Archive | May 2014

WEP 220514

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

WEP 220514 Cover


How hobbies can boost brain power and reduce stress

If you’re not careful, retirement can be bad for your health!

Look at this vocabulary before you read and listen to the article:

to boost (v): to assist in further development or progress:

a void (n): a completely empty space

to stave off (v): to hold off, repel

stick to it (exp): to not be distracted from doing something

fore (n): at the front, an important situation

mild (adj): moderate, gentle, not strong

retiree (n): a person who has retired

engagement (n): taking part, involvement

Researchers have warned that leaving a busy work life can leave a void that needs to be filled. Suddenly having several hours a day free can be a traumatic experience.

Pensioners are advised to take up several ‘mentally demanding hobbies’ Taking up a hobby or two, can boost brain power into old age.

Scientists said stimulating activities such as sport, reading, socialising and travelling, not only keep the mind sharp but also stave off depression that can set in when we suddenly stop working.

And if you have a long list of things you want to do in retirement, stick to it, for taking up several hobbies can keep the mind healthier for longer.

Retirement coincides with the start of a natural decline in brain power that old age brings, the researchers said. They warned the switch from busy working life can leave a void which needs to be filled, otherwise our brains slow down faster.

Even mild signs of depression can mean a retiree is likely to suffer a deterioration in their brain power once they finish working for good – highlighting the importance of keeping busy with enjoyable activities, they added.

A team from Concordia University in Montreal suggested that people retiring from managerial jobs or professional work were more likely to keep their faculties than those who had unskilled or clerical occupations.

A clinical psychologist who led the study, explained: ‘Retirement usually occurs right around the time when normal age-related declines in cognitive function come to the fore. So it is important to understand what is happening to brain power during this period and to identify risk factors for mental decline, as well as factors that will help protect against it.’

Dr Baer’s team looked at reports conducted over four years on 333 healthy retirees with an average age of 59. The findings, published in the Journals of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences, concluded that pensioners should be encouraged to take up several mentally demanding hobbies to keep their brains healthy.

Dr Baer said: ‘It is my hope that these results will influence the design of future interventions aimed at maintaining the cognitive health of retirees.

‘This can be done by focusing on getting people to intensify their engagement in a variety of cognitive activities, even if they have lower levels of motivation to do so. It is equally important to address symptoms of depression to help fight against cognitive decline.’

Something to chat about

  • What can happen to people when they leave work and retire?
  • What does the article recommend people who retire do?
  • Why might people who have done professional work be more likely to keep their faculties when they retire?
  • Have you got any hobbies??
  • What hobbies did you have when you were younger?
  • Are you planning to take up any hobbies in the future?

Why not write your ideas in an email and send it to your ECP coach? And record your voice too!

This story was adapted from:


iLook iThink iSpeak – express yourself better!

Have a look at these photos. What are the hobbies? Do you do any of them? Are they difficult or expensive?

WEP 220514 iLiTiS


Below are some unusual hobbies practised by celebrities. How much time do you think these hobbies take up? Would you like to try them?

CLAUDIA SCHIFFER Insect collecting MIKE TYSON Pigeon racing JOHN TRAVOLTA Jumbo Jet Pilot  TONY BLAIR Coin collecting TOM HANKS Collecting typewriters PIERCE BROSNAN Fire eater ROWAN ATKINSON (MR BEAN) Racing driver ANGELINA JOLIE Dagger collector SUSAN SARANDON Ping Pong  JOHNNY DEPP Barbie collector  BEZ (Happy Mondays) Beekeeping

Why not write your ideas in an email to your ECP coach – and record your voice too!

WEP 150514

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

WEP 150514 Cover

The ‘perfect’ cup of tea will cost you £7,700

Company says its gadget will give customers the best possible brew – for a price

Go through this vocabulary before you read and listen to the article:

to brew: to prepare tea or beer

loose: free, not contained in a bag

drawn: pulled

to allow: to permit, to let

smoother finish: softer final taste

to damage: to have a negative effect on

inherently: characteristically

pursuit: hobby, activity

kettle: a container used to boil water

blend: mixture, fusion

stand up: put in a vertical position

concoction: unusual drink

among: included in

A gadget which promises “the perfect cup of tea” could be on sale later this year with a price tag of £7,700.

The Craft Brewer can brew a cup of tea in a minute, using a process called reverse atmospheric infusion (RAIN).

While common brewing methods pull or push water through tea, the Craft Brewer changes the air pressure. The process involves loose tea leaves being placed in a container where air is then drawn out to create a vacuum.

The negative pressure that results causes gasses from the tea leaves to be released, giving an optimum flavour says the company that has produced the Craft Brewer, Bkon.

Dean Vastardis, Bkon co-founder, said “Reverse Atmospheric Infusion actually changes the air pressure, so the soluble flavor elements and natural sugars are extracted more completely and with greater purity.”

Bkon says that a comparable cup of tea brewed using negative pressure could only be produced in space.

The RAIN process allows the flavour extraction from tea leaves to occur at a lower brewing temperature which the company says gives it a “smoother finish“. Boiling water, says Bkon, can damage the flavour of tea. Tea making is an inherently British pursuit but there are endless variations from the moment you start boiling the kettle.

Some people believe in using a teapot, others make it in a mug. Some people like a milky blend, others like it so strong you can practically stand a biscuit up in it.

One old colleague of mine used to put the milk into the cup first, followed by boiling water, and then he’d take the hot, watery milk concoction to his desk where he finally added the teabag. And that’s before we’ve even got onto the subject of sugar.

It’s a topic of such national importance that even George Orwell wrote a short essay on the subject (among his specifications: loose leaf tea, a warmed pot and never, ever sugar).

Something to chat about

  • Do you know anyone one who would pay for the Craft Brewer?
  • What is your idea of a good cup of coffee? Think about the surroundings too.
  • Have you tasted the coffee in the UK?
  • Where? What was it like?
  • Do know which drinks are popular in other countries?
  • Is a cup of tea your ‘cup of tea’?
  • Do you know any more idioms like these?
  • How do you think each one originated?
  • Do you have equivalent expressions in your language?
  • Do you think it is important to learn idiomatic expressions in English? Why (not)?

Why not write down all your answers and send them in an email to your ECP coach? Record your voice too and listen to yourself speak – it’s a great way to improve!


Watch the video of the CRAFT BREWER and the RAIN process here:

iLook iThink iSpeak – express yourself better!

An idiom is an expression whose meaning is different from the meaning of the individual words

Look at the idioms below (A-E). Can you match them to their meanings (1-5)?

Write your answers in an email to your ECP coach (and record your voice too!).

A. Tea and sympathy.

B. It’s not my cup of tea.

C. I wouldn’t do it for all the tea in China.

D. It’s as good as a chocolate teapot.

E. A storm in a teacup.

  1. It’s completely useless.
  2. I don’t like it very much.
  3. Unnecessary anger and worry about something which isn’t important.
  4. I would never do it.
  5. Kindness you show when someone is upset.

WEP 150514 iLiTiS



Answers: A-5,  B-2,  C-4,  D-1,  E-3

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

WEP 080514 Cover

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