Archive | April 2016

WEP 230316 – Novak Djokovic questions equal prize money in tennis

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WEP230316 Cover

Djokovic said statistics should be used to determine distribution of prizes

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

counterpart (n): a person who has the same function/position as another in a different place or situation

fight (vb – context): to campaign against s.t. unjust/unfair

deserve (vb): have or show qualities worthy of reward

prize money (n): money given to a competition winner

challenge (n): a task or situation that tests one’s abilities

undermine (vb): to reduce the effectiveness of s.t.

irrespective (of) (adj): without taking s.t. into account


World number one Novak Djokovic says male tennis players should earn more money than their female counterparts, as more people watch their matches.

After claiming victory at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, 11-time major winner Djokovic said the men’s tennis tour “should fight for more”.

Djokovic, 28, said women “fought for what they deserve and they got it”, but claimed prize money should be “fairly distributed” based on “who attracts more attention, spectators and who sells more tickets”.

There has been equal prize money in all four majors – the Australian Open, US Open, French Open and Wimbledon – since 2007, and combined Masters events such as Indian Wells and Miami pay the same to men and women.

But female players are paid significantly less at women-only events when compared to similar sized men’s events.

The Serb admitted it was a “very delicate situation” and was “completely for women power”. He said:

  • Equal prize money has been the main subject of the tennis world in the past seven or eight years
  • Both men and women’s games should “fight for what they think they deserve”
  • Women have to go through “hormones” and other challenges men do not
  • Women have to make “sacrifices for certain periods of time, the family time or decisions that they make on their own bodies in order to play tennis”

A debate about the relative strengths of the men’s and women’s game should not be off limits.

Novak Djokovic’s comments are shared by very many in the men’s game.

He is suggesting prize money at combined events should be distributed on the basis of ticket sales and TV viewing figures.

That may lead in future to women being paid more, but could also fatally undermine the principle that men and women should be treated equally for competing on the same stage – irrespective of the number of sets they are asked to play.

“Let’s chat about that!”

  • In general, do you agree with what Djokovic says? Why / Why not?
  • Women have fought hard for equality in this sport. Why should they give up now?
  • Should all sportspeople be paid the same amount of prize money? Why / (not)?
  • If so, why don’t they play against each other in competitions?
  • Male tennis players play 5 sets, females only 3 sets, but men do less housework than women. Are the two situations comparable?
  • The Olympics used to be amateur. Do you think all sports should become amateur again?

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 170316 – St Patrick’s Day Is My Fiesta

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WEP170316 Cover

Having lived nearly half his life abroad, Irish ECP coach Darren Lynch explains what will be going through his mind today, Saint Patrick’s Day.

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

spuds (n): potatoes

crave (v): to have an intense desire for

pier (n): a platform projecting from the shore into the sea

peckish (adj): somewhat hungry

unwind (v): to become relaxed

hurling (n): a traditional Irish game resembling hockey and lacrosse, played with sticks and a ball between two teams of 15 players each

knockout (n): a competition in which competitors are eliminated progressively


We Irish are famous for our love of Guinness, whiskey and spuds. No doubt we love the pub too and just like Spanish fiestas, St Patrick’s Day is a great excuse to party. Not that we really need one.

However, as much as I’d love to be at home celebrating St. Patricks Day with my friends and family, other things will also be going through my head today. I’ll be thinking about things I really enjoy doing when I’m at home in my native County Clare.

First up, to start the day, is an Irish breakfast. During the year I crave, especially on Saturday mornings, a fry up. I long for bacon, sausages, fried eggs, grilled tomato, black pudding, white pudding and sautéed potatoes. So, when I’m in Ireland I tend to take full advantage and happily wash it all down with a cup of tea.

Then I’ll begin to imagine the coast line. One of my favourite places to spend a couple of hours is a place called Ballyvaughan.  It’s a tiny village situated in the northwest corner of the Burren. I imagine the smell of the sea as I walk down the old pier overlooking Galway Bay.

When I’m feeling peckish, I go to the Tea Rooms where I always order the same thing. Smoked salmon on Irish brown soda bread and a pot of tea. Heaven. There is no better place to unwind than to sit in the Tea Rooms looking out at the unique Burren landscape while in the company of my family.

Then I’ll drive down the coast, maybe stopping off at the Cliffs of Moher for a quick look. Lets be honest, they are too good to pass by. Up to a million people visit the cliffs every year. Standing at 214 meters at their highest point they stretch for 8 kilometres along the Atlantic coast and are truly spectacular.

As I have not been to a hurling match for many years, this summer I’m hoping to get to see my county team play a game. Hurling is the most popular sport in Ireland but the most important competition in the sport is on a knockout basis. Therefore, the team needs to keep winning if I have any chance of seeing them play when I get home on holiday.

A guaranteed good night out is to go and watch my local rugby team play in Thomand Park. My friends and I meet up for dinner before going to the game. Sitting in the stadium on a cold December night usually calls for a hot whiskey to warm us up. Then, hopefully after a good win, it’s time to hit the bars. I’ll worry about the sore head in the morning.

Anyway, back to reality. Happy Paddy’s Day everyone!

“Let’s chat about that!”

  • If you lived abroad, what things would you miss about your country?
  • Do you believe homesickness is a common problem? Why/Why not?
  • What are the greatest problems people face when they move abroad?
  • In your opinion, would you say the pros outweigh the cons when living abroad? Give reasons for your answer.

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 100316 – The Pareto Principle and Language Learning

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WEP100316 Cover

The 80-20 rule applied to language learning

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

ownership: owning or having something

pods: the green container that peas grow inside

roughly: approximately

to carry on: to continue

to be prone to sth: to tend to do it sth

hardly ever: very rarely, not often at all

exposure: having contact with something

idioms: expressions or sayings in a language

given: if there is, as long as there is


Some of you might have heard about the Pareto Principle, also known as the 80-20 rule.

After having observed numerous phenomena ranging from land ownership to pea pods, Italian engineer and philosopher Vilfredo Federico Damaso Pareto came up with what is now known as Pareto’s Law: for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. In other words, in the context of work or study, 20% of the effort brings in 80% of the results.

In the context of language learning, by understanding 90 to 95% of the most commonly used words in everyday life, which is roughly the degree of comprehension required to gather what is being said in a language, you’ll be able to guess the remaining 5 to 10% of words through context. While the numbers do not quite match the 80-20 rule, the principle is similar: only a small fraction of your efforts will obtain the greatest results.

After having developed good comprehension skills in a language, I believe it’s time to drop the dictionary and carry on learning through context and good guesswork. After all, you do it every day in your own language!

Developing Good Guessing Skills

An article published in The Telegraph, entitled “Learning a foreign language: five most common mistakes” highlights “Rigid Thinking” as one of the most common mistakes learners are prone to:

“Linguists have found that students with a low tolerance of ambiguity tend to struggle with language learning. The type of learner who sees a new word and reaches for the dictionary instead of guessing the meaning from the context may feel stressed and disoriented in an immersion class. Ultimately, they might quit their language studies out of sheer frustration.”

Rigid thinking is in fact extremely common among language learners, and extremely uncommon when it comes to your mother tongue! Think about it – how often do you reach for a dictionary when reading in your native language? My guess is hardly ever, despite the fact that you don’t know the meaning of all of the words you come across.

Good guessing skills are truly important when it comes to acquiring a foreign language. You will eventually learn words through repeated exposure, in different contexts, and at different stages. This should be your language-learning aim.

Let me give you this example sentence: “We put in a tremendous amount of effort to finish this project, and we finally succeeded.” Now, let’s say that you understand everything here except for the word “tremendous”. Chances are you get can a rough idea of the meaning of “tremendous” through the context given here. You understand 92.5% of this sentence (14 words out of 15), and the remaining 7.5% can be understood contextually. Keywords include “effort”, “project”, and “finally succeeded”, and through guesswork, it’s not that hard to come up with a meaning that will be similar to what you would find in a dictionary. Perhaps the hardest part is trusting in your own ability to make these deductions.

Assimilating the Language

Now, of course simply knowing words does not equal perfect understanding of what you listen to or read, since there is also grammar and the existence of idioms to consider, and these can provide wonderful barriers to understanding. You could very well know every single word in a sentence and still not understand what is being said because of unfamiliarity with these aspects of the language. Nevertheless, most of the time, by knowing 90 to 95% of the words in a sentence, given sufficient context, you should have very few problems understanding and communicating in the language.

“Let’s chat about that!

  • How many words do you think you need to know to communicate in a language?
  • How many words do you think you know in English?
  • Do you think you are the type of learner “with a low tolerance of ambiguity”?
  • How often do you reach for the dictionary when reading? Why?
  • What other areas of life can the 80-20 principle be applied to?
  • What methods do you have for learning new vocabulary… and using it?


Adapted from


WEP 030316 – Joe Hart, Shooting Hoops In Spain

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WEP030316 Cover

English international Joe Hart has spent the last three seasons playing professional basketball in Spain. This year he’s playing for Sáenz Horeca Araberri  and ECP coach Rob took the opportunity to interview him

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

P.E. teacher: a Physical Education instructor in schools

college: the name for university in the United States

tough: difficult, hard, unpleasant

your bearings: your position relative other places

to moan: to make a trivial complaint

to get by: to speak a language OK but with some difficulty


Rob: Tell us about your family Joe.

Joe: My father is a P.E. teacher and was in the Great Britain bobsleigh team, and my older sister plays basketball too. As a kid I remember playing with my family, throwing balls around all the time. Apart from basketball I enjoyed playing rugby and especially cricket.

R: What’s the basketball scene like in the UK?

J: Although the basketball scene in Britain is improving, it can only take you so far. If you are British and want to make it as a basketball player, you have to move to the States and go to high school and college. Sport is such a big business there that if you’re good, you can get a sports scholarship and study for free. I was captain of the England U16 team and got the chance to move there when I was 16. My sister was already out there.

R: What’s it like changing team and city every year?

J: My first year in Spain – in Benidorm – was tough to begin with. I had been studying in Canada the year before and it was a big change. I was only 19 when I arrived, I didn’t have a phone, I didn’t speak the language, I had no internet or even a TV set. But when I started training I met people, began learning things and life gradually got more comfortable. I make a point of walking around my new home in the first few days I’m there to get my bearings and settle in quicker.

R: Araberri had a bad season last year. Why do you think the team is doing so well this season?

J: Araberri is a very different team this year. Only the captain, Martín Buesa, has carried on from last season. All the new players are really competitive and we train really hard. In LEB Plata, teams normally have 5 or 6 strong players but the quality drops with the rotations. We have 8-9 strong players that the coach can rotate and that makes us much more like a LEB Oro team.

R: What’s it like being a professional player?

While some of the other guys might moan about having to train so much, I just love it and really look forward to it. I hate off days. I can’t wait for the weekend to come round so I can get on to the court to compete and I’m always eager to get back training the day after. However, it’s in the summer when you can really improve on your basketball. During the season you are too busy training as a team. Once the season is over, you can really get to work on your individual skills, strength and speed.

R: How do you describe Vitoria to your British friends?

I tell them that the weather in Gasteiz is similar to England, unlike Benidorm. There, I went from freezing my beard in sub-zero Canadian winters to walking around in shorts and a t-shirt. And I love the lack of traffic here, the roads seem so empty. When we travel around Spain for games I never see the amount of traffic that you get everywhere in England. In terms of where you live, here it’s all hi-rise apartment blocks. Not many people live in houses. As a Briton I like living in a house with a garden.

R: How do you see your career developing?

J: Making my debut with the Great Britain team last summer  was a dream come true and it would be great to play in the Olympics with Team GB. At club level, to play in the NBA would be amazing, but being realistic my more immediate goals are the Eurocup and hopefully the Euroleague. I’m still young so anything is possible.

R: Have you learnt any Spanish in your time here?

J: Surprisingly, considering how many British ex-pats live there, Benidorm was a great place to learn Spanish. The coach and players were all local, so all the training and social life was in Spanish. It was a great immersion course. Huesca was similar, but this year, with Araberri, the team is more international so we speak more English.  I get by fine in Spanish but sometimes I feel I’m speaking with English structures and using Spanish words. I’ve never had proper lessons but I would like to start taking it more seriously.


“Let’s chat about that!

  • Do you know anything about Araberri basketball club? And Zuzenak wheelchair basketball team or Araski women’s basketball club?
  • Do you know anyone who is a professional (or semi-professional) athlete? What sport do they play? What level do they compete at?
  • Do you think that it’s difficult for sportspeople to adapt to new teams and cities?
  • Teams like Araberri, Zuzenak and Araski don’t get much media attention in Vitoria. Do you think they should get more? Why/Why not?
  • Joe Hart left university to start his professional career when he was 19. Would you recommend someone you know to stop studying in order to play sport full-time?
  • What do professionals normally do when they retire from playing? Give examples if you can.

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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