“Any teacher that can be replaced with a computer, deserves to be.” – David Thornburg

20 January 2011


As ABBA said, 'money, money, money, always sunny in a rich man's world'. Why is money so important? Can't we just live with bare necessities? Well, money doesn't buy happiness (but does it help you to be happy?)

In this post, you are going to do some revision exercises about cleft sentences (Exercise 1, Exercise 2 and Exercise 3) and learn more things about Nauru (Nauru's natural phosphate reserves once made millionaires of the entire population. Now they're among the world's poorest countries). Some recommendations about films dealing with this issue will be provided.

Nauru: lonely planet

Nauru Official Tourism Website


Paradise Lost is an epic poem in blank verse by the 17th-century English poet John Milton. It was originally published in 1667 in ten books. The poem concerns the Christian story of the Fall of Man: the temptation of Adam and Eve by the fallen angel Satan and their expulsion from the Garden of Eden.

Now, when thinking about this, there were several films and TV series that came into my mind. We have the film You can't take it with you by Frank Capra (for movie clips, click here) and the TV series Arrested Development. Of course, we can't forget the meanest character in the history of English literature, Scrooge, from A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.

Now, time for a joke, don't you think?
Lying on his deathbed, the rich, miserly old man calls to his long-suffering wife. "I want to take all my money with me," he tells her. "So promise me you'll put it in the casket." After the man dies, his widow attends the memorial service with her best friend. Just before the undertaker closes the coffin, she places a small metal box inside. Her friend looks at her in horror. "Surely," she says, "you didn't put the money in there." "I did promise him I would," the widow answers. "So I got it all together, deposited every penny in my account, and wrote him a check. If he can cash it, he can spend it."

18 January 2011


The future of the Earth is in our hands, literally. Our planet seems to depend on the way we choose to carry our groceries home, which leads us to one of the most controversial topics nowadays: the plastic debate.

Well, I've prepared a listening exercise for you to do. I took a news item from NPR about the plastic bag ban in San Francisco. Listen to the story and complete the following sentences. When you finish, check the answers at the end of this post and listen once more, now reading the transcript at the same time.

1. A year ago politician Ross Mirkarimi couldn’t imagine __________ he was going to cause.

2. Roplast Industries in Oroville is one of the manufacturers of plastic bags who got a __________ after the plastic ban was passed.

3. A new bag containing more plastic will hold five or six times as much as the standard disposable bag with the advantage of being _________.

4. The best thing about the ChicoBag folds up into a tiny ________ sack.

5. The bag ban was abandoned in Fairfax because of the ________ by the plastic bag industry.

6. The plastic industry threatened to sue on __________.

This issue is the talk of town in the USA now because one supermarket chain, Whole Foods, has decided to stop offering disposable plastic bags to customers. You can read about this in this article from USA Today and, if you have time, you can also watch this video or this video, both covering this piece of news. However, some people claim that with this measure, there is more than meets the eye. Watch this video about Whole Foods Whole Fraud if you want to know more:

1. what a stir
2. boost in business
3. reusable
4. wallet-sized stuff
5. threat of a lawsuit
6. environmental grounds

13 January 2011


March, 17th 2010 post on the economic crisis: The Last Laugh

November, 20th 2009 post on consumer society: Buy Nothing Day

Multiple choice listening exercise on Adsense: Making Money Online + vocabulary exercises.

Article on the new consumerism by the BBC.

Article on the history of consumerism: industry, consumerism and social change.

Radio programme on consumerism (click on the links at the left-hand side of the page).

Video on how to get rid of debt faster (Martín's blog).

Top Ten songs about money (with videos).

Selling unwanted Christmas gifts on eBay: top tips