Archive | August 2013

WEP 200613

Click on the image to download this week’s Weekly English Practice from English Coaching Projects.

WEP 200613 Cover


What’s your opinion about these news stories?

Look at the vocabulary first and then listen to and read the stories.

to give way: to be substituted

motionless: not moving

still: not moving

a trend: a tendency

to endanger: to put in danger

health: your physical condition

tear: water from your eyes

to share: to give a part to another person

balanced: equitable, impartial

ID: an identification document or number

“This is not an act of violence. We cannot condemn it.”

Sometimes violent anti-government demonstrations in Turkey have given way to a passive form of resistance, with people standing motionless. Hundreds of protesters have been standing still for hours in squares in several cities, mimicking a lone protester who started the trend on Istanbul’s Taksim Square on Monday. He has been called the “Standing Man.”

In the first direct government comment on the new style of protest, Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said that the standing protests are peaceful and “pleasing to the eye.” However, he urged protesters not to obstruct traffic and not to endanger their health. “This is not an act of violence,” he said, “We cannot condemn it.” 

More than 7,500 people have been injured and at least four people — three demonstrators and a police officer — have been killed as police tried to stop the protests using tear gas and water cannons.

“Spain’s Primera Liga is financially unsustainable.”

Spanish footballer Pablo Hernandez, who plays for Swansea City in the English Premier League, believes that Spain’s Primera Liga is financially unsustainable and he thinks that television money should be shared more equally. The Spanish midfielder moved from Valencia to Swansea in 2012 and believes that the domination of Barcelona and Real Madrid is unhealthy for the game in Spain.

“Real and Barcelona are strong but the rest are in a bad place,” Hernandez told The Times. “Here, the clubs are more balanced in how they share the money from television. In Spain, it is too unbalanced. Smaller clubs can’t buy players. We have got to follow the example set by England.”

“Donkey taxis are the symbol of Mijas and we must value them.”

The Popular Party controlled city council in Mijas, on the south-west coast of Spain, has handed out ID plates to all donkey taxis and their drivers so that individual animals can be recognized and standards improved. “Donkey taxis are the symbol of Mijas and we must value them,” said councilwoman María del Mar Ríos.

“In the event of an accident or complaint, the donkey or driver will be able to be identified,” said councilman Juan Carlos Gonzales. “These rules were made to improve the quality of the service, protect the rights of customers and guarantee that the donkeys meet health and safety requirements.”

Fifty-two taxi donkeys have been issued the new plates.

Ask your friends, colleagues and family their opinions about these stories!

iLook iThink iSpeak – Express yourself better

Animals in captivity

WEP 200613 iLook iThink iSpeak

(click on the image to download it)

Look at these different pictures. Talk about the different animals. Which ones have you seen in a zoo, safari park or other enclosed area?

Compare the way of life of these animals in the wild and in captivity.

Discuss why we keep animals in captivity. Is it cruel? Is it necessary? What benefits does it have?

Write it all in an email to your ECP coach (and record your voice!).

WEP 130613

Click on the image to download this week’s Weekly English Practice from English Coaching Projects.

WEP 130613 Cover

Helicopter controlled just by thoughts

Read the vocab first, then read and listen to the story.

researchers: investigators

thought: the process of thinking

a remote control: something you use to control an object from a distance

brainwaves: electrical impulses from the brain

a fist: a closed hand (like when boxing)

a device: a mechanical or electronic object

a probe: an object used to explore inside something 

to clench: to hold strongly

a wheelchair: a chair with wheels – used to move people with mobility problems

a limb: an arm or a leg (or a wing on a bird)

Researchers have used the power of thought to guide a remote control helicopter through an obstacle course.

The demonstration is one of many attempts to translate the electrical patterns of thoughts into motions in the virtual and real world. Applications include helping neurodegenerative disorders and new ways to play video games. The experiment is the first to use brainwaves to control an autonomous robot

The research uses a non-invasive “cap” to capture brain electrical activity. However this is not the “mind-reading” of fiction. It requires that an electronic system is “trained” to recognise patterns in an electroencephalograph – a map of electrical activity. Basically, a thought, like that of making a fist with the left hand, is translated into a movement to the left of the helicopter.

Technology firms see potential in the idea; Samsung is reportedly working on a “mind-control” tablet device.

When researchers can access the brain directly – with invasive probes or implants – they can focus on more precise areas of brain activity and even more control is possible. Direct implants have allowed both monkeys and paralysed humans to control robotic arms.

In the helicopter experiments, five participants each wore a simple “cap” that held 64 electrodes. They used it to “teach” the computer which brain patterns corresponded to thoughts of movement. Clenching of the left and right fist for turning left and right, clenching both fists to go up, and doing nothing to go down. Then the computer was set up to control the helicopter over wi-fi, and the only controls were the participants’ thoughts.

The participants had to fly the helicopter through an obstacle course and their success rates were as high as 90%.

Prof He, the leader of the research team, told BBC News: “The ultimate application is to benefit disabled patients who cannot move. We want to control a wheelchair, and turn on the TV. My personal dream is to develop a technology to control an artificial limb, and make it as natural as possible.”

Read more about this story:

Something to chat about

  • How did the participants fly the helicopter?
  • What would you like to control with your mind?
  • Have you seen films like X-Man or TV series such as ‘Heroes’?
  • If you could have any ‘super power’, what would you like to be able to do?
  • How would you use that ‘super power’ to help the world?

iLook iThink iSpeak – Express yourself better

Technology – past, present and future

WEP 130613 iLook iThink iSpeak

(click on the image to download it)

Look at these objects. What did people do before they were invented?

How do you think these objects will evolve over the next 10, 30 and even 100 years time?

Do you think they will all merge into one at some point in the future?

1. Glasses. How did people cope before the invention of glasses? Why doesn’t everyone use contact lenses nowadays? What will glasses be like in 10, 30 or even 100 years time? Will they still exist?

2. Phones. How did people communicate before the invention of phones? Does anyone still use land lines nowadays? What will phones be like in 10, 30 or even 100 years time? Will they still exist?

3. Fridges. How did people keep food fresh before the fridge was invented? Does anyone use fridges nowadays? What will we store food in 10, 30 or even 100 years time? Will food still exist?

4. Clothes. Did your grandparents have as many clothes (or shoes) as you? Does anyone not use clothes (or shoes) nowadays? What will clothes be like in 10, 30 or even 100 years time? Will they still exist?

5. Our bodies and minds. How long did people live hundreds of years ago? How long will we live in the future? Will our bodies and minds be the same in the future? Will they (and we) still exist?

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