Read, listen & learn a littleEnglish

Category Archives: free time

By MichaelMaggs (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (, 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



Few people would choose a prison as the location for a special evening out. However, Italy has launched its first restaurant to be located in a real jail.  At the Ingalera Restaurant in Bollate prison, Milan, there are four prisoners working as waiters and five others cooking in the kitchen, headed by a professional chef and a maître. It is a ground-breaking project, which allows prisoners to be gradually included into society. The reataurant has had great reviews: everyone says the food is worth going to prison for.

Have a Conversation:

Have you ever been inside a prison?

Would you like to try this restaurant?

Listen below or listen on i-tunes here

Read by Ines Reynoso (from Mexico).

Study the words

Few- not many
Lauched- started
Jail- prison
Waiters- people who serve in a restaurant
Headed- led
ground-breaking- innovative
gradually- slowly
reviews- evaluations by customers
worth going to prison for- so good that you don’t mind going to prison
Read about this story in The New York Times

Grannies are very important for female elephants. A Behavioural Psychologist at the University of Stirling has been studying elephant herds in Kenya for decades. Her studies have found that the survival of female elephants and their success at reproducing is helped not only by having a mum but also by having a grandma. Female elephants support each other and protect and care for calves as a group and the grandmothers play an important role.  Elephants and girls should never forget their gran.

Have a conversation:

What do you know about elephants?

Do you think grandmothers are important for girls?  Why?                                                                                              

Listen below or listen on i-tunes here

Read by Annette (Scottish accent)

Study the words

grannies- grandmothers (informal)

female- girls/women (not male)

herds- groups of animals

decade- ten years

reproducing- giving birth

calves- baby elephants

gran- grandmother

By Christopher William Adach from London, UK

Leonardo DiCaprio has finally won his first Oscar after six nominations. DiCaprio received a standing ovation as he picked up the award for his role in The Revenant. He said the film was “about man’s relationship to the natural world”. He used the opportunity to raise awareness about climate change, a subject he is passionate about. “Climate change is real – it is happening right now,” said DiCaprio. “It is the most urgent threat facing our species, and we need to work collectively together and stop procrastinating.” He added: “Let us not take this planet for granted. I do not take tonight for granted.”

It is 22 years since he was first nominated for an Academy Award, as best supporting actor for the movie What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.

Have a conversation:

Which Leonardo Dicaprio movies have you seen?

Which was your favourite?

What do you know about Leonardo Dicaprio?

What do you think about climate change?

Listen below or listen on i-tunes here

Read by Annette (Scottish accent).

Study the words

Picked up- collected
Raise awareness- inform people
Threat- danger
Take for granted- fail to appreciate
Supporting actor- actor not in the leading role

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
One step at a time- gradually

Recipe for a perfect conversation Class (FREE!)

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

By 1791diamonds (( /licenses/by/3.0) via Wikimedia Commons

If you’re going to propose in the near future, don’t worry if you can’t afford a massive engagement ring. A recent study suggests that the bigger the ring is, the shorter the marriage will be. Economics professors at Emory University in America have shown that bigger isn’t always better. In fact, men who spend between £1200 – £2000 on an engagement ring are actually 1.3 times more likely to divorce, than those who spend between £300 – £1200. Of course, these statistics don’t prove that a large ring is the cause of the problem. They simply show a correlation. However it seems clear that if you place more importance on the cost of the ring, than the man you’re about to marry, it’s not a promising sign. Do you think the size of an engagement ring is important? NEW: TINY TEXTS VOCAB CHALLENGE CARDS

Listen below

Read by Essi (from Finland)

Study the words

Propose– ask someone to marry you
Near future– next days and weeks
Engagement ring– the ring you give as a promise of marriage
Likely– probable
Prove– demonstrate
Correlation– relationship
About to– going to, ready to
Promising sign– indication of positive things in the future

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

Do the takeaway test: The bigger the ring, the shorter the marriage

Read the original article

%d bloggers like this: