Friday, August 31, 2012

Chinese Investors Now Second-Largest Shareholder of Inter Milan

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

1. stake (n.)
[steyk] – a percentage or part of a company that a person or group owns or has interest in
Example: The chairman’s stake in the company amounts to 50%.

2. shareholder (n.) [shair-hohl-der] – a person or group that has bought a company’s stocks or shares
Example: The Tokyo Electric Power Company’s shareholders voted to continue using nuclear power.

3. divulge (v.) [dih-vuhlj, dahy-] – to make private information known to the public or to other people
Example: Employees must not divulge their company’s private policies and projects.

4. keep afloat / keeping (something) afloat (idiom) [keep uh-floht]/ [keep-ing (suhm-thing) uh-floht] – to avoid going bankrupt or losing a business because of money problems
Example: Many companies have trouble keeping afloat in these tough economic times.

5. sensational (adj.) [sen-sey-shuh-nl] – receiving much attention and interest from people
Example: Inter Milan gave a sensational performance in 2010 by winning three major championships in one year.)

Read the text below.

An unnamed group of Chinese investors now owns 15% of Inter Milan’s stakes, making the Chinese group the second-largest shareholder of the famous Italian football club.

According to Inter Milan, the move to sell to Chinese investors is part of efforts to increase their presence in Asia. In a press release statement, however, Inter Milan said that the Moratti family, which owns the club, would still be in control of the club.
The club also revealed plans of building a new stadium in 2017 with the aid of China Railway Construction, but the location of the future stadium is still unknown.

China Railway Construction is believed to be the company that bought the stakes, reportedly paying almost $70 million. However, Inter Milan did not divulge the identity of its Chinese investors.

What is certain is that since the deal was made, China Railway’s assistant president Kamchi Li has been included in Inter Milan’s board of directors.

The Inter Milan deal is the latest in the list of European football clubs that are looking to China and other Asian nations for help in keeping their clubs afloat amid Europe’s economic problems. Other football clubs now owned by Asian investors are Birmingham City F.C., Queen’s Park Rangers F.C., and Leicester City F.C.

However, Inter Milan’s deal is the most sensational because the club has an excellent football record. The club has won competitions such as the Serie A (Scudetto) 18 times and the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) Champions League three times.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         How do you feel about Asian investors owning part of European companies? Why do you feel that way?
·         Do you think Asian countries will soon dominate most Western countries in terms of business? Please explain your answer.

Discussion B

·         Football is said to be the most popular sport in the world. Why do you think it is so popular?
·         Do you think marketing a sports team internationally is important? Why or why not?

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Woman Plans to Drive Century-old Car across the USA

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

1. raise (v.)
[reyz] – to earn or collect money that will be used for a special cause or purpose
Example: The students sold old toys and were able to raise $500 for the flood victims.

2. expedition (n.) [ek-spi-dish-uhn] – a kind of journey or trip that is organized by a group of people in order to meet a specific goal
Example: The scientists set off on an expedition to study the melting ice in the North Pole.

3. cross-country (adj.) [kraws-kuhn-tree] – from one end/side of the country to the opposite end/side
Example: The travel guide recommended a cross-country bicycle trip through France.

4. stature (n.) [stach-er] – height of a person or animal when standing up
Example: With a height of 226 cm, basketball player Yao Ming is certainly a man of great stature.

5. résumé (n.) [rez-oo-mey, rez-oo-mey] – a document that shows a person’s educational achievement, work history, and skills
Example:  The job applicant’s résumé says the she has advanced computer skills.
Read the text below.

Hoping to raise £20,000 ($31,254) for Cancer research, Joy Rainey is planning to drive a 109-year-old Oldsmobile across the United States.

Joy is going on the expedition in honor of Trevor Hulks, who died of cancer in 2010. Trevor was Joy’s lifetime partner and co-driver, whom she also describes as her soul mate.

The 2,826-mile (4,548km) cross-country expedition will start on April 14, 2013 in Los Angeles and end in Daytona Beach, Florida on May 15 that same year.

But before the cross-country trip, Joy will be taking the Oldsmobile on a 60-mile (96.56 km) drive in the London-Brighton Veteran Car Run this November 4, which in itself would be an amazing achievement for such an old vehicle driven by a woman of such small stature.

Despite her physical limitations, Joy is a skilled driver with an impressive résumé. She has participated in many motorsport events and several driving competitions using either new or classic cars.

Recently, her interest shifted to older and slower car models, such as the Oldsmobile, which runs up only to 20 miles per hour (32kph).

Driving a vehicle that is more than a hundred years old for a very long distance presents several difficult challenges. Joy’s team will have to plan their route very carefully. They must also be prepared to fix the car should it break down along the way.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A 

·         Would you say that Joy Rainey’s goal can be admired? Please explain your answer.
·         Would you like to travel across your country or across another country? Why or why not?

Discussion B

·         What charity work or organization are you most interested in? (e.g., charity work for the poor, for arts and culture, for education, for the environment, etc.) Why is it interesting to you?
·         If you wanted to raise money for a charity or organization, how would you try to do it?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Scientists to Make Better-Tasting Tomatoes Using Genome

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

1. shelf-life (n.) 
[shelf lahyf] – the length of time a product can be stored without losing quality
Example: People should keep food with long shelf-lives in preparation for emergencies.

2. compromise (v.) [kom-pruh-mahyz] – to reduce in quality or value
Example: The lack of budget for good materials compromised the strength of the product.

3. dictate (v.) [dik-teyt, dik-teyt] – to control
Example: The weather will dictate whether the sports event will continue.

4. breeding (n.) [bree-ding] – the process of making plants or animals produce offspring
Example: The breeding of different varieties of vegetables is commonly practiced by food companies.

5. precise (adj.) [pri-sahys– very exact in amount or value
Example: After carefully following instructions, the students’ experiment produced precise results.

Read the text below.

Tastier tomatoes may soon be available in the market after a team of scientists from different countries has successfully analyzed the genome of the fruit, making it possible to produce tomatoes with richer flavor.

Scientists in the past worked on lengthening the shelf-life of tomatoes to prevent tomatoes from quickly ripening. Since then, many varieties of tomatoes with long shelf-lives have been produced and marketed.

However, long shelf-life has compromised the color and flavor of the tomatoes. Since ripening is slowed down, the tomatoes’ color and flavor do not completely develop, and they no longer look or taste as good as home-grown tomatoes.

Now that the scientists have analyzed the tomato genome, they can work on finding which specific genes dictate only the flavor and color of the tomato.  They can then produce a variety of tomatoes that can last for a long time but is full of phytochemicals, has a dark red color and has richer taste.

With information about the genome now available, scientists and tomato producers can also use traditional breeding techniques to produce precise results more quickly.

These techniques are different from genetic modification. Scientists tried making a genetically modified tomato called “Flavr Savr” in the 1990s. Although it was considered safe to eat, the public worried about the effect of genetic modification. The product did not last long on the market.

The new, more flavorful varieties of tomatoes, on the other hand, are expected to have major impact in the global tomato industry, which is worth of $30 to40 billion yearly.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         Would you buy food that has been genetically modified? Why or why not?
·         How do you think technology has changed the way we make food?

Discussion B
·         What do you think is the purpose of breeding other varieties of fruits and vegetables?
·         Do you think having different varieties of food is necessary? Why or why not?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Baidu Profits from Online Advertising

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

1. booming (adj.)
[boom-ing] – growing or progressing  quickly
Example: The booming sales of umbrellas and raincoats happen during the rainy season.

2. client (n.) [klahy-uhnt] – a customer
Example: The hotel serves hundreds of clients every summer.

3. dominate (v.) [dom-uh-neyt] – to have the highest or greatest position
Example: Microsoft has dominated the software market for years.

4. portal (n.) [pawr-tl, pohr-] – (in computers) a website which serves as an entrance or starting point to other websites
Example: People use online search portals to easily find information.

5. robust (adj.) [roh-buhst, roh-buhst] –strong and with energy
Example: The country is experiencing a robust economy because of increasing exports.

Read the text below.

The sales of China’s largest search engine Baidu, increased by up to 70% as a result of China’s booming online advertising business.

From April to June 2012, Baidu’s earnings from advertising increased by 60% to 5.5 billion yuan, eventually leading to a net profit gain of 2.8 billion yuan ($436 million) for the company. During this period, the number of clients who advertised with Baidu also increased by more than 18%.

Baidu attracts many advertisers to invest in its popular portal as it dominates China’s online search market with an 80% share.

Several companies today advertise online to get more customers, especially now that more Chinese have access to the Internet. Currently, China has the world’s biggest online market with more than 500 million Internet users, a number which many believe will still increase.

Baidu has also entered the phone and mobile Internet market by releasing a low-cost smartphone. As more people connect to the Internet through these devices, Baidu sees opportunity for further growth by making their own mobile phone products.

Robin Li, chairman and CEO of Baidu, said that the company is looking forward to seeing the results of robust growth by the end of September. Li said that to accomplish such a goal, Baidu will maintain growing sales and continue looking for more varied business opportunities in China.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         Do you like seeing advertisements on the websites you visit? Why or why not?
·         What types of business do you think would profit the most from online advertising?  

Discussion B

·         What are the risks a company might face when they try starting a different line of business (e.g., from software to hardware)?
·         Do you think a company should focus on just one kind of product or line of business? What makes you say so?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Education Can Make People Happier

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

1. findings (n.) [fahyn-ding] – information gained from the result of a research study

Example: The findings of the study show that Filipinos are one of the happiest people in the world.

2. well-being (n.) [wel-bee-ing] – being in a healthy, happy, and comfortable condition

Example: It is the government’s job to ensure the general well-being of the people.

3. worthwhile (adj.)  [wurth-hwahyl, -wahyl– having value or importance to somebody

Example: Many office workers feel stuck in jobs that they do not think are worthwhile.

4. degree (n.) [dih-gree] – something a person receives upon graduation or completion of a university course

Example: The job required a person with a degree in marketing or business management.

5. twofold (adj.) [too-fohld] – two times as much as something; double

Example: The company reported a twofold increase, from 10% to 20%, in its income.

Read the text below.

Findings from a recent survey conducted by the UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that education can affect people’s well-being.

According to the report, people who have reached higher levels of education feel more satisfied with their lives. Educated people are also more likely to view their activities as worthwhile.

Researchers involved in the study say that although the findings show that educated people seem happier than less educated people, this does not mean education directly causes happiness. Other factors affect people’s well-being, such as their job, income level, age, and health status.

The figures in the study also reveal that there are now more educated people in the UK than before. The number of uneducated people has gone down, from 27% in 1993, to just 11% in 2011. On the other hand, the number of people with a degree has increased more than twofold, from 11% to 24%.

Among those people with higher education, 81% rated their happiness level as 7 out of 10 or higher. About 85% of highly educated people also said they believed what they were doing was worthwhile.

In contrast, only 64% of people with no educational qualifications gave their happiness level a score of 7 out of 10 or higher.

The study was done by the ONS as part of Prime Minister David Cameron’s £2-million project that aims to measure the nation’s happiness. The prime minister says the  project will help the government create better policies, as well as measure how the policies can impact people’s well-being.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A 

  • Do you agree that education plays a big role in a person’s happiness? Why or why not?
  • Why is it important for the government to measure the happiness of the people? How can knowing the data help regular citizens?

Discussion B

  • Do you believe people in your country are generally happy or generally sad? Why do you think they feel that way?
  • What things in life do you think would make a person truly happy?

Sunday, August 26, 2012

McDonald’s Answers Customer Questions in New Campaign

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

1. bizarre (adj.)
[bih-zahr] – unusual; strange
Example: We could not understand the bizarre story of the movie.

2. transparency (n.) [trans-pair-uhn-see, -par-] – a quality that lets people clearly understand how something works
Example: People are hoping for transparency in the way the government uses tax.

3. appetizing (adj.) [ap-i-tahy-zing] – attractive to eat;  looking or smelling delicious
ExampleAppetizing meals make me hungry.

4. rumor (n.) [roo-mer] – information that is not yet confirmed to be true
ExampleRumors about the politician spread some months before the election.

5. recipe (n.) [res-uh-pee] – an instruction or guide on how to cook food, which also includes a list of ingredients
Example: She makes sure to carefully follow a recipe when baking cakes.

Read the text below.

McDonald’s in Canada has been answering a lot of tough questions, even bizarre ones, from customers.

As part of a social media campaign launched last June, McDonald’s created a website named “Our Food. Your Questions” to promote transparency in how they make food.

Through the website, McDonald’s answers different kinds of questions about the company’s food products, like inquiries about food additives, and questions on why the food looks more appetizing in advertisements than in real life.

McDonald’s seems ready to answer even strange questions. For instance, one customer asked if “100% beef” in McDonald’s patties means the company uses all the parts of the cow, including the cow’s brain, kidneys and other internal organs. In response, McDonald’s said they did not use internal organs. They then provided information of which cow parts they use and also their meat supplier.

Another question asks whether McDonald’s puts drugs or medicine in their food. McDonald’s assured customers that there is no truth to this rumor.

In addition to the website, McDonald’s has also been releasing several YouTube videos as responses to customer questions. One video shows the process of making an advertisement for a McDonald’s burger.  Another video shows how a Big Mac can be made at home using ingredients found at a grocery, proving the recipe only uses natural ingredients.

By answering all of the customer’s questions, McDonald’s is hoping that they can end rumors about their food.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         Do you think the McDonald’s campaign is helpful to customers? Why or why not?
·         How do you think the campaign is helpful or useful to the McDonald’s company?

Discussion B

·         Do you think it is necessary for companies to provide customer service or to answer customer questions? Why or why not?
·         How else do you think can companies improve their customer service?