Weekly English Practice

Leer, escuchar, escribir y hablar. Habilidades esenciales para comunicarse en inglés. Cada semana, English Coaching Projects te enviará nuestra exclusiva revista digital - WEEKLY ENGLISH PRACTICE (WEP) - para que puedas practicar estas habilidades. Incluye un artículo con su audio (5 voces distintas), definiciones del vocabulario y preguntas que estimulan la opinión y el debate. Puedes escribir tus respuestas, y incluso grabarlas, para enviarlas por correo electrónico a tu coach. En la segunda página hay más actividades prácticas e información sobre los eventos que organizamos en English Coaching Projects para que puedas practicar tu inglés en situaciones sociales.

Weekly English Practice

28/05/20 Scientists Invent a Schrödinger Spanish Omelette

Breaking news! Scientists create a Schrödinger Spanish omelette both with and without onion. Spanish cuisine can finally be reunited after decades of conflict.

Click on the image to download the pdf

WEP Spanish omelette

Read and check you understand this vocabulary before you read and listen to the text.

spuds: an informal word for potato

staple: the main or an important element of something

to sit on the fence: to not decide which side to take in a debate or argument

crusty: to have a hard outer layer

to tear apart: to rupture, split or destroy

hid (to hide): to position yourself so that other people cannot see you

Listen to the audio and read the text (refresh the page if it’s not visible).

As bars begin to reopen around the Basque Country, an old debate has been reignited: should a Spanish omelette include onion or not? ECP coach Rob investigates.

Some of my students say that, after living in Vitoria-Gasteiz for over 25 years, I have become a ‘patatero’ (someone who grows or regularly eats potatoes). While that is, I hope, a lovely compliment and attests to my integration into local culture and life, I have to correct them. “I was born a patatero,” I reply, “My dad grew potatoes in the garden and as a family we ate spuds almost every day.” You see, I’m from the British Isles where potatoes are an integral part of our cuisine and culture. So imagine my delight when I first arrived in Gasteiz and discovered ‘tortilla de patata’. I was in heaven and it soon became a staple in my diet.

Over the years, when talking about favourite bars and restaurants with friends and students, I largely ignored the debate about whether Spanish omelette should include onion or not. I didn’t really care. But I eventually realised that, to truly integrate, I needed to come down off the fence and take a stance. So here, in ECP’s Weekly English Practice, I publicly declare my preference: with onion. And if you really want to win my heart, add a little green pepper and I’ll be yours forever!

But hold the front page! El Mundo Today has some incredible ‘breaking news’! Here’s the article in English:

Scientists create a Schrödinger Spanish omelette both with and without onion.

A team of scientists has managed to create a Schrödinger Spanish omelette with and without onion at the same time. Named after Erwin Schrödinger’s famous thought experiment involving a cat, a box and a deadly poison, the invention was presented in public last week, along with some delicious Iberian ham and a crusty breadstick.

This new omelette promises to unify Spanish cuisine which has been radically divided between those in favour and those against adding onion to potato omelettes. This age-old conflict has torn apart entire families. Hopefully, they can now be reunited in the same way that the controversial omelette has been reinvented to reconcile different flavours and tastes.

Quantum chef Txema Tipulabarria explained: “The superposition of the electrons of the atoms that make up the onion make the herbaceous plant both be and not be inside the tortilla at the same time. But when we eat it, we alter that duality and create a disturbance that makes the onion appear or not appear inside our mouth. It has been a complicated and risky investigation, but you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs, can you?”

The technique is still in its final testing phase however, and, on occasions, scientists have found that the duality switches to a distinct Spanish/French one.

And recently, there was an added complication. “Unfortunately, Schrödinger’s cat ate Schrödinger’s omelette and then hid itself in a box,” lead researcher Kitty O’Nions told reporters. “We believe it’ll get bored and come out of the box soon, however, at the same time, we’re pretty sure it’ll die inside.”

It is not the first time that a team of scientists has experimented with a typical dish from Spain. In 2012, chefs at the staff canteen in the Cern laboratory in Geneva created a paella that could be both meat or seafood depending on the observer (an experiment by UK scientists using chorizo had to be abandoned).

Ok, that was a satirical article but hope springs eternal. Bon appétit!

Let’s chat about that!

Write your opinions in an email and send them to your ECP coach!

  1. What ‘side of the fence’ are you on in this debate?
  2. Explain what you know about ‘Schrödinger’s cat’?
  3. Rob is a ‘patatero’. How do you identify yourself?
  4. Describe your favourite recipe to cook at home.
  5. Do you read any satirical websites/magazines?

 

21/05/20 Edurne Pasaban: Two Lifetimes in One

Last Sunday marked the 10th anniversary of Edurne Pasaban becoming the first woman to climb all fourteen 8000ers. ECP coach Rob Hextall finds out more about the Basque climber.

Click on the image to download the pdf

WEP Edurne Pasaban

Read and check you understand this vocabulary before you read and listen to the text.

8000er: a mountain over 8,000 metres high

to be knackered: to be exhausted

to scupper: to ruin, to sabotage

feats: achievements, success

gruelling: exhausting, fatiguing

hurdles: obstacles, barriers

to settle down: put down roots

to be crushed: be broken, defeated

Listen to the audio and read the text (refresh the page if it’s not visible).

Last Sunday marked the 10th anniversary of Edurne Pasaban becoming the first woman to climb all fourteen 8000ers. ECP coach Rob Hextall finds out more about the Basque climber.

When I reached the summits of Aitzgorri, Aketegi and Aitxuri last summer – that last peak being the roof of Euskadi – I was both euphoric and knackered. I’d needed three attempts to climb ‘the white rock’, poor planning and bad weather having scuppered previous attempts. 

I’ve set myself the goal of climbing the highest peaks of places that are important to me: England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, the Basque Country, Euskal Herria and peninsular Spain. My own particular Seven Summit challenge. I’ve got three left to do and, quite frankly, time is running out. My knees are starting to complain and finding a partner in crime for each climb isn’t easy.

So, why do I bother? Well, I’ve always loved walking up hills, I enjoy setting myself challenges and in a humble way it allows me to emulate heroes of mine who have achieved far more extraordinary feats. 

One of those heroes is Edurne Pasaban who, ten years ago, became the first woman in the world to climb all fourteen eight-thousanders. Her life story is an absorbing one, like the mountains she climbs, with a seemingly simple beginning, followed by a gruelling journey to the top of her profession and a complicated descent back to ‘normal’ life.

Born in Tolosa (1973) to a family of engineers, Pasaban’s path seemed to be a clear one. After studying engineering and then management, she began to work in the family’s tool-making business. But her passion for climbing soon took her to the Alps and later to the Himalayas, all while still working. 

In 2001, she conquered Everest at the third attempt. “It was my first 8000er but I never imagined I’d dedicate my life to climbing them all. I just couldn’t see myself as a professional mountaineer: there were too many hurdles, above all economic,” she said in an interview with Planet Mountain.

But by the end of 2003, with six 8000ers under her belt, she had become a candidate to win the ‘race’ to be the first woman to conquer all fourteen. Economic help came in the form of the Spanish TV programme ‘Al filo de lo imposible’ and she became a full-time mountaineer.

It’s an exhilarating, addictive and dangerous life. Some people never make it back to base camp and Edurne nearly lost her life twice – on K2 and Kachenjunga. Her hardest struggle, however, was returning home. “I was in my thirties and I saw my friends settling down and making families. They had everything I wanted, that I had left behind. I was nearly crushed by this comparison, and it was only when I recognised that it was the mountains that gave sense to my life that I managed to find the inner strength to combat my depression.”

Pasaban has, however, finally achieved her goal of having that ‘other’ life, the ‘normal’ one. Ten years after making the summit of Shisha Pangma to collect her final 8000er and the honour of being the first woman to do so (her Korean rival Oh Eun-sun’s claim was not recognised by experts), she has settled down, formed a family and runs her own business as a lecturer and coach. She also organises humanitarian projects in Nepal and owns a restaurant in Zizurkil.

She has a message for these difficult times too: “When coming down from a summit, the euphoria of the moment can mean you let your guard down and that’s when people die. The same applies to COVID-19. We are all tired of this situation but the danger isn’t over and we must continue to act responsibly.”

Let’s chat about that!

Write your opinions in an email and send them to your ECP coach!

  1. What mountains/hills have you climbed? Describe them.
  2. What is your opinion of the risk involved in this sport?
  3. What “gives sense” to your life? Explain your answer.
  4. What options are open to athletes when they retire?
  5. Do you have any goals like Rob’s Seven Summit challenge?

 

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