CAN YOU HAVE FRIENDS AT WORK?

[LIFE ★★]

CAN YOU HAVE FRIENDS AT WORK?

Work Friendships

(P1) “The people you work with are people you were just THROWN TOGETHER WITH,” observed Martin Freeman’s character in The Office more than a decade ago. “You spend more time with them than your friends and family, but probably all you’ve got in common is the fact that you walk around on the same bit of carpet for eight hours a day.”

(P2) That ASSESSMENT may be even more accurate today: according to the psychologist Adam Grant, fewer and fewer of us have any close friends at work. It’s worst in America where, between the 1980s and 2000s, the PROPORTION of people who said they had a good work friend slid from half to less than a third. But the situation’s hardly wonderful in Britain, where 42% of us don’t. It’s easy to guess why. Once, we had jobs for life, which meant COLLEAGUES for life, plus company events for the family. Now, writes Grant, “work is a more TRANSACTIONAL place. We go to the office to be EFFICIENT, not to form BONDS.”

(P3) TRANSIENCE – along with extreme busy-ness – is POISON to friendship. The guy at the desk next to yours might be gone in two months. Or you might be gone. Why bother asking him to the pub?

(P4) This might not matter if we were also spending fewer hours at work, with time to FORGE friendships outside, but the opposite’s true, of course, which means the WORST OF BOTH WORLDS: more work, with less social NOURISHMENT to show for it. And friendships SOWN in office soil were FRAGILE SHOOTS to begin with, as Mark Vernon explains in his lovely book, The Meaning of Friendship, because the logic of the workplace is opposed to that of making friends. Work is about getting things done, so your value’s INEVITABLY linked to what you contribute. A close friendship, by contrast, is valuable precisely because it’s not transactional, in any measurable way. It’s a commitment to be there REGARDLESS. This tension leads to AWKWARDNESS, as when an office friend’s SHODDY work makes your work harder, or when he or she is suddenly your boss.

(P5) Assuming you can’t – or don’t want to – just quit office culture altogether, it’s worth resisting the urge to isolate yourself socially there. All the research suggests that more work friendships means better health and a sense of fulfilment. True, this means staying open to interaction with annoying people. Yet even FRACTIOUS social connections are connections. Sure, we’re all TREADING the same bit of carpet for eight hours a day, but even that’s preferable to each treading our own, alone.

WORDS: 433

SOURCE: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/oct/09/the-value-of-friends-at-work-oliver-burkeman

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.

  1. Briefly summarize the content of the article in your own words.
  2. Is your workplace pretty social, or is it NO-NONSENSE and all work?
  3. Do your co-workers tend to socialize together after work? Is the “HAPPY HOUR” after work a tradition in your country?
  4. Have you kept any friends from a workplace after you moved to a new job?
  5. Do you feel that you have many good friends, or only a few?

EXPRESSIONS TO PRACTICE:

What do the following expressions mean? Practice using each expression in a sentence; extra points if you can use it in conversation.

  • Thrown together with
  • Best / worst of both worlds
  • No-nonsense
  • Happy hour

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SVETLANA ALEXIEVICH WINS NOBEL PRIZE FOR LITERATURE

[CULTURE AND ENTERTAINMENT ★★]

SVETLANA ALEXIEVICH WINS NOBEL PRIZE FOR LITERATURE

Svetlana Alexievich

(P1) Belarusian writer and journalist Svetlana Alexievich has won the 2015 Nobel Prize for literature.

(P2) Announcing the prize in Stockholm, the chair of the Swedish Academy, Sara Danius, called her writing “a MONUMENT to courage and suffering in our time”.

(P3) The award, presented to a living writer, is worth 8m kronor (£691,000).

(P4) Previous winners include literary HEAVYWEIGHTS Rudyard Kipling and Ernest Hemingway. French historical author Patrick Modiano won in 2014.

(P5) It has been half a century since a writer working primarily in NON-FICTION won the Nobel – and Alexievich is the first journalist to win the award.

(P6) Her best-known works in English translation include Voices From Chernobyl, an oral history of the 1986 nuclear catastrophe; and Boys In Zinc, a collection of FIRST-HAND accounts from the Soviet-Afghan war. The title refers to the zinc coffins in which the dead came home.

(P7) The book caused controversy and OUTRAGE when it was first published in Russia, where reviewers called it a “SLANDEROUS piece of fantasy” and part of a “HYSTERICAL chorus of MALIGN attacks”.

(P8) Alexievich has also been critical of her home country’s government, leading to a period of PERSECUTION – in which her telephone was BUGGED and she was banned from making public appearances.

(P9) She spent 10 years in EXILE from 2000, living in Italy, France, Germany and Sweden, among other places, before moving back to Minsk.

(P10) The author was born in 1948 in the Ukrainian town of Ivano-Frankivsk, to a Belarusian father and Ukrainian mother.

(P11) The family moved to Belarus after her father completed his military service, and Alexievich studied journalism at the University of Minsk between 1967 and 1972.

(P12) After graduation, she worked as a journalist for several years before publishing her first book, War’s Unwomanly Face, in 1985.

(P13) Based on interviews with hundreds of women who participated in the World War Two, it set a TEMPLATE for her future works, constructing narratives from witnesses to some the world’s most DEVASTATING events.

(P14) On her personal website, Alexievich explains her pursuit of journalism: “I chose a genre where human voices speak for themselves.”

(P15) She has previously won the Swedish PEN prize for her “courage and dignity as a writer”.

(P16) Ms Danius said the author had spent nearly 40 years studying the people of the former Soviet Union, but that her work was not only about history but “something ETERNAL“.

(P17) “By means of her extraordinary method – a carefully composed COLLAGE of human voices – Alexievich DEEPENS our comprehension of an entire era,” the Swedish Academy added.

(P18) Alexievich was the BOOKMAKERS’ favourite to win 2015 Nobel award, according to Ladbrokes.

(P19) She beat other hot favourites Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami and Kenyan novelist Ngugi Wa Thiong’o.

(P20) She is the 14th woman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature in its history.

(P21) A total of 112 individuals have won it between 1901 and 2015. The prize was SUSPENDED several times during the first and second world wars.

WORDS: 490

SOURCE: http://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-34475251

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.

  1. Briefly summarize the content of the article in your own words.
  2. Do you read many books that have been translated from other languages to your native language?
  3. Do you prefer fiction or non-fiction writing?
  4. Do you read more books by male or female authors?
  5. The Nobel Prize in Literature is always awarded to a “heavy” writer. Do you prefer heavier, serious books, or lighter books?

EXPRESSIONS TO PRACTICE:

What do the following expressions mean? Practice using each expression in a sentence; extra points if you can use it in conversation.

  • Non-fiction
  • First-hand

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CARGO SHIP MISSING IN HURRICANE

[WORLD NEWS ★★]

CARGO SHIP MISSING IN HURRICANE

El Faro

(P1) Rescuers have found DEBRIS believed to be from the CARGO ship El Faro, which went missing near the Bahamas in the eye of HURRICANE Joaquin with 33 mostly American CREW members aboard more than three days ago.

(P2) The US COAST GUARD said late on Sunday the debris field covered 225 square miles, and included STYROFOAM, wood, cargo, and other items.

(P3) LIFEJACKETS, containers, and an oil SHEEN were spotted by Coast Guard aircrews flying over the Bahamas on the third day of their search for the CONTAINER SHIP.

(P4) Tim Nolan, president of the ship’s owner, Tote Maritime, said two VESSELS the company sent to the scene had found a container “which appears to be from the El Faro”.

(P5) The coast guard could not confirm the objects belonged to the ship, which sent a DISTRESS CALL (SOS) on Thursday morning in the Bahamas but has not been heard from since.

(P6) There was no sighting of the El Faro or any LIFEBOATS, Nolan said.

(P7) The ship reportedly had five life rafts, four in the rear and one in the front, which could hold 15-17 people each. It has been in service for many years and was built to work in the rough seas off Alaska.

(P8) With no word on the fate of the crew, relatives gathered at a SEAFARERS’ union hall in Jacksonville, Florida, where they were BRIEFED by the Coast Guard and the ship’s owner.

(P9) An uncle of one of the crew members from the El Faro says the ship was EQUIPPED with modern lifeboats. But Barry Young says no one knows whether the 33 crew members had a chance to use them.

(P10) Young spoke to reporters outside the union hall. He says the families have been praying together and trying to support each other.

(P11) “We want CLOSURE and we hope and pray that it’s them being brought home safely,” he said.

(P12) “This is my baby, this is my little girl,” said Mary Shevory Wright, an ELDERLY woman waiting for word about her daughter, Mariette Wright, 51, a DECKHAND who had been at sea since the age of 18.

(P13) Fearing the worst Shevory Wright said she was RELUCTANT to enter the union hall. “They are just going to make me cry.”

(P14) Another woman sat by the KERB outside the union hall SOBBING as family members hugged each other and held hands nearby.

(P15) Weather conditions in the search area had greatly improved on Sunday, the Coast Guard said. Four C-130 SEARCH-AND-RESCUE planes from the coast guard and US air force went out at dawn, while three coast guard CUTTERS were also sent to the area.

(P16) El Faro, a 735-foot (224-metre) container ship with 28 US citizens and five Poles aboard, was headed to San Juan, Puerto Rico from Jacksonville, Florida when it reported losing PROPULSION, LISTING and taking on water after sailing into the path of Joaquin in the Bahamas, the coast guard said.

(P17) Relatives of the crew have spoken highly of the ship’s experienced captain, though some questioned the decision to sail into such a powerful storm.

(P18) “The ship should never have left,” Rochelle Hamm, wife of one crew member, Frank Hamm, a father of five, told NBC News. After it DEPARTED it should have changed course before Joaquin became a hurricane, she added.

(P19) Joaquin BATTERED the central Bahamas ARCHIPELAGO for more than two days with 130 mile-per-hour (210 km-per-hour) winds, a potentially CATASTROPHIC Category 4 hurricane on a scale of 1 to 5.

(P20) “The ship was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Mike Hanson, a spokesman for Tote Maritime, said in an interview. Joaquin was just a TROPICAL STORM when El Faro set out from Jacksonville but later INTENSIFIED rapidly into a major hurricane, he added.

(P21) The National Hurricane Center warned late Tuesday that Joaquin would become a hurricane in the central Bahamas within 12 hours. 

WORDS: 643

SOURCE: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/oct/04/hurricane-joaquin-bahamas-missing-cargo-ship-el-faro-search

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.

  1. Briefly summarize the content of the article in your own words.
  2. Working at sea is still the most dangerous of all jobs. Why is this true?
  3. Have you ever been in a major storm of any kind?
  4. The El Faro had lifeboats, but the hurricane it ENCOUNTERED was very intense. Why do you think there were no survivors?
  5. In situations like these, people sometimes say that the worst thing is not knowing exactly what happened. Do you agree with that?

EXPRESSIONS TO PRACTICE:

What do the following expressions mean? Practice using each expression in a sentence; extra points if you can use it in conversation.

  • Coast Guard
  • Container ship
  • Distress call
  • Search-and-rescue
  • Tropical storm

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EXPOSURE TO TOXIC CHEMICALS THREATENS HUMAN RACE

[ENVIRONMENT ★★]

EXPOSURE TO TOXIC CHEMICALS THREATENS HUMAN RACE

Toxic Chemicals

(P1) DRAMATIC increases in EXPOSURE to TOXIC chemicals in the last four decades are threatening human REPRODUCTION and health, according to the International Federation of GYNECOLOGY and OBSTETRICS (FIGO), the first global reproductive health organization to TAKE A STAND on human exposure to toxic chemicals.

(P2) The opinion was written by doctors and scientists from the major global, US, UK and Canadian reproductive health professional societies, the World Health Organization and the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF).

(P3) FIGO, which represents obstetricians from 125 countries and territories, published the opinion in the International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics on Oct. 1, 2015, just prior to its Oct. 4 to 9, 2015, world congress in Vancouver, BC, where more than 7,000 CLINICIANS and scientists will explore global trends in women’s health issues.

(P4) “We are DROWNING our world in UNTESTED and unsafe chemicals, and the price we are paying in terms of our reproductive health is of serious concern,” said Gian Carlo Di Renzo, MD, PhD, Honorary Secretary of FIGO and lead author of the FIGO opinion. According to Di Renzo, reproductive health professionals “witness FIRST-HAND the increasing numbers of health problems facing their patients, and preventing exposure to toxic chemicals can reduce this BURDEN on women, children and families around the world.”

(P5) MISCARRIAGE and STILLBIRTH, IMPAIRED FETAL growth, CONGENITAL DEFECTS, impaired neurodevelopment and COGNITIVE function, cancer, attention problems, and HYPERACTIVITY are among the list of poor health OUTCOMES linked to chemicals such as PESTICIDES, air pollutants, plastics, SOLVENTS, and more, according to the FIGO opinion.

(P6) “What FIGO is saying is that physicians need to do more than simply advise patients about the health risks of chemical exposure,” said Jeanne A. Conry, MD, PhD, a co-author of the FIGO opinion and past president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which issued an opinion on chemicals and reproductive health in 2013.

(P7) “We need to ADVOCATE for POLICIES that will protect our patients and communities from the dangers of INVOLUNTARY exposure to toxic chemicals.”

(P8) Chemical manufacturing is expected to grow fastest in developing countries in the next five years, according to FIGO. In the U.S. alone, more than 30,000 pounds of chemicals per person are manufactured or imported, and yet the VAST majority of these chemicals have not been tested. Chemicals travel the globe via international TRADE AGREEMENTS, such as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, which is being negotiated between the European Union and the United States. Environmental and health groups have criticized the proposed agreement for WEAKENING controls and regulations designed to protect communities from toxic chemicals.

(P9) “Exposure to chemicals in the air, food and water supplies DISPROPORTIONATELY affect poor people,” said Linda Giudice, MD, PhD, MSc, a FIGO opinion co-author, past president of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) and chair of the UCSF department of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences.

(P10) Exposure to toxic environmental chemicals is linked to millions of deaths and costs billions of dollars every year, according to the FIGO opinion.

(P11) “Given ACCUMULATING evidence of ADVERSE health impacts related to toxic chemicals, including the potential for inter-generational harm, FIGO has wisely proposed a series of recommendations that health professionals can adopt to reduce the burden of unsafe chemicals on patients and communities,” said FIGO President Sabaratnam Arulkumaran, who is also past president of the British Medical Association.

(P12) FIGO proposes that physicians, MIDWIVES, and other reproductive health professionals advocate for policies to prevent exposure to toxic environmental chemicals; work to ensure a healthy food system for all; make environmental health part of health care; and CHAMPION environmental justice.

WORDS: 597

SOURCE: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/10/151001100058.htm

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.

  1. Briefly summarize the content of the article in your own words.
  2. Does your work bring you into much exposure to chemicals that you are aware of?
  3. Is pollution a big problem in your country, or is it UNDER CONTROL?
  4. Given the nature of the modern world, do you think it is actually possible to LESSEN people’s exposure to chemicals?
  5. Why is a group devoted to reproductive health trying to bring attention to this issue?

EXPRESSIONS TO PRACTICE:

What do the following expressions mean? Practice using each expression in a sentence; extra points if you can use it in conversation.

  • Take a stand
  • First-hand
  • Congenital defect
  • Trade agreement
  • Under control

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WHY DOES THE PRESIDENT OF BELARUS TAKE HIS SON EVERYWHERE?

[WORLD NEWS ★]

WHY DOES THE PRESIDENT OF BELARUS TAKE HIS SON EVERYWHERE?

Belarus

(P1) Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko surprised some ONLOOKERS by taking his 11-year-old son to the UN General Assembly in New York.

(P2) Kolya was photographed POSING with his father alongside Barack and Michelle Obama at a RECEPTION for the summit on Monday.

(P3) But he was not just there for the sandwiches.

(P4) Kolya also joined world leaders in the seats of the general assembly hall as his father addressed DELEGATES from around the world.

(P5) But it was not a ONE-OFF “take your child to work day” for Belarus’s ruling family.

(P6) The little boy in a suit often accompanies his father ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS, including a visit to Beijing for China’s World War Two COMMEMORATIONS on 3 September.

(P7) Kolya was pictured watching Beijing’s MASSIVE military parade alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin, and lining up for a PHOTO SHOOT with leaders including Chinese President Xi Jinping.

(P8) There are claims Mr Lukashenko is GROOMING his youngest son to be his successor.

(P9) Speaking to the BBC in 2012, Mr Lukashenko denied this and insisted the boy was so ATTACHED to him that he would not go to sleep without him.

(P10) Among other recent trips, Kolya went with his father to the United Arab Emirates in October 2014 where they visited the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi.

(P11) He may be extraordinarily well travelled for an 11-year-old, but some critics have begun to question the increasing impact of all these appearances on his education.

(P12) Kolya missed a week of school in September this year – the same amount of time that he missed during six months of 2014.

(P13) Mr Lukashenko’s TIGHT GRIP on power has brought criticism from the West – with the US Bush administration describing him in 2005 as the “last DICTATOR in Europe” at the head of an “OUTPOST of TYRANNY“.

(P14) Human rights groups accuse him of WIDESPREAD abuses.

(P15) Meanwhile most Belarusian media channels are controlled by the government.

(P16) Kolya, short for Nikolai, is the youngest of the president’s three sons.

(P17) It has been widely reported in Western media that he was born in 2004 as a result of an EXTRA-MARITAL AFFAIR between the president and his personal doctor.

(P18) Whatever the CIRCUMSTANCES of his birth, Kolya has certainly received special attention in recent years – attending numerous world events and meeting global leaders.

WORDS: 389

SOURCE: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-34411326

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.

  1. Briefly summarize the content of the article in your own words.
  2. Do you think that President Lukashenko is indeed grooming his son to succeed him?
  3. When you were a child, did either of your parents have to spend much time away from home? Was this difficult for you?
  4. What effect do you think these travels are having on Kolya? Is he benefiting from them?
  5. Do you think that having a “normal childhood” is important, or not always?

EXPRESSIONS TO PRACTICE:

What do the following expressions mean? Practice using each expression in a sentence; extra points if you can use it in conversation.

  • One-off
  • On official business
  • Photo shoot
  • Tight grip
  • Extra-marital affair

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AIR FRANCE WORKERS ASSAULT EXECUTIVES

[BUSINESS ★★★]

AIR FRANCE WORKERS ASSAULT EXECUTIVES

Xavier Broseta

(P1) STRIKING staff at Air France demonstrated their anger with management by forcing their way into a meeting of the airline’s senior management and ripping the shirts from the backs of the executives.

(P2) The airline filed a criminal complaint after the employees STORMED its HEADQUARTERS, near Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, in what was CONDEMNED as a “SCANDALOUSOUTBREAK of violence.

(P3) Photographs showed one ASHEN-FACED director being led through a BAYING crowd, his clothes TORN TO SHREDS. In another picture, the DEPUTY head of human resources, Xavier Broseta, left BARE-CHESTED after workers ripped off his shirt and jacket, is photographed being pushed to safety over a fence.

(P4) TENSIONS between management and workers at Air France had been building over the weekend in the RUN-UP TO a meeting aimed at finalising a controversial “RESTRUCTURING plan” involving 2,900 REDUNDANCIES between now and 2017. The proposed job losses involve 1,700 ground staff, 900 cabin crew and 300 pilots.

(P5) After the violence erupted at about 9.30am on Monday, there was WIDESPREAD condemnation from French union leaders who sought to blame each other’s members for the ASSAULTS.

(P6) Laurent Berger, secretary general of the CFDT, said the attacks were “UNDIGNIFIED and unacceptable”, while Claude Mailly, of Force Ouvrière (Workers Force) said he understood Air France workers’ EXASPERATION, but added: “One can fight management without being violent.”

(P7) Manuel Valls, France’s prime minister, said he was “SCANDALISED” by the behaviour of staff and offered the airline chiefs his “full support”.

(P8) Air France said it had LODGED an official police complaint for “AGGRAVATED violence”.

(P9) Several hundred airline employees had gathered to PROTEST outside Air France’s head office and members of senior management were greeted by an angry crowd shouting and waving flags and PLACARDS featuring the company chiefs PORTRAYED as criminals in police MUG SHOTS. As executives entered the building, dozens of workers forced their way into the committee room shouting “this is our home”.

(P10) The Air France president, Frédéric Gagey, escaped UNHARMED. However, Pierre Plissonnier, vice-president of the airline’s Orly airport hub, was attacked.

(P11) Afterwards, Broseta told a press conference that he was “SHOCKED and disappointed” by the attack, but added: “What we saw this morning is not typical of company staff.” He said: “I’ve received hundreds of messages of sympathy from union representatives and colleagues.”

(P12) The French finance minister tweeted his support for the attacked men. “Those who engage in violence are IRRESPONSIBLE. Nothing can replace social dialogue,” Emmanuel Macron wrote.

(P13) The French employers organisation, MEDEF, blamed an “irresponsible minority” for “UNACCEPTABLE and scandalous aggression”.

(P14) Air France was founded in 1933 and in 2004 MERGED with the Dutch airline KLM to create the world’s fifth-largest air transport company.

(P15) Increased competition from Middle Eastern rivals and budget airlines recently prompted the group to seek a reorganisation and €1.8bn (£1.3bn) savings. The company is also planning to close five LONG-HAUL routes and sell off 14 of its larger, long distance aircraft.

(P16) On Monday morning, before the demonstration, Philippe Martinez, secretary general of the powerful CGT union, told RTL radio: “For several years now, SUCCESSIVE heads of Air France have suggested rescue plans … each time, it’s a BOTTOMLESS PIT with the same suggestions. I believe they are trying to set one lot of us against the other. We need a real expert APPRAISAL of the situation.” He admitted that Air France had been HARD HIT by the DEREGULATION of the industry and the popularity of low-cost airlines.

(P17) Before the meeting, a government official, Stéphane Le Foll, said all parties had to get ROUND THE TABLE to THRASH OUT an agreement. “I call on everyone, especially the pilots, to make an effort,” he told France Inter radio.

(P18) After the violence, Air France said the committee meeting would be POSTPONED until Monday afternoon, before cancelling it altogether. In a statement, the airline said executives were willing to NEGOTIATE with workers but “under certain conditions”.

(P19) Alexandre de Juniac, president of Air France-KLM, said the group condemned “the physical violence that took place around the executive meeting”, adding that it nevertheless “does not ALTER the management’s willingness to continue discussions”.

(P20) It is not the first time French workers have taken matters into their own hands with violent results. Since 2009, as the global economic crisis has escalated, several bosses have been HELD HOSTAGE by angry staff.

(P21) In January 2014, workers at a Goodyear factory in northern France prevented two managers from leaving and said the pair would be held until the company gave a “satisfactory response to requests”.

(P22) Olivier Labarre, director of BTI, a human resources consultancy, told Libération newspaper in 2009: “This happens elsewhere, but to my knowledge, taking the boss hostage is typically French. It’s the nature of the social dialogue in our country.”

WORDS: 788

SOURCE: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/oct/05/air-france-workers-storm-meeting-protest-executives-job-losses-paris

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.

  1. Briefly summarize the content of the article in your own words.
  2. Are worker strikes common or uncommon in your country?
  3. Has there been any labor violence in your country in recent years?
  4. Do you worry about the possibility of LAY-OFFS at your employer? Do you know people who have been laid-off?
  5. Class tension in French society goes back to the FRENCH REVOLUTION and before, and is NOTHING NEW. Describe the nature of class relations in your country.

EXPRESSIONS TO PRACTICE:

What do the following expressions mean? Practice using each expression in a sentence; extra points if you can use it in conversation.

  • Ashen-faced
  • Tear to shreds
  • Bare-chested
  • Run-up to
  • Mug shot
  • Long-haul
  • Bottomless pit
  • Hard hit
  • Round-table discussion
  • Thrash out
  • Hold hostage
  • Lay-off
  • Nothing new

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JASON DAY VS. JORDAN SPIETH AT THE PRESIDENTS CUP

[SPORTS ★★]

JASON DAY VS. JORDAN SPIETH AT THE PRESIDENTS CUP

jason-day-jordan-spieth-pga-championship_3338481

(P1) Jason Day would RELISH the chance to go HEAD-TO-HEAD with world No. 1 Jordan Spieth in the Presidents Cup but the Australian HOTSHOT knows the SHOWDOWN may not MATERIALISE as team TACTICS take PRECEDENCE over individual glory.

(P2) Day and Spieth ELECTRIFIED the Tour this year with their BUDDING RIVALRY played out on the GRANDEST OF STAGES.

(P3) American Spieth claimed two majors among his five wins, ending his 2015 campaign in TRIUMPHANT style at the season-ending Tour Championship, while Day won the year’s final major and his win at last month’s BMW Championship was his fourth win in six starts.

(P4) When asked if he would be interested in TAKING ON Spieth on the final day of Presidents Cup competition on Sunday, Day said there would be huge interest in that potential CLASH but team STRATEGY could GET IN THE WAY.

(P5) “I think a lot of people around the world are interested to see if that will happen,” he told reporters on Tuesday. “It would be a lot of fun playing against Jordan, but then again I’m not too sure what the strategy is with that.”

(P6) The 11th Presidents Cup, a BIENNIAL team golf competition putting the United States against a team of international players minus Europeans, begins on Thursday at the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club in Incheon, South Korea.

(P7) After three days of foursomes and four ball team play, the competition goes into a singles format on Sunday with all 12 players from each team taking on an OPPONENT.

(P8) The MATCHUPS will be decided by U.S. Captain Jay Haas and Internationals SKIPPER Nick Price, who will sit across a table from each other and try not to BLINK FIRST.

(P9) “Will they hold Jordan to wait for my name, or will Captain Price hold my name for Jordan? Or maybe he wants me to go out early and get a point up,” said Day.

(P10) “It all depends on where the points are, how everyone is playing … and from there make that decision who I’ll play against. But I think it would be a lot of fun. We’ve both played pretty good golf (this year).”

(P11) Such has been the early U.S. dominance in recent years the Internationals have been left TRAILING going into the final day with little hope of catching the Americans, who have traditionally had a deeper TALENT POOL.

(P12) The United States have won eight of the 10 Cups played so far, including the last five.

(P13) Day said it was time to stop all that.

(P14) “I think everyone’s kind of FED UP WITH it; that we have been losing for a while now,” added the 27-year-old Australian.

(P15) And his personal goal against the Americans?

(P16) “I would love to go 5-0. That would be fantastic.”

WORDS: 463

SOURCE: http://www.thestar.com.my/Sport/Golf/2015/10/06/Day-keen-on-Presidents-Cup-singles-showdown-with-Spieth/

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.

  1. Briefly summarize the content of the article in your own words.
  2. Is golf becoming more popular in your country, or less popular?
  3. What sport that you haven’t played would you most like to try?
  4. In international competitions such as the Presidents Cup, would you ROOT FOR Europeans, other internationals, or Americans?
  5. Are you a very competitive person, or not so much?

EXPRESSIONS TO PRACTICE:

What do the following expressions mean? Practice using each expression in a sentence; extra points if you can use it in conversation.

  • Head-to-head
  • Grand stage
  • Take on
  • Get in the way
  • Blink first
  • Talent pool
  • Fed up with
  • Root for

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IS 3D PRINTING JUST A FAD?

[TECHNOLOGY ★★]

IS 3D PRINTING JUST A FAD?

makerbot-adafruit-3d-printer-2

(P1) 3D PRINTING company MakerBot is LAYING OFF 20% of its staff for the second time in six months, CEO Jonathan Jaglom announced. The company let 80 staff go back in April, and now the team is at less than 400.

(P2) Jaglom writes that the company has struggled to meet “ambitious goals” thanks to the “broader challenges” in the industry.

(P3) Right now, according to Gartner’s annual Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies report, 3D printing has been out of the “HYPE” stage (when everyone gets really excited about a new technology) for the last two years. But it could be another five to 10 years before the tech really CATCHES ON with consumers. So that means 3D printing is currently stuck in a “TROUGH of DISILLUSIONMENT” — a stage right after the hype for a new technology reaches its peak and consumers begin to lose interest.

(P4) It’s at this point that companies in the market typically either establish their permanence or fail.

(P5) Cofounder and former CEO Bre Pettis had previously talked ambitiously about the future of 3D printing. “People draw a lot of PARALLELS between the personal computing industry and the personal manufacturing industry,” Pettis told Business Insider back in 2012, “and there’s a lot of similarities … now, just like the Altair and the Apple 1 and the early days of computing, you can now have a MakerBot … The future’s bright.”

(P6) After the last round of layoffs the company PIVOTED to focus on the education market, and shut down its three retail stores in New York, Boston and Connecticut. Around 5,000 schools across the US now have MakerBot printers.

(P7) The company is also moving its RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT (R&D) staff from a manufacturing complex in Brooklyn called Industry City to its HEADQUARTERS at MetroTech in Downtown Brooklyn so the teams can work more efficiently together. But the MakerBot factory will remain in Industry City, Jaglom writes. He also hinted that the company would be OUTSOURCING the production of the next generation of its printers.

(P8) Former MakerBot CEO Bre Prettis STEPPED DOWN in September last year, and was initially replaced by Jenny Lawton. But after a few months Jaglom took over.

WORDS: 365

SOURCE: http://www.businessinsider.com/makerbot-layoffs-3d-printing-2015-10

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.

  1. Briefly summarize the content of the article in your own words.
  2. Do you get excited by new tech devices, or is it all pretty HO-HUM by now?
  3. Why doesn’t hype lead to immediate success?
  4. One problem with hype is making new technologies sound more advanced than they are, when in fact devices still have a lot of BUGS. Have you RUN INTO difficulties with using new technologies?
  5. Do you think that 3D printing is HERE TO STAY?
  6. The EBOOK subscription service Oyster just SHUT DOWN, but its managers also said that the future of their industry is bright. When companies are going out of business and making MASSIVE lay-offs, is this “future is bright” language CREDIBLE?

EXPRESSIONS TO PRACTICE:

What do the following expressions mean? Practice using each expression in a sentence; extra points if you can use it in conversation.

  • Lay-off
  • Catch on
  • Research and development
  • Step down
  • Ho-hum
  • Run into
  • Here to stay
  • Shut down

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CHINESE ARTIST AI WEIWEI FINDS SURVEILLANCE DEVICES IN HIS STUDIO

[CULTURE AND ENTERTAINMENT ★]

CHINESE ARTIST AI WEIWEI FINDS SURVEILLANCE DEVICES IN HIS STUDIO

Ai Weiwei

(P1) Ai Weiwei has posted a number of pictures of what he says are listening devices found in his Beijing studio.

(P2) The Chinese DISSIDENT artist captioned one photo of a BUG on Instagram with “There will always be surprises”.

(P3) His friend Liu Xiaoyuan confirmed the bugs were found after the artist returned from a trip to Germany.

(P4) Xiaoyuan tweeted that they were found when REDECORATION started on Ai’s home and were found in the office and a living room.

(P5) The pictures show the devices were hidden in electric sockets.

(P6) Ai Weiwei’s mother Gao Ying told Radio Free Asia that she believed the devices were placed in his studio four years ago when the artist was arrested and his studio was searched by the authorities.

(P7) The artist has long been critical of the RULING Communist Party and was held in 2011 for 81 days before being released.

(P8) He was arrested during a government CRACKDOWN on political ACTIVISTS. He was held over ALLEGED crimes of BIGAMY and TAX EVASION, but was released without charge.

(P9) He was later given a 15 million yuan (£1.5m) fine for evading taxes, although the artist maintains the charges were politically motivated in RETALIATION for his criticism of the Chinese Government.

(P10) The authorities kept his PASSPORT for four years but it was returned earlier this year.

(P11) Since then he has visited Germany, where his son lives, and London.

(P12) In September he was in London for the launch of a RETROSPECTIVE of his work at the Royal Academy.

WORDS: 258

SOURCE: http://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-34442522

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.

  1. Briefly summarize the content of the article in your own words.
  2. Secret SURVEILLANCE of artists, writers, and musicians has occurred in most major countries, including China, the U.S., the U.K., and Russia. Why are the authorities so interested in creative personalities?
  3. Do the Internet and social media EVEN THE PLAYING FIELD by allowing activists to EMBARRASS governments?
  4. Do you believe that governments often use TRUMPED-UP legal charges to HARASS its critics?
  5. Have you ever felt that you were being watched?

EXPRESSIONS TO PRACTICE:

What do the following expressions mean? Practice using each expression in a sentence; extra points if you can use it in conversation.

  • Tax evasion
  • Even the playing field
  • Trumped-up

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THE WORLD’S MOST MULTILINGUAL CITIES

[TRAVEL ★★★]

THE WORLD’S MOST MULTILINGUAL CITIES

Port Moresby

(P1) Learning a new language is often an important part of moving abroad – but in some linguistically diverse places, EXPATS will need to learn two or three languages just to GET BY.

(P2) According to data from Ethnologue, a reference work documenting the world’s living languages, the countries with the largest number of spoken languages include Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Nigeria, and India, all with more than 300 unique tongues spoken within their borders.

(P3) To understand how that language diversity impacts daily life, we sought out locals and expats in their most populous cities – where residents are most likely be exposed to a number of languages on a daily basis – and asked them what it’s like to live in a place where so many cultures and communities COINCIDE everyday.

(P4) Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea

(P5) Papua New Guinea (PNG) has the world’s highest number of spoken languages (more than 800). The diversity springs from the country’s geography of difficult TERRAIN, which kept hundreds of customary societies and clans separate for centuries.

(P6) As the capital and largest city in PNG, Port Moresby has drawn people from many of these small villages to find work, while a recent MINING BOOM has attracted a SIZEABLE expat community, making the city an increasingly diverse place to live. Safety is a top concern here, however, and PRECAUTIONS like not driving alone must be taken to avoid GANG violence and ORGANISED CRIME.

(P7) Still, that shouldn’t DETER people from experiencing life in PNG, said expat Clara Raven, who moved from London nearly two years ago. “What you get exposed to here is life changing,” she said. “It’s such a unique place to be.”

(P8) It’s easy to get around the city as an English speaker, since the country’s business language is English and many expats are Australian. You will also commonly hear Tok Pisen, Raven said, which is a PIDGIN English and one of the country’s four official national languages (which also include English, Hiri Motu, and Papuan New Guinean sign language).

Djakarta

(P9) Jakarta, Indonesia

(P10) The most POPULOUS city in Southeast Asia, with 11 million residents, Jakarta attracts expats from throughout the region for its economic opportunities. As such, it’s common to hear a number of the more than 700 languages spoken in Indonesia. The country has a similar geographic diversity to PNG, and is made up of more than 17,000 islands.

(P11) “It’s REFRESHING; you get to meet people who are not of the same BACKGROUND as you,” said Jakarta native Peter Richie Putra. “A lot of cultures are mixed with one another and that’s a good thing.”

(P12) To make friends with local Indonesians, you need to make the effort to get out of your own neighbourhood, said Brett McGuire, who moved to the city from Australia more than 10 years ago. “It’s a very VIBRANT and DYNAMIC city. If you are prepared to step out of your COMFORT ZONE, you will have a great time and be so much the better for it,” he said.

(P13) The country’s official language is Indonesian, and it helps to at least have a rough GRASP of it in order to communicate in Jakarta. “I often hear people say that Indonesian is an easy language to learn. It’s not. The truth is that Indonesians will let you BUTCHER their language in the interests of communication,” McGuire said. “The result is that you can get away with very basic Indonesian. No one is going to laugh at you or correct your grammar. Most, if not all, Indonesians will be THRILLED that you HAD A GO at their language.”

Lagos

(P14) Lagos, Nigeria

(P15) More than 500 DISTINCT ethnic groups inhabit Nigeria, and each has their own language. Though many are spoken in small, rural villages, you’ll hear a large range of them in the country’s largest city and commercial capital, Lagos, especially as more rural MIGRANTS come to find work.

(P16) “It is pretty common for people to speak two or more languages in addition to English, which is the official language,” said Idowu Koyenikan, originally from Lagos and now living in the United States. After English, the major languages include Hausa, Yoruba, and Igbo.

(P17) But those who want to move here to learn another language must put some effort into it. “The more AFFLUENT the neighbourhood, the more English dominates and the less likely an expat is to experience interactions in Nigerian languages,” said Dr Laine Strutton, an American who lived throughout Nigeria during her PhD studies. “I studied Igbo for a year, and it was IMPERATIVE that I stayed in rural Igbo villages in the Niger Delta in order to be able to really practice the language.”

(P18) No matter the language, the residents of Lagos are “fun-loving people”, Koyenikan said, with the city known for its NIGHTLIFE and energy.

Delhi

(P19) Delhi, India

(P20) More than 400 languages are spoken throughout India, and the capital, Delhi, hears a huge mix of them, including Hindi, English, Urdu and Punjabi. “Everywhere you go in Delhi there are people from all WALKS OF LIFE, from different states, who speak different languages,” said Sayani Ghosh. While English is the written and business language, it can be helpful to learn some Hindi and Punjabi, as they are the most widely spoken languages.

(P21) Despite its large population and crowded streets, Delhi also has a number of GREEN SPACES and parks where families CONGREGATE in the evening, and residents escape from the FRANTIC pace of daily life.

WORDS: 901

SOURCE: http://www.bbc.com/travel/story/20150928-living-in-the-most-multilingual-cities

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.

  1. Briefly summarize the content of the article in your own words.
  2. All four of these cities have problems with high levels of crime, unfortunately, especially Port Moresby and Lagos. Are there cities you would not visit because they are too dangerous?
  3. Are many languages commonly spoken in your country, or only one or two?
  4. What challenges face a country like India that has many native languages?
  5. Do you have experience with any languages besides your native language and English?

EXPRESSIONS TO PRACTICE:

What do the following expressions mean? Practice using each expression in a sentence; extra points if you can use it in conversation.

  • Get by
  • Organised crime
  • Comfort zone
  • Have a go
  • Walk of life
  • Green space

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