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Learning Languages for Life

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Business Gap-fill: Macau Gambling business

article is adapted from here.

1 – Read through the article and test your flexibility by thinking of as many possible “filllers”. In some cases many are possible, in some only a few, in some only one.

2 – When you’ve finished, make a note of gambling topic-related, business topic-related and general expressions you like.


Macau Is ‘Vegas On Steroids’

Kenneth Rapoza , Contributor

Las Vegas will always be Las Vegas. There’s no place in the world like it. But for people who love the bling and the sin of a casino city, Vegas is a has-been. On a truly global stage, the casino money is flowing to one place and that’s Macau in China. Billions in fact. Macau is now officially Las Vegas on steroids.

On Thursday, Macau Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau released 1) _________ data for the month. For July, up 20% from June to MOP$29.5 billion (about $3.5 billion) and up 15% year to 2)___ to MOP$200.9 billion ($25.5 billion).

China’s weaker than expected economy has kept away some of the mainland’s high rollers who tend to 3)_____ six figures a pop during a night out on the island.  But overall economic weakness has failed to slow tourist traffic to Macau. Macau is weathering the slowdown as well as analysts expected.  Market consensus was for July revenue growth to 4)______ in between 18% and 21%.

“The Best Casino Market On Earth”

Sales per square foot of retail space in Macau are better than anywhere in Vegas. The 5)___ goes for table game performance. Ader gave me an estimate for the industry: between 10 to 20 times more than Vegas’ daily table revenue.

Eight years ago, casino giants like the Sands, Wynn and MGM were spending billions on new properties.  Once they were done, the recession 6) ___ Vegas hard. Room prices today are 40% below 2007 room rates, Ader said.  Of the top 100 hotel markets in the United States, Vegas is at the bottom in 7)_____ of recovery from its recession year low.

Macau just keeps booming by comparison.

The island’s gaming revenue is six times greater than Vegas.

“The Sands properties in Vegas are huge. You can spend the entire week in Venetia or The Palazzo. But Vegas is just ten percent of their business now,” said Ader, an investor. The Sands is a company with around four billion 8)__ profits, but it is all coming from Asia and most of it is Macau.”  Singapore brings 9)___ around $1.5 billion. “Macau is amazing.  You have to see it to believe it. It is the best casino market in the world,” he said.

Investor 10)____

Ader is a bit biased when it comes to Macau gaming. Of course he recommends the Las Vegas Sands Corp. But another one he recommends his family practice (he runs an RIA on Avenue of the Americas in midtown) is Melco Crown Entertainment. 11)_____ out of Hong Kong, they own City of Dreams and their 12)____ is up 52.32% year to date.

Another favorite is Galaxy Entertainment. The stock is up 36.63% this year alone 127% over the last 12 months.  By 13)__________, the FTSE China (FXI) exchange traded fund is down 13.68% year to date and up only 2.36% in the last 12 months.


10 Step Exam speaking: Likes and favorite

Step 1: Listening practice

Listen once, twice or three times to the audio below to get the ideas


Step 2: Learn from listening

Listen again, pausing an repeating where necessary to make a note of useful expressions.


Step 3: Focus on opinion and reason structures (coherence and cohesion )

Looking at the table below, listen again and mark which opinion / reason structures are used.


Step 4: Improve your pronunciation

Listen again to the opinion and reason structures, make a note of stress and intonation.


Step 5: Moving from passive to active

Listen on repeat for a period of time. As you listen…

a – repeat the opinion structures you hear from the table, copying the stress and intonation

b – when you feel comfortage (still with the audio on repeat), repeat the structures and “finish”


Step 6: Plan your own answer

For the first question (and later the other questions), make a note of your opinion / reason (example, contrast)


Step 7: Linguistic choice

Choose the opinion structure that best matches your opinion


Step 8: Fluency = 100%, Pronunciation = 100%

Without fully answering the question, practice again and again the opinion structure until you feel that your “active use” of the structure is 100% fluent with 100% suitable intonation / stress.


Step 9: Fully active answer

Record yourself answering the question.


Step 10: Review and repeat

Listen to your answer, if you feel it needs to be done again, do it again. (Note, although practice makes perfect, it is a good idea to not repeat it too many times. As you move through the different questions you will get better.)




IELTS Vocabulary for Reading / Listening: Anki

One of the best books for learning vocabulary is “Barron’s essential words for IELTS”. Thanks to MODERN TECHNOLOGY, you can learn the words in the book using ELECTRONIC FLASHCARDS.

To start learning:

1 – go to this website to download the “anki” program onto your computer for free

and/ or, you can download onto your android tablet or phone  (also free) or apple product (you’ll have to pay :))

2 – when you have the program, click on this link and download the deck

3 – then open the file and start typing in the answers


Here’s a video that shows the above steps for computers as well how to type answers in the flashcards



Choosing a primary care physician in the US

Video 1

Pre-watching questions:

Do you feel more comfortable with a male or female physician? Why?

Do you usually turn to friends or family when looking for recommendation for a doctor?

How would you feel if your doctor had one of the following approaches:

  • parental
  • authoritative
  • caring
  • analytical

How many office / doctor visits do you schedule per year?

What’s your BMI (check here)


Now watch the video, as you watch, pick which of the above expressions in bold are used



Post-watching questions

First fill in the gaps, then check answers (scroll down) then discuss

  1. Do you really need to make a list before going to the doctor to get the most___ of the appointment?
  2. Are check-__only for old people?
  3. What did you think generally of the ______of advice?
  4. How important is it to keep your physician __ – to – ___ with your health?



Follow-up videos

Watch the following videos. Compare the advice they all give





  1. get the most out of something
  2. a check-up(s)
  3. a piece(s) of advice
  4. keep someone up-to-date






Government UBI money for everyone!

What is Universal Basic Income? (UBI)

Universal Basic Income = is a form of social security[3] in which all citizens or residents of a country receive a regular, unconditional sum of money, either from a government or some other public institution, independent of any other income.[4

i.e. you get this money even if you have a job!

What is the difference between UBI and traditional unemployment benefits / welfare?

With traditional unemployment / welfare benefits you receive money if you do not have a job, but if you get a job you lose the benefits.


Does UBI sound crazy? Think again…


Reading 1

Pre-reading ideas / language activation:

  1. Guess the author’s linguistic choice (LC) for this sentence: Robot-to-worker  ratios are rising gradually / constantly / rapidly.
  2. Which country has the highest robot-worker ratio?
  3. Author’s Linguistic Choice (LC) :The cost of robot implementation is shrinking / decreasing / plummeting.
  4. True / False: When it comes to jobs at risk, the developing world is not much better-off that the developed world.
  5. True / False: Some believe UBI could be given as a lump sum when people turn 18
  6. Author’s LC: You could make exclusions for households / people / families earning $100,000  a year or more
  7. LC: The greatest / most substantial / key benefit of UBI would be the elimination of people living below the povery line
  8. True / False: Trial projects are currently being undertaken in Kenya and Switzerland


Now read the infogaph here

Post -reading discussion:

  1. What do you think about the arguments for and against?
  2. Of the two case studies, Namibia and  Alaska, which is more interesting for you?
  3. Why do you think that those countries mentioned are undertaking experiments but others like Australia are not?
  4. Which proponent quote did you
  • like the most
  • find the strangest
  • disagree with

Reading 2

Pre-reading ideas / language activation:

Author’s linguistic choice (LC): Finland’s pilot UBI scheme is radical / groundbreaking / unprecedented

True / False: The scheme sees people receiving 500 Euros a month

Author’s LC: The scheme is addressing / combating / tackling poverty

True / False: Under the current social welfare, claimants are afraid of losing out if they find a job.

LC: Finland has generous social security. As a result people refuse work because they feel better off with social benefits. This problem is growing / acute/ inevitable

Now read the article here


Post -reading discussion:

  • Do you agree that generous benefits can lead to an acute problem in terms of people turning down work?
  • The article references one person’s quote concerning “reduced stress”. What was the situation? How representative do you think it is?
  • How much do you agree with the listed benefits?


Video 1

Pre-reading ideas / language activation:

Elon Musk believes large-scale unemployment will happen. In the video he talks about UBI, and mentions a “much harder challenge” than how to deal with income for those without jobs. What do you think this challenge is?

Now watch..


Post -reading discussion:

To what extent do you agree that:

goods and services will be in abundance due to automation?

a lot of people derive their meaning from their employment?

finding a replacement for “meaning” will / would be much more difficult than implementing a UBI sloution



Video 2

Pre-reading ideas / language activation:

  1. In this talk,  Professor Peterson mentions the connection between computational (computer) power and concentration of wealth. What is the connection?
  2. When asked about the feasability of UBI,  he introduces sled dogs as a metaphor. Why do you think he does this?
  3. How do you think unemployment affects conscientious people as opposed to unconscientious people?


Post -video discussion:

  • To what extent are computational and cognitive skills important for making money in your country?
  • According to the speaker, people on the right believe that everyone can find a job, whereas those on the left believe everyone is equal. Do you agree with this?
  • Do you agree that people are pack animals?
  • To what extent does a person’s personality effect how the react to unemployment?
  • Do you also doubt that people with “enforced” leisure will / would figure out what to do with their lives?









Exam speaking with LC Langauges: Daily routine:

The student you will hear is answering the question “Was your daily routine different before?”

Before listening, think about your own answer. Record yourself answering if possible, and make a note of the language you use.


Video Exercise One: Accuracy

A – Listen to a native speaker answer the question then do the gapped worksheet at the link here (question 2!!!)

B – Look at this list of correct lexical and grammar structures

  1. to go snowboarding
  2. to play computer games
  3. for hours on end
  4. I’m (always) flat out
  5. I don’t have much time
  6. to have a rest and unwind
  7. I wish I had been able to play dolls more than I did

Now watch the answer, the student makes mistakes with the above structures. Can you spot the mistakes she makes?


Check the answers at the end.

Video Exercise Two: Range of Lexical and Grammar Structures

A – These are less common or more complex lexical (vocab) / grammar structures from the LC Languages listening example answer (the link is in exercise one) . If it is a lexical structure, put L, if it is a grammar structure,put G.

  1. Completely different
  2. back when I was at school
  3. as late as possible
  4. to wolf down (some breakfast)
  5. to head off (for school / for work)
  6. I would hang out with friends / we would go over to someone’s place
  7. to go over
  8. (to do something) for hours on end
  9. I should have studied
  10. instead of
  11. If I had been…. I would have gotten
  12. be studious
  13. I (don’t) regret (spending / doing)

Check the answers at the end.


B – Can you remember which of the above expressions she uses? Try and remember and then watch the video above again. Whe you’ve finished check the answers at the end


Speaking Exercise One: Activation

  1. What would you do to unwind back when you were at school?
  2. What time did / do you head off for school? What about now (re-activate the expression)
  3. How often do you have people over? (=invite people to visit your place)
  4. Do you have them over for dinner, or drinks or to watch a movie?
  5. What’s something you do for hours on end?
  6. What’s something you should have done back when you were at school or when you were younger but you didn’t?
  7. If you had been more studious, would your life have changed a lot?
  8. Do you regret doing any of the things you have done in the last two or three years?






Video One: B:

Correct 🙂

Incorrect 🙁

to lay in the sun

on the sun (from Russian)

to go snowboarding

To ride snowboarding

to play computer games

To play in computer games (from Russian)

for hours on end

for hour on end

I’m (always) flat out

I’m a flat -out person (not wrong, but we usually say “I’m always flat out.” and finish

I don’t have much time to + verb

I don’t have many time for + verb

to have a rest and unwind

To get unwind*

I wish I had been able to play dolls more than I did

I wish I could… (I wish I could (II)= I’m sad I can’t do something now.)

* pronunciation is incorrect as well

Video 2 B:


completely different

back when I was at school

as late as possible

to wolf down (some breakfast)

to head off (for school / for work)

I would hang out with friends / we would go over to someone’s place

to go over (to someone’s place)

(to do something) for hours on end

I should have studied

instead of

If I had been…. I would have gotten

be studious

I (don’t) regret (spending / doing)



Elections / Protests: Kenya

Reading 1: Election / Political campaigning


Pre-reading 1: Your life experience – Compare and Contrast

This 2-minute video has no words.

  • compare and contrast this political rally with ones in your country/  that you’ve seen before
  • what’s your linguistic choice to describe what you see


Pre-reading 2: Guess what it’s like in another world

Unlike in countries like Australia and New Zealand, Kenyan politics is connected with tribes. Guess / wildly guess some answers to the following questions

  1. How many tribes do you think there are in politics?
  2. How much does the influence of one or another tribe change?
  3. Has there been any shift away from tribal politics in recent history?

Pre-reading 3: Painting the picture

Two main actors in the article you are about to read are “Uhuru Kenyatta” and “Raila Odinga”.

  1. Looking at their names, does one sound better than the other?
  2. Which actor, Kenyatta or Odinga will have more actions (verbs) in the text?
  3. The following actions are some that are used in the text: GUESS whether the actions are linked to the “Kenyatta” actor or the “Odinga” actor
  • Kenyatta / Odinga outperformed (+) a rival presidential candidate
  • Kenyatta / Odinga was seen to be a credible (+) opposition leader
  • Kenyatta / Odinga has campaigned tirelessly (+) against considerable odds (+)


Now read the text to answer the questions to pre-reading 2, and see if actions linked to the Kenyatta actor are different in level of positivity  to the actions linked with the “Odinga” character. Text here.



Reading 2: post-election protests


Pre-reading 1: Painting the picture

What’s your linguistic choice for the gapped combinations below

e.g. 1: Kenya falls into violence / Kenya descends into violence / Kenya……. into violence


Answers are at the end of the post. Look at them now

Pre-reading 2: What do the actors do?

Now you’ve been exposed to what the actor “Odigna” does in some texts,  have an educated guess what the actors will do

  • “Odinga says”  and / or “Odinga claims”
  • “Protests are held” and / or “protests erupt”
  • “the police used teargas” and / or “The police responded to violence with teargas”  and / or “The police crack down with teargas”

Now read and see (here)


Post – Reading 1: Video versus text

Would you use the linguistic choice from the article to describe the protesters / police actions?



Food and Diet:

Fast food England: does putting a cap on takeaways improve people’s health?

Roziur Choudhury prides himself on offering a healthier alternative at Grillzone, in the east London suburb of Dagenham. Photograph: Teri Pengilley for the Guardian (link below)




Pre-reading: activate ideas

  1. Do you think people in your country eat too much fast food?
  2. What do you think the government should do about fast food
  • ban fastfood outlets (shops)
  • introduce a cap (maximum number) on fastfood outlets
  • introduce a levy (special tax) on fastfood outlets
  • let the market decide

Pre-reading: linguistic choice

What is your linguistic choice for the gapped combinations below?


It is too early to say whether Roziur Choudhury is the future of Britain’s  (1) _______________ fast food sector. For now, he represents its conscience.

(1) flourishing, booming, burgeoning / struggling, waning / lucractive /  vital / insignificant …….     fast food sector


It is too early to say whether Roziur Choudhury is the future of Britain’s  (1) _______________ fast food sector. For now, he represents its conscience.

Choudhury’s smart new Grillzone restaurant, in the east London suburb of Dagenham, aims to be a “healthy” takeaway: golden, corn-fed half-chickens roast _(2)____________ on a rotary grill; chips are fried in low-fat oil; (3) ________ chopped salad is given away free with orders.


“Why would I want to feed people something I would not feed my own family?” Choudhury asks.

At £3.49 for six chicken wings, however, his food is (3)____________  pricey – and the competition around here is (4)__________. There are 61 fast-food joints jostling for business within a mile radius of Grillzone, according to the Centre for Diet and Activity Research’s new “food environment assessment tool”, which offers the public unprecedented analysis of the prevalence of food outlets throughout England.


click here to compare your linguistic choice with the author’s


Food and diet listening and vocab for speaking


Google 1: All roads lead to Bermuda

Reading One: Public Opinion


The article is about how Google tries to influence opinion.

  1. How might Google do this?
  2. Why might Google do this?
  3. How effective is it?
  4. What is your range of linguistic choice for the gapped-combinations below?

“Google uses its (1)________wealth and power to attempt to influence policymakers at every level,” said Daniel Stevens, CfA executive director. “At a minimum, regulators should be aware that the (2)___________ independent legal and academic work on which they rely has been brought to them by Google.”

Google described the report as “highly (3)__________” as it included any work supported by any organisation to which it has ever donated money.


As well as reading the article in the link below, read through the comments and find 4 + that you find (interesting, strange, new, stupid, insightful… etc)


here is the article


Reading Two: Taxes


The article is about Google not paying backtaxes.

Which other companies may be trying not to pay backtaxes?

If Google didn’t pay tax in FRance, where did it pay tax in Europe?


Google (1)_____ $.127 billion bill for back taxes in France ………………………….

Court ruling comes after six-year (2)___________with French tax authority over taxes due for years 2005 to 2010, and could have big implications for  (3)___________________________________. ………………………………

The court added that Google France doesn’t have the human resources or the technical means to allow it to carry out the (4)_____________advertising services on its own…………………………………………….


Here is the article



Follow-up videos

France – same piece of news




Same topic but in Britain:


American take:









Langauge for shareholders: Microsoft

Read the report below from Microsoft’s 2016 annual report. Think about as many words as you can for each gap. When you finish click on the link below

I’m proud of the progress we’ve made as a company this past year and  (1)__________ )about the opportunity for even more progress in the year ahead. We’ve advanced our mission to empower every person and every organization on the planet to (2) ___________ more. We’ve continued to cultivate a Microsoft (3)______________  in which people connect their individual energies and passions for technology to this mission. We’re leading profound digital transformation both for people and institutions. We’ve (4)____________  strong financial results. And we’re building a (5)____________foundation for an even brighter future.

We generated   (6) $______ billion in revenue. These results reflect exciting new product innovations as well as increases in customer usage and engagement across our businesses.



The next generation of ubiquitous computing and ambient intelligence is going to transform every life, every industry, and every country.

What this means for organizations is that Microsoft is their partner in digital transformation – engaging (7)  _________, empowering employees, (8)_____________operations, and transforming products.


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