Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Christmas Listening Quizzes

Hello everyone!

Many thanks to those of you who have taken part in our recent Quizzes. I am thinking especially of Andrea, Merima and Filomena. But many of you visit this blog - without leaving any messages! This is sad because we want to make this Blog interactive and thus create a community of learners.

So here are two more opportunities. First, this one from the BBC's 'Learning English', on the five uses of "would". It's a highly useful and flexible word, so have a look here, and post a comment on how to use "would". For example, tell us what you would do if you won the lottery.

Now over to the BBC Radio. On Radio 4 we can listen to short clips of under four minutes - "Radio 4 in 4". Why not try this one about Christmas traditions?

First, here are a few questions:

1. What was "Saturnalia"? A time of "___", "___" and "_____" .
2. What do we learn about ancient festivals? They're about "m____", "c___" and "m____" (I give you the first letter of each expression.)
3. Jesus could be regarded as a "s______" figure, one who came to upset the "p_____".
4. Can you give some examples of "misrule" and the "reversal of roles" in winter festivals?
5. What did the Norse god Odin do in the winter?

Click here to listen.
Then post your answers and comments on the Tag Board or in a Comment.

Finally, have a very happy Christmas and New Year, and see you again soon!

Very best wishes
from
Mike


Friday, November 27, 2015

Why work doesn't get done in the office

Hello everyone. Here's another link to a talk on TED: Technology, Entertainment and Design.

It will especially appeal to people who work in offices, but there are important messages for everyone here.

Read this list of very simple questions first.

1. Why, according to the speaker, is it very difficult to do serious work in an office?
2. What three remedies to this difficulty does he suggest?

Before you listen, write down a short list of possible answers to the two questions above.

Now listen to this talk on TED.

Were you right?

As always, please please please post your answers on the Tag Board or in a Comment!

Many thanks for reading this ... and have a nice day!
Yours,
Mike

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Six Minute English on the BBC: A Hundred Women

'Afternoon all. This week's Six Minute English is about women's rights. The BBC is starting a worldwide debate on this topic.

Today's is a vocabulary exercise, with one comprehension question. Here are the questions:

1. Official quiz question:
How many female heads of state or government do we have now, in 2015? Is it:
a) 9: b) 19 : c) 29

2. Can you complete this sentence from the programme:
"Women's magazines are mainly interested in beauty tips, fashion and ___ ___ ___ ___ ___". [Five words].

3. Vocabulary: Can you find words in the programme which mean:

(a) talked about
(b) without children
(c) unjust treatment
(d) what you are expected or not expected to do, according to your status or position in society
(e) methods of broadcasting or disseminating information
(f) at the centre of


Now listen to the programme. Then, please do send your answers to the questions above to the tag Board, or post them in a comment.

And if you want to follow the debate about women globally, go to this BBC website:
www.bbc.com/100women

I look forward to loads of people doing this quiz and posting their answers!

More soon
All the best,
Mike

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Is Someone Listening to You?

Do I sound paranoid? Am I like the singer Rockwell, in his well-known song, "Somebody's Watching Me"?

Possibly. In the light of recent events, here are two TED talks you will find interesting:

1) Talk by Christopher Soghoian:  "The History of Wiretapping and How To Avoid It" (6 minutes 16 seconds)

What is Mr Soghoian's basic message? Write your answer in a comment or post in on the Tag Board.

2) Talk by Malte Spritz: "Your Phone Company Is Watching" (10 minutes 03 seconds). Mr Spritz's English is slightly less easy to understand than that of Mr Soghoian but is not too difficult.

What are the implications of 'data retention' according to Mr Spritz? Do you agree, or disagree, with the idea that people's mobile communications can be tracked? In what circumstances can surveillance be justified?

Again, post your ideas in a Comment or on the Tag Board. Let's have as many readers as possible participate by actively expressing their views here.

Many thanks in advance.
Yours,
Mike

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

TED - good for listening practice

Dear all,

Coming soon - a fresh Listening Quiz. Meanwhile, here is a well known site where you can listen to people speaking in public on all sorts of topics.

It's called TED. This stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design. Its subtitle is "Ideas Worth Spreading" - or challenging.

Check it out here at www.ted.com

Current topics, as seen this morning, include: tales of two migrant survivors of a sea passage; LGBT life around the world; and "The Moral Bias Behind Your Search Results." I will have listen to that myself.

You're bound at the very least to learn something new. The talks come with transcripts for easier listening.

Have a go - and please do post your reactions in a Comment or on the Tag Board.

More soon,
Best wishes,
Mike

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Eight Answers for Six Minutes

Dear Readers,

As promised, here are the answers to the latest Six Minute English Quiz:

1. What's the strange thing about robots? They talk in a funny way

2. Using robots to do a task is called automation.

3. Official question: what makes a job more likely to be done by robots? Is it:
a) manipulating small objects? Correct!!

4. Which key skill does Finn not mention? negotiation, originality, a photographic memory, persuasion, caring for others, or manual dexterity? a photographic memory

5. A study by Oxford University suggests that 35 per cent of existing jobs will be automated in the next 20 years. 

6. Oxford University researcher Michael Osborne says computers are increasingly able to learn

7. A "white-collar" job is one that you do in an office, not in a factory.

8. In law firms, it is being predicted that computers will do the boring work and the lawyers will do the more interesting stuff.

    Very many thanks to Marco Tulli, Filomena and Daniele Ristori! I am so glad you took part.
    But I understand that a lot of people read the questions and listen to the programme, without posting the answers! This is rather disappointing. I hope that more people will actively take part in the next quiz.
    Look out for the next quiz, coming soon!

Very best wishes from,
Mike

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Eight Questions for Six Minutes

Hello everyone. I have been looking at the relatively new-format Six Minute English on the BBC's Learning English site. And I thought I would share it with you and post a new Six Minute English Quiz,

The new format now allows you to see, on the same page, the list of words being discussed, and also the transcript. But I would ask you to follow this procedure:
 - First, study the questions I have posted here. 
 - Then listen to the conversation. Make a note of your answers.
 - Post your answers in a Comment or on the Tag Board. 
 - Finally, check your answers against what you see in the transcript.

So here are this week's Quiz Questions for Six Minute English. Read them first and then click on the link below to listen to Neil and Finn's conversation.

1. What's the strange thing about robots?
2. Using robots to do a task is called _____ . (one word)
3. Official question: what makes a job more likely to be done by robots? Is it:
a) manipulating small objects?
b) working in open spaces?
c) social and emotional skills?
4. Which key skill does Finn not mention? negotiation, originality, a photographic memory, persuasion, caring for others, or manual dexterity?
5. A study by Oxford University suggests that ___ per cent of existing jobs will be automated in the next ___ years. (two numbers)
6. Oxford University researcher Michael Osborne says computers are increasingly ___ ___ ___ . (three words)
7. A "white-collar" job is one that you do in an _____, not in a _____ .
8. In law firms, it is being predicted that computers will do the _____ work and the lawyers will do the _____ _____ stuff. (one, and two words)

Now listen to the conversation. Post your answers in a Comment or on the Tag board on the right. I'll give you the official answers at the end of the week - but you can see these for yourselves anyway.

And I hope that you will all take part in the Quiz! The first person who completes the Quiz successfully - I'll take him or her out for an apero!

Good luck and more soon!
Yours,
Mike

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

6 Minute Grammar: Conditionals

Hello everybody. This week we're going over to the BBC to look at a relatively new programme, "Six Minute Grammar".

Right now, let's look at conditional sentences. These are an essential component of any language. They are not difficult in English, but need some attention, especially when we're talking about imaginary situations.

Listen to Callum and Finn talking about conditionals. Here's a question for you to answer:

What are the four main conditional structures?

Give us your answer, with a few details, in a Comment or on the Tag Board.

Coming up in the next post: a quick conditional quiz.

More very soon!
Mike

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Happy New (academic) Year.

Hello everyone.

We're now into the new October-February cycle of courses. I am about to see two groups today.

I will take them through a few useful web sites, such as this one. this is a guide to the Net for students of English, so I'll begin by listing a few sites here:

1) The British Council's Learn English site for Adults

Listen to the Elementary Podcasts.


2) The British Council's Learn English for Teens.
Don't let the word 'teens' put you off. There is something here for everyone. Explore this site, but also check out "Skills"/"Listening Skills" on the menu.


3) The BBC's "Learning English" site.
Six Minute Grammar, The English We Speak, Adverb Position 2 - these are just some of the ways in which this site can help you.


4) For more advanced students: TED. TED stands for "Technology, Entertainment and Design". But it's about lots of things. How about "20 Words That Aren't In The Dictionary Yet"?

Or, if you're wondering what to do in your life, try watching this talk: "Why Some of Us Don't Have One True Calling"

One final thing. Whenever you visit a site, give us your reactions by posting a message in a Comment, or on the Tag Board. It's as easy as 1-2-3-, but if you find it difficult, just ask me.

More soon!
Yours,
Michael.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

First post this academic year: welcome to September 2015

Hello everyone.

Welcome back to the English language classroom. As regular readers know, this blog is dedicated to students of English. It's a guide to how the Internet can help you learn more.

We particularly concentrate on Listening skills. Becoming a good listener takes time and dedication. But the Rome English blog is here to encourage you.

To get you going, here are three useful sites:

1) The British Council's Learn English site for Adults

Listen to the Elementary Podcasts.

2) The British Council's Learn English for Teens.

Don't let the word 'teens' put you off. There is something here for everyone. Explore this site, but also check out "Skills"/"Listening Skills" on the menu.

3) The BBC's "Learning English" site.

Six Minute Grammar, The English We Speak, Adverb Position 2 - these are just some of the ways in which this site can help you.

In my next post we'll concentrate on a specific area of comprehension. Watch this space!

More soon,
Yours,
Michael.

Monday, July 06, 2015

Holidays in Greece!

Dear all,

My apologies for this scandalously late post - the first since late April. 

There has been a lot going on this year but I am starting regular posts on  "Rome English" once again.

Greece is very much in the news. Are you going there this summer? More than a million Brits have booked holidays there, and Greece has always been a very popular destination for Italians.

So now, navigate over to the Business Pages of the BBC and read, and listen to, advice for holidaymakers in Greece this summer.

Then make a list of dos and don'ts, according to what you have read and heard. Post them in a comment or on the Tag Board.

I look forward to your ideas!

More soon,
Yours,
Mike

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Natural Disasters

Hello everybody. I am looking at the BBC for another listening quiz to bring to you. But for now, here is some useful vocabulary.

A volcano in Chile, an earthquake in Nepal. Terrible events which we struggle to understand. But on the BBC Learning English site, they make it easier by listing the words you need and explaining them.

Check out Lesson 30: Tales of Survival - and tell us what new expressions you learned by posting them in a Comment or on the Tag Board.

More very soon!
Yours,
Mike

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Small Talk: The Answers

Hello everyone. My sincerest apologies for this long gap between posts.

My excuse must be that quite a long Easter holiday intervened. It saw me travelling from Rome down to southeastern Sicily and back. It was great!

But now I'm back in the flow and so I bring you the answers to March's Six Minute English Quiz on "Small Talk". Here they go:

Question 1 (Official): When do babies usually start talking? Is it when they are:

(a) 9 months; (b) 16 months: (c) 18 months  - Eighteen months

2. What expression does party expert Liz Brewer use to describe the act of attempting to start a conversation with someone you don't know at a party? "Breaking the ice"

3. What do you do if you can't remember the name of the person you're talking to? You say,  "Your name has just slipped my mind."

4. Liz Brewer says, "You have to interact with people in a charming way." 


In the next few days I'll be brining you another Quiz. Meanwhile, make sure you keep your listening skills honed. Honed? This means "sharp", like a knife. You can do this by visiting this Blog every day and doing some listening practice.

See you again soon!
Yours,
Mike

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

New 6-minute English: Small Talk

Good day everyone. Here's a new Six Minute English Quiz. It's short and sweet. It's about how to survive at a party where you know no one. 

No problem! Here are a few questions:

Question 1 (Official): When do babies usually start talking? Is it when they are:

(a) 9 months; (b) 16 months: (c) 18 months 

2. What expression does party expert Liz Brewer use to describe the act of attempting to start a conversation with someone you don't know at a party? "....."

3. What do you do if you can't remember the name of the person you're talking to? " ... "

4. Liz Brewer says, "You have to interact with people in a [___] way." (one word)

Now listen to the programme. When you have finished, post your answers on the Tag Board or in a Comment.

I'll be back soon!
Yours,
Mike.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Grammar Point: Indirect questions

Good day everybody. Later today I'll post a fresh Six Minute English Quiz. But now I'd like to "flag up", that is, draw your attention to something that regularly "crops up", in other words occurs, in our English lessons. I'm talking about Indirect Questions.

We use these in various situations, notably when reporting what someone said. They are also very commonly used when we want to make a polite or delicate request, for example when asking for permission or information.

Here's an example that happened to me on the early morning flight from Istanbul to Izmir, Turkey. I had boarded the plane and taken my allocated seat. The seat next to me was empty. A British tourist asked me curtly, "Is this free?" She sounded quite aggressive. She should have said, "Could you tell me whether this seat is free?"

I should have stared up at her coldly and replied, "Yes!" Instead of this, I said mildly, "Yes, I think it is." I guess I am too nice.

To find out more about Indirect Questions, go to this page on the BBC World Service Learning English site. Pay particular attention to the word order. Which is correct:

1. "Could you tell me what time is is?"
2. "Could you tell me what time is it?"

Study the BBC page and then post your answer on the Tag Board or in a comment.

Good luck, and more soon!
Yours,
Michael

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Last year's Six Minute English Quiz: The Answers At Last!

Hello to all our readers. First of all I must apologise for this post being, on 12 February, my first since 20 December! My excuse must be that the beginning of 2015 has been exceptionally busy. I am very sorry about this and I plan, from now on, to add at least one post a fortnight, and hopefully more often than that.

Now, I must give you the answers to the quiz about Superheroes. Here they are:

1. What year did Superman first appear published in a comic? It was (c) in 1938

2. And he was originally a villain - that is, the bad guy.

3. Superheroes in real life are people who do something [good].

4. What does the Japanese superhero do? He makes his fellow-citizens [happy].

5. Why does he do it? He says that, after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, that he wanted ["to bring the smile back (to people's faces)".]

6. Interestingly, real life superheroes keep their identity [a closely guarded/secret].

7. Another Japanese man is considered a hero because he [volunteers to keep Tokyo's streets cleaner].

An honourable mention naturally goes to Filomena, Manola and Federica for taking part in our Quiz. Many thanks!

And in a few days' time I'll post another Quiz.

Finally, a very happy New Year 2015 - even if it is a little late.
Yours,
Michael Ivy