Archive | November 2014

WEP 301014

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Do cats grieve*?

How do these four-legged felines respond to the loss of a member of the household?

Check you understand this vocabulary before you read and listen to the article:

* grieve: to feel emotional pain caused by loss, to cry after someone dies

realize: to be aware, to recognize

ease: to make less intense

surviving: still alive, living

figure out: learn through calculation

risk: to take action involving danger

turf: (colloquial): territory

distraught: very sad, upset

owners:  the people who have the cat

pick up on:  to notice, to sense

handle:  to manage, to tolerate

newcomer:  one who has arrived recently

pass away:  to die

petting:  touching a pet affectionately

grooming:  brushing an animal’s hair

at all: any quantity, even just a little

Many people don’t realise animals grieve the loss of companions and family members. There are also many pet parents who recognise their cats are grieving but then make the mistake of rushing out to find another companion cat to ease the emotional pain.

Even if two companion cats had a hostile relationship, the surviving cat may still grieve the loss. There’s confusion about where the other cat has gone. The two cats, whether they were close or not, had negotiated territories within the household and now the surviving kitty has to figure out whether to risk crossing onto the other cat’s turf.

To add to the initial grief of the surviving cat, there’s the fact that human family members are acting distraught. Cats are creatures of habit and they depend on their owners to behave the same way each day. As the owner grieves the loss of a pet, the grieving cat picks up on the elevated stress level.

In an effort to prevent the cat from being lonely, the owner may bring home another cat. This is a recipe for disaster. The grieving cat is not emotionally ready to handle the intrusion of an unfamiliar animal in his home, and could become aggressive. If the resident cat is in the middle of grieving for a lost companion, it puts the newcomer in a no-win situation.

Don’t rush to fill an empty space left by the cat who recently passed away. The surviving cat needs his normal routine. He needs to be with you in the form of playtime, interaction with family members, petting and grooming as usual. Make sure the environment provides stimulation and activity for the cat to keep his mind focused on positive activities.

It’s not unusual for a grieving cat to stop eating or to experience a change in litter box habits. If you notice either of these, contact your veterinarian. Watch that your cat doesn’t fall into a depression. Stay in contact with your veterinarian if you’re at all in doubt about how your cat is handling the loss of his companion.

Something to chat about

  • What advice is given in the article about…
  • getting a replacement cat?
  • spending time together?
  • observing habits?
  • How can you tell if a cat is grieving?
  • What things do you think a cat misses when it loses a companion?
  • Why do people often bury dead pets?
  • Do you think animals experience grieve in the same way as humans?
  • What about dogs, horses, fish and other animals?


This story was adapted from:


“iLook, iThink, iSpeak” Express yourself better!

Let’s debate!

Answer these questions:

  • What animals to people usually keep as a pet?
  • Do you have any pets?
  • Choose a statement from the ones below.
  • List some reasons for the statement.
  • List some reasons against the statement.
  • Discuss the subject, using your lists to help you.
  • Decide if you agree with the statement or not.
  • Write it all in an email to your ECP coach (and record your voice!).

Click on the image to see this week’s iLook iThink iSpeak.

iLiTiS 301014

WEP 231014

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

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Is Twitter making you STUPID?

Social networking sites are making it hard for people to think for themselves

Check you understand this vocabulary before you read and listen to the article:

erode (v): to eat into or away; destroy by slow consumption or disintegration

smart (adj): astute, as in business; clever or bright

merely (adv): only as specified and nothing more; simply

trick question (n): a question that is difficult to answer as there is a hidden difficulty or an answer that seems obvious but is is not the right one

rush (v): to move, act, or progress with speed

to fall into a trap (idiom): to do something which is not wise although it seemed to be a good idea when you decided to do it

unwilling (adj): not willing, reluctant to do something

lazy (adj): Averse or disinclined to work, activity, or exertion

glean (v): To learn, discover, or find out, usually little by little or slowly

advice (n): An opinion or recommendation offered as a guide to action, conduct, etc

They have become a quick and easy way of learning about everything from world affairs to the affairs of friends. But Twitter and Facebook may be eroding our ability to think.

Researchers believe speed, volume and ease with which information is shared through social networking sites may be making it more difficult for us to think analytically.

The warning comes from Dr Rahwan, who said that while the popular sites may appear to be making us smarter, any improvement in intelligence is merely superficial.

The computing expert studied how being part of a network of people affects how we learn. Dr Rahwan began by asking a group of 20 people three trick questions over and over again.

For example they were told that a bat and ball cost £1.10 in total and that the bat cost £1 more than the ball, and then they were asked to work out how much the ball cost.

The intuitive answer is 10p but the correct answer is actually 5p.

Dr Rahwan then gave the same questions to a second group of people. They first answered the questions alone but then were put in groups and able to see each other’s responses.

Given the first question, the men and women quickly realised when someone else in their social network had the right answer and changed theirs accordingly. However, they did no better initially on the second question, or the third.

This surprised Dr Rahwan, who said it suggests that the volunteers were copying the answers without putting any real thought into what they were doing.

By not computing that they shouldn’t rush in with their first answer but take time to think the question over, they fell into the same trap each time.

Dr Rahwan said, ’We think people are unwilling to reflect more because it takes time and effort and in daily life we don’t have the luxury of time to verify everything.’

He said that while we have long learned from others, there is a danger that the rise of information-sharing websites such as Twitter and Facebook will make us rely more and more on the opinion of others.

This could erode our ability to think critically and make us lazy because we assume that there will always be someone else who knows the answer. And while much of the information we glean will be helpful, there is a chance we will believe dangerous advice.

Something to chat about

  • In your opinion, what are the benefits of Twitter?
  • What makes Twitter different to other forms of social media?
  • How has twitter changed the world of journalism?
  • How would you convince a Twitter sceptic to start using it?
  • Argue against the point made in the article


Adapted from:


“iLook, iThink, iSpeak” Express yourself better!

What are these people thinking?

  • Look at the pictures, think about the context and talk about the people’s feelings and thoughts.
  • Write it all in an email and send it to your ECP coach.
  • And why not record and listen to yourself?

Click on the image to see this week’s iLook iThink iSpeak.

iLiTiS WEP231014

WEP 161014

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


WEP161014 Cover

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