Simply News 1: Attack on war veteran – 16 bailed

Source: Yahoo News.

Sixteen people arrested in connection with the assault of an elderly war veteran and his wife have been bailed, police have said.

Bob Schofield, 89, was left bloodied and bruised after confronting intruders who broke into his house in Salterforth, Lancashire.

Mr Schofield was asleep with his wife Mollie, 87, when the couple were disturbed.

They were found hours later on Monday bleeding on the floor at their cottage.

Officers arrested 16 men on Friday in an operation in the Blackpool area.

Acting Detective Inspector Dave Groombridge, who is leading the investigation, said: “This is a planned police operation made in connection with one of a number of lines of inquiry.”

“Information gleaned will be analysed and further action may result.”

“Two of the detained men are wanted in connection with other matters and will be escorted to other parts of the UK.”

“The police will continue to actively pursue all avenues of the investigation and we urge anyone with information to contact us directly or call Crimestoppers.”

He added: “Bob and Mollie continue to improve after their ordeal and have received numerous wishes of support and encouragement from across the country.”

“Family members have asked that their heartfelt thanks are made to all for the messages of support.”

Mr Schofield served in the Royal Navy on the notorious North Atlantic convoys taking aid to Britain’s allies in Russia.

He battled mountainous seas and enemy attack crewing escort ships on the missions across the North Sea from Scapa Flow to Murmansk.

Article source: Yahoo News.

Vocabulary notes

  • arrested, detained – taken by the police for questioning; locked up; not free.
  • in connection with – about; with reference to;
  • assault – attack; using violence;
  • war veteran – person who was previously in the armed forces;
  • intruder – a person who goes into a house, office or other place where they are not allowed, especially if they use force or tell lies to gain entry).
  • cottage – a small house usually in a village or in the countryside.
  • other matters – other things, questions, enquiries, events, etc.
  • ordeal – period of stress, danger and suffering.
  • wishes of support – messages of sympathy and encouragement from ‘well-wishers’ perhaps with a greeting card and/or flowers.
  • notorious – famous for bad reasons such as the dangers of those sea journeys. Also e.g. ‘notorious gangster’.
  • mission – a big task, aim, objective or purpose. In this context, it is a military mission – the orders given by the top commanders and government ministers.

Verbs and grammar notes

  • bailed is the regular past tense of bail. When the police bail someone it means that they have questioned them and decided what to do with them such as let them go home but they must come back to the police station or a court at a later date. See also the noun ‘baillif’ in connection with courts and legal procedures.
  • He was left bloodied = when the attackers left, he had signs of injury; he was cut and bleeding. Here ‘bloodied’ is an adjective describing how the victim was left. Note that ‘bloodied’ can also be used as a verb meaning the action done by the person who cased the injury. e.g. ‘The boxer bloodied his opponent’s nose.’

Proper nouns and place names

  • Salterforth – the village where the incident occurred.
  • Lancashire – a county in the north west of England.
  • Blackpool – a large town where the police headquarters are. Blackpool is famous as a seaside resort.
  • UK – the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
  • North Atlantic – large ocean which has to be crossed by ships travelling between Europe and America.
  • Britain’s allies in Russia – During the Second World War (WWII), Russia and the rest of the Soviet Union cooperated with the Western allies to defeat Hitler’s army.
  • North Sea – a sea in northern Europe. You cross the North Sea when you sail from England to Norway or Germany, for example.
  • Scapa Flow – one of Britain’s most historic stretches of water. See:
  • Murmansk – a city in northern Russia famous for its naval base.

Other notes

  • Notice that the story uses “escort” twice. First, it says that two of the people arrested will be escorted to the police in another part of the country. Second, it refers to ‘escort ships’ during wartime. ‘Escorted’ means accompanied by someone; criminal suspects will be escorted because they are under arrest. Cargo ships may be escorted by military ships to protect them in a dangerous area. ‘Escort’ can also be used to refer to one person escorting another when they go out for entertainment, e.g. “He escorted her to the cinema” but this is a rather formal use.
  • The last sentence is particularly noteworthy:
    He battled mountainous seas and enemy attack crewing escort ships on the missions across the North Sea from Scapa Flow to Murmansk.
    Note the metaphorical expression ‘mountainous seas’ meaning that in terrible weather conditions the waves would be extremely high and dangerous. When it says ‘He battled mountainous seas’ the use of ‘battled’ emphasises that it was a struggle for survival against both the sea conditions and enemy attack.

This article is reproduced for language learning practice. Copyright acknowledged.

Triathlon: The unholy trinity

Swimming, cycling, running – the triathlon produces such amazing fitness benefits that there’s an explosion in the event’s popularity. by Alex Wade (The Independent)

You will find questions and exercises after the article.

  1. I can remember the feeling of elation as if it were yesterday. I had just completed the Perranporth Triathlon – an event made up of an 800m swim, a 38km cycle ride and a 7.5km run – and, exhausted, had collapsed on the beach. Around me many other competitors were reacting similarly. But, though so weary that we could barely speak, we all wore a look of exhausted joy. We were, as surfers say after a good session, stoked.
  2. A full Olympic triathlon consists of a 1.5km swim, a 40km cycle and a 10km run. Dedicated training is required before taking one on, but there are easier options. A sprint triathlon consists of a 750km swim, a 20km cycle and 5km run. A super-sprint triathlon consists of a 400m swim, a 10km ride and a 2.5km run.
  3. Triathlon made its debut in the Olympics at the Sydney Games in 2000. An estimated 80,000 people watched the triathlon at the 2002 Commonwealth Games. The London Triathlon – one of the world’s most popular – is now in its 11th year. Triathlon is the fastest-growing sport in the UK, with a 10 per cent year-on-year growth in competitor numbers. Last year’s London Triathlon saw an extraordinary 11,000 entries, and across the UK event organisers say the same thing: more and more people are signing up for a discipline that the observer might conclude is more like to torture than fun.
  4. Triathlon’s rise to mass appeal owes much to its appearance in the 2000 Sydney Olympics. The word “triathlon”, meaning an athletic event of three contests, may be derived from Ancient Greek but it was not until Sydney that triathlon featured in the Olympics. The men’s gold was won by Canadian Simon Whitfield, but two Britons, Simon Lessing and Timothy Don, captured the public imagination with performances that took them to top 10 finishes.
  5. Triathlon was on its way. The following year, in 2001, there were 1,000 entrants to the London Triathlon, all eager to see how they would do over the three disciplines that define the contemporary triathlon: swimming, cycling and running, in that order. It is the multi-disciplinary nature of triathlon that accounts for much of its appeal, as well as the way in which contests are run, as Ian Smith, an amateur triathlete, explains. “Triathlon allows someone who’s not brilliant at any one event to compete in three. Having three sports to master, or at least perform competently, means that training is more interesting than if you’re just running, swimming or cycling. You can test your limits and compete against others.”
  6. The health benefits are a factor in triathlon’s increasing popularity. Triathlon is an endurance sport but results in relatively little stress on ankles and knees. It provides an excellent cardiovascular workout – professional triathletes are among the fittest sportspeople. Training for a triathlon is a great cardiovascular workout, as well as a way of building and maintaining muscle tone. Because there are three sports, with more emphasis on swimming – which is non weight-bearing – and cycling, which is marginally weight-bearing, triathlon is also a natural progression for runners whose knees have suffered too much.
  7. Intensive training is not always necessary. You need to put in between four and six hours a week to complete a triathlon, and if you cycle to work, you’ve taken care of a lot of the training. Newcomers can try the shorter events, sprint-triathlon, which are held over shorter distances.
  8. A full Olympic triathlon is, indeed, a daunting prospect. The swim, held over 1.5km, can prove a rapid awakening for newcomers since it takes place in the company of hundreds of others. The cycle ride of 40km is more than enough for most people, and to add a 10km run would appear to be insane. A competitor’s official time includes the transition between the individual legs of the race, including the time it takes to change kit.
  9. The profile of the typical triathlete suggests that the acquisition of accessories will not break the bank. A survey by Starfish Consulting states that the average triathlete is 30 years old, works in senior management and has a high disposable income. He – and increasingly, she – is brand aware and enjoys a healthy, outdoors lifestyle. The majority are between 25 and 40; 47 per cent are university educated and 57 per cent earn more than £40,000 pa.
  10. My own experience of the Perranporth Triathlon, held each September in Cornwall, came thanks to a friend whose sense of my welfare led her to enter me in the event without my knowledge. “You’ll love it!” she promised. The more I learned of Perranporth annual race, the more I doubted my friend’s intentions. The Perranporth triathlon is notorious as one of the hardest in the UK, thanks to its environment: often rough seas, hilly terrain for the cycle ride and a strength-sapping run along sand at the end. But on the day, despite pounding surf, I somehow made it round the circuit. And even though, at the end, I could neither speak nor move, I had never felt better!

Find out the complete triathlon gear to be prepared during competition.

Intermediate level

A Pre-reading activity

  1. What sports do the students enjoy? Why?
  2. Write the word triathlon in the centre of the board. Ask the students to brainstorm what comes to mind with regard to this sport. List their points on the board around the central word.
  3. Discuss the points they have made. Add to their points as necessary. Write any new words on the board.
  4. If the triathlon becoming more or less popular? Why?
  5. Ask the students if they have ever done a triathlon. Would they like to? What preparations would you do?

B Use these words to complete these sentences.

  • elation
  • weary
  • debut
  • eager
  • endurance
  • stress
  • daunting
  • profile
  • notorious
  • cardiovascular
  1. My friend was suffering from …… problems after completing the race and he was rushed to hospital.
  2. There is a short stretch or road near us which is …… for bad accidents and six people have died there.
  3. He was fit and well trained and he was very …… for the match to start.
  4. Having finally passed his final set of exams after so much work, he felt a tremendous sense of …… .
  5. We had several applicants for the bob and so we looked at …… of each of them.
  6. A triathlon is a race of …… because it involves three different sports and takes a long time to complete.
  7. Many runners, long-jumpers and triple-jumpers suffer knee problems because of the tremendous …… that they put on their knees.
  8. She worked extremely hard and felt very …… by the end of the week.
  9. The British driver Lewis Hamilton made his …… in Formula 1 racing in 2007.
  10. Climbing a steep rock wall, or starting on a PHD course, can both be very …… for most people, and they don’t want to do it.

C Scan the text and find the importance of these words and expressions in the text.

  • 11,00 entries
  • Sydney Games
  • Simon Whitfield
  • non weight-bearing
  • Starfish Consulting
  • Perranporth Triathlon

D Read the passage silently

E Answer the questions

  1. Define stoked.
  2. What’s the difference between a sprint and a super-sprint triathlon?
  3. If 11,000 people signed up for the London triathlon last year, how many might we expect next year?
  4. What was it that significantly increased interest in the triathlon?
  5. What is one of the reasons why triathlons are so popular?
  6. In health terms, why is the triathlon a good sport?
  7. In your own words, what sort of people typically take part in triathlons?
  8. What makes the Perranporth triathlon a tough race?

F Explain the meaning of these expressions.

  1. mass appeal (Para 4)
  2. captured the public imagination (Para 4)
  3. multi-disciplinary nature (Para 5)
  4. muscle tone (Para 6)
  5. a rapid awakening (Para 8)
  6. not break the bank (Para 9)
  7. disposable income (Para 9)
  8. brand aware (Para 9)
  9. doubted my friend’s intentions (Para 10)
  10. hilly terrain (Para 10)

G Find words in the text that fit in the following categories.

  • Words used to describe the triathlon
  • Words used to describe how triathletes feel

H The writer uses various adjectives to paint a clear picture of what is in his mind; for example:

  • rough seas
  • hilly terrain
  • strength-sapping run
  • pounding surf

What adjectives could you use to describe how you might feel?

  • at the end of a triathlon
  • after falling in love!

I Arguments for and against

  1. Your teacher will divide the class into two groups.
  2. First, each student should work alone; make a list of all the arguments for and against training for triathlons and taking part in competitions.
  3. Get together one other with another student who has done the same task. Compare your lists.
  4. Join with two other students who had the other task. Discuss. Put forward the arguments for and against triathlons.
  5. Report back to the teacher. List the strongest for/against arguments on the board.
  6. For homework, write a report for a youth club in your home area making the arguments for and against triathlons.

There are lesson planning notes for this article in the Teacher’s Centre.

Running Shoes

This article is used in the questions and learning activities that follow.

There are many English words around the world for sports shoes: plimsoles (or plimsolls), trainers, joggers, sneakers, tackies, keds, sandshoes, gutties, canvers are just a few of them.

The name plimsoll was widely used in England to refer to a rubber-soled shoe intended for sports activities indoors, although the shoe was also more widely used for general sports and for running. There was no cushioning on the sole and many young runners suffered from having to do cross-country running in these very light-weight shoes. In the US similar shoes with thin soles (though sometimes with some ankle support) were known as sneakers. The word sneaker is often attributed to Henry Nelson McKinney, an advertising agent, who is said to have coined the term in 1917 because the rubber sole meant that the wearer could walk very quietly. However, the word was in use at least as early as 1887 when the Boston Journal of Education made reference to sneakers as “the name boys give to tennis shoes.” The British English term trainer probably derives from general expression training shoe and this expression first came into general use in the 1960s.

The idea of a rubber-soled shoe came along after an American inventor, Charles Goodyear, patented the process for the vulcanisation of rubber. By the early 1900s, sneakers were being produced by small rubber companies who specialized in the production of bicycle tires. U.S. Rubber introduced Keds in 1916, about the same time that Converse was marketing its All Star brand. Other companies were producing tennis shoes. At first, the market for sneakers was small, but after the first World War (1914-18) the market for sneakers in the U.S. grew steadily as young boys lined up to buy sneakers (such as Converse All Stars) endorsed by American football players like Jim Thorpe and Chuck Taylor.

The 1950s gave families more leisure time and as the baby boom started more American families chose to dress their youth in sneakers as school dress codes relaxed. The rapid expansion of film in the US included films where young people were casually dressed in jeans and sneakers and as a consequence demand for both grew rapidly. Sneaker sales in the United States soared to six hundred million pairs a year in 1957, which led leather shoe makers to claim that sneakers were bad for children’s feet.

Sneakers were never as popular in the UK with young people perhaps because of the thin soles and the generally cooler, wetter weather. However, in the 1970s, as jogging quickly became popular, well-cushioned running shoes became a necessity. Suddenly there were joggers on every street in thick-soled trainers. However, their use quickly moved from sports to general everyday use, and so did the necessity to have a pair of shoes for every occasion. Until this time, factories had been concerned with high production, but now the companies started to market their products as a lifestyle choice.

By the 1980s, trainers were everywhere; Woody Allen wore them to the ballet, Led Zeppelin wore them in their 1976 documentary, and Dustin Hoffman wore them while playing reporter Carl Bernstein in the movie All the President’s Men. The shoes originally developed for sports became the mainstay for most people. Nike and Reebok were among the market leaders. Newer brands went in and out of fashion, and so to maintain a competitive advantage companies started paying out huge sums to famous athletes to endorse their shoes. Perhaps the largest payment was to Chicago basketball player Michael Jordan for endorsing a signature line of shoes and sports wear called Air Jordan. Nike maximized their profits by doing limited releases, meaning a store would only carry a certain volume of shoes and, once all stores were sold out, no more were available. This had the result of pushing up prices to mind-boggling levels as young people battled to buy the latest versions. Each year, after the introduction of the first style of shoe, Nike would name the next year’s version two, three, and so on. For example, one of the most profitable shoes was the Nike Air Jordans XXIII, the twenty-third release of Nike’s Air Jordans. Twenty-three was a significant number because Michael Jordan’s number was 23 and people camped out for hours, sometimes days, to buy these limited-edition shoes.

During the 1990s, shoe companies perfected their fashion and marketing skills. Sports endorsements grew larger and marketing budgets went through the roof. Sports shoes (trainers / sneakers) became a fashion statement, and definition of identity and personality rather than humble athletic aids. Sports shoes started to be worn by young children and even baby shoes became similar in style.

Although the manufacturers worked hard to make the appearance of their shoes look original, they also spent increasing amounts of time designing technically sophisticated shoes. As running shoes become more advanced, amateur joggers, as well as marathon runners, began to purchase shoes based on their running style and foot arch. This is often important in preventing injury, as well as to increase running efficiency. Running shoes now often come in different designs suited to different foot types and running styles. Generally, these shoes are divided into styles that are suitable to people with a neutral running style, with overpronation, and with underpronation (otherwise known as supination). The running shoes are designed to fit the respective foot strike of the runners.

Pronation refers to the way a foot lands, and the flexing of the muscles, tendons and bones around the food. Overpronation is used to describe runners who land on the inside of their foot and this may sometimes, but not always, be a result of weak ankles. These runners wear down their shoes on the inside of the sole. Underpronation describes runners who land on the outside of their foot perhaps, but not always, because their feet are slightly angled away from the direct line of travel. They often wear the soles of their shoes on the outside. A neutral style will be where runners land squarely and there is even wear across their soles of their shoes. Shoe manufacturers have worked hard to design shoes that can help runners to adjust their running style and avoid injury. The sole of a pair of shoes may be made up of several different compounds in different combinations to help runners avoid over or underpronation. It is important to buy the right sort of shoes or a runner may permanently injure themselves.

Many sports shoes were initially manufactured in the US but increasingly Japan became an important supplier. One major manufacturer is ASICS which began manufacturing basketball shoes in 1949. Soon afterwards, their range of sports activities widened to a variety of Olympic styles used throughout the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s. ASICS became particularly renowned for the Mexico 68 design, in which the distinctive crossed stripes, now synonymous with the company brand, were featured for the first time. The name of the company, ASICS, is an acronym of the Latin phrase anima sana in corpore sano, which means healthy soul in a healthy body. In 2006, 68% of the company’s income came from the sale of sports shoes.

Adapted from Wikipedia 13 April 2011.

Activity 1 – before reading the article

What do you understand by the word ‘trainers’?

Do you wear them? When? Why?

Do you ever wear them when you do sports?

Which companies do you know that manufacture trainers?

Which advertising campaigns can you remember for trainers?

Activity 2 – Read paragraphs one and two of the article and then look at these multiple-choice options.

1. Young runners in England suffered because:

a) they didn’t like cross-country running;

b) the shoes had thin soles;

c) the shoes were light.

2. Henry Nelson McKinney used the name sneakers because:

a) he liked walking quietly;

b) he could creep up quietly on his customers;

c) people could walk almost silently.

3. The word sneakers was:

a) used by the Boston Journal to describe tennis shoes;

b) used by boys who played tennis;

c) the name some boys gave to tennis shoes.

Activity 3 – Skim the remaining text in no more than 60 seconds.

Outline the main theme of the article.

Activity 4 – Scan the text

Scan the text and quickly find the significance of these dates:


Activity 5 – Read the text and highlight these words.


I came in simple clothes but she looked very _______ in her business suit and high heels.

Dyson transformed the _______ vacuum cleaner from a household appliance into a fashion statement.

This is a comfortable chair because of the firm ______.

No-one could copy my design because I ______ it.

______ we lived in London but later we moved to Edinburgh.

I ______ his plan and so we set up a business together.

I like her very much. She is a very ______ person in my life.

We ______ the space in our house by demolishing one wall.

Activity 7 – Put these sentences in logical order.

After WW1 boys and girls in the US started to copy their favourite sportsmen and sportswomen.

Nike produced limited releases of its Nike Air shoes which made them even more popular with young people.

Some tyre manufacturers started producing light shoes with rubber soles.

The manufacture of running shoes has become more technical in order to avoid injury in runners and to help them to run faster.

Well-cushioned running shoes became very popular worldwide with the enormous interest in health and in jogging.

Charles Goodyear found a way to make rubber stronger and more hardwearing. Casually dressed film stars made jeans and trainers very popular with young people in the US.

Activity 8 – Find these words / expressions in the text and mark them. Explain their meaning in your own words.

mind boggling
went through the roof
battled to buy

Activity 9 – Complete this passage putting the verbs into the correct form.

For generations leather was used for shoes but at the end of the nineteenth century Charles Goodyear in the US (discover) a way to make rubber strong and stable in form so that it could (use) for rubber tyres and other similar products. Goodyear (experimente) for years before he (discover) the right process. It (cost) him a large amount of money and perhaps even his health. Before long, shoes with rubber soles (made) all over the country and shoes for different sports (produce). Later, some of these sports shoes (endorse) by famous athletes, which (make) them even more popular with young people. Early on, many shoes with rubber soles (made) in the US but after 1945 Japan (start) to export sports shoes and many shoes (sell) around the world (make) in Japan. However, today, many shoes (now make) in countries such as China, Thailand and Indonesia.

Activity 10 – Work in small groups. You have to design a new newspaper and magazine-based marketing campaign for a new running shoe. Decide how to do this. Report back.

Reading passage: Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa

This article is used in the questions and learning activities that follow.

Mt. Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa and the tallest freestanding mountain in the world. The highest point, Uhuru Peak, rises to an altitude of 5,895 m (19,341 ft) above sea level. There is snow and ice at the top throughout the year, although the ice sheets have been retreating recently, probably due to global warming. The mountain is entirely in Tanzania but the north side slopes down towards the Kenyan border.

The mountain is volcanic in origin and composed of three distinct volcanic cones: Kibo 5,895 m (19,341 ft); Mawenzi 5,149 m (16,893 ft); and Shira 3,962 m (13,000 ft). Uhuru Peak is the highest point on the crater rim of Kibo. Mount Kilimanjaro is the remnants of a giant volcano with several outlets that began forming about a million years ago, and it is linked to the East African Rift Valley zone. Two of its three peaks, Mawenzi and Shira, are extinct while Kibo (the highest peak) is dormant and could erupt again. The last major eruption has been dated to 360,000 years ago, while the most recent activity was recorded just 200 years ago. There are occasional small rumbles of activity each year but these do not cause any damage. Although it is dormant, Kilimanjaro has fumaroles that emit gas in the crater on the main summit of Kibo. Scientists concluded in 2003 that molten magma is just 400 m (1,310 ft) below the summit crater.

There are six official climbing routes by which Mt Kilimanjaro can be climbed and these are Marangu, Rongai, Lemosho, Shira, Umbwe and Machame. Of all the routes, Machame is perhaps the most scenic but it is a steeper route up the mountain and requires about six or seven days. The Marangu route takes five days and there is accommodation in a series of excellent wooden huts built with Norwegian support in the 1970s. The mountain can be climbed independently (with climbers carrying all their own baggage) or it can be climbed with the support of local porters. All climbers are required to have a registered guide with them. People who wish to climb Kilimanjaro are advised to undertake appropriate research and ensure that they are both properly equipped and physically capable. Though the climb is technically not as challenging as when climbing the peaks of the Himalayas, the altitude, low temperature, and occasional high winds can sometimes make this a difficult climb.

Acclimatisation is essential, and even then most experienced climbers suffer some degree of altitude sickness. Kilimanjaro summit is well above the altitude at which high altitude pulmonary edema* (HAPE, water in or around the lungs), or high altitude cerebral edema (HACE, water in or around the brain) can occur and people have died on the mountain, or soon after returning. Most climbers are likely to suffer discomfort including shortage of breath, hypothermia and headaches. Although most relatively fit people can reach the Uhuru summit, a substantial number of them abandon the climb at a lower altitude. Occasionally people have to be rushed down the mountain on a stretcher to alleviate the symptoms of edema.

All climbers register when they enter the national park and fees are paid for each day on the mountain. High-altitude climbing clubs have criticised the Tanzanian authorities for charging fees for each day on the mountain. They claim that this can encourage climbers to climb rapidly to save time and money, while proper acclimatisation demands that delays are built in to any high climb.

Tanzanian Medical Services around the mountain have expressed concern over the number of tourists who apparently perceive Kilimanjaro as an easy climb. However this is not the case. Many individuals require significant attention during their attempts, and many are forced to abandon the climb. An investigation into the matter concluded that tourists visiting Tanzania were sometimes encouraged to join groups heading up the mountain without being made aware of the significant physical demands the climb makes. Some irresponsible companies downplay the demands of the climb. The Kilimanjaro National Park records shows that only 30% of climbers actually reach the Uhuru summit with the majority of climbers turning around at Gilman’s Point, 300 metres short of Uhuru, or Stella Point, 200 meters short of Uhuru. Kilimanjaro is often underestimated because it is not a technical climb. However, it is a high mountain and the last stage is very steep. Many mountaineers consider Kilimanjaro a physically demanding climb. In August 2007 four climbers died within a week underscoring the point that climbing it should not be taken casually. Climbers, porters or guides die on the mountain each year although numbers are small.

Nevertheless, for the great majority of climbers, their experience on Kilimanjaro is an exciting and rewarding one which they treasure for the whole of their lives. Climbers from their early teens to their late 70s reach the summit each year and return safely.

Adapted from Wikipedia 5 April 2011.

‘edema’ is the American English spelling. In British English, it is spelled ‘oedema’.

Activity 1

1. What is the name of the highest mountain in the world? Where is it? How high is it?

2. What is the highest freestanding mountain in the world? Where is it? How high is it?

Activity 2

1. Why do people climb mountains?

2. Have you ever climbed a mountain? What is it called? Where is it? When did you go there? Who did you go with?

3. Would any of you like to climb a mountain? Where? Why?

4. What are the dangers of climbing mountains?

Activity 3

1. What would you like to know about Kilimanjaro?

2. Read the first two paragraphs. Did these paragraphs answer any of your questions?

Activity 4

Use these words to complete the sentences.

extinct – concluded – distinct – rumble / rumbles – composed of – erupt / eruption – molten – remnants – dormant

The moon is not made of cheese but if it were we could say that it was _____ cheese.

When something stands out clearly we can say that it is ____.

The things that are left over; so we can speak of the ____ of our meal last night.

An animal which has completely died out is ____ and we can also use the same word of a volcano which will never be active again.

If something explodes with great violence we describe it as an _____.

A bear that sleeps through the winter is described as being ____ and the same word can be used for a sleeping volcano.

They listened to the evidence and then ____ that the mountain could erupt again.

Our tummies sometimes ____ when we are hungry and volcanic mountains can do this as well.

When a metal or rock is very hot and is in liquid form we say that it is ____.

Activity 5

1. Read paragraphs 3 and 4. What two things must be done on the mountain?

2. What do the park authorities do if someone is diagnosed with water in their lungs or brain?

Activity 6

Read the remaining paragraphs and answer the following questions:

1. In what way has the park authorities been criticised?

2. In what ways are some local companies acting irresponsibly? Why?

3. What percentage of climbers reach the summit?

4. Why is the difficulty of climbing Kilimanjaro sometimes underestimated?

5. What do you think is the one factor which makes Kilimanjaro so demanding?

Activity 7

Find words with the same meaning.

Para 1: completely; all; every part.

Para 2: from time to time.

Para 3: colourful; pretty; good views.

Para 4: reduce

Para 5: tell someone / an organisation that they are wrong

Para 6: see; view; regard

Activity 8

1. Several words in the passage are made by combining other words. One example is ‘downplay’. What other examples can you find in the text?

2. Use each of them in an appropriate sentence.

3. Use the following words to make up as many new words as you can. Use one from the first list and join it to one from the second list. Use your dictiuonary if necessary

List 1: new, news, up, down, post.

List 2: graduate, set, worthy, trodden, turn, fangled, agent, letter, cast, paper, born, reader, market, beat, stairs, shot, flash, comer, hill, right, code.

Examples: news + paper > newspaper; post + graduate > postgraduate.

Activity 9

1. Make a list of 20 things you would take with you if you climbed Kilimanjaro carrying all your own baggage.

2. If you have a friend who is also doing this exercise, look at each other’s list and agree on 20 items you would carry with you.

Discuss how you might reduce that list to the ten most important things to take with you.

Gun Law in Texas

This newspaper article is used in the questions and learning activities that follow.

  • Aficionados of Hollywood Westerns know all about the legal code that says “shoot first, ask questions later”. But now, Republican legislators in Texas – spiritual home of the six-shooter and a John Wayne-style frontier spirit – want to enshrine the principle into law.
  • Sponsors of a new bill in the state legislature call it the Castle Doctrine – the idea that anyone invading your home or threatening your safety deserves everything they have coming to them. Critics are already calling it the “shoot thy neighbour” law and questioning whether Texas, of all places, really needs to give its citizens further encouragement to take matters of crime and punishment into their own hands.
  • “I believe Texans who are attacked in their homes, their businesses, their vehicles or anywhere else have a right to defend themselves from attack without fear of being prosecuted and face possible civil suits alleging wrongful injury or death,” Texas Senator Jeff Wentworth of San Antonio – home to The Alamo – said recently in support of the bill.
  • “You’ve got to assume a criminal’s not there to buy girl scout cookies; you could be harmed,” the bill’s other sponsor, Texas Representative Joe Driver told The Los Angeles Times. “You should be able to meet force with force without getting in trouble.”
  • In theory, Texas law obliges citizens under attack to consider a retreat before opening fire. In practice, prosecutors and legal experts find it hard to recall a case where a citizen shooting in self-defence got into trouble for doing so.
  • “I’ve lived in Texas 30-plus years and I’d be astounded to hear of a Texas jury that convicted someone who blasted a guy who was in his house,” said Professor Jerry Dowling of Sam Houston State University.
  • This is a state where businesses and home owners have signs that read “We don’t call 911” [the US emergency phone number] next to a large picture of a rifle. A few years ago, when ranch owners along the Rio Grande became upset at the number of Mexican immigrants on their land, they started shooting at them, and won the overwhelming support of their neighbours, even as they created a major international incident.
  • Still, the bill shows every sign of being passed into law. In the State Senate, 27 of the 31 members have signed on as co-sponsors. In the House, two-thirds of the 150 members have indicated their support for it.
  • The inspiration for the legislation comes less from fears for public safety than it does from pressure from the National Rifle Association, the powerful US gun lobby. Over the past two years, the NRA has inspired similar shoot-first laws in 15 other states, including Florida where legislators are now having serious second thoughts after the killing of a nine-year-old girl who was an innocent bystander caught in a shoot-out in a gang-ridden neighbourhood of Miami. The Florida law theoretically offers immunity to both sides in the shoot-out on the grounds that they were firing in self-defence.
  • Texas liberals – a small but noisy breed – have wasted no time making merciless fun of their state representatives, not least because one of the buildings where the Castle Doctrine would apply is the state Capitol. That, wrote an alternative publication in Austin called In The Pink, “could prove challenging for lobbyists”.
  • Advocates of gun-control, meanwhile, are worried the new law will do nothing to protect genuine victims of crime. “The current laws won’t throw someone into jail for legitimate self-defence,” said Zach Ragbourn, chair of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. “Monkeying with the law can be dangerous. It could lead to gun fights and the death of innocent people”.

(Adapted from a newspaper article by Andrew Gumbel, 19 February 2007.)

Activity 1 – Before reading the passage:

  1. Think about the gun laws in your country. If possible, discuss with a partner and compare and contrast.
  2. What are your views on gun control? Should everyone be allowed to carry a gun?
  3. What do you know about gun control in Britain and America?
  4. Find out what this expression means – “a man’s home is his castle”.
  5. The title of this passage is “Gun-toting Texans aim for ‘shoot thy neighbour’ law”. What do you think the article is about?

Activity 2 – Scan the text and find the significance of these phrases and figures:

  • Castle doctrine
  • 30-years plus
  • 911
  • 27 of 31
  • NRA
  • Texas liberals
  • Zach Ragbourn

Activity 3 – Note these keyword (use a dictionary if necessary).

  • aficionados
  • enshrine
  • civil suit
  • astounded
  • inspiration
  • lobby
  • theoretically
  • immunity
  • advocates
  • legitimate

Activity 4 – Complete the sentences below using the keywords above:

  1. A …… is a non-criminal charge brought by one person against another.
  2. In terms of law, an action is …… if the person taking that action is doing so within the law and in good faith, believing that (s)he is doing the right thing.
  3. A person who is an …… is someone who is very knowledgeable about a particular subject, a sport, a specific musical interest, food, drink and so on. They may not be professionally trained in this area but they will be well informed.
  4. …… are people who push hard for a particular course of action or law in life, politics, religion, law and so on
  5. 5. If you are …… about something, you are very, very surprised.
  6. You will often find that writers find their …… from their own lives and from the lives of people around them.
  7. If we say that something is …… possible, we mean that it can happen but it may never have been seen to happen. It may be possible for all the snow at both poles to melt but it has never yet happened.
  8. If someone has …… it means that they cannot be punished or that they are protected in some way or other by the law.
  9. If a group seeks to make their beliefs the foundation of a law or of several laws, then we saw that they want to …… their beliefs in law.
  10. A …… is a group who seek to influence government policy. Some of them spend many millions of dollars every year trying to influence government policy. As some of them are businesses, many people believe this is wrong.

Activity 5 – Read the passage silently.

Activity 6 – Answer these questions based on the article

  1. Who wants to change the gun laws in Texas?
  2. What is meant by the Castle Doctrine?
  3. Have you heard of the Alamo ? What do you know about it?
  4. What does Texas law currently require people to do when someone breaks into their house?
  5. Have people in Texas been punished for shooting people in their house?
  6. What warning signs do some people put up outside houses/businesses?
  7. What organisation has been pushing for changes in the gun laws?
  8. Who are having second thoughts and why?
  9. What do liberals in Texas feel about this law?
  10. Give two reasons why some people are against this change to the law?

Activity 7 – Explain the meaning of these words and expressions

  • spiritual home
  • frontier spirit
  • co-sponsors
  • merciless fun
  • overwhelming support
  • an innocent bystander
  • alternative publication

Activity 8 – Explain the meaning of these expressions in your own words.

  • Anyone invading your home or threatening your safety deserves everything they have coming to them.
  • You’ve got to assume a criminal’s not there to buy girl-scout cookies.
  • Monkeying with the law …

Activity 9 – Expressions

Here are some expressions that were used in the passage:

Link items in the boxes appropriately to make correct sentences.

You’ve got to assumeYou should be able toI’d be astounded to hear ofthat people are honest on the whole.a company like Microsoft collapsing.reach the coast before dark.that the world is not going to end tomorrow.someone swimming 100m in less than 9 seconds.pass the Advanced Level exam before next year.

Activity 10 – Make up sentences of your own using these expressions:

  • You’ve got to assume ……
  • You should be able to ……
  • I’d be astounded to hear of ……
  • … shows every sign of being ……

Activity 11 – Role-play

If possible work with a partner and do role-play. Argue your case for or against changing the gun laws in Texas, America as a whole or some other part of the world.

Worksheet – ‘The Shipping News’

The fate of the MSC Napoli, which beached off the coast of Devon in January 2007, serves as a reminder that ordinary people never think about shipping containers except when things go wrong. The Napoli has caused an environmental crisis (200 tonnes of oil have leaked into surrounding waters), and led to a realisation that some British people are eager to help themselves to other people’s belongings. The ship disgorged a variety of cargo – shampoo and steering wheels, wine and shoes, carpets and motorbikes, and bibles and nappies – and many people went down to the beach to help themselves from the dozens of containers that were washed up on the beach.

Under a bullet-grey sky at Felixstowe, the UK’s largest container port, it is easy to grasp why nobody pays much attention to the transport system that provides Britain with 95% of all imported goods. Where ports once seethed with life – the shops, trades-people, pubs and brothels dependent on regular passing crews – Felixstowe, with its strict security controls, feels all but abandoned.

The mountains of containers, painted in browns, blues, oranges and greens, make for a desolate, yet awe-inspiring landscape. The giant gantry cranes, which sweep the containers on or off the waiting ships with grace, are mesmerising to watch, except that there is almost nobody there to watch. The few drivers and crane operators present are following the instructions of a computer which has calculated the precise order in which the containers should be moved and stacked for maximum efficiency, so that a single container’s journey from ship to waiting lorry is as short as possible and no truck drives anywhere empty when it could be carrying something. In Rotterdam, Europe’s busiest port, the scene is even more ghostly; the vehicles moving the containers from the stacks on the ground to the waiting cranes are driverless, piloting themselves even through thick fog using infra-red technology.

Everything that happens on the dockside at Felixstowe, and each one of the nearly 200m container movements that take place globally each year, owes its existence, ultimately, to Malcolm McLean, a truck driver from North Carolina. In the late 1930s McLean started growing frustrated watching New Jersey dockworkers slowly unloading each crate of timber from his vehicle and winching it on to a waiting ship, where more workers would be on hand to make sure it was securely packed. This method, known as break-bulk shipping, was labour intensive, and an open invitation to theft. Why not, McLean wondered, just use the entire truck trailer itself as the container?

These days “a 35-tonne container of coffee makers can leave a factory in Malaysia, be loaded aboard a ship, and cover the 15,000km to Los Angeles in 16 days,” writes the economist Marc Levinson in The Box, his book about the containerisation revolution. “A day later, the container is on a unit train to Cincinnati. The 18,000km trip from the factory gate to the Ohio warehouse can take as little as 22 days, a rate of 800km a day, at a cost lower than that of a single first-class air ticket. More than likely, no one has touched the contents, or even opened the container, along the way.”

The containerisation revolution destroyed unions, eliminated whole job categories and decimated waterfront communities. A sailor arriving at Felixstowe is lucky if he gets a couple of hours to play pool, drink a beer or check his email in the dockside Seafarers’ Centre before heading back to sea. In ports where traditions persist, the devil finds work for idle hands. “At the port at Brasilia, stevedores are paid to go on board and do nothing,” says David Crinnion, who investigates thefts from containers on behalf of Thomas Miller, the world’s largest shipping insurer. “The law in Brazil says they have to be there, even though the unloading operation is automated.”

The crackdown after 9/11 has made the system more secure – every container that comes into Felixstowe is scanned for radiation – but there are still enormous gaps that some fear could be exploited by terrorists. “At current staffing and funding levels, US coastguard personnel can thoroughly inspect only about 5% of the 9m shipping containers that arrive at US ports every year,” a report by the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations concluded.

As the events off the Devon coast have demonstrated, the seamless efficiency of container shipping does not mean that other things do not go wrong, either. Each year somewhere between 2,000 and 10,000 containers are estimated to fall overboard, where they float low in the water, forcing small craft and sometimes even cruise ships to swerve to avoid them. “Every year a few vessels are sunk by containers,” says Curtis Ebbesmeyer, the Seattle oceanographer, who became famous when he began using thousands of pairs of spilt Nike trainers to track sea currents. “But the owners can’t prove the case, because the container itself is nowhere to be found, so they don’t have a serial number to trace it. You might as well say you’d struck a whale.”

The environmental hazards can also be significant. “Losing a couple of thousand containers a year is a pretty remarkable achievement when you’re dealing with the ocean, and with hundreds of millions of containers shipped overseas each year. But on the other hand, one container can be catastrophic: it might hold 5m plastic shopping bags.”

Increasingly, the containers that crane operators haul on to ships leaving Britain are empty because of the imbalance between imports and exports: a container arriving full of goods from China has a 75% chance of leaving with nothing inside. Operators will accept almost any payment to transport items in the unpopular, China-bound direction. As a consequence, many of the containers leaving Britain that are not empty are full of waste materials, shipped to China for recycling, where they have been blamed for exacerbating disease and pollution.

Adapted from an article by Oliver Burkeman, Guardian Weekly.

Activity 1

Before reading the text, see if you can answer the following questions. You do not need to write the answers. If possible, discuss with another student. It does not matter if you cannot answer them properly; the purpose is to get you thinking about the topic.

  • When we are thinking of shipping, what exactly is a container?
  • Do you know roughly when they were introduced?
  • What is the advantage of a container?
  • How have they changed the way that goods are handled?
  • What are some of the disadvantages of containerised freight?
  • What kinds of jobs increased and what kinds decreased due to containerization?

Activity 2

Before reading the text in detail, scan the text and find the significance of these figures and names.

  • Napoli
  • 200 tonnes
  • 95%
  • Malcolm McLean
  • Marc Levinson
  • 16 days
  • 22 days
  • David Crinnion
  • 5% of 9 million
  • between 2,000 and 10,000
  • Curtis Ebbesmeyer
  • 75%

Activity 3 – read text silently.

Pay particular attention to these key words:

beached — disgorged — seethed — awe-inspiring — gantry cranes

eliminated — decimated — imbalance — exacerbating — desolate

Activity 4

Complete the sentences below using the above words:

  1. The doctor found that there was an …… in his diet and he was consuming far too much salt and sugar.
  2. The area south of the port was made up of mud and reeds and was quite …… except for the cry of birds.
  3. The American soldiers went in to many Iraqi homes looking for militants but it was clear to impartial observers that their actions were only …… the situation in the city.
  4. The whale had …… itself near to the island and the lifeboats crews and coastal authorities did everything they could to get it back in the water.
  5. There were 1,000 soldiers in the unit at the start of the campaign but their numbers were …… by enemy fire and, at the end, only 10% were left uninjured.
  6. The trains were full of football fans and when they arrived in Newcastle they …… a huge and over-excited crowd on to the streets of the city.
  7. The city …… with a mass of busy consumers urgently seeking to complete their final Christmas purchases.
  8. The view across the city was …… because of the number of dramatic new high-rise buildings that had transformed the centre.
  9. The huge …… moved like giants across the crowded port collecting and delivering the many containers.
  10. He battled hard through the third round of the competition but was finally …… in the following round.

Activity 5 – Questions on the text

  • What did some people do after containers were washed off the ship?
  • In what ways have port towns/cities changed over the last few decades?
  • What is the strangest thing about modern ports of today?
  • What were three reasons why McLean thought that containers would be an improvement?
  • What were three disadvantages of containerisation from the point of view of the port employees?
  • Why are containers a potential danger for some countries?
  • Why are they sometimes a danger to other ships?
  • How can plastic bags be dangerous?

Activity 6 – Exploration of language

  1. Find as many words as you can that modify a head noun. Here are two examples:
    • bullet-grey sky
    • largest container port
  2. Look at these two sentences. Both sentences contain a relative pronoun ‘which’. Why does one have commas but not the other one?
    • The giant gantry cranes, which sweep the containers on or off the waiting ships with grace, are mesmerising to watch, except that there is almost nobody there to watch.
    • The few drivers and crane operators present are following the instructions of a computer which has calculated the precise order in which the containers should be moved and stacked for maximum efficiency.
  3. Explain the meaning of the saying below. Do you have similar sayings in your first language?
    • …the devil makes work for idle hands …

Activity 7 – Metaphors

There are two examples of metaphor in the passage. Can you find them?

How many metaphorical references can you think of related to weather?

Activity 8 – Things to think about and discuss

  • On balance, do you think that containerisation has been a good thing?
  • Who have been the losers and who have been the winners?
  • Why are Britain’s raw materials and manufacturing exports relatively low?
  • What types of ‘services’ does Britain export to bridge the ‘trade gap’?
  • Does your home country export many containers full of manufactured goods?
  • Which countries are the main trading partners of your country?

There are lesson planning notes for this worksheet in the Teacher’s Centre.

Smoking ban in all English pubs and clubs

In 2007, MPs in the UK voted by a huge margin to ban smoking from all public places including pubs and private members’ clubs in England. The Commons decided by a margin of 200 to impose a ban on smoking in all enclosed public spaces. This law took effect on 1 July 2007.

Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt said the change would “save thousands of people’s lives. I’m absolutely delighted. This is really a historic day for public health.” Ministers gave a free vote amid fears Labour MPs could rebel against plans to exempt clubs and pubs not serving food.

The Cabinet was split on how far restrictions – set out in the Health Bill – should go, with Conservatives calling government policy a ‘shambles’. Prime Minister Tony Blair, Chancellor Gordon Brown and Home Secretary Charles Clarke all voted for a blanket ban. But Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell, Defence Secretary John Reid and Education Secretary Ruth Kelly opposed it.

Elspeth Lee, of Cancer Research UK , said: “This is really going to affect generations to come and make the nation a lot healthier.” However, Simon Clark, director of smoking support group Forest , said: “This is a double whammy and an unnecessary and illiberal piece of legislation that denies freedom of choice to millions of people. The Government should educate people about the health risks of smoking but politicians have no right to force people to quit by making it more difficult for people to consume a legal product.

The Cabinet originally proposed prohibiting smoking only in pubs serving food, in line with Labour’s election manifesto. A free vote was offered after many Labour MPs, fearing a partial ban could increase health inequalities among customers and staff, threatened to rebel. Ministers came up with three choices: a total ban; exempting private clubs; or exempting clubs and pubs not serving food. Many MPs opposed a smoking ban on civil liberties grounds.

The government predicts an estimated 600,000 people will give up smoking as a result of the law change. Shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley said ministers had “put forward proposals which their own backbenchers thought were completely unworkable”. But it was “a very important step”; he added there “had to be a culture that encourages better health”. Conservative MPs were offered a free vote on the issue.

Liberal Democrat health spokesman Steve Webb said: “This legislation is good news for tens of thousands of bar staff up and down the country. The key issue has always been the health and safety of people who work in public places.” In a recent report, the Commons health select committee said a total ban was the “only effective means” of protecting public health.

Employment law consultancy Peninsula found that 91 per cent of workers are in favour of the legislation. A survey conducted by the British Thoracic Society concluded that far from having a negative impact the smoking ban has provided a welcome boost for business.

Similar smoking bans have been introduced in more than a dozen U.S. states, including California and New York, as well as in Canada, Ireland and New Zealand, but the U.K. is the largest country thus far to adopt a national ban.

To explain the changes, the government paid for TV advertisements, national newspaper ads, and billboards and signs on trains and buses. One showed a man walking through different locations — a cafe, a pub, a garage and an office — explaining that smoking would be banned from all enclosed public places from July 1. A second advert showed the same man walking through a pub, a garage and a restaurant, warning people they could be fined for breaking the ban.

It is a company’s responsibility to enforce the ban. A person who smokes in a bar could be fined £30 (US$60), but the bar’s owner could face a fine of as much as £2,500 (US$5,000). Companies must put up no-smoking signs, minimum of about 3 inches (75mm) wide, including in all their vehicles.

(Modified article from BBC website.)

Activity 1 – Use these words to complete the sentences below.

civil liberties, illiberal, split, double whammy, shambles

historic, backbenchers, partial ban, exempt, margin, predict

  1. There is a healthy ….. in favour of the change in the rules.
  2. The day that the phone call was made across the Atlantic was a ….. occasion.
  3. Students are ….. from some of the taxes that they will have to pay once they graduate.
  4. The student leaders were ….. over what to do about the rise in student fees. Some wanted to demonstrate while others wanted to refuse to attend classes.
  5. Some people have said that the first few weeks after the invasion of Iraq were a ….. and this was one of the main causes of the problems that followed.
  6. The collapse of his business and the departure of his girl friend was a ….. that he found difficult to recover from.
  7. Governments that are regarded as very ….. will find it very difficult to obtain loans and grants from international institutions.
  8. There has been a ….. on hunting whales from some years because some species are still hunted by Norway, Japan and Russia.
  9. Tony Blair was accused of undermining some ….. when he was Prime Minister by, for example, lengthening the time that suspects could be held in jail.
  10. It’s difficult to ….. what will happen in the future but most people believe that life will change significantly as a result of global warming.
  11. ….. are often believed to be little more than lobby fodder and to have very little power or influence.

Activity 2 – Scan the text and find the significance of these words and expressions in the text.

1 July 2007

Home Secretary Charles Clarke

Education Secretary Ruth Kelly

Simon Clark


Andrew Lansley

91 per cent



Activity 3 – Read the passage carefully and answer these questions:

  1. Is there evidence to suggest that businesses will suffer from the smoking ban?
  2. Give examples of enclose public spaces this will affect.
  3. Why did ministers give MPs a free vote?
  4. What’s a blanket ban?
  5. Simon Clark puts forward 6 arguments against the ban. What are they?
  6. How did the new law differ from the government’s original plans?
  7. Why did they change their view?
  8. What choices were the MPs given?
  9. Why did the Liberal Democrats support the new law?

Activity 4 – What do you think

  1. Where might you be surprised to find no smoking signs nowadays?
  2. Do you think other countries will follow the same policy?
  3. In which countries are smoking rates either very high or actually rising?
  4. How much does an average packet of 20 cost in the UK ? How much of that is tax?
  5. If cigarettes are so bad for people (a) what did cigarette producers say in the past and (b) what do they say today?

Activity 5 – Advertising

What methods have cigarette manufacturers used to sell cigarettes in the past?

What methods do they use today?

Activity 6 – Verbs

Underline all examples of passive verbs.

Underline all examples of the Present Perfect; explain why this tense has been used.

Activity 7 – Adjectives

The writer uses various adjectives to paint a picture or to make meaning more specific. What adjectives can you find in paragraphs 1-5 in the passage? Underline them.

Now try to replace as many of those adjectives as you can with other adjectives that are least similar in meaning.

Activity 8 – Homework

Write an interview between a journalist and a) a representative of a cigarette manufacturer and b) someone in favour on banning smoking.

Environmental Challenges. A river ran through it – Part 2

Level: Upper-Intermediate / Advanced

This adapted newspaper article is used in the questions and learning activities that follow.

This is a continuation of the passage on climate change (see Part 1).

  1. The River Murray used to be compared to America’s Mississippi. During the 19th century, paddle steamers were a familiar sight along its lazy green-grey currents, ferrying goods from town to town. Covering an area of more than one million km2, the Murray basin carries water from the tropical north in Queensland to the Darling River, and from the Murray’s source in the Snowy Mountains to the outskirts of Adelaide, 1,500 miles downstream.
  2. Nearly 60 years ago, the Snowy Hydro scheme was opened. The scheme promised to provide a reliable supply of water to the Murray. The dry, fertile country to the west was transformed into dairy pastures, orchards and lush rice fields. Years of over-allocation for irrigation, as well as drought, has resulted in a pitifully low stream level. In June 2006, the catchment area received an inflow of 700 gigalitres. A year later, it had plummeted to 300 gigalitres. (One gigalitre is 1,000,000,000 litres.)
  3. Some people question whether climate change is the cause. Louise and Andrew Burge are farmers but they refute evidence that the current drought is driven by climate change. They showed me a series of old photographs showing the Murray in drier conditions than now. ‘Global warming represents a herd mentality with a herd mentality for the solutions,’ she said.
  4. According to a UN report, per capita, Australia’s emissions of greenhouse gases are among the highest in the world. As the drought bites, the conflict between farmers, traditionally portrayed as rampant land-clearers, and environmentalists, is brought to the fore. In reality, while all the farmers I spoke to were global warming sceptics, they were passionate conservationists. Many farmers argue that the current drought is very similar to that of the 1890s and 1940s.
  5. Nonetheless, the effect on rural towns all along the Murray is acute. Figures from the Reserve Bank reveal that rural debt has doubled from £10bn in 1999 to £20bn in 2005. In Deniliquin, 20 minutes from the Burges’ farm, the wide streets are eerily quiet. That evening, in the empty Federal Hotel, I meet Wayne Cockayne, a 44-year-old whose eyes stare into the mid-distance. ‘This town’s gone backward,’ he says, taking a sip on a Diet Coke. ‘In 1979, when I left school, the town was prospering. Now farmers’ children are leaving the land.’
  6. For the past four years, Cockayne hasn’t made a cent from the cereals on his 3,000-acre property 20 miles south of Deniliquin. This year he had to pay for water to be trucked in to flush his toilet. He grits his teeth. ‘I know about depression,’ he goes on. ‘I locked myself in at home for four days. Then I got in the family car and drove into town. A friend found me slumped over the steering wheel crying. I never thought I’d be a person who would suffer from it.’
  7. ‘In the first seven years, I had, on average, two people a year from the farming community who presented with depression,’ Dr Harry von Rensburg tells me in his surgery in Barham, 60 miles west of Deniliquin. This year he is ‘actively managing’ more than 120 farmers, including some of the most high-profile landowners in the district. A psychologist comes once a week and has back-to-back appointments. ‘If we could get her twice a week we would fill that.’ A national mental health report stated that one farmer commits suicide in Australia every four days. I ask Dr Von Rensburg whether this figure is accurate.
  8. ‘Absolutely. In the past three years there have been eight suicide attempts here. A handful are on suicide watch – their spouses or children have taken control of firearms.’ He leans back in his big black chair. ‘Shooting is the most favoured method; second is hanging.’ Von Rensburg puts this dramatic increase down to the drought’s longevity and the uncertainty it brings. ‘People are asking themselves, will this be ongoing? Are we going to see our landscape change? Will we survive?’
  9. Neil Eagle is another farmer who questions climate change. He is the grand old man of orchard farming in the region, a sprightly 73-year-old with large, dirt-encrusted hands and a deep, rumbling voice. He refuses to be beaten. Eagle’s family has been living around Eagle Creek since 1870. ‘As far as temperature changes go, in the Forties and Fifties it was definitely hotter than it is now,’ he says. ‘I don’t agree with the doom and gloom merchants that the sea is going to rise.’ He gives a wry smile. ‘It’s become nearly a religion, this idea of global warming.’
  10. But some 300 miles west of Eagle Creek, in South Australia, Anne Jensen is witnessing a collapse of entire ecosystems on the floodplains. In the Nineties, one local from Kingston-on-Murray described this as a ‘garden of Eden’ for river red gums, some 400 years old. Today it resembles a graveyard. Jensen sees the ‘hundreds of thousands of trees’ dying in the Lower Murray as ‘a combined effect of a man-made drought in the river system, together with the severe natural drought which is proving to be the last straw’.
  11. The twisted, ashen-grey branches of the black box eucalyptus and river gums are stark indicators of the region’s deteriorating health. These hardy trees require natural flooding to survive. They have done without a decent drink for over a decade. ‘If we got a flood in the next two to three years we could save the river, but only with enormous amounts of rain.’
  12. A mile from Kingston is Banrock Station. More famous for its crisp white wines than its pioneering conservation strategies, this vineyard pumps profits back into restoring the local wetlands. It has had considerable success, but due to the minimal amount of water in the Murray allocated for the environment, and the rising salinity, they can only achieve so much.
  13. What has struck me is that if temperatures continue to rise globally, as predicted, what is happening now in Australia will occur in other regions where countries share one river system – the Euphrates in the Middle East, the Mekong in Asia. The World Bank estimates that by 2025, about 48 countries will experience water shortages, affecting more than 1.4bn people, the majority in under-developed regions. Here in Australia, at least the economy is robust and competing groups whose livelihoods depend on the dwindling flow of the Murray can sit down and talk. Where rivers cross borders, it won’t be a case of negotiating and compromise – it will be war.
  14. The future of many Australian farmers hangs in the balance. Last year the drought whittled 1% off the national economy, and this year reduced the available annual milk supply by more than a billion litres. During Australia’s winter, the blistering summer is still several months away. But Professor Mike Young warns that already ‘Adelaide is in a very frightening situation. If it doesn’t rain and the dams don’t fill, there isn’t enough water in the system to supply the city.’

Learning activities for Part 2

Activity 1 – before listening/reading

Assuming that global warming is happening, how do you believe it could affect you in the next 20 years? Work in pairs and then report on what you have discussed.

Activity 2 – listening activities

1. If possible, listen to a recording of the first 5 paragraphs. Listen out for this information.

a) What used to be seen on the Murray River?

b) What’s a gigalitre?

c) What do Louise and Andrew Burge not believe?

d) What two groups are in conflict?

e) What has happened to farmer debt?

2. Play the tape again listen out for words that mean the same as:

a) changed completely

b) fell very dramatically

c) reject

d) uncontrolled

e) very serious

f) strangely and worryingly

3. What evidence has the Burge family got against climate change?

4. Why is Wayne Cockayne unhappy?

Activity 3 – Reading

  1. Scan the text to find references to the following:
    • 300 gigalitres
    • UN report
    • rampant land-clearers
    • passionate conservationists
    • depression
    • 120 farmers
    • every four days
    • 1870
    • 400 years old
    • Banrock Station
    • 48 countries
    • a billion litres
  2. Read the text carefully. What examples of metaphor can you find in those paragraphs?
  3. Does Dr Von Rensburg have enough support?
  4. What does Neil Eagle mean when he says ‘It’s become nearly a religion, this idea of global warming’ (para. 9).
  5. When it comes to sorting out climate problems over water, what advantage does Australia have over some other areas of the world?

Activity 4 – Exploration of language

1. Look at these sentences; the first is from the text:

  • A national mental health report stated that one farmer commits suicide in Australia every four days.
  • The headteacher said that pupils are not allowed to smoke.
  • The government stated that a man dies of lung cancer every 30 minutes.

Notice the use of both the Past Simple and the Simple Present in this sentence.

Now make up sentences of your own using this combination of sentences.

2. What is meant by ‘a wry smile‘ (para. 9)? In what other ways can we describe a smile? Divide them into two groups: honest smiles and others.

Environmental Challenges. A river ran through it – Part 1

Level: Upper-Intermediate / Advanced

This adapted newspaper article is used in the questions and learning activities that follow.

This passage on climate change is continued in Part 2.

If you have access to a recording of the passage, you should listen to it several times before reading the text and answering the written questions.

  1. The Murray is the lifeblood of Australia’s farming country, a legendary river that once thundered 1,500 miles from the Snowy Mountains to the Southern Ocean. Now, it’s choking to death in the worst drought for a thousand years, sparking water rationing and suicides on devastated farms. But is this a localised national emergency, or a warning that the Earth is running out of water?
  2. Australian farmers pride themselves on their resilience. They take pleasure in living in a sun-burnt country of droughts and violent rain storms. Conservative and deeply sceptical, many dismiss global warming as hogwash. But with unprecedented water scarcity and the Murray , the country’s greatest river system, on the verge of collapse, warning bells are ringing around the globe.
  3. Financially, the drought is affecting places as far away as the UK , pushing up the cost of bread in British supermarkets as wheat prices reach a 10-year high. Scientists are looking on nervously, wondering if what is happening in Sydney could be the future for other towns and cities around the world.
  4. Professor Tim Flannery, an Australian environmental scientist and an international leader on climate change, has no doubts. ‘ Australia is a harbinger of what is going to happen in other places in the world,’ he says. ‘This can happen anywhere. China may be next, or parts of western USA . There will be emerging water crises all over the world.’ In Kenya , the herdsmen of the Mandera region have been dubbed the ‘climate canaries’ – the people most likely to be wiped out first by global warming. In Australia , the earth’s driest inhabited continent, it is the farmers who are on the frontline.
  5. This extended dry spell began in 1998. Four years later came the once-in-100-years drought. Last year was declared a once-in-a-millennium event. Every city, except for Darwin , is facing water restrictions. Rivers are reduced to a trickle a child can jump across. Old Adaminaby, a town drowned by a reservoir 50 years ago, has resurfaced from its watery grave. Distressed koalas have been drinking from swimming pools. The list goes on.
  6. The extent of the crisis was illustrated in January, when the Prime Minister, John Howard, announced a £4.5bn package to take control of the Murray-Darling basin, the nation’s food bowl, accounting for 41% of Australia ‘s agriculture and £9bn worth of agricultural exports. The region covers an area the size of France and Spain combined, and is home to almost 3 million people. But its famous waterway, the River Murray, no longer holds sufficient water to flow out into the sea. Despite Howard’s massive rescue plan to overhaul the water system, six months later the irrigation taps to the region’s farmers were turned off.
  7. In March 2006, Professor Flannery’s The Weather Makers was published in the UK , spelling out in detail what awaits us unless we decarbonise our world by 2050. He has been described by Sir David Attenborough as ‘in the league of the all-time great explorers’, and he was the 2007 Australian of the Year. Floods and violent storms have caused havoc along Australia ‘s eastern seaboard, beaching one 40,000-tonne tanker like an aluminium dinghy. I put it to Flannery that the difficulty with global warming is that many areas are facing freak flooding. ‘General modelling suggests that every degree Celsius of warming leads to a 1% increase in rainfall globally,’ he explains. ‘But these downpours are not spread evenly, causing intense bursts and downpours of rain in some places and not in others. We are learning about this 1% effect as we go.’
  8. In his book, Flannery describes the dramatic decline in winter rainfall in southwestern Australia since the Sixties. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation has forecast that on the east coast, rainfall could drop by 40% by 2070, along with a steep rise in temperature and an increased chance of bush fires. Last November, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report added to the predicted misery, stating that ‘the annual flow in the Murray-Darling basin is likely to fall by 10-25% by 2050’, resulting in a decline in production from agriculture and forestry.
  9. Five years ago, during the last major drought, I travelled through western Queensland, across a fragile, red-baked landscape that was obviously not suited to the hooves of millions of cattle and sheep (there are no Australian native animals with cleft hooves) and met farmers whose dreams were crumbling to dust. Back then, there was virtually no mention of global warming. The problem was attributed to the dry, cyclical conditions caused by El Nino, a powerful climatic event linked to the Pacific Ocean , which drives rain-bearing clouds away from the continent.
  10. Fast-forward to July 2007 and few scientists doubt the ‘big dry’ is caused, in part, by climate change. Some refer to it as a climate shift; others, like Flannery are unequivocal that it is a foretaste of what’s to come. As the first developed nation to experience such a prolonged dry spell, it’s no wonder that the rest of the world is looking on to see how Australia copes – and what lessons can be learned.
  11. What is remarkable is the swing among ordinary Australians over the past 12 months. The release of the Stern Report by British economist Sir Nicholas Stern and a rise in food prices have combined as a loud wake-up call. Now, as the stress of trying to squeeze every drop out of an over-stretched waterway threatens to tear communities apart, fierce public debate has forced the environment to the forefront of this year’s general election. In order to avoid water shortages, two massive desalination plants will be built in Victoria and NSW, following the construction of Perth ‘s successful de-salination plant. The government also announced it would ban incandescent light bulbs, which contribute to greenhouse gases.
  12. For Flannery, these are baby steps. ‘We could be the Saudi Arabia of renewable energy. We’ve got solar potential; we’ve got a geo-thermal province in central Australia and the best potential for wind power off the east coast.’ For Anne Jensen, an academic who’s been studying the ecology of the lower Murray in South Australia for 25 years, it’s a question of priority. ‘Everyone is fighting to keep what they’ve got in a situation where people are going to need to give something up,’ she says. ‘While everyone is on rations, we have to make sure that the river is healthy enough to support us all.’

Adapted from an article by Claire Scobie in The Observer newspaper.

Part 1

Activity 1 – before listening/reading

1. Write the words climate change and add any words or expressions that you associate with this expression.

2. Do you believe that climate change is happening? What do you think are the causes of climate change?

3. Do you think everyone (around the world) is in agreement about the concept of climate change? Who is not in agreement, and why?

4. Where do you think climate change is having the most impact at the moment, and in what ways?

5. Try to find pictures (newspapers/Internet/magazines) illustrating:

  • drought
  • flooding
  • high temperatures
  • glaciers receding
  • ice-floes melting
  • animals suffering
  • higher prices in shops
  • coral dying
  • old people suffering in high temperatures (e.g. in France).

6. Working with a friend, prioritise them in terms of their importance and discuss your reasons.

Activity 2

1. If possible, listen to a recording of the first five five paragraphs for the overall or general meaning.

2. Listen a second time and note down answers to these questions with a word or phrase:

  • Which river is being described?
  • Where is it?
  • What is happening to it?
  • Do the farmers agree that climate change is happening?
  • What other country is being affected by these problems in Australia ?
  • Who is Professor Tim Flannery?
  • What are drinking in swimming pools?

You may need to listen to the recording more than once.

3. If possible, discuss the answers with a partner.

4. Make a note of a word or words that mean the same as:

  • dying
  • doubtful / unwilling to believe
  • rubbish / nonsense
  • fearfully
  • bringer of bad news
  • labelled
  • a very small flow of water
  • an area where water is stored

5. Try to answer these questions.

  • What has happened to the Murray River ?
  • What are two immediate results of the drought? (water rationing / suicides)
  • What important question is being asked?
  • What are scientists worried about?
  • What does Tim Flannery believe is going to happen in the future?
  • What is every city in Australia facing?
  • What’s happened to Old Adaminaby?

6. Read the first five paragraphs carefully.

  • What dramatic (journalistic?) language is used by the writer in Para 1?
  • How would you describe Australian farmers in your own words?
  • What does the farmers are on the frontline mean?
  • Where can we find climate canaries? What does this expression mean?

Activity 3 – Scanning

Scan the text and find the significance of these figures and expressions:

  • £4.5bn
  • 41%
  • £9bn
  • an area the size of France and Spain combined
  • 3 million people
  • March, 2006
  • 1%
  • drop by 40% by 2070
  • 10-25% by 2050

Activity 4 – Use these words to complete the sentences.

legendary devastated resilience sceptical unprecedented verge overhaul havoc freak fragile cyclical unequivocal prolonged

  • The ancient vase was very ……… and we were afraid that it would break.
  • The small town was ……… by the violent storm and took years to recover.
  • The floods caused ……… in the region and thousands of houses were destroyed.
  • The ……… nature of the weather meant that the heavy rain fell every second year.
  • Despite all the problems the family faced they were able to overcome them because of their ……… .
  • He was ……… in his view of what was best for the country and he asserted his views strongly at every meeting.
  • When he saw the ………, folksinger in his town, he could hardly believe his eyes.
  • I was very ……… about what he said and didn’t altogether believe him.
  • The long and painful operation ……… his life, but not for many months.
  • We had never seen anything like it; his actions were ……… .
  • They had to ….. the machinery completely before the start of the new year to make sure that it worked properly.
  • The team was on the ……… of making many new discoveries when their funding was cut and they were forced to stop.
  • The weather was unlike anything we had seen before and the ……… storms that came that year destroyed many trees in our orchard.

Activity 5 – Intensive reading

Read the text carefully and answer these questions.

  • Why is the Murray-Darling basin so important?
  • What the two main effects of climate change in Australia ?
  • What was the major difference the writer found between 2002 and 2007 on visits to Australia ?
  • How is this crisis affecting politics?
  • What immediate steps has the government taken to alleviate the problems?
  • Do you think that Flannery is angry? What evidence is there?

Activity 6 – Discussion questions

What do you know about El Nino (El Niño)?

What do you know about the Stern Report.

Activity 7 – Exploration of language

1. There are a number of examples of metaphor in the text; for example:

  • the lifeblood of Australia’s farming country

How many others can you find?

2. Explain the meeting of these following:

  • Para. 2: … pride themselves on their resilience.
  • Para. 7: … like an aluminium dinghy.
  • Para. 7: We are learning about this 1% effect as we go.
  • Para. 12: While everyone is on rations …

Worksheet “Thomas Edison”

Thomas Edison 1847-1931

Thomas Edison was born on 11 February 1847. He was one of the outstanding geniuses of technology and he obtained patents for more than one thousand inventions including the electric light bulb, the record player and an early type of film projector. He also created the world’s first industrial research laboratory.

He was born in Milan, Ohio and he was always an inquisitive boy. By the time he was 10 he had set up a small chemical laboratory in his house after his mother had shown him a science book. He soon became fascinated with electrical currents and it remained the main interest of his life.

In 1869, he borrowed a small amount of money and became a freelance inventor. In the same summer, there was a crisis in the New York financial district called Wall Street when the new telegraphic gold-price indicator broke down. Edison was called in to repair it and he did it so well that he was given a job as supervisor with the Western Union Telegraph Company. They later commissioned him to improve the Wall Street stock ticker that was just coming into use. He did so and produced the Edison Universal Stock Printer, which immediately brought him a fortune of $40,000. With this money, he set up as a manufacturer in order to produce electrical machines.

In 1876 he built a new laboratory so that he could spend all his time inventing. He planned to turn out minor inventions every ten days and a ‘big trick’ every six months. Before long he had 40 different inventions going at the same time and was applying for as many as 400 patents a year. The following year, Edison moved to New Jersey in order to build the Edison Laboratory (now a national monument) which was 10 times bigger than his first laboratory. In time it was surrounded by factories employing 5,000 people and producing many new products. Edison died on 18 October, 1931 having had a remarkably productive life.

Activity 1 – Checking comprehension

Below are the sentences from the text in jumbled order.

Read the passage and then re-arrange these sentences into the correct order. Try to look back at the passage as little as possible.

  • He planned to turn out minor inventions every ten days and a ‘big trick’ every six months.
  • In 1869, he borrowed a small amount of money and became a freelance inventor.
  • In 1876 he built a new laboratory so that he could spend all his time inventing.
  • He was born in Milan, Ohio and he was always an inquisitive boy.
  • They later commissioned him to improve the Wall Street stock ticker that was just coming into use. He did so and produced the Edison Universal Stock Printer, which immediately brought him a fortune of $40,000.
  • By the time he was 10 he had set up a small chemical laboratory in his house after his mother had shown him a science book.
  • The following year, Edison moved to New Jersey in order to build the Edison Laboratory (now a national monument) which was 10 times bigger than his first laboratory.
  • Thomas Edison was born on 11 February 1847. He was one of the outstanding geniuses of technology and he obtained patents for more than one thousand inventions including the electric light bulb, the record player and an early type of film projector.
  • In the same summer, there was a crisis in Wall Street when the new telegraphic gold-price indicator broke down.
  • Edison died on 18 October 1931 having had a remarkably productive life.
  • Before long he had 40 different inventions going at the same time and was applying for as many as 400 patents a year.
  • In time it was surrounded by factories employing 5,000 people and producing many new products.
  • With this money, he set up as a manufacturer in order to produce electrical machines.
  • He also created the world”s first industrial research laboratory.
  • He soon became fascinated with electrical currents and it remained the main interest of his life.
  • Edison was called in to repair it and he did it so well that he was given a job as supervisor with the Western Union Telegraph Company.

Activity 2 – Gap-filling exercise

Complete the passage by filling in the blanks. In some cases you may need more than one word. The words you choose do not need to be identical to the original but they should be appropriate.

Thomas Edison ……… on 11 February 1847. He was one of the outstanding geniuses of technology and he obtained ……… for more than one thousand ……… including the electric light bulb, the record player and an early type of film projector. He also created the world’s first industrial research laboratory.

He was born in Milan, Ohio and he was always an inquisitive boy. By the time he was 10 he had set up a small chemical ……… in his house after his mother had shown him a science book. He soon became fascinated with ……… currents and it remained the main interest of his life.

In 1869, he borrowed a small amount of …… and became a freelance ……. In the summer of 1869, there was a …… in Wall Street when the new telegraphic gold-price indicator broke down. Edison was called in to repair it and he did it so well that he was given a job as …… with the Western Union Telegraph Company. They later commissioned him to improve the Wall Street stock ticker that was just coming into use. He did so and produced the Edison Universal Stock Printer, which immediately brought him a fortune of $40,000. With this money, he set up as a manufacturer …… electrical machines.

In 1976 he built a new laboratory …… he could spend all his time inventing. He planned to turn out minor …… every ten days and a ‘big trick’ every six months. Before long he had 40 different inventions going at the same time and was applying for as many as 400 …… a year.

In 1887 Edison moved to New Jersey …… build the Edison Laboratory (now a national monument) which was 10 times bigger than his first laboratory. In time it was surrounded by ……… employing 5,000 people and producing many new products.

Edison died on 18 October 1931 having had a remarkably …… life.

There are lesson planning notes for this Thomas Edison passage in the Teacher’s Centre.