Archive | October 2013

WEP 311013

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

WEP 311013 Cover

SpongeBob and Kebabs

There are two stories this week.

Look at the vocabulary first:

to anger: to make a person angry

to remove: to take away from a position

rank: a position in the hierarchy

to refund: to pay money back

grave: a hole in the ground for a dead body

to set up: to start, to organise

pace: rhythm     

peckish: to feel a little hungry


SpongeBob Squarepants causes problems in cemetery

A two metre headstone is considered inappropriate

A cemetery in the US state of Ohio has angered the family of a military veteran by removing a SpongeBob SquarePants headstone from her grave.

Kimberly Walker’s family erected a 2 metre stone of her favourite cartoon character wearing an Army uniform with her name and rank. The cemetery in the city of Cincinnati had initially approved the headstone.

Walker’s family want the memorial to be put back. The cemetery has refused but says it will refund the €20,000 spent on the headstone and a near-exact copy for Ms Walker’s living twin sister. “We’ve decided that they aren’t appropriate for our historic cemetery,” Spring Grove cemetery president Gary Freytag explained. The employee who approved the headstones made an inexplicable error in judgment, he said.

Walker, who served two tours in Iraq in 2006 and 2010 as a petroleum supply specialist, was 28 years old when she was found strangled and beaten to death in a Colorado hotel room in February. Her Army sergeant boyfriend was arrested and charged with her death.

And in other news…

Doner kebab ‘inventor’ dies in Berlin

The Turkish immigrant credited with inventing the doner kebab has died in Berlin aged 80. Kadir Nurman set up a stall in West Berlin in 1972, selling grilled meat and salad inside a flat bread.

He had noticed the fast pace of city life and thought busy Berliners might like a meal they could carry with them. While there are other possible “doner inventors,” Mr Nurman’s contribution was recognised by the Association of Turkish Doner Manufacturers in 2011. The combination of juicy meat, sliced from a rotating skewer, with all the trimmings and optional chilli sauce, has since become a fast-food favourite in Germany, and elsewhere.

There are now 16,000 doner outlets in Germany. More than 1,000 are in Berlin where they tempt peckish late-night revellers on the capital’s streets. German companies that produce the meat, and the machinery for grilling it, supply 80% of the EU market.

Mr Nurman, who emigrated to Germany in 1960, did not patent his invention, and thus did not particularly profit from the doner’s subsequent success. But in an interview in 2011 he expressed that he was happy that so many Turkish people were able to make a living from doners.

Something to chat about

  • Have you ever watched SpongeBob? If so, what do you think about it?
  • Do you think a SpongeBob headstone is adequate for a cemetery? If not, why not?
  • Do you like doner kebabs? Why?
  • What is fast food? Is it healthy?
  • What is a healthy, balanced diet in your opinion?

“iLook, iThink, iSpeak” Express yourself better!

When is food ‘fast food’?

(Click on the image to download it and see the pictures)

Look at these different pictures. Talk about the different food in each one. What is it? Have you ever tried it? Do you like it?

Discuss whether the different types of food can be considered fast food or not. What makes something fast food? Is it the time between ordering and receiving it? Is it the nutritional value? Is fast food bad for you?

Decide on a definition for fast food. Do you eat much fast food according to your definition? Is fast food the same as junk food? What is junk food?

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

WEP 311013 iLook iThink iSpeak

WEP 241013

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

WEP 241013 Cover

Are some animals too ‘ugly’ to be saved?

People always want to save photogenic pandas, but do some animals look too strange for conservation?

Look at this vocabulary first:

under threat, threatened, endangered: at risk of extinction

aesthetically pleasing: attractive to look at

rarest: least common

awareness: knowing about something

scales: plates covering the body of a fish or snake

claim: something a person says is true

ailments: health problems

exposure: publicity

funky: unconventional


Creatures that achieve world fame for being under threat – the panda, the mountain gorilla, the tiger – tend to be conventionally aesthetically pleasing, even cute.

But the scientists who study the planet’s rarest beasts say that many of the most precious and threatened creatures have physical characteristics that, although perhaps not adorable in the most orthodox sense, make them truly unique.

A project run by the Zoological Society for London called ‘EDGE’ (Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered) is trying to raise awareness of these less appreciated creatures.

“I love all the species on the Edge list,” says Carly Waterman, director of Edge. “But I think some do need a little extra help to get them a place in hearts of the general public.”

Sunda Pangolins, for instance, are the only mammals in the world to be entirely covered in scales.

They are covered in scales that are made of keratin – like rhino horn or human finger nails.

Their scales and a belief in their therapeutic value has unfortunately created a huge demand, which is driving the Sunda pangolin to extinction.

Pangolin scales are used in traditional Chinese medicine – sold with the claim that they cure a long list of ailments, from helping breastfeeding mothers lactate to curing cancer.

But there is no evidence that the scales help with any human problem. Dan Challender from the University of Kent is studying pangolins for his PhD. As well as their unique appearance, he says, the animals are incredibly strong and flexible.

“They’re extraordinary gymnasts,” he said. “I’ve seen mothers climbing upside down on the ceiling while the baby clings on to her back.”

As for why the wider public has not taken the pangolin to their hearts, he says they just need a bit of exposure.

“I just don’t think people are aware of these animals,” he says. “They’re just so funky – when people see videos of them, they fall in love with them.”


This story was adapted from:

iLook iThink iSpeak – Express yourself better!

Animals – Cute or creepy?

(Click on the image to download it and see the pictures)

Look at these different pictures.

Talk about the different animals. Put them in order from prettiest to ugliest, in your opinion.

Discuss which physical characteristics you like or dislike about these animals. What do they have in common with humans? What are the main differences?

Decide which you would keep as a pet if you had to choose one. What problems could this generate at home? What could you enjoy about this creature?

Talk about the reasons why some people are strongly against keeping animals at home. What’s your opinion?

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

WEP 241013 iLook iSpeak iThink

WEP 171013

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

WEP 171013 cover

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Weekly English Practice

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