Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Social Class on Six Minute English: The Answers.

Good evening all. You'll have noticed that over a month has gone by since my last post. My excuse must be that I have been moving house.

Most people find this a stressful experience and my case has been no exception. However the job is almost over bar a few details.

And now for the answers to last month's Six Minute English Quiz. Here they are:

1) What class do Rob and Neil think they are? [Middle class]


2) Rob says that their class consists of people who are [well-educated], who have [good jobs] and who are [neither very rich nor very poor].


3) Rob says that his social class is expanding. And his question is, how many people will it contain, worldwide, by 2030? Will there be (a) 2.9 billion (b) 3.9 billion or (c) 4.9 billion? 


(c) is correct 4.9 billion.
4) In Rob and Neil’s social class, people typically have:

- their own car

- their own house
5) Rob says the most important thing in this class of society is to have [disposable income].
6) The United Nations definition of this social class is someone who earns between [ten] and [a hundred] dollars a day. 7) In which part of the world is Rob and Neil’s social class expanding the fastest? Asia.
8) According to John Sudworth, the BBC’s man in China, many Chinese farmers are being transformed from [workers] to [consumers]
9) What has Rob recently bought with his credit card? [A new carpet, a pair of jeans and a train ticket.]
10) What are Rob and Neil ‘not looking forward to’? (in other words, are not anticipating in future with any pleasure) [Their credit card bills]
11) In China, how many vehicles (cars, vans, trucks etc) are sold every hour? [two thousand five hundred]
12) What could happen if people borrow too much money? [There could be a credit crunch.]

Many, many thanks to those of you who participated in this Quiz. They include: Roberta, Arturo, Federica, Mauro, Alessio Cellucci and Fotini.

Watch out for the next Quiz. I'll post it before I go away for my Christmas holiday in the UK next Monday.

And keep returning to our Rome English Blog for more help on how to use the Internet to learn and practise English - especially listening.

More soonest,
Yours,
Mike

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Six Minute English This Week: What (Social) Class Are You?


It’s often said that British society is obsessed by social class. But the British are not alone. Many people also say that one sign of a healthy society is a high degree of social mobility. In other words, how easy is it to change your social class? How easy is it in your country? Let us know! - in a Comment or perhaps better, on the Tag Board.

In this week’s Six Minute English, Rob and Neil will discuss social class and explore the language used to talk about it. Read the questions first, listen to Rob and Neil, and then answer the questions by posting them to the Tag Board or, better, in a Comment.

Questions: where you see this [……] write what you think is the answer, and where you see this [___ ___] - one space for each word - try to write the exact word(s).

1) What class do Rob and Neil think they are? [……………….]

2) Rob says that their class consists of people who are ___ - ___, who have ___ ___  and who are ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___.

3) Rob says that his social class is expanding. And his question is, how many people will it contain, worldwide, by 2030? Will there be (a) 2.9 billion (b) 3.9 billion or (c) 4.9 billion?
You’ll hear the answer at the end of the programme.

4) In Rob and Neil’s social class, people typically have:
- their own yacht;
- their own car
- their own house
- their own plane
Which answer(s) do you hear?

5) Rob says the most important thing in this class of society is to have ____ ___  .

6) The United Nations definition of this social class is someone who earns between ___ and _____ dollars a day.

7) In which part of the world is Rob and Neil’s social class expanding the fastest? […….]

8) According to John Sudworth, the BBC’s man in China, many Chinese farmers are being transformed from _____ to _____ .

9) What has Rob recently bought with his credit card? […....]

10) What are Rob and Neil ‘not looking forward to’? (in other words, are not anticipating in future with any pleasure) [……..]

11) In China, how many vehicles (cars, vans, trucks etc) are sold every hour? [……..]

12) What could happen if people borrow too much money? [……….]

Now listen to the programme. Then post your answers in a comment or on the Tag Board. The more of you who participate, the more wonderful the world is, and the more our site becomes an interactive community. 

Have fun! And remember - you become better at listening the more often you practise. You'll also learn a lot of useful words.

Yours,
Mike Ivy

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Going Where The Work Is: The answers

My friends,

Please accept my apologies for the long delay in publishing the answers to the last Six Minute English Quiz. But in fairness, it took that long for people to listen and post their answers to the questions! :-(

Many thanks, however, to those people who posted their answers. And here are the official answers:

1. This week's question:
According to figures from the United Nations, which one of these countries has the largest number of immigrants as a percentage of its national population? Is it:
a) United States of America -  no - only 12 per cent.
b) Qatar correct - 75 per cent
c) Turkey no mention here. But Turkey has a lot of immigrants, many, tragically, refugees from the civil war in Syria.
2. Where did Jennifer go to work, and what did she do? She went to France to teach English.
3. Worldwide, how many people are international migrants? About two hundred and fourteen million.
4. What jobs do many of these people do, and in which countries? health care in the UK; chefs in Belgium; psychologists in Norway; accountants in Ireland, Greece and other countries affected by the financial crisis; electronic engineers in France and Brazil.

5. Why is the ‘brain drain’ a problem for developing countries? Because those countries are losing skilled people who are badly needed at home.

6. Many migrants work in order to send ….. ’money to family back at home’.

7. Worldwide, how much money was sent home to developing countries last year by migrants? About four hundred billion US dollars.

8. In Australia, what do you need to collect in order to obtain a working visa? Points.

9. If the streets of a country a migrant moves to are not exactly ‘paved with gold’, how can a migrant benefit anyway? He or she can at least get work experience.

Once again, a round of applause to Elisa, Giulia and Maura for posting your answers in the Comments section. Very many thanks to you for making our site interactive.

One correction is necessary though: check the exact number in the answer to question 3! Can you hear the difference between fourteen and forty? It's very important to practise this and get it right.

That's all for now. Many thanks for your contribution, and I will be back very soon.

Have a very nice day,
Yours,
Mike



Monday, September 23, 2013

Going Where The Work Is: this Week's 6-Minute English Quiz.

Hello readers. This week we are treating a long-standing problem: what do you do if there is no job for you?

As is well known, Italians, especially the young and well qualified, have been facing this problem for years. A typical example is a former student who had a good-sounding job in IT here in Rome. His level in English was pre-intermediate. This did not deter him from trying his chances in London. Four years on, he and his girl-friend are still there. Stefano has a good IT job in the City of London, designing software to manage automatic telling machines (ATMs) in banks. His job in Rome was 'precario', in other words, short-term and uncertain. In London, he has a proper contract and good pay.

So now we are going to hear a general discussion about emigration world-wide. As usual, read the questions first. Then listen to the programme, with Rob and Jennifer speaking, and send us your answers. Use the Tag board on the right, or a Comment. I very much hope as many people as possible will join in, leave their answers, and make our site interactive. You need only give short answers.

1. This week's official question: According to figures from the United Nations, which one of these countries has the largest number of immigrants as a percentage of its national population? Is it:

a) the United States of America b) Qatar c) Turkey.

Listen to the programme to find out the answer, which you’ll hear at the end.

2. Where did Jennifer go to work, and what did she do?

3. Worldwide, how many people are international migrants?

4. What jobs do many of these people do, and in which countries?

5. Why is the ‘brain drain’ a problem for developing countries?

6. Many migrants work in order to send ….. [Complete with a phrase expressing the idea.]

7. Worldwide, how much money was sent home to developing countries last year by migrants?

8. In Australia, what do you need to collect in order to obtain a working visa?

9. If the streets of a country a migrant moves to are not exactly ‘paved with gold’, how can a migrant benefit anyway?

Now listen to the programme. Post your answers on the Tag Board on the right, or in a Comment. If you choose 'Comment', please choose the Name/URL option, entering only your name. If you choose 'Anonymous', please write your name at the end of your message so that we know who you are. You need only put your first name; add your surname if you wish.

Enjoy the quiz - and more very soon!
Yours,
Mike

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Annoying Office Habits: The Answers

Hello all. Here at last are the answers to July's six Minute English Quiz on Annoying Office Habits:

Question 1 (Official):


What is the annoying habit of onychophagia is commonly known as?
b) Biting your nails is the right answer!


2) An example of annoying habits mentioned by the first speaker was: tapping your feet, tapping the table, tapping on your desk.

3) How did the first speaker counteract the bad habit? By putting on headphones.

4) What bad habit does the second speaker describe? Talking in jargon

5) What examples of this bad habit do Rob and Jenny give? “Thinking outside the box”, “Going forward”, “To touch base

6) What do Rob and Jenny say is top of the list for bad office habits? Arriving late for meetings.

7) What does Charles Elvin, of the Institute of Leadership, say that managers should do to eliminate bad habits? “Managers should address these problems and understand what office workers don’t like by ensuring that workers can air their grievances.”


Many thanks to Damiana, on a current September course, for her answers!

Watch out for the next Quiz, coming at the beginning of next week.

Have a very good Sunday!
Yours,
Michael.

Monday, September 16, 2013

A New Year Starts.

Hello readers. It's new academic year at the British Council Rome. I will be brining you new listening quizzes, new web sites and new ideas on how to get the best from The Internet when you are learning and practising English.

Meanwhile, see the post below dated July 9. It contains the last listening quiz of last academic year before the summer. You have until the end of this week to find the answers. How many of you can get them right? I'd love to hear from as many people as possible.

I look forward to your replies and feedback. More very soon!

Yours,
Michael Ivy, The British Council Teaching Centre, Rome, Italy.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Six Minute English: Annoying Office Habits

Many of us work in offices. Some of us are happy; many aren’t. In this week’s Six Minute English, we explore some of the things that drive us crazy in the office.

Read the questions and then listen to Rob and Jennifer.

Question 1 (Official):

What is the annoying habit of onychophagia commonly known as?
a) Picking your nose;
b) Biting your nails;
c) Talking very loudly

You’ll hear the answer at the end of the programme.


2) An example of annoying habits mentioned by the first speaker was: (give a short answer)

3) How did the first speaker counteract the bad habit? By (complete the sentence with a short phrase)

4) What bad habit does the second speaker describe? Talking in _____ . (one word)

5) What examples of this bad habit do Rob and Jenny give? “Thinking ___ ___ ___”, “Going ___”, “To ___ ___(one word for each space)

6) What do Rob and Jenny say is top of the list for bad office habits? " ..... " (Give a short answer)

7) What does Charles Elvin, of the Institute of Leadership, say that managers should do to eliminate bad habits? “..........” (Give a short answer summarising Mr Elvin's ideas.)

Now listen to the programme. Then, as always, send in your answers to the seven questions using the Tag Board or a Comment. I hope as many readers as possible will participate - to give us that communal, interactive Internet feeling!

Have a nice week. Yours,
Mike

Friday, July 05, 2013

Speak, tell, say or talk? - the answers

Hello everyone. First of all, I'm very sorry that over a month has passed since my last post. My excuse must be that it has been a very intense period at work, during which we changed to a new computer system.

However I can now give you the official answers to my previous question: how do you correctly use the verbs "Speak", "Tell","Say" and "Talk"?

Here they are:

1. A lot of people are talking about the latest murder in the Metro. 

2. When you see the directors, tell them I came to the meeting at the time we agreed - but no one turned up :-(

3. We're having talks with our partners on how to agree on intellectual property rights for these images.

4. I don't speak Arabic very well - just enough for basic communication. 

5. They are saying that we haven't kept our promises. It's not true.

Many thanks to Ilaria and Giovanni for their answers.

Coming up early next week: a Six Minute English Quiz from the BBC World Service 'Learning English' site.

And a very relaxing weekend to you all!

More soonest,
Yours,
Michael.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Speak, tell, say or talk?

Dear all,

Here's a vexed vocabulary question. Using the appropriate form of the words above, can you complete these sentences?

1. A lot of people are ___ about the latest murder in the Metro.

2. When you see the directors, ___ them I came to the meeting at the time we agreed - but no one turned up :-(

3. We're having ___ with our partners on how to agree on intellectual property rights for these images.

4. I don't ___ Arabic very well - just enough for basic communication.

5. They are ___ that we haven't kept our promises. It's not true.

Send us your answers in a comment or on the Tag Board.

Coming soon: a new Six Minute English Quiz!

Have a very good day.
Yours,
Mike

Friday, May 17, 2013

Flying Vocabulary

Hello all. As a momentary change from Six Minute English, I'd like to introduce a series on vocabulary.

With Level Four Upper-Intermediate in recent lessons, we've been talking about flying. Civil aviation has a terminology of its own. Since most of us catch flights, we need to know this language.

So click on the link to the BBC Learning English website, below, and navigate over to the crossword. 

Easy or difficult? Tell us what you think on the Tag Board or in a Comment.

Learning English Air Travel Crossword

More soon!
Yours,
Mike

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Etiquette for boys: The answers

Hello Readers! Here are the answers to the latest Six Minute English Quiz:

Question 1 (Official): According to the rules of etiquette, at a formal meal where there are three sets of cutlery which should you use first? The knife and fork furthest from your plate, the set closest to your plate or the set in the middle? 

The first option is correct: 'outside in', meaning you start with the cutlery furthest away from your plate, then work inwards.

2. Jennifer says Callum has graduated from ' charm school'.

3. Why did the students at the school want special lessons? To learn how to behave at an upcoming event: the Year 11 school-leaving ball.

4. Who taught the course? A local hotel.

5. The course taught them how to dress and how to act with confidence.

6. Jennifer thinks it's useful for both schoolboys  and schoolgirls.

7. What problem does John Parry think universities and employers have with young people? They know a lot but sometimes their social skills let them down.

8. "Their social skills 'let them down'. (Three words)

Many thanks to Raffaele, Sara and Ilaria for taking part in the Quiz! But where are the rest of you?!

'Let them down' - a useful idiomatic expression. We'll be exploring these, and other idioms, in the next few posts. And there will also be a further Six Minute English quiz. Watch this space!

Have a good evening!
Yours,
Mike

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Six Minute English: Etiquette for boys

No, this isn't about luggage labels. It's about dealing with people around you in the best possible way. 'Managing relationships', as the big bureaucracies say.

This week's Six Minute English is about Etiquette for boys. There is some fairly advanced idiomatic English here, but nothing that you can't handle. Read the questions first, then listen to Callum and Jennifer talking about good manners.

Question 1 (Official): According to the rules of etiquette, at a formal meal where there are three sets of cutlery which should you use first? 

(a) The knife and fork furthest from your plate;
(b) the set closest to your plate;
(c) the set in the middle?  

You'll hear the answer at the end of the programme.

2. Jennifer says Callum has graduated from ' ___ school'. (One missing word)

3. Why did the students at the school want special lessons? ......

4. Who taught the course? .......

5. The course taught them how to ___ and how to ___ ___ ___ (one word, and three words) 

6. Jennifer thinks it's useful for both ___ and ___ .

7. What problem does John Parry think universities and employers have with young people? 'They ........, but their ....... Can you complete his answer?

8. "Their social skills '___ ___ ___'. (Three words)

Now listen to the programme. Then post your answers on the Tag Board or in a comment.

How important is etiquette in your society? Is the answer to question no. 1 the same in your country? Are there any unusual rules?

We'd love to know your answers, as they will help us to understand different societies. So everyone is encouraged to join in this week's Six Minute English Quiz.

More next week!
Yours,
Mike

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

"Silence Is Golden" - the answers

Dear all,

My apologies for this long, er, silence on my part. It isn't golden silence; it is that of someone who has been rather busy in the past fortnight.

However, I can now give you the official answers to the latest Six Minute English Quiz. Here they are:

1) This week's official question: Which one of these three jobs has the most exposure to noise?
The right answer is c) An airport ground staff worker.

2) When are loud noises necessary? So that they can be heard over other noises, as with emergency vehicles. Also, to 'cover up' or 'drown out' the sounds we don't want to hear.

3) What did rich people do to escape from noise? They moved out of the city to the countryside.

4) What's the disadvantage of the rich people's solution? Small sounds could be equally annoying to listen to.

5) What characteristic of cities causes sounds to seem louder? The fact that sounds bounce off tall buildings.

6. What do noise abatement groups do? They try to persuade people to make less noise.

7. What's the difference between 'noise' and 'sounds'? Noise is bad; sounds are good.

Many thanks to Luisa and Ilaria for your answers. But wouldn't it be nice, as the old song goes, if more people took part in our Six Minute English quizzes?

The next one is coming up soon. I'll also be posting one-off suggestions on how to solve common problems in English. So do keep returning to us, and watch this space.

Bye for now!
Yours,
Mike

Friday, April 05, 2013

Six Minute English: "Is silence golden?"

Hello everyone. I hope you all had a good Easter break. Now, how noisy is your city? Many people think that Italian cities like Rome, Naples or Milan are some of the noisiest cities in existence. Do you agree? Where is the noisiest place you have ever been? Tell us in a comment or on the Tag Board. (which I have just unlocked.)

Now here's our latest Six Minute English Quiz. Read the questions first and then listen to the programme:

1) This week's official question:
A new survey in the UK has identified the ten jobs where people are most exposed to noise – noise that can cause serious damage to someone's hearing. Which one of these three jobs has the most exposure to noise?

a) A nightclub worker: b) A classical musician; c) An airport ground staff worker .

You'll hear the answer at the end of the programme.

2) When are loud noises necessary? 

3) What did rich people do to escape from noise?

4) What's the disadvantage of the rich people's solution? 

5) What characteristic of cities causes sounds to seem louder? 

6. What do noise abatement groups do? 

7. What's the difference between 'noise' and 'sounds'?

Now listen to the programme. Then write your answers in a comment or on the Tag Board I look forward to seeing everybody participate!

More soonest,
Yours,
Mike

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Easter Holidays

Dear Readers,

I'd like to wish you all a very good Easter holiday, if that is applicable to you.

I'll be away until 2 April. I had hoped to publish a further Listening Quiz but I am afraid it will have to wait until I get back.

Meanwhile. do take time to explore the links to various useful web sites, which you will find in the long list down the right-hand column below the Tag Board. The 'Top Sites Right Now' section will meet most of your needs at this time.

I will suspend the Tag Board until 2 April to avoid the risk of Inappropriate Spam.

I wish you all a very good break.

Yours,
Michael Ivy

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Plastic Princess: The Answers

Hello everyone. Here are the answers to last month's Six Minute English Quiz on The Plastic Princess:

1. (Official question) How many wives did English King Henry VIII have? c) six was the right answer.

2. A famous British novelist referred to the Duchess of Cambridge as a "shop window mannequin" with "no personality of her own."

3. The Tudor period in English history lasted from 1485 to 1603.

4. According to the novelist Hilary Mantel, Kate Middleton appeared to have been "designed by a committee and built by craftsmen."

5. How does Hilary Mantel compare Kate Middleton with Princess Diana? Kate is "precision-made, machine-made", unlike Diana who exhibited "human awkwardness and emotional incontinence".

6. According to Hilary Mantel, Princess Diana's death was caused by constant attention

Many thanks to Valentina, Sara, Raffaele, Ilaria and Alessandro for your participation in this quiz.

I will be posting another quiz very soon.

Meanwhile, please do continue to visit us and explore the listening websites listed on this blog. Ten minutes a day doing listening practice will make a great difference.

And if you're reading this, or doing listening practice in the office and your boss or "line manager" happens to look over your shoulder and question what you're doing, say that you are adding value to the organisation by practising your English. In case of any argument, have your boss contact me.

Have a nice day and more soon!
Yours,
Mike

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Six Questions for Six Minutes of English: The Plastic Princess.

Hello everybody. Some days ago there was a news item in the media which reported  criticism of Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, on the part of the novelist Hilary Mantel ("Wolf Hall" and other novels) who described her as the "Plastic Princess".

In this week's Six Minute English, Finn and Neil talk about Ms Mantel's observations. As usual, read the comprehension questions first, then listen to the programme.

1. (Official question) How many wives did English King Henry VIII have?

a) four b) five c) six

Listen out for the answer at the end of the programme.

2. A famous British novelist referred to the Duchess of Cambridge as a "shop window [_____]" with "no personality of her [_____]."

3. The Tudor period in English history lasted from [ _____ ] to [ _____ ].

4. According to the novelist Hilary Mantel, Kate Middleton appeared to have been "designed by a [ _____ ] and built by [ _____ ] ."

5. How does Hilary Mantel compare Kate Middleton with Princess Diana? Write a short answer using the phrases you hear.

6. According to Hilary Mantel, Princess Diana's death was caused by [ _____ _____]. (two words)

Now listen to the programme. When you have finished, share your answers with us in a Tag Board message, or in a Comment.

Seven readers took part in the last quiz, so let's see if we can at least double the number! Answers at the end of the week.

Meanwhile, I will be reviewing the links between this blog and useful web sites, and will let you know if there are any big changes.

More soonest!
Yours,
Mike