All lessons
Browse the lessons at your listening/reading level and go practice now.

Gimme a ticket for an aeroplane, ain't got time to take a fast train. Lonely days are gone, I'm a-goin' home, cause my baby just a-wrote me a letter.

Have you ever looked out of the window of a passenger plane from 30000 feet at the vast expanses of empty ocean and uninhabited land, and wondered how people can have any major effect on the Earth? I have. But it is now becoming pretty clear that we are causing a great deal of damage to the natural environment. And the planes which rush us in comfort to destinations around the globe, contribute to one of the biggest environmental problems that we face today, global warming.

For those of us lucky enough to have money to spend, and the free time to spend it in, there are a huge number of fascinating places to explore. The cost of air transport has decreased rapidly over the years, and for many people, especially in rich countries, it is now possible to fly around the world for little more than the contents of our weekly pay packets. Unfortunately, planes produce far more carbon dioxide CO2 than any other form of public transport, and CO2 is now known to be a greenhouse gas, a gas which traps the heat of the sun, causing the temperature of the Earth to rise.

Scientists predict that in the near future the climate in Britain will resemble that of the Mediterranean, ironically a popular destination for British holidaymakers flying off to seek the sun. If global warming continues, we may also find that many tourist destinations such as The Maldives have disappeared under water because of rising sea levels. As usual, people in the developing world are having to deal with problems created mainly by those of us in developed countries.

Beatrice Schell, a spokeswoman for the European Federation for Transport and Environment says that, One person flying in an airplane for one hour is responsible for the same greenhouse gas emissions as a typical Bangladeshi in a whole year. And every year jet aircraft generate almost as much carbon dioxide as the entire African continent produces. When you are waiting impatiently in a crowded departure lounge for a delayed flight or trying to find luggage which has gone astray, plane fares may seem unreasonably high, but in reality we are not paying enough for air travel. Under the polluter pays principle, where users pay for the bad effects they cause, the damage caused by planes is not being paid for. Aircraft fuel is not taxed on international flights and planes, unlike cars, are not inspected for CO2 emissions. Also, the Kyoto agreement does not cover greenhouse gases produced by planes, leaving governments to decide for themselves who is responsible.

So what can be done to solve the problem? Well, although aircraft engine manufacturers are making more efficient engines and researching alternative fuels such as hydrogen, it will be decades before air travel is not damaging to the environment. Governments don't seem to be taking the problem seriously, so it is up to individual travellers to do what they can to help. The most obvious way of dealing with the problem is to not travel by plane at all. Environmental groups like Friends of the Earth encourage people to travel by train and plan holidays nearer home.

However, with prices of flights at an all time low, and exotic destinations more popular than ever, it is hard to persuade British tourists to choose Blackpool instead of Bangkok, or Skegness over Singapore. Friends of the Earth also advise using teleconferencing for international business meetings, but most businesspeople still prefer to meet face-to-face. However, there is a way of offsetting the carbon dioxide we produce when we travel by plane. A company called Future Forests, whose supporters include Coldplay and Pink Floyd, offers a service which can relieve the guilty consciences of air travellers.

The Future Forest website calculates the amount of CO2 you are responsible for producing on your flight, and for a small fee will plant the number of trees which will absorb this CO2. Another company, co2dotorg, offers a similar service, but invests your money in energy saving projects such as providing efficient light bulbs to villagers in Mauritius. Yesterday I returned to Japan from England, and was happy to pay Future Forests 25 pounds to plant the 3 trees which balance my share of the CO2 produced by my return flight. Now the only thing making me lose sleep is jet lag.
0:00
0:00
 
  |  9253 learners#Science #Lectures

The person who takes medicine must recover twice, once from the disease and once from the medicine.

If all the medicine in the world were thrown into the sea, it would be bad for the fish and good for humanity.

Alternative medicine has become much more popular in the West in recent years. It seems that people are becoming increasingly worried about the side effects of drugs, and are turning to treatments such as homeopathy, osteopathy, yoga, reflexology and acupuncture to complement, or sometimes even replace, Western medicine.

An event in my life three or four years ago made me examine my own attitudes towards alternative medicine. After suffering from insomnia for a few months, I was feeling mentally and physically exhausted. A trip to my GP, and attempts at self-medication with nightly doses of Guinness and whisky, failed to bring any relief from my condition. My friend Tony, who was studying acupuncture at a college near London at the time, suggested that I visit an acupuncturist. Since I have a healthy fear of needles from waiting in line for vaccinations in gloomy school corridors, I was reluctant to take his advice, but by this time I was so tired that I was prepared to try almost anything.

I made an appointment with the only acupuncturist in my area, and after another nearly sleepless night, turned up at his room in the local alternative health centre the following morning. After taking my pulse, looking at my tongue, and asking a few questions about my diet and lifestyle, the acupuncturist correctly deduced that I was worn-out I found this extremely impressive since he hadn't asked me why I had come to see him. He then inserted a needle in my right foot between my first and second toe, and, despite my anxiety, I fell asleep immediately. At the time I considered the whole experience to be close to a miracle.

Acupuncture is based on the idea that energy flows through the human body along 12 lines or meridians. These meridians end up at organs in the body, and illness is the result of a blockage of the energy flow to these organs. To remove the blockage, an acupuncturist inserts very fine needles into the body at points along the meridians. This stimulates the flow of energy, and restores the patient's health.

Traditional Chinese medicine has been practised for around 3000 years in the Far East, but is relatively recent in the West, and acupuncture only really became well-known in the West in the 1970s as people began to travel more frequently between the two areas of the world.

A significant event in the history of acupuncture came in 1971, when a journalist from the New York Times had his appendix removed in China, when on a trip to the country with Henry Kissinger, the Secretary of State for the USA. Surgeons used acupuncture to deaden the pain of the operation, which greatly impressed Kissinger.

Although at first doctors in the West were often sceptical of the medical value of acupuncture, in the last few years it has become more established as an alternative to Western medical treatments, since clinical tests have shown that acupuncture is effective for a number of conditions.

In the Far East acupuncture is used to treat a wide range of complaints, and is also used as a preventative medicine, since it is thought to increase the body's resistance to infection. In the West, the treatment is often used to relieve headaches, dental pain, back pain, and arthritis, and to treat depression, asthma, stress, high blood pressure and anxiety.

Since acupuncture is known to be effective against pain, it is not surprising that many sportspeople have experimented with acupuncture when fighting injury. Martina Hingis, the famous tennis player, had a wrist injury cured through treatment, and English Premier Division football club Bolton Wanderers employ an acupuncturist to keep their squad in good physical condition. While in Korea for the World Cup in 2002, Soo Ji Chim, a Korean form of acupuncture, was very popular with the German football team.

Cherie Blair, a well-known human rights lawyer, and the wife of the British Prime Minister, was recently spotted wearing an acupuncture needle in her ear, suggesting that she uses the treatment to cope with stress. The Queen of England is also interested in acupuncture, although she doesn't use the treatment herself she and many of her family rely on another alternative medical treatment, homeopathy, to keep them healthy.

Finally, if you do decide to visit an acupuncturist, it is important that you check that they are qualified and registered to practise acupuncture. In the past some people have experienced allergic reactions, broken needles and even punctured lungs while being treated, although this is very uncommon.
0:00
0:00
 
  |  10265 learners#Health #Unclassified

Most people are aware that Canada and the United States are two very large countries in North America. However, most people do not know how these countries came to exist. The story of the creation of these countries is a very interesting one. During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, some people from England and from France moved across the Atlantic ocean. English people lived on what is now the east coast of the United States, and French people lived in what is now Quebec, in the eastern part of Canada. The kings of England and France were often at war with each other. This meant that there was often fighting in North America between the soldiers of England and France.

By about the year 1750, there were many more people in the English colonies than in the French colonies. When the next war began, the English king was determined to defeat the French and gain complete control of North America. The English assembled a large force of ships and soldiers and attacked the French at Quebec. The French fought bravely, but they were too few in numbers, and the English won the war. England then gained control of all of North America.

After this war, the people of the English colonies in North America began to feel dissatisfied with their government. They were not represented in the English government, but they had to pay taxes to the English king. The taxes were used to pay for English soldiers who defended the American colonies, but the Americans did not want these soldiers. In 1775, the American settlers began to rebel, and in 1776 the Americans declared their independence. For several years, there was much fighting between the Americans and the English soldiers. For a while, it appeared that the Americans would lose, even though they fought bravely. Then, the king of France decided to help the Americans. He sent his ships and soldiers to America, and they helped the Americans to defeat the English forces. England recognized the United States of America as an independent country in 1783.

However, England kept control of Canada. When the American colonies rebelled against England, some of the people who lived in those colonies did not rebel. Those people were called Loyalists because they were loyal to the king. When the war ended, the Loyalists had to leave the country. They moved northward to Canada, where they started new English-speaking colonies. During the year 1812, the Americans invaded Canada, but they were not able to conquer the country.

During the nineteenth century, the people of Quebec continued to speak French and to maintain their French culture. Meanwhile, many more people moved to the English-speaking areas of Canada. In the year 1867, Quebec and the English-speaking colonies agreed to form a single country, Canada. By this time, there were two very large countries in the northern part of North America!
0:00
0:00
 
  |  9292 learners#Politic #Essays

Imagine a beach, a quiet place, with only the noise of the sea and the gulls in the background. There are boats floating near the shore and a few people swimming in the water next to them. It's a hot day, and there are some people lying on the sand enjoying the sunshine and slowly going brown. There are no shops, no people making noises, no loud music, everything is peaceful. There is just the sea, the sun, and the beach, a little paradise.

The beach is on the south coast of Scotland, near a little town called Gatehouse of Fleet in the county of Dumfries and Galloway. 22 years ago my family and I found this place for the first time and we have never really left it. Every year in the summer while other people go on holiday to foreign countries and exotic places, we go to our private paradise and relax. There is a little campsite with tents and caravans next to the beach, and this becomes our home for one month every year.

For a child a beach is a wonderful place. Here I found lots of space to run and play on the sand or to swim in the water. Being a campsite there were always lots of other families with children to play with. Another of my favourite activities was climbing on the rocks and cliffs around the beach. Rock pools were very educational places where I used to study the little fish and sea animals. Silence was also important, at school I was always surrounded by people and noise but the beach gave me the chance to be on my own and think, or read, away from anyone else.

Although the sea can be beautiful, this beach is sometimes a dangerous place to be. When the weather is bad there are often storms with strong winds. When this happens the waves can get up to 2-3 metres high, definitely not weather for swimming. Every year some of the boats anchored on the beach are lost because the sea is so rough. I remember holding down our tent to stop the wind blowing it away on many occasions. However, if the waves weren't too high all the children and some adults used to go swimming in life jackets, as it was very exciting.

Sailing is a very serious activity in the UK, and this beach is no different. There are large racing boats for three or more people, smaller boats such as the Topper for just one or two people, fishing boats and windsurfers. In fact people on this beach are willing to try any type of water-sport, water skiing, speed boating, even the recent sport of sail surfing is becoming popular. Over the years my family has had 4 different boats, from a small Topper to a large Caprice for racing. We have sailed, raced, and fished off the boats, and have even capsized in bad weather a few times.

If this beach had been next to a town or near a popular tourist area I don't think we would have continued going there. But its location is very beautiful indeed. It's in the middle of green countryside with many different types of plants and flowers, and in the background the hills of Galloway can be seen. Lots of photographers and artists come to the area also known as the Solway because they can capture such beautiful scenery.

Even after 22 years, the beach is still a sanctuary for me. It's a place away from the rest of the world where I can forget about life's problems, and just relax. In today's modern, busy world, everyone should have a place like this.
0:00
0:00
 
  |  9512 learners#Science #Unclassified

Today, in the early twenty-first century, most countries no longer have kings and queens. However, some countries have remained as monarchies, including England and its former colonies. However, even in these countries, the monarch is a ceremonial figure who no longer has any real power over his or her subjects. These countries are called constitutional monarchies because they are democracies in which the monarch remains the official head of state.

Many years ago, the kings and queens of England did have real power, but gradually this power was transferred to the people and their elected officials. It is interesting to examine how this transition occurred. Even in very early times, the king of England did not have absolute power. He was the most powerful man in the country, but he could not entirely force his will upon others. If he became too demanding, he might face opposition from powerful local land-owners. These men, called the barons, might resist a king who tried to become too strong. This is exactly what happened in the year 1215. The king of England had made many unreasonable demands upon the country, and the barons decided to resist. They forced the king to agree to a list of rules that would limit his power. These rules were written in a famous document called the Magna Carta. This document described not only the rights of the barons, but also of the common people of England.

During the next few hundred years, the kings still had much power. However, some other people, such as the landowners and the richer men of the towns, also had influence. Their meetings became known as Parliaments, and the king had to share power with the parliament. During the 1640s, one king tried to rule without Parliament, and tried to take away the rights of Parliament. This led to a civil war, and the king was defeated. England soon became a monarchy again, but it became clear that Parliament would have more power than the king. Until the twentieth century, the Parliaments of England became more democratic, as more and more people were allowed to vote.

Today, England still has a constitutional monarchy. But not all English-speaking countries recognize the English queen. For example, the United States became an independent country over 200 years ago and has become a republic ever since. In some countries, there is debate about the future of the monarchy. Canada, Australia, and New Zealand still recognize the queen of England as their own queen even though those countries are no longer governed by England. Many people in those countries want to abolish the monarchy. They believe that their countries should now have their own head of state. On the other hand, some people in those countries want to keep the monarchy because it reminds them of their country's early history. This is an ongoing topic of debate for Canadians, Australians, and New Zealanders.
0:00
0:00
 
  |  9223 learners#Culture #Essays

During the past several decades, there have been major changes within most Western countries in people's attitudes toward sex, and in sexual behaviour. For people who have lived throughout this period, the changes have seemed quite remarkable. Until the early twentieth century, people in most Western countries did not have permissive attitudes regarding sexuality.

For the most part, young people were expected to wait until marriage before having sexual intercourse. Of course, some premarital sex did occur, and prostitution was not rare. However, sexual behaviour was relatively restricted. As the twentieth century progressed, there was a gradual trend toward liberalization of attitudes toward sex. However, this trend was greatly speeded after 1960, when the first birth control pills became available. These contraceptive pills made it possible for women to engage in sexual intercourse without much risk of an unwanted pregnancy. As a result, many women were more willing to have premarital sex than was previously the case.

Also during the 1960s, Western countries were reaching high levels of wealth and education. A new and very large generation of young people was approaching adulthood, and there was a mood of rebellion against traditional norms. There was an increase in the number of people who engaged in sex before marriage, and also a greater openness about such behaviour. By the 1970s, sexual attitudes had become quite liberal, and many young people were quite promiscuous in their sexual behaviour. However, this pattern reversed somewhat during the 1980s. There was increased concern about sexually transmitted diseases, including AIDS, moreover, many young women had been uncomfortable with the idea of unrestricted sexual behaviour. As a result, sexual attitudes became slightly more conservative during the 1980s and 1990s, although they remained much more liberal than in previous decades.

In the early twenty-first century, most young people in Western countries begin having sex during their high school years, although some people wait until they are considerably older. Some young people are promiscuous, but most engage in monogamous relationships that typically last for a period of several months or a few years. When one relationship ends, another usually begins soon after. This pattern usually continues until marriage. After marriage, most people have sex exclusively with their spouse, however, some people do commit adultery. Sexuality has changed a great deal in recent decades. It will be very interesting to see how people's sexual attitudes and behaviour will change in the future.
0:00
0:00
 
  |  9200 learners#Education #Lectures

Charles Darwin made what might be the most important scientific discovery of all time the theory of evolution by natural selection. It was Darwin who first understood how it was that plants and animals evolved over time to produce new and different species. At first, this theory faced much opposition, but since that time it has been supported by evidence from many areas of science.

Darwin was born in a small town in England in 1809. When he was a young man, he went to university, first to study medicine, and later to study religion. However, Darwin found his schoolwork to be very boring. Instead, he preferred outdoor activities and was very interested in nature. While Darwin was at university, the British navy was planning to send one of its ships, called the Beagle, on a voyage of exploration. As part of this voyage, the ship would need a naturalist, who could study the various plants and animals that might be found. Darwin was recommended for this job by one of his professors, who had been impressed by Darwin. Darwin was chosen as the naturalist of the Beagle, and the ship left England in 1831. The ship's voyage took Darwin around the world, and he observed many species of plants and animals on his trip.

In one place near South America, known as the Galapagos Islands, Darwin observed many unusual species of birds. Several of these birds seemed closely related to each other, but they differed in interesting ways. For example, some birds had long beaks that could reach insects hidden in the bark of trees, but other birds had thick beaks that could break open the shells of nuts. What Darwin realized was that certain characteristics could help an animal or a plant to survive and reproduce. Individuals that lacked those characteristics would become more likely to die without reproducing.

Over many generations, the useful characteristics would then become more and more common, as the surviving individuals passed the characteristics on to their offspring. Eventually, after many generations, the changes would be so great that a new species would exist. In this way, a single species could divide into two or more new ones. This was called the process of evolution by natural selection. When Darwin returned to England, he studied plants and animals in more detail. After much research, he began writing a book about his theory of evolution by natural selection.

When the book, The Origin of Species, was published in 1859, it was very popular and very controversial. During the next twenty years, Darwin continued his scientific research, and he wrote several more books. By the time of his death, in 1882, many biologists had realized that Darwin had made one of the most important scientific discoveries of all time. or the first time, scientists could understand the origin of the many different species of plants and animals.
0:00
0:00
 
  |  9012 learners#Science #Stories

Of the fifty states in the United States, forty-nine are located on the mainland of North America. The other state is Hawaii, which consists of several islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Hawaii is known as an especially beautiful and interesting place. The Hawaiian islands were formed by volcanic eruptions that pushed molten rock, called lava, above the surface of the ocean.

Some of the islands no longer have any volcanic activity, but there are still active volcanoes on two Hawaiian islands, Oahu and the big island which is known simply as Hawaii. One of these volcanoes, Mauna Loa, still erupts sometimes, with spectacular explosions of lava. Another volcano, called Mauna Kea, is now dormant. These volcanoes are both very tall and reach over 4000 metres above sea level. The air above Mauna Kea is so clear and thin that scientists use the mountain as a base for observing the stars. The islands of Hawaii are located in the tropics, and they are known for their beautiful weather. The temperatures are usually in the range of 20 to 30 degrees Celsius, and the days are usually sunny. This weather allows people to enjoy swimming and surfing on the beautiful beaches of Hawaii.

Despite the sunshine, most of the islands also receive enough rainfall to support many beautiful flowers and trees. The first people to live in Hawaii were Polynesian groups who arrived from other islands in the Pacific, well over 1000 years ago. The islands were visited by European explorers during the late eighteenth century. During the early nineteenth century, the islands became unified under a single king. However, during this time, many Hawaiians died from diseases that were brought by European and American visitors. The Hawaiian islands are excellent places for growing sugar cane and pineapples. In the late eighteenth century, some Americans began large farms, called plantations, in Hawaii.

The Americans eventually gained control of the government, and Hawaii became a territory of the United States. The United States built a naval base on the island of Oahu, at Pearl Harbor. This base was attacked by Japan in 1941, but it was soon repaired. The naval base is still in use today. During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, there was great demand for labour on the sugar and pineapple plantations. People came to Hawaii from many lands, and Hawaii became a place of many cultures. The native Hawaiians mixed with people from places such as Japan, China, Korea, the Philippines, Portugal, and Puerto Rico, as well as the mainland United States.

Today, many Hawaiians can claim a diverse heritage. In 1959, Hawaii became the 50th state of the United States, with the city of Honolulu as its capital. Today, there are more than one million people in Hawaii, more than half of whom live in Honolulu. Each year, many more people visit Hawaii as tourists, to experience the beauty of these islands.
0:00
0:00
 
  |  9108 learners#General #Essays

Benjamin Franklin was one of the most famous people in American history. He was never a President of the United States, but he made great achievements in many areas of life, including business, literature, science, and politics. Benjamin Franklin was born in the city of Boston, during the year 1706.

In his early years, Franklin was very poor. As a young man, he worked for his older brother, who was a printer. However, the two brothers soon argued with each other. Benjamin decided to leave, and he moved to the city of Philadelphia. He worked very hard and soon became a successful printer. He published his own newspapers, and he also published books called almanacs, which contained many wise sayings. Many of the wise sayings in Franklin's almanacs are still repeated today. Franklin's printing business was very successful, but he was also very interested in science. He performed experiments on the topic of electricity. Some of these experiments were very dangerous.

In one experiment, Franklin was almost killed when he went outside during a lightning storm and flew a kite that had a metal key attached. However, Franklin was lucky enough to avoid injury, and he learned new facts about electricity. In addition to scientific research, Franklin was also an inventor. He invented a new kind of eye-glasses called bifocals. Bifocals are eye-glasses that allow people to see things that are far away, but also allow them to read things that are very close. Another invention was a new kind of stove for burning wood. This new stove was much more efficient than the older stoves had been. He also invented a lightning rod, which keeps houses safe from lightning.

Franklin was also interested in making his city a better place to live. He started a public library, and he helped to organize a hospital and a fire department. In addition, he supervised the postal service, which operated profitably under his command. In his later years, Franklin became heavily involved in politics. For most of Franklin's life, the United States was not yet a country. Instead, the United States were still colonies of England, but Franklin encouraged other Americans to become an independent country. When the United States became a country, Franklin became the American ambassador to France. The French people liked Franklin very much. Franklin later returned to the United States, and he died in 1790.

Today, many Americans still admire the brilliant achievements of Benjamin Franklin, who did so much to improve people's lives. The picture of Benjamin Franklin can be seen on the American hundred-dollar bill.
0:00
0:00
 
  |  9064 learners#Science #Biography

In most English-speaking countries, a person who is accused of a crime has the right to a trial by jury. In a trial by jury, the guilt or innocence of the accused person is decided by a group of 12 people, called jurors, who must listen to the evidence about the case. The idea of trial by jury is over 800 years old, but there was a time when criminal cases were decided in other ways.

Today, many of these methods seem ridiculous and cruel. Many accused people were forced to undergo a trial by ordeal. There were several different kinds of this trial. For example, in the ordeal by fire, an accused man was forced to carry a red-hot piece of iron in his hand. People believed that if the men were innocent then the gods would protect him, and his hand would not be burned or blistered by the iron. Another form of the trial by ordeal was the ordeal by combat. If one person accused another of a crime, they would be forced to fight each other with some weapon.

People believed that the gods would help the man who was right and allow him to win the fight. Yet another kind of ordeal was the ordeal by water. If a woman was accused of a crime, such as witchcraft, she might be thrown into a river with rocks attached to her. People believed that the gods would help an innocent woman and allow her to float on the water. Gradually, people realized that the trial by ordeal was a completely worthless way to judge a person's innocence or guilt. They wanted a less barbaric way to decide criminal cases. During the twelfth century, a new method was introduced by one of the kings of England, Henry the Second. Henry said that criminal cases should be decided by the opinions of twelve honest men who knew about the crime, the victim, and the accused person. This was the beginning of trial by jury in English-speaking countries, and the method soon became very popular. People trusted this new method much more than they trusted the old methods. Later, the system of trial by jury changed somewhat. Instead of having a jury of twelve men and women who knew about the crime, juries were chosen so that the twelve people did not know anything about the crime. This change ensures that the jurors do not have any bias or prejudice about the case. When jurors do not know any of the people involved in the case, their decisions are more likely to be fair and accurate.

Today, citizens in many countries are called occasionally for jury duty. This can be inconvenient for people who are busy with their work and family life. However, many men and women are willing to serve on juries because of a feeling of responsibility to society. The use of juries in criminal cases helps to ensure that justice is done.
0:00
0:00
 
  |  9047 learners#Culture #Essays

Many people admire the paintings and sculptures that artists create. Some very beautiful paintings and sculptures were created by two men who lived in the same country at the same time. These men were Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo. They both lived in Italy around the year 1500.

Leonardo da Vinci is most famous for his painting called the Mona Lisa. This is perhaps the best known painting in the world. The Mona Lisa shows the head and shoulders of a dark haired woman. When people look at this painting, they are often captivated by her smile and by her eyes, which have a look of mystery. Another painting of Leonardo's is called The Last Supper. This painting shows a famous scene from the Christian religion. In this painting, Jesus Christ is seated at the middle of a long table, with his followers the disciples seated around him. Many of the paintings that were created at this time have a religious theme.

Leonardo was not only an artist, he was also interested in engineering. He actually worked for some time as an advisor to a military leader, helping him to develop new machines for use in war. Leonardo also made rough drawings of machines that are similar to those that were invented much later, such as submarines and helicopters. Obviously, Leonardo was an extremely creative man.

Michelangelo was about 23 years younger than Leonardo. In addition to being a painter, Michelangelo was also a sculptor, and many experts consider him the greatest sculptor of all time. One of his most famous sculptures is David, which is a statue of a young man who was a famous figure in the Bible. Another great sculpture of Michelangelo's is called the Pieta. The Pieta shows Mary, mother of Jesus, holding the baby of her son across her lap.

Michelangelo is also famous for painting the ceiling of a church known as the Sistine Chapel. The leader of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Julius, asked Michelangelo to paint the ceiling of this new church. This project required many years of hard work, and the Pope complained that it took too long. However, when the work was finished, the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel was covered with beautiful paintings of many scenes from the Bible.

Fortunately, many of the works of Leonardo and of Michelangelo can still be seen today in the art galleries of Europe. During the past 500 years, the color of the paintings had faded somewhat, but in recent years, some work has been done to restore the paintings to their original appearance.
0:00
0:00
 
  |  9198 learners#General #Stories

I'm guessing you've heard of the acclaimed TV show Game of Thrones. Seven kingdoms vying for power, plots within plots, watch your back or lose your head. It's great.

But you've probably never heard of a real life drama that I call the Game of Loans. That's a game Washington politicians play on young people, that is, college students, every day.

Just like Game of Thrones, the Game of Loans has plots within plots, big winners and big losers.

The winners are politicians and colleges. They fool students into thinking that by generously providing ever-larger college loans to cover ever-larger tuition costs, they have earned student's votes at election time. Why do I say students are fooled? Because it is thanks to the very politicians who promise students more and more aid in league with the colleges that college tuition became so expensive in the first place.

Here's how the game works. According to Bloomberg News, since 1978, the cost of a college education has gone up by over 1000 percent. Way past the rate of inflation. Tuition alone at many colleges is 20, 40, even 50 thousand dollars a year! So, how do you pay for it? Answer: student loans, loans that the government is happy to give you since they collect the interest. You don't have to be a finance major to figure out that all these student loans give colleges no incentive to cut costs. Instead, it gives them every incentive to raise costs. Higher tuition obviously means more money for the college.

Now students were going to college in record numbers to study engineering or computer science or biology professions with high employment rates maybe these crazy sums would make some sense. Maybe. But the most common majors are in the social sciences and communications in subjects like sociology, cinema history and gender studies. Not surprisingly these majors have very high unemployment rates, as in, they don't prepare you for a job. And these majors are mainstream! You can get a degree in storytelling, bag piping and puppet arts for your fifty thousand a year.

But here's the point: colleges are no longer primarily about preparing you for a career. Today's higher education is about teaching you what a terrible country America is, social activism and binge drinking. Hey, if college didn't cost so much the parties might be worth it, but it does.

The average student loan debt in America is 28400 dollar per borrower. Note that this is per borrower, not graduate! Big difference. A large chunk of the one point three trillion dollar student loan liability is held by ex-students who never graduated. For every 100 students who enter a four-year college only 59 exit with a degree.

But maybe you're one of the lucky ones. You got a business degree and you found a decent job. Chances are you're paying off your student loans and will be for the next 10, 20 or even 30 years! Good luck saving money for a down payment on a house or just about anything else.

Mike Rowe from the TV show Dirty Jobs nicely summarized the issue this way: We are lending money we don't have to kids who can't pay it back to train them for jobs that no longer exist.

So, am I saying that college is always a waste of time and money? Of course not. But I am saying this:

One, remember that if you take out a student loan, it's not free money. You actually have to pay it back. I know this sounds ridiculously basic but it's also ridiculously important. And since you owe this money to the federal government, you can't get out of it, even if you declare bankruptcy.

Two, whenever you hear politicians say they want to make college more affordable, what they're really saying is that they want to get the youth vote while making it easier for you to dig yourself into a deep hole.

These politicians don't have your best interest at heart. They have their own best interest at heart namely, getting elected. You don't owe them anything.

The Game of Loans is rigged and not in your favor. But if you're smart about your choices, you can beat the odds.

I'm Charlie Kirk of Turning Point USA for Prager University.
0:00
0:00
 
  |  9590 learners#Economics #Speeches

Most people would like to have an attractive physical appearance, but some people become very worried about the way they look. This can sometimes lead them to do things that are unhealthy. For example, many women believe that they must be very thin in order to be attractive. They see pictures of fashion models who are very thin and then believe that an attractive woman must look the same way.

However, many men prefer the appearance of women who are not so thin. In order to become thin, some women try to reduce the amount of food that they eat. When this is taken to an extreme, a woman might eat far too little food to remain healthy. Her weight may become dangerously low, as she tries to become thinner and thinner. This condition is called anorexia, and it affects many thousands of women in Western countries. Anorexia is one of several conditions known as eating disorders. Another eating disorder is called bulimia. A woman who has bulimia will sometimes eat large amounts of food, but then will try to eliminate the food, by vomiting. This is intended to prevent any weight gain, but it is also a very unhealthy behavior.

Unfortunately, some women are concerned about being very thin, but some women have different concerns related to the appearance of their body. For example, some women believe that their breasts are not large enough, and will undergo surgery to enlarge their breasts. In this surgery, some artificial substance is implanted inside the breast to make it larger. Many women have had this surgery, but many of them have suffered serious health problems as a result. In recent years, many men have also become very concerned about their physical appearance. For example, some men believe that they must become very muscular in order to have an attractive appearance. To achieve this appearance, some men use drugs called steroids, which make it possible to gain large amounts of muscle. However, steroids can have very unhealthy side effects.

In addition to drugs, some men have used surgery to change their physical appearance. For example, some men have had implants to make their arms, legs, or chest appear larger. It is unfortunate that so many people feel so unhappy about their physical appearance and that they do unhealthy things to change the way they look. Of course, everyone should try to be healthy, but people must also learn to accept their physical appearance. Many different body types can be attractive, but there is no single ideal body type. There is no need to use unnatural methods of changing one's body.
0:00
0:00
 
  |  10541 learners#Social #Essays

I want to talk to you about a new feminism for the 21st century. There are three pillars to this new feminism: Dignity. The word no. And men. That's right, men.

But before I expound on these three ideas, you need to know something about me. I was very involved in the feminist movement, including being on the board of directors of the National Organization for Women. For this I feel much pride and some guilt. Pride because feminism has pushed forward some very important and needed changes; and guilt because it has also done a lot of damage. My work now is to reverse that damage.

So in that spirit, let's talk about the first pillar of this new feminism: dignity.

Dignity is at the core of what feminism should always be about. Dignity means that a woman should be able to freely choose her own path in life. That's what feminism once held. But does it still? Ask almost any female college student today what she aspires to be and she'll list any number of career choices. The one she won't list is wife and mother. In fact any time someone has the temerity to suggest that a woman might want to look for a husband while in college, as a very successful Princeton grad recently did in a letter to the school's newspaper, feminists go nuts. A new feminism will value and respect all responsible choices.

And while we're talking about dignity, I can't think of anything less dignified for women than the feminist belief that in the sexual arena, women are like, and therefore ought to act like, men. Is this what the truly liberated woman wants? To have casual sex and think nothing of it like men do? That's what feminism aspires to? Sad to say the answer has too often been yes.

So, let's add this up: Feminism has downplayed the desire for women to have a family while at the same time hyping the rewards of career and casual sex. Not exactly a recipe for success or happiness.

The second pillar of a new feminism is the word: no. It's very much tied in with the first pillar.

Throughout history women have made great use of the word: no. Of course many times women said: yes, when they should have said no, and that's the basis of more than a few classic stories and novels. But this was the exception, not the rule. There is great power in that word: no. And women, for the most part, knew how to wield that power. But in the last few decades they've lost it. And the consequences have been catastrophic.

Women, who fought not to be treated as sex objects, have become more objectified than ever. You see it everywhere: in music videos, on billboards, in the hookup culture on campuses. And now we have the tawdry spectacle of teenage girls sexually pursuing teenage boys the way boys pursued girls. How did this happen? Because feminism began to advocate that women should behave like men. Whatever men did and however they did it, that's what women should do. Feminists were angry at men, but they wanted to be like them at the same time. No wonder our society is so confused.

Women are robbing themselves of the ability to say no; the solution is to take that power back. This is especially true for young women. Saying: no, means, I will not be defined by anyone else, not by feminists, and not by men's sexual desires. That is female power.

This is a good segue to my third pillar of a new feminism, men. It is easy for feminists to forget this, but it was men who gave up their monopoly on political power and gave women the right to vote, men who invented birth control, the refrigerator, the washing machine, and so many other devices that liberated women.

And men are different from women. Academics like to speculate that men and women are basically the same, that they're only socialized differently, but as George Orwell famously noted: that's an idea that only an intellectual would be foolish enough to believe.

Moreover, the sexes need each other. For example, women civilize men. It's what we are supposed to do. But in order to accomplish this critical task, we must preserve our dignity.

Not be afraid to use the word no, and, see men as partners, not as competitors, let alone oppressors.

That's the way to a new feminism. And the way to a better world for both sexes.
0:00
0:00
 
  |  9278 learners#Politic #Speeches

Why is the government so bad at healthcare? They've been at it for seventy-five years and still can't get it right. It's expensive. Access is spotty. It's mired in bureaucracy. And it's fraught with waste.

Obamacare was supposed to fix all this, but instead, like every other government healthcare program before it, it just made things worse. Why? Because the government is a third-party payer.

Let me explain. Suppose you are going to buy something for yourself. You have two priorities: price and quality. You want the highest quality for the lowest possible price.

Say you're buying a television. You have many options: the size of the screen, the quality of the image, the price. Only you know which one best suits your needs and your budget. And a lot of companies are competing for your business. You do your research; you make your choice.

This is called a first-party purchase, the person paying is the person using.

Now, let's suppose that either the price or quality is not controlled by you; in this case, you are buying something for someone else. You care about the price because you are paying for it, but you are a little more flexible on the quality. A good example would be a wedding gift, say, a coffee maker.

You might think, by the time it breaks they'll forget who gave it to them anyway the cheaper one will be fine.

All of us have bought things for others we never would have bought for ourselves. We care about the price because we're paying for it, but not so much about the quality because we're not going to use it.

Or, suppose that we're going to use something, but we're not going to pay for it. Then we're concerned about the quality because we're consuming it, but the cost is not as important because we're not paying for it. Any father who ever got roped into paying for an open bar at a wedding understands this program. Nobody ever orders the cheap stuff when it's free.

These are called second-party purchases. The person paying is not the person using.

And now, for the coup de grace: when it is not your money paying for something, and you don't use it. Then you're not concerned about either the price or the quality.

Suppose the boss gives you 150 dollars to buy a door prize for the office party. In a store window, you see a six-foot tall stuffed frog marked 149 dollars You think, Oh, that's perfect, let's buy it. The raffle winner is awarded the six-foot frog. Everyone laughs at the gag.

Now, this is called a third-party purchase, a purchase that is made with money that is not yours, therefore you don't care about the cost, to buy something you're not going to consume therefore you don't care about the quality.

Here's the point: By definition, all government purchases are third-party purchases. The government spends other people's money on things it won't consume. It doesn't care about the price or the quality. Thus, there will always be waste in government spending.

That is why, to paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, government should do only those things that a man can't do better for himself.

If 300 million Americans were free to buy health insurance for themselves, just as they buy their own life and home and car insurance, then that little gecko on television would offer us health insurance with a little more coverage for a little less cost.

And he wouldn't be the only one. Insurance companies and hospitals would be working night and day to get our business. Quality would go up, and prices would go down. It's already happened with laser eye surgery. It used to cost 2200 dollars per eye. Now it can cost as low as 500 dollars per eye. That's the way free enterprise competition works every time.

But when the government gets involved, costs go up, waste and fraud go up, essential medical services are denied or unavailable. These are the hallmarks of government healthcare bureaucracies around the globe.

The sooner we make health insurance a first-party purchase again, the sooner Americans will get the health care they want finally.
0:00
0:00
 
  |  9131 learners#Politic #Speeches

Do you believe in free speech? Do you believe that people should be judged by their character, not their skin color? Do you believe in freedom of religion?

If you believe these things, you're probably not a progressive. You might think you're a progressive. I used to think I was. My show, The Rubin Report, was originally part of the progressive Young Turks network. Progressives struck me as liberals, but louder. Progressives were the nice guys; they looked out for the little guy; they cared about women and minorities; they embraced change.

In short, who wouldn't want to be a progressive?

But over the last couple years, the meaning of the word progressive has changed.

Progressives used to say, I may disagree with what you say, but I will fight to the death for your right to say it. Not anymore.

Banning speakers whose opinions you don't agree with from college campuses, that's not progressive. Prohibiting any words not approved of as politically correct, that's not progressive. Putting Trigger Warnings on books, movies, music, anything that might offend people, that's not progressive either.

All of this has led me to be believe that much of the left is no longer progressive, but regressive. This is one of the reasons I've spent so much time on my show talking about The Regressive Left.

This regressive ideology doesn't judge people as individuals, but as a collective.

If you're black, or female, or Muslim, or Hispanic, or a member of any other minority group, you're judged differently than the most evil of all things: a white, Christian male. The Regressive Left ranks minority groups in a pecking order to compete in a kind of Oppression Olympics. Gold medal goes to the most offended.

Martin Luther King, Jr.'s dream that his children would be judged by their character and not their skin color was a liberal idea, but these days, it's not a progressive ideal.

And what about religious freedom, the idea that no one else can tell you what you have to believe? Surely progressives still support that basic right. Well, not so much.

I'm a married gay man, so you might think that I appreciate the government forcing a Christian baker or photographer or florist to act against their religion in order to cater, photograph or decorate my wedding. But you'd be wrong. A government that can force Christians to violate their conscience can force me to violate mine. If a baker won't bake you a cake, find another baker; don't demand that the state tell him what to do with his private business.

I'm pro-choice. But a government that can force a group of Catholic nuns, literally called the Little Sisters of the Poor, to violate their faith and pay for abortion-inducing birth control can force anyone to do anything.

That's not progressive; that's regressive!

Today's progressivism has become a faux-moral movement hurling charges of racism, bigotry, xenophobia, homophobia, Islamophobia and a slew of other meaningless buzzwords at anyone they disagree with.

The battle of ideas has been replaced by a battle of feelings, and outrage has replaced honesty. Diversity reigns supreme, as long as it's not that pesky diversity of thought.

This isn't the recipe for a free society, it's a recipe for authoritarianism.

For these reasons, I can no longer call myself a progressive. I don't really call myself a Democrat either. I'm a classical liberal, a free thinker, and as much as I don't like to admit it, defending my liberal values has suddenly become a conservative position.

So, if you think people should be able to say what they think without being punished for it; that people should be judged by their behavior, not their skin color; and that people should be able to live the way that they want to live, without government interference, then there's not much left on the left for you.

I'll keep trying to explain that to progressives until I'm totally left out.
0:00
0:00
 
  |  9043 learners#Politic #Speeches
Not completed (0 - 99%)  |   Passed (100%)  |   Failed (< 100%)  |   Not learned (0%)

The filters

Reset

New lessons

Trees in the Forest
Basic - American
Bird watching
Basic - Others
Growing roses
Basic - American
Let's recycle
Basic - American
A Picnic by the River
Basic - American
The history of tea
Advanced - American