RARE WOLFPACK SIGHTED IN CALIFORNIA

[ENVIRONMENT ★]

RARE WOLFPACK SIGHTED IN CALIFORNIA

Wolfpack

(P1) A pack of wolves has been spotted in Northern California for the first time in nearly 100 years.

(P2) The appearance of the five grey wolf pups and two adults could signal a return of the animals, which have not been found in the state since 1924.

(P3) California Department of Fish and Wildlife first discovered the pack this month in Siskiyou County near the Oregon border using a remote camera.

(P4) The wolves have been named the “Shasta Pack” after a nearby mountain.

(P5) “This news is exciting for California,” Charlton Bonham of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife said on Thursday. “We knew wolves would eventually return home to the state and it appears now is the time.”

(P6) State officials spotted a lone adult wolf earlier this year. They believe the same wolf is associated with the newly spotted ones because of where it was photographed.

(P7) Another lone wolf MADE HEADLINES in 2011 when the animal wandered into California from Oregon.

(P8) Wolves were almost hunted to EXTINCTION in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in western US states by hunters and ranchers who sought to protect their LIVESTOCK.

(P9) In 1995, federal officials reintroduced wolves into Yellowstone National Park and since then the animals have spread to neighbouring states.

(P10) Karen Kovacs of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife said the migration to Northern California is an amazing accomplishment only 21 years after the wolves were reintroduced to the Northern Rocky Mountains.

(P11) California has considered gray wolves an endangered species since 1973, making it illegal to kill or trap them.

(P12) Officials are soon to release a Wolf Management Plan and are encouraging the public to report information about wolf sightings in the state.

(P13) Wolves do not pose a “direct threat to human safety,” officials said, but they recommended people do not approach or feed them.

WORDS: 309

SOURCE: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-34020774

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 is the most unusual animal you have seen IN THE WILD?
  3. Dogs are descended from wolves. Have you ever owned a dog?
  4. There are many scary LEGENDS about wolves, such as WEREWOLF stories, even though wolves are actually quite frightened of people and seldom bother them. Why do you suppose people are afraid of wolves?
  5. Wolves are primarily NOCTURNAL animals. Have you ever gone camping in the woods at night?

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.

  • Make headlines
  • In the wild

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WHY PATIENCE REALLY IS A VIRTUE

[LIFE ★★★]

WHY PATIENCE REALLY IS A VIRTUE

In Front of a Painting

(P1) When you take a class with the Harvard University art historian Jennifer Roberts, your first task is always to choose a work of art, then go and look at it, wherever it’s displayed, for three full hours. Three hours! If that notion doesn’t HORRIFY you at least a little, I suspect you’re ATYPICAL: in our impatient, ACCELERATED age, the mere thought of it is SUFFICIENT to TRIGGER an IRRITABLE JUMPINESS. Roberts knows this: the whole point, she writes, is that it’s “a painfully long time”. She doesn’t expect her students to spend it all in RAPT attention; rather, the goal is to experience that jumpiness, tolerate it, and get through it – whereupon they see things in the artwork they’d never have imagined were there.

(P2) Increasingly, it feels as if impatience dominates our lives in SUBTLE and TROUBLING ways. Take a newly published study by the management scholar Ernesto Reuben and colleagues, in which participants were offered a choice between a cheque today, or a larger cheque in two weeks’ time. In keeping with past research, about two-thirds chose the smaller, sooner reward. But here’s the twist: more than half of those people then waited more than two weeks to cash the cheque, even when the amounts involved were more than £100. They might as well have waited for more money.

(P3) At first glance, it seems odd that impatience (wanting the smaller cheque immediately) might coexist with PROCRASTINATION (failing to cash it PROMPTLY). But it makes perfect sense. Both are MANIFESTATIONS of what psychologists call “present bias”, a preference for getting rewards and pleasurable emotions now, rather than later. The impatient cheque-grabber can’t bear waiting for a bigger payout; the DAWDLING cheque-casher can’t bear the TEDIUM of SCHLEPPING to the bank.

(P4) And it’s hard to believe this inability to endure discomfort isn’t growing worse, as technology speeds up our lives. It’s more AGGRAVATING to wait 30 seconds for a microwave than an hour for an oven – just as it’s worse when a web page takes 10 seconds to load than when the reference librarian tells you it will take three weeks to track down a book. Perhaps it’s because in a world of almost-INSTANT GRATIFICATION, truly instant gratification starts to seem like our BIRTHRIGHT.

(P5) Historically speaking, as Roberts points out, patience was a matter of “conforming yourself to the need to wait for things”; it was a way of accepting one’s lack of control over the world. But now we don’t need to wait for most things, patience has become a form of control over the world and, as she puts it, “over the TEMPO of contemporary life that otherwise controls us”. In this new environment, there’s nothing remotely PASSIVE about standing in front of a painting for three hours. On the contrary, it’s a SUBVERSIVE act. On the other side of impatience – if you can learn to wait out that JITTERINESS – lies power.

WORDS: 489

SOURCE: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/aug/21/patience-is-form-of-power-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. Are you a naturally patient or impatient person?
  3. If you had to look at a painting for three hours, what sorts of things do you think you would notice?
  4. Is the pace of life in your city very fast?
  5. Do you feel that the people and situations around you sometimes force you to DEAL WITH things faster than you would like to? Do you sometimes want more time to think about things?

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.

  • Instant gratification
  • Deal with

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FRENCH LAWMAKER PROPOSES VEGETARIAN OPTION FOR SCHOOL LUNCHES

[WORLD NEWS ★]

FRENCH LAWMAKER PROPOSES VEGETARIAN OPTION FOR SCHOOL LUNCHES

FOR STORY FRANCE SCHOOL LUNCHES - FILE - In this May 6, 2014 file photo, French chef Xavier Lebeau poses with a plate of Quenelles de Brochet (pike fish) with Green Haricot beans and Champignons de Paris (Paris mushrooms), at the Saint Pierre de Chaillot school in Paris, France. France has been grappling with how to reconcile religious beliefs with secular values when it comes to pork in school lunches, with one lawmaker’s solution: vegetarian meals. (AP Photo/Francois Mori, File)

(P1) France has been GRAPPLING with how to RECONCILE religious beliefs with SECULAR values when it comes to pork in school lunches. One lawmaker’s solution: vegetarian meals.

(P2) After BANNING Muslim headscarves in classrooms in 2004, France is now TACKLING what to put on the plates of OBSERVANT Muslim and Jewish schoolchildren, who by tradition don’t eat pork. The PROPOSAL by lawmaker Yves Jego to serve vegetarian meals as the MANDATORY OPTION for pork has AROUSED unusual interest in a country where meat is regarded as part of the GASTRONOMIC tradition.

(P3) The politician is winning a wave of support with his plan to introduce a bill next month that would IMPOSE vegetarian meals in addition to classic menus — helping young Muslims and Jews as well as vegetarians.

(P4) “Can we force a Catholic child to eat meat on Good Friday because nothing else is proposed, or a Jew or a Muslim to eat pork?” Jego asked in an online PETITION.

(P5) Jego launched the petition last week in reaction to an order by the conservative mayor of Chalon-sur-Saone, east of France, to remove pork substitutes from school menus. A court decision this month gave the GREEN LIGHT to Mayor Gilles Platret’s order — despite concerns that it could create DISCORD. France is home to both western Europe’s largest Muslim population, estimated at 5 million, and largest Jewish population.

(P6) Schools often offer pork substitutes, but there is no national rule. In 2008, Lyon became the first major city to IMPOSE an ALTERNATIVE meatless menu in schools. In recent months, several mayors of medium-sized towns have announced their intention to do the same.

(P7) Jego describes the vegetarian alternative as a “quite simple and fully secular solution” to end a “religious dispute” and “allow those who don’t want meat or fish, for whatever reason, to eat a balanced diet.” The proposal has received support from some left- and right-wing politicians as well as environmentalist and vegetarian organizations.

(P8) However, Agriculture Minister Stephane Le Foll — also spokesman for the Socialist government — has criticized the idea as harmful to French LIVESTOCK farmers. The government has faced major farmer protests in recent weeks over low pork prices.

(P9) “Supporting French livestock with vegetarian menus: that’s Yves Jego’s program! Let’s be consistent,” Le Foll said in a tweet.

(P10) French authorities have increasingly been AT PAINS to STRIKE A BALANCE between its strict separation of religion and state, laid out in a 1905 law guaranteeing secularism, and its need to come to terms with increasingly vocal minorities in a multicultural society. In addition, the French consider their public schools as a key VEHICLE for TRANSMITTING the nation’s values.

(P11) A 2011 government order specifies that school menus must be composed of meat, fish or eggs to “ensure sufficient iron and mineral nutrients intakes” — but makes no mention of a meatless option.

WORDS: 473

SOURCE: http://news.yahoo.com/french-lawmaker-wants-mandatory-vegetarian-menu-school-113254703.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. Many religious traditions impose at least some restrictions on eating and drinking. Are any of these restrictions common in your country?
  3. Balancing the secular and the religious has been an increasing challenge in multicultural societies. Have there been any conflicts in your country about these issues?
  4. Are you a vegetarian, or have you ever considered becoming one?
  5. Vegetarianism is proposed for a variety of reasons: health, religion, MORALITY and ANIMAL RIGHTS, environmentalism (because raising animals for meat has worse environmental impacts than growing plants for food). Which reason makes the most sense to you?

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.

  • Green light
  • At pains
  • Strike a balance
  • Animal rights

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FROZEN IN TIME: AN ARCTIC GHOST TOWN

[TRAVEL ★★]

FROZEN IN TIME: AN ARCTIC GHOST TOWN

Pyramiden

(P1) A man in a hat and black coat, RIFLE slung over a shoulder, IDLES on the PONTOON as a group of tourists sail in to visit an Arctic ODDITY, Pyramiden, a Soviet-era GHOST TOWN.

(P2) Alexander Romanovskiy, better known as Sasha, is the GUARDIAN of the mining town abandoned in 1998 but still owned by a Russian firm, Arktikugol, though it is located on a FJORD on Norway’s Spitzbergen Island in the heart of the Svalbard Islands halfway between CONTINENTAL Norway and the North Pole.

(P3) “Svalbard is Norwegian but had a special status ENABLING other people to live or work there,” tour guide Kristin Jaeger-Wexsahl tells the group of several dozen tourists who sailed from the Norwegian town of Longyearbyen, some 50 kilometres away.

(P4) But as they step off to visit the former COAL centre named after a pyramid-shaped mountain in the background, Sasha takes over.

(P5) Why is he armed? In case of POLAR BEARS, until recently the town’s only INHABITANTS, he tells the group. “We haven’t seen one since May but YOU NEVER KNOW,” says the 33-year-old.

(P6) The Soviets bought the then-small coalmine in 1927 from Swedes.

(P7) “The first settlers came in 1936 but were EVACUATED by British forces at the beginning of the Second World War … so mining really began IN EARNEST in 1956,” he added.

(P8) The rails used by the FUNICULAR to FERRY miners up to the entrance on the mountain face, and by trailers to HAUL the coal down, are still visible, while the WHARF remains LITTERED with aging PILES of bricks, gravel, and rusted metal parts.

(P9) Sasha, working his fourth season here hundreds of kilometres north of the Arctic Circle, says the residents THRIVED in the 70s and 80s before the situation in USSR began to UNRAVEL.

(P10) Some 1,200 Russians then lived in Pyramiden, which BOASTED several four-storey buildings, a hospital, schools, a football ground, and even a farm with cows and chickens.

(P12) Black-and-white photos of football and hockey MATCHES and chess TOURNAMENTS hang in the entrance hall, taking visitors back in time. The 300-seat cinema almost looks as if it were used yesterday, as does the basketball court.

(P13) Upstairs a few children’s books have been left in the library while in another smaller room a piano, DRUM KIT, and ACCORDION are GATHERING DUST.

(P14) But the 90s were bad years for Pyramiden with the Soviet Union starting to COME APART AT THE SEAMS, the mine becoming less profitable, and the government unable at times to pay the WAGES.

(P15) In 1998, the company announced its CLOSURE and the city was ABANDONED by its residents.

(P16) Now in the HARSH winter months when the sun fails to rise, even Sasha leaves.

(P17) But in March he happily returns. With more and more tourists visiting Spitzbergen over the last few years, Pyramiden has become a popular CURIOSITY in the Arctic Circle world of mountains, fjords, and GLACIERS.

(P18) In 2007, one of the empty buildings was CONVERTED into a 24-room hotel.

(P19) This summer eight Russians were employed at Pyramiden to look after the hotel, as well as two guides.

(P20) Pavel Arkharov, the 26-year-old photography student who helps Sasha welcome the tourists when they DISEMBARK, says he doesn’t find the DESERTED town depressing. “It’s a very peaceful, HARMONIOUS place,” he says.

WORDS: 536

SOURCE: http://www.ctvnews.ca/lifestyle/frozen-in-time-arctic-soviet-era-ghost-town-seeing-revival-1.2507946

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 you could live in a very cold environment all year?
  3. Mining is one of the most dangerous jobs. Would you work at a dangerous job if the pay was high?
  4. Do you find REMOTE, empty places peaceful or depressing?
  5. Many tour boats now travel into the Arctic and Antarctic Oceans. Would that kind of trip interest you?

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.

  • Ghost town
  • You never know
  • In earnest
  • Gather dust
  • Come apart at the seams

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GOOGLE LOSES DATA AS LIGHTNING STRIKES

[TECHNOLOGY ★]

GOOGLE LOSES DATA AS LIGHTNING STRIKES

Lightning

(P1) Google says data has been wiped from discs at one of its data centres in Belgium – after the local power grid was struck by LIGHTNING four times.

(P2) Some people have permanently lost access to the files on the affected disks as a result.

(P3) A number of disks damaged following the lightning strikes did, however, later became accessible.

(P4) Generally, data centres require more lightning protection than most other buildings.

(P5) Google has said that lightning did not actually strike the data centre itself, but the local POWER GRID, and the BBC understands that customers, through various backup technologies, were able to recover all lost data.

(P6) While four successive strikes might sound unlikely, lightning does not need to repeatedly strike the same place or the actual building to cause damage.

(P7) Justin Gale, project manager for the lightning protection service Orion, said lightning could strike power or telecommunications cables connected to a building at a distance and still cause DISRUPTIONS.

(P8) “The cabling alone can be struck anything up to a kilometre away, bring [the shock] back to the data centre and FUSE everything that’s in it,” he said.

(P9) The Google Compute Engine (GCE) service allows Google’s clients to store data and run virtual computers in the cloud. It’s not known which clients were affected, or what type of data was lost.

(P10) In an online statement, Google said that data on just 0.000001% of disk space was permanently affected.

(P11) “Although automatic AUXILIARY systems restored power quickly, and the storage systems are designed with battery backup, some recently written data was located on storage systems which were more susceptible to power failure from extended or repeated battery drain,” it said.

(P12) The company added it would continue to UPGRADE hardware and improve its response procedures to make future losses less likely.

(P13) A spokesman for data centre consultants Future-Tech, commented that while data centres were designed to WITHSTAND lightning strikes via a network of conductive LIGHTNING RODS, it was not impossible for strikes to get through.

(P14) “Everything in the data centre is connected one way or another,” said James Wilman, engineering sales director. “If you get four large strikes it wouldn’t surprise me that it has affected the facility.”

(P15) Although the chances of data being wiped by lightning strikes are incredibly low, users do have the option of being able to back things up locally as a SAFETY MEASURE.

WORDS: 398

SOURCE: http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-33989384

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. This was a RELATIVELY minor incident. Do you think there will be a major Internet crisis sometime soon?
  3. If you had to be without electrical power for a month, how would you live?
  4. Have you ever been very close to a lightning strike?
  5. What sort of permanent data loss would have the worst effect on your life?

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.

  • Power grid
  • Safety measure

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“MY DEGREE IS NEXT TO WORTHLESS”

[EDUCATION ★★]

“MY DEGREE IS NEXT TO WORTHLESS”

Graduation

(P1) A majority of university graduates in the UK are getting jobs where they do not need a degree, according to a report.

(P2) Here, three graduates who found themselves in that situation share their experiences.

Paul Holden

(P3) Paul Holden, Sheffield

(P4) I graduated in 2010 with a master’s in town planning and transport, which I have never been able to put to use.

(P5) When I started the course in 2006, the country was DESPERATE for town planners – but an economy-destroying recession PUT PAID TO that.

(P6) I’ve had a few interviews, but even those jobs that are advertised for graduates end up being taken by people with experience.

(P7) Who is going to hire someone with no experience when they can get someone who has it?

(P8) I went to university as a mature student after realising, aged 25, what I wanted to do.

(P9) But I can’t do that, and now I’m 35 and working in a pub because I have lots of experience in that industry.

(P10) It’s either that or a CALL CENTER – that is all my CV says.

(P11) I’ve given up applying for town-planning jobs, it’s POINTLESS.

(P12) At least I’m not paying off the huge student-loan DEBT, which appears to be the only thing I got for four years of study.

(P13) I feel quite BITTER about the situation.

Rebecca Shaw

(P14) Rebecca Shaw, Oxford

(P15) I graduated in 2010 with a BSc in conservation biology.

(P16) I worked in retail part-time for a bit while I concentrated on applications for jobs RELEVANT to my degree.

(P17) Eventually, I had to give up and take a full-time position working for a local AUTHORITY, which is what I have been doing for the past two years.

(P18) I’ve had enough, though, of doing MINDLESS, boring, and soul-destroying work, and I am starting university again in September to study DIAGNOSTIC RADIOGRAPHY.

(P19) It is a VOCATIONAL course with PRACTICAL experience, which I hope will make the difference when it comes to getting a job at the other end.

(P20) I worked so hard for my first degree and WENT OF MY WAY to gain extra experience to make me more employable and STAND OUT from the MASSES of other applications.

(P21) I feel very disappointed that I wasn’t able to work in the field that I trained for, particularly when the work would have been of benefit to people, and not just a money-making plan for myself.

(P22) Still, I am hopeful that I will be able to PUT ALL THAT DISAPPOINTMENT BEHIND ME with the opportunity to study again and do a job that I am proud of.

Aaron Cullen

(P23) Aaron Cullen, Aberdeen

(P24) Given my time again, I wouldn’t bother going to university.

(P25) The experience was amazing and the life skills have also proved VALUABLE, but the degree is next to WORTHLESS.

(P26) I have had to go and chase additional QUALIFICATIONS – which I could have done upon leaving school without a degree – in an attempt to gain a job where I feel I will be able to use my full POTENTIAL.

(P27) I also feel MISLED, as it was DRILLED INTO you that university was the only way to being successful – with HINDSIGHT, an APPRENTICESHIP or trade would have been a much better OPTION.

(P28) I studied in politics and philosophy, graduating in 2009.

(P29) After university, I worked as supermarket store manager – but I was doing that before and during university too.

(P30) Now, I’m working in administration.

(P31) I’m currently working to become a personal trainer.

WORDS: 576

SOURCE: http://www.bbc.com/news/education-33984756

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. Many developed countries have been producing more university graduates than there are jobs that require university degrees. Are stories like the ones in the article common in your country?
  3. Do you feel that your education prepared you well for the work that you are doing now?
  4. Do you plan to obtain another degree, or are you already working on one?
  5. Do you like or dislike the competitive side of modern life?

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.

  • Put paid to
  • Call center
  • Go out of your way
  • Stand out
  • Put behind you
  • Drill into

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AMERICANS ARE WORKAHOLICS

[BUSINESS ★]

AMERICANS ARE WORKAHOLICS

tired-at-work-8

(P1) Checking emails at home is just part of the job for most Americans, who would also prefer to receive money rather than more paid vacation or sick days, according to a poll.

(P2) More than half of adults questioned in a 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair survey said checking emails outside office hours was ROUTINE, compared to 38 percent who said it was unnecessary.

(P3) But younger Americans were more willing to remain connected to work issues at home. Nearly 70 percent of employees under 30 years old said it wasn’t a problem but the number dropped to 52 percent for workers 30 and older.

(P4) “Americans are definitely WORKAHOLICS,” Cullen Murphy, editor-at-large for Vanity Fair, said in an interview. “Maybe the overall message of this poll is that there is a kind of BEDROCK faith in the idea that working hard pays off.”

(P5) Most Americans, given the choice when starting a new job, said they would prefer an extra $20,000 rather than four more weeks of vacation. Only 32 percent would OPT for the extra time.

(P6) Sixty three percent of U.S. workers said they would choose getting paid for leftover sick days, rather than having time off for them.

(P8) If Americans did have some SPARE TIME, 30 percent said they looked for work to do to occupy themselves and an equal number said they used the free hours to exercise.

(P9) “They not only look for things to do. They look for things to do that are work related,” said Murphy. “For me, it plays into a national characteristic of being busy, being productive, and improving yourself.”

(P10) Only 20 percent said they would use the free time to read.

(P11) If Americans could choose which kind of additional time off they could have, 26 percent said they wished they could take more vacations without kids and 23 percent would prefer more maternity/paternity leave.

(P12) But perhaps the most TELLING question in the poll was the choice of which animal was most like them. More than half selected worker bee, over butterfly or shark, and only four percent identified with SLOTH.

WORDS: 346

SOURCE: http://www.businessinsider.com/r-checking-work-emails-at-home-its-part-of-the-job-for-most-americans-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. Would you rather have a higher salary, or more time off from work?
  3. How much vacation and sick time do you have at your current job? Do you use all of it?
  4. Every study shows that Americans are more focused on money and success, and Europeans and Latin Americans are more focused on living a happy and enjoyable life. What is the PREVAILING attitude in your country?
  5. During your spare time, what are your favorite activities?

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.

  • Spare time

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