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Shine A Light
Vegetable seller Ramiben Waghri took out a loan to buy a solar lantern which she uses to light up her stall at night. The lantern costs between $66-$112, about a week's income for Waghri. "The vegetables look better by this light, and it's cheaper than kerosene and doesn't smell," said Waghri. "If we can use the sun to save some money, why not?" (Renewable energy sources, developing countries, solar power, micro finance.)
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Snatched Gold Returned
The "Mother of Judo" waited 50 years to get the gold medal that was snatched from her in her first serious competition, a gender injustice that fueled Rusty Kanokogi's winning crusade for women's judo in the Olympics. "This should never, never happen to a woman again in sports," Kanokogi said about the rage she felt back in 1959. (Women in sport, discrimination, biography, judo.)
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Health Clinic of Last Resort
Inside an aging sports arena thousands of Americans are seeking free healthcare. Hundreds were turned away on the first day of a weeklong clinic run by the nonprofit Remote Area Medical Volunteer Corp as part of its mission to provide free health, dental and eye care in needy spots around the world. (Medical charities, health care, health insurance, the suffix 'ologist'.)
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Banker to the Poor
Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus, known as the "banker to the poor" for making small loans in impoverished countries, is now doing business in the center of capitalism -- New York City. In the past year the first U.S. branch of his Grameen Bank has lent $1.5 million, ranging from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars, to nearly 600 women with small business plans in the city's borough of Queens. (Microfinance, small business, present perfect continuous.)
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Modern American Dads Given a Raw Deal?
Author Michael Lewis says there really wasn't much difference between being a Salomon Brothers bond trader and becoming a father -- he was woefully ill-prepared for both jobs. Lewis writes candidly about initially feeling scant affection or love for his children and pokes fun at the modern American pact where fathers share child-rearing duties. (Parenting, being a father, male and female parent roles, giving definitions, listening and writing, sharing opinions.)
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Pirates!
A new spate of hijackings by Somali pirates has shown they are determined to go on striking at shipping on the region's strategic trade routes despite intervention by Western and other navies. Multi-million-dollar superyachts sailing from the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean for the European summer could be the next high-profile target of Somali pirates, security experts say. (Super yachts, piracy, choosing the correct headline, finding errors.)
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"American Dream"
Kim Bischof is entering the U.S. job market after she finishes college in May with a degree in special education and is confident that the "American Dream' is still alive for her, recession be dammed. Her optimism, echoed by other students in interviews, may reflect the fact that many young Americans today are indeed better off than their parents were at the same age. (American dream, reality of life for young Americans compared to parents, summarizing, verb forms.)
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King Bug
Animals such as lions, crocodiles or snakes thrive elsewhere on the planet, but Antarctica's most fearsome land predator is a reddish bug. The continent is best known for penguins, seals and whales, but all rely on the sea for food, unlike its Lilliputian land-based creatures and plants -- so far almost unaffected by humans. (Antarctica, ecosystems, climate change, answering true or false questions, adverbs.)
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The personal touch for survival
Many U.S. retailers, large and small, have good reason to envy Sue Opeka -- sales at her store have been up 15 percent for the past four months and she's up 5 percent for the year so far. Staring into the face of a possible recession as the holiday shopping season approaches, many small U.S. stores and boutiques catering to wealthier consumers are adjusting strategies and inventories. (Business, recessions, retailing.)
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Effecting a Change - The Max Effect
"Affect" and "effect" are often confused. This Max Vocabulary Worksheet explains the differences very effectively.
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Madonna
The key to Madonna's enduring appeal has been to stay one step ahead of the game in the famously fickle world of pop...the performer announced on Wednesday that she and British film director Guy Ritchie were divorcing...But it is not just stamina and determination that have got the singer to where she is today. Perhaps more than anything else it is her ability to reinvent herself. (Madonna, entertainment.)
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Imply Vs Infer
Danielle from New Zealand asked us for some clarification on these two easily confused words. A Max Vocabulary Worksheet for Advanced students.
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Fantasy Sport
Fantasy sports, where fans select real athletes for make-believe teams, are exploding onto new platforms like smart phones and social networking sites, grabbing the attention of advertisers and software companies. With a growing number of people playing casual games on the Internet and a largely untapped market outside the United States, analysts say the market for fantasy sports can only grow. (Fantasy sports, leisure, technology, conducting a survey, determining fact or opinion.)
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Alaska's Hotting Up
Welcome to Alaska, where the blow of climate change will fall harder than on any other U.S. state. Records indicate that Alaska has already experienced the largest regional warming of any U.S. state. (Global warming, droughts, forest fires, infestations of insects, True or False, understanding the main idea, scanning, finding synonyms).
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"Made in China?"
These days, many fashionistas are still confused over what is real, what is fake, and whether a product's country of origin says anything about its quality. Even a "Made in Italy" label no longer guarantees that a bag or a pair of shoes was hand crafted by artisans in a Tuscan workshop. (Luxury items, consumers, ethical consumerism.)
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Slim Peace
There's the weekly weigh-in, the tips on healthy snacking and the chit-chat between women. But this is a slimming group with a difference: half its members are Palestinian, half are Israeli and the aim is to foster dialogue, through a common battle with weight. (Women and focus groups, Palestine and Israel, conflicts, brainstorming, completing a table of information, collocation and vocabulary exercises)
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Birthday Hell!
Welcome to the deepest inner circle of parenting hell - the kiddie birthday party. Who knew a simple celebration could generate so much anxiety and overindulgence? Most adults remember when kids' birthdays meant ice cream and a game of pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey. Today children have come to expect lavish orgies of gifts, gimmicks and goody bags. (Children, parenting, birthday parties, consumerism, brainstorming, planning a birthday party.)
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Were you fooled?
This is all about April Fool's Day, with the history of the day, and some examples of strange stories in newspapers... some of which weren't April Fool's Day stories at all: They were true! (Jokes, news stories.)
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Preserving Tongues
No one speaks a word of English. "I just use Cayuga with them," Jacobs said. "Mostly they can respond back in Cayuga, so it's pretty cool." The eight children of this kindergarten class carry on their shoulders the hopes for preserving the language of the Cayugas. (Languages, language learning policy and funding, attitude to language learning, indigenous peoples, giving an opinion, choosing the best answer, grammatical error correction.)
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Urban Foragers
Eating locally means different things to different people, but to urban foragers it can literally mean eating close to home. You may not realize it, but a wealth of healthy -- and free -- food may be growing just outside your front door. (Foraging in urban settings, eating locally grown food, restaurants, scanning, completing a table, comprehension, idioms using fruit and vegetables.)
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Aging World
Already, one in five Japanese are aged 65 or over and by mid-century a falling birth rate and rising longevity mean that figure will nearly double, while the population will drop by 30 percent to 90 million. Companies in the world's fastest-aging society are looking to older people as well as younger women, immigrants and even robots to fill the gaps. (Aging populations, work issues, making decisions, answering multiple choice questions, role play.)
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Farming Tourists
Like many farmers, Martin Busin works from dawn till nightfall, but he still needs the help of his cafe-au-lait cow, Miss, to bring in tourists to keep afloat his smallholding in Italy's mountainous Alto Adige region. (Agritourism, Italy, choosing a headline, using the context to guess a meaning of a word,choosing a headline , conducting an interview.)
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Watching is Catching on
Armed with binoculars it takes to the bush to spot and identify winged creatures but this is not the common bird watcher -- it's the butterfly watcher, a relatively rare but fast growing species. (Butterflies and butterfly watching, conservation, hobbies, making predictions, comprehension, finding grammatical errors.)
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Greyhound Gives a Picture
Every morning a Greyhound bus loads up with passengers to start its journey to Atlanta. The ride provides an insight into the lives of America's poor as the bus crosses the Deep South states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia. (Greyhound bus travel, descriptions of people, discussion, completing the gaps, choosing the best headline, completing a summary, understanding points of view and purpose, word families, writing an email.)
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Real-life Avatar
A world away from Hollywood in remote eastern India the story of Avatar is being played out. Avatar tells the story of the Na'vi whose existence is threatened by a mining corporation which wants to exploit mineral deposits beneath a giant sacred tree. In India's state of Orissa, indigenous tribespeople are battling to stop Vedanta Resources from extracting bauxite from their sacred mountain. (Religion, environment, sharing information, making a diagram, timeline, discussion.)
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Left Behind Kids
Xiao Yun and Xiao Bo are, in many ways, typical rural Chinese kids. But when the 11 and 12-year-old return to their small cave home - still common for many here on the edge of the Loess Plateau in China's northwestern Shaanxi province - there are no parents waiting for them. (Text Organization, Problem Solving, Discussion, Research Project)
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Education in Crisis
Ahmed waits outside his school's gates on a chilly midweek morning, holding his textbooks by his side. But as the majority of pupils and teachers fail to arrive, the 18-year-old, who is in his final year at high school, has to put off learning for yet another day. "It's canceled again today," he said. (Education in an area of conflict, Iraq, brainstorming vocabulary, checking predictions, completing a sentence summary, inferring, discussion, describing qualities.)
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Disney Magic in Hong Kong
Opened last September in Hong Kong, Disney's magic kingdom has failed to hit its full-year 5.6 million visitors attendance target. Disney has suffered a number of controversies, including a lockout of angry ticket holders during the crunch Lunar New Year holidays, and the public airing of grievances by its staff who complained of low wages and mistreatment. (Discussion, choosing the best headline, completing a table of information, brainstorming, definite and indefinite articles.)
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In the Shadow of the Knife
A teenager lies in a pool of blood in the street after he is stabbed in a dawn attack. Britain is living "in the shadow of the knife", as one tabloid headline writer put it. And experts fear the number of fatal stabbings will spiral out of control if a growing knife culture among young people is not tackled. (Violent crimes, young people, city life, discussion, choosing a headline, matching information, comprehension, ordering paragraphs.)
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Gangs on the Loose
Unruly gangs are raiding the expensive homes that line the spectacular coast of South Africa's Cape Peninsula, clearing out pantries, emptying fridges and defecating on the designer furnishings. It's baboon versus human in a string of wealthy oceanfront communities 30 minutes from the trendy center of Cape Town. (Baboons, wildlife, discussion, true or false, punctuation exercise, vocabulary work.)
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Pair Crosswords: Past Participles - Advanced
Revision of past participles, and pronunciation of past participles, using pair-crosswords.
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On with biotech crops?
As the GM crops industry celebrates its 10th anniversary, the early promises of biotech crops remain largely unrealized, and many countries have banned the technology amid concerns about health and the environment. (An overview of the first decade of GM crops, business, discussion, predicting from a headline, comprehension.)
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Bangladesh's rivers - curse and lifeline
The mighty Teesta river that has swept away farm laborer Mohammad Taheruddin's home 10 times in the past five decades is now a picture of calm. But barely two months ago the Teesta, like many other rivers in the low-lying South Asian country, was in full spate. It burst its banks, destroying flood shelters the government built five years. (Bangladesh, flooding, discussion, brainstorming, matching headlines, true or false, reading carefully, reading and notetaking, present perfect continuous.)
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A Girl's Best Friend
For centuries diamonds have lured women up the aisle; in future they may drive them to work as engineers find a use for the precious stones in electric cars and other applications. Industry officials say the uses for diamonds are multiplying and advances in synthetic production have opened the floodgates to ever more innovative applications. (Diamonds, jewelry, industry, electric cars, comparing information, completing a table of information, matching names and definitions, passive.)
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Back in Fashion
"We want gold to be contemporary, something that is young and people want to possess, to wear," says Bobby Godsell, chief executive of South African mining house AngloGold Ashanti, which last year mined six million ounces of gold worth $2.6 billion (1.4 million pounds). Gold is claiming more of the traditional markets for objects of desire. (Gold, luxury items, making choices, predicting from the text, comprehension, cloze reading, understanding figures, persuading someone.)
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Real Music by Real Musicians
Forget manufactured pop. After suffering a surfeit of Reality TV shows that propelled instantly forgettable stars into the charts, British music fans have had enough. Durability is the new buzzword as the British music business hands out its annual awards after a buoyant year. (Music trends, manufactured bands, popstars, make a choice, understanding the main idea, guessing words from context, presenting a summary, phrasal verbs, giving an opinion.)
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The Harvard School of Love
Over 35? Still looking for Mr. Right? Feeling left on the shelf? Perhaps it is time to repackage your assets, take a hard look at your personal brand and start telemarketing yourself. (Finding suitable marriage partners, business jargon, predicting, understanding the main idea, gap fill, true, false or not given, used to + base form and be / get used to + noun or gerund, information sharing, dating agency activity, discussion.)
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Talking Digitoys
Toys are changing fast, not least because their vocabulary is increasing, fast! New toys have computing power that makes them completely different to toys of even 10 years ago. There's even a doll that can read! (Toys, computer chips, children's development, scanning, writing definitions, identifying viewpoints, summarizing, discussion.)
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Coffee - A Complex Brew
Angela Holder does not swallow her coffee at work. In scenes redolent of a wine-tasting session, she slurps it, swishes it around her mouth and noisily spits it out. She 'cups' coffee. (Coffee tasting, coffee market, coffee, Make a choice Game, coffee knowledge quiz, reading for the main idea, multiple choice questions, reading about a process, Talking about coffee or tea Game, descriptive writing, finishing an ad.)
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Electronic Junk Mail
As the volume of email spam hits epidemic proportions, the makers of Internet security products are taking notice. (Email spam and anti-spam products, understanding the main idea, vocabulary work, multiple-choice questions, true or false, reading gap fill, dialogue share your opinion.)
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Beware of FrankenFish!
The vegetation grows thick in this dark-watered pond, hiding all that swims beneath. It could double as the set for the 1950s movie classic "Creature from the Black Lagoon." In a way it does, for the dreaded land-crawling, all-eating snakehead fish lives here. (Snakehead fish, eradication program, listening gap fill, writing questions, reading for detail, discussion, non-defining relative clauses.)
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Business Trip Mothers
It is a tough emotional decision every work-trip mom faces: will being away doing a deal damage her relationship with her children, as some studies show, or, as many professional moms say, will their children be more well-rounded individuals and less prone to separation anxiety. (Business travel, career and family, women, personality quiz, choosing the best headline, completing a table of information, true, false or not given, gerunds, Same Or Different listening Game, discussion.)
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Dog Show Intrigue
Something sinister is troubling Britain's genteel world of dog-showing, and at the center of it all lies one question: Who called Mrs Mann a "puppy farmer?" Hate mail is circulating, threats have been made over the phone, Mann - the country's top show judge - has resigned. (Gossip and scandal, dogshows, brainstorming and planning, whisper campaign, understanding main idea, completing table of information, categorizing words, comprehension, interview, quotations about gossip, word formation.)
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All Gadgets In One
Dennis Nally used to travel with a cell phone, an electronic organizer and a laptop. These days, the chairman of PricewaterhouseCoopers carries a tiny handheld device that does it all. (Multipurpose gadgets, technology, consumers, understanding the headline, text organization, finding information, completing a table, interview, crossword - adjectives, adjectives - -ed and -ing, Gadgets game - ordering instructions and writing instructions for using a machine.)
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Swaziland Crisis
Desperate HIV-positive Swazis are lining up in droves to try the latest "miracle AIDS cures", falling victim to patchy medical regulation in a country with one of the world's highest HIV infection rates. (HIV / AIDS, bogus 'wonder drugs', con artists, Swaziland, developing countries, brainstorming and problem solving, Find Your Other Half Game, placing headlines, matching information, scanning, differentiating fact from opinion, true or false, running dictation, discussion.)
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Last of LOTR
Peter Jackson, director of "The Lord Of The Rings" said he was sad but also relieved that the mammoth project he has worked on for seven years was over. Jackson made movie history by filming all three parts of the "Rings" trilogy simultaneously. ("The Lord Of The Rings", Gollum, computer animation, acting, the Oscars, expressing an opinion, reading and note-taking, preparing questions, interviewing, role-playing, complete the sentences game - movies, idioms, adjectives - expressing emotions.)
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Can We Share?
A U.S. doctor leading a highly unusual campaign to protest his exclusion from this year's Nobel Prize for medicine appealed to the two winners to insist he share the prestigious award. (Nobel prize, brainstorming, scanning, complete the table, explain the headline, comprehension, thinking carefully, error recognition, matching sentences, web research.)
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Night of a Thousand Dinners
At the Night of a Thousand Dinners people around the world share a meal to raise money for landmine clearance. This lesson looks at this event, some of the problems that landmines have caused in Afghanistan, and the dangers of landmines. (Landmine organizations, international issues, effect of landmine explosions on ordinary people, especially women, Afghanistan, reading and predicting, making sentences, jigsaw reading, comprehension, sharing information, check your understanding.)
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Stressed! Stressed! Stressed!
Job stress is a leading cause of illness, depression and workplace violence in America today and is increasing, experts say. (Stress in the workplace, causes, business, sharing opinions and fluency speaking practice, understanding the headline, matching information, reading for information, spot the mistake - grammatical errors, sequencing game.)
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Atwood's 'Oryx and Crake'
Celebrated Canadian author Margaret Atwood has released a novel about a deadly virus that wipes out civilization. 'Oryx and Crake' is bound to touch a few nerves in her home country and around a world still plagued with the fear of SARS. (Science Fiction, the future, SARS, text organization, true, false or not given, choose the best answer, sequencing, discussion, words with similar spellings, acronyms, find someone who game - books and reading.) Warning: Adult themes.
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