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By MichaelMaggs (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Have you ever dreamed of running a bookshop? You can have a go for a week at the Open Book Store in Wigton, Scotland. In fact, if you book a holiday at the self-catering flat on Airbnb, you also have to work for 40 hours in the bookshop downstairs. A week in the flat costs £150. You won’t get paid for working, but you can use your own creative ideas to sell books and gain valuable experience. Wigton is Scotland’s national book town and this new venture is attracting interest from all over the world.

Have a conversation:

Would you like to run or work in a Book shop? Why/ why not?                                                                                         

Listen below or listen on i-tunes here

Read by Helen Mitchell (from Lancashire, England)

Study the words

running- managing

have a go- try

gain- obtain

self-catering flat- a holiday apartment with a kitchen

venture- project

 


A recent survey by the National Association of Professional Organizers reveals that 54% of Americans feel overwhelmed by clutter and 78% have no idea what to do with it. According to psychologists, people accumulate things because they are unhappy but having too many posessions brings stress and more unhappiness. Minimalists say you can live better if you focus only on what’s really important and get rid of your excess stuff. You can donate things you don’t need to charity. Minimalism is not new. Some of the ancient Greek philosophers were advocates, as were Mahatma Gandhi and Leo Tolstoy. There may be more joy in owning less than in constantly accumulating more.

Do you have too much clutter?

Would you like to get rid of it?

New: Conversation Class & resources 

Listen below

Read by Christine Leedy (U.S. accent).

Study the words

Reveals- shows
Overwhelmed- inundated (when there is too much of something)
Clutter- a lot of useless objects
Accumulate- collect
Get rid of- give or throw away
Stuff- things
Donate- give away for free
Advocates- supporters
Joy- happiness

Recipe for a perfect conversation Class (FREE!)

Listen on audioboo (and subscribe to i-tunes podcast) here

Download the Takeaway Test Be happy with less stuff


Have you already set your goals for the New Year? Do you want to lose 10 kilos, run a marathon or speak fluent English? Some experts believe that you need systems, not goals. A system is something you do on a regular basis. This means focusing on what you can control (your actions) rather than what you can’t (the unpredictable). For example, don’t focus on losing 10 kilos, focus on shopping for healthy food and cooking something light every day. Don’t focus on the marathon; focus on the training schedule. Invent a system to improve your English, one step at a time. Good luck!   

Do you usually set goals?

What are your goals for the New Year?

Do you think you need a system?

What regular actions are important to improve your English?

New: Conversation Class & resources 

Listen below

Read by Annette (Scottish accent).

Study the words

Set your goals- identify your aims, objectives
On a regular basis- every day/ every week
Rather than- instead of
Schedule-plan
One step at a time- gradually

Recipe for a perfect conversation Class (FREE!)

Listen on audioboo (and subscribe to i-tunes podcast) here


Workers in Australia, have a new hotline they can call when they feel stressed and overworked.   The new counselling service, called Talk2Me, will charge its users $2,97 per minute to talk to a counsellor who promises to “just listen” to their work complaints.  Of course, the service offers more than just a friendly ear: the counsellors have special skills.   It’s not the same as  just talking to a friend.  For one thing,  they do not interrupt with their own tales.  Just make sure you don’t talk for too long, otherwise you could end up more stressed when you get the bill.  Would you use this service?                                                                

 NEW:  VOCAB CHALLENGE CARDS!

Listen below

Read by Tina (Australian accent).

Study the words

Hotline- telephone service
Stressed- under stress
Overworked- working too much
Launched- started
Charge- ask for payment
Complaints- problems, criticisms
End up- become (in the end)
Bill- invoice
Friendly ear- a kind person to listen to you
Skills- abilities
Tales- stories

NEW: VOCAB CHALLENGE CARDS!

  

Listen on audioboo (and subscribe to i-tunes podcast) here

Do the takeaway test: Stressed Workers pay to talk

 


Image: Wikipedia

Do you work in an open plan office? If so, it may be damaging your health. A recent study of employees in Denmark found that people who work in open spaces take significantly more sick leave. The biggest problem with the open office is simply noise. In another study by the Cornell University psychologists Gary Evans and Dana Johnson, clerical workers who were exposed to open-office noise for three hours became less motivated and less creative. The open office was invented in Germany, in the nineteen-fifties, to facilitate communication and idea flow but recent evidence suggests that the opposite is true.

Do you work in an open office?

NEW: TINY TEXTS VOCAB CHALLENGE CARDS

Listen below

Read by  Meredith MacAulay (American accent)

Study the words

Open plan- without dividing walls
Damaging- causing harm
Sick leave- time off due to illness
Noise- sound
Facilitate- make easy
Flow- constant production
Evidence- verification, proof
 
NEW:  TINY TEXTS VOCAB CHALLENGE CARDS
 

Listen on audioboo (and subscribe to i-tunes podcast) here

Do the takeaway test: Open Offices Could be Bad for your Health


If you can’t stand ironing, there’s great news you.  Wool&Prince have invented a shirt that you can wear 100 times before it needs to be washed and ironed. It is made of a type of wool that doesn’t wrinkle and fights off nasty odours too.  The company used a group of testers who wore the shirt while backpacking, clubbing and working out. However, it always stayed fresh and clean, even after one tester crumpled his up and left it in his rucksack all day.  At just under 100 dollars, it’s not  exactly  cheap, but just think about the time you will save, not to mention the reduction in your laundry expenses.

Would you wear it for 100 days?

Listen below

Read by Ross Harrison, mbaenglishonline (Standard English accent)

Study the words

can’t standstrongly dislike
wrinkle– to crease, become full of folds
fights off nasty odours– prevents bad smells
backpacking- travelling around with a large backpack
clubbing- going to dance clubs
 working out- doing physical exercise
crumpled up- rolled into a messy ball
not to mention- in addition to
  

Listen on audioboo (and subscribe to i-tunes podcast) here

Do the takeaway test: Wear the Same Shirt for 100 Days


SAVE BY SHARING - NARA - 515337

SAVE BY SHARING – NARA – 515337 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thanks to the social web, it’s now easy to save and make money by sharing everything you own with strangers.  Lyft allows you to cut down on travel costs by giving or getting a lift somewhere.  At Couchsurfing, you can rent out your spare bedroom for the night or find a place to sleep when you visit another city. Neighborgoods will let you share your stuff with neighbours, like lawnmowers, drills or even cat carriers.  Universe aims to tie all of these services together and become a global sharing community.  In most cases you can read reviews about who you share with, but trust is an important element.  If you can trust a stranger, you have a lot to gain.

Listen below

Read by Jane Sabey (English accent).

Study the words

Sharing– when two people or more make use of something
Own– possess
Strangers– people you don’t know
Cut down on– reduce
lift– a ride in someone’s car
rent out– charge money for the use of something
spare– extra, free
stuff– things
lawnmowers– machine used to cut the grass
drills– machines used to make small holes
carriers– objects used for transporting something
aims– plans, intends
tie together– unite, merge
reviews– evaluations
trust (noun)- when you believe someone is reliable
trust (verb)- to believe
gain– earn
  

Listen on audioboo (and subscribe to i-tunes podcast) here

Do the takeaway test: Save Money and Make Friends by Sharing


Green leaf

Green leaf (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

Research at the University of San Diego has revealed that employees in a ‘green’ building are more productive than people who work in a standard building.  Of course, a ‘green’ building is not just painted green:  it is built and maintained with attention to its environmental impact.  The presence of green plants in an office is known to lower stress levels.  Other studies show that the colour green also has a positive impact on work.  Last year, German researchers found that just looking at a green rectangle for a couple of seconds boosts your creative output by 20%. Green has strong associations with nature and growth and bringing the outdoors in can make people more relaxed. So, if you want to increase productivity in your workplace, go green.

Listen below

Read by Annette (Scottish accent).

Study the words

Revealed– showed
Employees– workers
Painted– decorated, coloured
Maintained– preserved, looked after
Impact– effect
Lower– reduce
Couple– about two
Boosts– increases
Output– production
Associations– links
Growth– enlargement
Bringing the outdoors in– placing elements of nature indoors
Go green– become more green
 
 

Listen on audioboo (and subscribe to i-tunes podcast) here

Do the takeaway test: Green is Good for your Company 


Online resumes are becoming more and more popular. Philippe Dubost has attracted the attention of the media by posting one that looks exactly like an Amazon product page. Beside his photo, there’s the message ‘only one left in stock– order soon.’ If you add him to your cart, you get his contact information. The product details include his height, languages and best marathon time. Potential employers are informed that ‘this product is available for shipping anywhere in the world.’ He also has plenty of five-star reviews. Philippe clearly has a good sense of humour, as you will see if you click on ‘add to wedding registry’. ‘Not happening’ means he has no intention of getting married. This guy is clever, creative and surely deserves a great job.

Listen below

Read by Crissy Faita (Canadian accent).  Check out the Learning English Matters blog here.

Study the words

resumes– curriculum vitae
in stock– available for dispatch
cart– shopping trolley
height– how tall he is
marathon– long–distance race
potential– prospective, possible
available for shipping– can be sent
plenty– lots of
reviews– assessments, evaluations
sense of humour– ability to laugh and joke
wedding registry– list of gifts for people who are getting married
deserves–  merits, is worthy of
 

Listen on audioboo (and subscribe to i-tunes podcast) here

Do the takeaway test: Best Ever Online Resume


The hottest new trend for fashionable men is male leggings or meggings.  Although not all men will want to wear them, plenty of designers are selling them, from  Prada to Nike to Armani. While they are surely comfortable, they may not be flattering for all body types. It could also take guts to wear them about town.  According to Will Welch at GQ, this trend is only for the most severe of fashion victims.  However, meggings are not entirely new.  Throughout history, men have worn leggings of various styles.  They were all the rage in the renaissance era and Henry VIII wore them to show off his toned calf muscles. Fashions tend to come back, whether we like them or not.

Would you (or the men in your life) wear meggings?

Listen below

Read by Ross Harrison, mbaenglishonline (Standard English accent)

Study the words

Hottest– most talked about
Although– while
Plenty– a lot of
Flattering– make you look good
Guts– courage
Severe– serious
Fashion victims– people who wear the latest fashion at all costs
Entirely– completely
Throughout– during
Various–  different
All the rage– very fashionable
Toned– in good shape
Calf muscles– the muscles behind the lower part of the leg
Whether– if
  

Listen on audioboo (and subscribe to i-tunes podcast) here

Do the takeaway test: will real men wear meggings?

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