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Category Archives: health

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!)

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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

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?                                                                


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



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Do the takeaway test: Stressed Workers pay to talk



A Scottish PE teacher has invented a new fitness craze, which is rapidly catching on. The Highland Hustle is a mix of Scottish Highland dancing, ceilidh steps and muscle toning exercises.   Of course, it is also accompanied by fast funky music. At present, there is only one class, in Scotland, but there are several workout videos that can be downloaded from the official website. The routines, which last just half an hour, are designed for busy people with any fitness level. The workout promises to improve your level of fitness, but it will not teach you to be a highland dancer.

Would you like to try this workout?



Listen below

Read by Elizabeth (Scottish accent)

Study the words

PE- physical education
Craze- obsession, trend
Catching on- becoming popular
Ceilidh steps- dance steps typical of a traditional Scottish social event
Muscle toning- makes the body firmer
Funky- rhythmic
Workout- exercise routine
Downloaded- transferred to your computer
Last- have a duration of

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Do the takeaway test: Let’s all do the Highland Hustle

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?


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

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

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

dementia village cc ouple on tricycleDementia is a growing problem for society.  A care home in the Netherlands is experimenting with a new way of treating patients by offering them an “alternative reality”.  Residents live in small groups within a protected community.  They are free to wander the streets and go to the supermarket, beauty salon, restaurant and even the theatre.  If they forget to pay, it’s not a problem because the shop assistants and waiters are actually carers.  To make the patients feel comfortable, the houses are decorated in a style that reflects their personal background. It may seem a little like the Truman Show but the patients and their families are enthusiastic about the project.  Perhaps the rest of the world can learn some useful lessons for the future.

Listen below

Read by Barbara Van den Ouweland (Dutch accent)

Study the words

care home– a place where elderly people are looked after
treating–  taking care of
wander– walk around with no particular aim
shop assistants– people who work in shops
waiters– people who serve in restaurants
carers– people who look after elderly patients
comfortable– happy and relaxed
background– previous lifestyle
enthusiastic– very positive

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

Do the takeaway test:Alternative Reality Village for Dementia Patients

 Do you like fast food? 

Pret A Manger HK

Pret A Manger HK (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here’s a challenge:  when you next visit London, try to walk 100m without catching sight of a Pret a Manger.  The British sandwich chain with a French name has so many branches in the capital city that you can’t avoid trying it out. The menu includes wholemeal sandwiches, filled baguettes, soups, salads and coffees. Nothing special about that, so why is it so successful?  The marketing blurb speaks of handmade, natural food without any obscure chemicals.  The sandwiches are made fresh at each location. Service is fast.  Where Starbucks has just one cashier, Pret has three or four.  Employees have a say in the hiring process and bonuses are awarded on the performance of the entire team.  On top of that, unsold food is given to the homeless at the end of the day.  So, the secret is healthy fast food, served with a smile and a dose of goodness too.


Read by Heather, EASI English (Southern English accent)

Study the words

challengea difficult task

catching sight ofseeing

avoidnot do something

wholemeal brown bread

blurbpromotional information


cashierperson who works at the cash point

have a sayhelp to make a decision about something 

hiring- employing new staff

bonuses- cash rewards

On top of that- in addition

homeless- people with no homes

dose- quantity, amount

Do the takeaway test: ready to eat

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Do you know anyone who vapes? 

Everyone knows that smoking is bad for you. It smells, makes you cough and causes cancer.  Until recently, the only way to improve your health was to give up.  That’s tough for most people and impossible for some.  However, a new trend is catching on among smokers.  Many are switching from smoking to vaping.

English: Universal no smoking sign

Vaping involves an electronically charged ‘cigarette’ which produces steam instead of smoke.  It does contain nicotine, but in small amounts.  It looks and feels just like you are smoking but without many of the drawbacks.  Users feel better, save money and can say goodbye to smelly ashtrays.  Of course, this does not change the fact that not smoking at all would be an even healthier option.


Read by Ale (Italian/Scottish accent)

Study the words

cough- the reflex that clears your throat

give up- stop a habit

tough- difficult

catching on- becoming popular

steam- vapour

drawbacks- disadvantages

ashtrays- containers for ash (produced during smoking)

healthier- better for your body

Do the takeaway test: vaping

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