Archive | January 2016

WEP 280116 – Frozen man is brought back to life by doctors

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WEP280116 Cover

A 25-year-old man, frozen within a snow drift, has been “brought back to life” by doctors after they initially thought he was dead

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

ice-cold: very, very cold (as cold as ice)

against the odds: to succeed despite great difficulties

to warm up: to increase the temperature of something

to no avail: to do something in vain, with no result

unlikely:  improbable

to quiver: shake, tremble, convulse

brain-dead: clinically dead

frostbite: damage caused by exposure to extreme cold

to slow down: reduce speed or activity 

to drop: fall, decrease 


Last February, Justin Smith was found almost entirely covered by snow on the side of an empty road. He was ice-cold to the touch, and paramedics assumed he had died of severe hypothermia. However, after several failed attempts to restart his heart, he was saved against all odds in a first for medical science.

When the coroner arrived at the scene, he estimated that Smith had been lying there, in temperatures of -20°C, for around 12 hours. He checked for a pulse and found nothing. The man’s body temperature was not even registering on his digital thermometer.

Smith was flown by helicopter to Lehigh Valley Hospital. The team of doctors and nurses there tried to warm him up and restart his heart using cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), but to no avail. Gerald Coleman, the emergency department physician on duty at the hospital, decided to give Smith a potassium test.

Potassium is vital for the communication between nerves and muscles, including within the heart. A high concentration within the bloodstream indicates that the heart muscle activity is significantly reduced; in Smith’s case, this would mean his heart was very unlikely to restart. However, when the results came back normal, the hospital thought he had a chance.

Warm, oxygenated blood was passed into Smith’s heart and through to the rest of his body. Improbably, his heart began to quiver, or “fibrillate.” Doctors then shocked his heart into restarting. Ventilators were used to breathe for him, and procedure was continued for some time. Medical staff thought he might have been brain-dead, but scans showed that neurological activity was entirely normal. He later awoke from his coma, and a year on, apart from losing his toes and little fingers to frostbite, Smith is a completely healthy individual.

“No human being should be able to survive  a body temperature of 18°C and a lack of pulse for 12 hours.” Chief of Neurology, Lehigh Valley

The secret to his survival lies in the body’s ability to slow down its metabolism. For every degree celsius that the body temperature drops, metabolism drops as much as 7 percent. This means that, at colder temperatures, cells in the body require less oxygen, and the heart rate begins to slow, conserving the body’s energy. Smith’s body had cooled at just the right rate to allow his metabolism to adapt and operate at minimal levels.

Scientists are still not sure how his brain was left completely undamaged.

“Let’s chat about that!”

  • Have you ever suffered severe cold?
  • What clothes do you wear when it’s cold outside?
  • Do you use the heating in your house much? What temperature do you set it at?
  • Describe the worst weather you have ever experienced.


Adapted from:



WEP 210116 – “An Irishman, a Welshman, an Englishman and a Scotsman all walk into a bar…”

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WEP210116 Cover

When learning a second language the last thing you usually ‘get’ is the humour. The British sense of humour is notoriously unique and difficult to understand.  To help you on your learning journey here is a rough guide to British humour and a classic joke.

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

to get (something): to understand

flaws: imperfections, faults

humble: to have a modest of low opinion of oneself

awkward: causing difficulty

deadpan: impassive or expressionless

to spot: to notice

tongue in cheek: with ironic or playful intent

to spar: to disagree, differ

to spark: to initiate or start something

misfortune: unfortunate condition or event

gallows humour: ironic humour in a desperate situation


Laughing at ourselves

Contrary to the stereotypes we do not take ourselves too seriously. Our humour starts with our own flaws. We make light of our failures so as to appear more humble and approachable. There is no room for egos in British humour. Awkward encounters, clumsiness and embarrassing moments are all well-established self-deprecation material.

Was that a joke?

Sarcasm and irony are part of the  DNA of British humour. They are produced with world-class timing and nearly always with a deadpan delivery that will leave you wondering as to whether it was indeed a joke (or not?)

Sarcasm can be hard to spot in a new language and a new culture, and in Britain the usual clues of hyperbole or exaggeration and an overemphasis on adjectives are stressed even less, making it harder to pick up. Luckily, sarcasm is used so often in day-to-day life that you will soon be a natural at detecting it. Be sure to use the tone, context and non-verbal clues such as the proud smile that spreads across the speakers face (Brits struggle to hide their delight at a perfectly timed sarcastic comment) as a guide. Surrealism and word plays are also an integral part of British humour.

Don’t always take what we say seriously

Brits are famous for being very, very polite, but a clear sign that a Brit likes you is if they happily ‘offend’ you with the occasional witty, tongue-in-cheek comment. These are not mean-spirited statements, but rather a playful exchange of verbal sparring delivered with a smiling face and no apology. It can be used to make light of differences with new friends in an attempt to spark conversation.

Brits find humour in almost everything

Brits use humour to lighten even the most unfortunate, miserable moments. There are few subjects we don’t joke about.  It’s not used to shock and offend but rather because Brits turn to laughter as a form of medicine when life knocks them and those around them down. Misfortune and failure are commonplace in British comedy – provided the jokes are in good taste (although ‘gallows humour’ is not uncommon). In most cultures, there is a time and place for humour. In Britain, this is not the case. We will happily make sick jokes about the Royal Family and laugh at death.

And finally…  “An Irishman, a Welshman, an Englishman and a Scotsman all walk into a bar. The barman says: “Is this some sort of a joke?”

By ECP coach John Hird  (inspired by this article)

“Let’s chat about that!”

  • Do you understand British humour?
  • What are the main differences between your humour and British humour?
  • What do you find funny?
  • What are your favourite comedy shows and who are your favourite comedians? 
  • Is there anything you would NOT make a joke about?

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 🙂


WEP 140116 – 10 bad habits to avoid in 2016 to be more productive

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WEP140116 Cover

Being more productive is about working smarter, not harder, and making the most of each day.
Here are 10 things you should stop doing right now to become more productive.

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

span: (context) the length of time for which s.t. lasts 

fancy: elaborate in decoration; sophisticated or expensive

thrifty: using money (and other resources) carefully

willpower (mass n.): the ability to restrain one’s own impulses

to disrupt: to interrupt s.t. by causing a problem

snooze (vb or n): (to have) a short, light sleep 

assignment: task given to s.o. as part of a job/course of study

to upset: (context) to cause disorder/disrupt (see above)

to exceed: to be greater in number or size than s.t.

to overcome: to succeed in dealing with a problem


1. Multi-tasking

Many people believe they are great at doing two things at once. In fact, just 2% of the population is capable of effectively multi-tasking. For the rest of us, multi-tasking is a bad habit that decreases our attention spans and makes us less productive in the long run.

2. Checking email throughout the day

Constant internet access can also lead people to check email throughout the day. Sadly, each time you do this, you lose up to 25 minutes of work time. Instead, quit Outlook, close some internet tabs, and turn off your phone for 30-minute periods.

3. Rewarding your good behaviour

Whether it’s a new diet, workout routine, or work schedule, one of the most difficult things about forming a new habit is the want to cheat as a reward for being good for a while. This idea, that we deserve a fancy meal after being thrifty, destroys plans for self-improvement. Instead, think of yourself as the kind of person who saves money or works out regularly, rather than as someone who doesn’t want to do something new.

4. Delaying important work until later

People often start off their day by completing easy tasks to get themselves started and leave their more difficult work for later. This is a bad idea, and one that frequently leads to the important work not getting done at all. People have a limited amount of willpower that decreases throughout the day. Therefore, it’s best to get your hardest, most important tasks done at the beginning of the day.

5. Taking too many meetings

Nothing disrupts the flow of productivity like an unnecessary meeting. With tools like email, instant messenger, and video chat at your fingertips, it’s best to only use meetings for discussions that can only be held in person. Don’t accept a meeting unless the person who requested it has proposed a clear agenda and stated exactly how much time they will need. Even then, you should give the person half of the time they initially requested.

6. Hitting the snooze button

When you wake up, your endocrine system begins to release hormones to get you ready for the day. By going back to sleep, you’re slowing down this process, and nine minutes “snooze” doesn’t give your body time to get the restorative sleep it needs. However, a good night’s sleep has the power to increase productivity, happiness, smarter decision-making, and unlock  ideas. Plan ahead and go to bed at a reasonable time.

7. Failing to prioritize

Some people think having lots of goals is the best way to ensure success. Unfortunately, this can be extremely unproductive. Make a list of 25 things you want to get done in your life. Then pick five things you think are most important and ignore the rest!

8. Over-planning

Many people try to maximize their productivity by carefully planning out every hour of their day. Unfortunately, things don’t always go as planned, and a sick child or unexpected assignment can upset the entire day. Instead, you might want to try planning just four or five hours of real work each day. That way you’re able to be flexible later on.

9. Keeping your phone next to your bed

The LED screens of our smartphones, tablets, and laptops give off  “blue light”., which can damage vision and suppress production of melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate the sleep cycle. Lower melatonin levels lead to depression.

10. Perfectionism

More often than laziness, the root of procrastination is the fear of not doing a good job. We begin to work only when the fear of doing nothing at all exceeds the fear of not doing it very well, and that can take time. The only way to overcome procrastination is to abandon perfectionism and not worry so much about details. Pretending the task doesn’t matter and that it’s OK to make a mistake could help you get started faster.

“Let’s chat about that!

  • Did you make any New Year’s Resolutions?
  • Will they be difficult to keep?
  • Why/Why not?
  • Which of the bad habits (on p.1) do you have?
  • Are you going to try and change them? How?
  • Is “New Year” the best time to improve your life?

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 🙂


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