Reading: Scientists close to turning air into fuel

Scientists are close to making carbon capture work. Carbon capture is taking waste carbon dioxide (CO2) from power plants and storing it so it does not harm the environment. A company called Carbon Engineering say its scientists are close to capturing CO2 from the air and turning it into carbon-neutral fuel. This is a big step forward in the fight against global warming. The scientists also said they have reduced the cost of carbon capture, to as low as $94 per ton of CO2 captured. Scientists used to say carbon capture would cost about $1,000 per ton captured.

Carbon Engineering’s technology works by sucking air into special towers. CO2 is mixed with a liquid and frozen. It is then heated and mixed with hydrogen. This produces fuels like gasoline and jet fuel. Carbon Engineering’s Professor David Keith is hopeful about the future of this process. He thinks his company could fight climate change. He said: “After 100 years of practical engineering…we can confidently say that…air capture…is a [realistic] and buildable technology for producing carbon-neutral fuels in the immediate future, and for removing carbon in the long run.”


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Reading: Australian Woman Marries Bridge

Many countries around the world are discussing same-sex marriage. No country is discussing the rights and wrongs of marrying a bridge. But that is what an Australian woman has done. Artist Jodi Rose fell in love with the 600-year-old Le Pont du Diable (the Devil’s Bridge) in France and got married to it last month. However, France does not recognise marriages between people and bridges. Nevertheless, 14 guests attended the wedding ceremony to see the happy couple become not man and wife, but bridge and wife. The mayor of the nearby town also came to bless the marriage. Jodi wore a white wedding dress for the occasion. She also had a special ring (which is almost one metre high) made for the bridge.


The happy bride and bridge

Jodi Rose travels the world visiting bridges. She records the sounds and vibrations they make. She then turns these into experimental music for her “Singing Bridges” project. She said it was love at first sight for the Devil’s Bridge. She posted on her blog Bridgeland: “Although he is made of stone…I feel at peace in his strong embrace. He makes me feel connected to the earth.” She added that the bridge makes her feel comfortable after travelling non-stop around the world. Ms Rose explained why she married the bridge, saying it was symbolic because she values “the spiritual vibration in everything”. She also explained her love for it: “The perfect husband… strong and silent,” she said.


Decide which of these topics or words from the article are most interesting and which are most boring:

marriage / rights and wrongs / bridges / guests / nearby town / wedding dress / ring / travels the world / experimental music / feel at peace / vibration / strong and silent

Comprehension Questions:

  1. How many countries are talking about same-sex marriage?
  2. How many countries are talking about marrying bridges?
  3. How old was the bridge the woman married?
  4. How many people went to the wedding?
  5. What was almost a metre high?
  6. What does Jodi do with her recordings?
  7. When did she fall in love with the bridge?
  8. What does the bridge make Jodi feel connected to?
  9. What kind of vibration in everything does Jodi value?
  10. Why is her husband perfect?

Try to recall how they were used in the text:

  • countries
  • wrongs
  • last
  • guests
  • happy
  • special
  • travels
  • music
  • sight
  • non-stop
  • why
  • strong

Discussion Questions:

  1. What springs to mind when you hear the word ‘marriage’?
  2. How has marriage changed in the past 100 years?
  3. What is marriage to you?
  4. What do you think of someone marrying a bridge?
  5. Should countries let people marry things?
  6. What do you think the wedding ceremony was like?
  7. What wedding vow (promise) do you think Jodi made to the bridge?
  8. What wedding present would you buy the bridge and wife?
  9. Why do so many marriages these days break up?
  10. Did you like reading this article? Why/not?
  11. Do celebrity marriages work?
  12. Have you ever fallen in love at first sight?
  13. What wedding vows (promises) would you make to your partner?
  14. What is the perfect marriage?


Reading: A Job Riding Harley Davidsons

There is a special job opening for eight people who love riding motorbikes, enjoy long, hot summers, and like feeling the wind in their hair. The position is a summer internship for the legendary motorcycle maker Harley-Davidson. The company is looking for people to learn to ride its bikes and then ride them across the USA all summer. It is offering this job to celebrate the 115th anniversary of the founding of Harley-Davidson. The successful candidates will get special training to ride a Harley and must then share their experiences of their adventures of riding around the USA on social media. The lucky riders must also attend a number of events, including anniversary celebrations.

Harley-Davidson.svgHarley-Davidson CEO Matt Levatich explained why his company wants eight interns to ride motorcycles all summer. He said: “We’re continuously working to grow the sport of motorcycling. What better way to engage future riders than to have a whole team of newly-trained enthusiasts share personal stories as they immerse themselves in motorcycle culture and community – all while gaining marketable career skills. I’m looking forward to following their journeys, learning about their experiences, and seeing them out on the road.” To qualify, candidates must show they are good storytellers, be able to use social media well, and describe what freedom means in an essay, video or photo portfolio.

Comprehension Questions:

  1. How many interns is Harley-Davidson looking for?
  2. What might people like to feel in their hair?
  3. How old will the Harley-Davidson company be this year?
  4. What must successful candidates share on social media?
  5. What must the lucky candidates attend a number of?
  6. What does Harley-Davidson’s CEO want to grow?
  7. What will the interns immerse themselves besides communities?
  8. What marketable skills will the interns pick up?
  9. What must candidates show they are good at?
  10. What word must job applicants describe?

Describe how these words relate to the story above:


Discussion Questions:

  1. What did you think when you read the headline?
  2. What images are in your mind when you hear the word ‘motorbike’?
  3. What do you know about Harley-Davidson?
  4. Why does Harley-Davidson have a cool image?
  5. Do you enjoy feeling the wind in your hair?
  6. Would you like to apply for this internship?
  7. What do you think of internships?
  8. Why is Harley-Davidson doing this?
  9. Where would you go if you won this internship?
  10. Are motorcycles the best form of transport?
  11. What do you think of when you hear the word ‘job’?
  12. What do you think about what you read?
  13. What do you think about motorbikes?
  14. How much would you enjoy riding a motorcycle around the USA?
  15. What is “motorcycle culture”?
  16. What career skills might the interns learn?
  17. How good a storyteller are you?
  18. How would you describe the word “freedom”?
  19. What questions would you like to ask the Harley-Davidson boss?

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Reading: Charity Chic

100215815_0000The First Lady of Iceland, Eliza Reid, has turned heads at a movie awards ceremony. Fashion reporters said Ms Reid wore a “stunning” black jacket to the Edda Awards – Iceland’s version of Hollywood’s Academy Awards. Ms Reid wore black to show her support for the #metoo movement. However, unlike most people who attend glamorous awards shows, Ms Reid did not spend a fortune on her clothes. When reporters asked her where she had purchased her jacket, she said she bought it in a local Red Cross charity store in Iceland’s capital city. The Icelandic Red Cross was very happy about this news. It told its followers on Twitter that the first lady looked, “awesome in a gorgeous jacket from the Red Cross”.

Eliza Reid is originally from Canada and works as a journalist. She met her husband, President Gudni Johannesson, when she was studying at Oxford University. Ms Reid told the Hit Iceland website in 2017 that she “won” a blind date with the future president at a rowing club event. She had no idea she would one day become First Lady of Iceland. Both she and her husband are very popular in Iceland for being just like normal people. They both have a very down-to-earth attitude and can often be seen in the city shopping with their four children and going to restaurants. The Red Cross also likes Ms Reid. It hopes more people will follow her fashion sense and buy clothes from its charity shops.


icelandic fashion
Another example of Icelandic fashion

Comprehension Questions:

  1. What did Eliza Reid turn at an awards ceremony?
  2. What colour jacket did Ms Reid wear?
  3. What movement did Ms Reid want to show support for?
  4. Who asked Ms Reid where she bought her jacket?
  5. In which city did Ms Reid buy the jacket?
  6. Where is Ms Reid from originally?
  7. Where did Ms Reid meet her husband for the first time?
  8. What kind of club event did Ms Reid meet her husband at?
  9. What kind of attitude to Ms Reid and her husband have?
  10. What does the Red Cross hope people will follow?

Vocabulary Activity:

Try to recall how the following words were used in the text:

  • originally
  • met
  • won
  • popular
  • seen
  • sense
  • heads
  • version
  • support
  • unlike
  • city
  • followers


Discussion Questions:

  1. What images are in your mind when you hear the word ‘first’?
  2. How important is a First Lady?
  3. Why don’t all countries have a First Lady?
  4. What do you know about Iceland?
  5. What do you think about charity shops?
  6. What would you wear to an awards show?
  7. Should more famous people wear clothes from charity shops?
  8. Why do people want to look glamorous?
  9. Would you buy clothes from a charity shop?
  10. What do you think of when you hear the word ‘lady’?
  11. What do you think about what you read?
  12. What does a First Lady do all day?
  13. What do you think of Iceland’s First Lady?
  14. What would it be like to be married to the President?
  15. What do you think of the idea of blind dates?
  16. How down-to-earth are you?
  17. What is your favourite charity?
  18. What questions would you like to ask Iceland’s First Lady?

Reading: Desert Opera

Map of the region
Map of the region

Saudi Arabia will soon have its very first national orchestra and opera. France will help Saudi to set up the musical groups. The two countries signed a series of agreements on Monday to boost cultural ties, and cooperation through the arts. France’s Culture Minister said: “Today, an agreement was signed with the Paris Opera to help Saudi Arabia set up a national orchestra and an opera.” The world-famous Paris Opera will help Saudi Arabia produce its own classical music performances and operas. Plans are already under way for the country’s first opera house to be built in the kingdom’s second largest city, Jeddah. Saudi Arabia will invest $64 billion in developing its entertainment industry over the next decade

The agreement is part of a plan created by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, called Vision 2030. He wants to modernise many areas of Saudi life. There were other projects included in the cultural agreements between France and Saudi Arabia. French archaeologists will work on developing Saudi Arabia’s Al-Ula region in the northwest of the country. The area is rich in ancient archaeological sites. French experts will help to preserve the area. Another key part of the agreement is the translation of literature. France’s Culture Minister stressed, “the importance of translating books in both directions, from Arabic into French and French into Arabic”.


Comprehension Questions

  1. What will France help set up, besides the opera?
  2. What kind of ties do the two countries want to boost?
  3. What is the name of the opera company that will help Saudi Arabia?
  4. Where will Saudi’s first opera house be built?
  5. How much will Saudi spend on its entertainment industry?
  6. What is the name of the plan created by the Saudi Crown Prince?
  7. Where in Saudi Arabia is the Al-Ula region?
  8. What is the Al-Ula region rich in?
  9. What is another key part of the agreement between Saudi and France?
  10. In what direction will the translation of books happen?


Vocabulary Activity:

Try to recall how these words were used in the text:

  • plan
  • life
  • region
  • rich
  • key
  • both
  • soon
  • boost
  • arts
  • own
  • already
  • decade


Discussion Questions

  1. What images are in your mind when you hear the word ‘opera’?
  2. What do you think of opera?
  3. Why do so many people prefer pop music to classical music?
  4. Why didn’t Saudi Arabia have an opera house before?
  5. What arts are important in your country?
  6. What do you know about the culture of Saudi Arabia?
  7. Why is Saudi investing so much money in entertainment?
  8. Which is better, classical music or opera?
  9. What kind of performance art do you like best?
  10. What do you think of when you hear the word ‘orchestra’?
  11. What do you think about what you read?
  12. How important is classical music?
  13. Is classical music better than rock music?
  14. How important are the arts?
  15. What would you do to modernize your country?
  16. What could you do on a holiday in Saudi Arabia?
  17. What is the benefit of translating French and Arabic books?
  18. What questions would you like to ask the culture ministers?

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Reading: AirBnB’s 5 Star Homes

The online accommodation booking company Airbnb is going upmarket. It is moving into the luxury travel market. CEO Brian Chesky has announced an improvement in the company’s business model. It wants richer people to use it. The company will offer new types of places to stay such as vacation homes and boutique hotels. The company has over four million rooms on its site in 81,000 cities and 191 countries. It has helped make over 260 million reservations since it launched nine years ago. Mr Chesky hopes to increase this to more than one billion people staying in its rentals by 2028. Chesky said: “Airbnb is still an alternative. It’s still not for everyone. Today we will show you our road map: Airbnb for everyone.”

flatAirbnb does not own any real estate, or properties. It acts as a broker between property owners who want to make extra cash by renting out their rooms or homes, and travellers looking for a cheaper, more homely alternative to hotels. The company makes money from the booking fees it charges. Its vision is to branch out into luxury accommodation, restaurant reservations, and adventure travel experiences. A new option will allow people to book “unique spaces”. This includes things like yurts – the large, circular tents that are home to many people in Mongolia. Airbnb’s new “Beyond” option will offer travellers “full-on luxury stays” that include “some of the world’s nicest homes”.



Comprehension Questions

  1. What position in Airbnb does Mr Brian Chesky have?
  2. What kind of model did Mr Chesky say he would improve?
  3. In how many countries does Airbnb have rooms?
  4. How many reservations does Mr Chesky want to have had by 2028?
  5. What kind of map did Mr Chesky say he would show people?
  6. How much real estate does Airbnb own?
  7. What does Airbnb make money from?
  8. What kind of travel experiences will Airbnb now start offering?
  9. What is a yurt?
  10. What kind of stays will users of Airbnb’s “Beyond” option get?

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Reading: Monaco’s Millionaires

The tiny city-state of Monaco on France’s Mediterranean coastline is having problems finding space for rich people. Monaco is less than 2 square kilometers in size and has some of the richest people in the world living there. It is called the playground of the rich and is home to a Formula 1 Grand Prix, a famous casino and a luxury yacht-lined harbor. Over 30 per cent of its 38,000 residents are millionaires. The country is running out of space for more millionaires. House prices are already the highest in the world, with an average price of around $100,000 per square meter. City planners say an estimated 2,700 more millionaires are hoping to move there in the next 10 years.

monaco_mapMonaco’s ruler, Prince Albert II, has decided to build more homes in Monaco. He wants to reclaim land from the sea. He has OK’d a $2.1 billion project to fill in 15 acres of the sea with concrete and sand. The project will have a harbor big enough for 30 ships, a landscaped park, a Japanese garden and 120 new waterfront homes for the rich and famous. There will be a huge demand for the new homes. People are attracted by the luxury lifestyle and no income tax. Marine experts are worried the construction will cause great damage to sea life and the environment. The Prince said he cares about the environment. He said important species would be moved to a new artificial reef.



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Reading: Scotland (B1)

britain-mapScotland is the UK’s most northern country and has around 790 islands off its coasts 130 of which have people living on them. Scotland is well known for its stunning landscapes, beautiful beaches and lochs, which are fresh water lakes. There are over 600 square miles of lochs in Scotland including the most famous one, Loch Ness.
It has a population of just over five million people which is about 8.5 per cent of the whole UK population. Over 2 million of these live in Glasgow and Edinburgh, and almost half of Scotland’s population live in the Central Belt, where both the
largest city (Glasgow) and the capital city (Edinburgh) are located.
Scotland also hosts one of the biggest arts festivals in the world. This is commonly known as the Edinburgh Festival but is actually made up of a number of different festivals which happen at different times of the year, though many do take place in August and September. Many people have heard of the Fringe Festival, but there are also the International Festival, the Film Festival, the Children’s Festival and the Edinburgh Mela which is an intercultural festival.
EdinburghMusically it has recently produced bands Travis and Franz Ferdinand and other famous Scots include KT Tunstall, Ewan McGregor, Sean Connery and Andy Murray.
In July 1999 the Scottish Parliament was opened, the first for over 300 years as Scotland had been governed from London. Scottish Parliamentary responsibilities include health, education and local government.
Stereotypical images of Scotland often focus on things like tartan, kilts, heather and haggis as well as the scenery. These are all still a part of the country but contemporary Scotland is building a name for itself in other areas, such as its thriving computer games industry.

Reading: The Climate Shaped Our Noses (B1)

Have you ever wondered why everyone’s nose is a different shape? Researchers have come up with a possible explanation for this. A study from Pennsylvania State University in the USA says the Earth’s climate could have something to do with the shape of our nose. The study found that people who have wider noses usually live in warmer, more humid areas. People with narrower noses are more commonly found in colder and drier climates. The nose plays an important function in making sure the air we breathe reaches our lungs in a warm and moist condition. The width of the nostrils and length of the nose help to make sure this happens. Researchers said the nose is a little like a temperature controller.

The researchers used 3D images to measure the noses of more than 2,600 people from Africa, Asia and Europe. They measured the width of the nostrils, the distance between nostrils and nose height. The researchers said their findings could help people who move to different climates to adjust to the heat or cold, and the humidity. This could help reduce respiratory problems. Study co-author Dr Arslan Zaidi said increased travel and climate change make it difficult to predict if our nose will change shape in the future. He said: “Our lifestyles aren’t what they used to be. We move around the world way too much. That makes it very complicated to predict the future [evolution] of the nose with the changing climate.”


What can you say about these words and your life?

why / explanation / climate / humid / drier / breathe / condition / temperature / sure / 3D images / nostrils / adjust / future / lifestyles / complicated / evolution / predict

Spend one minute writing down all of the different words you associate with the word “breathe”.

Comprehension Questions:

  1. From which country is the university that did this research?
  2. Who did the article say lived in warmer, more humid areas?
  3. In what condition should air reach our lungs?
  4. What did the article say was important about the nostrils?
  5. What did the researchers liken our nose to?
  6. How many pictures of people’s noses did researchers measure?
  7. What did the researchers measure the distance between?
  8. What kind of problems could the study reduce?
  9. What did a researcher say aren’t what they used to be?
  10. What did the doctor say we did “way too much”?

Write five GOOD questions of your own about this topic




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