Activities

Reading comprehension

The objective of this activity is to practise the comprehension of a written text and write the answers in well-structured and complete sentences.

Read the following text and then answer the questions below.

Myths and truths about Social Security

It happened during the stock boom of the 1990s, and it is happening again. Social Security is coming under attack. The first challenge arose from hope that savers would get more retirement income for their money if they bought stocks. But the idea of privatization was not popular with the public.

Now, the attack comes from fear that Social Security has serious financial problems and can only fail. Younger people lean more toward change than older people do. A CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll conducted a year ago found that 60 percent of adults who aren’t retired expect to get nothing from Social Security in their older age.

They’re mistaken. As misinformation and mistrust grow, however, it becomes important to explore — and explode — several Social Security myths that endanger the system’s public support.

Myth No. 1: Social Security is going bankrupt. No, it’s not. Even in the unlikely event that nothing changes and the program’s entire surplus runs out in 2033, as projected, checks would keep coming. Payroll taxes at current rates would cover 77 percent of all the future benefits promised. That’s true for young and old alike, and includes inflation adjustments.

Myth No. 2: I’d be better off if I’d kept my Social Security taxes in my own investment account. Hmmm ­ ­ — you’re saying that you’d faithfully put that money aside, every year of your working life, in a mix of stocks and bonds, without ever skipping a year, drawing on your nest egg or selling when the market dropped? Few such paragons exist.

You’d need to invest far more than you probably realize to match the benefits that Social Security pays. As an example, take a 65-year-old couple with a single breadwinner who earned the average wage. At retirement, they’d currently get about 2,170 dollars a month, plus inflation adjustments, for life, the Urban Institute reports.

To equal that sum in private savings, they’d need to have about 580,000 dollars, says Michael Kitces, director of research for Pinnacle Advisory Group, and the money might last only 30 years. How many average earners are likely to save that much?

From www.aarp.org

Questions:

  1. How did the first attack on the Social Security system come about?
  2. Where does the attack on the Social Security come from nowadays?
  3. Why won’t the Social Security go bankrupt in 2033, as predicted?
  4. What’s does the second myth about the Social Security say, according to the text?
  5. What does the text say to destroy that second myth?

Suggested answers:

  1. The first attack arose from the hope that savers would get more retirement income for their money if they bought stocks.
  2. Nowadays, the attack comes from fear that Social Security has serious financial problems and can only fail.
  3. Because the payroll taxes at current rates would cover 77 percent of all the future benefits promised.
  4. It says that people would be better off if they kept their Social Security taxes in their own investment accounts.
  5. The text says that people need to invest far more than they probably realize to match the benefits that Social Security pays.

Speaking: giving instructions

The objective of this activity is to practise the speaking skills by giving instructions.

Give at least five different instructions to a person who tells you that he/she wants to keep himself/herself in good health. Record and listen to your sentences to check your pronunciation.

Note: there’s no correct answer to this question. To check your pronunciation, type your answers in the text editor in the ‘Text-to-speech’ website and then listen to the pronunciation. Practise as much as you want by repeating the words that you hear.

Listening comprehension

The aim of this activity is to check your listening comprehension by listening to a text.

Listen to the text and then answer the questions:

Social work ( 830.6 KB )

  1. What does the speaker think that the government should do?
  2. What should the governments use taxes for, according to the speaker?
  3. What does the speaker think about social workers?
  4. What would people think about spending money on social work?
  5. What seems that it’s happenning with social work today?

Suggested answers:

  1. He thinks the governments should spend more money on social work.
  2. According to the speaker, the governments should use taxes to help old people with no money or one-parent families.
  3. He thinks that there should be more social workers.
  4. They would think that it is a good thing.
  5. It seems that social work is becoming less important.

Transcription:

I think my government should spend more money on social work. We spend so much on weapons and things that don’t help people. It’s sad this happens when there are so many people who need help. I want the tax I pay to help old people who have no money or one-parent families. If more money was spent on people who need help, our society would be better. I always thought that’s what a government was for – to help people. There should also be more social workers. I’m sure if governments asked people, they would say spending more money on social work is a good thing. It seems as though social work is becoming less important. Just look at the number of homeless in the streets of the world’s richest countries.

Expressing abilities

The objective of this activity is to practise the use of the modal verb can to express ability in the present and in the past.

Write 6 things that you can or can’t do now.

Now say 6 things that you could or couldn’t do when you were a child.

Write 6 things that you can or can’t do now. Suggested answers:

  1. I can speak English quite well.
  2. I can drive a car.
  3. I can swim.
  4. I can’t play the violin.
  5. I can’t stay at home everyday.
  6. I can’t ski.

Say 6 things that you could or couldn’t do when you were a child. Suggested answers:

  1. I could watch television all the time.
  2. I could sleep until late at weekends.
  3. I could read.
  4. I couldn’t go to bed late.
  5. I couldn’t go out with my friends.
  6. I couldn’t speak English.

Expressing possibility

The objective of this activity is to practise the use of the modal verbs may or might to express possibility.

Say 6 things that may or may not happen if the following situation comes true, as in the example. Remember that may and might have the same meaning, but with might, the possibility is seen as more remote.

If the economic crisis continues for a long time, …

Example: We may have lots of problems.

Suggested answers:

  1. I may lose my job.
  2. I might sell my house.
  3. The government may lose the next election.
  4. We might not go on holiday in summer.
  5. I may not have money.
  6. I may not go to the gym anymore.

Expressing obligation

The objective of this unit is to practise the use of the modal verbs must and should to express obligation.

Remember that the modal verb must is used to express a strong obligation, usually, but not always, established by the law. Say 6 things that you must or mustn’t do.

On the other hand, the modal verb should is used to express a moral obligation, that is, an action which is not prohibited, but it is advisable to do. Now say 6 things that you should or shouldn’t do to learn English.

Say 6 things that you must or mustn’t do. Suggested answers:

  1. I must drive on the right.
  2. I must go to work to earn a salary.
  3. I must study hard to pass the exams.
  4. I mustn’t smoke in restaurants.
  5. I mustn’t light a fire in the woods in summer.
  6. I mustn’t sleep at work.

Say 6 things that you should or shouldn’t do to learn English. Suggested answers:

  1. I should use a dictionary to look up unknown words.
  2. I should practise speaking with a native speaker.
  3. I should do the grammar activities.
  4. I shouldn’t use automatic translators all the time.
  5. I shouldn’t watch films dubbed into Spanish.
  6. I shouldn’t study only one hour a week.

Predictions

The objective of this activity is to practise the use of the future to make predictions.

Imagine our world in 100 years’ time. Make 6 predictions. Begin like this:

In 100 years’ time, I think that …

Suggested answers:

In 100 years’ time, I think that…

  1. humans will live in Mars.
  2. many countries won’t exist.
  3. we will do all shopping through the internet.
  4. robots will do all our work.
  5. temperatures on the planet will be warmer.
  6. there will be a lot of electric cars.

[Remember!: predictions are always expressed with the modal will]

Plans

The objective of this activity is to practise the use of the future to express your plans.

Write 6 plans that you have made for next year. Begin like this:

Next year …

Suggested answers:

Next year …

  1. I am going to stop smoking.
  2. I am going to study German at the EOI.
  3. I am going to change my car.
  4. I am not going to stay at home on holidays.
  5. I am going to do more exercise.
  6. I am going to paint my house.

[Remember!: to express the plans that you have for the future, you must use the form with be going to]

Instructions

The objective of this unit is to practise the use of the imperative form and the connectors to write an appropriate text giving instructions.

Write a text with the appropriate instructions in case of fire in the house. Remember to use the imperative form of the verb and the correct connectors to link different ideas.

Suggested answer:

What to do in case of fire: (imperative forms are in bold type; connectors are in italics)

First of all, keep calm. Then call the emergency number and next go out of the flat as quick as possible, but don’t use the lift. If there’s fire or smoke in the stairway, don’t try to go out. Go back inside. Close the windows and put a towel on the crack under the door to prevent the smoke from getting into the house. If in spite of everything there’s smoke in the house, put a wet cloth on your nose and mouth and then walk on all fours. Finally wait for help and be attentive to the firefighters arrival. Follow their instructions.

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Self-correcting exercises