Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Art or Vandalism? The answers to our latest quiz.

Dear all,
This time we had several participants in our Six Minute English Quiz. I would like to thank Valerio, Valeria, Marco, Agnese, Francesca and Irma for answering the questions to this listening comprehension.

And I think you all did pretty well. Here are the answers:

1. This week's official question: The highest price ever paid for a painting was $250m ('m' = million) for Paul Cezanne's 'The Card Players'. 

2. Jennifer's favourite painting is Guernica which depicts a scene from the Spanish Civil War.

3. The painting defaced by the visitor to the Tate Modern was by the Russian-American artist Mark Rothko.

4. The 'vandal' is happy and glad that he defaced the painting, but sad that most people "can't see what it's all about". In other words, they can't understand his action.

5. The 'Yellowist' movement aims to improve an artistic work by adding a new message to it.


Another Quiz is on its way. Meanwhile, to improve your listening skills, you need to do some practice every day. Look down the list of sites in the right-hand column. Check out 'Top Sites Right Now', and, further down, 'Listening and Video Sites'. Spend ten minutes a day and you'll soon begin to find listening easier.

More very soon! Yours,
Mike

Monday, October 22, 2012

Art or Vandalism?

From the Tate Modern art gallery in London, there comes the startling news that a man wrote on one of the art works exhibited there, and then claimed that he was trying to improve it. Is this possible?

Neil and Jennifer discuss the question on Six Minute English, which comes to you from the BBC's 'Learning English' site.

As always, take your time to read the questions, then listen to the programme. When you have finished, write your answers in a Comment or on the Tag Board.

1. This week's official question:

The highest price ever paid for a painting was for Paul Cezanne's 'The Card Players'. How much did it cost? Was it: a) $120m?  b) $250m? c) $500m? (m = "million".)

2. Jennifer's favourite painting is G______ which depicts a scene from the ______ ______ ______ . (3 words.)

3. Whose painting did the visitor to the Tate Modern deface? M_____ R______ . (A very famous Russian-American artist.)

4. How did the 'vandal' feel about his act of defacing the painting? Write a few words that express his ideas.

5. What is the idea of the 'Yellowist' movement? Write a short answer.


Now listen to the programme. Then write your answers on the Tag Board (max 200 characters per message) or in a Comment (best to choose the "Name/URL" option.)

How many people will do the quiz this week??

Have a nice Monday.
Yours,
Mike

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

6 Minute English on Youth Unemployment: The Answers.

Hello everybody. It's a fine day in Rome and luckily the 'Cleopatra' storm has largely passed us by. "Passed us by" means literally that it passed us without stopping. More figuratively, it means that the storm had little or no effect. "Largely" means "mostly" or "to a great extent."

But I am writing this post to give you the official answers to Six Minute English. First, however, I must warmly thank Livia and Valeria for answering the questions. Valeria says she had a problem with question 3. And the answer to the official question was interesting.

Here they are:

1. The answer was (b): there is no such thing as a "trifle analyst." There are vibration analysts: they are a type of engineer who checks buildings for the possible effects of vibrations. And the "raven master" is the man who looks after the ravens - a species of large, black bird - who live in the Tower of London. There is a superstition that if the ravens die or leave the Tower, the British monarchy will collapse and the entire nation with it. To find out more, read about the ravens in Wikipedia.

2. The International Labour Organisation predicts no improvement in the employment rate before the year 2016 at the earliest.

3. The International Labour Organisation's chief economist thinks that as a result of entrenched unemployment, young people will lose their skills.  

Note the difference between lose and loose. They are quite different. One is a verb; the other is an adjective. I constantly lose my watch and have to search the house to find it. And one pair of trousers I have is rather loose: I have to wear a belt to prevent them falling down in the classroom. 

A note of encouragement to students: if you can demonstrate that you understand the difference, then your English will be better than that of many English people. Go to any news web site that invites readers' comments and you will see what I mean!

4. Many young graduates are being forced to take part-time, unskilled jobs. It's worth looking up all the expressions associated with jobs: part-time, full-time, skilled, unskilled. What are the differences between these?

5. The ILO wants governments to make job creation a priority.

6. The ILO also suggests offering tax breaks to companies who employ young people. A tax break is a situation or period in which a person or business does not have to pay tax. It is also known  as a tax holiday.

 7. Natalie suggest that young people could learn English to help them build their skills.

Many thanks for your participation. I look forward to seeing more people leaving their answers next time. I will be posting a further quiz later this week. 

Meanwhile, have a nice day!
Yours,
Mike

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Six Minute English: Unemployment.

That dread word, 'unemployment'. Dread? This adjective means, "inspiring fear". And unemployment inspires fear in most of us unless by some lucky chance we don't have to work.

In this week's Six Minute English we look at a problem that is serious in many countries: that of youth unemployment. Italy is no stranger to this phenomenon.

Here's a list of questions, starting with the usual official question, to which you will hear the answer at the end of the programme. For the other questions, listen carefully and insert the missing words. Each blank space represents one word.

1. Which one of these unusual jobs is NOT a real one?

a) A vibration consultant.
b) A trifle analyst.
c) A raven master.

2. The International Labour Organisation predicts no improvement in the employment rate before the year ______ at the earliest.

3. The International Labour Organisation's chief economist thinks that as a result of entrenched unemployment, young people will
______ their ______ .

4. Many young graduates are being forced to take
______ , ______ jobs. (2 words)

5. The ILO wants governments to make job creation a
______ .

6. The ILO also suggests offering
______ ______ to companies who employ young people. (2 words)

7. Natalie suggest that young people could
______ ______ to help them build their skills. (2 words)

Now listen to the programme. Write your answers on the Tag Board or in a Comment.

Let's see how many people listen and write in with their answers. I look forward to seeing everyone's answers posted here!

More soon! Yours,
Mike