Reading: Memory

Are you good at remembering things? Can you remember a long list of English vocabulary quickly and easily? If the answer to these two questions is ‘no,’ help may be at hand. A new study says pretty much anyone can have an upgraded memory if they train their brain. Scientists say that we can train our brain to be a “memory athlete” just like athletes train to be champions. Neuroscientist Martin Dresler wrote in the journal “Neuron” that just six weeks of brain training can turn people with average memories into people with an incredible ability to remember things. Dr Dresler even suggested people could train their brain to enter the World Memory Championships that are held in March every year.

Dr Dresler compared MRI scans of the brains of 23 of the world’s top 50 memory champions with the brains of “normal” people. He said: “We were interested in what differentiates memory champions from normal people, like you and me.” He was surprised to find no differences. This made him believe we can all become memory athletes with the right training. Dresler found that 40 days of daily 30-minute training sessions using a memory technique called mnemonics more than doubled a person’s memory capacity. Mnemonics is an ancient memory device that helps people remember things, especially in list form. Who knows? It could help you with those words for your next vocabulary test.


What can you say about these words from the text?

remembering / vocabulary / help / answer / athletes / average / incredible / ability / MRI scans / champions / normal / differences / memory / technique / doubled / list

Reading: Golden Oldies in Bulgaria (B1)

Radio listeners in Bulgaria can now start listening to modern music again. For the past two months, they could only listen to music that was over 70 years old. A dispute over copyright meant the Bulgarian National Radio (BNR) could not play any pop music. Listeners could only listen to classical music or folk songs that were recorded before World War II. In the European Union, copyright disappears 70 years after an artist’s death. BNR has now signed a deal with the copyright organisation. In the deal, BNR will pay more royalty fees. A part of these fees go to the singer, band, composer or songwriter of a song or a piece of music. Every time the radio plays a song, it must pay royalties to the artist.

Something surprising happened during the two-month dispute over copyright and royalties. The number of listeners to BNR’s shows increased by 20 per cent. After the radio station started playing only Bulgarian folk tunes, classical music and pre-war jazz, more people started listening to the radio. It seems many listeners are more interested in listening to older music than Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift. BNR is now thinking about changing its music programming. BNR boss Mr Velev said there could even be new radio stations. Mr Velev told reporters: “We will not change the profiles of the current radio shows. Instead, we will launch new radio stations with more types of music.”

Reading: Poem “Sick” by Shel Silverstein (B1/B2)

“I cannot go to school today,”

Said little Peggy Ann McKay.

“I have the measles and the mumps,

A gash, a rash and purple bumps.

My mouth is wet, my throat is dry,

I’m going blind in my right eye.

My tonsils are as big as rocks,

I’ve counted sixteen chicken pox

And there’s one more—that’s seventeen,

And don’t you think my face looks green?

My leg is cut—my eyes are blue—

It might be instamatic flu.

I cough and sneeze and gasp and choke,

I’m sure that my left leg is broke—

My hip hurts when I move my chin,

My belly button’s caving in,

My back is wrenched, my ankle’s sprained,

My ‘pendix pains each time it rains.

My nose is cold, my toes are numb.

I have a sliver in my thumb.

My neck is stiff, my voice is weak,

I hardly whisper when I speak.

My tongue is filling up my mouth,

I think my hair is falling out.

My elbow’s bent, my spine ain’t straight,

My temperature is one-o-eight.

My brain is shrunk, I cannot hear,

There is a hole inside my ear.

I have a hangnail, and my heart is—what?

What’s that? What’s that you say?

You say today is. . .Saturday?

G’bye, I’m going out to play!”

Reading: A Walk In The Woods (B1)


Going through the forest is my favourite part of the walk. Benji loves it too. There are rabbits to run after and old leaves to smell. Benji’s my dog, by the way, and I’m Grace. I live on a farm with my parents and take Benji for a walk most days after school.

While Benji runs ahead, I stop and take a photo of a butterfly. A new Facebook photo? Maybe, but my friends already call me ‘Nature Girl’, so perhaps not. Suddenly, I hear Benji’s bark. I look up and see Benji jumping and running round a boy. The boy’s about my age and looks worried. ‘Benji, stop! Come here!’ I call and reach into my pocket for his ball. I’m about to apologise to the boy, but he’s gone, disappeared between the trees.


I’m out with Benji again. It’s cold and rainy today, so we’re going fast. As I’m coming through the forest, it starts raining hard, so I run. Suddenly, I’m slipping and falling and, before I know it, I’m lying on my back. Ouch! That hurt.
Then there’s someone there and a voice says,
‘Are you all right? That was a bad fall.’ I look up and see the boy from yesterday.
‘I’m OK, I think,’ I say slowly and the boy helps me up. Benji arrives and the boy pats his head.
‘I haven’t seen you at school. Do you live near here?’ I ask.
‘No, I’m from Manchester,’ he says. ‘Listen! I have to go. Are you OK to walk home? Do you need help?’
‘No, I’m fine. Thanks!’ I say, as the boy walks away.
‘Hey, I’m Grace. What’s your name?’ I call, but he’s already gone.

Back home, Mum’s watching the news.
‘Hi Grace. Have you heard about this boy, Mark?’ she asks.
‘No, what boy?’ I say.
‘A boy from Manchester. He’s run away from home. Look! This is his dad.’
There’s a man on TV sitting next to a policeman. He’s crying and looks as if he hasn’t slept for days. Then they show a photo of the missing boy. I know him. It’s the boy from the forest. He’s Mark. Should I say something? Should I tell Mum?
‘Poor man,’ says Mum. ‘I just hope they find his son soon.’

No, I mustn’t say anything. If I tell Mum, the police will come and find Mark. What if he’s run away for a good reason? I have to talk to him first.


I’ve looked everywhere but I can’t find Mark. If I’m not home soon, my parents will worry. So I try shouting.
‘Mark, where are you?’
Nothing, no answer.
‘Mark,’ I shout again, ‘I know about you.’
After a moment, I hear his voice.
‘What do you know? How do you know my name?’ I turn and there he is.
‘Your dad was on TV last night. The police are looking for you.’
He looks shocked and asks, ‘Did you say anything? Have you told them?’
‘No,’ I say. ‘I wanted to talk to you first. What’s happened? Why have you run away?’
He looks at the ground.
‘I had an argument with my dad. A bad one.’
‘What about?’ I ask. Mark points to a fallen tree and we sit down.
‘My mum died four years ago. It was very hard for me and for Dad. He was sad for a long time, but then he met someone new. Mel’s her name.’
‘Oh, and don’t you like her?’ I ask.
‘No, not much. She’s not a bad person, but we don’t really connect. She wants my dad for herself and isn’t interested in me. I don’t think she wants me around.’
‘But, what about your dad? Have you talked to him?’
‘He keeps telling me to make an effort with her, but I can’t. The night I ran away, he came to my room and said that we’re all moving to London. Mel’s from London, you see. And then he told me that he and Mel want to get married and have a baby. We both got angry and I told him I’m not moving to London. I took my tent and left in the middle of the night.’
‘But what will you do? You can’t live in the forest’, I tell him.
‘I know, but my grandad and my friends are in Manchester. I don’t want to move to London.’
‘You might like London,’ I say.
‘That’s what my dad says too.’
I feel sorry for Mark, but I think of his dad crying on TV and feel sorry for him too.
‘What are you going to do?’ I ask.
‘I don’t know. I need time to think.’


Mark’s waiting for me in the forest. I’ve brought him a sandwich. I’ve also got some news.
‘Mark, Mum says the police came to the farm this morning. They’re going to search the forest tomorrow.’
Mark shakes his head, ‘I didn’t want this. My dad on TV and the police and everything. I don’t know what to do.’
‘I’ve got an idea. Why don’t you live with your grandad in Manchester? Let your dad and Mel move to London and visit them in the holidays.’
Mark doesn’t answer at first, then he looks at me and smiles.
‘Can I use your phone?’ he asks. ‘I need to call my dad.’




Original Content from

Reading: The Text Message (B1)

Amy normally hated Monday mornings, but this year was different. Kamal was in her art class and she liked Kamal. She was waiting outside the classroom when her friend Tara arrived.

“Hi Amy! Your mum sent me a text. You forgot your inhaler. Why don’t you turn your phone on?” Amy didn’t like technology. She never sent text messages and she hated Facebook too.

“Did Kamal ask you to the disco?” Tara was Amy’s best friend, and she wanted to know everything that was happening in Amy’s life. “I don’t think he likes me,” said Amy. “And I never see him alone. He’s always with Grant.” Amy and Tara didn’t like Grant.

“Do you know about their art project?” asked Amy. “It’s about graffiti, I think,” said Tara. “They’re working on it at the old house behind the factory.” “But that building is dangerous,” said Amy. “Aah, are you worried he’s going to get hurt?” Tara teased. “Shut up, Tara! Hey look, here they come!”

Kamal and Grant arrived. “Hi Kamal!” said Tara. “Are you going to the Halloween disco tomorrow?” “Yes. Hi Amy,” Kamal said, smiling. “Do you want to come and see our paintings after school?” “I’m coming too!” Tara insisted.

After school, Kamal took the girls to the old house. It was very old and very dirty too. There was rubbish everywhere. The windows were broken and the walls were damp. It was scary. Amy didn’t like it. There were paintings of zombies and skeletons on the walls. “We’re going to take photos for the school art competition,” said Kamal. Amy didn’t like it but she didn’t say anything. “Where’s Grant?” asked Tara. “Er, he’s buying more paint.” Kamal looked away quickly. Tara thought he looked suspicious. “It’s getting dark, can we go now?” said Amy. She didn’t like zombies.

Then, they heard a loud noise coming from a cupboard in the corner of the room. “What’s that?” Amy was frightened. “I didn’t hear anything,” said Kamal. Something was making strange noises. There was something inside the cupboard. “Oh no! What is it?” Amy was very frightened now. “What do you mean? There’s nothing there!” Kamal was trying not to smile. Suddenly the door opened with a bang and a zombie appeared, shouting and moving its arms. Amy screamed and covered her eyes. “Oh very funny, Grant!” said Tara looking bored. Kamal and Grant started laughing. “Ha ha, you were frightened!” said Grant. “Do you like my zombie costume?” Amy took Tara’s arm. “I can’t breathe,” she said. Kamal looked worried now. “Is she OK? It was only a joke.” “No she’s not OK, you idiot. She’s having an asthma attack and she forgot her inhaler.” Tara took out her phone. “I’m calling her dad.”

Next evening was Halloween. The girls were at the school disco. “Are you better now?” asked Tara. “I’m fine,” said Amy. “I think it was the smell of paint that started the attack.” Tara looked around. “So, where are the zombies?” “I don’t know, I don’t want to see Kamal again,” said Amy. “Come on, let’s dance!”

Amy and Tara were dancing when Grant arrived, looking worried. “Hi, someone stole my phone. Have you seen Kamal? He said he was coming here at eight o’clock. Can you phone him?” “Go away, idiot!” Tara didn’t stop dancing. Grant looked upset. “Tell him I’m looking for him,” he called as he left the disco. Tara really didn’t like Grant.

Just then, Tara’s phone rang. She looked at it. “Ha!” she said, “I don’t believe it!” “What is it?” asked Amy. “Kamal just sent a text to everyone. Listen!” Tara read out Kamal’s message.

“I’m at the house. I can’t move. Please call an ambulance. My battery is running out.”

The girls didn’t stop dancing. Lots of their friends saw Kamal’s message too, but Tara told everyone it was just a joke. They all ignored it.

The next morning, Amy’s mum and dad were listening to the radio. “Is Amy up yet?” Dad asked. “No, she’s tired,” said mum, turning the volume up on the radio.

“This morning, police are investigating the death of a sixteen-year-old boy. He died last night in a disused house on Moortown Road…”

Dad put down his newspaper. “But that’s where Amy went with her friends.”

“…They found the body early this morning. His name was Kamal Naseer…”


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