Apr 14

City children suffering more

City children suffering more

Campaigns against poverty tend to focus on the rural poor, but UNICEF has found it’s children living in slums and shantytowns who are becoming increasingly the most disadvantaged and vulnerable.

One reason is that so many — about 300 million round the world — go unregistered at birth. The lack of any official identity means they then miss out on basic services like secure housing, clean water, or education. And they can more easily be exploited or prey to traffickers.

The plight of these children is often overlooked because statistics show average urban families enjoy better amenities than rural ones but this data masks the growing pockets of extreme poverty in towns and cities.

Take Delhi, the capital of India’s booming economy. Figures show 90 per cent of children city-wide attend primary school but in fact only half the slum children go to school.

UNICEF says policy-makers should consciously target help at these hard-to-reach children. It recommends a grass roots approach with more recognition of the efforts local communities make to tackle poverty.

Vocabulary and definitions
slums : very poor areas of a city with bad living conditions
vulnerable : exposed to harm
identity : details that state who someone is
exploited : treated unfairly for profit
traffickers : people who illegally transport and sell goods or people
plight : difficult situation
amenities : facilities or services in a building or place
booming : fast-growing
consciously : think specifically about
grass roots : at a local level

more info at : http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-11364717

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Mar 26

Towering fees for Big Ben

Towering fees for Big Ben

An argument has broken out in the UK over plans to make visitors pay to tour Big Ben.
The House of Commons authorities say it’s necessary to cover costs. But some members
of the Parliament are describing the move as “disgraceful” and have called a debate on
the issue. Our BBC Correspondent, Alan Soady reports.
It’s one of the must-see attractions for visitors to London. Most tourists only get to look
at the outside of the famous clock tower. But for a few thousand people a year who
organise a tour of it, this is how it sounds on the inside… The clanking of the old
machinery which operates the clock and those bongs.
It can only be visited if it’s arranged in advance by contacting a member of Parliament,
usually only done by the small number of UK residents who are aware of it.
But rather than those tours being free in future, there’ll be a charge of fifteen pounds
per person. House of Commons officials say it will simply cover the 111-thousand pounds
a year it costs to provide the tours.
But a group of disgruntled MPs argue that UK residents already pay through their taxes.
They say Big Ben is a world-renowned symbol of British democracy, and visiting it
should be free.

Vocabulary and definitions
must-see : essential to experience
clock tower : building displaying a large clock
tour : organised visit
clanking :  mechanical noise
bongs : noises a large bell makes
in advance : ahead, beforehand
are aware of : know about
charge : fee, cost
disgruntled : annoyed, upset
world-renowned : internationally recognised

adapted from : bbclearningenglish.com

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Mar 13

Farewell Bush House

Farewell Bush House

Rob: Hello and welcome to 6 Minute English. I’m Rob and Rosie joins me today. Hello Rosie!

Rosie: Hi Rob!

Rob: Today we’re talking about what can be a very stressful moment in our lives – moving house. Packing up even a small house or flat can be quite stressful and time-consuming but imagine the upheaval involved in moving a big company or organisation.

Rosie: Like the BBC World Service maybe?

Rob: Exactly like that. Because I am of course talking about our home, Bush House in London. It’s where we are speaking from now.

Rosie: But not for long because the World Service is preparing to leave the building for new purpose-built facilities in another part of London.

Rob: It’s a sad time and time to reflect on what’s taken place in this famous London landmark. More on that in a moment but first it’s time to set you a question Rosie. So are you ready?

Rosie: I guess so.

Rob: OK. Do you know when the construction of the first part of Bush House (we call it Centre Block) was completed?

a) 1913

b) 1923

c) 1933

Rosie: I’m going to say b) 1923.

Rosie: It certainly has a special place in the hearts of people who have worked here – the staff. This could be because of the style of the building with its wide marble staircases and Roman columns.

Rob: Yes, it doesn’t look like a normal media centre but that’s because it wasn’t designed to be one. Did you know that back in 1929 it was declared – or reported – to be the most expensive building in the world having cost around two million pounds to build!

Rosie: Well was all that money worth it? It probably was if we listen to what some BBC staff have been saying. This producer thinks it’s a special place. Listen to his reasons…

BBC Producer

I don’t know whether it’s just the physical building, the bricks and mortar of Bush House, or the fact that we have a sort of United Nations of broadcasting here, but I think maybe it’s a bit of both. It’s not a bespoke broadcasting centre and that’s part of its charm. It’s a rabbit warren of corridors and crazy modifications and things and that’s part of what makes it special I think.

Rob: So there are two things that have made Bush House special. The physical building – that means the bricks and mortar that it has been built with. But he also suggests something else.

Rosie: He says it could be the United Nations of broadcasting. He means it’s a very multi-cultural place. There are people of all different nationalities broadcasting to all different parts of the World.

Rob: He also talked about the charm of the place. This is the character, which he says is due to not being a bespoke broadcasting centre. As we said, it wasn’t originally built for radio.

Rosie: But since the BBC moved in, things have been changed and added on – these are the crazy modifications he mentioned. To modify something is to change something. And did you hear how he described the corridors?

Rob: Yes, like rabbit warrens! Lots of long dingy passages where you see producers running from office to studio.

Rosie: There’s one thing about Bush House that another producer has

criticised – or made negative comments about. See if you can work out what it is…

Producer BBC

I love this building, every bit of it. I loved it from the very first moment I entered the building. The only thing I wasn’t happy about were the carpets. They were worn out, with lots of holes, very undignified. I thought my God! Such a beautiful building, such a fantastic organisation, such awful carpets!

Rob: Ha! He wasn’t happy about the carpets. He described them as very worn out, lots of holes and very  undignified so lacking in dignity, not really representing the BBC.

Rosie: It’s not what he was expecting as the building was beautiful and it was such a fantastic organisation.

Rob: Well they do say ‘first impressions count’ and his first impression of the BBC were the awful carpets! How about you Rosie? What impression did you get when you first entered Bush House?

Rosie: Well I was in awe when I first entered Bush House because it’s just so huge and very beautiful.

Rob: Sadly we won’t be walking into Bush House for much longer as most of us are moving to a new state-of-the-art building somewhere else in London.

Rosie: But I guess this building will remain the spiritual home of the World Service. Rob, what will you remember about this place?

Rob: Well as you say, it’s the quirkiness, all the corridors and hidden little rooms. And also the old-fashioned studios that seem tohave lots of wood in them, for some reason! So that’s what I remember but do you remember the question I set you today?

Rosie: Yes I do.

Rob: Good. Earlier I asked you if you knew when the construction of the first part of Bush House (Centre Block) was completed?

Rosie: And I said b) 1923.

Rob: And you are right. Well done! The answer is indeed 1923. That’s when the main part of Bush House was completed. And did you also know that Bush House was named after Irving T. Bush who was one of the designers. It was originally built to be a world trade centre.

Rosie: I didn’t know that but that’s quite incredible! I wonder what will happen to it next?

Rob: I’m not really sure actually. OK Rosie, could you please remind us of some of the vocabulary we have heard today?












Rob: Thanks Rosie. That’s all for now, but do join us again soon for more 6 Minute English! Bye for now!

Rosie: Bye bye!

Vocabulary and definitions Context Based

Upheaval :big change that can cause a lot of confusion and effort.

Reflect : look back

Staff : people who work for the organisation or company

Declared : stated publicly

Charm : a quality that is pleasing or attractive

Bespoke : made specially for the needs of the customer

Modification : a change that has been done to improve something

Criticised : to find fault with something or someone

Undignified : lacking in dignity, causing you to lose respect for something

state-of-the-art : of the latest technology

adapted from: bbclearningenglish.com

Click Here for Audio File Listening and Pronunciation Excercise:

Mar 07



We sometimes find ourselves confuse on the English Language Test Scoring. We always have difficulties on comparing a IELTS score to a TOEFL score.  Well, confuse no more because now we have the table to compare different language tests and different systems.

The table shown below cover most of correlation between various test scores and level systems (like TOEIC, TOEFL and IELTS) and the VEC level system. (Adapted from: http://secure.vec.bc.ca/toefl-equivalency-table.cfm)

IELTS Cambridge Exam CEFR VEC
Online Score
VEC Level
0 – 250 0 – 310 0 – 30 0 – 8 0 – 1.0 0 – 34 2
310 – 343 33 – 60 9 – 18 1.0 – 1.5 A1 35 – 38 3
255 – 400 347 – 393 63 – 90 19 – 29 2.0 – 2.5 A1 39 – 45 4 – 5
397 – 433 93 – 120 30 – 40 3.0 – 3.5 KET
(IELTS 3.0)
A2 46 – 53 6 – 7
(IELTS 3.5)
(IELTS 3.5)
405 – 600 437 – 473 123 – 150 41 – 52 4.0 PET B1 54 – 57 8
477 – 510 153 – 180 53 – 64 4.5 – 5.0 PET
(IELTS 4.5)
(IELTS 4.5)
58 – 65 9 – 10
(IELTS 5.0)
(IELTS 5.0)
605 – 780 513 – 547 183 – 210 65 – 78 5.5 – 6.0 FCE B2 66 – 73 11 – 12
550 – 587 213 – 240 79 – 95 6.5 – 7.0 CAE C1 74 – 81 13 – 14
785 – 990 590 – 677 243 – 300 96 – 120 7.5 – 9.0 CPE C2 82 – 100 15
Top Score Top Score Top Score Top Score Top Score Top Score Top Level Top Score Top Level
990 677 300 120 9 100 C2 100 15

Mar 06

The Crisis

The crisis

English value: Making suggestions

Narrator: Here we are again at Tip Top Trading, where Anna’s interview for a sales job has been suddenly interrupted. Office assistant Denise has entered the room, looking very worried. What’s wrong? And will Anna have any suggestions that might help?

Denise: I don’t know what to do!

Paul: So what’s the matter Denise?

Denise: You know the PowerPoint presentation?

Paul: The one we’ve been preparing for the last two months?

Denise: Yes.

Paul: The one that’s very, very important and that we need this afternoon?

Denise: That one.

Paul: Aha.

Denise: We’ve lost everything!

Paul: No!

Denise: I had it on a USB stick, to transfer it, but the stick has vanished!

Narrator: Right Anna, now is your chance to help them find solutions to the problem.

You’ll need phrases like:

Can I make a suggestion?

Why don’t you…?

Have you tried…?

Maybe we could…?

How about…?

I have an idea!

Paul: But don’t you have it saved on your computer?

Denise: No, it was taking up a lot of space, so I deleted it.

Paul: So you have lost the only copy we have.

Denise: Yes.

Narrator: What idiots! I’ve never seen such a disorganised office. Go on, you’d better help them, Anna.

Anna: Can I make a suggestion?

Paul: Yes, please do!

Anna: Why don’t you try looking in your recycle bin? It might still be there.

Denise: I did. It isn’t.

Anna: Have you tried asking your colleagues if they’ve seen the memory stick?

Denise: I did. They haven’t.

Anna: How about looking through your rubbish bin to see if you threw it away by mistake?

Denise: (getting shirty) I don’t do silly things like that!

Paul: All very sensible suggestions Anna, thank you.

Anna: Maybe I could do a big office search for you…? I’m good at finding things.

Denise: There are confidential documents in this office – non-staff are not allowed to see them.

Paul: Now, now Denise. Why don’t you drink up that nice tea?

Anna: I have an idea! Did you ever email the presentation to anyone?

Paul: Golly gosh, you did Denise! You emailed it to me to proof-read. It’ll be in my inbox somewhere. Good thinking Anna!

Denise: I was just about to suggest that myself actually.

Paul: Problem solved. Thank you Anna!

Anna: Pleasure.

Narrator: Well done Anna!

Paul: Right, now please leave us Denise. Anna and I will continue our interview. Would you like a biscuit Anna?

Anna: Thank you. Oh, what’s that?

Paul: Oh golly gosh, the USB stick! It was mixed in with the plate of biscuits that Denise brought in.

Anna: It’s wet!

Paul: Yes, I think maybe I stirred my tea with it at one point. Oh well. Now, where were we…? My goodness, it’s 11 o’clock! I have a meeting right now! I’m afraid I’m going to have to go. But I’ve made up my mind about you anyway. I suppose you’d like to know if you’ve got the job?

Anna: Yes please!

Narrator: Ah – Stop right there! I’m sure everybody would like to know if Anna’s got the job – but everybody’s going to have to wait until we’ve heard her helpful phrases once again:

Can I make a suggestion?

Why don’t you try looking in your recycle bin?

Have you tried asking your colleagues if they’ve seen the memory stick?

How about…?

Maybe I could do a big office search for you…?

How about looking through your rubbish bin…?

I have an idea!

Paul: Anna, we need someone who can think on her feet and who is a first-rate people person. Someone who sees solutions, not problems… someone like you! So if you want the job, it’s yours!

Narrator: Ah, now think carefully Anna – do you really want to work for these people? They seem a bit… disorganised.

Anna: I would definitely like the job! Thank you!

Narrator: So be it. Join us again next week for Anna’s first day as a sales executive at Tip Top Trading.

  • · Listening comprehension question

Why was the memory stick wet?

Because it had been in Paul’s tea.

adapted from bbclearningenglish.com

Click Here for Audio File Listening and Pronunciation Excercise:

Mar 05

Wake up and smell the coffee!

Wake up and smell the coffee!

Jen: Hi I’m Jen and with me today is Li. Did you get my text message this morning?

Li: Hi Jen, yes, and I’ve brought everything you mentioned.

Jen: What, I didn’t ask you for anything?

Li: <ignoring Jen> I’ve got you this great alarm clock and I’ve made this lovely pot of coffee – would you like a cup?

Jen: Er… No thanks… But Li, I didn’t tell you to bring anything today.

Li: You did. Look – you said <pushing buttons on phone>: “The boss asked to see you in his office… I think you    need to wake up and smell the coffee!”…

Jen: Yes…but…

Li: So I’ve brought some coffee and an alarm clock for when I see the boss, to show him I can wake up and smell the coffee.

Jen: I didn’t mean it literally. When we say ‘wake up and smell the coffee’ in English, it means that you need to pay attention because you’re missing something that’s really obvious.

Li: So when you tell me to “wake up and smell the coffee,” you think something’s going on that I don’t realise.

Jen: Exactly. Let’s hear some examples:


Wake up and smell the coffee – she doesn’t want to go out with you!

My girlfriend wants me to buy her some diamond earrings, but I’ve got no money, she

really needs to wake up and smell the coffee!


Li: So if this man’s girlfriend needs to ‘wake up and smell the coffee’, she needs to realise he can’t afford to buy her the earrings she wants.

Jen: Now you’ve got it!

Li: Ok, so in your text you said that I need to wake up and smell the coffee because the boss wants to see me?

Jen: Yeah…

Li: So you think I’m missing something…

Jen: Think about it… he said he loves your work, he is always talking about how talented you are, how he wants to reward his staff… wake up and smell the coffee, Li!

Li: I just don’t know what you are getting at.

Jen: I mean I think he’s going to give you a pay rise.

Li: Really! Wow, that would be fantastic! I never would have thought I’d get a pay rise, he must think I’m really good!

Jen: Well, don’t forget me if you suddenly become really rich.

Li: Of course I won’t forget you.

Jen: You can buy me something nice.

Li: I’ll tell you what – I’ll buy you a coffee!

adapted from bbclearningenglish.com

Click Here for Audio File Listening and Pronunciation Excercise:

Feb 22

Carbon Monoxide

Carbon Monoxide

Helen stepped outside her front door to see what the weather was like. It was sunny and warm. That was nice, because for the past two weeks it had been cold and rainy. It had been so cold that she had had to turn her heater on. She was lucky, because her heater worked and she could pay her heating bills.
Some people in Los Angeles were not so lucky. Unable to use their home heater, they placed charcoal into a barbecue grill and lit it. The heat kept them warm, but the carbon monoxide killed them.
This happens almost every winter in Los Angeles. People shut all the windows tight to keep the cold out, then light the charcoal. Soon enough, the oxygen in their home is consumed by the open flames. The family suffocates to death.
Everyone knows that smoke detectors are required in Los Angeles. But many people don’t know about, or don’t think they need, carbon monoxide detectors. They’re not expensive. A $25 investment can save a family from death.
People always think that nothing bad will happen to them; it always happens to “the other guy.” So they forget to put fresh batteries into their smoke detectors annually, and they don’t bother to buy carbon monoxide detectors.

Adapted from http://www.eslfast.com/

download Audio here :

Feb 21

A Haircut

A Haircut

It was time for a haircut. Lenny didn’t even have to look in the mirror. Even though he was going bald, he knew that he needed to cut his hair every two weeks.
He had a “tongue” of hair on the top of his head. His hair was thinning at the crown. He still had plenty of hair on the sides and back. It was what they call “salt and pepper,” a mixture of gray hair and dark brown hair. It was only a few years, he figured, until the salt and pepper became just salt.
He never let his hair grow for more than two weeks. The longer it got, the worse it looked, he thought.
He spread a newspaper over the bathroom sink so that no hair went down the drain. He plugged in the clippers and started cutting his hair. He started at the back of his head, went to the sides, and finished on the top. Every minute or so, he had to clean the hair out of the blades with an old toothbrush.
Finished, he picked up a hand mirror to check out the back of his head. Everything looked okay. He carried the newspaper back out to the kitchen and shook the hair clippings into the trash can.
Then he took a shower.

Adapted from http://www.eslfast.com/

download Audio here :

Feb 07



Many of the words we use are formed using roots. We can figure out the definitions of words by looking for these roots and thinking about their meanings. Learning words roots is one of the easiest and most effective ways of increasing your vocabulary. You will be surprised at how many roots you already know.

•    Most word roots are not used alone. They may have prefixes or suffixes attached to them.
Example: The root dict, “to say or to speak,” is never used alone. Prefixes like pre- or contra- (predict, contradict) or suffixes like –ation or –ator (dictation, dictator) are added to it.
•    At first you may not see how a particular word was formed from the word root. Look at the word  carefully. You will see the connection.
Example: Look at the word revolve. It comes from the root volv which means “to turn” or “to roll.” You can see the connection between the word revolve and the idea of turning or rolling.
•    Once you recognize the roots, you will see the connection between many words.  This will make it easier for you to understand new words and remember their meanings.
•    Study the word roots, in any reading materials, especially academic reading materials.  Try to learn a few each day.  Review the roots you’ve learned. Try to use the in speaking and writing activity.
•    Every time you look up a word in the dictionary, look its roots.  Most words in English have Latin or Greek roots. Keep a list of new roots that you want to learn.

Adapted from: Practice Vocabulary, by Milada Broukal, Pg. 21-23

Please Click here for “Bahasa Version


Jan 19

The Easiest Way To Understand New Words

Words In Context

There was this time when you read or listen then you don’t know the meaning of a word and there is no preffix, suffix or root to help you figure it out, and you got tired to look at it in the dictionary, try too look at the word’s CONTEXT.

The context of the word is its setting.  It is where we hear it in speech or see it in writing.  hearing or seeing words in context is one of the ways we learn words.  Learning to figure out the meaning of words will help you increase your vocabulary.  So here is some strategies that you might want to use on learning to understand reading materials and listening.

  • When you are looking for a clues to the meaning of a word in context, one of these types of contextual clues will help you
    1. Straight Definitions, Sometimes when an unusual word is used in text, a definition of the word appears close by.  Try to understand  the definition and apply it to the word in context.
    2. Paraphrase or synonyms,  look for the possibility of another word or phrase in the context that has the same meaning.
    3. Implied meaning,  sometimes direct clues is not given in the text, but are hinted at or implied.  In this case, think about the context and guess what the meaning of the word might be.  even if you aren’t sure of the exact meaning, you should be able to get a general idea of what it means.
  • Every time you read, practice looking for contextual clues.  This will help you learn to think about the meaning of what you read, and will also train you to think about words and their meanings.

Adapted from: Practice Vocabulary, by Milada Broukal, Pg. 1

Please Click here for “Bahasa Version

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