Watch the news at different levels

Watch the news anywhere!

Lots of students want to follow the news in English, but most news is at a university level, so it’s very hard to understand.  This website is great for learning some news stories.  You can listen to the news stories at 3 different levels, and you can learn new words at the same time.

How to improve your English with News in Levels:



  1. Read all today’s articles and translate all words which you don’t understand.
  2. Read the articles from the day before and see if you remember all new words.


  1. Listen to all today’s news.
  2. Stop the video after every sentence and repeat the sentence.
  3. Repeat point 2 for the news which you listened to the day before.


  1. Answer the questions under today’s news and write them into the comments.
  2. Chat in the  Chat room for at least 2 minutes. You can write about today’s news.


  1. Choose one person from the SKYPE section.
  2. You can talk about today’s news or you can answer questions from

If you want to know how to learn English effectively, please visit

Read more:

Passive voice: Simons: ‘Mistakes were made’ — Alison Redford’s phrase the sorriest excuse of all


Simons: ‘Mistakes were made’ — Alison Redford’s phrase the sorriest excuse of all

Simons: ‘Mistakes were made’ — Alison Redford’s phrase the sorriest excuse of all.

Newspaper editors are noticing grammar this week, as former premier Alison Redford leaves political office.  As both of these editorials note, when a politician says “Mistakes were made”, they are using the passive voice, and therefore, they aren’t taking any personal responsibility for those mistakes.  When we use direct voice, and take responsibility, we say, “I made mistakes”.

Both editorials point out some reasons why grammar makes a difference in communication.  The tense, the voice, the pronouns that are used can all change the meaning of what we say.  These are important communication tools.  Yes, it’s very slow, and not very exciting to study all of the points of English grammar, but it’s important if you want to communicate clearly and effectively!

If you want to learn more about, and practice this grammar, then follow this link.



Videos about environmental issues

You can improve your academic vocabulary and also your knowledge by watching videos about environmental issues.  The Canadian video addresses the issue of importing food, versus eating locally, and all of the waste and costs associated with this practice.  The video in Viet Nam (watch Dirty Water, Dangerous Fish on Vimeo) shows the practices for fish farming in that region, a practice that is associated with many environmental and health concerns.  I recommend that you watch each video once to get the main idea, before trying to analyze the vocabulary and content in more detail.


Why computer translation is a bad idea! Chinese New Year BBC blunder: ‘Welcome to the year of the whores’ – Weird News – News – The Independent


Chinese New Year BBC blunder: 'Welcome to the year of the whores' - Weird News - News - The Independent

Many of my students try to translate one word at a time, when they see unfamiliar vocabulary.  They may also watch TV shows that have been translated by computer.  Possibly you’ve watched shows and turned on the English captions, but they look strange.  Sometimes, the captions are what a computer “thinks” the speaker has said.  The BBC, one of the world’s largest TV networks had an embarrassing problem like this, when it broadcast a news story about the “Year of the Horse”, lunar new year celebrations.  Another word that sounds similar to “horse” is “whores”, the plural form of the noun “whore”.  According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, this is the definition:

Definition of WHORE

:  a woman who engages in sexual acts for money : prostitutealso :  a promiscuous or immoral woman
:  a male who engages in sexual acts for money
:  a venal or unscrupulous person

Chinese New Year BBC blunder: ‘Welcome to the year of the whores’ – Weird News – News – The Independent.

Be careful when you use a word for word translation, because you may make a similar mistake someday!

Shanghai’s Choking Smog Registers ‘Beyond Index’ : The Two-Way : NPR

When you buy products that are “Made in China” you are often buying a product that is less expensive.  China’s economy has been growing rapidly, but there are many costs to the rapid development, especially because there are almost no environmental regulations for industry.  It’s hard for people to survive when the air quality is so bad.

Shanghai’s Choking Smog Registers ‘Beyond Index’ : The Two-Way : NPR.

Shanghai's smog is so bad you can't see across the street

In Flanders Field, Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae


In Flanders Fields: Remembrance Day

In Flanders Field, Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae.

This coming weekend (Monday) the country will celebrate Remembrance Day, to honour the war veterans who fought and died, especially in the First and Second World Wars.  Canadians fought very hard in both wars, and many were killed.  You can see many people wearing the red poppy on their coats at this time of year, and it represents the overseas graveyards where many of the soldiers were buried.  The story about this poem is an interesting one.

World maps with information

I love maps, all kinds of maps!

This is very interesting, with many different maps that give you ideas about what the world is like now.

My computer is being repaired right now, so I can’t choose a photo to go with this post, but click the link, it’s interesting.

Tour of Alberta pro cycling : maps of The Race


Tour of Alberta pro cycling tour

The Race |.

Have you ever wanted to watch professional cyclists racing?  Next week, in Alberta, there will be a pro cycling tour, with stages in various parts of the province.  On Tuesday, it’s going to make a problem with the back to work and school downtown traffic in Edmonton, since the streets will be closed to cars from 2 pm until 9:30 pm.  It will be quite exciting, if you can go downtown for the evening to watch individual cyclists competing to ride the fastest through the downtown streets!  In other parts of the province, the races will be similar to Tour de France or Giro d’Italia, with cyclists competing side by side.  This is something new in Alberta.  I hope that it’s a big success!

Has something got your goat? Owners have yet to claim found animal, RCMP say

Has something got your goat? Owners have yet to claim found animal, RCMP say

Has something got your goat? Owners have yet to claim found animal, RCMP say

Anyone who is missing a goat or knows someone who is should contact Const. Stephanie Butterill of Desmarais RCMP at 780-891-3768

This article and the photo of the missing goat were in today’s Edmonton Journal.

We use an idiom, saying that something or someone “gets our goat”, to mean that something annoys us.  According to “The Phrase Finder” the phrase originated in the US, in the early 1900s, and it was used in the UK around 1924:

“That had got the chairman’s goat! – Got his goat? What expressions they used nowadays!”

Got and gotten is another interesting distinction.  In UK English, one must always use “got” as the past participle: “I have got sick of chocolate”.  In American English, “gotten” is usually used as the past participle:

According to English Language & Usage:

Gotten is probably the most distinctive of all the AmE/BrE grammatical differences, but British people who try to use it often get it wrong.

It is not simply an alternative for have got. Gotten is used in such contexts as

  • They’ve gotten a new boat. (= obtain)

  • They’ve gotten interested. (= become)

  • He’s gotten off the chair. (= moved)

    But it is not used in the sense of possession (= have). AmE does not allow

  • *I’ve gotten the answer.

  • *I’ve gotten plenty.

but uses I’ve got as in informal BrE. The availability of gotten does however mean that AmE can make such distinctions as the following:

  • They’ve got to leave (they must leave)

  • They’ve gotten to leave (they’ve managed to leave).

The $4 Million Teacher – Yahoo! Finance


A private teacher in Korea earns   million/year from tutoring!

“Mr. Kim (a “rock star teacher”) works about 60 hours a week teaching English, although he spends only three of those hours giving lectures. His classes are recorded on video, and the Internet has turned them into commodities, available for purchase online at the rate of $4 an hour.”

I’m always amazed when I talk to Korean students about their punishing schedules as high school students, often spending 16 hours/day and more on their studies.  One of the reasons is the growth of these private schools (hagwons) where students receive further tutoring in the subjects that you study.  This article offers interesting insights into the Korean school system, marketing by the hagwons, and the growth of education as a valuable commodity in one part of the world.  What do you think? Is it a good or bad thing for so much emphasis to be on education?

The $4 Million Teacher – Yahoo! Finance.

BBC News – ‘Fat man’ says New Zealand visa decision ‘totally unfair’


Who do you think is right?

BBC News – ‘Fat man’ says New Zealand visa decision ‘totally unfair’.

This is an interesting interview to listen to.  The person who is speaking is Afrikaan, a South African man with Dutch heritage.  You may need to listen a few times to catch what he says.  Take a look at some of the vocabulary and expressions before you listen to make it easier to follow along.  These questions are from ESL, a resource for ESL teachers.


Key Vocabulary and Expressions from the Interview

  • BMI (body mass index)
  • in the blink of an eye
  • broke the camel’s back
  • temptation
  • kicked out
  • burden
  • horrendous
  • sensitive
  • on the dole
  • stuck between a rock and a hard place

Comprehension Questions

  • Why does  the government feel that this man’s health is not at an “acceptable standard”?
  • What does the earthquake have to do with this man’s problem?
  • How is the man currently dealing with the situation?

Discussion Questions

    • Do you agree with the South African man that all of this is “totally unfair”?
    • Do you agree with the interviewer that chefs have more food temptations than other people?
    • Should people on a work permit be allowed to “go on the dole”?
    • What suggestion would you have for this man and his wife?