Archive | January 2018

WEP 191217 – Do you know who ‘Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ is?

Click on the image to download the pdf

Before you read the complete article, look at this vocabulary and find it in the text

reindeer: a deer from subarctic regions (plural: reindeer – no ’s’)

department store: a big shop with lots of departments (e.g. El Corte Inglés)

behest: a person’s command or request

to console: to comfort a someone at a difficult time

outcast: a person who has been rejected or ostracized by their society

barely: only just, almost not, by a small margin

to pass away: to die

Written in 1939 and turned into a song 10 years later, this Christmas tale is one of the most popular festive songs in the world

“Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” is one of the most popular Christmas songs in the English-speaking world. It was written by Robert May, an employee of the American department store Montgomery Ward, and first published in 1939. There are, perhaps surprisingly, two versions of why May wrote the story of a reindeer called Rudolph.

The main difference between the two is how they explain what prompted May to create the character of Rudolph in the first place. According to the official version, he did it at the behest of his supervisor in the advertising department of Montgomery Ward. According to the popular version however, he did so to comfort and console his 4-year-old daughter, Barbara, whose mother was dying of cancer.

The popular version claims that May’s first wife Evelyn died just before Christmas in 1938. But according to May’s own account, she didn’t succumb to cancer until July of 1939, well after he had begun working on “Rudolph.”

May told his story in an article for the Gettysburg Times in 1975. It all began, he wrote, on a cold January morning in 1939 when he was called into his supervisor’s office and asked to come up with “an animal story” for a Christmas promotion aimed at children.

Inspired in part by his daughter’s fascination with the deer at the local zoo, he invented a tale about an outcast reindeer with a shiny, red nose who dreamed of pulling Santa’s sleigh. His supervisor rejected the idea at first, but in August 1939, barely a month after his wife had passed away, May finished the final draft of the story that was called “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”

“I called Barbara and her grandparents into the living room and read it to them,” he later wrote. “In their eyes, I could see that the story accomplished exactly what I had hoped for.”

The story booklet was distributed by Santa at the stores; it was a best-seller and more than 2.4 million copies were given away that Christmas.

Ten years later, Robert May asked his brother-in-law Johny Marks, who was a composer, to make a musical version of the story. It soon became a great success and is now sung by millions every year at Christmas time.

Below you can read the story. The sentences in bold are used in the song.

“Let’s chat about that!”

Write your answers and send them by email to your ECP coach. Give reasons for your answers.

Why not record your voice too? Listen to yourself speak and identify what you have to improve on 🙂

  • Do you know who Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is?
  • What is your favourite Christmas song? Why?
  • Do you sing seasonal songs with your family and friends? When?
  • Do you think Christmas and New Year celebrations last too long in Spain? Why/not?
  • Do you know any other seasonal celebrations from other religions? Describe them.

The tale of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Santa’s sleigh is pulled by eight reindeer, whose names are Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Donder, Cupid, and Blitzen. But there is also a ninth reindeer, the youthful Rudolph…

Rudolph did not live with Santa’s reindeer. Instead, he lived in a reindeer village somewhere else. One day, when Santa was delivering presents to Rudolph’s house, he noticed a light emanating from Rudolph’s room. Santa saw that Rudolph had a very shiny nose, and said that it glowed! But the other reindeer weren’t so impressed and used to laugh at Rudolph and call him names. They never let poor Rudolph join in any reindeer games.

However, with his shiny, red nose, Rudolph was able to see through thick fog. So, one foggy Christmas Eve, worried that the thickening fog could be the cause of an accident or delays and would make it difficult to complete his Christmas Eve rounds, Santa came to Rudolph and said: “Rudolph, with your glowing nose, won’t you come and lead my sleigh tonight?”

Rudolph agreed to lead Santa’s sleigh. Rudolph’s nose glowed so brightly that it illuminated the team’s path through the foggy night and Santa’s task was safely accomplished. The young, red-nosed reindeer was very proud of himself! And finally, his fellow reindeer respected him. In fact, they loved him and shouted out with glee: “Rudolph the red-nose Reindeer, you’ll go down in history!”

The song

Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer, Had a very shiny nose

And if you ever saw it, You would even say it glows

All of the other reindeer, Used to laugh and call him names

They never let poor Rudolph, Play in any reindeer games

Then one foggy Christmas Eve, Santa came to say

Rudolph with your nose so bright, Won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?

Then all the reindeer loved him, And they shouted out with glee

“Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer, You’ll go down in history!”

Adapted from:


WEP 141217 – Beitia pens new solo album

Click on the image to download the pdf

Before you read the complete article, look at this vocabulary and find it in the text

gigging: moving from one concert to another performing music

to drop: to stop doing something, not continue

penning: write or compose a song

busker: a person who entertains by dancing, singing, or reciting on the street or in a public place

naivety: Lack of experience, wisdom, or judgement.

stage name: a name used by an actor or artist instead of their real name

going to ground: to hide somewhere where you cannot easily be found


ECP coach Darren Lynch meets Beitia to discuss his new solo album, which has been nine years in the making

Igor García Beitia has come a long way from playing air guitar as a child to finally completing his first solo album, which has been nine years in the making and was released on 16 July 2017.

He started out in a rock band, gigging all over The Basque Country, when on the point of being signed by a record label, he decided to drop it all as he felt it wasn’t for him. That’s when he taught his brother how to play the guitar and they started to write music together. What they produced felt more real to Beitia, and later, when his brother moved to another city, he began experimenting on his own.

The death of his mother brought about a real need for him to express himself through music. Getting his feelings down on paper and writing songs was a form of therapy. It provided a means of escape, a place where he could be alone with his thoughts. Each song on the album is written in the style of a letter to someone.

Shortly after penning his first song to his mother, he watched a movie called “Once”. This movie tells the story of a Dublin busker who meets a foreign musician and they begin to write and record music together. Instantly attracted to the busking scene in Dublin, he decided to go, as he had come to a crossroads in his life and needed a little time to reflect.

Laughing, Beitia tells me, “perhaps it was naivety” to go busking on Grafton Street in Dublin and and sing his own songs in Spanish, but it brought about a very special moment in his life. One that would change his perspective, and something that he had never experienced in Spain. While playing on the street, an Italian musician asked him if she could join him and improvised beautifully, adding the sound of the violin to his guitar. Dublin and the West of Ireland gave Beitia a sense of community, meeting and playing with other musicians. He was surrounded by like-minded people.

So, on his return to Vitoria, he began looking for his “tribe” as Beitia likes to put it. This was when he met Alison Keable, English coach and also a singer-songwriter, and along with pianist Víctor Gutiérrez, they went on to form a band called Similar Interests and recorded an album together.

But now Beitia; his stage name and his mother’s surname; is taking a little time out from the band to perform his own music. It’s a project he wanted to do alone, as the songs are very personal to him and singing these songs live on stage is, for him, “like opening and reading from his diary” .

The name of the album translates to “Therapy, Take Cover” in English, which, like an army soldier going to ground to protect himself, Beitia takes cover in his comfort zone but comes out fighting with his guitar.

The album comes in two CDs. The first consists of six songs recorded with three other musicians, Miren Echávarri on the saxophone, Ander Echávarri on the base and Guille Colás on the drums. The second is Beitia singing alone with his guitar.

“Let’s chat about that!”

Write your answers and send them by email to your ECP coach. Give reasons for your answers.

Why not record your voice too? Listen to yourself speak and identify what you have to improve on 🙂

  • How important is music in your life?
  • Are the lyrics important to you? why/not?
  • Name one of your favourite artists/bands? What is special about this artist/band?
  • Have you ever tried to write a song? why/not?
  • When do you usually listen to music?
  • Is there any style of music that you don’t like? 


WEP 301117 – Why consumerism is bad for our lives

Click on the image to download the pdf

Before you read the complete article, look at this vocabulary and find it in the text

pursuit: the act of following or pursuing someone or something.

placement: act of putting something in a particular place.

chasing: pursue in order to catch or catch up with.

carrot on a stick: method of persuasion or coercion.

broaden: become larger in distance from side to side

lead a life: the life you want to live


What’s so wrong with Black Friday?

Black Friday is the latest US import to Europe.  It represents our continuing fall into a cycle of wanting more things – whether it is the new iPad, another holiday abroad or simply a particular type of food – and the pursuit of these things takes up our time, energy, stress and money  and sometimes money we do not have  (one reason for record debt).

We also constantly compare ourselves with other people (both real and fictitious), wanting to be like them or in their position.  This leads us into a state of constant dissatisfaction – we are never happy with what we have and are always on edge.

It is intrusive 

This is as good a reason as any to dislike it!  Advertising, selling and product placement is simply an annoying imposition on our peace and personal space.  Advertising is everywhere, and spoils many experiences and pleasant views.  It is like having a stranger following you and shouting at you for several hours a day.

It is manipulative
Both advertising and consumerism itself try to manipulate us into adopting a particular view of how we should live rather than letting us decide for ourselves.

Modern advertising is not just about telling people that a product exists.  It is now about creating wants and needs that we might not have had before seeing the advertisement.  In other words, it creates false desires and needs in us by manipulating us. The advertiser’s ultimate purpose in creating these needs is always to make people want their product.

It does not meet our needs

Some people may believe that consumerism meets all their desires in life.  But for an increasing number of people it does not.  It creates impossible aspirations – quite simply, the principles it is based on make it a logical impossibility that it will make us happy.  If the idea of consumerism is to continually create new needs in people and make them consume more, this will result in us constantly chasing after a carrot on a stick.

It restricts our choices and lives

Even if consumerism did meet our needs it would not be an acceptable philosophy on which to base our societies because we need to be able to choose the lives we want to lead and it prevents us from doing this.

There are many other ways we could live (e.g. simple living or a focus on time and people rather than possessions), some of which people may feel are more appropriate for them.

It affects our world-views and characters

Consumerism does not just restrict our choices.  It is also a significant influence on our perspectives on the world.  For example, if we are spending much of our time and energy seeking the next product or activity to consume then we have less time and enthusiasm to learn about the world or broaden our horizons.

It is unsustainable

We are already living way beyond the planet’s limits. Given this worrying situation, it seems obvious that we can’t continue with the ever-increasing levels of consumption demanded by consumerism without major consequences.

Exercise intellectual independence

Be aware of how consumerism touches your life and when people or organisations are trying to manipulate you.

Consume less, live more

Take some time to stand back from your life, away from influences like consumerism, and think about what really matters to you in life and how you want to live.  Then, try to live the life you want, not the one that others would like you to lead.  

“Let’s chat about that!”

Write your answers and send them by email to your ECP coach. Give reasons for your answers.

Why not record your voice too? Listen to yourself speak and identify what you have to improve on 🙂

  • Did you buy stuff on Black Friday? Why? Why not?
  • Are there any benefits in consumerism?
  • What is the role of product labels (like food or clothing brands) in consumerism?
  • Do you believe special occasions like Christmas or Easter have become too consumeristic?
  • Is there a way to escape the culture of consumerism?
  • Do you think there are more consumerist women than men? Why?
  • Does mass media and society affect teenage consumerism?
  • Our world economy is based on consumerism. Will consumerism always be predominant?
  • How does consumerism affect the environment and nature?
  • Do you believe that changing your spending habits can make a big difference in your life?


Adapted by John Hird from

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