Thursday, October 27, 2016

Video: Passive houses

(A2), B1, B2, (C1) 

The design of modern buildings focuses on reducing energy consumption as much as possible. A passive house is a building that  uses little or no extra energy for heating in the winter or cooling in the summer. This short video talks about the principles of passive house construction. You will practise talking about key ideas and learn some specific vocabulary related to modern house construction. Finally, you will practise reading the text aloud.  Video time: 90 seconds  Activity time: 15 to 30 minutes


1 Watch the video two or three times  and then use the illustration below to talk about the subject. Just focus on the main ideas - you don't need to remember all the words.

2  Do the two exercises on the worksheet. When you've finished, watch the video again to check your answers.
3 The speaker speaks quickly but pauses from time to time. Listen and mark all the pauses with a  /  in the text. Then listen to each sentence again and repeat, pausing at the same time as the speaker.
e.g  It needs to be oriented properly / so the sun can heat it in the winter / and shade is provided in the summer /

The worksheet is here.
The answers are below

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Video: Teleconferencing expressions

(A2), B1, B2 

Teleconferences can save valuable time and money compared with real face-to-face meetings. But as in all meetings, the behaviour of participants and technological problems can make them less efficient. This video shows some of  the problems encountered in teleconferences.  These are presented in a humorous way, imagining the discussion as a real face-to-face meeting.  You will learn some useful expressions for  teleconferences and for meetings in general. Video time: 3 minutes 25 seconds  Activity time: 30 minutes to 1 hour

Task:   Look at the worksheet - the link is below. There are four exercises to do before, while and after watching the video. 
NB You only need to watch the first 3 minutes and 25 seconds of the video (until the end of the teleconference)

Go to the worksheet here.
The answers to the exercises are below.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Reading: The People Walker

(A2) B1, B2

You've probably heard of people who you can pay to walk your dog for you.  You're going to read about Chuck McCarthy, who has started his own business as a "people walker". And he has already been surprisingly successful. Activity time: 20 to 30 minutes

Task: Answer the questions

1  What does his job consist of?
2  Why did he decide to do it?
3  How does he advertise? 
4  What success has he had?
5  What do people want to talk about?
6  Does he work alone?
7  Does he have any plans to develop the business?
8  Why does he think people are interested?

What do you think of the idea of paying somebody to walk with you?

The reading text is here  
The answers are below

Video: Wind turbine quiz

(A1), A2, B1, B2

How much do you know about wind turbines? You are going to do a quiz and then watch a video to find the answers.Video time: 4 minutes 12 seconds. Activity time: 10 - 30 minutes

Task:  First try and guess the answers to these questions. 

1             How fast do wind turbines rotate (in rpm) ?

2             What percentage of the time do they rotate?

3             Which country in Europe has the most wind?
4             Which country in Europe has the biggest concentration of wind turbines?
5             How many homes can be powered by one wind turbine?
6             How many solar panels are needed to produce the same amount of energy ?
7             How long is the lifespan of a wind turbine?
8             How much CO2 is saved a year by one wind turbine, compared with 
               the same energy produced by fossil fuels?
9             What percentage of bird deaths are caused by wind turbines ?
10           How noisy is a wind turbine  (in decibels) at a distance of 400m?
11           What percentage of people in the UK are in favour of wind power?

2   Now watch the video and compare your answers.

 The answers to the quiz are below

Audio: Uber and company

A2, B1, (B2)

Companies like Airbnb and TaskRabbit are dramatically changing the way that we consume goods and services. This creates competition with traditional operators, which has both advantages and disadvantages for the different parties concerned.  In this listening activity from Breaking News English, you will hear a short article about the Uber taxi ride company. You will hear the complete text and then practise listening to individual sentences. Activity time: 25 to 45 minutes

1  General comprehension: Choose the speed at which you want to listen and try and understand the general sense. If this is difficult, try noting down the key words you hear and think about how they go together. You can go down the page to read the text if necessary. When you have finished, try listening at the fastest speed without the text.

Go to the activity here

2 Dictation exercise: Follow the instructions for Dictation 1. Press the "Help" button if you need help finding words. When you've finished, click on "Next dictation" to go to the next sentence.

Go to the activity here