BRAVE CITIZENS HONORED

[WORLD NEWS ★]

BRAVE CITIZENS HONORED

150824042034-paris-ceremony-2-exlarge-tease

(P1) Three Americans and one Briton who prevented an attack on a crowded train in France have been awarded that country’s highest honor for their BRAVERY.

(P2) French president Francois Hollande presented each man with a LEGION OF HONOR medal at the Élysée Palace in Paris on Monday morning.

(P3) “The entire world admires your COURAGE, your SANGFROID, your spirit of SOLIDARITY,” Mr. Hollande said. “This is what allowed you to SUBDUE an armed man with your BARE HANDS. This must be an example for all, and a source of inspiration.”

(P4) The three Americans who received the medal are U.S. Airman Spencer Stone, 22; National Guardsman Alek Skarlatos, 22; and their friend Anthony Sadler, 23. The men had been traveling through Europe on vacation and were among the 500 passengers on the train headed from Amsterdam to Paris on Friday. Also honored was Chris Norman, a 62-year-old businessman from England.

(P5) Skarlatos has said that it was a “GUT INSTINCT” that led him and his friends to act when they heard a gunshot and saw a man running through the corridor with a gun.

(P6) “(Skarlatos) just hit me on the shoulder and said ‘Let’s go,'” Stone told the Associated Press.

(P7) With the help of Norman and a French passenger who has asked to not be identified, the Americans TACKLED the heavily-armed gunman to the ground and took away his rifle.

(P8) French authorities ARRESTED the gunman, a 26-year-old Moroccan citizen, after the train was stopped.

(P9) Stone and two other passengers SUSTAINED INJURIES in the STRUGGLE. He was credited with saving one of those passengers who had been hit by a stray bullet. All three were transported to hospitals when the train made an emergency stop following the incident.

(P10) When Stone received his medal, he was still recovering from surgery following an injury to his thumb.

(P11) Since the attack, public figures from all over the world have expressed their gratitude to these men. U.S. President Barack Obama called the American citizens to COMMEND them on their bravery, and British Prime Minister David Cameron praised the “extraordinary courage of the passengers who INTERVENED.”

(P12) While many people may consider these otherwise ordinary men heroes, Sadler said that he and his two friends hope that people choose to focus on the lessons that can be learned from this ORDEAL.

(P13) “Hiding, or sitting back, is not going to accomplish anything,” Sadler told the AP. “And the gunman would’ve been successful if my friend Spencer had not gotten up. So I just want that lesson to be learned going forward, in times of terror like this, please do something. Don’t just stand by and watch.” 

WORDS: 439

SOURCE: http://www.timeforkids.com/news/brave-americans-honored/262391

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 highest honor that you have ever personally received?
  3. What is the scariest situation that you have ever found yourself in?
  4. Have you ever handled a gun?
  5. Do you often rely on your “gut instinct”?

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.

  • Bare hands
  • Gut instinct

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NEW ZEALAND’S NEVER-ENDING FIRE

[TRAVEL ★★★]

NEW ZEALAND’S NEVER-ENDING FIRE

New Zealand Fire

(P1) There are plenty of TROUT swimming through the rivers that SURROUND the ISOLATED New Zealand village of Murchison, and ANGLERS come from all over the world to TRY THEIR LUCK. But the trout don’t run in the Blackwater River.

(P2) A SEEMINGLY typical clear and swift South Island river, the Blackwater has one UNMISTAKABLE TRAIT: the water carries a WHIFF of KEROSENE. It’s FAINT, but it was enough to give the Blackwater its name, and strong enough to keep the trout away. There’s oil buried in these hills, and in a deep fold of BEECH forest in the Blackwater Valley, the oil feeds a little-known natural PHENOMENON – if you know where to look.

(P3) Locals call it the Gas Blows, but Merve and Shirley Bigden – a small husband-and-wife tour operating team – have named it the Natural Flames Experience. Unknown to most travellers – and indeed to most people outside of Murchison, a two-street village 125km southwest Nelson – a BIZARRE CAULDRON of bright yellow smokeless flames burns ETERNALLY in the bush here, feeding off natural METHANE gas leaking continuously from the ground.

(P4) The bowl of flames has been burning, so the legend goes, since the 1920s, when a couple of hunters sat down for a smoke and one threw away his match, suddenly IGNITING the leaking gas right next to him. The Bigdens say the hunter actually SNIFFED the air and, in a moment of madness, tossed a light to see what would happen. Yet, another story says the hunters smelled gas, banged a pipe into the ground and then lit it. REGARDLESS, the flames have rarely gone out since.

(P5) On a recent winter’s morning, I EMBARKED on the four-hour Natural Flames Experience, with two other guests and local Shelley Neame as our guide. A BUMPY 15km drive south led to a gentle, UNDULATING 2.4km walk through the VERDANT bush. Neame is of old Murchison STOCK, tracing her family back to when the area was settled in the 1800s, and knows plenty of local history.

(P6) After about an hour, the bright yellow flames popped suddenly into view, CRADLED in a SHALLOW bowl a couple of metres wide. Surrounded by a green SWATHE of damp native FERNS and trees, the quietly spitting fire pit was totally unexpected. In fact, it felt EERIE, as though bush spirits had abandoned the place just moments before. But on a cold and MISTY day, it was a welcome sight. I gazed in wonder, and then hurried closer to warm my CHILLY hands.

(P7) Neame dropped a camp pot over the flames, boiled water and added tea, which STEEPED until it was deep with smoky flavour.  She then placed a SKILLET on the hot rocks NESTLED in the flames and cooked pancakes, offering us local HONEY as a TOPPING.

(P8) The honey was DELICATELY sweet, the pancakes soft and steaming, and we chewed and GAZED at the fire and wondered about the twist of geology deep in the earth that created it.

(P9) We sat on the RICKETY wooden benches on a small LEDGE above the flames for close to an hour, staring down at the fire nestled in the misty cool bush threaded with frost. It was ASTONISHING to think it had burned almost continuously for nearly 100 years (though sometimes after a heavy rain, the gas needs to be re-ignited).

(P10) There are at least nine other spots around the world where eternal flames burn from natural gas. But this natural wonder is ONE-OF-A-KIND: nowhere else in the world do the flames burn UNDISTURBED in the middle of thick, UNINHABITED bush.

WORDS: 593

SOURCE: http://www.bbc.com/travel/story/20150810-new-zealands-never-ending-fire

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. Most people probably don’t have a clear idea where New Zealand is. Could you find it on a map?
  3. What is the most interesting thing you have ever seen out in nature?
  4. Have you ever been on a tour with a guide? What was it like?
  5. What is your favorite kind of food to cook outside?

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.

  • Try your luck
  • One-of-a-kind

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FAKE MOBILE TOWERS ARE SNOOPING ON YOUR PHONE

[TECHNOLOGY ★★]

FAKE MOBILE TOWERS ARE SNOOPING ON YOUR PHONE

mysterious-fake-cellphone-towers-are-intercepting-calls-all-over-the-us

(P1) Fake mobile towers that scoop up data from passing phones are ROUTINELY being used in London, an investigation by Sky News suggests.

(P2) Working with German security company GMSK Cryptophone, it claims to have UNCOVERED direct evidence, the first in the UK, of at least 20 INSTANCES of the use of these cell site SIMULATORS.

(P3) These PORTABLE Stingray boxes could be used to track police suspects.

(P4) The Metropolitan Police Service refused to CONFIRM or DENY it was using them.

(P5) By MIMICKING a LEGITIMATE mobile tower and tricking every phone in range into connecting to them, the boxes “catch” the international mobile subscriber number (IMSI) and electronic serial number (ESN) of each and reveal the exact location of its user.

(P7) Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe told Sky News: “We’re not going to talk about it, because the only people who benefit are the other side, and I see no reason in giving away that sort of thing.”

(P8) Privacy International (PI), which has been campaigning for more TRANSPARENCY about the use of SURVEILLANCE equipment, described the police’s stance as “LAUGHABLE“.

(P9) Matthew Rice of PI said: “We can’t be sure that all these are used by LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES.

(P10) “They can be used by criminals, and are easily bought from the internet for about £1,000.

(P11) “The police need to explain what they are doing to protect the public from criminals using such equipment as well as explaining how they use it.

(P12) “Even when used by police, IMSI catchers are very difficult to use in a TARGETED manner, meaning when used in urban areas thousands of people’s mobile phones would be SWEPT UP in that DRAGNET.

(P13) “What police do with that data, we don’t know.

(P14) “With 20 IMSI Catchers now confirmed to be DEPLOYED across London – we need law enforcement to step up, have an honest conversation about their use, so we can ensure the public are being properly protected.”

(P15) The BBC contacted the Metropolitan Police but was told it was not something that it would comment on.

(P16) In the US, the American Civil Liberties Union has identified 53 agencies in 21 states that own Stingrays.

(P17) In some cases, police officers have WITHHELD information about mobile phone tracking practices in court cases.

(P18) But last month the FBI denied preventing police forces from discussing their use, as long as they did not reveal their “specific CAPABILITIES“.

(P19) The Florida-based company that makes Stingrays – Harris Corporation – is reported to have signed NON-DISCLOSURE AGREEMENTS with police, preventing it from discussing its surveillance products.

(P20) Last month, the State of Washington passed LEGISLATION that required law enforcement agencies to apply for a WARRANT before using such surveillance equipment.

WORDS: 445

SOURCE: http://www.bbc.com/news/business-33076527

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 assume that government agencies are spying on you, or does this shock you?
  3. Do you always own the latest smartphone, or is an older model good enough for you?
  4. Is there any way to ensure that new technologies are used by law enforcement officials but not by criminals?
  5. What steps have you taken to protect your privacy?

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.

  • Law enforcement agency
  • Sweep up
  • Non-disclosure agreement

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TEACHER ARRESTED FOR CRASHING DRONE AT US OPEN TENNIS MATCH

[SPORTS ★]

TEACHER ARRESTED FOR CRASHING DRONE AT US OPEN TENNIS MATCH

Drone Crash

(P1) A New York City teacher was ARRESTED early Friday for ALLEGEDLY crashing a drone into an empty section of seats during a second-round tennis match at the US Open, police said.

(P2) Daniel Verley, 26, faces charges of RECKLESS ENDANGERMENT and operating a drone in a New York City public park outside of the allowed area. He was found at a MARINA on the opposite side of Citi Field immediately following the incident.

(P3) Using drones to gather information or data — instead of just images — is catching on at several college football programs, and sports in general, even as the laws and rules ADDRESSING the use of drones remain MURKY.

(P4) A police department spokesman said Verley is a teacher at the Academy of Innovative Technology in Brooklyn. Calls for comment to the school and the Department of Education were not immediately returned Friday.

(P5) It wasn’t immediately clear whether Verley had an attorney who could comment on the charges on his behalf.

(P6) The drone buzzed over the court in Louis Armstrong Stadium on Thursday night before crashing into the seats. U.S. Tennis Association spokesman Chris Widmaier said no one was injured.

(P7) The black device flew DIAGONALLY through the arena during the next-to-last game of a second-round match that 26th-SEEDED Flavia Pennetta of Italy won 6-1, 6-4 over Monica Niculescu of Romania.

(P8) Pennetta said she heard the drone fly by and was not sure what it was.

(P9) Her initial reaction, she said afterward, was that it might have been a bomb.

(P10) “A little bit scary, I have to say,” Pennetta said.

(P11) “With everything going on in the world … I thought, ‘OK, it’s over.’ That’s how things happen,” she said.

(P12) She said neither the chair UMPIRE nor tournament officials told her that it was, indeed, a drone.

(P13) It broke into pieces upon landing, and the match was only briefly interrupted between points while police and fire department personnel went to look at it.

(P14) “The chair umpire just wanted to wait for an OK from the police to be able to continue,” Pennetta said, “even if, truthfully, I don’t think even they knew what it was.”

(P15) She said her coach and physical therapist were sitting in the opposite end of the stadium from where the drone crashed and they told her later they were afraid, too.

(P16) “All of these [SECURITY MEASURES], and then it comes in from above,” Pennetta said.

(P17) The episode happened a little before 8:30 p.m., during the day’s last match in Louis Armstrong Stadium, which has a seating CAPACITY of about 10,000. Pennetta and Niculescu originally were scheduled to play on the much-smaller Court 17, but their match was moved because four earlier matches in Armstrong WRAPPED UP early.

(P18) “If there had been SPECTATORS, it would have hit them and done a lot of damage,” Pennetta said.

WORDS: 476

SOURCE: http://espn.go.com/tennis/usopen15/story/_/id/13580585/teacher-arrested-drone-enters-louis-armstrong-stadium-crashes-empty-seats

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. A spectator was once killed by a drone crashing during a demonstration at a football stadium. Are drones getting too dangerous?
  3. Why do you think Flavia Pennetta immediately thought that the sound of a drone was a bomb?
  4. Why is there such a high level of concern about security at sporting events?
  5. Is tennis a sport that you play or enjoy to watch?

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.

  • Security measure
  • Wrap up

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UNIVERSITIES EXPLOIT STUDENT-ATHLETES

[OPINION ★★★]

UNIVERSITIES EXPLOIT STUDENT-ATHLETES

College Stadium

(P1) When the COLLEGIATE sports season KICKS OFF again this week millions of Americans will be TUNING IN to watch football and basketball games – but most will be blind to the off-screen struggles faced by players. While television companies and colleges RAKE IN billions of dollars in REVENUE from their labor, very little of that revenue FILTERS DOWN to college athletes.

(P2) A recent study by the National College Players Association revealed typical college players must pay more than $3,000 a year OUT OF POCKET for daily expenses – while the MARKET VALUE of collegiate basketball and football athletes is more than $6bn.

(P3) Instead of getting a GENUINE “free academic ride” via scholarships, many who do graduate EMERGE with a mountain of debt from having to cover living costs. Many student-athletes never graduate at all. Academic scholarships can be REVOKED for minor INFRACTIONS or even sports-related INJURIES.

(P4) Universities make TONS of money off athletes, many of whom only have long-term physical disabilities from CRIPPLING injuries to show for their college sports experiences.

(P5) What happens when college athletes get injured for life? People incorrectly assume they are fully covered by health insurance. But neither the NCAA nor the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (governing small athletics programs like Cal Lutheran) requires schools to provide full and ADEQUATE health coverage. Many former athletes are stuck with BURDENSOME medical bills for long-term sports-related injuries. The NCAA recently argued it is not legally responsible to protect college athletes from injury – a duty that professional sports leagues have accepted, ALBEIT RELUCTANTLY. Since they are CLASSIFIED as student athletes instead of employees, the NCAA also DENIES them WORKERS’ COMPENSATION.

(P6) Unfortunately, these labor issues are UNLIKELY to be ADDRESSED anytime soon. In a UNANIMOUS decision on August 17, the National Labor Relations Board dealt a SETBACK to efforts by Northwestern University football players seeking to be recognized as employees so they could be ELIGIBLE to UNIONIZE.

(P7) The NLRB’s PRETEXT for denying private college athletes the right to a union – that this would treat them differently than athletes on public university campuses – is BOGUS. The NLRB has frequently allowed graduate student teaching assistants to organize at private institutions without considering the comparison with public schools. Why should it be different with college athletes?

(P8) Other fears are equally SPURIOUS, such as professionalism of college athletics RUINING the competitive nature of collegiate sports by offering unfair advantages to big revenue generating schools. Large universities such as Ohio State and University of Southern California already enjoy these advantages.

(P9) All of these young men and women student athletes – or workers – continue to be EXPLOITED as a result of this OBSTRUCTIONISM. Instead of DUCKING its responsibility, the NLRB should rule on whether or not these players are employees entitled to collectively organize. These athletes have the right to improve their working conditions and have a voice over decisions that PROFOUNDLY affect their playing and the rest of their lives. We owe it to them.

WORDS: 492

SOURCE: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/sep/03/the-ncaa-exploits-the-college-athletes-for-whom-you-love-to-root

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 that university athletes are genuine students, or are they really employees?
  3. The two biggest sports on American university campuses are men’s basketball and football. Do you enjoy watching these sports?
  4. Although soccer is more popular around the world than American football, the LATTER sport is being played in more countries than ever. Is American football played in your country?
  5. Are labor unions an important FORCE for workers in your country?

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
  • Tune in
  • Rake in
  • Filter down
  • Out of pocket
  • Market value
  • Workers’ compensation

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THE NEW DATING GAME

[LIFE ★★]

THE NEW DATING GAME

date-onomics-w352

(P1) In his new book, Date-onomics: How Dating Became a LOPSIDED Numbers Game, author and former Fortune and Money columnist Jon Birger CRUNCHES SOME NUMBERS from the U.S. Census Bureau and other social surveys in order to SHED SOME LIGHT on dating challenges in America.

(P2) Aside from revealing a statistical “man SHORTAGE,” Birger explains how college-educated men and woman often limit their own dating OPTIONS, and (perhaps most surprisingly) says that the key to expanding your dating POOL could be as simple as a trip to your local SUBURBS.

(P3) First, tell us about that man shortage. In the book, Birger points out that there are four young college-educated women for every three young college-educated men in our country. “What’s really interesting is that the gender ratios are more lopsided in rural states like Montana (52 percent more college-educated women than men, ages 22 to 29) and West Virginia (61 percent more college-educated women than men) than in urban states like California and New York,” he says.

(P4) Why are we focusing so much on college degrees?

(P5) “I definitely do not believe that college education makes someone a quality guy,” Birger says. In fact, “The RELUCTANCE to date across socioeconomic lines is a major reason why there is a ‘man DEFICIT‘ for college-educated women,” he explains. “There have been multiple studies showing that college-educated Americans are increasingly unlikely to marry someone lacking a college degree.” As a result of that, “My focus is on the college-educated dating market,” Birger says.

(P6) What, exactly, is the problem single women and men are having with dating right now?

(P7) The current hot topic seems to be our so-called hookup culture—a large amount of people preferring casual relationships to LASTING, committed ones. “I’m not trying to be the MORALITY police, and I’ll even go so far as to say that this isn’t entirely bad,” says Birger. But for women and men who do want to get married or have a committed relationship, it can be FRUSTRATING.

(P8) What do you suggest for those who want a committed relationship, but aren’t meeting partners with the same goals?

(P9) “Based on my research, I can say that women and men who are not meeting the right person should consider expanding their dating pool, either geographically or by education level/social class,” Birger says.

(P10) His suggestion? Spending more time in the suburbs: “Odd as it sounds, suburbs tend to have higher ratios of single men to single women than city centers, at least among college grads,” Birger says. So if you can’t seem to meet LIKE-MINDED individuals on dates in your city, a trip out to country for the day could change all that (or, at the very least, provide a little FRESH AIR).

WORDS: 455

SOURCE: http://www.glamour.com/sex-love-life/blogs/smitten/2015/08/date-onomics-dating-marriage

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. How have dating and relationships been changing in your country?
  3. Is there a “man shortage” in your country?
  4. Why are people reluctant to date someone with less education?
  5. Would you (or have you) dated someone at a lower educational or socio-economic level than yourself?

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.

  • Crunch numbers
  • Shed light
  • Like-minded
  • Fresh air

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THREE TRILLION TREES ON EARTH

[ENVIRONMENT ★★]

THREE TRILLION TREES ON EARTH

Forest

(P1) There are just over three trillion trees on Earth, according to a new study.

(P2) The figure is eight times as big as the previous best ESTIMATE, which counted perhaps 400 billion at most.

(P3) It has been produced by Thomas Crowther from Yale University and his colleagues, who combined a MASS of ground survey data with satellite pictures.

(P4) The team tells the journal Nature that the new total represents UPWARDS of 420 trees for every person on the planet.

(P5) Dr Crowther CAUTIONED that the higher number did not of itself change anything: “It’s not like we’ve discovered new trees.

(P6) “So, it’s not good news for the world or bad news that we’ve produced this new number.

(P7) “We’re simply describing the state of the global forest system in numbers that people can understand and that scientists can use, and that environmental PRACTITIONERS or POLICY-makers can understand and use.”

(P8) The team collected tree DENSITY information from over 400,000 forest PLOTS around the world.

(P9) This included many national forest INVENTORIES and a host of PEER-REVIEWED studies where workers had actually gone out and counted the number of trees in a given area and in a given forest type.

(P10) This then ENABLED Dr Crowther and his group to build a model that better characterised what they were seeing in satellite pictures, which are very good at showing forest EXTENT but are not so good at REVEALING just how many individual trees there are.

(P11) Of their approximately 3,040,000,000,000 trees, the scientists put most (1.39 trillion) in the tropics and sub-tropics, 0.61 trillion in TEMPERATE regions, and 0.74 trillion in the BOREAL FORESTS – that great band of CONIFERS that circles the globe just below the Arctic.

(P12) Indeed, it is in the boreal forests that they say the greatest densities are seen.

(P13) What is ABUNDANTLY clear from the study is the influence humans now have on the number of trees on Earth. The team estimates we are removing about 15 billion a year, with perhaps only five billion being planted back.

(P14) “The net loss is about a third of a percent of the current number of trees globally,” said co-author Dr Henry Glick.

(P15) “That doesn’t seem to be an INSIGNIFICANT portion and should probably give us cause for considering the role that DEFORESTATION is playing in changing ECOSYSTEMS.

(P16) “And where tree losses are often tied to TIMBER supplies and LAND USE conversion for agriculture, as the global human population grows, we may see the net loss increase as well.”

(P17) And as if to emphasise this point, a comparison with estimates of ANCIENT forest cover suggests that humanity could have already removed almost three trillion trees since the last ice age, some 11,000 years ago.

(P18) “Europe used to be almost covered by one giant forest and now it’s almost entirely fields and grasslands. Humans are absolutely controlling tree densities,” Dr Crowther told BBC News.

WORDS: 484

SOURCE: http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-34134366

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. Parks with trees are important features of most cities. Why are trees important to people’s health?
  3. What is your favorite type of tree?
  4. Have you ever lived on a property with trees?
  5. Do you enjoy going to the forest to hike and camp?

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.

  • Peer review
  • Land use

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