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August 02, 2015

What is a calorie?

We hear about calories all the time: How many calories are in this cookie? How many are burned by doing 100 jumping jacks, or long-distance running, or fidgeting? But what is a calorie, really? And how many of them do we actually need? Emma Bryce explains how a few different factors should go into determining the recommended amount for each person.

July 31, 2015

Travelling expressions

Now that vacation time has arrived, you may need some useful travelling expressions. Listen to them at HotEnglish

July 26, 2015

What's the big deal with gluten?

If you've been to a restaurant in the last few years, you’ve likely seen the words gluten-free written somewhere on the menu. But what exactly is gluten, and why can’t some people process it? And why does it only seem to be a problem recently? William D. Chey unravels the facts behind celiac disease, wheat allergies and non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

  1. Your friend tells you she is on a gluten-free diet. You want to take her out for a birthday dinner. What might the menu consist of? (Be sure to meet her dietary needs without causing her stomach issues!)
  2. Explain why gluten sensitivity is difficult to diagnose.
  3. How may this gluten-free food craze have led to the "nocebo" effect? Imagine and describe a scenario in which the "nocebo" effect may occur.
Source: Ted Lessons

July 20, 2015

Here’s Why Skin Cancer Rates Are Up—and How to Protect Yourself

Skin cancer rates have risen significantly, what's the best way to stay protected?
The rate of skin cancer has doubled over the last 30 years, according to new federal data.
Melanoma, specifically—which is the deadliest kind of skin cancer—is on the rise, and according to the latest research, the yearly cost of treating it is estimated to triple to a total of $1.6 billion in the year 2030.

One way to prevent skin cancer is to cover up, and sunscreen is typically a go-to to protect skin in the summer heat. However, recent data has suggested that while sunscreens add protection, they aren’t necessarily up to snuff and often brands make coverage claims they can’t really deliver. There’s also the fact that many Americans still don’t wear it daily (and many still use indoor tanning beds).

A recent report from the Environmental Working Group showed that many sunscreens offer poor coverage or have ingredients that the organization views as worrisome. Some brands market their SPF 70 or SPF 100+ even though they don’t really have much more protection than SPF 50.

New, better sunscreen ingredients could help. Recently, legislation was passed to make the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to more quickly respond to pending applications for new ingredients to add to sunscreens. Many of these ingredients have already been available in sunscreens abroad for years. The law is supposed to make the agency act more promptly, and hopefully result in sunscreens with better protection for Americans.

The FDA also said years ago that it would crack down on sunscreen regulation, by putting a cap on SPF at a max of SPF 50, establish standards for testing the effectiveness, and enforce better labeling.

So what’s the best way to stay protected? Keep wearing sunscreen (data suggests Americans could do a better job), but abide by other measures too. Health experts recommend covering exposed skin with clothing, avoiding time in the sun between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m, and remembering to reapply sunscreen—a teaspoon per body part—at least every two hours.


July 16, 2015

How plants tell time

Why not listen to this interesting information?
  • What was the flower clock?
  • How do plants tell the difference between morning light and afternoon light?
  • Phytochrome molecules detect....
  • Where are phytochromes located in a plant?
  • What is starch?
  • What is more important when a plant is deciding to create blooming flowers: the time of the day or the season of the year? Why? 

July 13, 2015

Royal Idioms

Why not learn some idioms related to the royalty? From Macmillan


July 10, 2015


Dear all,

I wanted to tell you that my daughter Sara is already here. She came on July 5th, earlier than expected, but she is in good shape. She weighted 2.5 kg.
Isn't she cute?
Hope you are having a good summer!

July 09, 2015

Confessions of an Idiom

Everyone has Skeletons in their Closet but what happens if one day the Elephant in the Room decides to make the Skeleton in the Closet bring the truth to light? The Skeleton isn’t one to confess to his crimes so easily. Mayhem ensues in this power struggle with a world full of idioms.
How many idioms can you recognize in this short, clever animation?

Confessions of an Idiom from Amanda Koh on Vimeo.

July 06, 2015

Non-verbal Communication

Did you know that 85% of our message is communicated through body language? How can the body communicate? What signs do they mention in the video?

July 03, 2015

A conversation with white people on race

This short documentary features interviews with white people on the challenges of talking about race.

July 01, 2015

How to improve your reading skills

What’s the best way to improve your reading skills? Here are a few of our top tips.

1 Why you should read!Reading can really help you learn a language. As you’re reading something, you’re learning hundreds of useful words and expressions without even realising it. You’re also seeing how words fit together and how language structures are used. Plus, as you’re reading, you’re finding out about interesting things, which could give you something to talk about in conversation.

reading I2 What to read!The key is to read things you want to read. When you’re interested in something, you focus on the content not the language. This means you learn without even realising it – the language simply flows in and gets registered in your brain. So, choose a topic that motivates you: sport, film, music, marketing, politics, economics, travel, business, technology… the options are limitless. And choose a format that suits you too: a book, a magazine, a website, a newspaper, a social media site… whatever you want.

3 How to read!Before reading, you need to activate your existing knowledge of the topic. When you do this, you “connect” with the text, and your understanding of it will increase. You’ll also find it easier to guess the meaning of any new words and expressions. For example, if you’re going to read an article on skiing, you could start by thinking about all the words you know related to this theme; or you could answer discussion questions on the topic. Then, when you start reading, you’ll find it easier to follow the text.

June 30, 2015

Do you speak English?

Simon Pegg and the Big Train comedy sketch team perform a funny short on life of an English speaking tourist in France.

June 28, 2015

June 22, 2015

Letters from Dad

To celebrate Father's Day, Time asked influencial dads to write open letters to their children.

To Clara and Liam

My dad didn’t know how to tell me he loved me. I know that he did, in his way. But he never told me. And what I’ve learned from him, God rest his soul, is how important it is to tell you both how much I love you, every day, even when I’m angry.
Because you really are the best of me. I look at your world, and I see one so much different than the one I grew up in. You’ve got a dad that’s black and a dad that’s white. You grew up knowing same-sex couples. So your understanding of sexuality, of race—it’s just not that of where I come from. And I learn from you every day because of it.
Clara, you want to be a filmmaker and producer, and you already know more about film than me. You’re me on steroids.
Liam, I’ll never forget your first steps. When you and Clara were both one, she started walking and you didn’t. So I was very concerned. I thought maybe you couldn’t walk. Then one day, I was playing Whitney Houston’s ‘I Believe in You and Me.’ And you didn’t just start walking—you started dancing over to me. That was a bigger moment than your birth.
When you were young, I was gone often. I had to be on the road doing films. Those were the hardest times, because I couldn’t be with you when you wanted to be with me. Then, all of a sudden, you no longer wanted to sleep with me or cuddle with me. It’s like, “I love you, bye.” You got things to do! It’s interesting how life can change so quickly in front of your eyes.
That’s why I always tell you that patience is a virtue. I know you’re anxious a lot and you’re always in a hurry, but remember to take your time. Tomorrow is not promised. So you must live in the most honest way that you can, being as kind as possible to other human beings.
That’s really the only advice I can give you, because you’re so good at giving me advice. That’s how incredible you are. That’s the plane you’re on.
I better get a Fathers’ Day gift.

Daniels is the award-winning creator of FOX’s Empire

June 20, 2015

Refugee Day

The 20th of June is World Refugee Day. So to mark the date, we are going to take a closer look at the issue at the Australian news channel ABC. Here's Carl with more.
Full Transcript
After watching, try to answer the following questions:
  1. Give some reasons why people flee their country.
  2. The word `refugee’ comes from the French word meaning...
  3. The UN estimates there are at least_____ refugees who need shelter or a new home.
  4. Which countries do most refugees come from?
  5. Most refugees flee to countries like Australia and the US. True or false?
  6. About how many refugees are settled in Australia each year?
  7. Where in Europe are many refugees travelling to by boat?
  8. What do you understand more clearly since watching the BtN story?
  9. How did this story make you feel?

June 19, 2015

Tongue Twister challenge!

Macmillan 'King of Pronunciation Skills' Adrian Underhill has written a special tongue twister challenge for you! 

Have a go with your colleagues, and if you're brave enough film your attempts and send your videos to us. We'll select the best to share on our official YouTube channel!

June 17, 2015

A model monologue


I think this sample monologue will help you see what is required from you on this task in the speaking exam:

Thanks Irene!