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The Manhattan Project

The Manhattan Project

2022-06-2306:2118

Learn about the invention of the atomic bomb
Rob and Sam discuss some of the problems Pacific islanders face and teach vocabulary.
What is the relationship between translation, technology and the human brain?
We talk about a very British tradition involving Queen Elizabeth II
Can you imagine being able to ‘taste’ every word that you hear?
Finding your way in space

Finding your way in space

2022-05-2006:1832

What’s up and what’s down for astronauts who are floating in zero gravity?
VR is helping people overcome phobias and even tackling more serious problems.
Life in the modern office

Life in the modern office

2022-05-0506:1749

Great or awful? How do people rate office working? We talk about it and teach vocabulary.
Remembering Desmond Tutu

Remembering Desmond Tutu

2022-04-2806:2427

Deep convictions and a sense of humour - we talk about a man who helped end apartheid.
We talk about an extreme environment, and teach you vocabulary along the way.
We talk about an art that started with ancient Greek philosophers
It's not all about tea - Britons like coffee too. Learn vocabulary to talk about it.
Optimists vs Pessimists

Optimists vs Pessimists

2022-03-3106:1993

Which one you are may be linked more to your birthplace and age than attitude.
We discuss one of her most famous characters and teach you related vocabulary.
Neil and Sam discuss our fascination with the 'Red Planet' and teach you related vocab.
Shouldn't we take laughter more seriously? We discuss and teach related vocabulary.
Neil and Sam discuss the benefits of kindness and teach you related vocabulary.
Eating bugs

Eating bugs

2022-02-2406:1949

Neil and Sam discuss eating insects and teach you related vocabulary.
The benefits of boredom

The benefits of boredom

2022-02-1706:1568

We talk about the positive side of boredom and teach you related vocabulary.
Sleepy in South Korea

Sleepy in South Korea

2022-02-0906:1937

Life in a place where people work longer hours and get less sleep than anywhere else.
Comments (745)

Omid Boore

Introduction Many of the English words we use today like beer, hand, mother and love have all survived from Old English. Neil and Georgina discuss where the English language we use today really comes from. This week's question The year 1066 is remembered for a famous battle when the French-speaking Norman king, William the Conqueror, invaded England – but what is the name of the famous battle? Is it... a) The Battle of Waterloo? b) The Battle of Hastings? c) The Battle of Trafalgar? Listen to the programme to find out the answer. Vocabulary invasion when an army of country uses force to enter and take control of another country suffix letter or group of letters added to the end of a word to make a new word in common parlance using the words that most people use in ordinary conversation building blocks the basic parts that are put together to make something through someone’s eyes from someone else’s point of view; how someone else would experience something at heart used to say what something is really like Transcript Note: This is not a word-for-word transcript Neil Hello. This is 6 Minute English from BBC Learning English. I’m Neil. Georgina And I’m Georgina. Neil Gōdne mergen! Mé lícap pé tó métanne! Georgina I beg your pardon, Neil? Is something stuck in your throat?! Are you speaking a foreign language? Neil Ha! Well, actually Georgina, I was saying, ‘Good morning, pleased to meet you’ in English - but not the English you and I speak. That was Anglo-Saxon, or Old English, the earliest form of English, spoken in the Middle Ages – so, between the 5th and 15th century. Georgina It doesn’t sound anything like the way people talk nowadays. Neil No, but it’s surprising how many of the words we use today have survived from Old English – beer, wine, drink, fish, bread, butter, eye, ear, mouth, head, hand, foot, life, love, laughter, mother, daughter, sister, brother, son, father – all Anglo-Saxon words! Georgina Wow, so many everyday words! But what about the classics - Latin and Greek? I thought a lot of English vocabulary came from there. Neil That’s also true, but the history of English is the history of invasions – you know, when the army of one country fights to enter and control another country. Georgina Like the Roman invasion of Britain? Neil Right, and later invasions too, by Norse-speaking Vikings and Germanic Saxons. In fact, Georgina, that reminds me of my quiz question. Georgina Go on then, but in modern English if you don’t mind… Neil OK. Well, the year 1066 is remembered for a famous battle when the French-speaking Norman king, William the Conqueror, invaded England – but what is the name of the famous battle? Is it: a) The Battle of Waterloo?, b) The Battle of Hastings?, or, c) The Battle of Trafalgar? Georgina Hmm, my history’s not great, Neil, but I think it’s, b) The Battle of Hastings. Neil OK, Georgina, we’ll find out ‘later’ - another Old English word there! But it’s not just words that survive from Anglo-Saxon, it’s word endings too – the suffix, or letters added to the end of a word to modify its meaning. Georgina Right, like adding ‘s’ to make something plural, as in: one bird, two birds. Or the ‘ness’ in ‘goodness’ and ‘happiness’. And ‘dom’, as in, ‘freedom’ and kingdom’. Neil Poet Michael Rosen is fascinated by Old English. Here he is talking about word suffixes to Oxford University professor Andy Orchard for BBC Radio 4’s programme, Word of Mouth. Georgina Listen out for the proportion of modern English that comes from Anglo-Saxon. Michael Rosen ‘I walked’ – that ‘walked’ the ‘et’ bit on the end. Professor Andy Orchard Yeah, the ‘ed’ ending. Most modern verbs – if we were to say, ‘I texted my daughter’, I mean text obviously comes from Latin… ‘I tweeted’ – we still lapse to the Anglo-Saxon. Michael Rosen And, generally when I’m speaking, just let’s do it in mathematical terms, what proportion can we say is Old English? Can we say, like, about 80% in common parlance, sorry to use a French word there? Professor Andy Orchard In speech it would be something like that – in the written language, less. They’re the basic building blocks of who we are and what we think. Neil Professor Orchard estimates that 80 percent of spoken English in common parlance comes from Anglo-Saxon. In common parlance means the words and vocabulary that most people use in ordinary, everyday conversation. Georgina So Anglo-Saxon words are the building blocks of English - the basic parts that are put together to make something. Neil He also thinks that the languages we speak shape the way we see the world. Georgina Here’s Michael Rosen and Professor Andy Orchard discussing this idea on BBC Radio 4 programme, Word of Mouth: Michael Rosen Can we say that English speakers today, as I’m speaking to you now, view the world through Anglo-Saxon eyes, through Anglo-Saxon words? Can we say that? Professor Andy Orchard Well, in Old English poetry it’s always raining and I suppose it’s always raining today. There is a retrospective element, that we’re still inhabiting that worldview, those ideas; the same words, the same simple ideas that they inhabited. And what’s extraordinary if you think about the history of English is despite the invasions by the Norse and by the Norman, and then despite the years of empire when we’re bringing things back, the English that we’re speaking today is still at its root Old English word, at its heart Old English word, still very much English. Neil Michael Rosen asks if English speakers see the world through Anglo-Saxon eyes. When we see something through someone’s eyes, we see it from their perspective, their point of view. Georgina And Professor Orchard replies by saying that despite all the history of invasion and empire, the English we speak today is still Old English at heart – a phrase used to say what something is really like. Neil Wow! So much history crammed into six minutes! And now, time for one more history fact. Georgina Do you mean your quiz question, Neil? What’s the name of the famous battle of 1066? Neil What did you say, Georgina? Georgina I said b) The Battle of Hastings. Neil Which was… the correct answer! The Battle of Hastings in 1066 played a big part in the Norman Conquest and mixing French words into the language. Georgina And I also know how the English ruler, King Harold, died – shot through the eye with an arrow! Neil Ouch! OK, let’s recap the vocabulary, some of which exists because of invasions – when one country enters and controls another. Georgina A suffix is added to the end of a word to make a new word. Neil The phrase in common parlance means using ordinary, everyday words. Georgina Building blocks are the basic parts used to make something. Neil To see things through someone’s eyes means, from their point of view. Georgina And finally, at heart is used to say what something is really like. Neil That’s all for this programme. Join us again soon at 6 Minute English but for now, ‘far gesund!’ – that’s Old English for ‘goodbye’! Georgina Far gesund!

Jun 26th
Reply

Omid Boore

Introduction What do you do if you are annoyed with your boss and your workplace is... space? In 1973, three US astronauts on board the Skylab space station had a disagreement with mission control. Neil and Georgina talk about what really happened. This week's question How did the Skylab astronauts protest to their bosses at ground control? Did they… a) pretend the radio had broken? b) stop shaving and grew beards? c) fake the results of their experiments? Listen to the programme to find out the answer. Vocabulary micromanage control every part of a situation, including small details go on strike refuse to continue working because of an argument with an employer, usually about working conditions or pay tight schedule a small amount of time to complete a job or task bossy always telling people what to do twenty-four hours a day all day and night; all the time the way to go the best method for doing a particular job Transcript Note: This is not a word-for-word transcript Neil Hello. This is 6 Minute English from BBC Learning English. I’m Neil. Georgina And I’m Georgina. Have you finished writing that report yet, Neil? Neil Err, not quite – it’s almost done. Georgina Well, finish it this morning please, then make sure you’ve planned all the studio sessions for the week and show me so I can double check, OK? Neil [Sigh] OK. Has this ever happened to you? Being micromanaged by someone? That’s what it’s called when your boss wants to control everything, down to the smallest detail. Georgina …and I notice you’ve written the report in font size 11 when I told you to use size 12! Neil [Sigh] If this keeps up I’m might go on strike. It wouldn’t be the first time someone has refused to continue working because of an argument with their boss. Georgina Hmm, maybe I’d better go easy on Neil. After all, I don’t want a repeat of what happened on the American spaceship, Skylab - the subject of this programme. Neil In 1973, three US astronauts on board the Skylab space station had a disagreement with mission control over their workload in an incident that has, incorrectly, been called the Skylab space ‘strike’. But before we find out more, let me ask you my quiz question – if that’s OK, boss? Georgina Go ahead. Neil Well, the Skylab astronauts felt they had been given too much work to complete during the space flight. But how did they protest to their bosses at ground control? Did they… a) pretend the radio had broken? b) stop shaving and grew beards?, or, c) fake the results of their experiments? Georgina I guess, a) pretending the radio had broken, would show them who’s boss – although floating in space without radio contact sounds a bit dangerous to me! Neil OK, Georgina, we’ll find out what really happened later. Now, Skylab was planned to be the fourth – and final - crewed flight to orbit the Earth. Georgina For scientists it was the last chance to test out their theories in space and the Skylab crew were asked to study everything about space travel, from its effects on the human body to how spiders make webs. Neil Here’s one of the Skylab astronauts, Ed Gibson, telling Lucy Burns, presenter of BBC World Service programme, Witness History, how they communicated with ground control: Ed Gibson We got our instructions over a teleprinter. One morning we had about 60 feet of teleprinter message to cut up and divide up and understand before we even get to work. Lucy Burns All space missions run to a tight schedule all the way down to exercise times and meal breaks but the Skylab 4 astronauts felt their ground control team was being particularly bossy. Ed Gibson I don’t know if any of you have ever had to work… do something under the conditions of micromanagement – it’s bad enough for an hour, but try 24 hours a day… we’re just not constructive that way, we’re not getting things done the way we should because we couldn’t use our own judgment. Neil With so many experiments to carry out and a limited time in space, the Skylab crew had a tight schedule - a small amount of time to finish a job. Georgina Bosses at ground control sent radio messages every morning, detailing exactly their duties for that day. They sound like real micromanagers, Neil! Neil Absolutely! Or in other words, bossy - always telling people what to do! Georgina Astronaut, Ed Gibson, wanted to use his professional judgement to complete the work, not be bossed around by ground control 24 hours a day – an expression meaning, all day and night. Neil When one of the astronauts got sick, it was decided that they would take turns talking to ground control. Georgina But one day, all three of them missed the daily radio meeting and some Nasa bosses thought they’d gone on strike! Neil In the crisis talks that followed, both crew and ground control agreed better ways of working and communicating – and less micromanagement! Georgina But the newspapers had already got hold of the story, and to this day the incident is misremembered as the ‘strike’ in space. Neil Here’s Ed Gibson again, speaking to BBC World Service’s, Witness History, on what he learned from the experience: Ed Gibson We all conclude that we learned something from it – micromanagement does not work, except when you’re in a situation that demands it like a lift-off or a re-entry… and fortunately I think that’s been passed down to the space station people and they learned that that’s the way to go. Georgina In the end Nasa agreed that trusting people to do their jobs was the way to go – the best method for doing a particular thing. Neil I told you, Georgina – no-one likes being bossed around! Georgina Including the Skylab astronauts! But was my answer correct? About how they protested? Neil Ah yes, in my quiz question, I asked how the Skylab astronauts protested to their bosses. What did you say? Georgina I thought the astronauts, a) pretended the radio had broken. Neil Ah, good guess, Georgina, but actually the answer was… b) they stopped shaving and grew beards. Unless that was just another experiment?! Georgina Let’s recap the vocabulary, starting with micromanage – control everything, down to the smallest detail. Neil If you’re bossy, you’re always telling people what to do. Georgina But be careful, because your workers might go on strike – refuse to work. Neil The Skylab astronauts had a tight schedule – a small amount of time to complete their jobs. They felt their bosses were watching them twenty-four hours a day, or all the time. Georgina But in the end, trusting people is the way to go – the best method of doing something. Neil That’s all for now, but watch this space for more trending topics and useful vocabulary, here at BBC 6 Minute English. Georgina And if you like topical discussions and want to learn how to use the vocabulary found in headlines, why not try out our New Review podcast? Don’t forget you can also download the app for free from the app store. And remember to check us out on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Neil Over and out! Georgina Bye!

Jun 25th
Reply

Omid Boore

Introduction Digital technology is dramatically improving the lives of blind people all around the world. Neil and Georgina talk about these inventions which help blind people work around their challenges. This week's question In 1842 a technique of using fingers to feel printed raised dots was invented which allowed blind people to read. But who invented it? a) Margaret Walker b) Louis Braille c) Samuel Morse Listen to the programme to find out the answer. Vocabulary assistive technology equipment and technology that help individuals with disabilities to perform functions that might otherwise be difficult or impossible obstacle object that blocks your movement because it is in your way echo-location ultrasound system used by some animals to determine the position of nearly objects by measuring how long it takes for an echo to return from the object visually impaired having a decreased ability to see that causes problems, whether disabling or not normalises treats as normal something which has not been accepted as being normal before Transcript Note: This is not a word-for-word transcript Neil Hello. This is 6 Minute English from BBC Learning English. I’m Neil. Georgina And I’m Georgina. Neil What do Homer, Ray Charles and Jorge Borges all have in common, Georgina? Georgina Hmm, so that’s the ancient Greek poet, Homer; American singer, Ray Charles; and Argentine writer, Jorge Luis Borges… I can’t see much in common there, Neil. Neil Well, the answer is that they were all blind. Georgina Ah! But that obviously didn’t hold them back - I mean, they were some of the greatest artists ever! Neil Right, but I wonder how easy they would find it living and working in the modern world. Georgina Blind people can use a guide dog or a white cane to help them move around. Neil Yes, but a white cane is hardly advanced technology! Recently, smartphone apps have been invented which dramatically improve the lives of blind people around the world. Georgina In this programme on blindness in the digital age we’ll be looking at some of these inventions, known collectively as assistive technology – that’s any software or equipment that helps people work around their disabilities or challenges. Neil But first it’s time for my quiz question, Georgina. In 1842 a technique of using fingers to feel printed raised dots was invented which allowed blind people to read. But who invented it? Was it: a) Margaret Walker?, b) Louis Braille?, or c) Samuel Morse? Sam Hmm, I’ve heard of Morse code but that wouldn’t help blind people read, so I think it’s, b) Louis Braille. Neil OK, Georgina, we’ll find out the answer at the end of the programme. One remarkable feature of the latest assistive technology is its practicality. Smartphone apps like ‘BeMyEyes’ allow blind users to find lost keys, cross busy roads and even colour match their clothes. Georgina Brian Mwenda is CEO of a Kenyan company developing this kind of technology. Here he explains to BBC World Service programme, Digital Planet, how his devices seek to enhance, not replace, the traditional white cane: Brian Mwenda The device is very compatible with any kind of white cane. So, once you clip it on to any white cane it works perfectly to detect the obstacles in front of you, and it relies on echo-location. So, echo-location is the same technology used by bats and dolphins to detect prey and obstacles and all that. You send out a sound pulse and then once it bounces off an obstacle, you can tell how far the obstacle is. Neil When attached to a white cane, the digital device - called ‘Sixth Sense’ - can detect obstacles – objects which block your way, making it difficult for you to move forward. Georgina ‘Sixth Sense’ works using echo-location, a kind of ultrasound like that used by bats who send out sound waves which bounce off surrounding objects. The returning echoes show where these objects are located. Neil Some of the assistive apps are so smart they can even tell what kind of object is coming up ahead – be it a friend, a shop door or a speeding car. Georgina I guess being able to move around confidently really boosts people’s independence. Neil Absolutely. And it’s challenging stereotypes around blindness too. Blogger, Fern Lulham, who is blind herself, uses assistive apps every day. Here she is talking to BBC World Service’s, Digital Planet: Fern Lulham I think the more that society sees blind people in the community, at work, in relationships it does help to tackle all of these stereotypes, it helps people to see blind and visually-impaired people in a whole new way and it just normalises disability – that’s what we need, we need to see people just getting on with their life and doing it and then people won’t see it as such a big deal anymore, it’ll just be the ordinary. Georgina Fern distinguishes between people who are blind, or unable to see, and those who are visually impaired – experience a decreased ability to see. Neil Assistive tech helps blind people lead normal, independent lives within their local communities. Fern hopes that this will help normalise disability – treat something as normal which has not been accepted as normal before… Georgina …so being blind doesn’t have to be a big deal – an informal way to say something is not a serious problem. Neil Just keep your eyes closed for a minute and try moving around the room. You’ll soon see how difficult it is… and how life changing this technology can be. Georgina Being able to read books must also open up a world of imagination. So what was the answer to your quiz question, Neil? Neil Ah yes. I asked Georgina who invented the system of reading where fingertips are used to feel patterns of printed raised dots. What did you say, Georgina? Georgina I thought it was, b) Louis Braille. Neil Which was…of course the correct answer! Well done, Georgina – Louise Braille the inventor of a reading system which is known worldwide simply as braille. Georgina I suppose braille is an early example of assistive technology – systems and equipment that assist people with disabilities to perform everyday functions. Let’s recap the rest of the vocabulary, Neil. Neil OK. An obstacle is an object that is in your way and blocks your movement. Georgina Some assisted technology works using echo-location – a system of ultrasound detection used by bats. Neil Being blind is different from being visually impaired - having a decreased ability to see, whether disabling or not. Georgina And finally, the hope is that assistive phone apps can help normalise disability – change the perception of something into being accepted as normal… Neil ..so that disability is no longer a big deal – not a big problem. Georgina That’s all for this programme but join us again soon at 6 Minute English… Neil …and remember you can find many more 6 Minute topics and useful vocabulary archived on bbclearningenglish.com. Georgina Don’t forget we also have an app you can download for free from the app stores. And of course we are all over social media, so come on over and say hi. Neil Bye for now! Georgina Bye!

Jun 25th
Reply

dina

I can't understand what the woman is saying ... she doesn't speak clearly

Jun 23rd
Reply

Mobina Jafari

I can't listen to any of them either

Jun 23rd
Reply

Omid Boore

Introduction Feeling happy is more important than ever right now, especially as many things seem to be out of our control. Neil and Georgina talk about what small things you can do to feel better about life. This week's question Did you know that every year the UN publishes its Global Happiness Survey revealing the happiest countries in the world? It’s based on factors like income, life expectancy and health. The Nordic countries often come in the top ten, but which country was rated the happiest in 2020? Was it... a) Iceland? b) Denmark? c) Finland? Listen to the programme to find out the answer. Vocabulary the glass is half full/empty used to say that someone has a tendency to look at situations in a positive or negative way alignment correct position in relation to something else gratitude feeling grateful, expressing thanks to another person hamster on a wheel someone involved in activities that make them busy all the time but without ever achieving anything important or managing to finish a task satisfaction the pleasure you feel when you do something you wanted to do, or get something you wanted to get hedonic treadmill the human tendency to return to the same level of happiness after something very good or very bad has happened Transcript Note: This is not a word-for-word transcript Neil Hello. This is 6 Minute English from BBC Learning English. I’m Neil. Georgina And I’m Georgina. Neil That’s a big smile on your face, Georgina! You seem happy today! Georgina I am, Neil. After all, what’s the point in seeing the glass half empty? Neil Ah, so you’re someone who tries to see the glass half full – you generally look at things in a positive way. Georgina I hope so! It may seem strange to be discussing happiness in the middle of a global pandemic but right now feeling happy is more important than ever. Neil Well then, it’s lucky that happiness is the subject of this programme, Georgina. And while many things seem to be out of our control just now, there are small things we can do to feel better about life… Georgina …to feel less stressed, and maybe even a little happier. Neil You’re talking like a Dane now, Georgina. Denmark, and in fact all the Nordic countries, are often listed as among the happiest places in the world. Georgina You know what would make me happy, Neil? – asking me a really good quiz question. Neil OK. Well, did you know that every year the UN publishes its Global Happiness Survey revealing the happiest countries in the world? It’s based on factors like income, life expectancy and health. The Nordic countries often come in the top ten, but which country was rated the happiest in 2020? Was it: a) Iceland?, b) Denmark?, or, c) Finland? Georgina Well, Neil, Denmark is famous for bacon, and nothing makes me happier than a bacon sandwich, so I’ll say b) Denmark. Neil I like your thinking, Georgina! We’ll find out the answer later, but you’re certainly right to say that Denmark is considered one of the happiest countries in the world. Georgina Malene Rydahl, author of the bestselling book, Happy as a Dane, believes that aspects of Danish culture can help us improve our chances of happiness. Neil Here she is explaining what happiness means for her to BBC World Service programme, The Conversation. See if you can hear what she thinks: Malene Rydahl Well, I think we should be seeking alignment and I think we should practise gratitude and I think that we should be more conscious about how we relate to things that happen to us and how much we compare ourselves to others… I do think that what we need to focus on is the quality of our relationships. Neil Malene also thinks happiness comes from gratitude – feeling grateful and expressing thanks to other people. Georgina She recommends finding three things, no matter how small, to be grateful for every day. Neil Like… getting a good night’s sleep, drinking a hot coffee… and having this chat with you, Georgina. Georgina Thanks, Neil, that’s put a smile on my face! It may sound strange but doing this every day can really boost your happiness levels. Neil Malene also warns against seeking happiness in external things, as you can hear in this chat with BBC World Service’s, The Conversation: Malene Rydahl If you seek happiness and you mistake it for pleasure, you will be running around like a little hamster in a wheel because it’s never enough and because you will be very quickly the victim of the hedonic treadmill… and the hedonic treadmill is… you know, you want something, you think if you’re more beautiful, if you get more power, if you get more money and fame and then you’ll finally be happy… and then you get it and you get a small satisfaction. Neil According to Malene, chasing external pleasures like money and fame will leave you feeling like a hamster on a wheel – like someone who’s always busy but never accomplishes anything useful or finishes what they start. Georgina She also says it’s easy to become a victim of the hedonic treadmill. This is the idea that humans adapt to whatever level of happiness they achieve. As we make more money, meet the perfect boyfriend or whatever we desire, our expectations also increase, so we never find the happiness we hoped we would! Neil ‘Money can’t buy happiness’, as my grandma used to say. Georgina Right. In fact, it’s probably the quality of our relationships, not external objects, that gives satisfaction – the pleasure we feel when we achieve something we wanted to. Neil Lots of useful tips there, Georgina, for feeling as happy as a Dane. Georgina A Dane, you say, Neil? So I got the correct answer? Neil In my quiz question I asked Georgina which Nordic country was rated happiest in the UN’s 2020 global survey. Georgina I guessed, b) Denmark. Neil But in fact, Georgina, it was… c) Finland. I guess their bacon sandwiches are even better! Georgina OK, let’s recap the vocabulary and start seeing the glass half full – looking at things in a positive way. Neil Happiness might be all about alignment – being in the correct relation to things. Georgina Or gratitude – being grateful and giving thanks. Neil Feeling like a hamster on a wheel means you’re always busy doing things but without getting satisfaction - the pleasant feeling of achieving something you really wanted to. Georgina Finally, the reason happiness often escapes us may involve the hedonic treadmill - the human tendency to return to the same level of happiness after something very good or very bad has happened. Neil That’s all for this programme. We hope it’s lifted your spirits and given you some useful vocabulary as well. Georgina Remember to join us again soon for more interesting topics here at 6 Minute English. And if you like topical discussions and want to learn how to use the vocabulary found in headlines, why not try out our News Review podcast? You’ll find programmes about many topics that will help to keep you entertained and learning at the same time. Don’t forget you can download the app for free from the app stores. And of course, we are on most social media platforms. Bye for now! Neil Bye!

Jun 22nd
Reply

mohammad nezarat

hello.how can I have the podcast in words

Jun 21st
Reply

Omid Boore

Introduction Many people aspire to create a happy place where everyone is cared for and nobody goes without. Rob and Georgina talk about how to create utopia. This week's question According to the 2020 United Nations World Happiness Report, which country is the world’s happiest? Is it… a) Finland? b) Singapore? c) Austria? Listen to the programme to find out the answer. Vocabulary utopia a place where everyone lives together in harmony thriving growing and successful inclusive including everyone and treating them equally mindset fixed thoughts and attitudes someone has mistreat treat someone badly or cruelly social security payment system used by governments that helps people live a reasonable life Transcript Note: This is not a word-for-word transcript Rob Hello. This is 6 Minute English from BBC Learning English. I’m Rob. Georgina And I’m Georgina. Rob In this programme we’re looking for utopia. Georgina You mean a perfect world – a place where everyone lives together in harmony. Does that kind of place exist, Rob? Rob Umm probably not, but it’s something we aspire to create – a happy place where everyone is cared for and nobody goes without. Georgina Well let me know if you find it, and I’ll head there straight away. Rob Well, one place that is trying to be like that is the Dutch city of Amsterdam. We’re going to be finding out what they’re doing with the help of some doughnuts! But first, Georgina, I have a perfect question for you! According to the 2020 United Nations World Happiness Report, which country is the world’s happiest? Is it… a) Finland? b) Singapore?, or, c) Austria? Georgina That’s tricky, but I imagine that - if only for the scenery - it’s a) Finland. Rob OK, Georgina, I’ll tell you if you are right or wrong later on. Anyway, let’s get back to Amsterdam – a city that’s doing its best to use creative ideas to be sustainable. Georgina That’s right, and it’s using the concept of a ring doughnut to use as a model for its sustainability. Economist Kate Raworth, who we will hear from shortly, describes this as “a picture of 21st Century prosperity for humanity.” Rob Now thinking of this ‘ring doughnut’ - the idea is not to leave anyone in the hole in the middle falling short on the essentials of life - but at the same time not going beyond the outer ring, because there we put so much pressure on our planetary home it can cause climate change. So, here is Kate Raworth speaking on the BBC World Service programme, People Fixing the World, talking about how Amsterdam is trying to fit into this ‘doughnut’ approach… Kate Raworth, Economist Amsterdam has started with a goal of saying we want to be a thriving, inclusive, regenerative city for all residents while respecting planetary boundaries - that's like saying we want our city to live in the doughnut. And that changes how you build - you don't bring in more new raw materials from across the other side of the world - you say, right, how do we re-use the construction materials that are already in our city to build new buildings? […] How do we change the way that people travel? Start asking very different questions from the outdated economic mindset that they were taught before. Rob Interesting stuff from Kate Raworth there. The people of Amsterdam are trying to live within the doughnut! Their aim is to live and look after each other without harming the planet. It’s a big aim – but they want their city to be thriving – so growing and being successful. Georgina And it wants to be inclusive – including everyone and treating them equally. This is beginning to sound like utopia, Rob! To achieve this, Kate talked about using locally-sourced materials for building and thinking about how people travel around – basically making it a sustainable city. Rob It’s about people thinking differently and not doing things in the same way they’ve always been done. It involves changing the way people think, or their mindset. Georgina Another idea from the Netherlands that fits the doughnut model is the making of recycled jeans. The People Fixing the World programme visited a company where old jeans were mixed with new organic cotton to make new ones. Rob The new ones might not be affordable for everyone, but they do reduce cotton production and the use of chemicals and water. The process creates jobs too. Georgina Well, let’s hear from Bert van Son, CEO of Mud Jeans. Listen to why he tries to work within the doughnut model… Bert van Son, CEO, Mud Jeans If you take the doughnut economy and you see the insides of the circles - if you break that boundary, mistreat people, and you have people making your jeans but they don’t have any social security, or any liberty, or any medical care, those kind of things, you will never be able to make nice jeans - it has to become human again, making clothing. Rob Bert van Son sees the benefit of the doughnut economy by treating people fairly and with respect – the opposite is to mistreat. He thinks they should have things such as social security – a payment system by governments that helps people live a reasonable life. Georgina And he says you can’t make ‘nice’ jeans without being human – he doesn’t just mean being a person, but being someone with compassion, feelings and respect for others. Rob Umm, all this from a doughnut! Hopefully this will lead to a happier city and country. But for now, what is the happiest country in the world, Georgina? Georgina Yes, you asked me earlier, according to the 2020 United Nations World Happiness Report, which country has been named the world’s happiest? And I said Finland. Come on, make me happy and tell me I am right! Rob Well happily, you are correct. Well done. Finland is top of the list for the third year in a row, with Denmark coming in second. But before you head off there, we need to recap some of the vocabulary we’ve discussed today. Georgina Of course. We’ve been discussing utopia - a perfect place where everyone lives together in harmony. Rob Thriving describes something that is growing and successful. And inclusive means including everyone and treating them equally. Georgina We also mentioned mindset. That describes the fixed thoughts and attitudes someone has. Rob To mistreat someone is to treat them badly or cruelly. Georgina And social security is a payment system by governments that helps people live a reasonable life. Rob OK, well that’s all for this programme. We’ll see you again soon for more trending topics and vocabulary here at 6 Minute English. Bye for now! Georgina Bye!

Jun 20th
Reply

Omid Boore

Introduction Covid-19 has been responsible for more than two million deaths globally. Over a year on since the first outbreak, what have we learnt? Neil and Georgina look back over the situation and see how our knowledge has changed. This week's question Do you know approximately, how many people were infected by the major virus known as Spanish flu? Was it… a) 5 million? b) 50 million? c) 500 million? Listen to the programme to find out the answer. Vocabulary pandemic disease that affects many people around the world take hold become stronger and is difficult to stop wimpy feeble or not very strong sheer great or significant kicks in starts to happen genome the full amount of genetic information of something Transcript Note: This is not a word-for-word transcript Neil Hello. This is 6 Minute English from BBC Learning English. I’m Neil. Georgina And I’m Georgina. Neil In this programme we’re talking about something the whole world knows about – coronavirus. Georgina Sadly, Covid-19 has been responsible for more than two million deaths globally. Neil What’s believed to have started in the city of Wuhan in China went on to become a pandemic – a disease that affects many people around the world. Georgina Unsurprisingly, we’ve discussed this a lot on 6 Minute English but over a year on since the first outbreak, it’s good to take stock – or look back over the situation and see what we have learnt - and find out how our knowledge has changed. Neil Before we do that, Georgina, let’s test your knowledge with a question. In 1918/1919 another major virus known as Spanish flu, swept across the world. Do you know approximately, how many people were infected by it? Was it… a) 5 million b) 50 million, or c) 500 million? Georgina Well, I know it was bad, so I’m going for the awful number of 500 million. Neil OK, I’ll reveal the right answer later on. Now, back to the current coronavirus pandemic. It was only at the end of December 2019 when reports of a new flu-like infection first came out of China. Within weeks, millions of people were in lockdown as the virus took hold around the world. Georgina Took hold means it became stronger and was difficult to stop. We all had to change the way we lived to stop it spreading. But while we played our part by washing our hands, wearing masks and staying at home, some people were busy working for a solution to fight this deadly virus. Neil You’re talking about the scientists, Georgina. Their response was immediate and it’s something the BBC World Service programme Science in Action has been reflecting on. Georgina At the beginning of the outbreak, Jenny Rohn, a virologist from University College London, spoke to the programme about her concerns if the virus turned out to be like flu. Here’s what she said… Jenny Rohn, virologist, University College London Seasonal flu is a huge killer and you’ve probably seen the numbers, it makes the Wuhan virus look a bit wimpy, that’s simply because of the sheer number of people that flu infects every year. And if the Wuhan virus started spreading like that and going all over the world, you would see a lot of people dead. This is why people are worried. Neil So we know flu is a virus that can spread easily and can affect many many people. This is why, at the time, comparing it with the new coronavirus made Covid look ‘wimpy’ – that’s a word to describe something or someone that’s feeble - not very strong. Georgina Yes, Jenny called the great or significant numbers of people affected by flu as sheer numbers. The fear at the time was if coronavirus spread like flu, it would kill many people. Neil Well, we all know what happened next – it did spread. But, working behind the scenes, scientists developed tests we could use to see if we were infected. Georgina But the main challenge was to develop a vaccine that could stop us becoming infected altogether. This involved people around the world working together to share information. Neil This work started straight away and Dr Peter Dazak, Zoologist and President of EcoHealth Alliance, told the Science in Action programme that this initial response in China helped with the development of a vaccine… Dr Peter Dazak, Zoologist and President of EcoHealth Alliance Despite what everyone says, you know, they had a system to find unusual pneumonia cases. We now think that that system kicked in, maybe not on the first actual case of Covid, but certainly within a couple of months of the first case, it seems. So that’s quite quick. And then from that point, to actually getting a full genome, genetic sequence of the virus, was very quick – and getting that published and publically available – and then rapidly developing diagnostic tests and vaccines now – that’s really worked well. Neil So China had a scientific system which kicked in – or started happening – quite quickly. Within a few months of the first coronavirus outbreak, experts began to work out the full genome of the virus – that’s the full amount of genetic information of something. Georgina This genetic information was made publically available and helped towards the development of various vaccines that we see now – which is hopefully our way out of this pandemic. Neil Let’s hope so, Georgina. The science is amazing and is explained in more detail in the BBC’s Science in Action programme. But now let’s get back to our quiz question. Earlier I asked you how many people were infected by Spanish flu back in 1918/1919? Georgina I guessed 500 million. Was I right? Neil You were, Georgina. An incredible 500 million people around the world were infected by the Spanish flu virus and over 50 million people died worldwide. Georgina Well, the death toll from coronavirus hasn’t been that bad, but is still a significant number. Neil OK, well we’ve just time to recap some of the vocabulary we’ve discussed today. Starting with pandemic – a disease that affects many people around the world. Georgina When something took hold, it means it became stronger and was difficult to stop. Neil The word wimpy describes something or someone that’s feeble or not very strong. Georgina Something that is sheer is great or significant – so sheer numbers means a great amount of something. Neil When something kicks in it starts to happen. Georgina And a genome is the full amount of genetic information of something. Neil Well, we’re out of time but there’s lots more 6 Minute English programmes to enjoy on our website at bbclearningenglish.com. Georgina And if you like topical discussions and want to learn how to use the vocabulary found in headlines, why not try out our News Review podcast? You’ll find programmes specifically about Covid-19 and lots of other interesting topics. Remember we also have an app that you can download for free from the app stores. And of course, we are on most social media platforms. Neil Thanks for listening and goodbye. Georgina Goodbye.

Jun 20th
Reply

mohsen saeedi

Vocabulary initially at first - in the beginning neutral not controlling / not taking any action to control anonymity the state of having a hidden identity or personality ameliorate make a situation better to tweak to make a small change kudos praise and appreciation for something someone has done Transcript Note: This is not a word for word transcript Rob Hello welcome to 6 Minute English. I'm Rob. Neil And I'm Neil. Rob Can you remember the first time you ever used the World Wide Web or as we often call it, the internet, and what you used it for? Neil Oh that's a good question. I do remember. And nothing really changes does it? Because I looked up pictures of cats! Rob Cats! Very useful, anyway do you think the internet has generally been positive or negative for the world? Neil Wow, that's a big question. A huge question. I don't know if I can answer that. Rob Well one person who perhaps can answer it, is the man who invented it: British computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee. We'll find out what he thinks has become of his 'child' shortly but before that, a question for you all. When did Berners-Lee first suggest the idea for what would become the World Wide Web? Was it in... a) 1985 b) 1989 c) 1991 Neil Tricky but I think it's earlier than people think so I'm going to go for 1985. Rob Well that was a long time ago but we'll reveal the answer a little later in the programme. I think it's true to say that the internet has been one of, if not the most important technological developments perhaps of all time. Would you agree Neil? Neil Well it's hard to imagine living without it. Not impossible, but not nearly as convenient. Rob These days we take the internet for granted. We share our lives on social media and not just with friends and family. And that isn't always a positive thing according to the father of the internet, Tim Berners-Lee. In a recent BBC Tech Tent programme he talked about his concerns with the internet and particularly the companies that control its information. Companies which he calls 'internet giants'. What does he say he thought these companies had to do? Tim Berners-Lee Initially I felt the main thing an internet giant had to do was just to be neutral, just be a platform and humanity, once connected by technology, will do wonderful things. And clearly it doesn't work like that. If you connect humanity via Wikipedia then they do produce, in general, wonderful things. If you connect people by social network where they have anonymity, then it can bring out the very nastiest of people. Rob So what did he say he thought these internet giants had to do? Neil He said that he thought initially, that they just had to be neutral. Initially means 'at first', 'in the beginning' and it also suggests that later he changed his mind. Anyway, he said that he thought they just had to be neutral. Neutral here means that they didn't need to do anything, they didn't need to control the internet or information. He thought it would be a tool to connect people and ideas and information and it would be wonderful. Rob But it's not all good, is it? Neil No. He does say that giving people access to sources of information is generally a good thing but that when it comes to social networks, social media, people have anonymity. Rob Anonymity? Neil Yes. It means that on the internet people can hide their true identity or personality. Some people write things that they would never say to someone in person because they think there will be no consequences. Berners-Lee says anonymity can bring out the nastiest side of people. People saying horrible and terrible things to each other. Rob Berners-Lee does have some suggestions for how this could be changed. And it's based on the idea of likes and shares, which he calls kudos. What's his suggestion? Tim Berners-Lee The different social networks and different platforms are in different situations and in some cases they have acknowledged there is an issue. I think they realise that the issue could be hugely ameliorated by tweaking the way the thing works by changing the way retweets are propagated or changing the way people get kudos - give them more kudos for being constructive for example. Rob So how does he think companies could address the problem? Neil Well, he says that some of the social networks have agreed that there is a problem and they know what could improve it. Rob He didn't use the word improve though, did he? Neil No he actually used the rather formal verb ameliorate, which means 'to improve or make something better'. Rob So how does he suggest the problem could be ameliorated? Neil By tweaking the way in which people give or receive kudos. Tweaking means 'making a small change to the way something works'. Much of what happens on the internet is driven by our desire to get likes and shares – this is the kudos that Berners-Lee talks about. He feels that tweaking this could lead to a better experience. For example, getting more kudos for constructive or positive actions. Rob Mmm, interesting – but I wonder who would decide if something is constructive? Neil Well that's another big question for another day, I guess. Rob For now though, let's have the answer to our small question. In what year did Berners-Lee present the idea for what would become the World Wide Web? The options were a) 1985, b)1989 or c) 1991. It was infact 1989. Now before we go let's have a quick recap of today's vocabulary. Neil Initially – means 'at first - in the beginning'. Then we had neutral. Rob In this case it meant 'not controlling' or 'not taking any action to control'. Neil Then there was the noun anonymity which is the state of having a hidden identity or personality. Rob Next, to ameliorate a situation is to make it better. Neil To tweak something is to make a small change to the way something works. Rob And then we had kudos. Kudos is praise and appreciation for something you've done. Neil Well kudos to you Rob for today's programme. Thank you very much. Rob Well, thank you Neil and thank you everyone for listening. That's all we have today but you can, find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, and of course our website bbclearningenglish.com! Bye for now. Neil Thanks for joining us and goodbye.

Jun 19th
Reply (1)

Omid Boore

Introduction The act of singing is a very complex skill, involving a huge number of processes in our bodies and brains. Neil and Georgina discuss singing and how it’s not essential to sing in tune to benefit from doing it. This week's question What is the meaning of ‘karaoke’? Is it... a) machine voice? b) angry cat? c) empty orchestra? Listen to the programme to find out the answer. Vocabulary tone-deaf unable to sing tunes accurately or recognise different notes vocal cords pair of folds in the throat that move backwards and forwards when air from the lungs moves over them larynx organ between the nose and the lungs that contains the vocal cords; otherwise known as the voice box vibration continuous and quick shaking movement stress response the human body's reaction to anything that disturbs its internal balance, for example pain, infection, fear or exercise keep it up! used to encourage someone to continue doing something Transcript Note: This is not a word-for-word transcript Neil Hello. This is 6 Minute English from BBC Learning English. I’m Neil. Georgina And I’m Georgina. Neil [Singing badly] DO, RE, MI, FA, SOL, LA, TI, DO ! Georgina Neil! What are you doing?! Please stop! Neil Oh, hi Georgina! I’m practising my singing. I’m going to do virtual karaoke tonight with some friends! Georgina Karaoke?! – really, Neil?! I heard you singing at the Christmas party and to be honest I think you might be tone deaf – you know, you can’t sing in tune. Neil Me? Tone deaf?! I’m a nightingale! Listen: DO RE MIIII ! Georgina Between you and me, I think Neil is a bit tone deaf! Wait until I tell him singing is the subject of this programme. Neil I heard that, Georgina! And I’m glad this programme is about singing because I love it and what I lack in ability, I make up for in enthusiasm! Georgina I’m sure your karaoke buddies would agree with you, Neil. Neil That reminds me of my quiz question, Georgina. As you know, I love karaoke - meeting up with friends to sing the words of our favourite pop songs over a musical backing track. Karaoke was invented in Japan and its name is a combination of different Japanese words – but what words? What is the meaning of ‘karaoke’? Is it: a) machine voice?, b) angry cat?, or, c) empty orchestra? Georgina Well, after listening to you sing, Neil, I’m tempted to say b), angry cat, but that would be mean, so I’ll guess, a) machine voice. Neil OK, Georgina. I’ll take that as a compliment. But however good - or bad - my singing may be, there’s no doubt that the act of singing itself is a very complex skill, involving a huge number of processes in our bodies and brains. So what happens physically when we sing a musical note? Georgina Usually something unexpected in your case, Neil! So here’s Marijke Peters, presenter of BBC World Service programme, CrowdScience, to explain exactly what happens when we open our mouths to sing. Neil Listen out for the different body parts Marijke mentions: Marijke Peters Vocal folds, also called vocal cords, are crucial here. They’re two flaps of skin stretched across your larynx that vibrate when you sing and create a sound. The pitch of that sound, how high or low it is, depends on the frequency of their vibration, so if you want to hit the right note they need to be working properly. Georgina Important body parts needed to sing include the vocal cords - a pair of folds in the throat that move backwards and forwards when air from the lungs moves over them. Neil The vocal chords are stretched over the larynx - also known as the voice box, it’s the organ between the nose and the lungs containing the vocal folds. Georgina Singing is similar to what happens when you play a guitar. The vocal cords act like the guitar strings to produce a buzz or vibration – a continuous and quick shaking movement. Neil They vibrate over the larynx which, like the body of a guitar, amplifies the sound. Georgina So why do some people (Neil!) find it hard to sing in tune? Is it because they cannot physically reproduce sounds? Or because they hear sounds differently from the rest of us? Neil Well, according to psychology professor, Peter Pfordresher, it’s neither. He thinks that for poor singers the problem is generally not in the ears or voice, but in their brains – specifically the connection between sound perception and muscle movement. Georgina So there’s no hope for you? Neil Not necessarily. Here’s Professor Pfordresher encouraging the listeners of BBC World Service’s, CrowdScience: Peter Pfordresher I think there’s reason for you to be hopeful and however accurate or inaccurate your singing is, one recommendation I would have for you is to keep singing because there is evidence that singing itself, whether accurate or inaccurate, has benefits socially and also for stress responses, so good reason for you to keep it up! Georgina Whether you’re tone deaf or pitch perfect, there’s lots of evidence for the health benefits of singing. Neil For one, singing strengthens your stress responses. Otherwise known as ‘fight or flight’, stress responses are the human body’s reaction to external threats that cause an imbalance, for example pain, infection or fear. Georgina From operatic Pavarottis to enthusiastic karaoke fans, Professor Pfordresher thinks singers should keep it up – a phrase used to encourage someone to continue doing something. So, Neil, maybe you should keep singing, after all! Neil You’ve changed you tune, Georgina! Maybe you’d like to come with me to karaoke next time we’re allowed out? Georgina Hmm, I think some practice would be a good idea, but first let’s return to the quiz question. You asked me about the meaning of the Japanese word karaoke… Neil Right. Does karaoke mean, a) machine voice, b) angry cat, or c) empty orchestra? What did you say? Georgina I said a) machine voice. Neil Which was… the wrong answer! Karaoke actually means c) empty orchestra, or in other words, music that has the melody missing. Georgina Well, that’s better than an angry cat, I guess! Let’s recap the vocabulary starting with tone deaf – a way to describe someone who cannot sing in tune or hear different sounds. Neil Like playing a guitar string, singers use their vocal cords – a pair of folds in the throat that are stretched over the larynx, or voice box, another part of the throat, to produce a sound vibration - a quick, shaking movement. Georgina No matter how good or bad a singer you are, singing is good for your stress responses – the ‘fight or flight’ mechanism your body uses to regain inner balance. Neil So no matter what Georgina thinks about my singing, I’m going to keep it up – a phrase used to encourage someone to continue their good performance. Georgina That’s all from us. Keep singing and join us again soon at 6 Minute English. Don’t forget we also have a free app you can download from the app stores. Bye! Neil Goodbye!

Jun 19th
Reply

Meead

Vocabulary metaphor way of describing a person or thing by comparing it to something else, often found in poetry and literature It's raining cats and dogs! (idiom) It is raining heavily! chunk a large part of something rote learnt by memory in order to be repeated rather than properly understood automated done by machines instead of humans flummox confuse someone so much that they don't know what to do

Jun 18th
Reply

Meead

Vocabulary tsunami large wave caused by an earthquake that flows inland causing death and destruction handicrafts skilfully handmade traditional objects like jewellery, textiles and pottery vulnerable unprotected, weak, open to harm food security the ability of a country to produce or obtain enough food to feed its population heartbreaking causing a strong feeling of sadness get back on your feet be OK again after having problems or difficulties in life You'll find more 6 Minute English programmes on our website. Transcript Sam Hello. This is 6 Minute English from BBC Learning English. I'm Sam. Rob And I'm Rob. Sam What do Britain, Greenland, Australia, Hawaii, and Cuba all have in common, Rob? Rob Are you planning your summer holidays, Sam? Or is it that they're all islands? Sam Right, Rob, they are all islands, but that's about all they have in common. There's as much variety in the world's islands as in the people who live there! Rob In tourist holiday magazines, Pacific islands like Fiji, Tonga and Tahiti look like paradise, with tropical rainforests, white, sandy beaches and turquoise blue sea. But in reality, life is far from paradise for these island communities. In 2022, the island of Tonga suffered a tsunami - a huge wave caused by an earthquake that flowed inland, killing people and causing largescale damage. The destruction was terrible and added to the continuing crisis of rising sea levels threatening the island's survival. Sam In this programme we'll be hearing some Pacific islander voices and, as usual, learning some new vocabulary too. But first I have a question for you, Rob. We already named some islands, large and small, but how much of the world's population, do you think, lives on an island? a)11 percent b)15 percent c)20 percent Rob Ooh, that's a tricky question! It can't be that many, so I'll guess a) 11 percent. Sam OK, Rob. I'll reveal the correct answer at the end of the programme. The South Pacific is home to thousands of low-lying islands dotted across miles of Pacific Ocean. With rising sea levels, it's predicted that many of these islands will simply disappear in coming years. Rob And if that wasn't bad enough, the effects of climate change are making life difficult for these island communities right now. The tsunami that hit Tonga left the main island, Tonga Tarpu, in ruins. One of those leading the clean-up was, Ofa Ma'asi Kaisamy, manager of the Pacific Climate Change Centre. She told BBC World Service programme Business Daily the extent of the problem. Ofa Ma'asi Kaisamy The projected impacts of climate change on agriculture and fisheries will undermine food production systems in the Pacific. Our Pacific people are also dependent on crops, livestock, agriculture, fisheries, handicrafts for food security and income, and these sectors are also highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Sam The economy of many islands like Tonga depends on tourism, farming or fishing, and on handicrafts - skilfully making traditional objects like jewellery, textiles or pottery by hand. These are usually sold to tourists, but when tsunamis keep the tourists away, local jobs become vulnerable - unprotected and open to damage. Rob This affects not only handicrafts, but Tonga's ability to produce enough food to feed its population, something known as food security. Sam As the effects of climate change hit the local economy, young people are leaving Tonga to find work elsewhere. Tonga Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship is a project working with local organisations to help young people start businesses and find jobs. Here's project director, Lusia Latu-Jones, speaking with BBC World Service's Business Daily: Lusia Latu-Jones It can be emotional, very emotional and heartbreaking to see what's happening in our island… but it's even harder when you see young people coming through… just looking, looking for chance to help their families, for them to get on their feet again. So the question we ask ourselves as an organisation is how can we address these challenges to better support our people so that they can get back on their feet, feed their families. Rob We can hear the emotion in Lusia's voice when she describes the situation facing young Tongans as heartbreaking - causing strong feelings of sadness. Sam She says her role is to help people get back on their feet, an idiom which means be able to function again after having difficulties in life. Rob The many problems Tongans face are made worse by perhaps the biggest problem of all - the fact that poverty, hunger and the loss of their traditional culture is being caused by the carbon emissions of larger countries halfway around the world. If we all learned to adapt our lifestyle, just as Pacific islanders have done, it may not yet be too late to change the fate of their island paradise. Sam And the fate of the millions living on other islands too, which reminds me of my question, Rob! Eleven percent of us are islanders, which works out as over 730 million people. Rob OK, let's recap the vocabulary from this programme starting with tsunami - a very large wave that flows inland causing death and destruction. Sam Many islanders produce handicrafts - handmade traditional objects like jewellery, textiles and pottery. Rob Someone who is vulnerable is weak or unprotected. Sam The phrase food security refers to a country's ability to produce enough food to feed its population. Rob When something is heartbreaking, it makes you feel very sad. Sam And finally, to get back on your feet means to be okay again after having difficulties in life. Rob Once again our six minutes are up! Goodbye for now. Sam Bye!

Jun 18th
Reply

Meead

Sam Hello. This is 6 Minute English from BBC Learning English. I'm Sam. Neil And I'm Neil. Sam Sleep - we all need it - some more than others. I can usually get by with around seven hours a night but I do like to have a nap - a short sleep - in the afternoon, when I'm not working of course. How about you, Neil? Neil I'm always tired and as soon as my head hits the pillow, I'm out like a light - meaning I go to sleep very quickly. Sam Well, Neil, you might not survive in South Korea then. Apparently, it's one of the most stressed and tired nations on earth - a place where people work and study longer hours and get less sleep than anywhere else. We'll find out more later and teach some sleep-related vocabulary. Neil But before we do, you need to give me a question to keep me awake and alert! Sam Of course I do, and here it is. In the 1960s, American man, Randy Gardner, set the world record for staying awake for the longest period. Do you know what that time was? Was it: a) 64 hours b) 164 hours, or c) 264 hours? Neil All sound impossible but I'll guess a) 64 hours - that's nearly 3 days! Sam Oh, well. I'll give you the answer later in the programme - assuming you don't doze off! But let's talk more about sleep now. As I mentioned, we all need it to help our mind and body rest and relax. And going without sleep - or sleeplessness - is bad for our health. Neil Many things can stop us sleeping and some of them are pressure, anxiety and stress caused by your job. And in South Korea research has shown it's become increasingly difficult to switch off - stop thinking about work and relax. South Koreans sleep fewer hours and have higher rates of depression and suicide than almost anywhere else. Sam Se-Woong Koo has been reporting on this for the BBC World Service Documentary podcast. He met one worker who explained why she never got time to relax. Se-Woong Koo, BBC reporter Separating work and rest time has been a recurring issue for Ji-an - in her last job her office hours were long. Like most Korean firms, her employer didn't think about any boundaries. They encroached on almost all her time. Korean office worker They told me 'you need to be contactable 24/7' - there will always be someone from work reaching out to me, like needing to get something done right now. Even just thinking about it, I get really agitated. Sam So, that stressed out worker got agitated just thinking about the situation - she got worried or upset. That's because office hours in South Korea are long and some employers expect their workers to be contactable all the time. Neil Yes, there are no boundaries - so no limits or rules about when employers can contact their employees. Therefore, as this employee said, work encroached - it gradually took over - her leisure time. Stress like this can lead to insomnia - a condition where you are unable to sleep. Sam The BBC Discovery podcast goes on to explain that offering a cure for this sleeplessness has become big business. There are sleep clinics where doctors assess people overnight, and sleep cafes that offer places to nap in the middle of the working day. Neil One other issue in South Korea that's affecting sleep is the 'bali bali' culture, meaning 'quickly, quickly' or 'hurry, hurry'. People are constantly in a rush. Sam Doctor Lee spoke to the World Service's Discovery podcast about the effects of this and how even trying to take medication to help sleep, has its problems. Dr Lee People take like, ten or twenty pills per one night, and because they cannot fall asleep even with the medication, they drink alcohol on top of that, and they experience side-effects of the medication. People can sleepwalk, and go to the refrigerator, eat a lot of things unconsciously - uncooked food, and they don't remember next day. There were cases of car accidents in the centre of Seoul which has been sleepwalking patients. Neil So, some people are taking lots of pills to help them sleep but they're not working so they're drinking alcohol as well. This leads to side-effects - unpleasant and unexpected results from the medication. Sam It seems, one of these side-effects is sleepwalking - moving around and doing things while still asleep. Neil Well, if sleeping pills aren't working, there's always meditation - or working less. Sam At least South Koreans are getting some sleep, unlike Randy Gardner who I asked you about earlier. Neil Yes, he holds the record for staying awake the longest. And I thought he stayed awake for 64 hours. Was I right? Sam No, Neil. Not long enough. Randy Gardner stayed awake for an incredible 264.4 hours - that's 11 days and 25 minutes - in January 1964. Neil That's one record I really don't want to beat. Sam Well, before you nod off Neil, let's recap some of the vocabulary we've been discussing, including go out like a light, which means you go to sleep very quickly. Neil When you switch off you stop concentrating on one thing and start thinking about something else. Sam A lack of sleep or rest can make you agitated - you get worried or upset. Neil Encroach means gradually take over. Sam When you take medication and it gives you an unpleasant and unexpected result, we call these side-effects. Neil And sleepwalking describes moving around and doing things while still asleep. Sam That's our six minutes up. Goodbye and sweet dreams! Neil Goodbye!

Jun 18th
Reply

Meead

Neil Hello. This is 6 Minute English from BBC Learning English. I'm Neil. Sam And I'm Sam. Neil How's your week been, Sam? Sam Oh, you know, quiet - I haven't done much or been anywhere - so, it's been a bit boring. Neil I know that feeling - when nothing exciting happens, it can lead to boredom - the state of feeling little excitement or enthusiasm, often because you've got nothing to do. But Sam, there is some good news - boredom can be good for you. Sam Tell me more! Neil I will but not until I've set you a question to answer. A survey by British newspaper The Mirror, found Peter Willis to be 'the most boring man in Britain'. What 'boring' hobby did he have that earned him that title? Was it…?a) Collecting train numbers - that's train spotting,b) Taking photos of letterboxes, orc) Driving around roundabouts of the UK. Sam Wow - they all sounds deadly boring - but I imagine taking photos of letterboxes is the most boring - perhaps? Neil Well, as usual, I will give you the answer at the end of the programme. But, as you say, we might die of boredom following those hobbies - a phrase that expresses how extremely bored you are. Sam But not for everyone - boredom depends on your state of mind - some of us might find something boring while others might it fascinating. Neil True. But let's talk about feeling bored when we have nothing to do - not even trainspotting! Having nothing to do, or doing the same task again and again, can certainly be demotivating. But according to Sandi Mann, who was speaking on the BBC World Service's The Why Factor programme, being bored doesn't have to be boring - it can be good for us… Dr Sandi Mann, Psychology lecturer, University of Central Lancashire It's this emotion everyone thinks is so negative but there's a real positive to it too, there's a real upside to it. We become more creative, so for example, being bored allows our mind to wander, allows us to daydream, and that can actually lead us to problem solving and creativity. I fear that by swiping and scrolling our boredom away these days, that we're losing that creativity because we've got so much to entertain us - but it seems that the more we have to entertain us, the more bored we seem to be! And there's a reason for that - and that's because we actually get addicted to stimulation and to novelty. Neil Some interesting thoughts from Sandi Mann there. She says that there's an upside to boredom - that means a positive side to a bad situation. And that is, it can make us more creative. Sam That's because when we have nothing to do, we allow our minds to wander. We can think freely, which might help us solve problems. This can't happen when, as Sandi says, we swipe and scroll our boredom away - referring to the movements we make on smartphones. Neil Yes, and it's smartphones we turn to for entertainment when we are bored - it gives us stimulation - it activates or enriches the mind. And it gives us something new, unusual and different to look at - what we can call novelty. Sam I'm sure many of us look at our phones when we are in a queue or sitting on a bus - just to prevent being bored - but it seems we should just sit and think. Let's take inspiration from Manoush Zomorodi - an author and host of the Zig Zag podcast. Here she is speaking on The Why Factor programme, explaining that it takes effort but it's worth it…. Manoush Zomorodi, author and podcaster We think, who wants to be bored? What an awful sensation that is. And I think that the issue is with mind-wandering, you don't immediately get to roses and chirping birds, and amazing creative thinking - there is this uncomfortable period that you have to pass through where maybe you start thinking about things you don't want to think about or uncomfortable situations or unpleasant feelings that you have, that's why boredom I think has negative connotations 'cos we feel uncomfortable - but when we stick with it that's when the good stuff can come. Neil So, we might think boredom as an awful sensation - or feeling - because that's when we start focussing on negative things. Manoush thinks that's why we have negative connotations with boredom. Sam A connotation is an emotion connected to a word. But if we work through the bad stuff and stick with it, amazing creative thinking can happen - as Manoush says 'the good stuff can come'. Neil So, basically, don't think of boredom as being boring! However, could this adjective be applied to the hobby that Peter Willis - the most boring man in Britain - does? Sam Ah yes, Neil, you asked me what that hobby is. And I said he took photos of postboxes. Was I right? Neil Yes, you were! Congratulations. The former postman dreams of taking a photo of all of Britain's 115,000 postboxes. Sam Well, good luck to Peter. I didn't realise there were so many postboxes in the UK! So, we've been talking about the benefits of boredom today - boredom is the state of feeling little excitement or enthusiasm. Neil We mentioned the phrase to die of boredom which we use to express how extremely bored we are. Sam But boredom has an upside, which means it has a positive side to a bad situation. Neil We heard the word stimulation which means activates or enriches the mind. And novelty which describes something that is new, unusual or different. Sam And we described a connotation - that's an emotion connected to a word. Neil Well, I hope you haven't been bored listening to us! Goodbye for now! Sam Bye!

Jun 18th
Reply

Omid Boore

Introduction Many people choose to, or have to work as a freelancer to survive, but is it worth the risk? Rob and Georgina talk about the advantages and disadvantages of freelancing. This week's question Back in the 19th Century, what kind of job was 'a drummer'? Was it … a) someone who played the drums? b) a travelling salesman? c) a music publicist – who drums up – meaning encourages, support for a band? Listen to the programme to find out the answer. Vocabulary drum up increase or encourage support or sales for something freelance work for yourself, selling your skills or services to different businesses petrifying frightening, so you can’t speak or move self-sabotage having doubts and fears that stop you achieving something fulfilment good feeling of achieving something for yourself financial freedom able to control how you earn and use your money Transcript Note: This is not a word-for-word transcript Georgina Hello. This is 6 Minute English from BBC Learning English. I’m Georgina. Rob And I’m Rob. Georgina Rob, what’s the best job you’ve ever had? Rob Err well, this one, of course! It’s very creative, with lots of variety. Georgina OK, any other reasons? Rob Well yes – it’s a permanent job - a staff job - with regular income and a pension. Georgina Yes, these things can be important, but have you ever been freelance – by that I mean, working for yourself and selling your skills and services to different businesses? Rob Well, I worked as a paperboy once – delivering newspapers. But not really – it’s a risky way to earn an income. Georgina It can be Rob. But many people choose to, or have to work as a freelancer to survive. And that’s what we’re talking about in this programme. But let’s start with a question for you, Rob. Rob OK. Georgina This is about job titles – back in the 19th Century, what kind of job was a drummer? Were they… a) someone who played the drums? b) a travelling salesman?, or, c) a music publicist – who drums up – meaning encourages, support for a band? Rob Well, it’s got to be someone who plays the drums – that’s my kind of job. Georgina OK, Rob, we’ll find out if that’s right at the end of the programme. But let’s talk more about work now. Long gone are the days of a job for life, where you spent your adult life working your way up the career ladder at the same company. Rob Yes, that’s right. We work in many different ways now because the needs of businesses change frequently and it needs to be agile – changing the size and type of work force in order to meet demand. Georgina So, people need to adapt and some choose to work for themselves, offering their skills to different businesses as and when they are needed. But it can also be a lifestyle choice, as we’re about to find out. Rob Yes, some people have chosen to become self-employed – working for themselves - but also, because of the recent coronavirus pandemic, some people have been forced into this situation. Let’s hear from Carla Barker, who set up her own business after giving up her regular job. She told BBC Radio 4’s programme You and Yours how she felt… Carla Barker You know the idea of giving up a solid, permanent, full-time, paid, comfortable, role is a bit petrifying… It is super-scary because … you then have that fear of ‘oh my goodness can we do this’? You also have things creeping in that say you know like self-sabotage – are you good enough to do this? Are people going to want to take me on as a business? Georgina So, Carla decided to go it alone – an informal way of saying work for herself. She described giving up a full-time job as petrifying – so frightening you can’t speak or move. She may have been exaggerating slightly but she also said it was ‘super-scary’! Rob I guess working for yourself must be scary as you’re solely responsible for your own success. It’s no surprise Carla had feelings of self-sabotage – having doubts and fears that stopped her achieving something. Georgina Luckily, she persisted and things went well. And many other people who have become self-employed or freelance have overcome the fear and discovered the benefits. Rob Like Fiona Thomas, who’s the author of a book called ‘Ditch the 9 to 5 and be your Own Boss’. She also spoke to the BBC’s You and Yours programme and explained why she gave up the 9 to 5 – the regular, full-time staff job – and how it helped her… Fiona Thomas, Author A kind of combination of wanting some creative fulfilment from a job, compared to the job that I was in before, which was very much customer based and working face-to-face in hospitality. But I also wanted the flexibility to accommodate my mental health because I suffer from depression and anxiety and I found working in a rigid schedule and being in front of a lot of people all the time really exacerbated a lot of my symptoms. And I also wanted the financial freedom to be able to, over time, increase my income without just having to wait on being promoted or getting a pay rise in traditional employment. Georgina So, working for herself gave Fiona a good feeling that she achieved something she wanted to do – it gave her creative fulfilment. It also meant she could work more flexibly and that helped her with her mental health because she didn’t have to follow a fixed rota of tasks. Rob And it gave her financial freedom – meaning the money she earned was not controlled by someone else, and she didn’t have to wait for someone else to give her a pay rise. Of course, that can be risky too. Georgina Let’s get back to my quiz question now, Rob. Earlier I asked you if you knew what job a drummer used to do back in the 19th Century? Rob And obviously, a drummer plays the drums! Georgina Well, you are sort of right but a drummer also used to be an informal way of describing a travelling salesperson – because their job was to drum up business for a company – meaning they tried to increase sales. Rob Ahh very interesting, although I know which drummer I would rather be – a freelance drummer in a rock band! Georgina And freelance is one of the words we’ve mentioned today. To freelance means to work for yourself, selling your skills or services to different businesses. Rob Becoming self-employed can be petrifying – frightening, so you can’t speak or move. And starting out on your own can lead to self-sabotage – having doubts and fears that stop you achieving something. Georgina But it can also give you fulfilment – a good feeling of achieving something for yourself. Rob And having financial freedom means being able to control how you earn and use your money. Georgina That’s it for this programme. We have plenty more 6 Minute English programmes to enjoy on our website at bbclearningenglish.com. And check us out on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Bye for now. Rob Goodbye.

Jun 14th
Reply

Omid Boore

Introduction Can a woollen hat make a difference when you are cold? Every winter someone might tell you to put one on to save your body from losing all of its heat. But how much heat do you actually lose from your head? Rob and Georgina talk about percentages and teach you some English vocabulary. This week's question According to the ‘Cold Weather Survival’ chapter of the US army field guide, how much heat is lost in the cold through an uncovered head? Is it: a) 30 to 35%?, b) 40 to 45%? or c) 50 to 55%? Listen to the programme to find out the answer. Vocabulary popular myth something believed to be true by many people but which is actually not true surface area total area of the outer surfaces of an object heat loss measurement of the total heat transferred away from something through its surface insulation material used to stop heat from escaping in order to keep something warm resting not moving or doing anything active; in a state of rest core temperature body’s internal temperature, including the heart, other vital organs and blood Transcript Note: This is not a word-for-word transcript Rob Hello. This is 6 Minute English from BBC Learning English. I’m Rob. Georgina And I’m Georgina. Rob Brrr! It’s freezing cold outside today, Georgina! Make sure you wrap up warm. Georgina I’ll put my woolly hat on. When I was growing up I was told that you lose half your body heat from your head. Rob Oh, don’t believe that, Georgina! It’s just a popular myth – you know, something people think is true which actually isn’t – like ‘bulls get angry when they see the colour red’, or ‘goldfish only have a three-second memory’. Georgina Oh… I thought red really did make bulls angry! But you’re right, there is some disagreement over the age-old question: should I wear a hat when it’s cold outside? Rob In this programme, we’ll be asking how much body heat we lose from our head and discovering that a simple answer isn’t so easy to find. But first, it’s time for my quiz question. And let’s start by asking someone who knows all about surviving in the cold – the US army. According to the ‘Cold Weather Survival’ chapter of the US army field guide, how much heat is lost in the cold through an uncovered head? Is it: a) 30 to 35%?, b) 40 to 45%? or c) 50 to 55%? Georgina You might say it’s just a popular myth, Rob, but I still think half your body heat is lost from the head, so I’ll say c) 50 to 55%. Rob OK, Georgina – we’ll come back to that later. Anyway, whichever answer is correct, the US army obviously thinks a large percentage of body heat escapes through the head. But that may not be the whole picture. Georgina Over the years, experiments to measure body temperature in the snowy wastelands of Canada and Alaska have given wildly different results - mostly because of variations in the methods used, for example, whether the volunteer’s head was covered or not, and whether they were dry or submerged in water. Rob So maybe the US army’s view is out of date. And here’s some surprising information that Tim Harford, presenter of BBC World Service programme, More or Less, found after a quick search on Google: Tim Harford The head accounts for about 7% of the body surface area and the heat loss is fairly proportional to the amount of skin that’s showing. Georgina A human body’s surface area means the total area of skin on its outer surfaces – that’s the head, chest - or torso, plus the arms and legs. Rob According to this view, heat loss – meaning the total amount of heat transferred away from something through its surface, is proportional to body surface area. In that case, a 50% heat loss from the head - which only makes up 7% of the body’s surface area – seems like an overestimation. Georgina In the 1950s, other military experiments were carried out in Canada on soldiers wearing artic warfare clothing – the kind of super-warm thermal clothes you might wear in sub-zero temperatures – but with nothing to cover their heads. Rob Here’s professor of physiology, Mike Tipton, taking up the story with BBC World Service programme, More or Less: Professor Mike Tipton The question was: how important is the head… to also provide some equipment, a hat or some form of insulation. And in that scenario of course, when you’ve got insulation over much of the rest of the body preventing heat loss, then obviously the percentage of heat loss from the head is going to be high… and at minus 4 degrees Celsius, it amounted to about half of the resting heat production of the body. Rob Here the soldiers’ bodies were protected with insulation – thick material used to stop heat from escaping. Georgina Since their heads were exposed to the cold, around half of their body heat escaped that way when resting - not moving or doing anything active. Rob And so the idea that half your body heat is lost through the head slowly become a popular myth. Georgina But before you throw your woolly hats in the bin, there’s another consideration to bear in mind; one that concerns your core temperature – that’s the internal temperature inside your body, including the blood, heart, and other vital organs. Rob When the head is allowed to get cold and the body is well insulated, the body’s core temperature drops rapidly due to the circulation of blood. Georgina Wow! This question really is blowing hot and cold – now I have no idea how much heat is actually lost from the head! Why don’t you just tell me the answer, Rob? Rob OK then. Well, in my quiz question I asked how much heat the US army guide says is lost through the head. Georgina I guessed, c) 50 to 55%, or roughly one half. Was I right? Rob Well, you were warm, Georgina… but not right. In fact the army field guide says, b) 40 to 45% … but as we’ve seen in this case, cold facts are hard to come by. Georgina Let’s recap our vocabulary then, because we’re still not sure if wearing a hat to keep warm is just a popular myth - something people believe to be true but which actually is not. Rob It seems that heat loss – the total heat transferred away from something, is linked to the surface area or total area of the body’s outer surfaces when exposed to the cold. Georgina But wearing insulation – material used to stop heat from escaping, may change the body’s resting temperature – its temperature when not moving and at rest… Rob …and also affect your core temperature – your body’s internal temperature, including the heart and blood. Georgina That’s all for this programme. Remember to wrap up warm for the winter… Rob And maybe pop a woolly hat in your pocket to wear, just in case! See you again soon for more trending topics and vocabulary here at 6 Minute English. Bye for now! Georgina Bye!

Jun 13th
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Omid Boore

Introduction Henrietta Lacks made an amazing contribution to medical research which has only recently been recognised. Rob and Georgina discuss her remarkable story. This week's question Do you know what other medical breakthrough happened in 1921? Was it... a) the discovery of insulin? b) the discovery of penicillin? c) the discovery of vitamin E? Listen to the programme to find out the answer. Vocabulary in vitro fertilization technique for women who cannot become pregnant naturally in which an egg is fertilized outside her body and the resulting embryo replaced in her womb figure out understand or solve something; work out workhorse someone who does a large amount work, especially dull or routine work scourge something that causes much trouble or suffering unwitting done without knowing or planning centenary the 100th anniversary of an important event Transcript Note: This is not a word-for-word transcript Rob Hello. This is 6 Minute English from BBC Learning English. I’m Rob. Georgina And I’m Georgina. Rob What do Vincent Van Gogh and Galileo Galilei have in common, Georgina? Georgina Hmm… their first name and last names both start with the same letter? Rob Well, that’s true… but another similarity is their amazing contributions – to art and science - were only recognised after their death. Georgina I know another person whose huge contribution to science went unrecognised during her lifetime, Rob, but unlike Van Gogh or Galileo, you probably haven’t heard of her. She’s the subject of this programme. Rob Henrietta Lacks was a young, black, American mother who died of cancer in Baltimore in 1951. Although she never consented to her tissues being used for medical research, doctors at the time found her cells to have an extraordinary ability to replace themselves endlessly. Georgina Named ‘HeLa cells’ after her initials, Henrietta Lacks’ tissue helped make possible all sorts of medical breakthroughs, from the polio vaccine to cancer drugs, to HIV and IVF treatments. Rob Born one hundred years ago, in 1920, the great-great-granddaughter of slaves, Henrietta and her cells continue to provide medical discoveries to this day… Georgina …most recently, of course, in the race for a coronavirus vaccine. Rob But before we go on, Georgina, it’s time for my quiz question. I mentioned that Henrietta Lacks was born one hundred years ago, but do you know what other medical breakthrough happened in 1921? Was it: a) the discovery of insulin?, b) the discovery of penicillin?, or, c) the discovery of vitamin E? Georgina I’ll say, a) the discovery of insulin. Rob OK, Georgina, we’ll find out if that’s right later on. Now, it was Henrietta’s biography by science writer, Rebecca Skloot, that brought her remarkable story to the world’s attention a decade ago. Georgina Here is Rebecca Skloot, explaining Henrietta’s importance to BBC World Service programme, The Forum: Rebecca Skloot So much of science is based on growing cells in culture which started with her cells. In vitro fertilization – that started with the ability to grow embryos in culture which you can do in part thanks to her cells so the list just goes on and on, and right now people are often asking how are HeLa cells helping with Covid. […] Scientists worked that out very quickly using her cells… they figured out what the receptor looks like and they did the same thing with HIV… so her cells are just this incredible workhorse that is at the base of so much science. Rob Doctors used Henrietta’s cells to figure out – or understand, how cells reproduce and divide – knowledge that was vital in developing in vitro fertilization, or IVF, a technique for women who cannot become pregnant naturally, in which an egg is fertilized outside the body. Georgina Our bodies are made of millions and millions of cells and to understand how they work we need to grow them in a lab. No-one had succeeded in doing this until Henrietta’s extraordinary cells which just grew and grew. Rob This resulted not only in new fertility treatments, but later in AIDS and cancer breakthroughs, which is why Rebecca refers to HeLa cells as a workhorse, meaning someone who does a lot of work. Georgina But perhaps Henrietta’s greatest legacy of all was the vaccine for polio. Here’s professor of genetics, Sir John Burn, talking to BBC World Service’s, The Forum: Sir John Burn Henrietta would have particularly liked the announcement this year that polio vaccine had led to the eradication of polio in Africa – so the centenary of her birth it seems rather symbolic that her unwitting contribution to medicine eventually eradicated that scourge of mankind. Georgina John Burn calls polio a scourge, meaning something causing much pain and suffering. Rob Henrietta’s role in eradicating this terrible disease is all the more remarkable as she was never asked permission to use her cells for research, and it’s taken decades for the Lacks family to win their grandmother the recognition she deserves. Georgina That’s why John Burn calls Henrietta’s contribution unwitting – it was made without her knowledge or consent. Rob And with the eyes of the world now focused on vaccines for the coronavirus, this year is a symbolic time to celebrate her centenary - the one hundredth anniversary of an important event. Georgina Henrietta Lacks - a remarkable woman whose name is finally making its way into the history books. But something else remarkable happened one hundred years ago, didn’t it, Rob? Rob Ah yes, you mean my quiz question. I asked you which important medical breakthrough occurred one hundred years ago, in 1921. Georgina I said, a) the discovery of insulin. Rob Which was… the correct answer! Discovered by Canadian doctor Frederick Banting, insulin saved the lives of millions of diabetics. Georgina And on that healthy note, let’s recap the vocabulary from this programme, starting with in vitro fertilization, or IVF – a medical technique for women who cannot become pregnant naturally. Rob Henrietta’s HeLa cells helped doctors figure out - or understand - a lot about how cells grow and led to so many medical discoveries we might call them a workhorse – something which works extremely hard. Georgina A scourge means something that causes much pain and suffering, like the terrible diseases which Henrietta’s unwitting, or unknowing, contribution helped eradicate. Rob Making 2021 a year of hope and the perfect time to celebrate the centenary of her birth – its one hundredth anniversary! Georgina We hope this upbeat programme has been just what the doctor ordered. Rob Remember to join us again soon at 6 Minute English. Bye for now! Georgina Goodbye!

Jun 12th
Reply

Omid Boore

Introduction Telling stories is a powerful way to connect and communicate with people - they help us make sense of the world. Neil and Georgina talk about storytelling and why we’ve been telling them to each other for millennia. This week's question Which of the following well-known folk tales is a ‘defeating the monster’ story? Is it... a) Beowulf? b) Beauty and the Beast? c) Goldilocks and the Three Bears? Listen to the programme to find out the answer. Vocabulary folk tales stories that parents have told and passed on to their children over many years universal related to all people or things in the world tap into understand, connect to and express something such as people’s beliefs or attitudes wish-fulfillment achievement of things you really want and desire ramble talk in a confused way, often going off the subject or not making much sense get to the point start talking about what is most important and relevant Transcript Note: This is not a word-for-word transcript Neil Hello. This is 6 Minute English from BBC Learning English. I’m Neil. Georgina And I’m Georgina. Neil Let me tell you a story, Georgina. Are you ready? Georgina Yes! Neil Grandma had always warned me not to look into the mirror at midnight. There was something strange about that mirror, she said. How childish – to believe silly stories! Later that night I heard a noise. I woke up, dark and alone. A clock chimed midnight. The floorboards were creaking as I walked towards the mirror. I looked into my face reflecting in the glass, when suddenly - my eye winked! Georgina Agh, stop Neil! You’re scaring me! Neil Oh sorry, Georgina! OK, let’s try another story: Once upon a time there was a beautiful servant girl who lived with her wicked stepmother and two jealous stepsisters… Georgina Ah, that’s better, Neil, and I know this story – Cinderella – more romantic and much less scary! Neil As you can see from Georgina’s reaction, telling stories is a powerful way to connect and communicate with people - and the topic of this programme. Georgina Stories help us make sense of the world, which is why we’ve been telling them to each other for millennia – and why some of the earliest folk tales – stories that parents have told and passed on to their children over many years – are still being told today. Neil According to the novelist Sandra Newman, and other academics, there are seven classic plotlines which are constantly being recycled into new stories. They include ‘rags to riches’ plots, like Cinderella… Georgina ‘Defeating the monster’ plots, like Dracula… Neil …and other plots such as ‘comedies’, ‘adventures’ and ‘tragedies’. So, my quiz question is this: which of the following well-known folk tales is a ‘defeating the monster’ story? Is it: a) Beowulf? b) Beauty and the Beast? or, c) Goldilocks and the Three Bears? Georgina Well, they all have beasts, bears or wolves in the title, so I’ll guess b) Beauty and the Beast. Neil OK, Georgina, we’ll come back to that later. It’s interesting to ask how we can explain the lasting appeal of these classic plotlines. Someone who might know is anthropologist and writer, Professor Jamie Tarani. Georgina Here he is talking to BBC World Service’s, The Why Factor. See if you can spot his answer. Jamie Tarani Often the reason why we feel so motivated to pass on stories is because the stories do tap into certain universal human fantasies and fears that will often transcend the concerns of particular times and places. We are intensely moralistic – most of the time, the bad guys have unhappy endings and the good guys have happy endings. We know that in the real world it doesn’t actually work like that so there’s an element of wish-fulfillment that somehow satisfies our moral appetite. Neil Stories from very different cultures often have plots with similar fantasies and fears. These human emotions are universal, meaning they exist everywhere and relate to everyone in the world. Georgina Classic stories work because they tap into basic human emotions – they understand and express what it means to be human. Neil Unlike in the real world, stories can reinforce our sense of morality - evil stepmothers get punished, Cinderella marries her prince and everyone lives happily ever after. In this way they create wish-fulfillment – the achievement of what we really want and desire. Georgina Well, so much for plotlines, Neil, but that still doesn’t explain how stories have the power to catch and hold our attention. Neil Let’s hear from novelist Sandra Newman, author of How Not To Write a Novel – a handbook of over 200 common mistakes. Georgina Here she tells BBC World Service’s, The Why Factor, that her absolute number one storytelling rule is comprehensibility – people need to understand your story. Sandra Newman There are some people who actually are so unfortunately bad at communicating that even when they tell a story to another person it becomes incomprehensible. And gradually as they stop making sense and ramble and digress and don’t know where they’re going, you see everybody not only lose interest but become hostile – people become very frustrated when someone is not getting to the point. Neil According to Sandra, the biggest mistake is incomprehensibility or not understanding the plot because the storyteller is rambling – talking in a confused way, going off the subject or not making sense. Georgina When listeners give a story their time and attention, they want the storyteller to get to the point - start talking about the most important and relevant information. Neil But to cut a long story short, Georgina, it’s time to return to the quiz question. Remember I asked you which famous folk tale had a ‘defeating the monster’ plot. What did you say? Georgina I said the answer was b) Beauty and the Beast. Was I right? Neil Your answer was… Georgina Oh, do get to the point, Neil! Neil …wrong! In fact, the answer is, a) Beowulf - an Old English epic about the hero, Beowulf, who defeats dragons and beasts. Georgina Well, Neil, there are two sides to every story, as the saying goes. So, let’s recap the vocabulary we’ve learned, starting with folk tales – popular stories that have been told and passed down over generations. Neil Many folk tales contain universal ideas – ideas which exist everywhere, in every age and culture. Stories tap into these ideas, meaning they understand, connect to and express them. Georgina Wish-fulfillment means the achievement or realisation of things you really want and desire. Neil A good storyteller will never ramble - talk in a confused way, often going off the subject or not making much sense. Georgina And instead will get to the point - start talking about what is most important and relevant. Neil That’s all we have time for, but remember to join us again soon for the inside story on trending English topics and vocabulary, here at 6 Minute English. Bye for now! Georgina Goodbye!

Jun 11th
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Yousef bjl

transcript Rob Hello. This is 6 Minute English from BBC Learning English. I'm Rob. Sam And I'm Sam. Rob, I'm writing a letter to a friend in Spain and I need some help. Do you know the Spanish for, 'it's raining'? Rob Don't worry, I have this new app… I just hold up my phone, scan the word I want translated, uh, 'esta lloviendo', is the Spanish for, 'it's raining'. Sam Amazing! In this programme we're discussing language technologies - computers that can translate between languages. Modern software like Google Translate has transformed how we learn foreign languages, bringing us closer to a world where language is no longer a barrier to communication. But how well do these computers know what we really mean to say? Rob Later we'll find out exactly what machines can and can't translate, and, as usual, we'll be learning some new vocabulary as well. But first I have a question for you, Sam. The translation app I used just now is very recent, but there's a long history of computer mistranslations - times when computers got it badly wrong. In 1987, the American airline, Braniff, ran television adverts promoting the all-leather seats installed on their flights to Mexico. But how was its "fly in leather" advertising slogan mistranslated into Spanish? a)fly in lava b)fly on a cow c)fly naked Sam Hmm, I have a feeling it might be, c) fly naked. Rob Ok, Sam. I'll reveal the correct answer later in the programme. Computer software used to rely on rules-based translation, applying the grammar rules of one language to another. That worked fine for simple words and phrases, but what happens when a translator comes across more complex language, for example metaphors - expressions used to describe one thing by comparing it to another. Sam Lane Greene is a language journalist and the author of the book, Talk on the Wild Side. Here he explains to BBC Radio 4 programme, Word of Mouth, how apps like Google Translate allow users to manually translate metaphors: Lane Greene If I say, 'it's raining cats and dogs' and it literally translates, 'esta lloviendo perros y gatos' in Spanish, that won't make any sense, but I think somebody at Google will have inputted the phrase, 'lueve a cántaros' which is the phrase, 'it's raining pitchers', or 'it's raining jugs of water', so that the whole chunk, 'raining cats and dogs', is translated into the equivalent metaphor in Spanish. Rob Lane wants to translate the phrase, it's raining cats and dogs, something that people sometimes say when it's raining heavily. Sam It wouldn't make sense to translate this phrase into another language literally, word by word. One solution is to translate the whole idiom as a chunk, or a large part of text or language. Rob This works for phrases and idioms that people regularly use in the same way because they can be taught to a computer. But what happens when someone like a poet writes a completely new sentence which has never been written before? Lane Greene thinks that even the smartest software couldn't deal with that, as he told Michael Rosen, poet and presenter of BBC Radio 4's, Word of Mouth: Michael Rosen …if a poet writes a new one then the machine is not going to pick it up, and it's going to have a struggle, isn't it? Sorry, I'm sticking up for poetry here and trying to claim that it's untranslatable - can you hear what I'm doing? Lane Greene I hear you, and in a war against the machines, our advantage is novelty and creativity. So you're right that machines will be great at anything that is rote, anything that's already been done a million times can be automated. So you and I with our pre-frontal cortexes can try to come up with phrases that'll flummox the computer and so keep our jobs. Sam When we say machines "learn" a language, we really mean they have been trained to identify patterns in millions and millions of translations. Computers can only learn by rote - by memory in order to repeat information rather than to properly understand it. Rob This kind of rote learning can be easily automated - done by machines instead of humans. But it's completely different from human learning requiring creative thinking which would flummox - or confuse, even the most sophisticated machine. Sam Bad news for translation software, but good news for humans who use different languages in their jobs - like us! Rob Yes, if only Braniff Airlines had relied on human translators, they might have avoided an embarrassing situation. Sam Ah, in your question you asked how Braniff's television advertisement "fly in leather" was translated into Spanish. I guessed it was mistranslated as "fly naked'. Rob Which was… the correct answer! Braniff translated its "fly in leather" slogan as fly "en cuero," which sounds like Spanish slang for "fly naked". Sam OK, let's recap the vocabulary from this programme about language translations which are automated - done by machines instead of humans. Rob Often found in poetry, a metaphor is a way of describing something by reference to something else. Sam When it's raining heavily you might use the idiom, it's raining cats and dogs! Rob A chunk is a large part of something. Sam Rote learning involves memorising information which you repeat but don't really understand. Rob And finally, if someone is flummoxed, they're so confused that they don't know what to do! Sam Once again our six minutes are up! Join us again soon for more trending topics and useful vocabulary here at 6 Minute English. Goodbye for now! Rob Bye!

Jun 11th
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