Sunday, February 19, 2017


Callous disregard for the short term and long term impacts of radiation characterized the nuclear testing during the cold war. Do your research and find out what exactly was done and what the impacts have been. Then write an essay where you describe the problem and its effects.
Familiarize yourself with the issue:
·         Victims of Nuclear Testing
·         Effects of a nuclear bomb
Reading material to make notes on:
·         Slow Death In Kazakhstan's Land Of Nuclear Tests
Videos to watch and take notes from:
·         THE POLYGON Documentary
·         The Polygon Nuclear Testing Site
·         Kazakhstan's nuclear curse - 29 Aug 09

Thursday, February 16, 2017


Do your research and find out what exactly permafrost is, how it is formed and the serious implications of its thawing.  When you are ready, write an essay in which set out the problem and discuss the potential effects.
Familiarize yourself with the issue
·         Arctic permafrost and Methane
 Reading material to make notes on
·         Permafrost in a warming world
·         Climate threat: thawing tundra releases infected corpses
·         Anthrax outbreak in Russia thought to be result of thawing permafrost
Videos to watch and take notes from
·         Permafrost – What is it?
·         Permafrost: The ticking time bomb

·         Alaska’s thawing permafrost

Wednesday, February 15, 2017


Keeping prisoners from reoffending and going back to prison is in everybody’s interest. Prisons are a drain on the economy before anything else. To be able to prevent first time offenders from reoffending, they need to be rehabilitated and helped to become productive members of society. Do your research and discover how this is achieved and write a problem and solution essay on the topic. Make sure you don’t stray off topic.
Familiarize yourself with the issue :
·         How can we best rehabilitate prisoners so that they become productive members of society?
Reading material to make notes on :
·         Rehabilitation for criminals
·         Successful rehabilitation of today’s criminals
·         Prison re-entry programs help inmates leave the criminal mindset behind, but few have access to the classes
Videos to watch and take notes from :
·         Obama Weekly Address: Disrupting The School To Prison Pipeline
·         Prison rehabilitation

·         The process of rehabilitating prisoners  

Tuesday, February 14, 2017


Concern about damage to the environment and the imminent depletion of fossil fuels has led to a search for environmentally friendly, practical and plentiful sources of energy one of which is biofuels. Do your research and discover what biofuel is and what its advantages and disadvantages are. Then write an essay where you discuss them.
Familiarize yourself with the topic:
·         What is Biofuel?
·         What is biomass? ?
Reading material to make notes on
·         What are Biofuels?
·         Biofuel facts
·         Types of biofuels
·         Biofuel uses
·         Advantages of biofuels
·         Disadvantages of biofuels
Videos to watch and take notes from
·         Are Algae Biofuels the Future of Energy? : Jerry Brand
Renewable energies: the return of biomass


“Psychologists are uncovering the surprising influence of geography on our reasoning, behavior and sense of self”
By: David Robson
Level of difficulty: **
·         Individualistic versus collectivistic cultures
Individualism versus Collectivism
1.       Which sentence best summarizes the first three paragraphs of the text?
·         Hokkaido was very similar to the American Wild West
·         Hokkaido was completely unfit for human habitation
·         Hokkaido was a very inhospitable place to live
·         Hokkaido was tough to reach and live on
·         Only the Ainu people were equipped to live on Hokkaido
2.       Why was the decision taken to reclaim the island of Hokkaido?
3.       What surprising discovery has been made about the residents of Hokkaido? Two answers
4.       The example of Hokkaido is provided to support the contention that…………………..
5.       What wrong assumption by researchers in the field of psychology probably led to misleading results? The assumption that…
6.       Read the two examples that follow and try and explain the reasons why the students acted as they did. Use your own words.
·         Consider the following incident that took place in an English class in Japan: Students were asked a question based on a reading passage that had just been covered. Nobody raised their hands to answer. The teacher later discovered that at least a third of the students knew the answer.
·         Now consider the following incident which took place during a German class in the US: Students were asked a question based on a reading passage. Most of the class raised their hands. The student who was told to answer the question got it wrong. One student called out the answer and was reprimanded for doing so.
7.       Consider the following example: You are walking down the street and you see a woman yelling at a boy and then you see her slap him. He starts to cry and she drags him off home. You react as follows:
·         You are angry. You think the mother is abusive and she doesn’t deserve to have kids
·         You wonder what the kid has done to deserve a beating
In which case are you thinking holistically?
8.       Consider the following list of terms items: pin, needle, thread. Which two would a holistic thinker not choose? Why?
9.       Look at this picture of the traffic accident: You are a traffic policeman. You see various people standing around. Who would you ask about the cars which are driving away?
10.   Second and third generation Turkish immigrants in Germany may experience change in their social orientation because…
11.   We understand from the paragraph beginning “But” that the teachings of people like Enlightenment scholars probably led people in Europe and America to focus on…..
12.   Read the section of the text comparing the Wild West and Hokkaido. We understand from this section that the independent spirit and increased individualism is fostered by: Select as many as fit.
·         The harsh living conditions of the two locations
·         Trying to cope with life in these two locations
·         The pioneering spirit of the people in these two locations
·         The battle with the wilderness in these two locations
13.   Consider the following example: A young boy steals some food from a supermarket. Your reaction is to think that he was probably hungry and couldn’t afford food / he was badly brought up and a thief. What kind of a culture have you been brought up in?
14.   We understand from the paragraph detailing germ theory that the relationship between social outlook and response to disease is
·         Untenable
·         Valid
·         Invalid
·         Irrefutable
·         Probable
15.   We understand from the section detailing the relationship between crops and social orientation that the more……………..the growing of the crop, the more………………the culture and vice versa.
16.   We understand from the same section that the correlation between wheat and rice farming and social orientation is
·         Untenable
·         Valid
·         Invalid
·         Irrefutable
·         Probable
17.   Read the section titled “Cognitive Kaleidoscope”. What function does it serve? How do you know?
Use all that you have learnt to compare and contrast the two forms of social orientation discussed in the text: individualism and collectivism.
This relatively simple text addresses ways of thinking, perspectives and attitudes which are shared by people in various parts of the world and can lead to a good writing task. The text has also allowed me to write questions including examples that are not in the text to test students’ comprehension.
1.       The fourth
2.       Because they feared a Russian invasion
3.       The frontier spirit still touches the way they think / Their cognitive profile is closer to America than the rest of Japan
4.       History, geography and culture can change how we all think in subtle and surprising ways
5.       Western, educated, industrialized, rich and democratic people could represent universal truths about human nature
6.       Possible answer: The Japanese culture is collectivist and they tend to underestimate their abilities but the US culture is individualistic and people with such a cultural background thirst for self validation and demonstrate overconfidence
7.       The second
8.       Pin and needle; there is no functional relationship between them
9.       An east Asian
10.   Our social orientation is learned from others (in this case Germans and German society)
11.   Freedom and independence
12.   Two and four
13.   Depends on your choice: if you take the first one, you were brought up in a collectivist culture; if you chose the second one, you were brought up in an individualistic society
14.   Probable
15.   Labour intensive, collectivist
16.   Valid
17.   It is the conclusion. It goes beyond the text and refers to the future. It is more general than the content of the development

Thursday, February 9, 2017


“It’s not the kind of thing you can normally bring up in a conversation”
By: Renuka Rayasam
Level of difficulty:*
·         Watch the video: 5 steps to improve customer satisfaction
·         Learn about the company presented as an example in the text
·         Now study the findings of the Deloitte’s workplace pulse survey
1.       We understand from the information about Pink Jeep that their main key to success is
·         The fact that they drive distinctive pink jeeps
·         The fact that they are unlike any other company
·         The fact that the guides wonderful people
·         The fact that they think customer satisfaction is vital
2.       The reason for the above is the fact that…..
3.       We learn from the text that ……………..may bring down barriers and bring people together in the business community.
4.       We deduce from the Deloitte study that CEO’s need to be: mark as many as necessary
·         More human
·         More approachable
·         More professional
·         More businesslike
·         More personal
·         More experienced
5.       What Kohut means by warmth is: mark the odd one out
·         Understanding
·         Empathy
·         Sympathy
·         Closeness
6.       We understand from the Princeton study that warmth can: Mark true or false
·         Bring people together
·         Promote business
·         Increase trust
·         Decrease snap judgments
7.       Companies cannot disregard the importance of customer loyalty in the modern world because…………………………………
8.       We understand from the text that warmth can be evaluated by: mark the odd one out
·         Conducting questionnaires involving everyone
·         Sitting down and talking to people at the firm
·         Giving brownie points for helping the company
·         Conducting questionnaires with the public
9.       Read the example of Grant &Toy. It is implied in this section that the customers didn’t trust the company because the company had never offered proof to the effect / was losing business to competitors . Circle the correct answer.
10.   Read the last four paragraphs of the text. We can draw the conclusion from this section that Grand &Toy should do what Pink Jeep is doing and………………….
Write a brief summary of the text. If you don’t know how to write summaries, check out the videos under Learning Strategies on this blog.
Most business texts are quite complicated but there are many adult learners who wish to tackle issues related to the business world at a more simple level. This text is relatively straight forward, and the accompanying task is pre intermediate in level but it is about a very serious issue: increasing customer satisfaction and loyalty
1.       The third one
2.       The company’s guides must complete 150 hours of training before giving a tour
3.       Warmth
4.       More human, more approachable (Nothing else will fit)
5.       Closeness
6.       The last one is false, the rest are true. (Making snap judgments is a fact of life)
7.       With social media, customers notice ill intent and the word travels further and faster
8.       Number two
9.       The first
10.   Upgrade its hiring and training programs

Wednesday, February 8, 2017


“Your ambitions to improve your life do not need to be confined by your personality”
By: Christian Jarrett
Level of Difficulty:*
You will need to watch the video to be able to answer some of the questions.
·         Brian Little: Who are you, really? The puzzle of personality
1.       What qualities of an extrovert does Brian Little seem to have? Refer to the video and use your own words
2.       Why does the fact that he is an introvert come as surprise? Use your own words
3.       What proof does he offer of his introversion?
4.       What does “This” refer to in the phrase “This isn’t a peculiar quirk”? There are two answers; find both.
5.       What does “This” refer to in the phrase “This is an empowering finding”? Discovering…………………………….
6.       What is the key to happiness according to Brian Little?
7.       Read the paragraph that follows the title “How your projects affect you”.  What is the take home point from this paragraph? In order to be truly happy, you should……
·         Have an ambitious project and striving to achieve it
·         Having an unassuming project and striving to achieve it
·         Having a personal project and striving to achieve it
·         Having a realizable project and striving to achieve it
8.       What is the reason for the above?
9.       It is implied in the text that the more motivated you are to work on a project, …
10.   Why do people need consider their true traits and not just act different all the time?
11.   One way to deal with stalled projects is to:
·         Make the project more realistic
·         Determine an alternative project
·         Reduce the stress in your life and relax
·         Identify your source of unhappiness
12.   Which of the concluding statements below could be added on to the paragraph beginning “Another strategy…”?
·         In short, parallel projects could be a solution to the problem
·         In short eclectic thinking could be a solution to the problem
·         In short, pigeon-holing could be a solution to the problem
·         In short, the correct working environment could be a solution to the problem
13.   Read the last two paragraphs of the text. What overall conclusion can we draw from the text?
·         We have different sides to our personalities and they are all important
·         We are all free to choose our projects and follow them throughout our lives
·         Our third natures can enable us to have happy and fulfilling lives
·         The three forces that govern our lives also influence our choice of project
Use all you have learned to write a paragraph for the Sunday supplement of a national newspaper about how to lead a meaningful and fulfilling life

Leading a happy and meaningful life is a common goal for humanity.  Dr. Brian Little shows us that it is within our capacity to achieve this goal so what could be better? The article covers an important issue but is simple and straightforward, which means it can be done quite early on. The video at the beginning must be watched to be able to follow the text.
1.       Possible answer: he can speak comfortably in public, make jokes and seems to enjoy all the stimulation he gets from his social environment
2.       Possible answer: he acts like an extrovert
3.       He states at the end of the talk that he is going to take refuge behind the locked door of a toilet cubicle
4.       Enacting what he calls a free trait OR behaving extroverted
5.       Discovering your core projects
6.       Choosing the right projects and approaching them in the right way
7.       The last one
8.       Because findings show that when someone is engaged in a personal project that makes them stressed and miserable, this is an even more powerful drag on their well-being than more obvious factors like poverty. (This answer is much better than the previous sentence, which is too general. One wants to ask why)
9.       The more likely the projects will be to be sustainable and joyful
10.   Because acting different can take a toll over time
11.   Make the project more realistic
12.   The second one
13.   The third one