Archive | February 2014

WEP 200214

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

WEP 200214 Cover

Is your boss watching you?

Surveillance device tracks employees’ movements in the office, sends details of conversations and even times their toilet breaks

Look at this vocabulary and check you understand it before you listen to and read the article.

to skive: to avoid work

numbered: over, finite

to track: to follow, observe and record

staff: people who work in a company

to wander aimlessly: to walk around with no objective

surveillance: supervision, monitoring

to sync: to synchronise

attached: fixed, connected physically

face time: time spent talking to someone

boost: improve

to lead to: to cause, generate


The days of skiving behind your boss’s back may be numbered, with the introduction of a new product that can track your every movement in the workplace.

Electronics manufacturer Hitachi has unveiled a high-tech ID card that not only tracks an employee’s exact location within the office, it also keeps a record of all the other staff members they have spoken to, for how long and how energetically.

The device, called the Business Microscope, will also send an employer information on how much time each member of staff spends out of their seat – and even how long they have spent in the toilet.

As well as being used to find out which employees spend their days aimlessly wandering around the office chatting to friends, the Business Microscope will also record how energetically they have contributed to group meetings, where a high level of enthusiasm and animation can be a good thing.

Although the product looks more like an ID badge or business card than a high-tech surveillance device, it actually contains complicated sensors that allow it to sync and interact with other Business Microscopes belonging to the company.

A message posted on the Hitachi website said: “Business Microscope uses sensor technology to measure and analyse internal company communication and activities. 

Multiple sensor devices are placed inside a sensor that is attached to employees”.

When the name tag sensors come within a specific distance of each other, they recognise each other and record the face time, body and behaviour rhythm data to a server”.

Hitatchi said the technology was designed to help boost efficiency levels in the workplace and to help employers react to problems that may otherwise have gone unnoticed.

Perhaps recognising the product probably won’t be popular among employees, including their own, Hitatchi adds that they hope it will help boost employee cooperation, leading to a better atmosphere.

Something to chat about

  • What do you think about the Business Microscope?
  • What are its advantages?
  • What are its disadvantages?
  • Do you have a boss who monitors how you spend your time?
  • How much privacy do you think employees should have at work?
  • Would accept a higher salary in exchange for more surveillance at work?
  • Are there too many cameras in the streets of your town?


This story was adapted from:

iLook iThink iSpeak – express yourself better!

Big brother is watching you!

Look at these different pictures. (Click on the image to download it)

WEP 200214 iLiTiS

Decide which types of surveillance they represent, how they work and who uses them.

Talk about the ways we are being watched every day. Why are we watched? Who is watching us?

Say which of these types of surveillance are most present in your community.

Discuss your feelings about this kind of surveillance. Is it necessary? Does it make you uncomfortable?

Consider the positive and negative consequences of such surveillance. Try to give some examples.

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



WEP 130214

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

WEP 130214 Cover

English Teaching and Winning a Goya

The story of a teacher who used Beatles’ songs to teach English has won a Goya for Best Film.

Look through this vocabulary and make sure you understand it:

catchy (adj): pleasing, easy to remember

backdrop (n): the general situation in which particular events happen.

to bristle with (phrasal verb): have a large amount of something.

to linger (v): take a long time to leave or disappear

ragtag (adj): untidy, not similar or organised

kink (n): a mental twist, notion, foolish idea

nuanced (adj): made slightly different in appearance, meaning, sound, etc.


Living Is Easy With Eyes Closed isn’t the catchiest title, but it comes from John Lennon`s enigmatic Strawberry Fields which, like the film, once played is not easily forgotten. David Trueba`s film uses the singer-songwriter’s 1966 visit to Spain, when he shot a film in Almeria, considered leaving The Beatles, and started composing the song, as a backdrop to a tender, comedic, coming-of-age story which bristles with poignant references to the lingering effects of Spain’s dictatorship.

Javier Camara plays the role of Antonio who is a school teacher obsessed with John Lennon and teaches his students English through the lyrics of the Beatles smash Help!, and this cry for assistance resonates throughout Living Is Easy – for its characters and the country itself. Antonio simply wants to meet John Lennon and goes to Almeria to get him to help translate the lyrics to songs which Antonio has noted down from the radio.

“I read the story in a paper in 2006,” says Trueba. “They were celebrating 40 years of Lennon being in Almeria, and I read about this teacher who  made this trip and asked Lennon to make corrections in his notebook. The teacher used to listen to Radio Luxembourg and write down the lyrics of their songs, as he heard them, however he couldn’t get the lyrics from the Revolver album right as they started using more psychedelic words. When they met, the teacher gave him the notebook and Lennon corrected the lyrics and filled in the gaps. He also corrected songs written by Paul McCartney and George Harrison – ‘Eleanor Rigby’ and ‘Taxman’.”

The real-life teacher Juan Carrón Gañàn is now 88 years old and still teaching English. “The notebook still exists,” says Trueba. “The funny thing is that Lennon used colours when correcting the lyrics. For ‘Yellow Submarine’ he used a yellow pen, and if he wrote the word ‘green’ he would use a green pen. You only have to look at the way he did the corrections and you think this guy must have been funny.” After this meeting, The Beatles included printed sheets of their song lyrics with their following albums.

Brightly shot – perhaps too warmly for some of its darker themes, this film seems superficially like many other cinematic road trips, with its ragtag outcasts and their disparate issues. But this is Franco’s Spain, where the radio plays non-stop religious convocations, there is widespread poverty and a future which isn’t overly bright for any of its protagonists no matter what kinks they iron out onscreen. This sadness permeates through the film, marking it out and reinforces that Trueba’s films are gaining in depth and his examination of Spain’s recent past is becoming more nuanced and compelling.

Something to chat about

  • What is your view on Spanish cinema?
  • Do you agree with the Government cutting film funding in Spain?
  • Do you think the cinema is too expensive nowadays?
  • What is your favourite Spanish film? Why? And your favourite actors?
  • If you could star in a film, what type of film would it be? Who would you like the director to be? And who would be your co-stars?

This story was adapted from: &

iLook iThink iSpeak – express yourself better!

Strawberry Fields Forever

Read the lyrics to John Lennon’s song ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’, and then follow the link below to listen to the music (and read the lyrics) on YouTube.

After you can talk about the questions in the ‘Something to chat about’ section.

And you can read about the song here:

Something to chat about:

  • Do you understand this song? Do you think anyone understands it?
  • Do you understand all the songs that you like and listen to?
  • Think about a song that you really like, and try to remember the lyrics. What is the message of the song?
  • Do you think it’s necessary to understand the lyrics to fully enjoy a song?

Let me take you down

‘Cause I’m going to Strawberry Fields

Nothing is real

And nothing to get hung about

Strawberry Fields forever


Living is easy with eyes closed

Misunderstanding all you see

It’s getting hard to be someone, but it all works out

It doesn’t matter much to me


Let me take you down

‘Cause I’m going to Strawberry Fields

Nothing is real

And nothing to get hung about

Strawberry Fields forever


No one, I think, is in my tree

I mean, it must be high or low

That is, you can’t, you know, tune in, but it’s alright

That is, I think it’s not too bad

Let me take you down

‘Cause I’m going to Strawberry Fields

Nothing is real

And nothing to get hung about

Strawberry Fields forever


Always, no, sometimes think it’s me

But you know I know when it’s a dream

I think I know I mean — er — yes, but it’s all wrong

That is, I think I disagree


Let me take you down,

‘Cause I’m going to Strawberry Fields

Nothing is real

And nothing to get hung about


Strawberry Fields forever

Strawberry Fields forever

Strawberry Fields forever

WEP 060214


Click on the image to download this week’s Weekly English Practice from English Coaching Projects.WEP 060214 Cover

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