Archive | November 2015

WEP 151015 A family’s fight for a dignified death 

Click on the image to download the pdf

WEP151015 Cover

A family’s fight for a dignified death 

Terminally ill Galician girl, Andrea, dies after four days off life support. 

Vocabulary. Read and check you understand this before you read and listen to the article:

to pass away: a softer way of saying “to die”.
to refuse to do s.t.: to indicate unwillingness to do s.t. 

to pit s.b. against s.b. else: to put people into conflict. 

to enforce: to make s.b. comply with a law.
binding: involving an obligation that cannot be broken. 

to slap: (in this context) to impose a fine or punishment. 

to babble: to “talk” rapidly and incomprehensibly.
a great deal: a large quantity of something 

Andrea, the terminally ill child whose parents have been battling since the end of September to give her a dignified death, passed away on Friday at Santiago’s Hospital Clínic.

The 12-year-old had been off life support for four days after doctors, who initially refused to remove her feeding tube, finally consented on the basis that her condition had deteriorated severely, as her parents had been claiming.

The much-publicised case, which pitted Andrea’s family against the paediatrics department at the Santiago hospital, has reopened the dignified death debate in Spain. Although Galicia recently passed regional legislation allowing for palliative sedation in terminal cases, Estela Ordóñez and Antonio Lago, Andrea’s parents, had to turn to the courts to have this law enforced.

The couple had obtained a non-binding report from the regional bioethics committee recommending that Andrea’s feeding tube be removed because of the disproportionate amount she was suffering.

But the hospital refused to do so, and the regional health chief publicly called the parents’ attitude “active euthanasia.” This official was removed from her job over that statement, and sources familiar with the situation said that this, and the fact that the hospital did not want to be slapped with a negative court ruling, played a role in medics’ decision to finally take Andrea off life support.

When she was just eight months old, Andrea stopped babbling, manipulating objects with her hands and sitting up. Since then, the child had been battling against a rare degenerative disease that kept her hospitalised for the last three months of her life.

Her parents say that while aware of the fact that one day Andrea would be gone from their lives, “we weren’t ready for the fact that when our daughter’s body stopped responding, she would not be given a dignified death the way her life had been dignified.”

The case was made more difficult because of the fact that Andrea could not talk and express how she was feeling. Since her parents went public about how Andrea was being treated in the hospital, they received a great deal of support, including from Pedro Sanchez, the leader of the PSOE, who has promised a new law on dignified death if he becomes president. However, on the other side of the debate, the Spanish Association of Christian Lawyers announced that they will be taking legal action against the hospital.

“Let’s chat about that!”

  • What’s your opinion on euthanasia? 
  • Why did the hospital refuse to stop Andrea’s treatment? Were they right to do so? 
  • Should we change the laws on euthanasia? 
  • What other laws should be changed in your country? Why? 
  • Do you have a right to decide when to die? 

Write your answers and send them by email to your ECP coach. Why not record your voice too? Listen to yourself speak and identify what you have to improve on 🙂


Adapted from 



WEP 291015 What was life like before the smartphone?

Click on the image to download the pdf

WEP291015 Cover

The Guardian newspaper recently asked its readers this question, below are some of the answers.

nonsense: words that have no meaning or sense

a hold-up: a situation that causes delay

to run late: to be late for a meeting or appointment

to reach: extend your hand to try to touch something

to get in: to arrive at your destination (bus, train or plane)

to figure: to expect, consider or think about a situation

a git: an unpleasant or contemptible person

Vocabulary. Read and check you understand this before you read and listen to the article:

In the pub

“You could go to the pub and talk fun, sociable, drunken nonsense about all manner of topics with your friends. You were with your friends sharing stories, memories and opinions, and generally socialising.

Nowadays, if you want to contribute to a conversation, no matter how frivolous, then the smartphone police demand that absolutely everything you say is factually correct. Conversation becomes painfully slow as there’s always someone who’ll pull the damn thing out to verify anything said.”

Panic has replaced patience

2015: I am meeting my friend at one o’clock. It’s five past. I could give her longer, but I can also just Whatsapp her to find out where she is, what the hold-up is, if she is running late. I reach into my bag but I’ve left my phone at home. I start thinking: how long should I wait? What if she’s really late? What if she’s gone to the wrong place? What if she’s here but we can’t see each other? How can I get in touch with her? I don’t memorise mobile numbers anymore. I need an internet connection. Maybe I can get on Facebook and message her? At ten past one she taps me on the shoulder and makes me jump.

1996: I am meeting my friend at one. I sit outside the bus station reading a book, waiting for her bus to get in. It’s five past. It doesn’t even occur to me to start wondering where she is. I check my watch after a chapter. Twenty-five past. I figure she’s missed one bus and will get the next. I calculate she’ll arrive by two o’clock – after that I’ll go to the payphone, put in 10p and ring her mum’s house. I go back to my book. At ten past two she taps me on the shoulder and makes me jump.

Having to remember numbers and addresses

“When I was a lad, I used to remember lots of phone numbers and addresses (including post codes), as well as dates, times of appointments, birthdays etc.
Now? Well, it’s probably best not to go there… I appreciate that it may simply be because I am an old
git – but looking at all the youngsters around me, none of them seem capable of the same sort of memory that we all took for granted. Yes, we had diaries and address books and the like, but they weren’t used much on a day-to-day basis.”

Finding places and people

“Before smartphones, navigation involved a roadmap or A-Z street atlas. For me, that was a nightmare. Nowadays, I’m very happy to follow a cursor on a sat nav. And does anyone else remember the frustration of trying to find someone at a music festival or concert? We used to have an emergency meeting point in case someone got separated from the group. Once, at Glastonbury, I spent most of the day by myself and wasted half of it walking round and round looking for my mates.”

“Let’s chat about that!”

  • Do you know anyone who doesn’t have (or use) a smartphone?
  • What parts of your life do you consider have improved with the use of smartphones? And got worse?
  • Would you like to go back to pre-smartphone days? Why/Why not?

Write your answers and send them by email to your ECP coach. Why not record your voice too? Listen to yourself speak and identify what you have to improve on 🙂


Adapted from:


WEP 221015 Allotments are good for your health

Click on the image to download the pdf

WEP221015 Cover

The benefits of growing your own in Vitoria-Gasteiz

allotment: a garden used for growing vegetables

to put name forward: to sign up and participate.

to be green-fingered: to be good at gardening.

turnip: a root vegetable, a staple food in Britain.

plot: a small piece of land – as in ‘plot of land.’

leek: a long vegetable from the onion family.

AKA: acronym ‘also known as.’

rhubarb: an essential ingredient of delicious UK dessert

Vocabulary. Read and check you understand this before you read and listen to the article:

One project which has almost survived the cuts in Vitoria-Gasteiz has been the municipal Ecological allotments in Olárizu and Abetxuko. Any citizen over eighteen can put their name forward to take part in a lottery and if you are lucky enough to have your name pulled out of the hat you are invited to take part in a course in which you learn basic gardening and allotment skills. In keeping with Vitoria’s cherished Green image the allotments are strictly ecological and the use of chemicals and pesticides is completely prohibited.

My own experience on my allotment in Olárizu has been marvellous. I have spent four years in the open air in all weathers growing my vegetables and enjoying the fruits of nature. I started off with little horticultural knowledge but  I now consider myself to be quite green-fingered.

My family, friends and work colleagues have enjoyed my tomatoes, turnips and my chilli peppers. At home we have learned to do 101 different dishes with pumpkins and customers in my favourite bar, the Rey Louis in Judizmendi, take the challenge with my extremely hot sauces on ‘Pintxo Pote’ night.

Each allotment user has a limit of four years on their plot due to the long waiting list to join the project. As I come to the end of my time I reflect on the many benefits of working on the land.

The wonderful feeling of growing your own is hard to put into words. One Christmas every thing we ate on December 25th was from the allotment (apart from the meat).

I have met some interesting people and made new friends chatting about the best way to encourage our leeks to grow fat. I have noticed some amusing cultural differences as well when people from Alava have asked me why I was growing ‘pig food’ aka turnips. They remain unconvinced about this wonderful vegetable. Similarly they do not really get why British people love rhubarb and our eyes nostalgically mist over when we lick our lips at the thought of rhubarb crumble.

I have also enjoyed the health benefits of being out in the open air. A regular hour on the allotment can get you as fit as expensive sessions in the gym.

I can also feel smug with the environmental benefits of growing my own food.

By growing locally, I have reduced my carbon footprint and by buying less inefficiently packaged food in supermarkets I have less household waste to fill the bins with.

I am going to miss my allotment. Time to put my name down for the next lottery in February!

John Hird is ECP’s resident gardening expert. If you have any questions about growing your own vegetables, just ask our green-fingered coach!

“Let’s chat about that!”

  • Do you or have you ever ‘grown your own’?
  • Have you got ‘green fingers’?
  • What is your favourite vegetable?
  • How can VG council extend the municipal Allotments project? Any ideas?


WEP 081015 Craft Beers in Vitoria-Gasteiz

Click on the image to download the pdf

WEP081015 Cover

The story of Vitoria’s craft beer heritage

Craft beers are young, urban and fashionable, and increasingly popular

Vocabulary. Read and check you understand this before you read and listen to the article:

upsurge: a strong increase in the strength or quantity of something

twist: (in this context) an interesting difference or change, (normally) a contorted form

bandwagon: an activity or cause that has suddenly become fashionable or popular.

coined: invent (a new word or phrase)

hops: (Plants) the dried ripe flowers, esp the female flowers, of the hop plant, used to give a bitter taste to beer

Recent years have seen a huge upsurge of excitement around creative brewing with radical new beer styles. Although Vitoria-Gasteiz does enjoy some very good craft beers of it’s own, it could have been decades ahead of the current trend.

Pól runs The Carlingford in Vitoria-Gasteiz with his wife Leyre but with an interesting little twist. He stocks over 30 beers from England and Ireland, among them craft beers.

Craft beers are growing in popularity, but Pól cannot be accused of simply jumping on the bandwagon. His interest in English craft beer goes way back to his earlier days in the industry. When I asked him how he became interested in craft beers, it is with great sadness he tells me about his late and great friend Stuart Wilde.

Stewart was an English man living in Vitoria and interestingly a founder of the current scouting system for Deportivo Alavés. His idea was to open a bar in Vitoria with a difference. He would open a microbrewery serving his own beer. He produced three beers, a golden ale, a red ale or bitter and an English style porter, back in the day when the term microbrewery and craft beer hadn’t been coined yet.

He brought Pól out to Salvatierra where he had built his brewery and this was the moment Pól realised that people like himself could produce beers on a commercial level. After revisiting some very fond memories of his times heading out to the brewery with Stuart at all hours in the morning after work in the bar, to shovel hops into the beers, the sad realisation of the passing of his friend hits once again.

Pól was young and without the means to carry on the idea. The new owner of the bar reverted to a more traditional style and, although the brewery is still used to this day, Stuart’s beers sadly disappeared. However, with time, Pól would go on to open his own bar and if he couldn’t brew the beer himself, he would at least offer great Irish craft beers and English small-batch produced beers as well as more industrial beers such as Guinness.

These are unquestionably exciting times for craft beers and for beer drinkers. Craft beer is all about flavour. Format is secondary and there is no clear definition of what craft is. It can be cask, keg, bottled or canned and it can be brewed anywhere (even at home in your own kitchen). The presentation is as attractive as the taste, you only need to see Pól’s selection.

When asked what was the most enjoyable part of producing his own beer, Pól jokingly replies, “Having to test your produce first, of course, however in a quality control capacity!”.

Pól was interviewed by ECP coach Darren Lynch. Pòl, a native of Dublin, grew up in the city centre and on his way to school smelled the hops being toasted at the Guinness Brewery. You can visit Pól and Leyre and try their lovely beers at Bar Carlingford in Calle Cercas Bajas – near the crossroads with Beato Tomás de Zumarraga. Why not visit their Facebook page? (Carlingford Vitoria)

“Let’s chat about that!”

  • Why could Vitoria have been ahead of its time? Is this type of thing important?
  • What does Pól remember with great fondness? Why?
  • What does cask mean?
  • What did Pól eventually go on to do?
  • Have you tried beers with unconventional flavours? If so, what did you think?

Write your answers and send them by email to your ECP coach. Why not record your voice too? Listen to yourself speak and identify what you have to improve on 🙂

Inglés para las masas

Comentarios, curiosidades y noticias relacionadas con el mundo del Inglés

Simple English ~ Nicola Prentis

Thoughts on ELT, English and whatever else comes into my head

Zapa iBooks

Creating and publishing enhanced ebooks

Hopeful Tefl

The journey of a hopeful TEFL-er

Weekly English Practice

Your weekly English practice from English Coaching Projects