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!

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:

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

More soon
All the best,

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.

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

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,

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,