Saturday, June 30, 2012

Solo Adventurer Saved by Japanese Coast Guard

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

1. solo (adj.) 
[soh-loh] – done alone, without any other people
Example: Akiko’s parents wanted to go with her but she wanted to be adventurous and went on a solo trip to Canada.

2. roll over (v.) [rohl oh-ver] – to turn in such a way that the bottom is on top or facing upwards
Example: The car rolled over the hill

3. leak (v.) [leek] – to go in or out through a hole
Example: Water leaked into the Titanic after the ship crashed into an iceberg.

4. set out (v.) [set out] – to start a journey or long travel
Example: Matsuo Basho was a poet who set out to explore Japan while writing haikus.

5. safe and sound (idiom) [seyf and sound] – not hurt or in any danger
Example: After a long airplane ride from England to Tokyo, I arrived home safe and sound.

Read the text below.

The Japanese Coast Guard rescued the British solo adventurer, Sarah Outen, who was caught in the middle of a tropical storm last Friday, June 8.

The sea was so rough that Sarah’s small boat rolled over a few times. As a result, some water leaked into the cabin. But the tough adventurer stayed calm and strong, tweeting and keeping her followers updated on her condition as she waited for someone to rescue her.

A nearby merchant vessel and a coast guard plane looked after Sarah and her damaged boat until she was safely rescued by the coast guard ship. Upon rescue, Sarah asked for orange juice, pancakes, and grapes. She arrived safe and sound in Japan on June 10, where she is currently resting after being hospitalized.

Sarah set out from London in April 1, 2011 with a plan to circle the globe; a plan that covers about 32,187 km and takes two and a half years to accomplish.

Currently, she has finished about half of that goal, rowing, kayaking and cycling 17,700 km through countries such as Germany, Poland, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and China. Although she travels on her own, she is supported by a team of doctors, a weather forecaster, and a sports psychotherapist.

Her team reported that another solo adventurer named Charlie Martell was also waiting to be rescued 451 km northeast of Sarah’s location. Martell left Japan last month to row 9 656 km across the Pacific.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A
·         Do you travel alone? Why or why not?
·         What do you think motivates solo adventurers to travel alone?

Discussion B
·         Have you ever encountered problems while traveling? What did you do at that time?
How can people keep safe while traveling? What should travelers keep in mind?


Friday, June 29, 2012

Law Says Bonus Pay Only for Teachers with Advanced Degrees in Subject They Teach

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

1. incentive (n.) [in-sen-tiv] –a reward (money, gift, etc.) that motivates or encourages someone to work harder
Example: Money incentives are given to employees who stay in the company for more than 5 years.

2. doctorate (n.) [dok-ter-it] – the highest academic degree in any field of knowledge
Example: After college, he plans to get a master’s degree, followed by a doctoratedegree.

3. overlap (v.) [oh-ver-lap]– to share the same parts, interests, time, etc., as something else
Example: Some topics in my Asian history class overlap with my Japanese history class.

4. amendment (n.) [uh-mend-muhnt] – a change to improve something
Example: The official suggested some amendments to the voting rules to lessen the chance of cheating during the elections.

5. union (n.) [yoon-yuhn] – an association or organization with a common purpose
Example: The teachers formed a union to make sure the school pays them fairly.

Read the text below.

A law in Florida called the Student Success Act of 2011 says teachers must have advanced degrees related to the subject they teach in order to get bonus pay.

According to Republican representative Matt Gaetz, the law’s co-author, the law was designed to give incentives to teachers who focus on improving students’ performance.

Teachers with advanced degrees related to the subjects they teach can receive bonus pay because they help students learn better than teachers with advanced degrees in unrelated subjects.

Before the law was implemented, teachers with a doctorate degree in any course received bonus pay as high as $5,200.

The law only applies to all new teachers, or those employed after July 1, 2011. The law has angered more than one-third (1/3) of the 141 new teachers hired last year in Florida’s Brevard Public Schools.

One of these teachers is Scott Johnson, an Algebra teacher, who did not receive a $2,625 incentive although he has a master’s degree in Space Science. He argues that the two subjects overlap, since physics in Space Science is just Applied Math.

Gaetz admitted that because of overlapping in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) subjects there may still be some amendments to the law.

However, Richard Smith, president of Brevard’s teacher’s union, said that other subjects can also overlap. For example, having an advanced degree in History can still be useful when teaching about Literature.

Teacher’s bonus pay has been an issue not only in Florida, but in Indiana and other US states as well.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         Aside from bonus pay, what do you think are the advantages of teachers who have advanced degrees?
·         Do you think teachers should focus on or keep studying only one subject? Why or why not?

Discussion B

·         For you, how important are incentives in work or in school?
·         How do you think people can still be encouraged to work even without incentives?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Disney Plans to Ban Junk Food Ads

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

1. air (v.) 
– to make a program available to the public through the television or radio
Example: Disney channel airs cartoons for young children.

2. junk food (n.) [juhngk food] – a kind of food that is unhealthy
Example: French fries, hamburgers and pizzas are examples of junk food.

3. publicize (v.) [puhb-luh-sahyz] – to announce information to the public
Example: The bad effects of obesity were publicized by the World Health Organization.
Additional info: The words ‘promote’ and ‘broadcast’ have similar meanings.

4. prohibition (n.) [proh-uh-bish-uhn] – the act of banning something
Example: A lot of people protested against the prohibition of smoking.

5. calculated move (n.) [kal-kyuh-ley-tid moov] – a carefully planned action
Example: Speculators think that the release of the new Ipad was a calculated move by Apple.

Read the text below.

Walt Disney Co. announced that they will not air advertisements of junk food in the channels dedicated to children starting three years from now.

Robert Iger, the CEO of Walt Disney Co., publicized that these changes in their advertisement policies will be applicable to all the Disney websites for kids.  The announcement was made when Iger met with Michelle Obama who recently launched a campaign against obesity.

Based on the guidelines Disney has provided, children’s meals which contain too much sugar, salt and other fattening ingredients may not be shown during Disney programs. As a result, McDonald’s Happy Meal and Kellogg’s Fruit Loops cereals will not be able to advertise on Disney channels. 

However, the prohibition of junk food ads will not be implemented on adult-oriented Disney networks, such as ESPN or ABC. Junk food ads on these channels generate most of the profit for the company.

Iger mentioned that the ban is Disney’s way to show support to the parents who are concerned about their children’s health. In addition to that, disallowing the ads was a calculated move because it would be able to attract new markets to Disney and endear them to families all over the world.

According to a government survey, an estimated $1.6 billion of food and drink advertisements are shown every year in the US, and most of these ads feature unhealthy food.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         How will Disney be affected if they ban junk food ads?
·         Will the demand for unhealthy food decrease if there are fewer ads about them? Why or why not?

Discussion B

·         Do you think that children will eat less junk food if they watch advertisements on healthy food?
·         What other ways can be used to encourage children to eat healthy food?


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Travel the World without Leaving Home

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

1. immerse (v.) 
[ih-murs] – to become entirely involved in an activity or interest
Example: She immersed herself in learning Japanese by talking to native Japanese speakers every day.

2. historic (adj.) [hi-stawr-ik, -stor-] – having great and lasting importance
ExampleHistoric places like the old temples in Greece must be protected.

3. collaboration (n.) [kuh-lab-uh-rey-shuhn] – something achieved or created by two or more persons or groups of people working together
Example: Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, is collaboration among people who contribute or edit encyclopedia articles and entries.

4. prompt (v.) [prompt] –  to cause someone to do something
Example: The tourist guide prompted us to see the inside of the ancient castle.

5. virtual (n.) [vur-choo-uhl] –  existing or occurring in the computer or Internet
Example: You can play a virtual tennis game using Nintendo Wii.

Read the text below.

People can now immerse themselves in 132 historic destinations worldwide without leaving their homes.

Google’s World Wonders Project was launched last May 31 to make historic sites accessible to more people while keeping useful information online. With Google Street View technology, users can “walk” through historic destinations by just clicking their computer mouse.

The project is funded by the Google Cultural Institute and is a collaboration of Google, UNESCO, World Monuments Fund and other organizations.

A similar immersive travel experience is being offered by the granola bar company, Nature Valley. In March, the company launched Trail View, which also uses Google Street View to take users “hiking” in American national parks, namely the Grand Canyon, Great Smoky Mountains and Yellowstone.

Promoting historic destinations online, through World Wonders Project and Trail View, may prompt more people to visit these places. This raises concerns that it will cause more stress on already popular sites.

But Bonnie Burnham, the president of World Monuments Fund, assures it will not bring too many people to the same place at the same time. The aim of virtual trips is to share information about a place without people needing to experience it physically.

She also hopes the people who decide to go to the actual historic destinations will benefit from the information online. As a result, travelers will become more observant, sensitive, and will have a better travel experience.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         Would you like to use either World Wonders or Trail View? Why or why not?
·         Do you think World Wonders and Trail View are good substitutes for actual travel? Please explain further.

Discussion B

·         Do you think the Internet has made it easier or more difficult to travel? Please explain further.
What are the disadvantages of promoting popular tourist destinations online? 


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Softbank to Launch Smartphone That Can Detect Radiation

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

1. detect (v.)
[dih-tekt] – to discover or notice something, particularly something that is hidden or difficult to see, hear, taste, etc.
Example: They use devices that can detect radiation because humans cannot sense it.

2. in the wake of(idiom) [in thuh weyk uhv, ov] – describing something that happened after another event occurred
Example: More people are cautious of nuclear energy in the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.

3. handy (adj.) [han-dee] – describing something as useful or convenient
Example: Smartphones have handy features such as Internet access and apps.

4. at first glance (idiom) [at furst glans, glahns] – looking at something for the first time without paying enough attention Example At first glance, the small details of the smartphone cannot be seen.

5. anti-nuclear (adj.) [an-tee-noo-klee-er, -nyoo-, an-tahy-or,-kyuh-ler] – describing something or someone opposed to nuclear technology
ExampleAnti-nuclear activists protested the building of a new nuclear power plant.

Read the text below.

The Pantone 5 107SH, to be launched by Softbank, is the world’s first smartphone with a built-in sensor that can detect radiation.  

Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son decided to develop the smartphone in the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. Customers, many of whom were mothers with young children, asked him via Twitter to create the product.

There has been an increasing demand in Japan for radiation sensors since the Fukushima disaster. People worried about radiation are buying such devices to check radiation levels in their food and surroundings.

According to Softbank, its radiation detecting smartphone can help lessen people’s worry, as the handy product allows citizens to measure radiation anytime and anywhere. 

The built-in radiation meter inside is so small that at first glance, the smartphone looks just like an ordinary mobile phone. Even so, the phone can measure radiation levels with readings that are accurate up to 20% of the time. The device can also compare detected radiation levels with those on online radiation maps.

CEO Masayoshi Son is known to be a supporter of the anti-nuclear movement. He has advocated solar farms as a replacement for nuclear power plants.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         Is it reasonable for people in your country to be worried about radiation? Please explain further.
·         Do you think that having a radiation-detecting smartphone will make them feel less worried? Why or why not?

Discussion B

·         What do you think are the best ways customers can communicate with companies nowadays?
·         Can you think of a product that you wish you could ask a company to make or add new features to? Please explain your answer.


Monday, June 25, 2012

Cuba Takes Pride in Its Boxers

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

1. legend (n.) 
[lej-uhnd] – a famous person who is admired for being good at doing something
Example: Tiger Woods is a legend in golf.

2. amateur (n.) [am-uh-choor, -cher, -ter, am-uh-tur– an athlete who does not compete for money
Example: Many, but not all, Olympic athletes are amateurs.

3. professional (n.) [pruh-fesh-uh-nl] – an athlete who receives payment for competing or performing
Example: Athletes in Major League Baseball, like Ichiro Suzuki, are professionals.

4. keep track (v.) [keep trak] – to follow or be informed about what someone or something is doing
Example:  I keep track of my favorite sports teams by watching their games on TV.

5. patriotic (adj.) [pey-tree-ot-ik] – having pride in, love for, and loyalty to one’s own country
Example: The Olympics inspires patriotic feelings, especially when a person’s fellow countryman wins a medal.

Article(10 minutes)
Read the text below.
Cuba may be small, but it has some of the best boxers in the world. The country boasts a total of 32 Olympic gold medals for boxing.

Among its boxing legends are Hector Vinent Charon and Teofilo Stevenson, who have won two and three Olympic gold medals respectively.

According to Vinent, Cuban boxers are different from others because of Cubans’ intelligence and fighting spirit. Stevenson, meanwhile, says Cubans like boxing because they value a strong attitude and self-defense.

Under government law, Cuban sportspeople, including boxers, are strictly amateurs. This qualifies them for competitions like the Olympics, but does not allow them to earn millions of dollars like professionals. The need for money has caused some boxers to leave their home country.

But Cuba’s boxing commissioner, Alberto Puig, believes Cuban fighters are strong because they are patriotic. He says Cuba’s talented boxers may not earn millions in money, but they fight with support from the 11 million people of Cuba.

Puig also credits the Cuban government, which he describes as really good at finding and developing talent at a very young age. He says the government keeps track of talented boxers, even those in the farthest areas of Cuba.

Young talents are usually trained in places like the Rafael Trejo gym in Havana. There, Vinent teaches kids as young as eight years old how to box. Most of them will not become great fighters, but Vinent says boxing teaches them confidence and life skills they can use every day.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         Cubans do well in boxing. What sport do you think your countrymen are good at? Please explain the reasons for this.
·         Does your government do a lot to promote sports or help people train for sports? Why do you think so?

Discussion B

·         What are the benefits of having a worldwide competition like the Olympics?
·         Given the chance, would you want to compete in the Olympics? Why or why not?


Family with Naughty Child Asked to Leave Airplane

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

1. misbehave (v.) 
 – being naughty or acting badly
Example: Parents often scold their children who misbehave in public places.

2. toddler (n.) [tod-ler] – a young child
Example: The toddler loves to play with stuffed toys.

3. tantrum (n.) [tan-truhm] – expression of uncontrollable anger or frustration, often in a childish way
Example: The child’s tantrum caught the attention of people nearby.

4. pacify (v.) [pas-uh-fahy] –to make someone calm and quiet
Example: The mother tried to pacify the crying boy by singing him a song.

5. overreact (v.) [oh-ver-ree-akt] – to say or do something unnecessary because of strong emotion
Example: Teachers should avoid overreacting by shouting at students when they make a mistake.

Read the text below.
A family’s vacation was canceled after Alaska Airlines told the family of a child who was misbehaving to get off the airplane.

Mark Yanchuk, a salesman from Washington, along with his wife, mother-in-law and children were supposed to be on a flight from Seattle to Miami. It was the first part of their planned trip to the Virgin Islands.

Daniel, Yanchuk’s 3-year-old son, was with him in the plane’s main cabin, while the rest of his family stayed in first class.

The toddler was playing with an iPad when flight personnel asked passengers to turn off their gadgets to prepare for takeoff. Yanchuk took away the iPad, which caused the child to throw a tantrum.

As Yanchuk was trying to put a seatbelt on his screaming son, flight attendants offered to help pacify Daniel.

Paul McElroy, spokesperson for Alaska Airlines, said the flight attendants were concerned because the boy would not sit properly. The boy’s seatbelt ended near his neck at one time and the attendants were afraid he would choke.

Because of the danger, the airline staff said it had no choice but to request father and son to leave the plane. The rest of Yanchuk’s family was allowed to stay, but they decided to also leave.

Yanchuk believed the staff overreacted. He reasoned that a crying child was hardly a dangerous situation.

The airline offered to rebook their flight the next day, but the Yanchuk family said it no longer wanted to fly with the airline. McElroy said that the family would be receiving a refund.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         Do you agree with the airline’s decision to make the family leave? Why or why not?
·         How do you think similar incidents can be prevented in the future?

Discussion B

·         What do you think causes a child to misbehave?
How can parents and guardians discipline their children properly?