Keeping up with the news in English

If you want to keep up with the news, these may be useful sources of information:

To see the front pages of newspapers every day, you can visit these links:

You can also watch these news channels: 

Radio:

Further ideas: https://natalialzam.wordpress.com/2018/10/31/la-radio-como-recurso-en-el-aula-idiomas/

Listening- Woman’s Hour: New Year’s Resolutions (C1)

Listen to this clip from BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour, where two speakers exchange their views on New Year’s resolutions. For questions 1-6, choose the best answer (a,b or c). You can listen to the clip twice.

listening- January fads (C1)

You may have heard of Januhairy, Veganuary, or Dry January. They are closely related to New Year’s resolutions, those challenges or pledges people tend to make at the beginning of every new year to better themselves. They are also labelled by some as ‘fads’ (intense and widely shared enthusiasm for something, especially one that is short-lived). Other such fads arise every year, however far-fetched some of those may be.

Listen to these clips from BBC Radio Jersey The two radio hosts discuss January fads related to New Year’s resolutions. Listen to the clips (1-7) and match each of the headings below to one of the clips. Then answer the questions on the google form below. Clip #0 is only intended as an introduction (there is no heading). There is one more heading than needed. You can listen to the clips twice:

  • a. both hosts had agreed on choosing this term before sharing their lists.
  • b.This challenge may imply going the extra mile in your interests or abilities.
  • c.This challenge may call for extra expenses.
  • d. The hosts disagree about the suitability of this challenge
  • e. This term is related to the Arts
  • f. In his view, it’s an activity you should only take up in January.
  • g. This term may have two meanings
  • h. The hosts are unsure about the pronunciation of the term.

Open the form in a new tab

You can finally listen again and read the transcripts:

Click on the image to download the transcripts

 

Follow-up: You can also watch this clip from the Breakfast TV show Good Morning Britain, where two commentators discuss the convenience of this sort of fads and resolutions:

You can also try this listening comprehension exercise: Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions

mediation, spoken interaction and written production tasks about charities (C1)

The following tasks deal with the topic of charities, and they integrate mediation in speaking, spoken interaction and written production/interaction. They have been designed with groups of four students in mind, but can be carried out in pairs.

The context to the tasks is the following:

Your school is going to raise money for a charity by carrying out activities involving students and teaching staff. You have been appointed as class representatives, and have to decide which charity from the appeals your class group is going to support financially.  

  1. Mediation in speaking: 

Each team member will listen to a radio appeal for a charity. They will have to take notes, and then, with these notes, be able to relay that information to the rest of team members.

This first task has been designed bearing in mind the following descriptors from the Companion Volume:

  • NOTE-TAKING (LECTURES, SEMINARS, MEETINGS ETC.): Can select relevant, detailed information and arguments on complex, abstract topics from multiple spoken sources (e.g. lectures, podcasts, formal discussions and debates, interviews etc.), provided that standard language is delivered at normal speed in one of the range of accents familiar to the listener.
  • PROCESSING TEXT IN SPEECH: Can summarise clearly in well-structured speech (in Language B) the main points made in complex spoken and written texts (in Language A) in fields of specialisation other than his/her own, although he/she may occasionally check particular technical concepts.

Using cooperative learning mats, students are assigned a number in their group. Then, all the number 1 students get together in the same group; all the number 2, and so on, to listen to the same clip, using their headphones and a headphone splitter:

These are the instructions:

Listen and take notes about your charity. You can listen to it twice. You will then have to report back to your team. Take notes on:

• objectives/goals of the charity
• sample problem mentioned
• what the charity has done for the individual mentioned
• how the situation has improved after the charity’s action
• what the speaker is asking of the listener
• key words related to money and charities

INPUT- AUDIO CLIPS- Taken from BBC Radio 4 charity appeals

These appeals tend to be around 3’50”-4 minutes long, and they always have the same structure, which is ideal for students to listen to different appeals over the same amount of time, and be able to report back to their groups.

Mediation strategies to be used:

  • streamlining a text
  • simplifying language
  • adapting language

Here you can find useful language to relay the information you wrote down.

2. Spoken interaction:

Once all the members of the team have enough information about all four charities, everyone has to argue in favour of their charity. They will have to reach an agreement at the end of their discussion.

They can prepare for 2 minutes individually, and they will discuss their views for 7 minutes.

This is some language students can use to interact.

They can use talking sticks/talking chips, to help students share the same amount of talking time.

3. Follow-up- written production: Write a leaflet for the charity of your choice, to convince the rest of students to donate money. You can use Canva or Piktochart to create it. Please remember to use persuasive language:

Click on the image to open pdf file

language for mediating text in speech-writing (B2-C2)

If you need to carry out a mediation task, either in speech or in writing, these formulaic chunks of language may help you relay your ideas and mediate your text more effectively:

Click on the screenshot to download the pdf file

 

More on mediation:

Christmas ads 2019

Christmas is around the corner. In the run-up to Christmas, businesses and brands release their very best ads, typically tearjerkers, to catch consumers off-guard and lure them to shop till they drop. I’m well aware of their persuasion strategies, of course. And yet, every year I find myself having a look at British Christmas ads, as they tend to be longer, and usually tell a story, which will allow me to exploit them in the classroom even further than ordinary ads. This is a selection of the ones I liked the most this year:

VISA

a rendition of Queen’s ‘Somebody to Love’ by real shopkeepers struggling to survive in the high street.

Extended version

Alternative version- shopkeepers singing All I Want for Xmas is you

Sainsbury’s– Nicholas the Sweep

Set in Dickensian London, it showcases the story of a waif-an orphan child and chimney sweep, unfairly accused of stealing.

Resources: the ad is set in Victorian England/Dickensian London. Some related vocabulary may be useful to start with:

Click on the image to open the word cloud. Links to definitions can be found by clicking on each word.

  • What do you mean when you say that somebody is ‘rotten to the core’?
  • The story is told by a 3rd-person narrator. How would you narrate the story using 1st-person narrative…
          • a. from Mrs Sainsbury’s point of view? 
          • b. from Nicholas the sweep’s point of view?
  • Imagine the story were to be published as a book. How would you retell it?

John Lewis & Waitrose– Excitable Edgar

Resources to use the ad in the classroom:

Fortnum and Mason– What’s in a Fortnum and Mason hamper? (list of traditional Christmas foods and elements in Britain)

Watch the ad and write down as many foods, gifts and Christmas traditions as you can.

Aldi-Kevin the Carrot #4 (Let Me Entertain You):

Resources to use the ad in the classroom: The Literacy Shed

Sky– ET came home for Christmas

Joules– Wallace and Gromit

Iceland supermarkets– Frozen II

Lidl

M&S Christmas Food (Christmas market)

Smyths toys– If I Were a Toy

Save the Children’s Christmas Jumper Day– You may want to take part in this…

Further resources:

Apostrophe Protection Society closes down

The Apostrophe Protection Society (APS) has been forced to shut down, due to an alleged lack of interest in the subject.  Listen to the  news report below to find out more:

You can read the transcript here

You can also read this article, or have a look at some ‘apostrophe catastrophes’.

This is no trifling matter. For example,  should it be King’s Cross or Kings Cross? On the tube map, it says ‘King’s Cross’, but on the National Rail website, it does refer to the station as ‘Kings Cross’, which illustrates the insecurities in the use of the apostrophe over the centuries.

Some time ago, a grammar vigilante was claimed to roam the streets of Bristol late at night correcting bad punctuation on Bristol shop fronts.

With all this in mind, you could think of possible speaking points:

  • Can you see the APS and this grammar vigilante’s points? What’s your take on their actions?
  • Is English spelling and punctuation being neglected? If so, what may be some possible causes?
  • Would English benefit from having an ‘Academy of the English Language’, just like Spanish or French have?
  • Should written  language adopt more similar conventions to spoken language?

Follow-up to the story (Dec 9th 2019): Renewed interest in apostrophes after society closed down