Joe's Cafe


Personal blog of EnglishClub founder Josef Essberger - see Menu

Non-Smoking Flight

Non-Smoking Flight


Superlistening – The BUWOG Affair

Here’s a superstory about supercorruption in superclean Europe. Supersound makes for superlistening practice. Great English-language voiceover.

I recommend this video for general listening practice. The English is clear, well pronounced and reasonably slow. The video is a graphic novel that explains “the BUWOG Affair”—one of the biggest cases of corruption in Europe.

Teachers may like to use it in class or for homework. If you create any worksheets to go with it, please let me know!

Please share your opinions in the comments below.

voiceover (noun): a piece of speaking in a film, without an image of the speaker
graphic novel (noun): a novel in comic-strip format, applied here to video
affair (noun): a situation that causes strong public feeling, usually of moral disapproval
corruption (noun): dishonest or fraudulent behaviour by people in power

Nothing New in Fake News

Fake Newsfake news (noun): false, often sensational, information disseminated under the guise of news reporting

Thus does dictionary publisher Collins define the term fake news, which they have named as Word of the Year for 2017.

Popularized more by President Donald Trump of the USA than by anyone else, fake news has been used 365% more in 2017 according to Collins. And indeed President Trump has made commenting about Fake News on Twitter something of a hobby.

Trump on Fake News - Twitter Read on »


Emancipated Marionette

emancipated marionette

Picture by my talented Viennese cousin Univ. Prof. Dr. Peter Heilig, who writes:

Marionette (from the French meaning little Mary): We all function sometimes like marionettes—under the control of a marionettist. Depicted: emancipated marionette—free from control, free from bondage, free from any influence—just free—on its own…

marionette (noun): puppet controlled by strings
function (verb): work, operate
marionettist (noun): a puppeteer who controls a marionette
emancipate (verb): set free
emancipated (adjective): free from legal, social or political restrictions; liberated
bondage (noun): the state of being a slave; the state of no freedom
influence (noun): the power to change someone’s character or behaviour

Your own personal staff. Which will you choose?

Imagine that you win a contest and the 1st prize (free for 1 year) is your own personal

  • secretary
  • driver
  • butler
  • cook
  • housekeeper OR
  • masseuse

Which will you choose? And why?!!

You can tell us your ideas in the comment box below ↓ 🙂

butler Jeeves


The Laughing English Teacher

I’ve got an English teacher, he always takes our class
A fat old jolly red-faced man, he gives us all a pass
He’s too kind for a teacher, he never has a rule
And everybody says he is the happiest man in school.

He laughs when giving homework, he laughs and doesn’t teach
He laughs at everybody when they struggle with their speech
He never can stop laughing, he says he’s never tried
But once he did expel a guy, and laughed until he cried

His jolly face it wrinkled and then he shut his eyes
He opened his great mouth, it was a wondrous size
He said “I must expel you”, but he didn’t know what for
And then he started laughing until he hurt his jaw

So, if you chance to meet him, when walking round the school
Just shake him by his fat old hand and tell him he’s so cool
His eyes will beam and sparkle, he’ll gurgle with delight
And then you’ll start his laughing with all his blessed might.

Adapted from The Laughing Policeman, a 1920s song by Charles Jolly


Autophagy of a Black Hole

Autophagy of a Black Hole by Univ. Prof. Dr. Peter Heilig

Autophagy of a Black Hole by Univ. Prof. Dr. Peter Heilig

Picture by my Viennese cousin Univ. Prof. Dr. Peter Heilig, who writes:

“The story goes back to the days, when the experts proclaimed: ‘Nothing escapes from a black hole’. So I put this statement in question. In a thought experiment a blacke hole might engulf itself – like the legendary ourobouros – of course it can not hold the %&$§’.. My experts – (CERN, Astronomy, Physics) had their fun. The drawing was dedicated to Felicitas Pauss (Austrian expert at CERN). Latin: Autophagia foraminis nigris”

Wierd! Or is it Weird? What do you make of that?!!


I’m sorry, but I don’t want to be an Emperor

I’m sorry but I don’t want to be an Emperor — that’s not my business — I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone if possible, Jew, gentile, black man, white. We all want to help one another, human beings are like that. Read on »


What’s the Joke?

cartoon

What’s an ATM?
What’s a PIN?
What’s a pedant?
What’s the joke?


New Mural Celebrates Amazing Leicester City’s Thai Links

The surprise winners of the 2015–16 Premier League in the UK were Leicester City Football Club. A surprise, that is, to all except Buddhist monk Phra Prommangkalachan who predicted it, despite Leicester City’s 5000-1 odds of winning at the start of the season.

Buddhist monk mural celebrating football team Leicester City's Premier League title triumph

Buddhist monk mural in Leicester, UK, celebrating football team Leicester City’s Premier League title triumph. Did Phra Prommangkalachan’s blessings play a role in Leicester’s shock victory?

Leicester City’s Thai owner is Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, who invited Phra Prommangkalachan — the prior at Wat Traimit Withayaram Woraviharn (Golden Buddha) Temple in Bangkok’s Chinatown district — to offer spiritual support.

mural (noun): a painting on a wall
predict (verb): say in advance; foretell; prophesy
5000-1 odds: chances of winning (in betting, with a bet of £1 you would win £5000 if you bet right)
prior (noun): assistant abbott

Trumpxit

With the election of Donald Trump as the next US president, the term Trumpxit is added to the Brexit lexicon, sharing as the US election and British referendum do the same misreading of the electorate by an establishment of media personnel, government officials, experts and data-driven pollsters.

Trumpxit


Your New Year’s Resolutions for 2016

resolve (verb): decide firmly to do or not to do something (for example: He resolved to discuss the matter with his boss.)
resolution (noun): a firm decision to do or not to do something (for example: He never regretted his resolution to stop drinking.)

New year, new start. Have you made any New Year’s resolutions for the coming year? What have you resolved to do – or not to do? Did you keep your promises last year?


Colour of the Year 2016

Here is the Colour of the Year for 2016 chosen by paint company Benjamin Moore:

It’s WHITE 🙂

Which raises two questions:

  1. Is white a colour?
  2. What’s YOUR colour of the year?

Please leave your answers in the comment box below. Thanks!


Change the World

Change the World
What is this advertisement trying to say? It appears to show two different “worlds”, but which should be changing to which? Should they both be changing to something else? Please give your views about the implications of the photograph.

Why? What? Where? When? How?

extreme (adjective): to the greatest degree; very great; very severe; very serious
poverty (noun): the state of being very, very poor; the state of being extremely poor
inequality (noun): difference in size or amount
combat (verb): fight
do your part (phrase): participate; help
implication (noun): a conclusion that you can draw from something even though it is not actually stated

Ad links to: globalgoals.org. Shown here as “fair use” for educational purposes.


Migrants or Refugees?

As thousands of people from the war-torn regions of the Middle-East (Syria, Iraq…) and North Africa (Libya…) cross the Mediterranean Sea to seek safety in Europe, the European media and politicians struggle to avoid using the term refugees and instead label them migrants. But what’s the difference?

migrants or refugees?

Migrants

Birds migrate. The verb migrate simply means to move from one region to another. In the case of birds it is to find a suitable habitat (living space) according to the season. In the case of humans, it is usually to find Read on »


Hiroshima 80000 / Nagasaki 40000

A Tale of Two Cities

Today, the Japanese city of Hiroshima commemorates the moment 70 years ago that the USA dropped a nuclear bomb on the city, directly killing some 80,000 people. In three days’ time, another Japanese city, Nagasaki, will commemorate the killing of another 40,000 civilians when the USA dropped a second bomb.

Audio, video and quick quiz for learners:

This Week in History: USA Drops Nuclear Bombs On Japan


Veni, vidi, vici

The Latin phrase “Veni, vidi, vici” was an elegant way of saying “I came, I saw, I conquered”. The Roman general Julius Caesar allegedly first used the phrase c46 BC in his report to the Senate after quickly defeating Pharnaces II of Pontus at the Battle of Zela. Hillary Clinton famously abused the expression on being advised of the murder of Muammar Gaddafi in Libya in 2011 (“We came, we saw, he died”).


Who would you have dinner with?

table laid for twoImagine that you could have ONE dinner with any ONE person in the world — rich or poor, famous or unknown etc.

Who would you choose?

Please give your reasons!


Is the world better or worse today?

Do you think the world today is better or worse than it was 100 years ago?

And will it be better or worse 100 years from now?


What would you take to a desert island?

The ChapelYou have to stay alone on an uninhabited desert island for a year. But you can take five things of your choice (no animals).

What five things would you choose to take with you and why?

uninhabited (adjective): without inhabitants; with nobody living there
desert island (noun): a small tropical island in the middle of the ocean, usually uninhabited

Please leave your comments below 🙂


Would you choose the Future or Past?

Somebody locks you in a time-machine and you have to go forward (the future) or backward (the past). You will never come back to “now”.

You can go any length of time, one day, a thousand years, a million years… Which would you choose? Future or past?

And why?

Please leave your comments below 🙂

time-machine (noun): an imaginary machine that lets people travel in time and go to the future (for example tomorrow or next year) or past (for example yesterday or last year)

Would you like to be famous?

Would you like to be famous? And what would you like to be famous for?

If achieving fame meant that you would lose all your friends, would you still want to be famous?

Please leave your comments below 🙂

famous (adjective): known by many people
achieve (verb): successfully get or reach
fame (noun): the state of being known by many people

House or home?

These two words may seem alike but actually they have rather different meanings.

A house is a building that people live in. It stands on its own land (unlike, say, an apartment or flat) and often has a garden. It may be detached (not joined to another house), semi-detached (joined to one other house), or terraced (in a row, like townhouses all joined together).

  • We are selling our house and want to buy a bigger one.
  • That house used to be brown, but last week the owners painted it white.

A home is the place where you live, especially as part of a family. It could be a house, or it could be a condominium or apartment or flat, or anywhere else.

  • I have to go home. I’ve just remembered that I left my apartment door open.
  • After the hurricane they had to move into a temporary caravan. But already they’ve made it into a real home for the children.

Just think of house as a physical thing, and home is more like an idea.


NB: there is a tendency by real estate agents in the USA to use “home” instead of “house”. So they advertise “Home for Sale” instead of “House for Sale” etc. This is perhaps due to the emotive nature of the word “home”, which may better serve the purposes of commercialism. But we have seen what happens when words lose their meanings.


What Are Your New Year Resolutions for 2015?

resolve (verb): decide firmly to do or not to do something (for example: He resolved to discuss the matter with his boss.)
resolution (noun): a firm decision to do or not to do something (for example: He never regretted his resolution to stop drinking.)

I resolve

2015 is upon us. Pray tell us. What have you “resolved” to do in 2015? Or not to do? ^^

And don’t forget to tell us what happened to Last Year’s resolutions :))


What to call the UK if Scotland independent?

On Thursday 18th September 2014, the people of Scotland will hold a referendum on whether Scotland should be an independent country. Currently, and for more than 300 years, Scotland has formed part of the UK, whose full name is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Great Britain comprises England, Scotland and Wales. The rest of this united kingdom (which is really a queendom at present with Queen Elizabeth II as head of state) is comprised of Northern Ireland. If Scotland goes independent, what shall we call what’s left of the UK? United Kingdom of England, Wales and Northern Ireland? Disunited Kingdom? Divided Kingdom? Take a look at the map hereunder (and also this explanation of the current UK nomenclature), and please leave your suggestions in the comments below.

map of United Kingdom

Wordchecker
referendum (noun): a general vote by the population on a single political question
independent (adjective): free from control by another country; sovereign
kingdom (noun): a country ruled by a king (or queen)
hereunder (adverb): below; under this
nomenclature (noun): the system of names in a particular field



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