Thursday, May 31, 2012

Large US Manufacturers Plan to Return Jobs to Americans

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. manufacturer (n.) – a person or a company that uses machines to make large amounts of goods or products  
Example: Honda is one of the world’s largest automobile manufacturers.

2. executive (n.) – someone whose job is to run the company or to manage and direct other people in the company
Example: The executives are in charge of deciding the company’s goals and long-term plans.          

3. plant (n.) – a factory or a building where goods are produced
Example: The class toured an auto plant to see how cars are made.

4. de facto (adj.) –existing in fact or reality but not officially accepted
Example: He is the de facto group leader, even though other group members do not recognize him as their leader.

5. recession (n.) – a period in which economy is down, and many people do not have jobs
Example: Jobs are hard to find during a recession, as many businesses stop hiring to save money.

Read the text below.

A survey says many large US-based manufacturers are open to the idea of moving production back to the US.

The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) surveyed 106 US-based manufacturing executives and found that 48% of companies with over 10 billion USD in earnings are considering “re-shoring” or moving operations back to their home country.

With wages in China now rising, the country is losing its low-cost advantage. The US, on the other hand, is considered by some companies to be a de facto low-cost country, because of its high unemployment rate.

US wages are also usually lower than the wages in Western Europe and Japan. As a result, even European and Japanese companies are likely to export from US plants.

Two million US manufacturing jobs were lost during the 2007-2009 recession. BCG thinks that if the cost of manufacturing in the U.S. becomes equal or lower than in other countries, up to 3 million manufacturing jobs could be created in the U.S. by 2020.

But if the value of the US dollar suddenly rises, then “re-shoring” might slow down. Others say investments in plants overseas are still growing and that re-shoring is not common.

Furthermore, there is still a big lack of skilled people in the US who can do manufacturing jobs. Manufacturing executives say emphasizing science, technology, engineering and math in schools might solve the problem.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·          What advantages does a company have if it manufactures products in its home country?
·         What do you think about products made in your country compared to products made from other countries?

Discussion B

·         What subjects do schools emphasize or treat as important in your country? (e.g. math, science, etc.) Why are these subjects important to learn?
·         Will focusing on these subjects help people get the most in demand or needed jobs in your country? Please explain your answer.


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

TV Networks Use “Comedy” to Attract More Viewers and Advertisers

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. up front (adv.) – (informal) in advance
Example: We bought our tickets up front because we thought they would sell out quickly.

2. sitcom (n.) – a funny skit based on daily life situations
Example: She was laughing the whole time while watching her favorite sitcom.

3. cable (adj.) – refers to the paid-for service where TV channels are delivered through cables and not by broadcast transmission
Example The cable TV package I bought lets me watch over a hundred cable channels.

4. outpace (v.) – to surpass or be greater in performance
Example:  New and exciting TV shows outpace old ones in terms of number of viewers.

5. outlook (n.) –  possible future of something or someone
Example: Businessmen fear the negative outlook on the economy.

Read the text below.

In preparation for their fall TV show lineup, US broadcast television networks focused on presenting new comedy shows to advertisers to attract younger viewers.  

From May 13 to 17, networks hosted “upfronts” or meetings in which executives promoted new shows and program schedules to advertisers. Upfronts allow advertisers to choose and buy commercial slots for programs up front, even months before the shows air.

The four largest broadcast networks—ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC—plan to produce more comedies than dramas this year. Currently, 46 comedies and 35 dramas are under development.

Analyst Brad Adgate from Horizon Media says that comedies have better chances of being selected by advertisers because sitcoms are more popular among the 18-49 age groups. Such groups are the same target audiences of most advertisers.

Furthermore, comedies help bring younger audiences to broadcast networks like CBS, whose average viewer is aged 55.

Experts believe that the major broadcast networks, may have gained between $9.0 billion and $9.2 billion from total upfront sales. Because of recent negative outlook on the economy, however, upfront sales were lower compared to last year.

Competition has also been tougher for broadcast networks recently. Several cable networks are already outpacing some traditional networks. Experts estimated a $9.6 billion to $9.8 billion worth of upfront sales for cable networks this season.

The online video industry, on the other hand, held its own advertisement selling meetings called “newfronts.” Companies like YouTube, Yahoo and AOL are promoting their market share of young audiences to attract advertisers.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         Why do you think comedy shows are popular among young people?
·         What do you think will be the effect of increasing comedy shows on TV? Do you think it would be good to have more comedy shows? Why or why not?

Discussion B

·         Aside from comedy, what shows do you think are popular among young people lately?
·         If you were an advertiser, what kinds of programs would you choose for your commercials? Please explain your answer.


Climate Change in Greenland Boosts Tourism

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. coverage (n.) 
[kuhv-er-ij, kuhv-rij] – (in Journalism) the act of reporting news  through newspapers, television, or any other form of media
Example: The TV station’s coverage of the disaster helped raise donations for the flood victims.
2. climate change (n.) [klahy-mit][cheynj] – a lasting change in the earth's weather patterns
Example: The increasing strength of typhoons over the years is believed to be due to climate change.

3. attraction (n.) [uh-trak-shuhn] – an interesting activity, place or thing that people want to see or experience
Example: Beach resorts are popular attractions in the Philippines.

4. agenda (n.) [uh-jen-duh] – a list of things to do or consider
Example: The president’s agenda includes discussions about improving the economy through tourism.

5. cup of tea (idiom) [kuhp][uhv, ov][tee] – something one enjoys or does well
Example: As a lover of the arts, attending the opera is her cup of tea.

Read the text below.

Media coverage of climate change has brought much attention to Greenland recently, as temperatures rise and ice melts in the country. But despite the situation, the same attention is also attracting more tourists.

Greenland gets about 30,000 cruise visitors a year, four times the number of cruise visitors it had ten years ago. This is a lot for a country where the local population in 2011 totaled 56,615. 

Over 80% of Greenland is covered in ice. But the country’s ice caps and glaciers are melting faster than expected.  

The issue of climate change is even part of Greenland Tourism and Business Council’s agenda. GTBC, however, assures visitors that there is still plenty of ice to see, though its amount is certainly declining. 

But while Greenland’s tourism industry has benefited from the increase in media attention, Anders la Cour Vahl of GTBC says the country’s tourism industry is still small, and more people must be encouraged to visit.

Greenland’s major tourist attractions are ice and wildlife such as polar bears and whales, but these attractions, as well as the cold weather, may not be everyone’s cup of tea.

On the other hand, Keya Chatterjee of the World Wildlife Fund says there is no certainty as to what may happen to the ice in the future. She believes Greenland and other areas facing the impact of climate change have to plan ahead. Local economies that depend on tourism have to start creating other attractions and developing different sources of income.  

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A 

·         How do you think your local environment or community has been affected by climate change?
·         Do you think that people should be worried by the effects of climate change? Why or why not?
Discussion B

·         Would you like to try visiting Greenland or a country with a lot of ice?  Please explain further.
If you were to travel, what kind of attractions would you like to see or do?


Monday, May 28, 2012

UK Study Says Mobile Phones Are Safe to Use

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. tumor (n.) 
[too-mer, tyoo-] – an abnormal growth of cells in a part of the body
Example: The patient had an operation to remove the tumor in his brain.

2. infertility (n.) [in-fur-tl] – the condition of being unable to produce children
Example: The couple went to the doctor to be checked for signs of infertility.

3. exposure(adj.) [ik-spoh-zher] – (in health) the state of being open to receive the effects of something (usually harmful)
ExampleExposure to the sun for a long period damages the skin.

4. stand by (idiom) [stand-bahy] – to show support for something; to insist on a decision
Example: The government will stand by its promise to improve healthcare.

5. wary (adj.) [wair-ee] –cautious of something because of distrust or lack of confidence
Example: The patient was wary with the young doctor’s advice.

Read the text below.

A study about the safety of communication gadgets in the UK asserts that using mobile phones is not dangerous to people’s health.

The safety review, made for the Health Protection Agency (HPA), looked at data from hundreds of researches and found no connection between mobile phones and cancer, brain tumors or infertility.

The review is the largest study so far concerning the possible health risks of mobile phones. .

The researchers say exposure to radiation cannot be avoided because technology is now very much a part of daily life. There are more than 80 million mobile users in the UK alone. Technological advances in television, radio, and wi-fi also further increase people’s contact with low-level radio frequency.

However, Anthony Swerdlow, the leader of the review team, says that even though the review found no evidence that proves mobile phones are dangerous, more studies need to be done in the future. Mobile phones became popular only around 15 years ago; therefore their long-term effects on people are still unknown.

In spite of such positive findings, HPA stands by its previous advice for children to lessen use of mobile phones. Dr. John Cooper, the head of HPA’s center for radiation, chemical and environmental hazards, says mobile phones may still be considered new technologies, and users should continue to be wary of these devices.

In the meantime, the HPA is also requesting for additional research on the health risks of other new technologies, such as airport security scanners.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         Do you think people will stop using mobile phones if they learn phones can really cause health problems? Why or why not?
·         Aside from possible effects on health, how else can mobile phones affect people?

Discussion B

·         Do you think children should be allowed to use mobile phones? Why or why not?
·         What are the advantages and disadvantages of younger generations growing up with so much technology?


Sunday, May 27, 2012

US Engineers Test Building’s Strength Against Earthquakes

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. story (n.) 
[stawr-ee, stohr-ee]  – a floor or level of a building
Example: Mori Tower is a 54-story building in Roppongi Hills.

2. base (n.) [beys] – the bottom or lowest part of an object
Example: The base of a pyramid is larger than its tip.

3. full-scale (adj.) [fool-skeyl] – having the same size as the original or real thing
Example: A full-scale model of the Eiffel Tower can be seen in Las Vegas.

4. mock (adj.) [mok] – something that looks like or works like the real thing
Example:   Engineers performed mock crash tests on new cars to find out the cars’ strength.

5. superficial (adj.) [soo-per-fish-uhl] – very minor, affecting only the surface
Example: The bike that scratched the car caused only superficialdamage to the car’s paint.

Read the text below.
In California, engineers have tested a 5-story hospital on top of a giant “shake table” in order to see how well buildings with rubber bearings can survive against earthquakes.

Rubber bearings are placed in the base of a building and act like roller skates, separating the building from the shaking ground during an earthquake.  Because of this action, rubber bearings are also called “base isolators”. In Japan, where earthquakes happen frequently, buildings are commonly fitted with these rubber bearings.

The test is the first in the US to place a full-scale building on a shake table, which is a large structure that can imitate the movements of earthquakes. The inside of the building is also just like a real hospital, with medical machinery, an elevator, stairs, computers, and other electrical devices.  

During the test, the mock hospital was subject to motions similar to Los Angeles’ 6.7-magnitude earthquake in 1994 and Chile’s 8.8-magnitude earthquake in 2010.

Results of the first test showed that the contents of the building remained complete and functional. Damages were also mostly superficial.

Engineering professor Tara Hutchinson said the machines inside the building kept working even after the test. According to her, if the machines were actual life-support systems connected to patients, many lives would have been saved thanks to the bearings.

The test will be repeated over the next weeks, but without base isolators. The results will then be directly compared to determine if there is a difference in the amount and kind of damage between buildings with and without rubber bearings.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         Would you say that your country is well-prepared for earthquakes? Why or why not?
·         How can the government and the people improve on their ability to deal with disasters?

Discussion B

·         What are the benefits of conducting mock tests like one mentioned in the article?
·         Can you think of other mock tests that would personally benefit you or other people?


Saturday, May 26, 2012

Charity Group Encourages Free Access to Scientific Research

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. journal (n.) 
[jur-nl] – a magazine that contains reports from experts of a specific field
Example: Doctors keep themselves updated by reading medical journals often.

2. hand over (v.) [hand-oh-ver] – to give
Example: Before I was fired, my boss told me to hand over my I.D.

3. subscribe (v.) [suhb-skrahyb] – to pay money to a company in order to receive their publications (newspapers, magazines, comics, etc.) regularly
Example: He decided to subscribe to Time magazine so that he could receive a copy every week.

4. peer (n.) [peer] – a person with a similar status or condition as others (in terms of age, social status, school level, or qualifications)
Example:  He is well-liked by his peers in school because of his friendly personality.

5. follow in somebody’s footsteps (idiom) [fol-oh][in][suhm-bod-ee, -buhd-ee, -buh-dee][foot-step] – to follow what somebody else has done
Example: Apple’s iPad was so popular that other companies started to follow Apple’s footsteps and create their own tablets.

Read the text below.

One of the world’s largest research charity groups, WellCome Trust, will be launching an online journal called eLife in support of open access to research.

As an open access journal, eLife will allow anybody to view its scientific research articles for free over the Internet.

Currently, if scientists wish to present researches to the public, they usually hand over their work to private publishers. However, people can only access the researches by subscribing to the publishers’ journals.

Many scientists believe this limitation is slowing down the rate at which new discoveries are made.  Additionally, scientists think it is unfair that data from publicly funded research is available only to people who can pay.

So far, 9,200 scientists have said that they will boycott giving researches to one of the biggest private publishing companies, Elsevier. Scientists have posted their support for the boycott on the website Cost of Knowledge, which was put up just for the protest.

Other scientists worry open access journals may have low quality articles. But Robert Kiley of WellCome Trust says that the quality of work will not change just because a journal is free. He argues that even some paid-for journals have low quality.

Meanwhile, Graham Taylor, a director at Britain’s Publishers’ Association, suggests that private publishers may already be in the process of creating open access journals. WellCome Trust itself hopes eLife could encourage paid-for journals to follow in its footsteps.

It may take time, however, before open access becomes an accepted way of publishing scientific research. Only around 50% of scientists have agreed to publish their works in open access journals.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

·         Do you agree that scientific research should be available to everybody for free? Why or why not?
·         Can you think of some types of information that should not be made available to everybody on the Internet?  Why should these not be published?

Discussion B

·         Have you ever subscribed to any journal magazine or newspaper? If yes, what was it about? If no, have you ever thought about subscribing to one? Why or why not?
·         Would you say that the money people spend on buying or subscribing to journals is well-spent? Why or why not?


Friday, May 25, 2012

Marathon Organizers Warn Runners of Intense Heat

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

fit (adj.) 
[fit] – in good physical condition
Example: Athletes undergo regular medical check-up to make sure they are fit to play.

2. scorching (adj.) [skawr-ching] – very hot
 Example: Our family goes to the beach every summer to escape the scorching heat.

3. sit out(v.) [sit][out] – to not participate
Example: Because of her injury, she decided to sit out the dance competition.

4.  forgo (v.) [fawr-goh] – to give up something
Example: No one wanted to forgo his lunch to attend the training.

5. stamina (n.) [stam-uh-nuh] – physical strength that lasts for a long time
Example:  Soccer players train to develop stamina since a game lasts for 90 minutes.

Read the text below.

At the Boston Marathon held in April 17, more runners than usual were treated for medical reasons, after the scorching heat proved too much for the participants in the 26.2-mile course.

About 2,100 runners were given medical treatment, including 152 people who were taken to hospitals due to complications from the heat. During the race, temperatures reached above 80 degrees Fahrenheit or 30.5 degrees Celsius.

Days before the marathon, organizers encouraged only the fittest runners to run this year’s race, as high temperatures were already expected.

Runners with medical issues, such as heart and breathing problems, cough or cold or a recent stomach virus were asked to sit out this year’s marathon.  The organizers warned participants to be extra careful to avoid heat stroke.

Before the marathon, the Boston Athletic Association (BAA), which manages the race, advised those without experience in running to forgo this year’s race and join next year’s instead. Out of more than 27,000 runners registered for the marathon, around 14% no longer joined after the warnings. 

Nonetheless, organizers were prepared for the event. The BAA increased water supplies and ice along the race course. Additional ambulances and Red Cross stations were also in place. Spray hoses from fire departments were even ready to help runners cool down.

Despite the difficult situation, runners from Africa, who are used to running under high temperatures, showed they had the most stamina to finish the race. All top three runners from the men’s and women’s divisions were Kenyans.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         In your opinion, how does temperature affect the performance of athletes like marathon runners?
·         Would you join a marathon in your country if it were held in the middle of summer?  Why? / Why not?

Discussion B

·          Is there a sport or activity that you sometimes enjoy doing even though you have little experience of it?  
·         Do you think people should give up a sport or other activity they like because others advise them to stop? Why or why not?