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Sunday, February 17, 2019

WEEKLY PICKS - 28 - READ and LISTEN SPECIAL

This is a weekly selection of free online self-study materials and resources for you to further improve your English language skills and have fun ENJOY!

👓+ 🎧THIS WEEK ⇒ READ + LISTEN SPECIAL
These are not typical reading and listening comprehension exercises. On these websites, you will find a list of podcasts or recordings that you can listen to while reading transcripts. Reading and listening is an easy and effective way of developing your listening skills, improving your pronunciation and building up on your vocabulary at the same time.

📌AMERICAN CUSTOMS AND TRADITIONS
👉GO TO FULL LIST (128 short listening + reading articles)

📌BUSINESS ENGLISH POD ⇨ SKILLS 360
👉All Business English Skills 360 Lessons (Learn business English skills for communicating effectively at work. All Skills 360 lessons are listed on this webpage by the date published, with the more recent lessons at the top.)

📌 VIDEOS
925 English Lesson 9 - How to Talk about your Ideas in English | Business English Conversation (9:57 minutes)

925 English Lesson 10 - How to Agree with Ideas in English | Business English Conversation (9:27 minutes)

925 English Lesson 11 - How to Disagree with Ideas in English | Business English Conversation (10:00 minutes)

MORE PICKS NEXT WEEK!

Friday, February 15, 2019

How well do you know your phobias? (From Oxford Dictionaries Blog)

Spiders. Heights. The dark. Small, enclosed spaces. When we think of phobias, our minds usually jump to the commons ones – including the aforementioned claustrophobia (fear of enclosed spaces) and arachnophobia (fear of spiders). However, there’s a curious group of much rarer phobias out there as well. For example, how about iconophobia (fear of religious works of art)? Or apeirophobia (fear of infinity)?
From Oxford Dictionaries Blog

Etymologically, the names of these phobias are usually formed through two combining forms. The combining form -phobia comes (via Latin) from the Greek word 'phobos', meaning fear or dread. The combining forms that make up the first elements (claustro- or arachno-) come from Greek, Latin, or English origin. Some modern formations retain the elements separately, such as school phobia, and might be considered compound words.

Can you match the less common phobias in the quiz with their corresponding subjects? Take this 10-question quiz and find out!

💡You may also be interested in:
👉More QUIZZES:

Sunday, February 10, 2019

WEEKLY PICKS - 27

This is a weekly selection of reading articles, free online exercises, YouTube videos, games, quizzes and resources for you to further improve your English language skills and have fun ENJOY!

📜READING PICKS – Articles, blog posts, quizzes and more:

From BBC TRAVEL: How France created the metric system, by Madhvi Ramani. It is one of the most important developments in human history, affecting everything from engineering to international trade to political systems. (Continue reading)

From BBC CAPITAL: Can you make money selling your data? By Sam Harrison. Tech giants make billions from our data, but what if there was a way to claw some of that control back – and make some money in the process? (Continue reading)

🎬 VIDEO PICKS – Short and fun videos:

LESS-THAN-5-MINUTE VIDEOS:
Why is yawning contagious? - Claudia Aguirre (4:28 minutes)
5-TO-10-MINUTE VIDEOS:
Body Language in an Interview - 3 Tips (9:05 minutes)
The Silk Road and Ancient Trade: Crash Course World History #9 (10:30 minutes)
💬 VOCABULARY PICKS:
Learners' Questions: Assure, ensure, insure (3:22 minutes)
💡 GRAMMAR PICKS – Assorted exercises and games:
Learners' Questions: 'When', 'if' and 'in case' (3:06 minutes)
MORE PICKS NEXT WEEK!

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Sunday, February 03, 2019

WEEKLY PICKS - 26

This is a weekly selection of reading articles, free online exercises, YouTube videos, games, quizzes and resources for you to further improve your English language skills and have fun ENJOY!

📜 READING PICKS – Articles, blog posts, quizzes and more:

From BBC TRAVEL: Italy’s ‘practically perfect’ food, by Amanda Ruggeri.
Pound for pound, Parmigiano-Reggiano can compete with almost any food for calcium, amino acids, protein and vitamin A – and is prescribed by doctors to cure ailments. It’s also a dairy product… that can be eaten by the lactose-intolerant. (Continue reading)

From BBC CAPITAL: The cost of free public transport, by Marc Auxenfants. 
From March next year, commuters in Luxembourg will not be charged for trips on its trains, trams and buses. What’s the cost of such a move? (Continue reading)

BBC Reel: The amazing houses that build themselves At the touch of a button, these incredible homes of the future can self-deploy and build themselves in less than 10 minutes. (Go to videos + full article)

🎬 VIDEO PICKS – Short and fun videos:

LESS-THAN-5-MINUTE VIDEOS:
What Is the Sunday Evening Feeling? (4:58 minutes)
5-TO-10-MINUTE VIDEOS:
How parasites change their host's behavior - Jaap de Roode (5:13 minutes)
A LITTLE LONGER BUT WORTH IT!
Inside The Lives Of North Korean School Children (12:31 minutes)
💬 VOCABULARY PICKS:
Learners' Questions: Assure, ensure, insure (3:22 minutes)
💡 GRAMMAR PICKS – Assorted exercises and games:
Intermediate English grammar - Verb patterns, (verb + ing, verb + to) gerunds and infinitives (8:56 minutes)
MORE PICKS NEXT WEEK!

Saturday, February 02, 2019

When taking probiotics could backfire, by Martha Henriques (From BBC FUTURE)

👉 GO TO FULL ARTICLE: When taking probiotics could backfire
👉 By Martha Henriques

Taking a course of antibiotics could harm the beneficial bacteria living inside us. So should we be taking probiotics after we finish them? The answer may not be so simple.
Taking probiotics when your gut health is weak may not be a good idea (Credit: Getty Images)
Probiotics have been touted as a treatment for a huge range of conditions, from obesity to mental health problems. One of their popular uses is to replenish the gut microbiome after a course of antibiotics. The logic is – antibiotics wipe out your gut bacteria along with the harmful bacteria that might be causing your infection, so a probiotic can help to restore order to your intestines.

But while it might sound like sense, there is scant solid evidence suggesting probiotics actually work if taken this way. Researchers have found that taking probiotics after antibiotics in fact delays gut health recovery.

Part of the problem when trying to figure out whether or not probiotics work is because different people can mean a variety of things with the term ‘probiotic’. To a scientist, it might be seen as a living culture of microorganisms that typically live in the healthy human gut. But the powdery substance blister packs on supermarket shelves can bear little resemblance to that definition.

Even when researchers use viable, living bacterial strains in their research, the cocktail varies from one lab to another making it tricky to compare.

“That’s the problem – there aren’t enough studies of any one particular probiotic to say this one works and this one doesn’t,” says Sydne Newberry of Rand Corporation, who carried out a large meta-analysis on the use of probiotics to treat antibiotic-induced diarrhoea in 2012.

[…] A particular concern is a lack of research on the safety of taking probiotics. While they are generally assumed to be safe in healthy people, there have been worrying case reports of probiotics causing problems – such as fungus spreading into the blood – among more vulnerable patients.

A recent study by scientists at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel found that even among healthy people, taking probiotics after antibiotics was not harmless. In fact, they hampered the very recovery processes that they are commonly thought to improve.

The researchers, led by Eran Elinav, gave 21 people a course of broad-spectrum antibiotics for one week. After this, they had a colonoscopy and an upper-gastrointestinal endoscopy to investigate the state of their microbiome throughout the gut.

[…] The volunteers were divided into three groups. The first was a wait-and-see group, with no intervention after the antibiotics. The second group was given a common probiotic for a month. The third was given perhaps the least savoury option: a faecal transplant. This group had a small sample of their own stool – taken before the antibiotic treatment – returned to their colon once the treatment was over.

The surprising finding was that the group who received the probiotic had the poorest response in terms of their microbiome. They were the slowest group to return to a healthy gut. Even at the end of the study – after five months of monitoring – this group had not yet reached their pre-antibiotic gut health.

“We have found a potentially alarming adverse effect of probiotics,” says Elinav.

The good news, incidentally, is that the group who received a faecal transplant did very well indeed. Within days, this group completely reconstituted their original microbiome.

“So many people are taking antibiotics all over the world,” says Elinav. “We can aim to better understand this potentially very important adverse effect that we didn’t realise existed.”

And the evidence is mounting that taking probiotics when gut health is weak is not such a good idea. Another recent study has found that probiotics don’t do any good for young children admitted to hospital for gastroenteritis. In a randomised controlled trial in the US, 886 children with gastroenteritis aged three months to four years were given either a five-day course of probiotics or a placebo.

The rate of continued moderate to severe gastroenteritis within two weeks was slightly higher (26.1%) in the probiotic group than in the placebo group (24.7%). And there was no difference between the two groups in terms of the duration of diarrhoea or vomiting.

Despite evidence such as this, the demand for probiotics is large and growing. In 2017, the market for probiotics was more than $1.8bn, and it is predicted to reach $66bn by 2024.

“Given the very heavy involvement of the industry, clear conclusions as to whether probiotics are truly helpful to humans remain to be proven,” says Elinav. “This is the reason why regulatory authorities such as the US’s Food and Drug Administration and European regulators have yet to approve a probiotic for clinical use.”

But that is not to write off probiotics completely. The problem with them may not be with the probiotics themselves, but the way we are using them. Often probiotics are bought off the shelf – consumers may not know exactly what they are getting, or even whether the culture they are buying is still alive. […]

👉 GO TO FULL ARTICLE: When taking probiotics could backfire
💡 MORE FROM BBC FUTURE:

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