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Instant Lesson

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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Hold the Pillow Mint
Hotel chains are delivering everything from yoga videos to recumbent bicycles to guests who prefer to work out their jet lag, or shape up for that business meeting, in the privacy of their rooms. "Probably fitness equipment is the biggest request we get from guests." (Hotels, fitness, conducting an interview, writing an email, scanning, present continous.)
Intermediate
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Library Fines
The New York Public Library will waive the outstanding fines of up to 143,000 city children currently barred from borrowing new items on the condition they do one thing: read. Beginning on Monday, children enrolled in the library system's summer reading program will be able to knock $1 from their bill for every 15 minutes of reading they complete. (Libraries, debts, reading, describing a process, dialog and role play work.)
Intermediate
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Are You Out There?
Men in black, Mork and Mindy, shining lights in the sky and more than 20 years of other alien visitations and bizarre sightings recorded in Britain's own "X-Files" have been made available online to the public. (Aliens, legendary creatures, plural forms of words.)
Upper-Intermediate
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Clever Cats and Dogs
A clever dog and a brave cat. Beau, a black Labrador Retriever do is becoming famous for his math skills. His owner says if he tells Beau there are six dogs at the park and three dogs leave, and then asks him how many are left, the dog replies: "Woof, woof, woof." Mimi, a Persian cat, attacked a burglar when he decided to burgle 'her' house. (Cats and dogs, bizarre stories, crime, pets.)
Pre-Intermediate
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India schoolgirl defies tradition
Her fate looked sealed when her family began organizing the nuptial celebrations. But the bride-to-be, a shy schoolgirl from a remote village in western India, wasn't ready to say "I do." In a region where patriarchy and age-old customs dictate a woman's life from birth to death, 15-year-old Sapna Meena in April joined a small but growing number of girls who are standing up against the widespread practice of child marriage in India. (Child marriage, education, marriage, India.)
Advanced
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Balloon Dress
A dress made from balloons? Japanese balloon artist, Rie Hosokai, used 200 balloons for a dress. 35-year-old Hosokai used balloons for the mini-dress. (Dress design, do/does as an auxiliary, shopping for clothes dialogs and language, completing a table of information about clothes.)
Elementary
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The oldest, the tallest, the most expensive...
Tokyo is still the second most expensive city in the world for expatriates after Luanda in Angola. (World's most expensive cities, superlative adjectives, writing a headline, completing a table of information.)
Pre-Intermediate
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Once one of the most coveted in the world...
Levi Strauss will attempt to tap into the revolutionary spirit of the "Arab Spring" with a "Go Forth" global marketing campaign aimed at attracting youthful customers back to a jeans brand that was once one of the most coveted in the world. (Brands, prepositions.)
Upper-Intermediate
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Counting sheep?
Britons now prefer listening to lions roaring and monkeys calling to help them get to sleep, according to a new survey. Miss too much sleep and risk becoming mentally retarded. (How to get to sleep, research, health, brain, 'even if', 'even so' and 'even though')
Intermediate
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Eat Your Mushrooms
Crimes of passion? Foiled plans to get that spouse knocked off. Find out more ... (Marriage, murder)
Upper-Intermediate
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Mom Salary
Many U.S. mothers feel like single parents, whether they are married or not, and two out of three resent handling all the household chores even when they prefer their partners to stand aside, a new survey shows. (Mothers, jobs, occupations, stress, income, subordinate conjunctions, linkers)
Intermediate
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The Running of the Bulls
Every summer Sergio Colas joins hundreds of other runners for Pamplona's annual bull-run but he cannot hear the roaring crowds or the bulls thundering through the winding streets. Alonso Ceardi has been deaf from birth. A half-tonne bull gored Alonso Ceardi in the chest during the San Fermin festival, but he's still addicted to the thrill of running with bulls. Animal rights activitists want the events stopped. (Festivals, Spain, Mexico, animal rights, conjunctions).
Upper-Intermediate
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Wild Sleepover?
For wild animal lovers not content with watching tigers and gorillas during the day, a growing number of zoos are offering a more thrilling after-dark experience - overnight stays. Visitors are learning what happens when the gates slam shut, the sun goes down and the moon rises over some of America's most well-known zoos. (Sleepovers, zoos, writing questions using the present simple tense, present perfect simple, role play using present simple and present perfect simple, doing a crossword.)
Pre-Intermediate
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Cancer Breakthrough
Scientists have developed a technique that uses a library of DNA taken from organs... and harnesses the body's immune response to create a vaccine designed to treat cancer. Immunotherapy treatments - medicines that enlist the help of the body's immune system to fight disease - are a relatively new form of potential cancer treatment. (Vaccines, immunology, anticancer medications.)
Upper-Intermediate
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Soccer Originals
Read about the world's oldest football rules and the world's oldest soccer ball. How have rules changed in the last 150 years? What does the world's oldest soccer ball look like? (Soccer, active / passive, history.)
Intermediate
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Change of Energy Source?
The lakeside town of Port Hope, Ontario, encompasses both the promise and the dark side of the nuclear industry. The town is home to the world's longest running facility to process nuclear fuel, a massive white eyesore that towers over the sailboats bobbing in its tranquil harbor. (Nuclear energy, the environment, business, nuclear accidents, like and unlike.)
Advanced
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Jump!
A jump rope is cheap. You can use a jump rope everywhere. Boxers and children like jumping rope. Now fitness experts say the jump rope is great for adult workouts. (Exercise, jumping rope, health, dialog, writing affirmative or negative sentences using the present simple tense.)
Elementary
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Seeing-eye Sheep and Goats
Michelle Feldstein was ready to provide special accommodation for the blind horse she recently added to the flightless ducks, clawless cats and homeless llamas at her animal shelter in Montana. But nothing could make her ready for the 40-legged, seeing-eye [group] that came with a blind 15-year-old horse called Sissy. (Animals and friendship, amazing stories, animal shelters, fact and opinion adjectives.
Pre-Intermediate
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Adding Chinese to ABCs
In Mandarin immersion teacher Kennis Wong's kindergarten class, her young pupils are making paper masks glued to sticks that they twirl between their palms, showing a different face on each side... The children at Broadway Elementary in Los Angeles are learning to talk in English and Chinese, and some are becoming trilingual due to a Spanish-speaking parent. (Language learning, immersion classes, study, present simple and will for habits and routines.)
Upper-Intermediate
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Russia's Saint and Savior?
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin cultivates the image of a bare-chested macho man, but a nun-like sect in central Russia thinks actually he's the reincarnation of St. Paul, the apostle. (Famous people, Fact Or Opinion, Matching Information, Politcians)
Advanced
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Computers Can Harm Kids
One in every 25 teens reported an "irresistible urge" to be on the Internet, tension when they weren't online, or said they had tried to quit or cut down on Internet time, according to a U.S. study. Teenagers who spend excessive amounts of time on the Internet are one and a half times more likely to develop depression than moderate web users. (Pros and cons of the Internet, teenagers, inventions, modal verbs, persuasive speeches.)
Intermediate
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Knock, Knock ... Who's There?
Be careful when you are opening your door! This is what police in Turkey are telling people. Policewore doctors' white coats and stethoscopes. They knocked on people's doors and said they were doctors. (Home security, police, truth or lie game.)
Elementary
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Use it or Lose it
Experts say for those 65 and over staying active and fit can spell the difference between independence and frailty. "It's all about moving." said Neal Pire, an exercise physiologist and spokesperson for the American College of Sports Medicine. "The phrase 'use it or lose it' works here."(Aging, exercise and health.)
Upper-Intermediate
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China to Age Before it Gets Rich?
The harsh logic of China's one-child policy is starting to unravel... Demographers worry that without change, China will become the first country in the world to age before it gets rich. China's choke on family size to usually one child in cities and two in the countryside now threatens its economic future, with fewer people left to pay and care for an increasingly gray population. (Aging population, one child policy, China, family size, census results.)
Advanced
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Lucky Pets
Americans may be trying to spend less money, but when it comes to their pets, they're spending more than ever. Between trips to the vet, specialty foods, treats and toys, pet insurance and even parties, Americans are happy to open up their wallets to keep Rex, Rover or even the house lizard healthy and happy. (Pets, costs, economy, benefits of having a pet.)
Pre-Intermediate
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I'd rather watch "X Factor"
When she was a little girl, Elsa Hardcastle loved to dress up as a princess and read stories about young women swept off their feet by a prince charming. Now, the 10-year-old would rather watch a blockbuster episode of reality TV talent show "X Factor" and meet one of its pop singer judges than see Kate Middleton become a real-life princess when she marries Britain's Prince William. (Royalty, fame, X Factor, would rather.)
Advanced
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Meeting & Greeting
In business, the first thing we do when we meet someone is shake hands. While it seems simple enough, this "first impression" greeting sends a powerful message about you and your respect for others. (Matching information, cases studies, word search, role play).
Intermediate
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Kiss me or I'll shoot!
A woman from Florida shot a gun at her neighbor when he didn't want to kiss her. The 92-year-old woman came to the man's house and asked him for a kiss. (Bizarre stories, crime, so and but, gun control, neighbors.)
Elementary
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Teacher's Critical Blog Private?
A high school English teacher who was suspended from her job after she blogged that her students were "rude, disengaged, lazy whiners," said that she did nothing wrong. "Some of the students, parents and administrators don't want to hear the truth," said the teacher 30, a teacher at a high school. (Free speech, teaching and students, adverb 'still'.)
Intermediate
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A Clamor for Education
Saudi teenager Abdulrahman Saeed lives in one of the richest countries in the world, but his prospects are poor, he blames his education, and it's not a situation that looks like changing soon. "There is not enough in our curriculum," says Saeed, 16, who goes to an all-male state school in the Red Sea port of Jeddah. "It is just theoretical teaching, and there is no practice or guidance to prepare us for the job market." (Education, Saudi Arabia.)
Advanced
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Sprucing Up The Down-at-heel
In Paris' upmarket St Germain district, hairdresser Lucia Iraci spends her days coiffing the city's glitterati, including actors, models and musicians. Yet once a month she opens her doors to a more downtrodden clientèle, offering free pampering and a dash of glamor to women from poor districts who are often long-term unemployed or victims of abuse and even slavery. (Hairdressing and beauty, amazing life stories, women's rights, helping others.)
Upper-Intermediate
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Strong Money
The Swiss snowy mountains, beautiful views and luxury hotels are expensive for tourists. But this year Switzerland is too expensive for many tourists. The Swiss franc is very strong and the euro, dollar and British pound are weak. (Vacations, Switzerland, currencies, adjectives.)
Elementary
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Help For Insomniacs To Get Their Zzzs
A few short visits and phone calls with a nurse may be enough to help insomniacs get their zzzs, suggests a new study of sleep-deprived older adults. (Insomnia (inability to sleep), health, sleep treatments.)
Intermediate
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Long Live The Book
India's booming publishing market is proof of the physical book's staying power, said participants at Asia's largest literary event, the DSC Jaipur Literary Festival. "You read something on Twitter and you know it is ephemeral," said Patrick French, a best-selling historian and biographer who has written extensively on Asia. "Yet the book is a solid thing. The book endures." (Future of books, printed books and e-books, reading habits of different nationalities, India.)
Upper-Intermediate
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Homegirls
It was Stephanie Lane's first day on the job as a waitress at Homegirl Cafe and the last thing she wanted to do was wait on the police. The restaurant, staffed by female gang members trying to leave their past behind, is part of Homeboy Industries... Quitting a life of drug dealing, fighting and stealing cars on the streets of South Los Angeles, where she followed her father and mother into the Crips gang, was not easy. (Gangs and rehabilitation, Homeboy Industries, making a movie, discussion.)
Upper-Intermediate
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