Reading: “Arkham Asylum” wins Award

The Batman video game “Arkham Asylum‟ has won top prize at Britain’s biggest gaming awards. The all-action superhero adventure picked up best game at the Bafta 2010 awards. Gamers can take on the role of Batman as he fights his traditional enemies in an asylum. It is only the seventh time Bafta has given the award. The best video game category only started in 2004. Bafta is the British Academy of Film and Television Arts. Its new award is to recognise “artistic, creative and technical innovation in video games”. Second place went to the shoot-em-up game, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2‟. This game won the Game award, voted for by gamers. Nintendo scooped the best family and social game with its Wii Sports Resort.
A special moment at the ceremony was when Bafta presented a lifetime achievement award to legendary game maker Shigeru Miyamoto. He is the creator of legendary games such as Super Mario, Donkey Kong, and The Legend of Zelda. He told the audience: “Our imaginations and creativity…should be the only limits and that is what makes our industry a joy and a dream to work in.” Miyamoto‟s words summed up the confidence shared by everyone in the industry. A British politician Tom Watson echoed Miyamoto as he handed out a prize. He said to games  designers: “You are going to be the dominant creative medium of this century.” Many designers believe they are showing a lot more creativity than Hollywood.


1. Discuss these keywords: Batman / gaming / awards / superhero / enemies / creativity / innovation / Nintendo / ceremonies / achievement / Super Mario / imaginations / confidence / Hollywood

2. Spend one minute writing down all of the different words you associate with the word “gamer‟.

3. TRUE / FALSE: Are these sentences true or false?
  1. A Batman video game scooped the top prize at a British awards show. T / F
  2. The Batman video game only has new enemies in it. T / F
  3. The Bafta awards for video games are now in their tenth year. T / F
  4. Nintendo won an award for one of its Wii games. T / F
  5. The maker of the Super Mario game got a special award. T / F
  6. Shigeru Miyamoto said working in the game industry is like a dream. T / F
  7. A British politician complained the awards show echoed too much. T / F
  8. Many designers believe Hollywood is more creative than gaming. T / F

4. Look at the words below and try to recall how they were used in the text:

top, role, category, artistic, voted, social, lifetime, creator, audience, summed, echoed, medium

5. Answer these questions
a) What did you think when you read the headline?
b) What springs to mind when you hear the word “gaming‟?
c) What do you think of video games?
d) How would your life be different if there were no video games?
e) Do you like the idea of an awards ceremony for video games?
f) What kind of people do you think work in the video game industry?
g) What is your favourite game and why?
h) What are the biggest differences between today‟s games and those that came out five years ago?
i) What‟s your favourite games console (and why)?
j) Would you like to play the new Batman game?
k) Did you like reading this article?
l) What do you think you have to do to get a lifetime achievement award?
m) What‟s the best game ever?
n) Would you like to work in the gaming industry?Why?
o) How creative are you?
p) How important is creativity?
q) Do you think movies or games are more creative?
r) Do you prefer to watch movies or play games? Why?
s) What will games of the future be like?
t) What questions would you like to ask Shigeru Miyamoto?

Continue reading “Reading: “Arkham Asylum” wins Award”

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: Notting Hill Carnival – Europe’s biggest

NTCWhen, in 1964, a members of a Trinidadian steel band were invited to take part in a street festival in Notting Hill, none of them realised that they were going to give birth to Europe’s greatest street carnival.
There had been racial tension in the late 1950’s, and the Black people who had come over from the West Indies to work in London found it hard to mix with Londoners. As a way of breaking the ice, the idea of a street festival was suggested; street festivals being popular events on the Caribbean islands, the original organisers suggested that the sight and sound of a Trinidadian steel band playing on the streets of Notting Hill would encourage local residents, both black and white, to come out on the street and enjoy themselves for an afternoon.
The first festival was an immediate success; once the black people of Notting Hill heard the music of the steel band, they came out into the street to dance and enjoy themselves as they might have done back home in the West Indies; attracted by the unusual and rhythmic sound of the steel band, others too came along to share in the experience. In short, the first festival was such a big success that the organisers decided to organise another one the following year.


NTC-1Since then, the Notting Hill Carnival has evolved into a huge multi-cultural arts festival, attended by up to two million people; besides being the annual high point of London’s Afro-Caribbean community, it now attracts hundreds of thousands of people from all over Britain and other countries, and has become the world’s second biggest carnival, second only to Rio.
Over the years, the carnival has grown in variety, reflecting the multi-coloured and cosmopolitan nature of modern London; recent carnivals have seen the participation of groups from Afghanistan, Kurdistan, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, Russia, and many other countries, as well as musicians and dancers from other parts of Britain. In addition to the procession of exotic costumes and steel bands, there are now almost fifty static stages with bands playing different types of West Indian music, but also jazz, soul, and other popular varieties.
With so many people in attendance during the two days of the festival – the last Sunday and Monday in August – moments of tension and the occasional scuffles with the police are inevitable; yet in spite of the crowds, serious problems are rare. The vast majority of those who come to this festival come to have a good time, to finish off the Summer holiday period with a day or two of exoticism and colour; they do not come looking for trouble.


From Trinidad To London

article-2401715-1B743F1C000005DC-563_964x636In Trinidad during the days of slavery, black slaves were forbidden to play musical instruments and wear costumes except on the occasion of the traditional imported European carnival, that took place six weeks before Easter. Slaves were also forbidden to be on the streets after dark, unless they were accompanying their master.
When slavery was abolished in British colonies in 1833, slaves took to the streets in song and dance; to celebrate their new-found freedom, they dressed up in fancy and colourful clothes and powdered their faces white, to mimic their former masters and show that they could be masters too.
In the years that followed, as slavery eventually disappeared from other parts of the new World, carnivals developed into great moments of celebration for the former slaves throughout a large part of the region; from Rio to New Orleans, by way of the Caribbean, people vied with each other to produce the most exotic and exciting carnival costumes. Even in 19th century Trinidad, it was amazing what some people managed to produce using the very limited resources available to them.
Today the situation is quite different; and although many Carnival costumes are now made up from left-overs and snippets, others are carefully made from material bought specially for the purpose. Yet regardless of how the costumes are made, the result is spectacular; a flamboyant display of colour and originality that has earned itself a highly deserved place as the most important annual street festival in Britain.


Word guide :

  • steel band: percussion band with home made instruments
  • enjoy themselves: amuse themselves, have fun
  • West Indies: Caribbean islands – attended by: visited by
  • static stage: fixed platform – in attendance: present
  • scuffle: struggle, small fight
  • fancy: fantastic, fantasy
  • vie: compete
  • left overs: surplus and unused material
  • snippets: small pieces cut from a big piece (to snip = to cut)
  • purpose: reason

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: How to get rich in America (B2/C1)

AMERICANS are admirably optimistic about shaping their own future. One survey found that nearly three-quarters of Americans thought hard work was a “very important” component of success, while just 62% put it down to a good education and less than a fifth to coming from wealth. But the United States ranks poorly compared to other advanced economies when it comes to income inequality and social mobility. So what must an ambitious young American do to get rich?

Stanford University Graduates
Stanford University Graduates

A new study by Raj Chetty of Stanford University and a collective of other economists helps answer this question. By matching data from the Department of Education with 30m tax returns, Mr Chetty and his colleagues have constructed a data set that reveals to researchers both the income distributions of graduates of particular colleges, and how incomes vary depending on how rich the graduates’ parents were. The data show that attending an elite college is a good way of securing an upper-middle class lifestyle—graduates of Ivy League-calibre universities have roughly the same chance of breaking into the top 20% of the income distribution, regardless of family background. Paths to the upper-middle class exist for those who graduate from lesser-known universities too, since earnings can depend even more on what one studies than where. On average, graduates of lesser-known engineering colleges such as Kettering University and the Stevens Institute of Technology do just as well as those from the Ivy League.

Wall Street, Manhattan

But a good education alone cannot propel the merely upper-middle class into the ranks of the rich. Few engineers, nurses or pharmacists make it to the top 1%, which is dominated by bankers and other financiers. Recruiters in the financial industry place high premiums on pedigree. Here the Ivies play an outsize role; products of elite private universities such as Harvard and Yale are much more likely to end up on Wall Street. Moreover, data from Mr Chetty and colleagues show that it helps to start off rich in the first place.

This trend is even more pronounced at the very top of the income distribution. Between 1999 and 2004, just 2% of Princetonians came from the families in the lowest 20% of earnings, while 3.2% came from families in the top 0.1%. The admissions process at top colleges is sometimes further skewed by the preferential treatment given to family members of alumni. Of Harvard’s most recently admitted class, 27% had a relative who also went to that “college near Boston” (pictured). That suggests that the simplest way to become extremely rich is by being born to the right parents. The second-easiest way is to find a rich spouse. If neither approach works, you could try to get into a top college—but remember that not all Princetonians become plutocrats.



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Reading: Changing Your Mind About Having Kids

A wife has written an open letter telling others it’s okay to change your mind about having children, after her husband decided he didn’t want kids.

The unnamed woman posted the heartwarming letter on Reddit, explaining that she wasn’t angry at her husband for changing his mind.

In fact, the couple had been “on the fence” about having children for years and although they had stopped using contraception for a while, she felt “relieved” her partner had finally made a firm decision.

“We are raised with this notion that you get married and have kids. Simple,” she said.

“But it’s not simple. Kids aren’t for everyone. Some plans just do not involve it.”

The woman explained that she has two children from a previous marriage and her husband is an “excellent stepfather” to them.

However, they have not had children together and previously made the decision to try for a baby.

Her husband recently looked after his stepchildren for the day and when the woman came home, he immediately said: “I don’t want another kid.”

“We laughed and I said ‘okay.’ He said kids are by nature, selfish, and he doesn’t want to raise another one. I hugged him and said it’s okay, that to me, we have kids together even if they aren’t his blood.”

The woman decided to share their story to prove that “reproductive choices aren’t always set in stone”.

“If you end up changing your mind, you haven’t ‘let anyone down’ or ‘disappointed’ anyone,” she said. “You’ve simply changed your mind. That’s it.”

She added that children “take a lot of work” and no one should feel forced into a decision around that responsibility.

“If you and your spouse disagree, talk it out, go to counselling,” she said.

“If having a child is an absolute must for someone and you aren’t on board, then have a serious discussion about the option of parting ways.”

She admitted that those who want children “may feel cheated” by a partner changing their mind about kids, but said sometimes it can’t be helped.

“You have a right to be upset, but no right to coerce them into being on the same page,” she said.

“Families are not one-size-fits-all. You know what will be best for you. And sometimes, that changes. And that’s okay.”





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