Fireside Tales – Chapter Four

It’s time for the fourth part of Simon and Penguin’s Fireside Tales.

If you haven’t seen the first three chapters, you can catch up in less than ten minutes. You can find chapter one here, chapter two here and chapter three here.

As always, you can download the transcript with a glossary so you can follow as you listen. After you have watched the video, use the quiz to test your understanding.

Chapter three concluded with biologist Edward Wilson and his two companions standing on the edge a huge crevasse. How can they get past in order to continue their journey to the Emperor Penguin colony? Watch chapter four to find out.

Chapter Four- At the Colony


Quiz

How well did you understand the story so far?

Try and answer these questions. You can watch the video again.

1. The last 35 kilometres were especially difficult because…

  1. the volcanoes were in the way
  2. there were only about 100 penguins
  3. it was dark all the time
  4. they had to find a way past very big cracks in the ice

2. Why were the penguins standing close together?

  1. To protect against the cold
  2. Because they were afraid of the explorers
  3. To protect against predators
  4. To pose for selfies

3. Why did the explorers give up on their first attempt to reach the colony?

  1. There were too many crevasses
  2. They were attacked by an Orca
  3. The penguin eggs were too big to carry
  4. They could not climb down a cliff

4. Why do the penguins keep their eggs on their feet?

  1. The eggs are too big to sit on
  2. To keep the eggs warm
  3. To protect the eggs from predators
  4. Because the female birds are far away at sea

5. The male penguins do not eat for two months as they incubate the eggs.

  1. True
  2. False

 


DOWNLOAD  Transcript and glossary (pdf)

DOWNLOAD  Quiz (pdf)


 

 

Answers

1d, 2a, 3d, 4b, 5a

 


 

Do you want to know how the journey continues? Come back next month for chapter five.

 

Fireside Tales – Chapter Three

We are halfway through Simon and Penguin’s Fireside Tales. That means we have arrived at chapter three.

Have you seen the first two chapters? If you haven’t, why not watch them now; they are only three minutes long. You can find chapter one here and chapter two here.

As always, you can download the transcript with a glossary so you can follow as you listen. After you have watched the video, use the quiz to test your understanding.

At the end of chapter two, we left biologist Edward Wilson and his two companions shivering in their tent trying to decide whether or not to continue their journey. Watch chapter three to find out what happened next.

Chapter Three – Trial by Ice


Quiz

How well did you understand the story so far?

Try and answer these questions. You can watch the video again.

1. Why did the explorers have to stop so often?

  1. To eat and drink
  2. Because they were lost
  3. To take action to stop frostbite
  4. To rest

2. Why did Garrard have problems with his vision?

  1. Because he was snow-blind
  2. Because he couldn’t wear his spectacles due to condensation from his breathing
  3. He was short-sighted
  4. The ice on his face got in the way

3. How many hours did they travel each day?

  1. Nine
  2. Seven
  3. Eight
  4. Two or three

4. In a blizzard, what happened to the temperature?

  1. It decreased slightly
  2. It fluctuated between -40°C and -61°C
  3. It increased a little
  4. It went up a lot

5. The explorers slept well during the journey.

  1. True
  2. False

 


DOWNLOAD  Transcript and glossary (pdf)

DOWNLOAD  Quiz (pdf)


 

 

Answers

1c, 2b, 3c, 4d, 5b

 


 

Do you want to know how the journey continues? Come back next month for chapter four.

 

Fireside Tales – Chapter Two

It’s time for chapter two of Fireside Tales.

If you missed chapter one, you can catch up here.

Don’t forget, you can also download the transcript with a glossary so you can follow as you listen. After you have watched the video, use the quiz to test your understanding.

In chapter one, we learned the background to the ‘worst journey in the world’. In chapter two, Simon and Penguin begin the story of how the three explorers walked across Antarctica in the winter of 1911.

 

Chapter Two – The Journey Begins


Quiz

How well did you understand the story so far?

Try and answer these questions. You can watch the video again.

1. When do emperor penguins lay their eggs?

  1. Early spring
  2. The middle of winter
  3. Autumn / fall

2. Why did Dr Wilson decide to walk to the penguin colony?

  1. Because sea ice made travel by ship impossible at this time of year
  2. Because there were no aircraft
  3. Because he needed the exercise
  4. Because he didn’t want to frighten the penguins

3. Why did Dr Wilson take two companions on the trip?

  1. To help him pull the sledges
  2. Because he was lonely

4. Which one of these sources of light did they not have during the trip?

  1. Direct sunlight
  2. Starlight and moonlight
  3. Torches
  4. Candles and matches
  5. The Aurora

5. The explorers were optimistic about reaching the penguin colony.

  1. True
  2. False

 


DOWNLOAD  Transcript and glossary (pdf)

DOWNLOAD  Quiz (pdf)


 

 

Answers

1b, 2a, 3a, 4ac, 5b

 


 

Do you want to know how the story continues? Come back next month for chapter three.

 

Fireside Tales – Chapter One

Welcome to our new series of videos: Fireside Tales.

It’s the middle of winter here in Europe. The days are dark and cold so it’s a perfect time to sit around the fire and tell stories.

Here, on the Stratford Teachers blog, you can watch the videos and test your listening comprehension.  You can also download the transcript with a glossary so you can follow as you listen.

There are six videos in this series. We will release a new one every few weeks. If you want to know when each new video is ready to watch, subscribe to our YouTube channel.

Here is Chapter One of Fireside Tales. Simon tells the story of the events of another winter far away and a long time ago.

Chapter One – The Mission


Quiz

How well did you understand the story so far?

Try and answer these questions. You can watch the video again.

1. Where do Emperor Penguins live?

  1. Britain
  2. Russia
  3. Antarctica
  4. The South Atlantic

2. Who was the leader of the 1902 expedition?

  1. Edward Wilson
  2. Emperor Penguin
  3. Robert Scott
  4. A Russian explorer

3. How heavy is an Emperor Penguin?

  1. Up to 130 pounds
  2. Up to 60 kilos
  3. At least 45 kilos
  4. No more than 45 kilos

4. In which year did “the worst journey in the world” happen?

  1. The year 2000
  2. 1911
  3. 1902
  4. 1840

5. Why did Dr Wilson want Emperor Penguin eggs?

  1. To find out how birds evolved from dinosaurs
  2. To complete his egg collection
  3. So that the expedition could have eggs for breakfast
  4. Because he liked penguins

 


DOWNLOAD  Transcript and glossary (pdf)

DOWNLOAD  Quiz (pdf)


 

 

Answers

1c, 2c, 3d, 4b, 5a

 

Checking and clarifying – test yourself

There are two aspects to successful communication. The first is making yourself understood. The second is understanding the other person. In order to be a good communicator in English, you need to develop both.

So, when you are speaking in English with somebody you should check and be clear that you understand correctly. This even more important when you can’t see the other person’s face, such as on the telephone.

in January we published a video demonstrating how to use checking and clarifying phrases on the telephone.

Here’s a simple interactive exercise you can use to test yourself or review the language from the video. It’s an easy game, click on the ? symbol to see the instructions.


If you have any questions about this exercise, leave a comment below.

Do you need to practise speaking English on the telephone? Send us a message.

 

Words making the headlines – controversial

Yes - No

Here’s a word that doesn’t tend to appear in headlines. It’s a bit too long for that. However, it’s regularly used to describe anything that’s causing public disagreement and discussion. We’re talking about the word controversial.

It’s a word that’s frequently attached to the highly controversial figure of US President Donald Trump and every controversial action he takes. Unusually, the most common use in the last week or so has not been Mr Trump’s latest controversial statement or latest Tweet containing a controversial claim or a controversial opinion about a controversial topic such as immigration or US international relations. The word controversial has been used most to describe Michael Wolff’s book Fire and Fury which claims to tell the inside story of Mr Trump’s first year as President of the USA.

Let’s pause for a moment and examine the pronunciation of the word. Here’s the phonemics: /ˌkɒn.trəˈvɜː.ʃəl/  . We need to get the word stress in the correct place. It falls on the third syllable. That means you say the word like this: controVERsial. However, notice in the phonemics that in British English we don’t tend to pronounce the letter ‘r’ in that stressed syllable. However, North American speakers such as Mr Trump do include that sound.

There’s another transatlantic pronunciation difference. Controversial is an adjective that derives from the noun controversy. In Britain, we have a choice. We can pronounce it with the stress on the second syllable: conTROversy or on the first syllable: CONtroversy. Over in the US they usually use the second pronunciation.

Now let’s go back to other uses of controversial. We’ll stay in the United States where Mr Trump has a controversial proposal to build a wall on the border with Mexico. Californians recently voted to pass controversial legislation to allow people in that state to buy, sell and use marijuana. Finally, there’s the ongoing investigation into the Trump election campaign’s controversial relations with people in Russia. All of which gives Americans plenty to discuss and disagree about even after they’ve finished reading Michael Wolff’s book.


Practise your listening. Click on play to hear the text.

DOWNLOAD


Find more Words making the headlines.

If you would like to suggest a word from the news for future blog posts, please use the comment box.

Do you need to expand your English vocabulary? Contact us to talk about it.

 

Checking and clarifying on the phone

Business English - Talking on the phone

Speaking on the phone can be more challenging than speaking face to face. You don’t always hear exactly what the other person said.

In order to avoid misunderstandings, it’s important to check and be clear you understand correctly.

In our first video of 2018, Louise and Simon play Kate and Tony, two colleagues making a phone call.

The first part of the video shows what can happen when there is a misunderstanding on the phone. The second part shows you how to use a set of phrases for checking and clarifying to make sure you understand.

 

Video by Barney

 

Here are the checking and clarifying phrases they use in their phone call.

Sorry, Kate could you say that again, please?
Sorry, Tony. I didn’t catch that. Could you say it again, please?
Sorry, did you say ten thirty or two thirty?
Sorry. I can’t hear you , Kate. Can you speak up a little?

 

Was this useful for you? Watch our videos and download information about using the International Radio Alphabet to spell words over the phone.

UPDATE (24/03/2018) You can now test your knowledge of the checking and clarifying phrases with this interactive exercise.


If you have any questions about this video, leave a comment below.

Do you need to practise speaking English on the telephone? Send us a message.