A2 · B1 · Listening

Why countries don’t use purple on their flags

Ever wondered why purple doesn’t appear on flags, or why there are always four strawberry flavoured yogurts in a packet of eight? I can’t explain the second question, but here’s a really interesting video that explains the reason why countries traditionally didn’t use purple on there national flags. The video is from After Skool Youtube channel. I hope you find it as interesting as I did.

B2 · C1 · culture · Listening

Skara Brae

Skara_Brae

So you thought you  knew all about interior design and comfort at home, right? You thought that we, modern-day humans, invented comfortable beds, hygienic bathrooms and all those things that make our homes tasteful and cosy. Well I have some news for you, because that is what I thought until I discovered Skara Brae.
Skara Brae is a Neolithic settlement consisting of eight stone-built houses located on the coast of Mainland (the Orkney Islands). Its origin dates from 3180 BC and was occupied by families for about 600 years. The theories that explain why its inhabitants left the village are several.  Some historians say that this was caused by an abrupt climate change, while others claim that a violent storm forced the inhabitants to flee from the village leaving behind many of their belongings.  Whatever the reason was, the result was that the village remained covered with sand and earth for many centuries and was forgotten until 1850 when a severe storm hit Scotland, stripping a large tract of land off the coast and consequently, uncovering the village.
It was then when the locals discovered the settlement that was in such a good state of preservation that it has provided a wide insight into the lifestyle of the people who lived there. Thanks to this, we now know what these people ate and did for a living. We also know that they had stone-made furniture and a primitive form of toilets. These folks really knew about comfort!

Skara Brae gained Unesco World Heritage Site status and is probably older than the Pyramids of Egypt and Stonehenge. It is also known as the Scottish Pompeii and is a ‘must visit’ whenever going to Scotland. However, when visiting, have in mind that strict rules are applied to visitors as the settlement is extremely sensitive to the effects of these, which could cause irreversible damage.

The video is from Archaeosoup productions Youtube

B1 · B2 · Listening

Can money buy happiness?

Can money buy happiness? A question we ask ourselves again and again. Some say yes, some say no, but as a matter of fact, it does help, especially in situations where one finds himself/herself unable to cover basic needs. Money does contribute to make people happier, or at least more comfortably situated in life, but not everything can be purchased, or can it? Feeling moved by a scenery, a particular song or a kind gesture from a stranger, cannot be provided by paper notes or a piece of plastic slotted through an electronic device. Whatever happiness is, or however we think we can reach it is undoubtedly something quite personal and depends heavily on how each one of us sets our priorities. Meaning by this, that it’s up to you, or maybe not. I’ll leave that one for you to ponder upon.

Here’s a listening activity from Youtube channel After Skool to get you thinking about this particular issue.

A2 · Listening

Mog’s Christmas Calamity

It’s Christmas time and many of the UK’s chain stores create the most incredible advertisements on pets, children and families. The advertisment that we have here is about a cat called Mog. Mog is the main character in a series of children’s books written by Judith Kerr and that somehow always manages to get into different conundrums.

This is a little listening activity based on Sainsbury’s 2015 Christmas Advert  for some practice for elementary and pre-intermediate levels of English and, why not? help you get into  the Christmas spirit.

B1 · B2 · Listening · phonetics

Benjamin Zephaniah’s Talking Turkeys

Benjamin Zephaniah’s poem on animal rights and Christmas, is not only thought provoking, but is also put in such a humorous and clever way, that you actually can’t help admiring him as one of Britain’s  top post-war writers.

Zephaniah, a dub poet and Rastafarian, once mentioned that his mission was to fight the dead image of poetry and take it to the streets with messages that concerned the daily lives of ordinary people; like you and me.

As an ESL teacher, having the  opportunity to introduce students to the culture of my native UK and to  poets such as Zephaniah, is really something awesome.

Enjoy!

 

A2 · B1 · Listening

Pahoa – Hawaii volcano eruption

Here’s a new listening activity for Basic and Intermediate levels.

A2 · B1 · Listening

6 signs that show you’re turning into your mum

Six signs that confirm your suspicion that you and your mum have much more in common than you thought. 😉