Reading: Professional Sleepers (B1)

A company in the USA is paying its employees to sleep more. Staff at the insurance company Aetna will get $300 a year added to their salary if they get at least seven hours of sleep a night. That works out to just over an extra dollar for each night the employee sleeps over seven hours.

The idea behind this scheme is employee performance. Human resources officials say employees will work better if they have slept well. They add that a workforce that is more awake and alert will mean the company will perform better. Staff can either record their sleep automatically using a wrist monitor that connects to Aetna’s computers, or manually record how long they have slept every night.
There are a number of studies that warn that not sleeping enough can affect our ability to do our job. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine said that the average worker in the USA loses 11.3 working days of productivity a year because of not getting enough sleep. This costs companies about $2,280 for one worker. It estimates that the US economy loses $63.2 billion a year because workers do not sleep more than seven hours a night.

A 2015 study in Europe by the Rand Corporation found that staff who slept less than seven hours per night were far less productive than workers who had eight or more hours of sleep. The staff at Aetna also receive extra cash if they do exercise.




  1. How much extra money can workers get for sleeping more?
  2. What is the idea behind this scheme?
  3. Who said employees would work better after more sleep?
  4. What will perform better if workers are more awake and alert?
  5. What kind of monitor can workers use to record their sleep?
  6. How many days of productivity does the average worker lose a year?
  7. How much does a lack of sleep cost companies per worker?
  8. How much does a lack of sleep among workers cost the US economy?
  9. What did the Rand Corporation do in 2015?
  10. What else can the insurance company workers do to get more money?



SYNONYM MATCH: Match the following synonyms from the article.

  1. employees
  2. salary
  3. scheme
  4. alert
  5. monitor
  6. affect
  7. average
  8. far
  9. productive
  10. extra
  1. ordinary
  2. detector
  3. a lot
  4. workers
  5. additional
  6. aware
  7. pay
  8. useful
  9. plan
  10. change

Vocabulary: Useful Essay Phrases

Useful Phrases for Writing Argumentative Essays

To list arguments in the main body:

In the first place, First of all, To start with, To begin with, Firstly, Secondly, Thirdly, Finally, In addition (to this), Furthermore, Moreover, Besides, last but not least

Presenting arguments for:

The main/first/most important advantage of …, One major advantage of …, A further advantage …, One/Another/An additional advantage of …, One point of view in favour of …, It is often suggested/believed/argued that …, Some/Many people suggest/feel/argue that …, Some/Many people are in favour of/are convinced that …,

Presenting arguments against:

One major disadvantage of …, The main/most important disadvantage/drawback of …, One/Another/An additional disadvantage of …, One point/argument against …, Some/Many people are against …,

Presenting examples, causes and results:

for example/instance, such as, like, in particular,therefore, for this reason, because, as, since, as a result,

To add more points to the same topic:

what is more, furthermore, also, in addition to, besides, apart from this/that, not to mention the fact that, etc.

To make contrasting points:

on the other hand, however, despite/in spite of (the fact), while, nevertheless, even though, although, it can be argued that, one can argue that, etc.

To conclude:

to conclude/sum up, all in all, all things considered, in conclusion, on the whole, taking everything into account, taking all this into account/consideration, above all, as was previously stated, etc.


opinionUseful Phrases for Writing Opinion Essays

To list points: In the first place, first of all, to start with, in the first place, etc.

To add more points: what is more, another major reason, also, furthermore, moreover, in addition to, besides, apart from this, not to mention the fact that, etc.

To introduce conflicting viewpoints: It is argued that, people argue that, opponents of this view say, there are people who oppose, etc.

To express opinion: I believe, In my opinion, I think, In my view, I strongly believe, etc.

Reading: Body Talk (B2)

f8f9802c236745406bc957ed6f506c60WHAT YOUR BODY LANGUAGE REVEALS ABOUT YOU AT WORK.

Your boss asks how things are going. “Fine,” you smile. You can’t quite bring yourself to look him in the eye as you deliver this jumbo-sized lie but, what the hell, it’s not as if he can tell you’re fibbing, so it doesn’t make any difference. Or does it? The truth is, no matter what you say, your body language will reveal your true feelings as surely as if you came to work holding a big banner saying, “Help! I hate my job.”

“What we say with our bodies is at least as important as what we say with our voices,” says occupational psychologist Dr Cary Cooper. “The way you stand and sit, the direction of your eyes and the intonation of your voice are all part of your range of non-verbal communication.”

“A genuinely happy and enthusiastic worker would have looked his boss directly in the eye as he replied to his inquiry. Even if his manager doesn’t realize why he’s not convinced by the answer, he’ll know something’s not right.” “Slouchy posture and drooping shoulders are a sign of someone who’s feeling ‘under it’ and quite literally overloaded,” he explains. “Like the image of Atlas carrying the world on his shoulders, people with hunched shoulders and rounded backs are struggling with a weight of work that is overburdening them.”

“People who shuffle their shoes along the floor as they go are invariably bored,” says Dr Cooper. “Their couldn’t-care-less gait reflects their listless, can’t-be-bothered attitude.” Crouchers, says Dr Cooper, hide behind their desks all day and never get up unless they have to. Some even rearrange their desks to create a physical barrier between themselves and their colleagues.

Keen, fulfilled employees are as easy to spot as demotivated, miserable ones. Management consultant Dr Paul Cassinder says those of us who are unhappy at work and giving off the wrong signals can reverse our state of mind by adopting positive body language. “Most people get bogged down occasionally at work. But minds can be tricked and, if you’ve allowed yourself to fall into a dreary state, take action now.”



1. Fibbing

A acting B lying C showing off D pretending

2. Reveal

A disguise B block C conceal D show

3. Slouchy

A Upright B Arrogant C Composed D Floppy

4. Hunched

A curved B unbalanced C broad D straight

5. Keen

A Caring B Kind C Friendly D Enthusiastic



6. What we say with our bodies:

A. can tell what we feel about our job.

B. can be as important as coming to work with a banner.

C. can help us communicate with cur boss better.

D. makes things worse at work.

7. Your bad posture:

A. will make your manager realize something is not right.

B. can mean you don’t want to look your boss in the eye.

C. can mean you’re carrying a big load on your shoulders.

D. can mean that you feel you can’t cope with your job well.

8. Workers who drag their feet:

A. don’t use enough body talk.

B. can’t care less about their friends.

C. can’t be bothered to lift them.

D. are usually fed up.

9. Some employees use their desks:

A. to keep out of fights.

B. as an excuse so they never get up.

C. to hide themselves.

D. to get into trouble.

10. You can make yourself feel positive again by:

A. speaking your mind.

B. talking to your manager consultant.

C. allowing your psychologist to help you.

D. walking, talking and standing tall.

Vocabulary: Verbs (Tell / Say / Talk / Speak)


TELL always has an object (indirect / direct or both), but SAY often does not (and it can never have an indirect object, without a direct object). If you use both types of object, their order is important – when the indirect object comes last you must use to.

  • He tells the story (direct object)
  • He tells me (indirect object)
  • He tells me the story (indirect object is first)
  • He tells the story to me (indirect object is last)
  • She says “hi”
  • She says “hi” to me.
  • She says me “hi” is completely incorrect. You cannot put the indirect object (me) before the thing that is said. There are no exceptions to this.


  • usually used without an indirect object (person).
  • If we want to put a person after say, we use to (uncommon use)
  • She said that it was my last chance.
  • He said, ‘Good morning.’
  • And I say to all the people of this great country…


  • TELL always needs an object – direct (what is told) or indirect (who is told) or both
  • TELL only means ‘instruct’ or ‘inform’. Commonly it is used with
    • instructions
    • orders / commands
    • directions
    • stories
    • lies


There is not very much difference between SPEAK and TALK.


Talk is the more usual word to refer to conversational exchanges and informal communication.

  • When she walked into the room everybody stopped talking.


  • Speak is often used for one-way communication and for exchanges in more serious or formal situations.
  • Speak is the usual word to refer to knowledge and use of languages-
  • I’ll have to speak to that boy – he’s getting very lazy.
  • After she had finished reading the letter, nobody spoke.
  • She speaks three languages fluently.

Activities to test your understanding:

Reading: Profile – David Bowie (B2)


artists-pay-tribute-david-bowieDavid Bowie is a music legend. He was one of the most original, innovative and influential rock stars in music history. He was also an actor, fashion icon, record producer, artist and art critic. He was born in London on the 8th of January, 1947 and died at the age of 69 on the 10th of January, 2016. His real name was David Robert Jones but he changed it because there was another David Jones singing in the 1960s.

David Bowie first became famous following his 1969 hit “Space Oddity”. This song was released just ten days before the first Moon landing. In 1972, Bowie became a leader of the glam rock movement. He wowed and shocked people with his make-up, dresses and flamboyant costumes. His Ziggy Stardust persona was the first of many different characters Bowie would use every time he changed musical direction.

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Bowie continued to break new ground with his music. In 1975, he experimented with soul music and had a number one hit in the USA with the song ‘Fame’. He also helped to pioneer the electronic and new romantic movements in the mid-1970s. In the early-80s, he was one of the first artists to use videos to promote his songs.

Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, Bowie continued to experiment with musical styles, including industrial and jungle. His fans thought he had given up making music after a ten-year break starting in 2003. He surprised the world by suddenly announcing a new album, ‘The Next Day’ in 2013. He released his final album days before his death. Many believe the album was Bowie’s goodbye to his fans.

Listen to the article

Text extracted from here


David Bowie interviewed by the BBC in 1999 by Jeremy Paxman. 



Vocabulary: Verbs (Look / Watch / See)


We start to see unintentionally when we open our eyes, It may not be deliberate, we just see without any effort.

For example:

  • Can you see my house over the cliff?
  • Bats can see very well in the dark.
  • See you tomorrow.
  • You may not see much in dim light.


Different from the action “see” we make a special effort when we try to see something. It’s an active verb.

For example:

  • Don’t look at the sun with naked eye.
  • Look at me while I am speaking.
  • He looked at his watch and told me the time.
  • Don’t look at me like that, I didn’t do anything wrong.


The verb “watch” is used when we look at something that moves or changes for a period of time. It’s a continuous action of looking and observing.

For example:

  • All day long I just watched TV yesterday.
  • I like watching the spectacular sun set every day.
  • Please be quiet, I am trying to watch the world cup series.
  • Do you like watching talk shows?


Watch a Movie vs See a Movie

We watched a movie yesterday.

This would imply we watched a movie at home (TV/DVD…)

We saw a movie yesterday.

This would imply that we did so by going to a movie theatre. We can also explicitly say that we went to the movie theatre and watched “Ice Age”.


Some exercises to test your understanding:

Reading: A Confused Generation (B1)

shanghaiChange brings problems. Bella lives with her parents in a brand new apartment in Shanghai. Her real name is Zhou Jiaying – ‘Bella’ is the name that she has been given by her English teacher.

Her parents are representative of a confused generation in a confused time. In modern Chinese society different ideologies are fighting against each other. Enormous material benefits have been brought by China’s economic boom, but the debate is not about these; it’s about family life and values. Old values – the respect of family and the older generations – are being replaced by new ones which place money as the critical measurement of one’s position in society. But at the same time these new values are also being questioned. Have our lives been made richer by all our new possessions? Is Chinese culture being supplanted? As in all changing societies people are trying to find the right balance between the ‘new’ and ‘old’.
traditional-chinese-new-year-celebration-happy-family-illustration-67833207Recently, Bella’s family put their grandfather into a nursing home. It was a painful decision. In traditional China, caring for aged parents has always been an unavoidable duty, but times are changing. Bella’s ambition? ‘I want one day to put my parents in the best nursing home’ – the best that money can buy, she means.
‘When she told us that’ Bella’s father says, ‘I thought – is it selfish to think she will be a dutiful and caring daughter and look after us? We don’t want to be a burden on her when we get old. This is something my daughter has taught us. Once it was parents who taught children, but now we learn from them.’

2-01The family can buy many more things these days, and when they go shopping, Bella makes sure that the ‘right’ western brands are selected. (Pizza Hut is her favourite restaurant.)
She also teaches her parents the latest slang. Her parents want to be supportive, but they no longer help with Bella’s homework; in spoken English she has surpassed them. She has already learnt much more about the world outside than them. ‘Our advice is not listened to and it is not wanted,’ her mother says. ‘When she was little, she agreed with all my opinions. Now she sits there without saying anything, but I know she doesn’t agree with me.’ Bella glares, but says nothing. ‘I suppose our child-raising has been a failure.’ In China there is no concept of the rebellious teenager.

Text taken from National Geographic open-source Life Study Book:Upper Intermediate

Reading: Okinawa – The Secrets of Long Life (A2)

Map showing Okinawa Island

The island of Okinawa in Japan has some of the oldest people in the world. It’s famous for its high number of centenarians – men and women who live beyond 100 years of age.

There have been many scientific studies of their lifestyle and you can even buy cookery books based on their diets.

Some of the reasons for their good health are that they …

• go fishing and eat what they catch.

• regularly do gardening and grow their own fruit and vegetables.

• go cycling and never drive when they can walk.

• often spend time with friends. They meet at people’s houses and play games.

• rarely buy food from a supermarket.

• do regular exercise, go swimming and lead active lives.

Grammar: Gerunds & Infinitives

1. A gerund is a noun made from a verb by adding “-ing.” The gerund form of the verb “read” is “reading.” You can use a gerund as the subject, the complement, or the object of a sentence.


  • Reading helps you learn English. subject of sentence
  • Her favorite hobby is reading. complement of sentence
  • I enjoy reading. object of sentence

Gerunds can be made negative by adding “not.”


  • He enjoys not working.
  • The best thing for your health is not smoking.


2. Infinitives are the “to” form of the verb. The infinitive form of “learn” is “to learn.” You can also use an infinitive as the subject, the complement, or the object of a sentence.


  • To learn is important. subject of sentence
  • The most important thing is to learn. complement of sentence
  • He wants to learn. object of sentence

Infinitives can be made negative by adding “not.”


  • I decided not to go.
  • The most important thing is not to give up.


3. Both gerunds and infinitives can be used as the subject or the complement of a sentence. However, as subjects or complements, gerunds usually sound more like normal, spoken English, whereas infinitives sound more abstract. In the following sentences, gerunds sound more natural and would be more common in everyday English. Infinitives emphasise the possibility or potential for something and sound more philosophical. If this sounds confusing, just remember that 90% of the time, you will use a gerund as the subject or complement of a sentence.


  • Learning is important. normal subject
  • To learn is important. abstract subject – less common
  • The most important thing is learning. normal complement
  • The most important thing is to learn. abstract complement – less common


4. As the object of a sentence, it is more difficult to choose between a gerund or an infinitive. In such situations, gerunds and infinitives are not normally interchangeable. Usually, the main verb in the sentence determines whether you use a gerund or an infinitive.


  • He enjoys swimming. “Enjoy” requires a gerund.
  • He wants to swim. “Want” requires an infinitive.


5. Some verbs are followed by gerunds as objects. List of Verbs Followed by Gerunds


  • She suggested going to a movie.
  • Mary keeps talking about her problems.


6. Some verbs are followed by infinitives. List of Verbs Followed by Infinitives


  • She wantsto go to a movie.
  • Mary needsto talk about her problems.

Some Exercises to practice: