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Showing posts with label BBC POSTS. Show all posts
Showing posts with label BBC POSTS. Show all posts

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:

Friday, January 18, 2019

What the earliest fragments of English reveal, by Cameron Laux (From BBC CULTURE)

👉 GO TO FULL ARTICLE: What the earliest fragments of English reveal
👉 By Cameron Laux
The earliest fragments of English reveal how interconnected Europe has been for centuries. As an exhibition in London brings together treasures from Anglo-Saxon England, Cameron Laux traces a history of the language through 10 objects and manuscripts – including a burial urn, a buckle with bling, and the first letter in English.

The interconnectedness of Europe has a long history, as we’re reminded when we explore the roots of the English language – roots that stretch back to the 5th Century. Anglo-Saxon England “was connected to the world beyond its shores through a lively exchange of books, goods, ideas,” argues the Medieval historian Mary Wellesley, describing a new exhibition at the British Library in London – Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms: Art, Word, War – that charts the genesis of England.

Something like 80% of all surviving Old English verse survives in four physical books… for the first time in recorded history they are all together [in this exhibition],” she tells BBC Culture. “The period that is represented by Old English is about 600 years, which is like between us and back to Chaucer… imagine if there were only four physical books that survived from that period, what would that say about our literature?”

What we understand as English has its roots in 5th-Century Germany and Denmark, from where the Anglian, Saxon and Jute tribes came. As the Roman legions withdrew around 410 AD, so the Saxon war bands (what Rome called ‘the barbarians’) landed and an era of migration from the Continent and the formation of Anglo-Saxon England began. The word “English” derives from the homeland of the Angles, the Anglian peninsula in Germany. Early English was written in runes, combinations of vertical and diagonal lines that lent themselves to being carved into wood and were used by other closely related Germanic languages, such as Old Norse, Old Saxon and Old High German.

“The earliest fragments of the English language are likely to be a group of runic inscriptions on three 5th-Century cremation urns from Spong Hill in Norfolk,” Wellesley has written. “The inscriptions simply read alu, which probably means ‘ale’. Perhaps the early speakers of Old English longed for ale in death as well as life.”

The exhibition gathers together an array of documents, books and archaeological evidence to form a dense picture of the Anglo-Saxon period, including a burial urn with runic inscriptions in early English from Loveden Hill, Lincolnshire, England.

Anglo-Saxons cremated their dead and interred their remains in earthenware vessels. About 20 objects with runic inscriptions from before 650 AD are known from England, making this vessel – which seems to feature a woman’s name and the word for tomb – one of the earliest examples of English. (Continue reading)

Where did English come from? - Claire Bowern (4:53 minutes)

How did English evolve? - Kate Gardoqui (5:04 minutes)

Sunday, January 13, 2019

WEEKLY PICKS - 25

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 FUTURE: Pork fat is rated as healthier than kale
In a list of the top 100 nutritious foods, pork fat came in eighth place – higher than peas, cabbage and kale. Apparently, pork fat is a good source of B vitamins and minerals.
The world’s most nutritious foods – After analysing more than 1,000 raw foods, researchers ranked the ingredients that provide the best balance of your daily nutritional requirements – and they found a few surprises. (Continue reading)

From BBC FUTURE: January is the best time of year to apply for a job, by Amanda Ruggeri and Miriam Quick. Google searches for "jobs" peak in January, but few people actually apply. Companies usually get their new hiring budgets for the year, and annual bonuses often pay out in December, so a lot of people wait until then to change jobs.
When it comes to life events like applying for a job, buying a house or even getting married, certain months are more advantageous than others. Want to ‘hack your year’? Here’s how. (Continue reading)


BBC Reel: A hairdresser created a substance that could withstand 75 nuclear blasts. Reported by Lee Johnson, produced, filmed and directed by Adam Proctor.
Maurice Ward invented a world-changing fire-resistant plastic called Starlite, refused to sell it or have it patented in fear of someone stealing the recipe, and died in 2011, taking the material’s secrets to his grave. 
(Continue reading)

🎧 LISTEN & READ the TRANSCRIPTS:

  • Budgeting Liz Waid and Ryan Geertsma look at budgeting. They look at how to make a money plan, and how to know where your money goes.
  • The History of Money How did modern money develop? What are the earliest kinds of money? Christy Van Arragon and Katy Blake look at money.
🎬 VIDEO PICKS – Short and fun videos:
LESS-THAN-5-MINUTE VIDEOS:
5-TO-10-MINUTE VIDEOS:
How to... be vague (6:00 minutes)
A LITTLE LONGER BUT WORTH IT!
Silent Letters: When NOT to pronounce B, D, and L in English (13:06 minutes)
💬 VOCABULARY PICKS:
Learners' questions: 'How are you' and 'how do you do'? (2:28 minutes)
💡 GRAMMAR PICKS – Assorted exercises and games:
MORE PICKS NEXT WEEK!

Monday, December 24, 2018

WEEKLY PICKS - 24 - CHRISTMAS SPECIAL!

🎄🎅CHRISTMAS SPECIAL!🎅🎄Below is a 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 CULTURE: Where Christmas is a way of life, by Megan Snedden 
What it’s really like to live in North Pole, Alaska and Santa Claus, Indiana. 
Every morning, Paul Brown waves to Santa Claus, who occupies an office downstairs from his own, conveniently located on Saint Nicholas Drive in North Pole, Alaska. (Continue reading)

🎧LISTEN & READ the TRANSCRIPTS:
  • Fireworks: A Global Celebration  Joshua Leo and Liz Waid look at one way that people celebrate - with beautiful, bright, exploding fireworks!
  • The Christmas Story ⇨ In today’s Spotlight, we tell one of the most famous stories in the world: the story of Christmas, and the birth of Jesus Christ.
  • Babushka’s Christmas Legend ⇨ Colin Lowther and Liz Waid share a story from Russia. It tells about an old woman who gives up the chance of a lifetime.
  • Christmas Cracker of Christmas Traditions ⇨ Anne Muir and Adam Navis share a Christmas cracker of stories and customs from Christmas around the world.
  • Christmas Food Around the World ⇨ Spotlight looks at traditional Christmas food from places all around the world. These foods have special meaning.
  • A Christmas Carol ⇨ Nick Page and Marina Santee present "A Christmas Carol". Spotlight retells this famous Christmas story by Charles Dickens.
  • Saint Nicholas, The Christmas Saint ⇨ Santa Claus? Father Christmas? Bruce Gulland and Liz Waid look at the stories about Saint Nicholas. Who was this man and why do we remember him?
  • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer ⇨ Spotlight tells the famous Children’s Christmas story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
  • The Joy of Christmas Music ⇨ Colin Lowther and Christy Van Arragon look English Christmas songs. They look at their history, and why they are so popular.
🎬 VIDEO PICKS – Short and fun videos:

LESS-THAN-5-MINUTE VIDEOS:
This Is Why The Holidays Can Suck! (2:50 minutes)
5-TO-10-MINUTE VIDEOS:
Learn to talk about the perfect Santa in 6 minutes (6:33 minutes)
A LITTLE LONGER BUT WORTH IT!
American Christmas Traditions for a very American Christmas (10:14 minutes)
💬 VOCABULARY PICKS:

MORE PICKS NEXT WEEK!

Sunday, November 18, 2018

WEEKLY PICKS - 23

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 CULTURE: Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera: Portraits of a complex marriage, by Kelly Grovier. Mexican artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera painted each other for 25 years: those works give us an insight into their relationship, argues Kelly Grovier.
Seen side-by-side in photographs, they struck an almost comic pose: his girth dwarfing her petite frame. When they married, her parents called them ‘the elephant’ and ‘the dove’. He was the older, celebrated master of frescoes who helped revive an ancient Mayan mural tradition, and gave a vivid visual voice to indigenous Mexican labourers seeking social equality after centuries of colonial oppression. She was the younger, self-mythologising dreamer, who magically wove from piercing introspection and chronic physical pain paintings of a severe and mysterious beauty. Together, they were two of the most important artists of the 20th Century. (Continue reading)

From BBC TRAVEL: The country with 11 official languages, by Denby Weller. Before coming to South Africa, the last thing an Australian would think is that there might be language difficulties.
[...] Discussion of the evolution of the colonial languages of South Africa is controversial, not least because they are just two of the 11 official languages in use today, and neither one is the first language for the majority of South Africans. In the 2011 Census, IsiZulu emerged as the language most spoken at home, followed by IsiXhosa. Afrikaans was a first language for 13.5% of South Africans, while English was spoken in just 9.6% of homes. Yet it is English that has emerged as the lingua franca – albeit a unique, local dialect enriched by the company of the many languages of the land. (Continue reading)

🎬 VIDEO PICKS – Short and fun videos:

LESS-THAN-5-MINUTE VIDEOS:
What causes antibiotic resistance? - Kevin Wu (4:34 minutes)
5-TO-10-MINUTE VIDEOS:
BBC 6 Minute English: What Makes You Laugh? with English Subtitle (6:03 minutes)
A LITTLE LONGER BUT WORTH IT!
How to Survive Long Haul Flights - Travel Tips, Hacks & Tricks (11:42 minutes)
💬 VOCABULARY PICKS:
VOCABULARY: Find out when to write hyphens (6:14 minutes)
💡 GRAMMAR PICKS – Assorted exercises and games:
English Grammar - comparing with LIKE & AS (9:10 minutes)
MORE PICKS NEXT WEEK!

Monday, October 29, 2018

What is the best age to learn a language? By Sophie Hardach (From BBC Future)

👉 GO TO FULL ARTICLE: What is the best age to learn a language?
👉 By Sophie Hardach

When it comes to learning a foreign language, we tend to think that children are the most adept. But that may not be the case – and there are added benefits to starting as an adult.
Credit: Getty / From: BBC Future

It’s a busy autumn morning at the Spanish Nursery, a bilingual nursery school in north London. Parents help their toddlers out of cycling helmets and jackets. Teachers greet the children with a cuddle and a chirpy “Buenos días!”. In the playground, a little girl asks for her hair to be bunched up into a “coleta” (Spanish for ‘pigtail’), then rolls a ball and shouts “Catch!” in English.

“At th
is age, children don’t learn a language – they acquire it,” says the school’s director Carmen Rampersad. It seems to sum up the enviable effortlessness of the little polyglots around her. For many of the children, Spanish is a third or even fourth language. Mother tongues include Croatian, Hebrew, Korean and Dutch.

Compare this to the struggle of the average adult in a language class, and it would be easy to conclude that it’s best to start young.

But science offers a much more complex view of how our relationship with languages evolves over a lifetime – and there is much to encourage late beginners.