Monday, 29 December 2008

Tombstone: The Town Too Tough to Die

The United States has thousands of ghost towns. These are communities that once were successful but all the population moved to other places. Today on VOA's programme, we visit a town in the western state of Arizona that was saved from being a ghost town by a violent history. It is called Tombstone.

Go on reading about this place while you listen to the story behind.

And if you want to know more about this state enter their official web guide.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Santa's Chimney Pot Challenge

It's a snowy Christmas Eve. Santa is out and about while all the good girls and boys are tucked up in their beds sound asleep.

But there's a slight problem. Santa can't remember where all the good boys and girls live. One of the reindeers ate his map.

Can you help Santa choose which chimney to go down to leave his presents? Click on the chimney you'd like him to go down. Only one out of three is correct. Select the right one and a child will be opening their gift in the morning, choose a wrong one and Santa will get a nasty surprise and it will end the game.

The further you get Santa, the better chance you'll have of winning a prize. The person with the highest score on the stroke of midnight (GMT) on January 6th 2009 will win a prize. In the event of a tie, the first person to get that score will win. The Judge's decision is final.

Try this game thanks to Cambridge English Online

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

The Untied Nations by Chris Rose

It was the house at the end of the street; the one where nobody wanted to live. The landlord who owned the house always worried about it. He wanted to rent the house, but nobody wanted to live there. It was at the wrong end of the street, people said. It was too dark, they said. It was too damp. The rooms are too small. It’s in the wrong part of the city. That’s what all the people said when they came to look at the old house at the end of the street. Nobody wanted to rent the house; nobody wanted to live in the wrong part of the city.
The landlord thought about what to do...

Download the LearnEnglish stories and poems podcast. You’ll find multi-level stories to improve your English; you can do it online or in this blog.

This time the support pack contains the following materials:
• the story that you can listen to in the podcast in a pop-up player;
• a pre-reading vocabulary activity;
• a comprehension activity based on the story;
• a vocabulary activity.

Monday, 15 December 2008

'Christmas is Coming, the Goose is Getting Fat!'

Christmas is the biggest festival in Britain and is celebrated on 25th December. The four weeks before Christmas are called Advent, and are traditionally celebrated in churches by lighting a candle each Sunday during Advent. Nowadays, many people in Britain are not very religious, but they still celebrate Christmas. But watch out - the preparations begin long before Advent. In fact, as early as September or October, you start to see signs that Christmas is on the way...
Go on reading while you listen to it and try this BBC crossword about Christmas.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Virginia Woolf I

"Turning, she looked across the bay, and there, sure enough, coming regularly
across the waves first two quick strokes and then one long steady stroke, was
the light of the Lighthouse. It had been lit."

(Virginia Woolf, "The Window," To the Lighthouse)

Next year we'll have a new chance to read an learn a bit more about Virginia Woolf. Woolf-- a major British novelist, essayist, and critic-- was one of the leaders in the literary movement of modernism. This elite group also included Gertrude Stein, James Joyce, Ezra Pound, and T. S. Eliot.
In her works, she used a technique called "stream of consciousness", revealing the lives of her characters by revealing their thoughts and associations.
Her most famous novel, "To the Lighthouse", which was written in 1927, examines the life of an upper middle class British family. It portrays the fragility of human relationships and the collapse of social values.
She was also a feminist, socialist, and pacifist who expressed her beliefs in essays such as "A Room of One's Own".
On 23rd April 2009 in Neda a new Literary Conference about this novelist will be held. In the meanwhile try to prepare yourself with some material:
Short biography
Virginia quotations
Some of her works: Mrs. Dalloway, Jacob's room,
To the Lighthouse, Collected Short Stories

Friday, 12 December 2008

How to Tell a Joke

Click on the image to enlarge.

"Basic Instructions" is a comic strip. Any advice contained herein is intended as humor, and should not be followed as actual instructions or advice.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Every Human Has Rights

2008 is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 60th anniversary. It's time for a global conversation about human rights and the values that unite us as one human family.
It can also be a time when each of us chooses to take human rights into our daily lives, individually and collectively.
Take action as an individual. Join the growing global people network.
I choose to sign this declaration because: I wish to take responsibility for upholding the goals of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in my daily life and in my community. I will do my best to speak out to protect the freedom and rights of others in my community. I affirm the following principle: “Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.” I believe Every Human Has Rights.

Read the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in plain language.

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Do you believe in Santa?

Santa Claus is someone who will remain in the hearts of children forever. He is the make-believe person who brings toys and other gifts to children at Christmas.

To grown-ups, he is a special symbol of goodwill and selfless giving. Santa Claus also has some other names: Saint Nicholas, St. Nick, Kris Kringle, Pelznickel...

Learn more about him with VOA while you listen to the programme.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

English is a Crazy Language

English is a crazy language.
There is no egg in eggplant, nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple. English muffins weren't invented in England or French fries in France. Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren't sweet, are meat. We take English for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.

And why is it that writers write but fingers don't fing, grocers don't groce and hammers don't ham? If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn't the plural of booth, beeth? One goose, 2 geese; so one moose, 2 meese? One index, 2 indices? Doesn't it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend? If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it?

If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat? Sometimes I think all the English speakers should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane. In what other language do people recite at a play and play at a recital? Ship by truck and send cargo by ship? Have noses that run and feet that smell?

How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites? You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out, and in which an alarm goes off by going on.

English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race, which, of course, is not a race at all. That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible.

Monday, 1 December 2008

George Orwell

"On the whole human beings want to be good,
but not too good and not quite all the time"
"All animals are equal but some animals are
more equal than others"

How much do you know about the person who these quotations belong to?

George Orwell, whose real name was Eric Blair, was the author of 'Animal Farm', '1984' ('The Big Brother is watching you'do you remember?) and some other fiction and non-fiction works that we can read online.
But before enjoying these novels try to know some more about him reading this BBC article, and then this reading comprehension quiz.


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