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Instant Lesson

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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Do You Like The Countryside?
A small German village needs a new doctor. The village is offering the doctor free bread, meat, flowers, haircuts and accommodation and a small Australian village needs new families. The village is offering families houses for rent for AUS$1 a week. (City versus the countryside, jobs, advertisements.)
Elementary
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Grand Slam Champ
With six Wimbledon trophies already packed on to his mantelpiece, Roger Federer would like nothing more than to win a singles gold medal on the hallowed turf when it hosts the Olympic tennis event in 2012. (ambitions, ordering questions, completing a table, vocabulary)
Advanced
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Peach the Police Dog
Meet Japan's newest police dog -- all 3 kg (6.6 lb) of her. In what is a first for Japan and perhaps the world, a long-haired Chihuahua named "Momo" -- "Peach" -- passed exams to become a police dog in the western Japanese prefecture of Nara. (Dogs, police, guessing game.)
Pre-Intermediate
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Hospital in a Box
Jon Weiner's hospitals are quite different from what you might be used to. There are no long admissions forms to fill in. And the service you get might remind you of a five-star hotel. The cost? No more than any other hospital. The catch? The hospitals are all overseas. (Health care, public health systems, travel, comprehension, true, false or not given, present continuous, pair crossword - health words, 'talking about health' game.)
Intermediate
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Hot bodies
Using body heat from train commuters to warm buildings. (Energy, the future, word families, discussion, mixed questions, comprehension, will used to describe facts in the future, completing a diagram.)
Pre-Intermediate
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Permits Required
In the land where Jesus lived, Christians say their dwindling numbers are turning churches from places of worship into museums. And when Christian pilgrims come from all over the world to visit the places of Christ's birth, death and resurrection, they find them divided by a concrete wall. As a boy growing up in Jerusalem, Yacoub Dahdal saw Christians from all over the Middle East converge on the city at Easter time to walk in the footsteps of Jesus.
Advanced
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Lessons for Drunk Kids
The British Red Cross has launched a campaign to teach 11-16 year-olds how to handle medical emergencies which arise from excessive drinking. The Red Cross found 12 percent of 11-16 year olds have been left to cope with a drunken friend who was sick, injured or unconscious. (Teenage drinking, first aid, medical emergencies, Red Cross.)
Upper-Intermediate
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Japan's "Iku-men"
Hiroyuki Ogino stayed home from his job in telecoms to take care of his son for a month this spring -- one of a tiny but growing number of Japanese men opting for paternity leave despite the risk to their careers. "It really is as if we are putting a minus against our names, causing problems for our colleagues by not being around to pull our weight," said Ogino, a 38-year-old father of two. (Stayhome dads, parental leave, Japan, employment issues.)
Advanced
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Tips and Hints for Visitors
Commonwealth Games organizers have compiled an extensive list of hints and tips for visitors to the October event, the guide providing a valuable insight into social mores as well as helping to avoid embarrassing situations. (Commonwealth Games, sport, rules for behavior, New Delhi.)
Upper-Intermediate
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On Your Bike
A fleet of 6,000 bicycles for hire will hit the streets of central London on Friday when the city's mayor Boris Johnson launches a scheme intended to fuel a cycling revolution in the congested capital. (Traffic problems, bicycles, London, concept of offering a service for free, definite articles.)
Upper-Intermediate
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China's Development Juggernaut
China has put big money down on a momentous gamble: rush to build new cities in its poor interior, then wait for people to come and help drive the economy to a new stage of growth. Here in this corner of the Chinese hinterland, the government has widened farm lanes into highways, turned wheat fields into an industrial park, spent a fortune on government offices, and set up a school for thousands of students in what was a dusty town a few years before. (China, government, development, migration.)
Advanced
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An Expensive Sandwich
A bear crashed a car after opening the door of a car and getting stuck. The bear smelled a peanut butter sandwich in the back seat and opened the door of the car. The bear climbed in and got stuck. (Bears, dangerous animals, bizarre events, conducting an interview, irregular past tense verbs, word search puzzle.)
Elementary
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A Veiled Look
An elementary school teacher, would rather die than take off her face veil, or niqab. While a majority of Egyptian women and girls think it is an Islamic religious obligation to cover their hair and neck with a scarf, few Muslim scholars say the full face veil is mandatory. (Reported speech)
Intermediate
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Effects of Rom Coms?
Romantic comedies might provide 90 minutes of light-hearted fun but the happy-ever-after movies are also impacting people's real love lives, according to an Australian survey and a study in college dating suggests that American males enjoy teary, romantic "women's films" more than they are letting on. (Romantic comedies, differences between men and women, movie genres.)
Upper-Intermediate
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Protecting the Animals
Efforts to save tigers and kiwi birds. This lesson looks at conservation efforts in two different places. (Environment, animals, poaching, pests, New Zealand, Sundarban Forest, Bangladesh, India, present perfect simple).
Pre-Intermediate
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