click here to listen!

More very soon, and have a very good weekend.
Yours,
Mike

Friday, January 13, 2012

Six Minute English: Hopes for 2012

Hello everyone. It's been a long time since I last sent out Blog Update notices to everyone on my contacts list, so I'll be doing that today. But whenever you visit us, do send this Blog's Web address (romelfblog.blogspot.com) to anyone you know who is learning English.

Meanwhile, here is this week's Six Minute English exercises. It's about our hopes for New Year 2012.

First, read the questions. At the end of the questions, click on the link to this week's Six Minute English and listen to the presenters, Neil and Rob. Then post your answers to the Tag Board or in a Comment.

1. This week's official question:

2012 is not the first time the Olympics has come to London. It is in fact the third time London will have hosted the games. The last time they were here was 1948, but when was the first time? Was it:

a) 1918 b) 1908 c) 1848

You'll hear the answer at the end of the programme.
Can you complete these statements with the information you hear on the programme? Use a short phrase to complete the statements.

2. Rob's hopes are to .......

3. Neil: will be hoping for ........

4. The first woman interviewed is .....

5. The first man says "......"

6. The second woman is .....

7. Rob is looking forward to going to .......

8. Rob's other ambition is to .......

9. Rob has tickets for the Olympics and the ....... .

10. The Olympics will '........' according to Rob and Neil.

Now listen to the programme. Then write your answers in the Tag Board or in a comment. When you have done that, tell us about your hopes in 2012. What are you looking forward to? Write your 2012 hopes on the Tag Board or in a comment. The most original 2012 Hoper gets a drink of their choice at the Antica Enoteca on Via della Croce if he or she happens to be in Rome! Otherwise, an Honourable Mention on this Blog.

I look forward to reading your answers!
More soon,
Mike

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Happy New Year 2012

Dear All,


Welcome back to this Blog after a refreshingly long holiday. I hope you all had a good time and got a good rest and change of scene.


From today I plan to add further listening exercises to this Blog. I will also continue to point you towards useful web sites that will help you with your English.


At the same time, the list of sites down the right-hand column of this Blog is there for you to explore at any time.


Today I will unlock the Tag Board to enable you to leave messages. So, whenever you visit a site, please do not forget to leave a short message mentioning the site you visited and saying and saying whether it helped you with your English.


The Tag Board is limited to 200 characters per message, which is okay for most purposes. You can of course send several consecutive messages. But for longer messages I suggest writing a Comment.


In this context, many thanks are due to Melania, Marco, Domenico, Federico, Annalisa and Emanuela for the messages that they have left. This is how to make our Blog feel like a vibrant community of learners.


Everyone is welcome to use the Blog and leave messages. However, Spammers are reminded that messages which are irrelevant to this Blog, or which are not in English, will be deleted and their IP addresses reported.


I look forward to meeting you all again in this space.


Yours,
Mike