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Instant Lesson

Travel Plans
When Robert Reid last visited London he stayed in an apartment he found on a "couch-surfing" site. "The people were super and it gave me a great outlook on London and I appreciate the city more than I did before." People visiting cities in particular are now choosing to stay in residential apartments and live like locals. (Role play, skimmimg, scanning, intensive reading, discussion)
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Beauty Treatments?
Hollywood stars wanting to look their best for Tinseltown's biggest night of the year are being offered beauty treatments ranging from the lavish to plain loony such as $250,000 black diamond nail varnish and bird excrement facials. (Beauty treatments and products, influence of consumers on manufacturers, zero conditionals.)
Upper-Intermediate
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Diamond Gifts
A piece of Antarctica named after her, a baby llama, tea from Sri Lanka and her own set of Olympic medals were just some of the gifts Britain's Queen Elizabeth received during her 2012 diamond jubilee year. Foreign leaders,... luxury goods businesses and members of the public gave the British queen a treasure trove of gifts. (Gift giving, jubilees, superlative adjectives.)
Pre-Intermediate
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Cough Cough
The gap between how long people expect their cough to last and how long it actually does may drive some to the doctor for antibiotics that won't help, according to a new study. (Treatment of ailments and antiobiotics, doctors, remedies, modal verbs, "...by + verb+ing...")
Upper-Intermediate
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Chore Monster
Forget bribery, intimidation and threats, a new app is designed to encourage children to do chores by turning the tasks into a game and giving them points when it is completed. The app called ChoreMonster, available for iOS devices and on the web, aims to make household chores, such as setting the table, feeding the pets or unloading the dishwasher, fun. (Chores, families, children and parents, giving advice, should/shouldn't.)
Intermediate
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Man Without Hat
Singer-actor Rain is in trouble because he didn't wear his army hat. Rain was on a date with actress and model, Kim Tae-Hee. He was wearing his army uniform, but not his army hat. (Singers, South Korea, Kim Tae-Hee and Rain).
Elementary
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When I'm Old .....
Liu Qianping was visiting his 24-year-old granddaughter in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou when he saw the women's clothes [that his] granddaughter was packing into boxes. His visit came as the model that Lu Ting and four friends had booked for a photo shoot suddenly canceled. (Fashion, old age, retirement, first and second conditional, poem, "shall".)
Pre-Intermediate
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Life and death on India's Network
As the Kalka Mail train pulls into Delhi railway station at dawn, it is every man, woman and child for themselves. Before the train has stopped, crowds elbow and jostle into packed compartments destined for Kolkata, 1,500 km (930 miles) and 25 hours away on one of the largest, most decrepit and dangerous rail networks in the world. (Train travel, business investment, India, descriptive verbs.)
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Fly for a Hobby
Wealthy Chinese are itching to take up flying as a hobby, but high taxes and military controls on airspace are grounding the aviation industry's hopes of a sales boom. (China, flying a plane, aviation vocabulary, matching and listening game, functional language - booking an air ticket, requesting, apologizing, socializing, air travel vocabulary.)
Upper-Intermediate
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Giving Kids
Not long after the megastorm Sandy hit the northeast United States, Maryum Goodwin and her little girl Ryleigh, 6, saw a disturbing picture of the New Jersey shore devastation. "That's somebody's house?" Ryleigh asked. "It used to be," said Maryum. That moment got Ryleigh thinking about how she could help. (Teaching children about giving, charities, disasters, past perfect)
Intermediate
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Golden Tree
Do you want a special gift for Christmas? A jewelry store in Tokyo has a gold revolving tree. The tree is made of 40 kilograms of gold. (Gold, Christmas trees, shopping language, questions in the past simple tense.)
Elementary
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Drive For Status
In Tebet, Indonesia houses cost around $100,000. Outside many of the [houses] are Mercedes-Benzes, BMWs and Jeeps - imported cars worth as much as the houses themselves. In Jakarta drivers show off sleek Italian sports cars, British Bentleys, and the most expensive people carriers. The luxury cars are a sign of the growing wealth of the middle class in Indonesia. Cars, status symbols, Indonesia, shopping, present continuous.)
Pre-Intermediate
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Animal Apps
Humans aren't the only species on the planet with a penchant for electronic gadgets. Zookeepers across the United States and Canada are discovering that apes also get excited about apps. 12 zoos have been incorporating iPads into the enrichment time allotted for orangutans, the giant furry red primates native to Indonesia and Malaysia. (Orangutans, animals, using technology and apps, participles as adjectives.)
Intermediate
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What's For Dinner
Anyone looking to expand their culinary horizons beyond steak and potatoes or spaghetti may find inspiration in a new app that provides recipes based on what is already stocked in the refrigerator. (New apps for computers, cooking and food, will + infinitive used for future.)
Upper-Intermediate
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Greek Mosquitos
Just when it seems things couldn't get any worse for Greece, the exhausted and indebted country has a new threat to deal with: mosquito-borne diseases. Species of the blood-sucking insects that can carry exotic-sounding tropical infections like malaria, West Nile Virus, chikungunya and dengue fever are enjoying the extra bit of warmth climate change is bringing to parts of southern Europe. (Malaria, Greece, health system, disease and prevention control).
Advanced
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Crazy For Coffee
These days, when you are walking along the streets of southern Seoul, you are just as likely to smell the fragrance of fresh-brewed coffee as that of kimchi or more traditional Korean foods and a specially frothy kind of milk from New Zealand, great for cappuccinos. (Coffee drinking, business, Korea, Starbucks, role play: running a cafe).
Intermediate
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Nasty Parasites
Parasites look set to become more virulent because of climate change, according to a study showing that frogs suffer more infections from a fungus when exposed to unexpected swings in temperatures. (Parasites, climate change, frogs, reported quesitons.)
Upper-Intermediate
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Elephant Escapes
An elephant trainer has taken two elephants back to the circus after they walked along a busy Copenhagen street and an elephant escaped from New Zealand's Auckland Zoo after she dropped a log on an electrified fence and pushed through a gate. (Elephants, zoos - benefits and disadvantages, sequencing, a / an / the, writing a headline, pair crossword, present perfect.)
Elementary
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Runners Hit the Road
As budgets tighten and working lives get more stressful, running is experiencing a boom as people hit the parks and streets of their cities to escape from it all and keep themselves healthy for just the cost of a pair of sneakers. (Running, fitness, understanding statistics, role play on buying a pair of shoes.)
Upper-Intermediate
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Free Medicine for All
For Ramaiyah Venkat, the two-hour bus journey to get free insulin is worth it even if he has to queue for hours at the dispensary and sometimes gets less than he needs. Tamil Nadu is one of two Indian states offering free medicine for all. (Scanning, reported and indirect speech)
Advanced
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Asia's Nobel Winners
A Taiwanese vegetable seller is one of six winners of Asia's Ramon Magsaysay Award this year. Chen has been selling vegetables in Taiwan's Taitung central market since 1963. She has used the money she gets from selling vegetables to help build a library and feed and shelter children-and families displaced by disasters.
Pre-Intermediate
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Sports Bill No Laughing Matter
Jodi Furman likes to joke that she should paint her minivan yellow. That's because she basically turns into a taxi driver in the afternoons and on weekends, as she delivers her three children to various sports practices in Palm Beach, Florida. But the bill for all those sports is no laughing matter. (Families, sport, do, play or go.)
Intermediate
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Annoying Noises
Which noise is more distracting - a child whining or a table saw? Making a noise while unwrapping a lolly at the movies can't be helped! (Whining and children, scientific research, unwrapping candies in theaters, referencing, adverbs)
Upper-Intermediate
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Reading Helps Prisoners Escape
Prisoners in four prisons can read up to 12 books every year and shorten their sentence in prison by up to 48 days, the government said. (Prisons, reading, benefits of reading.)
Elementary
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Olympic "Wild Card"
Spectators loved these very slow athletes at the Olympics. Find out why in this mini-lesson. (Rowing, swimming, Africa, Niger, Olympic games, Olympic spirit.)
Intermediate
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Japan pocket Terminator
Don't let the fluffy socks fool you. Pint-sized Japanese wrestler Saori Yoshida could just be the most fearsome athlete in any sport at this year's London Olympics. (Wrestling, Japan, Summer Olympics)
Pre-Intermediate
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Olympian "Makes a Splash"
Cullen Jones was five when he almost drowned but rather than live in fear of water the American jumped back in with both feet, overcoming his fears to become an Olympic swimming gold medalist and drive a campaign to slash the drowning rate in the United States. (Swimming, the Olympics, matching sentence endings.)
Upper-Intermediate
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Youngest Swimming Champion?
Ye Shiwen, a 16-year-old swimmer, from China may win a gold medal in London. When she was a young girl, a [kindergarten] teacher saw she had bigger hands and legs than other children. (Olympics, Ye Shiwen, swimming, sport vocabulary, comparatives and superlatives.)
Elementary
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Sports Rights
The image of 24-year-old Nour Fitiany resting courtside as the pounding of basketballs and thumping of feet reverberated around her wouldn't merit a second glance in most countries. But in Saudi Arabia, where girls are banned from sports in state schools, powerful clerics castigate women for exercising and female gyms must adhere to strict regulations, Fitiany's ambition to play basketball - let alone represent her country in international tournaments - is a bold political statement.
Advanced
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Olympic Opening Ceremony
London's Olympic Stadium will be [turned] into a British meadow complete with fields, cows, ducks, a horse-drawn plough and a game of village cricket for the opening ceremony of this year's summer Games. (Olympic Games, opening ceremony, England.)
Pre-Intermediate
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The Best Place To Live
Once more, Vienna ranked world's nicest city and Baghdad worst. Vienna's excellent infrastructure, safe streets and good public health service make it the nicest place to live in the world, consulting group Mercer said in a global survey. (Cities and quality of life, discussion, complete the table, scanning, thinking carefully, ranking items.)
Intermediate
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An Olympic Love Story
Mention the name Missoni, and most think of a fashion empire that revolutionized textile patterns, spawned the no-bra look on the catwalks, and is now a global brand that designs everything from sweaters to sheets to hotels. But none of it would have happened had it not been for the 1948 London Olympics. (Sequencing, completing a table, predicting)
Advanced
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Eat Your Vegetables!
Japanese coaches are telling a Japanese table tennis player to eat more vegetables before the London Olympics. (Koki Niwa, sport, diet, vegetables, the Olympics, quantifiers.)
Elementary
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Welcome Back
A sixth grade student with pink hair can now go back to school. The school told the girl to stay at home because of her pink hair, but now she can go back to school. (School uniforms, civil rights, hairstyles, using will to make future predictions, designing a school uniform).
Elementary
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Cash Mobs?
Flash mobs have been blamed as a factor in looting during urban riots. But now a group of online activists is harnessing social media like Twitter and Facebook to get consumers to spend at locally owned stores in cities around the world in so-called Cash Mobs. (Cash mobs, spending, business.)
Upper-Intermediate
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Adolescent CEOs
Venture capitalists are funding more chief executives under age 21 than ever before. Josh Buckley, chief executive of an online gaming start-up, is looking forward to the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, particularly for the parties and the schmoozing with industry A-listers. There's one problem: Buckley may be turned away from many of the parties because he is not old enough to drink. (Young entrepreneurs, work, high-tech companies, venture capitalists, 'will' + infinitive.)
Upper-Intermediate
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A Happy Retirement
Interested in adventure and exploring new places? An international magazine is looking for volunteers to spend a month in Cuenca, Ecuador to test its potential as a retirement destination. Applicants must be near retirement age, from the United States or Canada and be willing to relax, explore, shop and report on their experience during an all-expense paid month in the Latin American country.
Upper-Intermediate
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Trapped!
A Swedish man was dug out alive after being snowed in to his car on a forest track for two months with no food and a man was trapped in an elevator for more than 40 hours. (Being trapped, escapes, direct speech, punctuation.)
Pre-Intermediate
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Teaching Millions the Art of War
China is rapidly becoming a country on wheels and its crowded driving schools are racing to churn out licensed drivers as fast as cars roll off the assembly lines. But judging by the daily smash-ups and blatant disregard for even basic traffic rules on China's roadways, quantity seems to have trumped quality at many schools. (Driving and driving tests, Beijing, cars.)
Advanced
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Photos Making Slow Way Home
In a large, bright room not far from the ocean that raged through this coastal Japanese city nearly a year ago, a handful of people with magnifying glasses pore over boxes of photographs of friends or loved ones. Photos lost or damaged in the 2011 March tsunami are slowly making their way back to their owners, thanks to the painstaking efforts of a team that cleans them of mud, dirt and oil. (Photographs, memories, disasters, the present perfect simple).
Intermediate
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Cyber School Bullies
Parents around the world say cyberbullying is a problem says a new survey and in the Netherlands some children bully other children online. 12% of Dutch young people said other children bully them online. (Bullying, cyberbullying, computer technology, schools, describing future plans, be going to..., discussion, asking for information game.)
Elementary
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Petsercise
The world's biggest food group Nestle has launched an online program inviting pet owners to team up with their furry friends to lose weight and an dog food advertisement especially produced for dogs, not their owners. (Business, obesity, pet owners, pet food, cats and dogs, "to" for purpose, proper nouns, role play and advertisements.)
Intermediate
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Punching for Gold
Teenage Afghan sisters fighting for women's rights as they join the Olympics as their country's first female boxers. (The Olympics, Afghanistran, sport. women's sports, past simple tense: regular and irregular verb forms)
Upper-Intermediate
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Lost and Found
An American violinist left her $2.6 million 1727 Stradivarius violin on a German train and a Boston music student was reunited with the $170,000 violin she forgot in the overhead compartment of a bus. An 89-year-old Canadian widow has inherited a C$130 ($88,000) cash windfall, although the money - left by her late husband in a fire extinguisher canister - was found by a couple in a house she no longer owned. (Money, court cases, law, valuable things.)
Pre-Intermediate
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Aging in Office
Judging by their "before" and "after" photographs, U.S. presidents appear to age before our eyes, adding wrinkles and gray hair with each year in office. But contrary to conventional wisdom, a few years in the White House do not appear to cut short the lives of U.S. presidents, and most live longer than their peers, according to a new study released on Tuesday. (President of the United States, age, longevity, health.)
Upper-Intermediate
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A Day in the Life of a .....!
Reuters interviewed the Duck Master at the Peabody Hotel in Little Rock. The Duck Master is in charge of the hotel's flock of ducks. This tradition began in 1940. The Duck Master talks about his day. (Jobs, animals, hotels, third person singular verbs, time, answering and asking questions.)
Elementary
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That's Not Junk
One man's garbage is another man's riches, so the old saying goes. "University professor Jeff Ferrell is something of a U.S. urban Robin Hood, although what he gives away is not stolen but the result of dumpster diving. The professor of sociology looks through dumpsters and gives [most] of what he finds to the needy or to friends. (Reusing and recycling, waste disposal, vocabulary, true, false or not given, matching statements, second conditional, Trash or treasure Game, offering, requesting.)
Intermediate
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Replacing the Carrot with a Stick
While workers mostly like to see an employer offer smoking cessation classes and weight loss programs, too few are signing up or showing signs of improvement. So now more employers are trying a different strategy - they're replacing the carrot with a stick and raising costs for workers who can't seem to lower their cholesterol or tackle obesity. They're also coming down hard on smokers. (Health care and compulsory wellness programs, business, pair crossword, opinion essays and discussion.)
Advanced
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The Doll with the Dragon Tattoo?
The doll with the dragon tattoo? Mattel's latest collector's edition Barbie doll has pink hair and tattoos across her shoulders and neck. (Toys, Barbie dolls, role models, tattoos.)
Intermediate
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Renewables "gold rush"
Renewable energy has created a "gold rush" atmosphere in Germany's depressed north-east, giving the country's poorhouse good jobs and great promise. The natural resources attracting investors and industry are of a simple variety: wind, sunshine, agricultural products and farm waste such as liquid manure. (Germany, renewable energy, business.)
Advanced
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