Friday, March 11, 2016

Six Minute English: The Commute

Hello. I'm back again with another Six Minute English Quiz.

You'll notice a word in the title: "commute". What does it mean and how do you say it in Italian, or another language that you speak? Write your answer in a comment or on the tag board.

Listen to Alice and Neil. Why is cycling good for you? Why can travelling by train be bad for you? Again, please do post your answers in a comment or on the tag board.

To start with, here's this week's official question

1. What did the word 'commuter' originally describe? Was it someone who…

a) travelled with other people? b) paid a reduced fare to travel? c) travelled by train to work?

You will hear the answer at the end of the programme.

Some more questions:

2. What counts as unusual behaviour on the Tube?
3. Why do you need to be "alert" in Nairobi?
4. What is "trip-chaining"?
5. What are the dangers of longer commutes according to the American researcher?

Very important: try not to read the transcript before you do this exercise. Read the questions, listen to the programme, and please do post your answers on this Blog.

Then use the transcript to check your answers. How many did you get right?

Write the answers to all these questions on our blog. That way, we are all in a real community of English language learners.

Official answers coming up very soon.

Enjoy the Quiz!

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

You Listen: Maria Sharapova

Good day everyone. This week I bring you another opportunity to listen and understand, and it's from the BBC World Service Learning English site.

Today's exercise is about the tennis player Maria Sharapova, She failed a drug test apparently because she had not realised that the drug in question had recently been added to a list of proscribed substances. It sounds like the kind of mistake anyone could make. But there have been consequences for the tennis star.

To find out more, navigate to the BBC Learning English site and News Review Activity 1. You'll find yourself in Session 2. Scroll down the screen to Activity 1 and read the introduction. Then click on the video clip. It is just over eight minutes long.

In the clip, Neil and Finn introduce you to some new expressions. They include words commonly encountered in news reports. There are also some phrasal verbs.

Watch the clip. Then scroll down to the News Review Quiz and answer the three questions.

Then tell us all what new expressions you learned. If you can, give us both the verb and noun forms of the related expressions. Also, give us the phrasal verbs.

"Telling us" is easy: put your answers on the Tag Board (on the right) or in a Comment.

And let's have the maximum number of readers participating. Remember, this is not a long operation - the whole exercise should take no more than twenty minutes.

One last reminder. On the News Review site, there are various things that can help you. Under Session Grammar, check out the Full Grammar Reference. Under Session Vocabulary, look at the Full Vocabulary Reference.

And at the bottom of the page, look at "Downloads" - click on the word "more" Then there is "More" - just click on the expression "BBC News". I say this because the links are not in a contrasting colour, as they should be.

Good luck - and let's get more participants involved! Last time round, we only saw the ever-loyal and stalwart Filomena!

Another post very soon indeed!
Take care,

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Listen up!

Hello all.
As I often say, to get better at listening to English, you need to practise. It's like sport or music. A little, every day.

Serious musicians spend, in fact, several hours a day practising. For listening to English, I always suggest at least ten minutes a day.

Below, I set out two ideas for this week. First, the famous American "Technology, Entertainment and Design" website - TED to you. A quick visit today revealed these topics:

Erin McKean: The joy of lexicography - all about dictionaries, how they are made and why we use them.

Thomas Peschak, Ocean Photographer. Great talk and wonderful images and footage. Don't miss seeing Thomas swimming with the sharks!

These talks are for more advanced students, but you can download the transcripts to help you. Just click the "Download" button to the right of the window.
After watching these talks, leave your reactions and opinions in a Comment or on the Tag Board.

Next, on the BBC's Learning English: Being polite by using the passive. In English, to talk about delicate subjects, or ask embarrassing questions, we use the passive rather than the active voice. The principle here is to use less direct language. 

Check here to find out more. What are the rules and suggestions? Do the exercises and then post your answers on the Tag Board or in a Comment. 

I look forward to everybody's participation in all the ideas I have mentioned. Don't be shy - go straight to the Tag Board or to Comments as soon as you have finished a task.

Finally, here's a deal. Towards the end of this month, I'm going to Spain. I used to speak Spanish quite well, but it's now quite rusty. So as often as I can, I'll go online and listen to the news on Radio Nacional de Espana, or Radio Exterior de Espana. I'll let you know how I progress.

Have a nice day,