Reading: Facebook Data Breach


Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg apologized for the data breach that was revealed last week. Mr Zuckerberg took out full-page advertisements in broadsheet newspapers in the UK and US to make his apology for the data privacy scandal. Zuckerberg was being criticized for being too slow to respond to the news. Personal data on up to 50 million users was used by a U.S. political consultancy called Cambridge Analytica. This company is accused of using the leaked data to benefit Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. Zuckerberg said: “This was a breach of trust, and I am sorry….We’re now taking steps to make sure this doesn’t happen again.” The apology made no mention of Cambridge Analytica.

Mr Zuckerberg acknowledged that Facebook could and should have done more to protect user data and to stop it being exploited. Reports are now circulating that Facebook was warned its data protection was too weak back in 2011. Mr Zuckerberg outlined the actions Facebook would take going forward. He said: “We’re investigating every single app that had access to large amounts of data before we fixed this. We expect there are others. And when we find them, we will ban them and tell everyone affected.” The value of Facebook has fallen by $75 billion this week; Zuckerberg’s wealth fell by $10 billion. There has also been a surge in users abandoning their Facebook pages, in online calls to #deletefacebook.


Comprehension Questions:

  1. What kind of newspapers did Facebook put ads in to apologize?
  2. What is Mark Zuckerberg being criticized for?
  3. How many users may have had their data exploited?
  4. What kind of company is Cambridge Analytica?
  5. What is Facebook taking to ensure there is not another data breach?
  6. What could and should Facebook have done to protect data?
  7. When was Facebook warned about its weak data protection?
  8. What is Facebook now investigating?
  9. How much less is Mark Zuckerberg worth since the scandal began?
  10. What is the hashtag that is encouraging users to close their page?



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

  • more
  • weak
  • single
  • ban
  • week
  • surge
  • last
  • slow
  • political
  • leaked
  • sorry
  • mention


Opinion Questions

  1. What did you think when you read the headline?
  2. What images are in your mind when you hear the word ‘online’?
  3. What do you think of Facebook?
  4. How much do you worry about your private information online?
  5. How much damage will this do to Facebook?
  6. Why do you think Mr Zuckerberg was slow to respond to this news?
  7. Does Mr Zuckerberg’s apology go far enough?
  8. What should happen to the political consultancy in this story?
  9. What steps does Facebook need to take?
  10. What advice do you have for Mark Zuckerberg?
  11. What do you think of when you hear the word ‘privacy’?
  12. What do you know about this news?
  13. What do you think of companies that sell your mail address?
  14. How much do you trust online companies with your data?
  15. What actions could users whose details were leaked take?
  16. Will Facebook still be going in 20 years from now?
  17. What would happen if many people left Facebook?
  18. What questions would you like to ask Mark Zuckerberg?

Discussion: It is becoming too dangerous to put our personal information online.

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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?

Original Content:

Reading: Marvel’s “Black Panther”

blackpantherThe new superhero movie Black Panther is breaking box office records. It is the highest moneymaking debut ever for a February film. Disney, the movie’s maker, estimated that the film has earned over $361 million in its first three days. The opening was the fifth highest-earning film ever. The movie has been helped by great reviews from critics. The movie review site Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 97 per cent rating. It is very rare for any movie to get such a high score. The Los Angeles Times newspaper compared Black Panther to a Star Wars movie. It said “Black Panther fever” took over Los Angeles. It added: “The film opened to the kind of fervor typically reserved for the latest offering in the Star Wars franchise.”

Black Panther is the first Marvel superhero movie with an African-American in the title role. It also has a largely black cast and is directed by a black man. Many people of African descent have been showing their pride in the movie by attending movie theatres dressed in traditional African clothes. CNN writer Van Jones said the film was very important. He said: “This film is a godsend that will lift the self-esteem of black children in the US and around the world for a long time.” A seventh-grade student who watched the film said: “For people of color, it shows us that we can get through any obstacles that are thrown at us if we work together. We can also help the world by sharing our resources.”


Based on original content:

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.



Original Content:

Reading: Gulliver’s Travels (B2)

Gulliver’s Travels recounts the story of Lemuel Gulliver, a practical-minded Englishman trained as a surgeon who takes to the seas when his business fails. In a deadpan first-person narrative that rarely shows any signs of self-reflection or deep emotional response, Gulliver narrates the adventures that befall him on these travels.


pic_1Gulliver’s adventure in Lilliput begins when he wakes after his shipwreck to find himself bound by innumerable tiny threads and addressed by tiny captors who are in awe of him but fiercely protective of their kingdom. They are not afraid to use violence against Gulliver, though their arrows are little more than pinpricks. But overall, they are hospitable, risking famine in their land by feeding Gulliver, who consumes more food than a thousand Lilliputians combined could. Gulliver is taken into the capital city by a vast wagon the Lilliputians have specially built. He is presented to the emperor, who is entertained by Gulliver, just as Gulliver is flattered by the attention of royalty. Eventually Gulliver becomes a national resource, used by the army in its war against the people of Blefuscu, whom the Lilliputians hate for doctrinal differences concerning the proper way to crack eggs. But things change when Gulliver is convicted of treason for putting out a fire in the royal palace with his urine and is condemned to be shot in the eyes and starved to death. Gulliver escapes to Blefuscu, where he is able to repair a boat he finds and set sail for England.


gulliver-brobdingnagAfter staying in England with his wife and family for two months, Gulliver undertakes his next sea voyage, which takes him to a land of giants called Brobdingnag. Here, a field worker discovers him. The farmer initially treats him as little more than an animal, keeping him for amusement. The farmer eventually sells Gulliver to the queen, who makes him a courtly diversion and is entertained by his musical talents. Social life is easy for Gulliver after his discovery by the court, but not particularly enjoyable. Gulliver is often repulsed by the physicality of the Brobdingnagians, whose ordinary flaws are many times magnified by their huge size. Thus, when a couple of courtly ladies let him play on their naked bodies, he is not attracted to them but rather disgusted by their enormous skin pores and the sound of their torrential urination. He is generally startled by the ignorance of the people here—even the king knows nothing about politics. More unsettling findings in Brobdingnag come in the form of various animals of the realm that endanger his life. Even Brobdingnagian insects leave slimy trails on his food that make eating difficult. On a trip to the frontier, accompanying the royal couple, Gulliver leaves Brobdingnag when his cage is plucked up by an eagle and dropped into the sea.


Next, Gulliver sets sail again and, after an attack by pirates, ends up in Laputa, where a floating island inhabited by theoreticians and academics oppresses the land below, called Balnibarbi…


The scientific research undertaken in Laputa and in Balnibarbi seems totally inane and impractical, and its residents too appear wholly out of touch with reality. Taking a short side trip to Glubbdubdrib, Gulliver is able to witness the conjuring up of figures from history, such as Julius Caesar and other military leaders, whom he finds much less impressive than in books. After visiting the Luggnaggians and the Struldbrugs, the latter of which are senile immortals who prove that age does not bring wisdom, he is able to sail to Japan and from there back to England.


pic_4Finally, on his fourth journey, Gulliver sets out as captain of a ship, but after the mutiny of his crew and a long confinement in his cabin, he arrives in an unknown land. This land is populated by Houyhnhnms, rational-thinking horses who rule, and by Yahoos, brutish humanlike creatures who serve the Houyhnhnms. Gulliver sets about learning their language, and when he can speak he narrates his voyages to them and explains the constitution of England. He is treated with great courtesy and kindness by the horses and is enlightened by his many conversations with them and by his exposure to their noble culture. He wants to stay with the Houyhnhnms, but his bared body reveals to the horses that he is very much like a Yahoo, and he is banished. Gulliver is grief-stricken but agrees to leave. He fashions a canoe and makes his way to a nearby island, where he is picked up by a Portuguese ship captain who treats him well, though Gulliver cannot help now seeing the captain—and all humans—as shamefully Yahoolike. Gulliver then concludes his narrative with a claim that the lands he has visited belong by rights to England, as her colonies, even though he questions the whole idea of colonialism.

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.

IELTS Practice Test #1 – Academic Writing (Part 2)×1024.pngYou should spend about 40 minutes on this task.

Write about the following topic:

The responsibility of bringing up children should be shared equally between mother and father.
To what extent do you agree or disagree?

Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own knowledge or experience.
Write at least 250 words.


IELTS Practice Test #1 – Academic Writing (Part 1)

The table below shows CO2 emissions for different forms of transport in the European Union. The Pie Chart shows the percentage of European Union funds being spent on different forms of transport.

Write a report of at least 150 words for a university lecturer describing the information shown below.

co2 emissions
CO2 emissions per passenger kilometre

eu funds for transport
EU Funds for transport 2007-2013


IELTS Academic Writing Task 2 involves composing a formal five-paragraph essay in response to a point of view, argument or problem. You should dedicate 40 of the total 60 minutes to this task (Task 1 requires 20 of the allocated 60 minutes to complete).

For example, you may have to consider an opinion or weigh the pros and cons of an argument before presenting your own view on the matter. You may also have to discuss various aspects of a problem and then outline your ideas for solving it.

  • This task is 33% of the Writing Exam score.
  • This task is half the length of Part 2
  • You need to plan your response well and express your ideas coherently.

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