Elementary

Test 1. Making a shopping list.

— Let’s have a party.

— It’s a great idea! What food do we need for it?

— Can you go shopping and buy some ham and bread.

— How much shall I buy?

— I think half a kilo of ham is enough and a loaf of bread.

— Do we need anything else?

— Yes, we have nothing for tea. Buy some buscuits.

— OK, what about drinks?

— You can get a bottle of red wine. And don’t forget about eggs.

— What do you need eggs for?

— I want to make a small cake.

— How many shall I buy?

— A dozen.

— So, let’s check what we have on the list: ham, bread, wine, biscuits and eggs.

Test 2. Martin Brown’s Family

— Hello, my name is Martin Brown. How are you?

— Fine. Nice to meet you. What do you do?

— I am a teacher.

— Great! You love children?

— Yes, I do.

— Have you got your own children?

— Yes, I’ve got a son. His name is Steve.

— What is he like?

— He is of medium height with short dark wavy hair and grey eyes. He is rather outgoing and he is good at computers.

— Where do you live?

— We live at 25 Summer Street. We have our own cottage. There are two floors in it.

— Is there a garage?

— Sure, the garage is in front of the house.

— What people live next door?

— Our neighbours are kind and friendly.

Test 3. Buying fruit

Customer: Can I have a kilo and a half of tangerines and half a kilo of nuts?

Greengrocer: Here you are. Look at these grapes! They are very sweet.

Would you like to try some?

C: Mmm… How much does a kilo cost?

G: They are $3 per kilo.

C: OK. I’ll take half a kilo, please.

G: Do you need anything else?

C: I think that’s all. How much is everything?

G: Let me add this up… $9.25.

C: I can also give you the 25 cents.

G: OK. Your change is $11. Thanks for your purchase.

Test 4. Buying an outfit for a party

Assistant: Hi. Can I help you find anything?

Customer: Yes. I am looking for an outfit for a Christmas party.

A: Is it formal or informal?

C: It is pretty informal, I think.

A: What size are you looking for?

C: I think about a size 10.

A: Okay, here is a couple. Would you like to try them on?

C: Yes, please.

A: Our fitting rooms are back here. How do they fit?

C: The first one doesn’t fit right but I really like the second one.

A: Great! Just to let you know, it’s in the sale so there are no refunds or ex­changes.

C: That’s fine. I know it will look great at the party.

A: Thank you and come again.

Test 5. Renting accommodation

Karen: Ooh, Tom! Look at this house! Isn’t it lovely?

Tom: Yes, it is, but look at the cost! It’s 800 a month! That’s far too expensive for us.

K: But Tom, look! It says here it’s only five miles from the city centre^ Four bedrooms. Two bathrooms ^ and look, downstairs it’s got a spacious living room, a kitchen, a dining room, a study and a small bathroom ^ and that’s not all. It’s also got a large garden and a double garage.

T: Hang on! What’s this? Now this sounds perfect for us, it’s only 300 a month.

K: Let me see. Mm, an attractive flat near the city centre ^ two bedrooms, a large bathroom ^ what else? A modern kitchen, a comfortable living room and look — a study. Yes, this sounds nice.

T: Yes, and it’s got a garden and a garage. Let’s go and see the flat then, eh?

K: Sounds good to me.

Pre-Intermediate

Test 1. Staying at a Hotel

1.1. Alton Towers — Where the Magic Never Ends!

The Alton Towers Hotel is set in the heart of Staffordshire’s scenic countryside in the north-west of England. It is only minutes away from Britain’s most magical theme park, Alton Towers. Like the park, the hotel offers guests the chance to experience a delightful holiday full of fun and surprises.

The first thing you’ll notice when you enter the hotel is the extraordinary reception desk, which is made of piles of antique luggage, and a flying machine which stretches up to the ceiling! The hotel also offers an amazing range of themed rooms and suites. These include the Peter Rabbit Bedrooms, the Garden Rooms, the Explorer Room, the Cadbury’s Chocolate Bedroom, the Coca-Cola Fizzy Factory Room, and the Arabian Nights Suite, which is possibly the most romantic hotel suite in the world. All the bedrooms and suites have a bathroom, tea — and coffee-making facilities, satellite TV and a baby-listening facility.

You’ll never get bored at the Alton Towers Hotel, even during rainy or cold weather! After a thrilling day at the park, you can relax in the pool at the Pirate’s Lagoon. Kids can join Pirate Bill’s Club, which is a great opportunity to make new friends while taking part in games, drawing, face-painting and lots more, with Pirate Bill himself! The Secret Garden Restaurant offers delicious dishes from around the world, while the hotel’s two bars, the Dragon Bar and the Captain’s Bar, are both ideal places to relax with a coffee or a cocktail in the evening.

The Alton Towers Hotel is the ideal place for a fun family holiday at any time of the year, but don’t forget that the theme park is only open from mid-March to the end of October. Remember, Alton Tower is the land where the magic never ends, so book early! Please check our price guide for current prices.

1.2. The Ice Hotel

Looking for an exiting winter getaway? Then try the Ice Hotel in northern Sweden and spend a few days in a giant igloo. 2,000 tons of ice and 30,000 tons of snow are needed to build the Ice Hotel every year. When the thermometer hits 3 degrees below freezing, the building of the hotel starts.

The hotel has rooms for over 100 guests, as well as an ice sauna, a cinema, the Ice Chapel and the world-famous Absolute Ice Bar. The temperature inside the hotel is minus 3 degrees Celsius, but that seems warm when you compare it to the temperature outside, which can fall below minus 30 degrees Celsius.

Before bedtime, have a meal prepared by master chefs, then visit the Absolute Ice Bar, where you might just meet your favourite model or actor, or enjoy a crystal-clear view of the starry Arctic sky. When it’s time for bed, don’t worry about keeping warm. The Ice Hotel provides guests with warm sleeping bags to sleep in. Guests wake up to a hot drink, after which they can enjoy an early morning sauna and a tasty breakfast.

Arctic is the perfect place for outdoor activities such as dog-sledding, ice-fishing and skiing. If you haven’t got skis, the staff at the reception will provide you with everything you need.

A visit to the Ice Hotel is an unforgettable experience and the perfect way to liven up you winter. Don’t miss the chance of a lifetime!

Test 2. Famous People: Bill Gates

Everyone has heard of Bill Gates, one of the richest and most successful people in the world. Microsoft, the business he started with a friend in 1975, has become the world’s largest computer software company, and Gates was the world’s youngest billionaire at the age of 31.

His full name is William Henry Gates III, and he was born on 28th October, 1955, in Seattle, USA. At school, Bill soon showed that he was very intelligent, and especially good at Maths and Science. His parents decided to send him to Lakeside, the private school where he first began to use computers. 13-year-old Bill Gates and his schoolfriend Paul Allen were soon spending all their time writing programs and learning about computers instead of doing their schoolwork! After finishing school in 1973, Bill went to Harvard, America’s most famous university. The next year, he and Paul Allen wrote an operating program for the Altair, one of the world’s first microcomputers. The two friends started Microsoft in 1975, and Gates left Harvard. Before long, Microsoft was a major business success. Since then, the company has continued to grow, producing most of the world’s leading PC software. One reason for his success is that Gates has always been very ambitious and hardworking. This has not left him much time for a normal personal life, but in 1994 he married Melinda French, a Microsoft employee, and in 1995 he wrote a best-selling book, The Road Ahead.

Bill has mixed feelings about spending so much time running Microsoft. ‘There are a lot of experiences I haven’t had, but I do like my job,’ he says. When he does find time to relax, he likes puzzles, golf and reading about science. For such a rich person, his life is simple, and he spends little on himself and his family. When it comes to helping others, though, Gates is very generous. He has already given huge amounts of money to charity, and says that he plans to give away almost all of his wealth when he retires.

Test 3. Mr. Gray

Mr. Gray travelled a lot on business. He sold machines of various kinds to farmers. It was not really a very exciting job, but Mr. Gray had always been interested in farming, and he was quite satisfied with his life.

He had a big car, and usually enjoyed driving it long distances, but he was quite satisfied to go by train sometimes too, especially when the weather was bad. He was a little frightened of driving in rain or snow, and it was less tiring to sit comfortably in a train and look out of the window without being worried about how one was going to get to the next place.

One of Mr. Gray’s problems was often where to stay when he reached some small place in the country. He didn’t expect great comfort and wonderful food, but he found it annoying when he was given a cold room, and there was no hot water or good food after a long and tiring day.

Late one winter evening, Mr. Gray arrived at a small railway station. The journey by train that day had not been at all interesting, and Mr. Gray was cold and tired and hungry. He was looking forward to a simple but a satisfying meal by a brightly burning fire, and then a hot bath and a comfortable bed.

While he was walking to the taxi rank, he said to a local man who was also walking there, ‘As this is my first visit to this part of the country and I was in too much of a hurry to find out about the hotels before I left home, I would very much like to know how many you have here.’

The local man answered, ‘We have two.’

And which of the two would you advise me to go to?» Mr. Gray asked then.

The local man scratched his head for a few moments and then answered, ‘Well, it’s like this: whichever one you go to, you’ll be sorry you didn’t go to the other.’

Test 4. Mrs. Hammond

Mrs. Hammond was old and blind, but she was determined to do everything for herself. She even used to go for walks alone from her cottage once a day for exercise and fresh air, and found her way by touching things with her white stick. She learnt where everything was, so she never lost her way.

But then one day some men came and cut down some of the familiar pine trees at the side of one of the paths which she followed. When she reached that place that evening, she didn’t feel the trees with her stick, so she was in difficulties.

She stopped for a minute and listened, but she didn’t hear any other people, so she went ahead for a kilometer or two, and then she heard water beneath her.

‘Water?’ she said aloud, and paused. ‘Am I lost? I suppose so. I must be on a bridge, I suppose, and there must be a river under me. I’ve been told that there’s a river in this part of the country, but I don’t know its exact position. How am I going to get to my cottage from here?’

All at once she heard a man’s friendly voice near her. It said, ‘Excuse me, can I help you?’

‘How kind of you!’ Mrs. Hammond answered. ‘Yes, please. I’m lost. Some of the trees which I follow when I go for my walk every evening had been removed today, and if I hadn’t been lucky enough to come across you, I don’t know what I’d have done. Can you please help me to get home?’

‘Certainly’, the man answered. ‘Where do you live?’ Mrs. Hammond told him, and they began walking. The man took Mrs. Hammond to her cottage, and she invited him in and gave him some coffee and a piece of cake. She told the man how grateful she was that she had met him.

‘Don’t thank me’, he answered. ‘I want to thank you.’

‘Thank me?’ Mrs. Hammond said. ‘Whatever for?’

‘Well’, the man answered quietly, ‘I was balanced on the edge of the bridge for ages in the dark, because I was trying to make up my mind to throw myself into the river and drown myself. But I’m not going to do it now.’

Test 5. Jim and Mrs. Roper

Jim lived with his parents until he was twenty-one years old, and then he got a job in the office of a big factory in another town, so he left home. He found a comfortable little flat which had two rooms, a small kitchen and a bathroom, and he lived there on his own.

At first he cleaned it himself, but he didn’t want to have to go on doing this, so he determined himself to find someone else to do it instead of him. He asked a lot of his fellow workers at the factory what they did about this, and at last one of the men said, ‘Oh, Mrs. Roper comes and cleans my flat regularly. She washes the dishes, irons my shirts and keeps the place neat and tidy and so on. I’ll introduce her to you, if you like. She’s a charming old lady. She does her best, but she hasn’t got much energy.’

‘Well, you’d better ask her to come and see me, please,’ Jim answered. So the next evening Mrs. Roper came to see him, and she agreed with pleasure to come to his flat every morning for an hour.

After she had been working for Jim for two weeks, he looked at the mirror in the bedroom and thought, ‘This mirror looks very dusty. Mrs. Roper’s forgotten to clean it. I can write on it with my finger.’ He wrote the message in the dust: ‘I’m coughing whenever I breathe because everything in this room is very dusty.’

He came home at 7 o’clock that evening, and when he had eaten his supper, he went into his bedroom and looked at the mirror. ‘That silly woman still hasn’t cleaned it!’ he said to himself. ‘All it needs is a cloth!’

But then he bent down and saw a bottle in front of the mirror. ‘I didn’t put that bottle there,’ he thought. ‘Mrs. Roper must have left it.’ He picked the bottle up and looked at it carefully.

‘She’s written some words on it,’ he said to himself. He read the words. They were: ‘Cough medicine.’

Intermediate

Test 1. Winter Festivals

‘Winter has a cold heart,’ said the writer, Christina Rosetti. But is it a sad season? Not at all. For thousands of years, winter festivals have brought light and colour to the darkest time of year.

The earliest festival lights were candles. Romans tied them to trees for their Saturnalia festival. During Saturnalia week — 17 to 24 December — people gave each other gifts. And they couldn’t work or fight wars. The Celts also used candles for their Imbolic festival, on 2 February. Imbolic was a celebration of light returning after winter. On festival day, candles were put in the windows of the family home. Outside, the men lit fires. The women were braver. They wore a crown of candles on their heads.

Some of today’s festivals use this same tradition. The most famous of these is Sweden’s Lucia’s Day, on 13 December. Catholics say that Lucia was a young Roman girl. While she lived, her people were attacking Christians for their religion. Lucia felt sorry for the Christians and wanted to help. When night came, she wore a crown of candles. The Christians followed her crown of lights through tunnels under the ground and escaped. On Lucia’s Day, the eldest daughter of the family wears a long white dress, a red sash and a crown of candles. She walks through the house and gives food and drink to other people in the family. Male children walk behind her. They carry silver stars and sing St Lucia’s song.

In the east, India’s Diwali festival is also a celebration of light and colour. Diwali means ‘night of lights’ and celebrates the Hindu New Year. The festival lasts for five days. Indians fill their houses with candles, lamps and bright flowers. And they wish for happiness in the next year.

Candles are also important in the Jewish festival of Chanukah. It begins on 22 December and lasts for eight days. Every evening another candle is lit on the menorah (a traditional candle-stick). People give each other money and give children small gifts.

In western homes, decorating the Christmas tree is an old tradition. In the past people decorated trees with candles. But today people decorate their trees with yellow stars and balls of red, silver and gold.

Most churches also prefer candlelight for their Christmas festivals. England’s ‘Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols’ from King’s College, Cambridge, is a world-famous example. The festival starts at midnight on 24 December. Boys with candles walk slowly to the front of the church as they sing the first carol.

From east to west, winter brings cold weather and long nights. But its festivals all bring light, colour and warmth to people’s homes. Everyone celebrates and hopes for a happy new year.

Test 2. It’s Carnival Time!

At this time of year, in cities as different as Venice and Rio de Janeiro, men and women are putting on masks and unusual costumes. Why? Because it’s carnival time! The carnival tradition began two thousand years ago, with the Roman winter festival of Saturnalia. During the festival, people from different classes ate together, drank together and sometimes slept together! With the arrival of the Christian religion, the Roman festival became a Christian one. The word ‘carnival’ means ‘goodbye to meat’. For Christians, Carnival was a time when they ate well and had fun before ‘Lent’ — a time when Christians tried to eat less. Carnival always ended on Shrove Tuesday, the day before Lent began.

Carnival mostly takes place in countries like Spain, Italy and South America, countries with a strong Roman Catholic tradition. The most famous carnivals take place in Venice, Rio de Janeiro, and New Orleans. Today, the main idea of carnival is to wear costumes that change how you look and enjoy the fun. In Rio de Janeiro and New Orleans, there are exciting street parties with music and dancing. Thousands of people fill the streets, many in costume. In Rio it’s traditional for men to dress as women at carnival time. In both cities, wonderful floats carrying people dressed in colourful costumes pass slowly through the streets. Musicians and dancers follow them. It’s something that once you see, you don’t forget!

In Europe, there are fancy dress dances and masked dances. People spend months making their costumes. The ten-day Venice carnival is probably the most famous European festival. The beautiful old houses and the green waters of the city make it an excellent place to have a carnival. It always begins in the famous Piazza San Marco, probably the most beautiful city square in the whole world. Thousands come to the carnival and sometimes Venice is so full of people that the entrance to the city has to be closed. The narrow streets are full of people in beautiful costumes. In the many squares of Venice, musicians play, and the theatres are always full.

All you need to become part of the carnival in Venice is a mask, and you can find these in every shop. You can buy the masks already painted if you want, but many people buy a simple white mask and paint it themselves. Once you have your mask, you should go to a masked dance. Or, if you’re wearing a costume, you could win a fancy dress competition. In Venice the best masked dances are private, but there are many dances that are open to everyone, and they’re great fun too.

In the last days of the carnival, there are parties by the side of the canals. Then on Shrove Tuesday there’s always a big masked dance in the Piazza San Marco again. Above the square, fireworks light up the night sky. At midnight the bells ring above the square to tell you that it’s the end of the festival. Then it’s time to go home and become your ordinary self again.

Test 3. World Music

On 19 November 2000, thousands of people in New York went to the Great African Ball. The star was Youssou N’Dour, a singer from Senegal. Twenty years ago, African and Asian music was not heard much in Europe or America. Then suddenly, in the 1980s, everybody was listening. Why was World Music suddenly so popular? Because some famous rock stars from the 1970s — Peter Gabriel, Ry Cooder and Paul Simon — made albums with musicians from African and Asian countries.

When English singer Peter Gabriel left the rock group Genesis in 1975, he became interested in World Music. He organized the first World of Music, Arts and Dance Festival (WOMAD) in 1982. There are now WOMAD festivals every year all over the world. Many musicians and singers who have played at WOMAD festivals — people like Youssou N’Dour and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan from Pakistan — have become international stars.

Youssou N’Dour started his first group in Senegal in 1979. Senegalese taxi drivers in Paris introduced his music to French listeners. Then Peter Gabriel heard Youssou N’Dour and invited him to sing with him on a world tour. He also asked him to sing on his 1986 album, So. The album was a great success. Since then Youssou N’Dour has had his own international hit — 7 seconds — which he sang with Neneh Cherry, and sold albums all over the world.

Ry Cooder is famous now for the album The Buena Vista Social Club (1997) — recorded with Cuban musicians Compay Segundo (age 92) and Ruben Gonzalez (age 80), who were famous in Cuba in the 1950s. But in the 1960s he played on Rolling Stones’ records. His first World Music album was recorded in 1993. He made A Meeting by the River with Indian musician V. M. Bhatt. This won a Grammy award. His next album, Talking Timbuktu (1994), with Malian musician Ali Farka Toure, won another Grammy

Simon and Garfunkel were famous pop stars in the 1960s. They split up in 1970, and Paul Simon worked as a singer-songwriter. But in the 1980s he became less popular. He went to South Africa for new ideas. In 1986, he made an album, Graceland, with black South African musicians. It became one of the most popular albums of the 1980s. ‘Paul Simon is stealing music from another country to help his own career,’ some people said. But Graceland helped to make South African music world famous. In 1990 Simon made an album, Rhythm of the Saints, with musicians from Brazil.

Millions of people in Europe and America are now listening to World Music. There will be another Great African Ball in New York next year. Everybody is welcome. But if you can’t be in New York next November, don’t worry. You can still find Youssou N’Dour and many other World Music stars at a record shop near you!

Test 4. Mobile Phones: Useful or Dangerous?

Why are mobiles so popular? Because people love to talk to each other. And it is easier with a mobile phone. People think mobile phones are fun and useful. In countries like Russia and China, people use mobile phones in places where there is no ordinary telephone. Business people use mobiles when they’re travelling. In some countries, like Japan, many people use their mobile phones to send e-mail messages and access the Internet. They use a new kind of mobile phone called ‘i-mode’. You can even use a mobile phone to listen to music.

Mobile phones are very fashionable with teenagers. Parents buy mobile phones for their children. They can call home if they are in trouble and need help. So they feel safer. But teenagers mostly use them to keep in touch with their friends or play simple computer games. It’s cool to be the owner of a small, expensive mobile! As eighteen-year-old Londoner Rosie Farrer says, ‘Before, girls of my age smoked cigarettes to look good. Now we have mobiles!’ Rosie’s right. Research shows that teenage owners of mobile phones smoke less! Parents and schools are happy that teenagers are safer and smoke less. But they are worried about the possible problems of mobile phones.

There are now 750 million mobile phone users around the world. This number will probably grow to 1.4 billion in five years’ time. Many people dislike them. They hate it when the businessman opposite them on the train has a loud conversation on his phone. Or when mobile phones ring in a caf or restaurant.

But there is a much more serious problem. We are not sure that mobiles are completely safe. It’s possible that mobiles can heat up the brain because we hold the phone so close to our head. Scientists fear that mobiles can perhaps be bad for your memory and even give you cancer. Because of these fears, some people use a ‘handsfree’ mobile ear. But it is possible that these are more dangerous. We just don’t know and many parents don’t give their younger children mobiles for this reason.

A phone that you needn’t hold to your

So why do we use mobiles when we aren’t sure they’re safe? Because mobiles are a lot of fun and very useful, we choose to forget the possible dangers. We choose to believe that mobiles are safe. Let’s hope we’re right!

Test 5. Modern British Families

Father leaves for work in the morning after breakfast. The two children take the bus to school, and mother stays at home cooking and cleaning until father and the kids return home in the evening. This is the traditional picture of a happy family living in Britain. But is it true today? The answer is — no! The past 20 years have seen enormous changes in the lives and structures of families in Britain, and the traditional model is no longer true in many cases.

The biggest change has been caused by divorce. As many as 2 out of 3 marriages now end in divorce, leading to a situation where many children live with one parent and only see the other at weekends or holidays.

There has also been a huge rise in the number of mothers who work. The large rise in divorces has meant many women need to work to support themselves and their children. Even when there is no divorce, many families need both parents to work in order to survive. This has caused an increase in childcare facilities, though they are very expensive and can be difficult to find in many areas. In addition, women are no longer happy to stay at home raising children, and many have careers earning as much as or even more than men, the traditional breadwinners.

There has also been a sharp increase in the number of single mothers, particularly among teenagers. Many of their children grow up never knowing their fathers, and some people feel the lack of a male role model has a damaging effect on their lives.

However, these changes have not had a totally negative effect. For women, it is now much easier to have a career and good salary. Although it is difficult to be a working mother, it has become normal and it’s no longer seen as a bad thing for the children. As for children themselves, some argue that modern children grow up to be more independent and mature than in the past. From an early age they have to go to childminders or nurseries, and so they are used to dealing with strangers and mixing with other children.

So while the traditional model of a family may no longer be true in modern Britain, the modern family continues to raise happy, successful children.

Test 6. America’s Favorites: Hot-Dog

You may have heard that Americans like hot dogs and hamburgers best of all foods. Well, farmers and owners of public eating places might happily agree. So might the nation’s Meat Institute and the National Hot Dog & Sausage Council. But people whose favorites are pizza and apple pie would give the meat-lovers a spirited argument!

Naming the favorite foods of Americans depends a lot on whom you ask. But one thing is sure. The ancestors of most Americans came from other countries. The United States owes many favorite dishes, or the ideas for these foods, to the rest of the world.

For example, that traditional American favorite, the hot dog or wiener, had its modern beginning in Germany. The National Hot Dog and Sausage Council estimates that Americans eat about seven thousand million of these sausages during a summer.

A hot dog is usually made from pork, the meat of a pig. Or it is made from beef, the meat of a cow. Another version is made from turkey. A vegetarian version of a hot dog has no meat at all. It often contains tofu, made from soy plants.

The hot dog is shaped like a tube. Many people say it looks like a Dachshund dog. It is served between two shaped pieces of bread called a bun. Americans often say they especially like hot dogs cooked over a hot fire in the open air. People at sports events buy plenty of hot dogs.

For many people, it is not just the meat that tastes so good. These people enjoy colorful and tasty additions. For example, they include a yellow or yellow-brown thickened liquid called mustard. They may also put red catsup and pieces of a white or red, strong-smelling vegetable called onion on their hot dogs.

Hot dog eaters often add pickle, a salty green vegetable. Some people place barbecue sauce on top of all this. Or they use a spice called horseradish. It gives the hot dog a pleasant bite.

A hot dog is also known as a frankfurter or frank. That is because the city of Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany is often said to be the birthplace of this sausage. But the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council says there are other ideas about where the hot dog began.

One version of hot dog history says a butcher, or meat cutter, from the German city of Coburg was responsible. It says he invented the hot dog in the late sixteen hundreds. Vienna, Austria, also claims that it created the food.

The council says butchers from several countries probably brought common European sausages to America. A street salesman sold hot dogs to people in New York City in the eighteen sixties. And, in eighteen seventy one, a hot dog stand opened at the Coney Island amusement park in New York City.

Test 7. Hamburgers

Americans also eat lots of hamburgers. This ground meat comes from beef. It can be cooked in many ways. Like hot dogs, hamburgers are a favourite picnic food.

Many public eating places in the United States say hamburgers are their most popular foods. People often eat them in places that serve quickly prepared, moderately priced food.

Like hot dog experts, hamburger historians disagree about how their subject got started. The Egyptians and Romans apparently ate ancient versions of hamburgers. In more modern days, people in Hamburg, Germany, made something like a hamburger from pork and beef.

The small town of Seymour, Wisconsin, is among several American towns that claim to have created the first modern hamburger in the United States.

In Seymour, a man named Charlie Nagreen tried to sell meatballs at a local fair in eighteen eighty-five. But as people walked around, it was hard for them to handle the round pieces of meat. So Nagreen flattened the ball of meat. Then he placed this meat patty between two pieces of bread.

In two thousand one, people in Seymour cooked a hamburger that weighed more than three thousand kilograms. This creation reportedly fed thirteen thousand people.

Like hot dogs, Americans like their hamburgers with additions. Things like mustard, catsup, horseradish, mayonnaise, barbecue sauce, tomatoes, lettuce, onion and perhaps a pickle.

A hamburger with cheese melted on it is called a cheeseburger. Cooks make a ‘Sloppy Joe’ by combining hamburger meat with tomato sauce. Many people eat the Sloppy Joe mixture on a bun. Without a bun, they may get more of the loose meat on them than inside them.

For many people, eating both hot dogs and hamburgers does not seem right without potatoes. They eat French fries and potato chips with these meats. French fries are strips, or pieces, of potato cooked in oil. Potato chips are extremely thin, cooled pieces of potato. They usually are also cooked in oil.

Upper-Intermediate

Test 1. A Journey Through the Channel

Recently I was offered the chance to travel by train through the channel tunnel between England and France. I went on the shuttle that carries cars. The site is not beautiful. There is a huge railway complex with tracks disappearing into a large hole, and a brand-new exhibition centre.

The location of trains is indicated by signs saying ‘France’. Cars must stop at the toll booths and French immigration points, where passports are shown. (Dealing with formalities here means you can drive straight off the train at the other end.)

The double-decker carriages are brightly lit, air-conditioned and very hi-tech. Loudspeaker announcements from the ‘Chef de Train’, an Englishman speaking very slow French, welcomed us aboard. A crew member with a walkie-talkie said the crossing would take about 35 minutes and passengers were expected to stay in or by their cars. He told me the shuttle employed several female drivers. ‘The most important requirement for the job is that they know about computers and learn French, especially the numbers. They practice by playing bingo.’

Then we started. We slid into the tunnel and hit our traveling speed of 80 mph. The ride was so smooth one was barely aware of any movement. It was, predictably, about as interesting as a ride round the London underground. Somewhere to sit and have a coffee would have been welcome, but a crew member said: ‘With the numbers we expect to carry, it just wouldn’t be practical.’

After half an hour we shot back into the French daylight, had lunch, then came back. The return trip, however, did not go so smoothly. Halfway across, a fire alarm went off. We were all moved to a neighbouring carriage. Moments later, a young man appeared and said calmly: ‘Just practising. You can all go back!’

Then without warning, the train stopped. We found out that a lorry had fallen over during boarding. After half an hour we were still waiting. People were becoming mildly irritated, and the only person still smiling worked for a cross-channel ferry company.

Then, all at once, we moved off. Disembarking was swift and easy and, within minutes, we were driving on the left again through a wet English night. It had been an interesting day. I had enjoyed the experience of what will undoubtedly become routine in the 21st century; but for me, the attractions of the sea and the cry of gulls will always win in the end.

Test 2. The Day that Changed my Life

When I saw Jim on the news, I didn’t recognise him to begin with. He looked really thin and his hair was falling out. When I heard the reporter say his name, though, I looked a bit more closely and then I realised it was him. I just burst out crying. I was really surprised, because we were never really friends when we were at school together. He came from quite a poor family and his dad had been in prison. Maybe it was just because he was looking for attention, but I remember that he could be a bit loud sometimes in class and we were just very different, I suppose. But to see him there, looking so lost and alone, begging on the street! Well, it was just so upsetting. It broke my heart, it really did!

The next thing I knew, I was ringing the TV station which had run the report. I don’t really know why gave me the address of a hostel for homeless people. I went down there the following day and it was really depressing. It was filthy and the whole place stank! Half the people there were either drunk or mad — or both! One of the workers showed me to where Jim was sleeping. What amazed me was that he recognised me at once and said, ‘Oh, Andrea. It’s you.’ His voice sounded so sad, but, at the same time — and I can’t explain this very well — it was like I could feel something pulling us together. I felt like it was destiny.

I just did it on impulse. Anyway, they

I’d like to say that things have been easy for us since then and that love has run its true course, but life doesn’t work like that, does it? What happened to Jim when he became homeless was incredibly painful and he’s had to fight to overcome his addictions. To begin with, my parents were very unhappy about our relationship. My father is a very successful businessman and I know he wanted me to marry someone with money. Still, they are slowly starting to accept my decision and now that they’ve met Jim a few times they can see that he is a good man.

We’ve had a lot of support from people who’ve seen our story in the papers, but we’ve also had a lot of negative comments too and we’ve both lost some friends. The media have also put a lot of pressure on us. I know Jim doesn’t see it this way, but even now it still makes me angry the way the papers and the TV producers treat people. I just think back to that first story. Here was this completely broken man, living on the streets. They came along and did their story on him, and do you know what they gave him? Ten pounds and a cup of tea! That’s it! And then they got back into their big cars and drove off, leaving him to go back to that awful hostel. They do these stories, but none of them really care about people. I can’t forgive them for that.

Anyway, despite all that, we’ve managed to survive together. He’s a wonderful person, and I love him with all my heart.

Test 3. A Self-Made Man

Damo Setiadi is one of the top thousand richest men in Indonesia — not bad for someone who was born into a huge family in a tiny village in the middle of nowhere. Mr. Setiadi runs his own business, importing machinery from Europe and selling it all over the country. He employs over three hundred people and lives in a mansion in a nice suburb of Jakarta, the capital city. However, as he will tell you, he had to travel down a long, hard road to get to where he is today. Building up a business takes a lot of hard work and effort, especially in a developing country.

‘I’m a self-made man and I built this business up from nothing through my own hard work and brains,’ said Damo. ‘I come from a very poor family in a rural part of Indonesia and I’ve got thirteen brothers and sisters. My dad died when I was only fourteen and I had to go out to work to try to support the rest of my family. To begin with, I sold ice creams in the street; then I got a job selling cloth door-to-door in my town; after that, I started traveling all over the island selling things to people and slowly I started getting ideas about what kind of products the different markets wanted, and I started making contacts. When I was twenty-one, I left my wife and two children at home and moved to Jakarta to set up my own business, selling all kinds of machines, but particularly propellers for boats. There are over thirteen thousand islands in Indonesia, so there’s a huge market for that kind of thing.

‘It was really hard work. I didn’t have any money of my own, so I lied and told the bank I had a contract, so that they’d lend me money. I told the companies I wanted to order from I had money, so that they’d sell to me. I even had to tell the companies I wanted to sell to that I had suppliers, so that they’d order from me. I was telling so many lies that it was really difficult trying to remember who I had told what! Luckily for me, I had some friends in high places and I had a word with them and they helped me get import licences, which meant I ended up cornering the market in propellers. Business was booming and I could finally afford to bring my wife and family over to join me. That wasn’t the end of the story, though.’

‘First of all, I’ve had to do all the things every businessman has to do: pay taxes and wage bills, meet deadlines, deal with workers and officials. On top of all that, though, I’ve also had to deal with all sorts of other problems too: my shops have been attacked and burned in anti-Chinese riots and the economy hasn’t been very good, either. The last ten years haven’t been the most stable! We’ve had really high inflation and we’ve seen the value of our currency drop from three thousand rupiah to the dollar to eighteen thousand to the dollar! How are you supposed to run a business with things like that going on? It’s madness!’

‘Anyway, here I am today now is who’s going to take over the business when I retire. I’d like my son to run it, but he’s not really tough enough to do it! I think perhaps his childhood was too easy, and that’s made him a bit too soft to do work like this!’

A wealthy man! The only real problem I’ve got

Test 4. What’s Your Type?

Alfonso (Mexico)

Tall, blonde, sporty, out­

I’m really attracted to Scandinavian girls going, the complete opposite of me! I used to like older girls, but I’ve had a few bad experiences, so now I’m looking for something different. My ideal partner now would be five or six years younger than me. I also want somebody who is independent, who doesn’t always need to be near me, and I think that the girls I’ve met from Sweden or Norway or Denmark tend to be very strong-willed. The only thing I’m worried about is that perhaps they would find me a bit quiet and shy. I’m not very confident about myself, so that could be a problem.

Rie (Japan)

I don’t really have a type. The most important thing for me is that my partner is nice and sensitive and caring. I’d never go out with someone who was selfish or big-headed. It doesn’t really matter to me whether somebody is good-looking or not, so long as they’re not too ugly! I’d never go out with a man who didn’t look after himself, though. It’s important that he’s healthy, that he watches what he eats and that he’s fairly fit!

Chiara (Italy)

I want someone who likes clothes. I work in the fashion industry in Milan, so the way someone dresses is really important to me. I’d never go out with someone who didn’t care about the way they looked. I used to like really good­looking men, but I’ve changed my mind about that, because they tend to be so big-headed! I also really love music, so I’d never go out with someone who didn’t like music. If I’m honest, I’m also attracted to younger men, so I’m looking for someone who’s maybe in their early twenties.

Lauren (Cameroon)

I’m a married man, so I’m the wrong person to ask a question like this to, really. When I was single, I used to think I wanted somebody who was easy to talk to, somebody who understood me and how I was feeling, somebody who was serious and religious, like I am wife, and she was everything I was looking for, and more! I can’t believe how lucky I’ve been, but then I have to say that, or she’ll kill me!

And then I met my

Thorset (German)

To be honest, I’m too old now to be fussy, really. I want anybody who will have me! I used to worry about the kind of person that was right for me and I used to think I wanted somebody who was slim and sexy and intelligent and who had her own money and her own job and things like that, but now I’ve reached my forties and I’m still single, I’ve lowered my standards! It’s taken me a long time, but I’ve realised that I’m not the best­looking man in the world, or the richest, and so I’d be happy just meeting someone who liked me! Sad, isn’t it!

Seon-Hee (Korea)

I know this sounds strange, but all I really want is someone with nice hands! I used to go out with this man who played the piano, and he had really beautiful hands — long, slim fingers, but really strong as well. Mm! I’d never go out with somebody who had short, fat, little fingers. I just couldn’t.

Test 5. Invent your way to riches

‘All you have to do is make a better mousetrap and the world will come running to your door,’ said the American writer, Ralph Waldo Emerson. Sadly this isn’t true, as thousands of inventors in the United Kingdom find out every year. Making a financial suc cess out of your initial ideas can be a complicated and time-consuming process. But for some, the rewards make the effort well worthwhile. Dr Ruben Rausing, inventor of the modern cardboard drinks carton, made a fortune from his invention, and the creators of Trivial Pursuit also became multi-millionaires.

However, when it comes to inventing, a number of difficulties stand in the way. For example, obtaining a ‘patent’ can be complicated company must be found to develop and market the product, and of course international sales must be considered as well. The first step, ideally, is to look for a gap in the commercial markets and then invent something to fill that gap.

The company Inventorlink receives over a thousand ideas every year and helps about 300 inventors to take their ideas further. Their inventions range from small developments in everyday tools to a giant £300,000 oil separator for the use in the North sea to clean water which has become mixed with oil.

According to Richard Payne, marketing manager of Inventorlink, inventors come in two different types. Half of them are experts who have seen a use for their product, the other half are talented amateurs who have just had an idea.

For most inventors with a good idea the first thought is to get a patent. This is vital, but Richard Payne says he prefers to talk to inventors before they’ve applied for one. ‘Patents are expensive, and we like to give the inventor some idea of whether the invention has a chance of being successful before they spend money.’

What are the characteristics of a successful invention? ‘It’s original and it’s wanted,’ says Richard Payne firmly. ‘There are three things that inventors all too often overlook. First you have to sit down and ask yourself whether there’s a market for it. Secondly, can it be made economically? There has to be a really big profit margin to persuade a manager to take it up. And finally, if you really want to make money, is it a one-time product or can it be developed to keep sales going on for years?’

In reality the chances of coming up with a total success are very small. For example, in the games market ‘Monopoly’ was the best-selling board game last year, almost 60 years after it was invented. It’s very difficult for new ideas to be accepted. Yet still some ideas make it through all the barriers and end up making millions for their inventors.

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