19 de noviembre de 2011

Final Revision for Level 6 - 2011

13 de noviembre de 2011

A New Generation of Buddhism in America

At a crossroads: Buddhism in USA is facing a generation shift

Crosses still adorn one wall of this former Roman Catholic monastery, but a 6-foot golden Buddha now anchors the main room. The meditation hall, also used as a meeting space, is where the luminaries of Buddhism in the West recently gathered to debate.

The issue they were facing had been percolating for years on blogs, in Buddhist magazines and on the sidelines of spiritual retreats. It often played out as a clash of elders versus young people, the preservers of spiritual depth versus the alleged purveyors of “Buddhism-lite.” Organizers of the gathering wanted the finger-pointing to end. The future of American Buddhism was at stake, they said.

So on a sweltering day at the Garrison Institute, a Buddhist retreat overlooking the Hudson River, the baby boomers who had popularized the tradition in the West met with younger leaders to tackle their differences.

“How can those of us who were pioneers in the ’60s and ’70s, support them without getting in their way and let them know that they have our blessings and support?” said Jack Kornfield, a prominent Buddhist teacher who helped introduce mindfulness, or insight, meditation to the U.S. four decades ago.

Buddhism in America is at a crossroads. The best-known Buddhist leaders, mostly white converts who emerged from the counterculture and protest movements of the Vietnam era, are nearing retirement or dying. Charlotte Joko Beck, a pioneer of Zen practice in America, passed away in June.

9 de octubre de 2011

Martin Luther King Jr. Statue in Washington

The Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial in Washington, DC will honor Dr. King’s national and international contributions and vision for all to enjoy a life of freedom, opportunity, and justice. Congress passed a Joint Resolution in 1996 authorizing the construction of the Memorial and a foundation was created to "Build the Dream", raising the estimated $120 million required for the project. One of the most prestigious sites remaining on the National Mall was selected for the memorial for Martin Luther King, Jr., adjacent to the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial, between the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials. It is the first major memorial along the National Mall to be dedicated to an African-American, and to a non-president. The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial opened to the public on August 22, 2011.

And now, take a tour of Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington, DC, United States - part of the World's Greatest Attractions travel video series by GeoBeats.

The highly anticipated memorial of Martin Luther King Junior was recently unveiled on the National Mall in Washington, DC.

It is a result of nearly two decades of construction and planning and cost $120 million dollars to complete.

Set amidst four magnificently landscaped acres, the beautifully constructed statue stands 30 feet tell and was sculpted by Lei Yixin, a prominent Chinese sculptor.

This is the first monument on National Mall that honors a man of color.

Depicting a determined looking Martin Luther King Junior, the site draws strong emotions of hope and strength from visitors.

After a long wait spanning many years, people from all over the country can now see this great leader standing tall in our nation's capital.

25 de septiembre de 2011

Far From Any Ocean, a Home for Dolphins

Each year, more than 2,000,000 people visit the Seven Seas exhibit at the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago. The exhibit opened 50 years ago, and this is this week's report (subtitles in English!)

14 de septiembre de 2011

The city of London

This is London!!!!!

This is the River Thames. It is almost 346 kilometres long, and is the second longest river in Great Britain. It flows through London, and it’s this part of the river that most tourists see.

But there’s more to the Thames than a trip down the river.

The Romans built a settlement on the River Thames, and over the centuries it grew into the City of London, with a huge port. Ships from around the world brought food, goods and people to the capital.

But by the 1980’s, most of the docks had closed and the area became run-down.

A lot of money has been invested in this huge riverside area. And today it’s know as ‘Docklands’.

The old warehouses are now attractive apartments. There are new office buildings, shopping centres and leisure facilities, too. People enjoy living and working by the river.

People also enjoy living on the water! This is a houseboat on the Thames.


Nick: Hi Alistair.

Alistair: Hey Nick, welcome aboard.

Nick: Thank you. So why do you live on a houseboat?

Alistair: I love being close to the water. And it’s a brilliant place to invite friends over.

Nick: What’s it like to live on a boat?

Alistair: In the summer, it’s beautiful. And in the winter, it’s a bit cold.

Nick: Could you give me a tour?

Alistair: Please. Follow me. So this is the kitchen. The bedroom.

Nick: I like it. What’s the best thing about living on the river?

Alistair: For me, it’s being so close to nature. And it’s really cheap.

Nick: Is there anything you miss about living on dry land?

Alistair: I miss not being able to grow my own food and not having a garden.

Nick: Do you think you will ever move?

Alistair: Only if I have to leave London. It’s a really brilliant place to live in the city.


The Thames has seen a lot of changes over the years. But perhaps the biggest change is still to come.

This image is of the River Thames frozen over. It’s not a real photograph. It’s been created digitally. It shows the effect climate change may have on the river if temperatures drop significantly.

They were created by two illustrators: Didier Madoc-Jones and Robert Graves.


Nick: Didier, Tell us about this exhibition.

Didier: We wanted to create postcards from the future – well-known views of London – to show people how it might look with the effects of climate change.

Nick: Why does this one show the Thames frozen over?

Gareth: Well some scientists think we might experience a new mini ice age with very cold winters and in the summer we’d experience flooding due to melting ice sheets.

Nick: Do you think that could really happen?

Didier: Nobody really knows. The point of our exhibition was to get people thinking about climate change and the future of London.


The River Thames has changed over the centuries, and will continue to do so. But hopefully it will always be here for both local people and tourists to enjoy and explore.

16 de agosto de 2011

How to ask someone where they got something

Man: Hey, nice shoes!
Woman: Thanks!
Man: Could do with a pair like that myself.
Woman: Oh really? They’re very comfortable.
Man: Yeah. Where did you get them?
Woman: Just that place on the high street.
Man: On yeah, I’ll have to go and take a look sometime.


Man: Hey!
Woman: What?
Man: I’ve been looking for that book for ages!
Woman: Really?
Man: Yeah...where did you get it?
Woman: I bought it online. I just did a search and found it, you know...
Man: Really?
Woman: Yes. It’s not that difficult.
Man: I’ll have to have a look.


Man: Hey!
Woman: What?
Man: That’s a tasty-looking sandwich!
Woman: It’s a tasty-tasting sandwich too...
Man: Where did you er...
Woman: Where did I get it?
Man: Yeah! That’s exactly what I was going to say....!
Woman: I made it myself.
Man: Oh.
Woman: Here – have it!

21 de julio de 2011

Banking in the UK

If you want to live in the UK, you will need a bank account.
Watch the video to find out more about banking and financial services in the UK.

If you are resident you will find it useful to open a bank account. All the large banks and most building societies have a network of branches across the country and all offer similar services.

A visit to any one of them will be a friendly experience, although to open an account, be prepared to prove your identity in a number of ways. You will find your passport useful, but the bank will also want to see some form of proof that you are living where you say you are. This can be proved by a housing rent book, a Council Tax, water or electricity bill for the property, as long as it’s in your name. In the bank, and elsewhere, you may hear the term ‘utility bill’ – this simply refers to bills relating to the provision of services to your property such as electricity, gas, water and telephone.

There are other local facilities such as credit unions where you can save your money and have access to affordable low cost loans. Where they exist in your local area, contact details can be obtained from the Citizen’s Advice Bureau.

20 de junio de 2011

Geography and Climate in the UK

So, what is the United Kingdom?

To give it its full title it’s ‘The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland’. You might hear it referred to as Britain, Great Britain or more often, simply as ‘The UK’.

Four countries make up the UK – England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. It consists of a group of islands - 2 large ones and several hundred smaller ones. By far the largest island is that which is divided into three countries - England, Wales and Scotland. This island is about 700 miles long and is 300 miles at its widest point. At its nearest point only the 22 miles of the English Channel separate it from the coast of France.

England’s capital London is also the capital city of the UK. Most of England consists of lowland with some mountainous terrain northwest of a line drawn between the Humber estuary in the East and the river Exe in the Southwest.
Wales, with its capital Cardiff, lies to the West having a coastline adjacent to the Irish Sea. It is more mountainous than England, particularly in North and Mid Wales.

To the North is Scotland which consists of two very distinct regions known as the Highlands and the Lowlands. The Highlands region is to the North and West of the country and is much more mountainous than its lowland sister. The rugged terrain of the highlands ensures the region is sparsely populated.
The Lowlands region is home to most of Scotland’s population. It’s here where Scotland’s capital, Edinburgh and the larger city of Glasgow will be found.

Crossing the Irish Sea takes us to Ireland of which only the north eastern corner (Northern Ireland) is part of the UK. The rest of this island is a separate country, the Republic of Ireland. Northern Ireland, with its capital, Belfast, is a hilly region boasting the largest inland body of water in the UK, Lough Neagh, at 150 square miles.

The prevailing winds tend to come from the southwest, bringing with them frequent spells of mild but wet weather from the Atlantic Ocean. Overall though the climate is fairly temperate and similar to much of northern Europe.

15 de junio de 2011

Falkland man chooses Argentine citizenship

A British man, born on the Falkland Islands has become the first person from there to chose Argentine citizenship.

James Peck was handed his national identity card by Argentine President Cristina Fernandez, during a ceremony to mark the 29th anniversary of the end of the Falklands War.

Peck's father fought for the British during the conflict.

10 de junio de 2011

"An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge"

Listen as you read to this great American short story.

Our story today is called, "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge. " It was written by Ambrose Bierce.

The occurrence, or event, in our story takes place during the Civil War of the eighteen sixties between the American states of the north and the states of the south. A group of soldiers is hanging a southern farm owner for trying to stop northern military movements across the Owl Creek Bridge.

In the last moments of his life, the southern prisoner dreams he has escaped. And everything that happens in the story is really the images in the prisoner's mind just before he dies.

Here is Shep O’Neal with our story.

SHEP O’NEAL: A man stood on a railroad bridge in Alabama looking down into the swift waters of the Owl Creek River below. The man's hands were tied behind his back. There was a rope around his neck. The rope was tied to part of the bridge above him. Three soldiers of the northern army stood near the prisoner, waiting for their captain's orders to hang him.

Everybody was ready. The prisoner stood quietly. His eyes were not covered. He looked down and saw the water under the bridge. Now, he closed his eyes.

He wanted his last thoughts to be of his wife and children. But, as he tried to think of them, he heard sounds -- again and again. The sounds were soft. But they got louder and louder and started to hurt his ears. The pain was strong. He wanted to shout. But the sounds he heard were just those of the river running swiftly under the bridge.

The prisoner quickly opened his eyes and looked at the water. "If I could only free my hands," he thought. "Then I could get the rope off my neck and jump into the river. I could swim under the water and escape the fire of their guns. I could reach the other side of the river and get home through the forest. My house is outside of their military area, and my wife and children are safe there. I would be, too…"

While these thoughts raced through the prisoner's mind, the captain gave the soldiers the order to hang him. A soldier quickly obeyed. He made the rope firm around the prisoner's neck. Then he dropped him through a hole in the bridge.

As the prisoner fell, everything seemed black and empty. But then he felt a sharp pain in his neck and could not breathe. There were terrible pains running from his neck down through his body, his arms and his legs. He could not think. He could only feel, a feeling of living in a world of pain.

Then, suddenly, he heard a noise…something falling into the water. There was a big sound in his ears. Everything around him was cold and dark. Now he could think. He believed the rope had broken and that he was in the river.

But the rope was still around his neck, and his hands were tied. He thought: "How funny. How funny to die of hanging at the bottom of a river!" Then he felt his body moving up to the top of the water.

The prisoner did not know what he was doing. But his hands reached the rope on his neck and tore it off.

Now he felt the most violent pain he had ever known. He wanted to put the rope back on his neck. He tried but could not. His hands beat the water and pushed him up to the top. His head came out of the water. The light of the sun hurt his eyes. His mouth opened, and he swallowed air. It was too much for his lungs. He blew out the air with a scream.

Now the prisoner could think more clearly. All his senses had returned. They were even sharper than before. He heard sounds he never heard before -- that no man's ears ever heard -- the flying wings of small insects, the movement of a fish. His eyes saw more than just the trees along the river. They saw every leaf on the trees. And they saw the thin lines in the leaves.

And he saw the bridge, with the wall at one end. He saw the soldiers and the captain on the bridge. They shouted, and they pointed at him. They looked like giant monsters. As he looked, he heard gunfire. Something hit the water near his head. Now there was a second shot. He saw one soldier shooting at him.

He knew he had to get to the forest and escape. He heard an officer call to the other soldiers to shoot.

The prisoner went down into the river, deep, as far as he could. The water made a great noise in his ears, but he heard the shots.

As he came up to the top again, he saw the bullets hit the water. Some of them touched his face and hands.

One even fell into the top of his shirt. He felt the heat of the bullet on his back.

When his head came out of the water for air, he saw that he was farther away from the soldiers. And he began swimming strongly.

As he swam, the soldiers fired their rifles. Then they fired their cannon at him. But nothing hit him. Then, suddenly, he could not swim. He was caught in a whirlpool which kept turning him around and around. This was the end, he thought. Then, just as suddenly as it had caught him, the whirlpool lifted him and threw him out of the river. He was on land!

He kissed the ground. He looked around him. There was a pink light in the air. The wind seemed to make music as it blew through the trees. He wanted to stay there. But the cannon fired again, and he heard the bullets above his head. He got up and ran into the forest. At last, he found a road toward his house. It was a wide, straight road. Yet it looked like a road that never had any travelers on it. No farms. No houses on its sides, only tall black trees.

In the tall black trees, the prisoner heard strange voices. Some of them spoke in words that he could not understand.

His neck began to hurt. When he touched it, it felt very large. His eyes hurt so much that he could not close them. His feet moved, but he could not feel the road.

As he walked, he was in a kind of sleep. Now, half-awake, half asleep, he found himself at the door of his house. His lovely wife ran to him. Ah, at last.

He put his arms about his beautiful wife. And just then, he felt a terrible pain in the back of his neck. All around him there was a great white light and the sound of a cannon. And then…then…darkness and silence.

The prisoner was dead. His neck was broken. His body hung at the end of a rope. It kept swinging from side to side. Swinging gently under a hole in Owl Creek Bridge.

Debate Over Mobile Phones and Brain Cancer

Listen to the report (or download it) from this link.

The World Health Organization has added to the debate over the risk of brain cancer from mobile phone use. Last week the WHO's International Agency for Research on Cancer listed the signals from wireless devices as "possibly carcinogenic." This finding puts cell phones in the same risk group as the pesticide DDT -- but also in the same group as coffee.

A group of thirty-one scientists from fourteen countries made the finding. The announcement came at the end of a meeting at the agency's headquarters in Lyon, France.

The concern is that extended contact with radiofrequency electromagnetic fields may increase a user's risk for glioma. Glioma is the most common form of brain cancer.

The scientists spent a week examining existing research. Dr. Jonathan Samet from the University of Southern California led the group.

JONATHAN SAMET: "We also carefully consider the sources of exposure of populations to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields, the nature of these fields as they come from various devices, including wireless phones, and we look carefully at the physical phenomenon by which exposure to such fields may perturb biological systems and lead to cancers."

He says the finding that there could be some risk means scientists need to keep a close watch for a link between cell phones and cancer.

The statement noted that the number of mobile phone users is large and growing, especially among young adults and children. Mobile phone subscriptions are estimated at five billion worldwide.

The scientists called for more research into long-term, heavy use of mobile phones. They also suggested taking measures to reduce exposure to the signals, like hands-free devices or texting.

Camilla Rees from an American group called Electromagnetic Health praised the report but says wider research is needed.

CAMILLA REES: "We’ve only had this technology around for about fifteen years, and most carcinogens will take about several decades, thirty-forty years to develop a cancer. So based on some early indications, scientists are projecting that we’re actually going to be seeing a tsunami of brain cancer unless we do something to educate people to lower their exposure to this kind of risk."

CTIA, the International Association for the Wireless Telecommunications Industry, dismissed the report. The group pointed out that no new research had been done. And it noted that the cancer research agency has given the same finding to things like coffee and pickled vegetables.

26 de mayo de 2011

Hepatitis B

Today we continue with our health reports in English. And the target of our entry this week is the infection caused by the Hepatitis B Virus (HBV).
You can listen to the report from this link. Additionally, at the end of the transcription you will find an informative video clip.

Hepatitis is the name for a group of viral infections that attack the liver. These are called A, B, C and so on.

An estimated two billion people are infected with hepatitis B. The rates are highest in China and other parts of Asia. The World Health Organization says most of these infections happen during childhood.

Hepatitis B is spread through contact with infected blood or other body fluids. Mothers can infect babies at birth. Unsafe injections and sexual contact can also spread the virus. Experts say it can survive outside the body for at least a week.

There are two forms of hepatitis B -- acute and chronic. Acute cases last for several weeks, although recovery can take months. Chronic cases can lead to death from cirrhosis or scarring of the liver and liver cancer.

Yet people with long-term liver infections can live for years and not even know they are infected. The ones most likely to develop chronic hepatitis B are young children.

In the United States, experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urge medical providers to test Asian-American patients.

DR. JOHN WARD: "The bottom line -- since most people of Asian heritage came to the US from endemic countries or were born to parents from these countries, they should be screened for chronic hepatitis B."

For acute hepatitis B, patients may receive care to replace lost fluids, but there are no treatments. Doctors can treat chronic cases with interferon and antiviral drugs. But these medicines cost too much for most of the world's poor.

A vaccine to prevent hepatitis B has been available for thirty years. The researcher who discovered this vaccine -- and hepatitis B itself -- was an American named Baruch Blumberg. Dr. Blumberg also showed that the virus could cause liver cancer.

He and another researcher at the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, Irving Millman, invented the vaccine in nineteen sixty-nine. But Dr. Blumberg said it took some time to find a drug company willing to produce it.

He first became interested in studying infectious disease when he volunteered in Surinam during his medical training.

His discoveries with hepatitis B saved many lives and earned him a Nobel Prize in medicine. But he also had other interests -- including the search for life in outer space.

In the late nineties, he helped launch the Astrobiology Institute at NASA. He was at a space agency conference in California in April when he died, apparently of a heart attack. Baruch Blumberg was eighty-five years old.

19 de mayo de 2011

How Early Treatment Can Limit the Spread of HIV

How Early Treatment Can Limit the Spread of HIV

Today, we bring you a report from VOA about the HIV pandemic. Additionally, you can also listen to the report.


This is the VOA Health Report.

For people infected with HIV, the earlier they start treatment, the better -- and better not just for them. A new study shows that early treatment greatly reduces the risk that the partner of an infected person will also get infected. HIV is the virus that causes AIDS.

Dr. Anthony Fauci is with the United States National Institutes of Health which paid for the study.

ANTHONY FAUCI: "Many studies have been showing that the earlier you start, the better it is for the person who is infected. This study shows that not only is it better for the person who is infected, but it helps that person from transmitting to the person that's their sexual partner, heterosexual partner."

Researchers cannot say if the results would be the same in men who have sex with men. Most of the couples in the study were heterosexual.

The study took place in Botswana, Brazil, India, Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, Thailand, the United States and Zimbabwe. It involved almost two thousand couples divided into two groups.

In one group, the infected man or woman began to take a combination of three antiretroviral drugs immediately after being found to have HIV. In the other group, the infected partners began drug treatment only when they started to show signs of getting AIDS.

The researchers say both groups received equal amounts of HIV-related care and counseling. That included information about safe sex practices, free condoms and regular HIV testing.

The study began in two thousand five. It was supposed to last until twenty-fifteen. But researchers stopped it early because the results were so clear. Only one case of infection was reported in couples where the infected partner began immediate treatment.

Dr. Fauci says earlier treatment led to a ninety-six percent reduction in the spread of HIV to uninfected partners.

ANTHONY FAUCI: "This is a powerful bit of evidence that will go into the thinking and formulation of guidelines and of global policy, policy by WHO, by UNAIDS, by the international organizations that help to provide drugs in the developing world."

The study shows the value in testing and treating HIV before a person even feels sick enough to see a doctor. But in many countries, public health budgets are already stretched thin. In sub-Saharan Africa, the area hardest hit by AIDS, for every person who gets treated, two others go untreated.

Antiretroviral drugs suppress the virus. Once people start treatment, they have to continue it daily for the rest of their life.

And that's the VOA's Health Report.

And now a video clip on HIV.

18 de mayo de 2011

A School That Teaches Children to Eat Better

Dear all,

This is the story of a school in the USA that teaches children how to eat healthily. Listen as you read (or just practise your listening comprehension skills without reading!). At the end of the report you will find two attractive videos for even further practice!


This is the VOA's Education Report.

About one-fifth of Americans age six to nineteen are considered overweight. To reduce those numbers, some schools are teaching children to make better food choices.

TEACHER AND STUDENT: "So I can have spinach and what, who can give me one combination. Spinach and -- Diego?" "Eggplant?" "Eggplant. Spinach and eggplant. So here is my first combination."

Hannah Chen is teaching the eight and nine year olds in this math class in Washington how to make sets.

HANNAH CHEN: "We just incorporated food into different types of combinations, like with the pizza we had two types of toppings that the kids can provide, and figuring out the different combinations using those toppings."

The EW Stokes Public Charter School has started to include food topics in its third-grade math and English teaching. The school formed a partnership with Seedling Projects, an environmental group in San Francisco, California.

Peter Nalli is a curriculum director for the program called Farm to Desk. He says they are doing this in part to address the issue of childhood obesity.

PETER NALLI: "One of the main components of our program is our belief that if kids are exposed to positive and healthy messaging about food throughout the instructional day, that has the most potential to impact long-term change."

School chef Makeisha Daye says the school buys most of its food from local farms, but the students grow some themselves.

MAKEISHA DAYE: "They are replanting everything now so that we will be using fresh herbs, fresh vegetables straight from our garden. So, the children, they love it."

Teacher Hannah Chen agrees.

HANNAH CHEN: "We have a salad bar at the school, and now the kids love the salad bar. They love the fruits and vegetables. So I think it is making a big difference in their lives."

She says the third graders have also learned to read the sugar and fat content listed on food packages. She says the EW Stokes Public Charter School in Washington plans to expand the Farm to Desk program to other grades next year.

Charter schools get public money but do not have to follow the same rules as traditional public schools.

Many charter schools have specialized areas of study -- like Environmental Charter High School near Los Angeles. Students learn the importance of protecting the environment. Rigo Estrada says he used to be the kind of person who threw trash on the street.

RIGO ESTRADA: "But now that I have seen firsthand videos, I have done beach cleanups, I have helped develop like water-catchment systems, I have taught elementary schools like the importance of water conservation, I know the importance of green and that it actually is a really serious topic."

Students also learn how to prepare a business plan that they can use to help pay for college. They learn from teachers and outside experts like Nancy Gale. She owns an environmentally friendly business that makes handbags.

NANCY GALE: "The idea behind the program is that if these kids see what they can do together and what they can accomplish, that they recognize that their skills extend into the same real world as kids that go to successful private schools."

15 de abril de 2011

Words and Their Stories

Some interesting expressions or idioms in English and their origins are presented here. What about discussing them in class with your teacher? How do we say these expressions in Spanish?

Words and Their Stories: Proverbs About How to Live

Today we explain more popular proverbs. A proverb is a short, well known saying that expresses a common truth or belief. Proverbs are popular around the world.

Many listeners have sent us their favorite proverbs. They give advice about how to live. We begin with two popular proverbs about staying healthy by eating good food: One is an apple a day keeps the doctor away. Another is you are what you eat.

Several proverbs about birds also give advice. You may have heard this one: The early bird catches the worm. This means a person who gets up early, or acts quickly, has the best chance of success.

Another famous proverb is a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. This means you should not risk losing something you have by seeking something that is not guaranteed.

Here is another piece of advice: Do not count your chickens before they are hatched. In other words, you should not think too much about some future event before it really happens.

Another proverb warns do not put all your eggs in one basket. This means you should not put all of your resources together in one place because you could risk losing everything at one time. Many Americans learned this the hard way by investing all their money in stock shares, which then lost value. Another proverb says a fool and his money are soon parted. This means someone who acts unwisely with money will lose it.

Here is more advice: If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.Also,never put off until tomorrow what you can do today.

You might learn that haste makes waste if you do something so fast, resulting in mistakes. Most people would agree with this proverb:honesty is the best policy.

Yet another proverb advises us not to be concerned about something bad that you cannot change. It says there is no use crying over spilled milk.

Do you agree with the proverb that children should be seen and not heard? Maybe you have told your children that hard work never hurt anyone. But other people say that all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. They believe it is not wise to spend all your time working and never having fun.

Finally, here is one of our favorite proverbs: People who live in glass houses should not throw stones. This means you should not criticize other people unless you are perfect yourself.

9 de abril de 2011

Elizabeth Taylor's life

Elizabeth Taylor, 1932-2011: Actress and Activist

Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor in 1969 in Monaco
Photo: AP

Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor in 1969 in Monaco

PART ONE: Listen here

BARBARA KLEIN: I’m Barbara Klein.

STEVE EMBER: And I’m Steve Ember with PEOPLE IN AMERICA in VOA Special English. Today we tell about the film star Elizabeth Taylor. She made over sixty films during her long career in Hollywood. She was famous for her striking beauty, violet eyes and shining black hair. Taylor was equally known for her complex private life and eight marriages. Beginning in the nineteen eighties, she also raised millions of dollars to support AIDS research.

CLEOPATRA: “Without you, Antony, this is not a world I want to live in, much less conquer. Because for me, there would be no love anywhere. Do you want me to die with you? I will. Or do you want me to live with you? Whatever you choose.”

BARBARA KLEIN: That was Elizabeth Taylor playing the queen of Egypt in the nineteen sixty-three movie “Cleopatra.” She earned over one million dollars for her work in this movie. At the time, this was the most money ever paid to an actor for a single film. It was also one of the most costly movies ever made. “Cleopatra” was a larger-than-life movie for a larger-than-life actress.

Elizabeth Taylor in 1946
Elizabeth Taylor in 1946

STEVE EMBER: Elizabeth Rosemund Taylor was born in nineteen thirty-two to American parents living in London. Her father Francis was an art dealer. Her mother Sara had worked as a stage actress before her marriage. The Taylors left England in nineteen thirty-nine and moved to southern California. Elizabeth’s beauty soon caught the attention of movie studio officials.

She made her first movie, “There’s One Born Every Minute,” at the age of ten. This was followed a year later by “Lassie Come Home.” But it was the nineteen forty-four film, “National Velvet” that made her a star.

Twelve-year-old Elizabeth Taylor starred as Velvet Brown, a girl living in a village in England. She saves a horse and trains him for an important race, which she wins.

BARBARA KLEIN: During the nineteen forties Elizabeth Taylor played many roles in movies about families. Not all child actors in Hollywood were successful later playing adult roles. But Taylor easily went from playing children to playing teenagers and adults. In nineteen fifty, she played the bride in the popular film “Father of the Bride.”

That was also the year of her first marriage, to the wealthy businessman Conrad “Nicky” Hilton. But their marriage ended in divorce the next year. Speaking after her first divorce, Taylor reportedly said that she had been able to fit in the clothing of a sexy woman since she was fourteen years old. She said her troubles started because she had a woman’s body and a child’s emotions.

Elizabeth Taylor with her husband Mike Todd in 1957
Elizabeth Taylor with her husband Mike Todd in 1957

STEVE EMBER: Elizabeth Taylor would quickly become as famous for her private life as she was for her acting career. The media often wrote about her many marriages and love affairs. In nineteen fifty-two she married the British actor Michael Wilding, with whom she had two sons.

Five years later they divorced, and she married the film producer Mike Todd. The couple had one daughter, Liza. Mike Todd died in nineteen fifty-eight in a plane crash. One of his close friends was the singer Eddie Fisher. He was married to a good friend of Elizabeth Taylor, the popular actress Debbie Reynolds. Eddie Fisher left his wife in order to marry Elizabeth Taylor. Many people were shocked and angered by this behavior.


BARBARA KLEIN: Elizabeth Taylor once said that during the first part of her career, she did not make a huge effort as an actress. She said this changed in nineteen fifty-one with the movie “A Place in the Sun.” It tells a tragic story about a young man and his relationship with two women. Here is a famous scene with her co-star, Montgomery Clift.

GEORGE: “I am the happiest person in the world.”

ANGELA: “The second happiest.”

GEORGE: “Oh, Angela, if I could only tell you how much I love you, if I could only tell you all.”

ANGELA: “Tell Mama, tell Mama all.”

STEVE EMBER: Critics praised Elizabeth Taylor for the depth she brought to this movie. She expressed both innocence and intense sensuality. She began to receive wide praise for her fine and expressive acting. And, she began to receive richer, more interesting roles.

One of these was in the movie “Giant” with Rock Hudson and James Dean. It tells the story of a wealthy cattle rancher in Texas and his family.

JETT: “I guess you’re about the best looking gal we’ve seen around here in a long time, I think. Prettiest I think I’ve seen down here.”

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LESLIE: “Why thank you, Jett. That’s a very nice compliment. And I’m going to tell my husband I’ve met with your approval.”

BARBARA KLEIN: The movie was a big success. James Dean did not live to see the movie completed. He died in a car accident in nineteen fifty-five before the movie was released the next year. Elizabeth Taylor received Academy Award nominations for several films she made starting in the late nineteen fifties. The first was for the nineteen fifty-seven movie “Raintree County.”

The next year she starred in a film version of the Tennessee Williams play, “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.” She plays a beautiful wife who is having marriage troubles. Her alcoholic husband is played by Paul Newman. Many critics consider this one of her best movies.

MAGGIE: “Oh Brick! How long does this have to go on, this punishment? Haven’t I served my term? Can’t I apply for a pardon?”

BRICK: “Lately, that finishing school voice of yours sounds like you was running upstairs to tell someone the house is on fire.”

MAGGIE: “Is it any wonder? You know what I feel like? I feel all the time like a cat on a hot tin roof.”

BRICK: “Then jump off the roof, Maggie, jump off it. Now cats jump off roofs and they land uninjured. Do it. Jump.”

MAGGIE: “Jump where! Into what?”

Elizabeth Taylor holds the Academy Award she won for her role in "Butterfield 8"
Elizabeth Taylor holds the Academy Award she won for her role in "Butterfield 8"

STEVE EMBER: Taylor’s third Academy Award nomination was for another movie based on a Tennessee Williams play called “Suddenly Last Summer.”

In nineteen sixty, it was her turn to win. She received her first Academy Award for her work in “Butterfield 8”. Her second Academy Award for acting came six years later for her role in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” She starred in this movie opposite her husband at the time, the Welsh actor Richard Burton.

MARTHA: “In fact, he was sort of a flop. A great big, fat flop.”

GEORGE: “Stop it, Martha.”

MARTHA: “I hope that was an empty bottle, George. You can’t afford to waste good liquor. Not on your salary. Not on an associate professor’s salary.”

BARBARA KLEIN: The movie was based on a play by Edward Albee. For this role, Elizabeth Taylor gained a great deal of weight in order to look the part of the aging wife of a college professor. “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” received great praise. But it was Taylor’s first movie with Burton that had made history.

“Cleopatra” received a great deal of attention for bringing together Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. Both stars were married to other people at the time. But they began a widely publicized love affair while filming the movie. Burton and Taylor would eventually marry and divorce each other twice. They made many movies together and led a life of extreme fame and wealth.

Elizabeth Taylor as "Cleopatra"
Elizabeth Taylor as "Cleopatra"

STEVE EMBER: Taylor later said she remained madly in love with Burton for his entire life. She said she would have married him a third time had he not died unexpectedly in nineteen eighty-four.

Elizabeth Taylor’s last two marriages also ended in divorce. She was married to Senator John Warner of Virginia and, later, to a builder named Larry Fortensky.

BARBARA KLEIN: Throughout her life, Elizabeth Taylor faced many health problems. She nearly died twice of pneumonia. She had back, hip, heart and weight problems. In the nineteen eighties, she battled drug and alcohol abuse. She entered a medical center for treatment and was very open with the public about her struggles.

She spent much of her time working on her charity and business projects. She gave her name to several hugely successful perfumes.

STEVE EMBER: In nineteen eighty-five, she helped create amFAR, the American Foundation for AIDS Research. She did this during a period when many people believed those infected with the disease were immoral and few recognized its danger. Reports say she helped raise over a hundred million dollars for AIDS research and patients. In nineteen ninety-one she started the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation. The organization helps people around the world who are living with AIDS.

BARBARA KLEIN: Elizabeth Taylor died of heart failure in two thousand eleven at the age of seventy-nine. AIDS researcher Mathilde Krim told USA Today that the actress was always known for her beauty, success and jewelry. But she said Elizabeth Taylor was also a woman of extreme intelligence, independence, courage and a deep concern for others.