B1 · Listening

The 10 Strangest hobbies in the world

Only a little more than a month to go before we start thinking about our New Year’s resolutions! Some will be thinking about losing weight or maybe, quitting a bad habit.  Meanwhile, others may think that their life needs a new challenge or something exciting to spice it up. I wonder if any of you would consider taking up one of these unusual hobbies? Mind you, some of them seem a bit boring, while others can even appear pretty disgusting.

The video is from ToptenzNet on  youtube.

B1 · B2 · phonetics

The Importance of having a good pronunciation

In yesterday’s English class we were talking about the difficulties one can encounter when travelling to a foreign country. Some students mentioned problems such as: jet lag,  losing their luggage or missing a flight, among others. When suddenly, one  student said  ‘That people can’t understand you’. I must say that he was absolutely right! Unfortunately, even if we know the grammar and vocabulary of a foreign language, up to a certain degree, on some occasions, the influence of our L1 can be so strong that people might not understand us or even get the wrong message.

Just for a laugh, watch this video and you’ll get the idea of how a bad pronunciation can have a negative effect on your holidays.

Enjoy or laugh your head off. Whatever you prefer!

 

B2 · songs

The Sailorman’s Hymn

This beautiful, although extremely sad ballad by Kamelot, tells the story of a woman hopefully waiting for her lover who may have died at sea in a shipwreck. Although she feels lost and lonely, she never loses hope and lights a candle every night to guide him back home to her. Why the man went away, is not clear in the lyrics, but the reference to the ‘resounding sirens’ bring to mind something that at first  looked tempting, but finally had a tragic outcome.

The song may also be a romantic reference to smuggling, which during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, was very common in the British Isles as many were those that at night, risked their lives in an attempt to earn a living.

Anyway, whatever the ballad is about, Kamelot’s vocalist, Roy Khan,  has such  a wonderful voice that I want to share it with you, so as to bring to mind a bard-like story of  remote Ireland.

I hope you enjoy the song.

A2 · B1 · B2 · songs

If You Don’t Know Me by Now

The British pop/soul band, Simply Red covered this song in 1989 and it became their second best-known hit after reaching number 1 in U.S. The original track was recorded in 1972 by Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff.

Here the aim of listening to this song is to become aware of the first conditional, which is actually the title of the song. The song also has some very useful expressions  related to a romantic relationship between a couple that are arguing. Although it is a very old song, I chose it because it is easy to understand, but as I always say to my students, be careful with some of the expressions that are grammatically incorrect, like double negatives, but are often used in colloquial speech.

 

 

B1 · B2 · Listening

Ten types of food you shouldn’t be eating

Here’s a video from Youtube that covers some of the contents related to food, nutrition and the natural environment.

A2 · B1 · B2 · culture · songs

Midnight Oil ‘Beds are burning’

I was listening to this song launched in 1987 by the Australian rock band, Midnight Oil and then realised that it would be a nice way to introduce the use of present continuous with ‘when and while’  for low levels of English and a bit of English and Australian history to explain the meaning of the song (for higher levels). The single, which belongs to the album Diesel and Dust, hit the charts in many countries however, few were aware that it was a  protest song in support of giving the native Australian people their lands back.

In order to understand this, we’d have to refer to the issue of colonisation, concretely, British colonisation that came into existence during the sixteenth (Henry VII), but by the time the nineteenth century had arrived, a vast list of territories had been placed under the Crown (or should I say grabbed and forced?). Colonisation had actually little or nothing to do with ‘helping the world to become a better place’ as Kipling’s poem ‘The White man’s Burden’ claims. Rather than this, it was mainly a matter related to economic interests.

Australia, New Zealand and Tasmania came under British imperialism in 1770 when Captain Cook happened to discover the coast of Australia and claimed it for Britain (the first European sightseeing of Australia was by the Dutch).  Up to that moment, the British had been sending their prisoners to the American Colonies but after the independence of the colonies, this was no longer possible. One day, some bright spark suggested sending them to Botany Bay (New Wales, Australia) and in 1788, Britain started sending boatloads of convicts. Years later when these prisoners were released, they obviously couldn’t go back to Britain so they started settling and pushing the Aborigines off their lands.  During this time, settlements were established and, Australia, New Zealand and Tasmania, would become the home to thousands of British families in search of  farming opportunities and a better life. This meant important changes to the environment but also to the lives of the native people who were being gradually pushed towards unwanted areas.

During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries,  policies forced and relocated groups of native people to different areas while laws were passed to eradicate the indigenous culture. That is,  people were not allowed to speak their native languages and children were taken from their parents to be brought up by white families (Stolen Generations).

Midnight Oil is singing against such policies and is denouncing situations such as the relocation of the Pintube who in 1984 were forced to leave their traditional way of life. So, the song  means much, much more that a chorus to sing to when dancing or having a couple of beers. It conveys a message related human rights which have been easily ignored throughout times and  have been put forward here through the voice of Peter Robert Garrett who not only is a musician, but also an environmentalist, activist and politician.

You may want to see some comments left about this song on the following link.

http://songmeanings.com/songs/view/16526/