Archive | June 2014

WEP 120614

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Brazil’s police and the World Cup

Is football worth the suffering of the host nations’ people?

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

survey: questions used to find out opinions

to escalate: to intensify / increase rapidly

unveil: to show publicly for the first time

to be better off: in a favourable situation

to rise:  to increase

cops (slang):  the police

to drag: to pull something along by force

in advance of: before…beforehand

hardly any: almost no…(none)


This week, a study by Amnesty International revealed that 80% of Brazilians are afraid of being tortured by their own police force. In a survey across 21 countries, Brazil was found to be the country where people feel most unsafe in the hands of authorities, almost twice the international average of 44%.

In Rio de Janeiro, this fear is very real. Although the media has reported the efforts to pacify favelas across the city, armed violence has once again escalated – weeks before it will receive thousands of football fans for the 2014 World Cup.

In 2008, Rio’s residents dreamed of a life without violence as the government unveiled a project to build Pacifying Police Units (UPPs) in which police would take back territory controlled for decades by drug gangs. Now, the programme’s failures are starting to show; a corrupt, violent police force is the main cause.

Despite claims that Rio is now better off, the Brazilian Institute of Public Security says the number of deaths in conflict with the police rose by 69% from 2013 to 2014. Last year, the builder Amarildo who lived in Rocinha was tortured and killed by UPP policemen; last month a young dancer was found shot dead in a favela  – allegedly killed by UPP officers; and in April, a woman was shot by cops and dragged by a police car on the way to the hospital, where she later died. According to Amnesty International’s study, Torture in 2014: 30 Years of Broken Promises, “reports of police abuse have increased [in Brazil] around protests in advance of the 2014 World Cup and during military operations in [favelas]”.

The Brazilian media supports the UPPs. But ask any resident of Rocinha, Brazil’s biggest favela, and they will tell you that the policemen placed in the pacifying units are untrained and abusive, and often use unnecessary violence. Although they claim to be there to protect the population, there is hardly any policing during the night, which allows crime to roam free.

It’s becoming increasingly clear that UPPs are a Public Relations move, not a public security policy. They are designed to hide the violence and drive the drug gangs away from the places that will be popular during the major global events Rio is hosting. The lack of long-term solutions to keep the next generation out of crime will result in a never-ending civil war, where the people are forgotten while international visitors drink caipirinhas and watch the football.

Something to chat about

  • Do you think that in general the police are good or bad? Explain why.
  • Describe any encounters that you have had with the police. Were they good or bad experiences?
  • Imagine you have to talk to an English-speaking policeman. Do you think that you could explain a difficult situation? What expressions or words would you need?


This story was adapted from:



iLook iThink iSpeak – express yourself better



Brazil World Cup… For or Against?

Paulo Ito, a street artist, painted this mural of a starving child with only a football to eat in São Paulo on May 10. The photo has since gone viral on the internet.


  • Discuss whether Brazil is the right country to be hosting the World Cup. If so, why? If not, why not?
  • Think about which team will win this year’s Football World Cup. How will you feel if your team wins?
  • Talk about how important this is to you. If it’s not at all important to you, talk about other things that are more important right now.
  • Write it all in an email to your ECP coach (and record your voice!).

WEP 050614

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Our Royal Families – interesting anecdotes about royal life

The Spanish and British royal families have more in common than you might expect…

Have a look at this vocabulary before you read and listen to the article:

to reign (v): to exercise the power and authority of a sovereign

brothel (n): a place where men pay to have sexual intercourse with prostitutes

Royal command performance (n): annual variety show for charity and in honour of the Queen.


Here are some intriguing facts about the Spanish and British royal families:

  • Queen Victoria was the longest reigning monarch (63 years, 216 days). She was a native German speaker as was her husband Albert, a German prince.
  • To this day the British press still refer to the Royal Family as ‘the Germans.’ Not to their faces obviously!
  • At the time of their marriage, Richard II’s second wife, Isabella of France, was only 8 years old!
  • Queen Victoria died in the arms of her grandson who happened to be Kaiser Wilhelm II. Thirteen years later in 1914 the UK and Germany were at war.
  • Buckingham Palace was built on the site of a notorious brothel.
  • If a whale is found on the British coast the Queen can claim the head and she has a legal right to the tail.
  •       Queen Elisabeth has two birthdays. One on April 21 the day she was born and another on a Saturday in June. The reason being it is more likely the weather will be better in June so she can enjoy her birthday parade (also called ‘Trooping of the Colour’).
  • In Spain Elisabeth II is known as Isabel II while Juan Carlos I is NOT John Charles in the UK.
  • Juan Carlos and Sofia are BOTH descendants of Queen Victoria and part of the extended British Royal family. Juan Carlos is also a 3rd cousin to Elisabeth II, Prince Phillip, and his own wife Sophia! Phillip and Sofia are actually first cousins. As catholics the Spanish royal family is excluded from the British royal line of descent as non protestants cannot be Regent in UK.
  • George III of Great Britain and Ireland, who lost the American colonies, once spent several hours talking to a tree thinking it was the King of Prussia. Prince Charles who is a keen gardener is said to talk to his plants which he claims encourages them to grow faster.
  • Juan Carlos was the second of four children, the youngest of whom died in 1956. He was shot in an accident to which Juan Carlos was the only witness. It is not known who fired the gun.
  • One of Sofia’s ancestors died in unusual circumstances. King Alexander I Schleswig-Holstein of Greece was bitten by his pet monkey
  • AFTER a Royal Command performance comedian Tommy Cooper asked the Queen: “Do you mind if I ask you a personal question?” “No,” replied the Queen, “but I might not be able to give you a full answer.” “Do you like football?” asked Cooper. “Well, not really,” said the Queen. “In that case,” said Cooper, “do you mind if I have your Cup Final tickets?’”

Something to chat about

  • What was Queen Victoria’s native language?
  • Why does Queen Elisabeth have two birthdays?
  • Why do the British Royals have different names in Spain?
  • What have the British and Spanish Royal families got in common?
  • Why can’t a Bourbon sit on the British throne?
  • What have George III and Prince Charles got in common?
  • Do you know any funny Royal stories?


These facts were adapted from various encyclopaedias and:


iLook iThink iSpeak – express yourself better!


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WEP 050614 iLiTiS

WEP 290514

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