Queen Says ‘Friendly’ Ghosts Haunt This Palace

[Places & Travel ★★★]

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(P1) The home of the Swedish royal family is apparently “spook central”. But Queen Silvia says not to worry, the “small friends … ghosts” that haunt the 17th-century halls of Drottningholm Palace mean no harm and don’t scare her, reports the AFP. “They’re all very friendly but you sometimes feel that you’re not completely alone,” the 73-year-old queen says in a new documentary by the country’s public TV network SVT. Located on Lovön Island off Stockholm, Drottningholm is the principal home of Queen Silvia, Sweden’s longest-serving queen, and King Carl XVI Gustaf, her husband of 40 years. Its UNESCO World Heritage listing describes it as “the finest example of an 18th-century north European royal residence inspired by the Palace of Versailles.”

(P2) While the queen doesn’t get into specifics about individual spirits, Time cites a 2010 Swedish article that references a “gray man” and a “white lady” said to roam there. As for backup, the king’s sister, Princess Christina, agrees the castle is indeed a phantom favorite. “There is much energy in this house. It would be strange if it didn’t take the form of guises,” she tells the filmmakers. The Local reports that those who want to seek out the paranormal guests can indeed do so: Only the southern wing is off-limits to the public.

WORDS: 213

SOURCE: http://www.newser.com/story/236363/queen-says-friendly-ghosts-haunt-this-palace.html

VOCABULARY: spook, halls, spirits, phantom, guises, seek out, paranormal

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 believe that ghosts actually exist? Why or why not?
  3. Would you like to stay for a weekend in this palace? Why or why not?
  4. Are you frightened of anything? If so, what and why?

READING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS:

  1. What roams the corridors of the palace?
  2. Where is the royal palace situated in Switzerland?
  3. The architecture of Drottningholm Palace was in influenced by _______________.
  4. According to a writing in 2010, supposedly a ____________ and a ___________ wander in the palace.
  5. Which part of the royal palace is closed to visitors?

EXPRESSIONS or PHRASES:

What do the following expressions or phrases mean?

  • is apparently spook central (P1)
  • Located on Lovön Island off Stockholm, Drottningholm (P1)
  • said to roam there (P2)
  • off-limits (P2)

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Image source: by AYImages/Getty Images http://www.newser.com/story/236363/queen-says-friendly-ghosts-haunt-this-palace.html

Cyclist Born in 1911 Sets World Record

[Sports ★★★]

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(P1) A French cyclist has set a new record for riding 14 miles in one hour. If that doesn’t sound so remarkable, the world record is 33.8 miles, consider the category in which Robert Marchand was competing: over 105. The retired firefighter did it the first time riding in under one hour in the over-100 category in 2012, then topped it two years later at age 102, the Guardian reports. He also holds the 100-plus record for fastest 100km (4 hours, 17 minutes). He turned 105 a few months ago and competed Wednesday in the new category created just for him. Marchand circled the Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines velodrome near Paris 92 times with a crowd cheering him on.

(P2) Afterward, he was modest about his feat, telling BFMTV via the BBC that he “could have done better” but missed a sign telling him he had 10 minutes to go. He adds, “My legs didn’t hurt … My arms hurt, but that’s because of rheumatism.” Marchand, who cycles daily and once biked from Paris to Moscow, tells the AP he’s “now waiting for a rival.” Chips in his physiologist: “He could have been faster but he made a big mistake. He has stopped eating meat over the past month after being shocked by recent reports on how animals are subjected to cruel treatment.”

WORDS: 218

SOURCE: http://www.newser.com/story/236417/at-105-cyclist-sets-new-record.html

VOCABULARY: remarkable, velodrome, modest, feat, rheumatism, rival, chips in

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. In your opinion, why do you think the cyclist was able to set a new record in cycling?
  3. If you were over 100 years old, do you think you could accomplish the same thing Mr. Marchand did? Why or why not?
  4. Do you think the elderly should be encouraged to exercise more? Why or why not?

READING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS:

  1. When Mr. Marchand was working, he used to be a ______________.
  2. How many times did the cyclist go around the bicycle track in France?
  3. What disease affects Mr. Marchand?
  4. In the past, Mr. Marchland cycled from __________ to ____________.
  5. Why did Mr. Marchand quit eating meat?

EXPRESSIONS or PHRASES:

What do the following expressions or phrases mean?

  • the first time riding in under one hour (P1)
  • then topped it two years later (P1)
  • cheering him on (P1)
  • subjected to cruel treatment (P2)

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Image source: by AP Photo/Thibault Camus http://www.newser.com/story/236417/at-105-cyclist-sets-new-record.html

New Year’s Resolutions

[Lifestyle ★★★]

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(P1) Many people make resolutions during the New Year. A resolution is a firm decision to do something. The most popular New Year’s resolutions are losing weight, saving money, getting fit, and to stop smoking. About 45% of Americans make one or more resolution every year. However, only 8% of people actually attain their goal.

(P2) There are several ways to help your chances of achieving your resolution. The first way is to be realistic. Setting small goals is much better than trying to make big life changes. 35% of New Year’s resolutions fail because of this. If you were planning to get in shape, for example, you will have a better chance if you start with a little exercise each day. People who try to run 5 kilometers each morning from January 1st will likely give up soon.

(P3) Another tip is to plan out how to achieve your resolution. If you want to lose weight, for example, decide what kind of food you will stop eating and how often you will exercise. Making a detailed list will help you. Once you have made your plan, stick to it! It is important to always adhere to your plan.

(P4) Another way to make sure your resolution succeeds is to track your progress. If your plan is to lose weight, write down how much weight you lose each week. Make a chart of your weight loss and put it somewhere you can see it. This will help you to keep making an effort. Almost 33% of people who fail their New Year’s Resolutions do so because they didn’t track their progress.

WORDS: 266

SOURCE: http://dreamreader.net/lesson/new-years-resolutions/

VOCABULARY: attain, chances, realistic, adhere to, progress

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 people make New Year’s resolutions in your country? If yes, what are some common ones?
  3. Why do you think a high percentage of people break their New Year’s resolution?
  4. If you would make a New Year’s resolution, what would it be? Why?

READING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS:

  1. According to the article, what percentage of individuals achieve their resolution?
  2. The number one means to achieve your resolution is being __________.
  3. Once you have a plan for your resolution, you need to ____________ to it.
  4. When using a visual aid to track your weight loss, you should keep it in your sight. (T or F)
  5. What’s the failure rate of people who don’t monitor their work in progress?

EXPRESSIONS or PHRASES:

What do the following expressions or phrases mean?

  • a firm decision (P1)
  • setting small goals (P2)
  • big life changes (P2)
  • stick to it (P3)
  • track their progress (P4)

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Image source: by Ahmet Gur http://megapixelstock.com/singel_photo/5643e3a76952d

White Rainbows Frequent Only 2 Places in the World

[Science ★★★]

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(P1) Waterfalls are among the most reliable places to catch a rainbow, but only two on the planet offer up a regular display of its close cousin, the moonbow: Cumberland Falls in Kentucky and Victoria Falls on the Zambia-Zimbabwe border. Also called a white rainbow, a moonbow appears when moonlight (which is sunlight reflected off the moon) in the days just before, during, and after a full moon hits the mist generated by the falls. Because we can’t see colors well in low light, a moonbow appears white, reports BBC Travel, though photographers can use long exposures to capture its actual colors. Moonbows are occasionally, but not regularly, seen elsewhere in the world, including at Yosemite Falls in California.

(P2) What makes Cumberland Falls and Victoria Falls so unique is that they boast just the right amount of splash along a wide enough (rather than deep and narrow) gorge so that moonlight can reach down and across the mist. CNN notes that because sunlight is much stronger than moonlight, moonbows are rainbow’s fainter cousin. They’re temperamental in other ways: Cloudy nights can prevent the bow from forming, and Niagara Falls on the US-Canada border has lost its moonbow thanks to light pollution. Bustle reports on one photographer who in November caught a similar fogbow, which forms in the fog, arching over a solitary tree in Scotland; it went viral on Instagram and Twitter.

WORDS: 231

SOURCE: http://www.newser.com/story/236138/white-rainbows-frequent-only-2-places-in-the-world.html

VOCABULARY: mist, boast, splash, gorge, fainter, temperamental,  arching

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. Have you ever seen a moonbow? If yes, describe it. If not, would you like to see one? Why or why not?
  3. Are there any beautiful waterfalls in your country? If so, where?
  4. Is light pollution a problem in the city or town you live in? If yes, how can the light pollution be reduced?

READING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS:

  1. Where is the most dependable place to see a rainbow?
  2. The moonbow is paler than a rainbow and appears _________ in color.
  3. Who can catch the true colors of a moonbow?
  4. Which is more powerful, sunlight or moonlight?
  5. What was captured in Scotland that went viral on social media?

EXPRESSIONS or PHRASES:

What do the following expressions or phrases mean?

  • catch a rainbow (P1)
  • offer up (P1)
  • which is sunlight reflected off the moon (P1)
  • across the mist (P2)
  • caught a similar fogbow (P2)

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Image source: by Ian Glendinning via AP http://www.newser.com/story/236138/white-rainbows-frequent-only-2-places-in-the-world.html

After Bizarre Scene, Rwandan Soccer Bans Witchcraft

[Sports ★★★]

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(P1) Rwandan soccer officials have added a new rule to the game: no witchcraft. The move comes after a bizarre turn of events at a match between teams Mukura Victory and Rayon Sports on Dec. 16. After hitting the crossbar, Rayon’s Moussa Camara can be seen in video footage dashing to one of the goalposts and grabbing an object, one that had been placed there by the goalie as a bit of “juju” to help him protect the net. The goalkeeper then chases him before both receive yellow cards, notes Fox Sports. The even weirder part: After the disruption, Camara scored his team’s tying goal in the match, which ended 1-1.

(P2) Under the new rules, players and coaches found to be using witchcraft to try to gain an advantage face fines and penalties, reports the Rwanda New Times. The Washington Post notes that “juju” has long played a role in African soccer. In fact, the Confederation of African Football previously banned witchcraft after Rwanda’s national team was accused of burying a doll behind its net in a 2003 match against Uganda. But a soccer official in the country says the traditional practice gives the nation a bad image. Hence, the new penalties. “Since there is no scientific way to prove the use of witchcraft, these measures will be based upon reports from match officials and anything that is deemed to incite witchcraft will be put under consideration,” he says.

WORDS: 238

SOURCE: http://www.newser.com/story/236178/after-bizarre-scene-rwandan-soccer-bans-witchcraft.html

VOCABULARY: witchcraft, bizarre, crossbar, confederation, hence, deemed, incite

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 believe in witchcraft? Why or why not?
  3. What are some symbols of good luck in your country?
  4. Are there any traditional practices in your country when playing sports? If yes, describe them.

READING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS:

  1. The witchcraft rule was an old rule that officials decided to re-establish. (T or F)
  2. Why did the goalie place an object at the goalpost?
  3. The new rule states that players and coaches can receive _______ and _________ if they use witchcraft.
  4. In 2003 a _________ was buried behind the goal.
  5. According to the article, witchcraft can be proven by using Science. (T or F)

EXPRESSIONS or PHRASES:

What do the following expressions or phrases mean?

  • turn of events (P1)
  • face fines (P2)
  • long played a role in African soccer (P2)
  • will be put under consideration (P2)

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Image source:  by “unknown” (YouTube)

IBM Working on Bot to Help Elderly Age at Home

[Technology & Health ★★★]

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(P1) Assisted living facilities and personal nurses aren’t exactly cheap. And as the Baby Boomer generation ages, finding an affordable means of helping people age in the comfort of their own home could be good not just for seniors, but for their wallets, too. So IBM is working on a prototype bot that could become what Consumerist describes as a “robotic roommate.” Built with sensors that can detect anything from a change in motion to sounds and scents, the so-called IBM Multi-Purpose Eldercare Robot Assistant (MERA) could help track whether stove burners are on or the person has fallen. IBM has been developing the sensors alongside Rice University out of its Aging in Place lab in Austin, Texas, reports Business Insider.

(P2) While a senior technologist says there’s a lot of work ahead before the robot will be brought to market, including sorting out how to customize a bot’s knowledge of a person’s home environment, health issues, and more, “in the near-term, it would be more of the ambient sensors in the home starting to gather all of this data.” The prototype is already capable of reading facial expressions, capturing vital signs, and recognizing speech. Obvious markets include the US, which is home to more 100-year-olds (75,000) than any other country, and Japan, which is a third the size of the US but has 65,000 people over 100 and, as Business Insider reported earlier this fall, has broken its own record of most centenarians per capita for 46 years in a row.

WORDS: 250

SOURCE: http://www.newser.com/story/236122/ibm-working-on-bot-to-help-elderly-age-at-home.html

VOCABULARY: prototype, so-called, sorting out, ambient, centenarians

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. In your opinion, do you think IBM will be successful with the MERA prototype? Why or why not?
  3. What are some jobs you can see robots replacing humans in the future? Why?
  4. Do you know any centenarians? If yes, describe one of them. If no, what do you think it would be like to be 100 plus years?

READING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS:

  1. According to the article what two things aren’t really affordable for the elderly?
  2. What acronym is mentioned for the bot?
  3. Who is IBM working with to develop this “robotic roommate”?
  4. The prototype bot is already programmed to ____________________, _________________________, and ________________________.
  5. What two countries are mentioned in the article as clear targets for marketing?

EXPRESSIONS or PHRASES:

What do the following expressions or phrases mean?

  • but for their wallets, too (P1)
  • could help track (P1)
  • brought to market (P2)
  • capturing vital signs (P2)

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Image source: by  IBM Research/Flickr

Rock Music

[Music ★★★]

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(P1) Few people might consider how today’s modern rock music evolved and where it began. By tracing rock music to its historical roots, we can discover that rock music evolved from an African American art form known as blues music.

(P2) Early blues music developed in the 19th century. It was very much an expression of sadness, which had evolved from the songs sung by African slaves as a way of coping with the harsh working conditions in the cotton fields of the American Deep South. These songs, in turn, have their roots in traditional African music. The calls and responses that workers used to communicate with each other in the fields also formed a fundamental structure of early gospel music, which also had a lyrical call and response structure.

(P3) Originally the music was purely vocal, but it evolved as time went by. After the abolition of slavery, guitars and other instruments were incorporated into the ensemble. Eventually, other forms of music began to diversify from the blues roots; such as gospel, ragtime, jazz, and eventually rock and roll.

(P4) Many early rock and roll songs such as those by Elvis Presley relied heavily on the traditional “12 bar blues” chord structure. This musical form merged with European influences during the 1960s and 1970s to become modern rock music. Nowadays, rock music is constantly evolving and branching out into new genres.

WORDS: 228

SOURCE: http://dreamreader.net/lesson/rock-music/

VOCABULARY: evolved, roots, coping, abolition, ensemble, chord, branching out

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. What genres of music to you like? Why?
  3. Does your country have any traditional musical instruments? If yes, describe one?
  4. Who are some of your favorite bands and singers? Why?

READING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS:

  1. According to the article, rock n roll developed from __________music.
  2. Blues music was used to express _____________.
  3. In the beginning, blues music was solely ___________.
  4. Besides rock and roll, blues music helped develop other types of music like __________, _____________, and ___________.
  5. According to the article, rock music continues to develop into new types. (T or F)

EXPRESSIONS or PHRASES:

What do the following expressions or phrases mean?

  • tracing rock music (P1)
  • in the fields (P2)
  • lyrical call and response structure (P2)
  • as time went by (P3)

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Image source: by “unknown” http://dreamreader.net/lesson/rock-music/