A EUROPEAN STUDENT IN NORTH KOREA

[EDUCATION ★★] A EUROPEAN STUDENT IN NORTH KOREA

North Korea

(P1) Alessandro Ford had a GAP YEAR with a difference. His movements were MONITORED everywhere he went; he spent hours discussing the MERITS of JUCHE IDEOLOGY over American IMPERIALISM; and his only contact with THE OUTSIDE WORLD was a 10-minute phone call with his mum once a week.

(P2) From August to December last year, the 18-year-old was enrolled as a student at the Kim Il-sung University in Pyongyang, learning Korean. Whilst the university takes in foreign students from countries including China and Russia, he was the first “western” student to ever study there.

(P3) The trip was arranged by his father, Glyn Ford, a former Labour Party member of the European parliament who has been on multiple diplomatic trips to North Korea and has long argued for SUSTAINED diplomatic ENGAGEMENT with the PARIAH state.

(P4) The young Ford explained that while planning his gap year: “my dad always used to joke ‘If you don’t MAKE UP YOUR MIND I’ll ship you off to North Korea’’’, and it slowly DAWNED ON him that it might, in fact, be quite interesting.

(P5) Speaking from his home in Brussels, Ford said he had a PRIVILEGED level of access to the secretive country which fascinates so many. Aged just 15 he spent two weeks in North Korea on a summer holiday and, despite a BOUT of FOOD POISONING that had him hospitalised, his interest in the country was PIQUED.

(P6) Though growing up in RADICALLY different cultures, there are some PARALLELS between Ford’s UPBRINGING and that of the North Koreans he attended classes with. He is the son of a politician and attended an international school in Belgium, while many of his North Korean PEERS were the OFFSPRING of an AFFLUENT ELITE within Pyongyang society.

(P7) The students at Kim Il-sung had parents who were party members, high ranking officials, or were serving in the military, explained Ford. One student had spent time in London as his father worked in the EMBASSY, and whilst most were from the comfortable CONFINES of Pyongyang there were a few students who had grown up in the PROVINCES.

(P8) Ford paid £3,000 for four months of North Korean schooling, including food and ACCOMMODATION, but that’s where the similarities with western education ended.

(P9) Ford said the FACILITIES at the Pyongyang campus “were rather SPARTAN, squat toilets, no showers – we’d all bath together, Roman style,” he explained, adding that he got used to regular saunas that are “popular with Koreans”. The dormitories were clean and comfortable, but very basic. In winter they ran out of hot water for two weeks – it was minus -20C, he added.

(P10) Free to MINGLE with all students on campus “we spoke a little bit about everything, but always from a North Korean PERSPECTIVE.” But Ford didn’t REGARD his classmates as BRAINWASHED: “I GENUINELY think they all believed what they were saying, that North Korea was an IMPOVERISHED country that had been PERSECUTED by the Americans.”

(P11) “The only BARRIER to our INTERACTION was language,” said Ford, although there were a few English-speaking North Korean students placed in the foreign DORMITORY specifically to talk to him.

(P12) As for the typical western gap year RITES OF PASSAGE, sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll, Ford’s examples confirm that young North Koreans do things differently.

(P13) When they listened to music together the lyrics of American rapper Eminem were questioned: “Why does he rap about himself, sex, and drugs? He should be making music about his family and his country,” his fellow students told him.

(P14) “From what I was told and from what I saw, North Koreans are more PURITAN. It’s a ‘no sex before marriage’ culture and SNEAKING AROUND is not really done.

(P15) “The students I HUNG OUT WITH, aged between 20 and 25, were virgins,” Ford said, who never saw any kissing take place, even amongst those who had girlfriends and boyfriends. “They’d tell me they showed affection in other ways,” he explained.

(P16) There were times Ford felt lonely, but never alone. He couldn’t engage with North Korean culture and sport, and although he had an international phone it cost him £2 per minute to call home.

(P17) He expected a level of monitoring “but at times it did get quite SUFFOCATING. Koreans don’t have a sense of individualism nor did they understand the [need for] SOLITUDE of western culture,” he said.

(P18) Debates on how the world should engage with North Korea are ONGOING. Some believe that the kind of interaction that Ford had with the country can only be positive, as information from the outside world slowly drips in to the HERMETICALLY SEALED country.

(P19) Others believe that visits, especially ones where North Koreans may profit, only serve to LEGITIMISE a REGIME accused of SYSTEMATIC human rights abuses against its own people. For Ford there is no question: “I am pro-communication and pro-interaction.”

(P20) He says he would definitely recommend the trip to others. He believes that future student exchanges would “help with human rights VIOLATIONS by opening up the country”.

(P21) Ford, who is going to study philosophy at Bristol University in September, said he left North Korea thinking he HAD HAD ENOUGH but, with a bit of distance, now feels the country will always be a FIXTURE in his life.

WORDS: 867

SOURCE: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jul/30/north-korea-gap-year-student-sex-drugs

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. North Korea is definitely a COLLECTIVIST society, focused on country and family. Is your country more collectivist or more individualist?
  3. Many international students would not consider studying in North Korea because they believe it would be dangerous. Do you think so?
  4. Alessandro Ford and his father clearly believe that engaging with North Korea is better than leaving the country isolated. What do you think?
  5. North Korea prevents its citizens from having much contact with the outside world. Why do you think this is?

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.

  • Gap year
  • The outside world
  • Make up your mind
  • Dawn on
  • Food poisoning
  • Rite of passage
  • Sneak around
  • Hang out with
  • Hermetically sealed
  • Have had enough

PRACTICE ARTICLE NOW

FIVE MISTAKES THAT STARTUP COMPANIES MAKE

[BUSINESS ★★]

FIVE MISTAKES THAT STARTUP COMPANIES MAKE

silicon-valley

(P1) Startups come in ALL SHAPES AND ALL SIZES, with personalities that are as DIVERSE as the people who run them.

(P2) However, there’s a certain type of office culture that has PERVADED the public perception of startups, and it’s starting to have a major impact on how a new entrepreneur handles his or her own startup’s respective culture.

(P3) As stories of BREAKOUT successes from Silicon Valley and tech startups on TV shows and movies all seem to ALIGN with this perceived culture of LAX standards and great personal freedom, more EMERGING entrepreneurs begin to believe that this is the only way to succeed as a young business.

(P4) Realistically, this STEREOTYPICAL startup culture can be highly effective, because their hours are flexible; workers are happier and in many cases, more productive; offices are “fun,” with more people wanting to work there and clients get an INTRIGUING first impression; and because OFFICE POLITICS are casual and open, more personal conversations can help DRIVE THE COMPANY FORWARD.

(P5) However, this type of culture, like any other, has DRAWBACKS to go along with its benefits. Stereotypical startup culture is not appropriate for every new business, as these five hidden dangers illustrate:

(P6) 1. Hiring based on CHARISMA

(P7) In dozens of articles about the importance of office culture, we’re told that your new hires all need to get along and that you need to hire based on personality as much as you do on SKILL SET. This is true. Personality and “culture fit” are important considerations — but they’re not the most important considerations.

(P8) Your hiring decisions need to be based on who is going to make your company successful. Backgrounds, skill sets and WORK ETHICS are far more important than whether someone is good at ping pong (though if they’re good at ping pong, that’s an added bonus). Hiring based on charisma alone will fundamentally weaken your team.

(P9) 2. Spending too much money

(P10) “Fun” office cultures usually require toys and flexible environments, such as pool tables or large, open spaces for relaxed COLLABORATION. Many new entrepreneurs believe that these things will help them establish a reputation and make good first impressions on new hires and new clients.

(P11) Again, this is partially true, but it should not be your PRIORITY. This type of institution can set you back thousands of dollars before you even LAUNCH a product. Instead of investing in a “fun” office, save money and only invest in what’s important for your initial launch. The fun stuff can come later.

(P12) 3. Making emotional decisions

(P13) Working in a personal, conversational, LAID-BACK atmosphere can reduce your stress and make you feel more like you’re a part of a family than you are a boss of a bunch of employees. This can be VALUABLE in the moment, but it can also open you up to make emotional decisions. You might avoid firing an INCOMPETENT worker because he’s your pal, or avoid changing the course of your business because it might introduce too much pressure to the environment.

(P14) 4. Establishing no clear HIERARCHY

(P15) ALONG SIMILAR LINES, it’s easy for this type of startup culture to encourage BLURRED lines between workers and supervisors. As the founder and CEO, it might be your signature on people’s paychecks, but in daily operations, everyone’s voice is heard equally.

(P16) Most days, this democratic approach will keep everyone happy, but as soon as there’s a problem with no clear leader to direct the ship, everything will fall to pieces. Democracies are great in theory, but leadership is necessary for when the going gets TOUGH and immediate, hard decisions need to be made.

(P17) 5. Forgetting the BOTTOM LINE

(P18) Your MOTIVATIONS for starting the business probably go beyond “turning a profit,” but without sufficient REVENUE, your business won’t be able to succeed. In this way, making a profit (or at least BREAKING EVEN) is always the bottom line.

(P19) When you’re managing a fun, relaxed office culture, it’s easy to forget this. Your problems shift from INCREMENTALLY increasing productivity to incrementally increasing HIGH-FIVES. You lose focus on what’s really going to drive your business forward. Don’t let it happen.

(P20) Compared to the strength and timing of your idea, your available startup capital, and your BUSINESS PLAN, your startup’s culture is SMALL POTATOES. But if you want to succeed and keep your team happy, it deserves careful attention.

(P21) Don’t build a company culture that’s a CARBON COPY of one you’ve seen on TV or one you’ve read about in the news. Instead, build the culture that’s right for your business. Think carefully about what your business needs to be successful, and how you want your brand to be perceived.

(P22) Your startup is unique, so don’t DO IT THE DISSERVICE of using it as a host for someone else’s vision of office culture.

WORDS: 796

SOURCE: http://www.businessinsider.com/5-hidden-dangers-of-the-stereotypical-startup-culture-2015-7

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 worked for a startup or newer company, or only for established companies?
  3. The article describes the stereotypical startup culture in the United States. Would a startup in your country be similar, or would it be run more formally?
  4. What is the DRESS CODE where you work?
  5. Do you think a more casual environment is good for work because employees are happy, or bad for work because it is not BUSINESS-LIKE enough?

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.

  • All shapes and sizes
  • Office politics
  • Drive forward
  • Skill set
  • Work ethic
  • Laid-back
  • Along similar lines
  • Bottom line
  • Break even
  • High-five
  • Business plan
  • Small potatoes
  • Carbon copy
  • Do a disservice
  • Dress code
  • Business-like

PRACTICE ARTICLE NOW

BULLYING IS A BID FOR STATUS

[LIFE ★★★]

BULLYING IS A BID FOR STATUS

Local Input~  // **FOR NATIONAL POST USE ONLY - NO POSTMEDIA**   UNDATED --   kids children fighting bullying punching   CREDIT: FOTOLIA (FOR NATIONAL POST USE ONLY)/pws

(P1) A just-published Canadian study has added HEFT to a PROVOCATIVE new theory about bullying: that the behaviour is LITERALLY in the genes, an inherited TRAIT that actually helps build social rank and sex appeal.

(P2) If accepted, the HYPOTHESIS rooted in EVOLUTIONARY PSYCHOLOGY could transform how schools confront the PERSISTENT problem.

(P3) Conventional wisdom has long suggested that bullies are “MALADAPTED,” troubled people, LASHING OUT because they had been abused or HARASSED themselves or at least had DYSFUNCTIONAL home lives.

(P4) But researchers at Simon Fraser University surveyed a group of Vancouver high school students and found bullies were the least likely to be depressed, had the highest SELF-ESTEEM and the greatest social status.

(P5) “Humans tend to try to establish a rank HIERARCHY,” says Jennifer Wong, the criminology professor who led the study. “When you’re in high school, it’s a very limited arena in which you can ESTABLISH your rank, and CLIMBING THE SOCIAL LADDER to be on top is one of the main ways … Bullying is a tool you can use to get there.”

(P6) Most anti-bullying programs try to change the behaviour of bullies — and they usually don’t work, says Wong, who reviewed the literature on program OUTCOMES for her PhD thesis. That’s probably because the behaviour is biologically HARD-WIRED, not learned, she says.

(P7) Wong recommends that, instead of trying to change how bullies think, schools expand the range of competitive, supervised activities they can participate in — giving them a less harmful CHANNEL for their dominating tendencies.

(P8) Indeed, fascinating research involving another Canadian expert offers some support for that idea. A pilot project at an Arizona school sought to steer students identified as bullies into high-status “jobs” — like being the school’s front-door greeters — to focus their aggression on something less harmful.

(P9) Bullying fell “DRAMATICALLY” in its WAKE, says Tony Volk, a Brock University psychologist who helped PIONEER the genetic theory of bullying and took part in an upcoming study of the Arizona project.

(P10) Meanwhile, separate research Volk is working on offers more evidence BOLSTERING the concept: the bullies among 178 teenagers surveyed by the professor and his colleagues got more sex than everyone else.

(P11) “The average bully isn’t particularly SADISTIC or even deeply ARGUMENTATIVE,” he says. “What they really are is people driven for status.”

(P12) The hypothesis may be a hard sell in the anti-bullying world, however, where the notion that many people bully because it is in their nature — and can’t be easily changed — is TROUBLESOME.

(P13) Rob Frenette, co-founder of the ADVOCACY and support group Bullying Canada, says he has yet to ENCOUNTER a bully who did not have some UNDERLYING issue — such as violence at home — that was a likely environmental TRIGGER for the bullying.

(P14) “This is kind of STEPPING BACKWARD and that’s concerning,” he said of Wong’s study. “I don’t want parents who have a child who is considered a bully to think, ‘Well, it’s something they’re born with and there’s nothing we can do to adjust their behavior.’ ”

(P15) Frenette, who has CEREBRAL PALSY, knows bullies, literally. For more than 11 years, he was a frequent VICTIM, receiving DEATH THREATS, being pushed down stairs and once having the back of his neck burned by girls on a school bus.

(P16) At Bullying Canada, he sees the STAGGERING SCOPE of the problem. The group’s 24/7 support line FIELDED a 312,000 calls and 86,000 emails last year from bullying victims and their parents.

(P17) But the type of bullies Frenette CITES, and that often are the public face of the problem, form a separate category, well-defined by psychologists, called bully-victims, says Volk, the St. Catharines, Ont., professor. They are the ones who are troubled themselves and STRIKE OUT in visible, BLATANT ways that quickly come to the attention of authorities, he said.

(P18) Evidence indicates it is the “pure” bullies, however, who account for 80-90% of bullying, yet are more socially ADEPT, more popular and FLY MORE UNDER THE RADAR, says Volk.

(P19) They are the focus of the evolutionary psychology theory, which says bullying is an ADAPTIVE behavior, a genetic EDGE to gain better sexual opportunities, physical protection and mental health. Or, as the title of Wong’s paper puts it, “survival of the fittest and the sexiest.”

(P20) Wong and student Jun-Bin Koh surveyed 135 teenagers from a Vancouver high school. A standard questionnaire – asking things like how often they were “hit, kicked or shoved” – divided the students into the categories of bully, BYSTANDER, victim, or victim-bully.

(P21) Some of the differences were not statistically significant, but bullies — about 11% of the group — came out on top on three main outcomes: they scored highest on self-esteem and social status and lowest on depression, says Wong’s paper in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence.

(P22) She admits the research is less than DEFINITIVE, but is now hoping to repeat it with a much larger SAMPLE SIZE and more statistical power.

(P23) Still, Wong recommends a RETHINKING of how schools tackle bullying, saying that MERELY punishing the PERPETRATORS not only fails to work, but in some cases ENHANCES their status.

(P24) She CONCEDES, however, that some educators are likely to “VEHEMENTLY” oppose her suggestion of channeling bullies into “PRO-SOCIAL” behavior by adding more competition into schools.

(P25) Frenette certainly rejects the argument that existing programs are not working. They may not be perfect but they do help, and reports of bullying are decreasing across the country, he said.

(P26) On the other hand, at a time when society was less ATTUNED to the bullying problem, those girls who burned his neck faced no REPERCUSSIONS — and seem to have changed little since, he says. One was recently charged by police with a SLEW of criminal offences.

(P27) Volk does not believe bullies are exactly “hard-wired,” more that they have a genetic PREDISPOSITION, which could be COUNTERED by changes in their environment. Changes like giving them ways to more positively channel their aggressive BENT.

(P28) “These kids aren’t stupid, they know what they’re doing, they’re doing it for a reason,” he says. “We’re not saying give up on punishment necessarily, but what about THE CARROT?”

WORDS: 1005

SOURCEhttp://news.nationalpost.com/health/provocative-new-study-finds-bullies-have-highest-self-esteem-social-status-lowest-rates-of-depression

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. Were you ever the victim of bullying at school?
  3. The researchers quoted in the article believe that bullying brings CONSIDERABLE social benefits to the bullies. Do you agree?
  4. The studies referred to were done in high schools. Is adult bullying similar or different?
  5. There is a saying in English, “Nice guys finish last” which is to say, they are less successful in business and relationships. Do you agree?

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.

  • Evolutionary psychology
  • Lash out
  • Self-esteem
  • Climb the ladder
  • Hard-wired
  • Step backward
  • Death threat
  • Strike out
  • Fly under the radar
  • Sample size
  • Pro-social
  • Carrot and stick

PRACTICE ARTICLE NOW

WATER POLLUTION IS A BIG ISSUE FOR THE RIO OLYMPICS

[SPORTS ★]

WATER POLLUTION IS A BIG ISSUE FOR THE RIO OLYMPICS

thousands-of-twaite-shad-fish-died-in-the-rodrigo-de-freitas-lagoon-in-rio-in-april

(P1) The 2016 Summer Olympics KICK OFF in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in a little over a year, marking the first time the games will be hosted by a South American nation.

(P2) Reports regarding the country’s preparation for the event, however, have not been great. In April 2014, IOC vice president John Coates called the preparation “the worst ever.” This April, the Associated Press reported that the Rodrigo de Freitas LAGOON, one of two central WATERWAYS to be used for sailing and rowing events, was PLAGUED by a fish DIE-OFF.

(P3) It was at least the second fish die-off in 2015. The first occurred in February at Guanabara Bay — where other Olympic water events are scheduled to take place.

(P4) A local photographer named Alex Moutinho told the Associated Press, “Every year there are these die-offs, sometimes bigger, sometimes smaller. It’s one more Brazilian SHAME.”

(P5) With just over a year until the opening ceremonies, to be held at the famous Maracana stadium in Rio on August 5, 2016, the IOC head Thomas Bach said Wednesday that cleaning up Guanabara Bay will be the biggest challenge Rio 2016 faces in the final year of preparation for the Olympics. As of right now, SEWAGE, DEBRIS, and dangerous bacteria are all COMMONPLACE in the bay. These MASSIVE fish die-offs are common occurrences, too, and likely the result of such heavy pollution.

(P6) Some athletes are demanding that the windsurfing and sailing events be moved to cleaner BODIES OF WATER, but Rio officials have denied this request and said that trash-collecting boats will protect the athletes. IOC officials, meanwhile, have ACKNOWLEDGED that although Guanabara Bay will not be completely free of pollution, they will be improved and safe enough for competition.

WORDS: 293

SOURCE: http://www.businessinsider.com/ioc-polluted-lake-rio-de-janeiro-2016-summer-olympics-2015-7

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. The preparations for the 2016 Summer Olympics are going very badly. Do you think that Rio de Janeiro will be ready IN TIME?
  3. Many major cities no longer wish to host the Olympics. Why do you think they no longer want to do so?
  4. Is it fair to ask AQUATIC athletes such as rowers, KAYAKERS, and sailors to compete in dirty conditions?
  5. Is pollution a major problem in your country? What is being done about it?

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.

  • Kick off
  • Die-off
  • Body of water

PRACTICE ARTICLE NOW

  • In time

WHAT THE AIRPLANE WRECKAGE TELLS US

[OPINION ★★]

WHAT THE AIRPLANE WRECKAGE TELLS US

150730142132-08-reunion-island-debris-0730-exlarge-169

(P1) Nothing would be more encouraging for 239 families than to know that the piece of aircraft found on Reunion Island east of Madagascar comes from MH370 — the Boeing 777 that disappeared in March 2014, EN ROUTE from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. The world wants to know. And as a 777 pilot, I want to know.

(P2) But let’s all TAKE A DEEP BREATH and wait until we have absolute confirmation.

(P3) Remember, the information provided at this OUTSET of the tragic event was sometimes wrong.

(P4) What happened to MH370 is still very much under active investigation. It’s important that we allow the Malaysian accident investigation team to SCRUTINIZE the airplane DEBRIS. After all, the airplane belongs to its country. Regardless, when the French BEA (Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Analyses) — the French government agency in charge of investigating aviation accidents — arrives on scene at Reunion Island, a French department in the western Indian Ocean where debris was found in the water, I have no doubt that they will quickly have an answer. The BEA is a well-RESPECTED organization.

(P5) As for the airframe part itself: My initial GUT REACTION was skeptical. Why? From the photographs, the piece looked too BULKY to have been attached to a 777 wing.

(P6) But if the piece of airframe debris just discovered is indeed part of a 777, then it belongs to MH370. Why? Because there have only been two other significant 777 accidents in the airplane’s 21-year history, and neither of those was over water. That’s not to say the accident investigation team shouldn’t maintain DUE DILIGENCE and match part and component numbers with appropriate records.

(P7) Although discovering a definite piece of MH370 would be a TREMENDOUS discovery, it would also be only a small piece of the accident investigation JIGSAW PUZZLE. This piece of the puzzle would at least DISPEL the CONSPIRACY THEORY suggesting the airplane was flown to a remote terrorist-friendly nation. Examination could reveal some clues as to impact speed and/or impact angle with the water, but it would not be a complete picture. Finding more debris would be helpful to CORROBORATE such things.

(P8) Finding debris that is related to MH370 would be a VALIDATION of the ASSUMPTIONS that the investigation team has used to define the search area. A discovery would certainly be a MORALE BOOSTER for the search crews, affirming that their MISSION is not IN VAIN.

(P9) In addition, the world’s interest has been re-energized. With renewed interest, perhaps FUNDING will continue from current sources for the immediate future.

(P10) Regardless, let’s all have some patience, as hard as this might be for the passengers’ loved ones. The investigation will continue in a METHODICAL process. Even though initial evidence points to the debris on Reunion Island as being a piece of MH370, it should be absolutely confirmed so there is no doubt.

(P11) STAND BY for now.

WORDS: 485

SOURCE: http://edition.cnn.com/2015/07/30/opinions/abend-plane-debris-found/index.html

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. The disappearance of MH370 is one of the greatest mysteries in the history of aviation. Do you enjoy real-life or fictional mysteries?
  3. Do you have any fear of flying, or not at all?
  4. Strange events often give rise to many conspiracy theories. Do you take these seriously or not?
  5. What was the last plane flight that you took? Where were you traveling?

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.

  • En route
  • Take a deep breath
  • Gut reaction
  • Due diligence
  • Jigsaw puzzle
  • Conspiracy theory
  • Morale booster
  • In vain
  • Stand-by

PRACTICE ARTICLE NOW

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BUGS BUNNY!

[CULTURE AND ENTERTAINMENT ★]

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BUGS BUNNY!

r-warner-bros-90th-anniversary-large570

(P1) The ‘birthday’ of a beloved Looney Tunes character is an opportunity to REFLECT on his cultural CACHET across multiple generations.

(P2) Bugs Bunny, the carrot-chewing cartoon character – one of the most RECOGNIZED of the Warner Bros. personalities – is celebrating his 75th birthday. In 1940, the cartoon segment “A Wild Hare,” which was directed by Tex Avery, made its first appearance, and the movie short featured Bugs as the world knows him today, with a familiar voice, look, and CATCH-PHRASE, “What’s up, Doc?” (Bugs Bunny was voiced for many years by Mel Blanc.)

(P3) Bugs Bunny is part of the cast of characters seen in the “Looney Tunes” cartoons that include his NEMESIS Elmer Fudd, Daffy Duck, Tweety Bird, Yosemite Sam, and many more.

(P4) With Bugs having made his first appearance in 1940, how have he and the other Looney Tunes characters stayed popular? One way has been CONSISTENT appearances.

(P5) While Bugs would have been known to the parents of Baby Boomers from the beginning of the cartoons, Baby Boomers themselves ENCOUNTERED the Looney Tunes characters in the animated shorts that ran in movie theaters and on TV.

(P6) How do Millennials know the characters? The Looney Tunes characters have kept up STEADY appearances in pop culture. The cartoons have run on TV at various points – for example, the Cartoon Network started a new weekend block for the Looney Tunes cartoons in 2013 – and the animated series “Tiny Toon Adventures,” which featured young students learning from teachers like Bugs and Porky Pig, debuted in 1990.

(P7) The Looney Tunes personalities made frequent appearances at the movies towards the end of the MILLENNIUM as well, with major roles in the 1988 film “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” and the 1996 movie “Space Jam,” both of which performed well at the box office.

(P8) Bugs and his friends appear to still be in audiences’ minds today, with recent lists rating Bugs as the second-best cartoon character of all time, behind only Homer Simpson.

WORDS: 329

SOURCE: http://www.csmonitor.com/The-Culture/Culture-Cafe/2015/0727/Bugs-Bunny-anniversary-How-the-rabbit-stayed-popular-for-decades

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. Who is your favorite cartoon character?
  3. The Looney Tunes cartoons were originally intended for adults, and unlike Disney characters, Bugs Bunny is very SARCASTIC. Do you enjoy that type of CYNICAL humor?
  4. One of the most popular newer cartoon characters is SpongeBob SquarePants. Is he popular in your country?
  5. Do you go to animated movies in the theater often?

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.

  • Catch-phrase

PRACTICE ARTICLE NOW

SAY HELLO TO THE “SEA BUNNY”

[ENVIRONMENT ★★]

SAY HELLO TO THE “SEA BUNNY”

sea-bunny

(P1) Say hello to this week’s Internet OVERLORD, the FLUFFY-looking “sea BUNNY.”

(P2) The animal isn’t actually a tiny ocean-DWELLING rabbit. The creature ELICITING “awwws” around the world is a type of SEA SLUG called Jorunna parva.

(P3) Most are less than an inch (2.5 centimeters) long and can be found throughout the Indo-Pacific Ocean from South Africa to the central Pacific. Though the most popular images of these animals show white animals with black spots, these sea slugs are usually yellow or orange.

(P4) Jorunna parva’s fur-like coat is due to bunches of tiny rods, called caryophyllidia, that cover the animal’s back. They’re arranged around little KNOBS that are sometimes black, giving the sea bunny its SPECKLED appearance.

(P5) “We don’t know for sure what these organs do,” says Ángel Valdés, a sea slug expert at California State Polytechnic University in Pomona. But “they probably play sensory roles.”

(P6) The sea bunny’s “ears,” or the two antenna-like structures on top of its head, are most definitely SENSORY ORGANS. Called rhinophores, they DETECT chemicals in the water that helps sea bunnies find food and mates, says Valdés.

(P7) The rhinophores are covered in little FLAPS that BOOST their detection capabilities, allowing J. parva to sense its environment very efficiently.

(P8) The structure on the sea bunny’s behind that looks like a little “flower” are its GILLS.

(P9) The sea bunny, like most sea slugs or nudibranchs, is a HERMAPHRODITE. They have both male and female reproductive organs, and when they mate, both partners exchange sperm.

(P10) The CUDDLY-looking creatures come armed with “incredibly long COPULATORY SPINES,” says Valdés. It’s basically like a DART that the animal JABS into its partner during the mating process. This ensures that they stay attached to each other until the sperm exchange is done, he explains.

(P11) “They probably live just a few months to a year,” Valdés says, so every chance they get to mate is important.

(P12) Luckily, J. parva doesn’t have to worry much about PREDATORS during its brief life because “they’re very, very TOXIC,” the sea slug expert says. “Anyone who tries to eat them is going to have a very hard time afterwards.”

(P13) Admire and COO over the FUZZY little creature now known as the sea bunny. Just resist the URGE to touch those rabbit ears.

WORDS: 379

SOURCE: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/07/150723-sea-slug-nudibranch-sea-bunny-ocean-animals-science/

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. Black-and-white animals – penguins, pandas, zebras, DALMATIANS, even orcas – always seem to be very popular. Why do you think this is so?
  3. Like many animals, the sea bunny is toxic. Why are some animals poisonous?
  4. Have you ever kept an aquarium with fish and other AQUATIC species?
  5. Do you see many slugs and SNAILS in your neighborhood after a rain storm?

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.

  • Sensory organ

PRACTICE ARTICLE NOW