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401, 401V, 501V: English-Language Reading Diary

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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Obituary: James Cotton, Blues Harmonica Legend, Dies at 81

Газета 401

(Link to full story on newspaper's Web site.)

In preparation for our class discussion, consider these questions:
  • What are the traditional elements of a newspaper obituary? Are those elements all included in this particular article?
  • What will you remember from this article?
  • What parts of the article were the most informative or interesting for you? What were the least interesting?
  • Were there any aspects of the story that you feel were insufficiently covered? What questions might you have for the reporter?
Useful words and phrases:

an integral part
call and response
curiously, curiously enough
to embark on/upon
bills, billing, sharing bills
act (noun)
under his/her/their own name
to take up
small change
in the employ of
to span, spanning
common parlance
to induct, to be inducted
survived by

Here is James Cotton playing with the Rolling Stones' Keith Richards a few years ago, during a rehearsal for a benefit concert for fellow blues musician Hubert Sumlin:

... And finally, a photo I took of Hubert Sumlin and James Cotton about ten years ago:

Monday, March 20, 2017

Our visitor this week: Shawn McConaughey

Shawn McConaughey during his last visit to our Institute.
We are happy to welcome our friend and colleague Shawn McConaughey (head of the Teaching Abroad program among other things) to our Institute this week. Most of our students will have a chance to talk with him in our Wednesday classes, and all students are invited to meet him on Friday at our (rescheduled) tea after the fourth pair.

Shawn first visited our Institute in the year 2000. He and his wife Katrina both have experience in international education and work with refugees.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Angry men gain influence and angry women lose influence

Газета 401

Scene from Twelve Angry Men. Source.  
A new study from Arizona State University focused on jury deliberation behaviors demonstrates a distinct gender bias when it comes to expressing anger and influencing people. The study found that men use anger to influence others, but women actually lose influence when they allow anger into an argument.

Here's a link to the full text of the article.
  • Who wrote this article, and who published it?
  • What event or occasion prompted this article?
  • In brief, what does the author want to tell you?
  • What case or argument does the author make? Is it the author's own viewpoint, or is the author telling you about someone else's viewpoint?
  • What new information or insight will you remember from this article?
  • What additional information or analysis do you wish the article had included?
  • What audience does the author have in mind? How do you know?
  • If you had been the editor of the article, what changes would you have made?
Useful words and phrases:

representative of ...
to exert influence
in a word
jury deliberation
out of the equation
to be tried for
opening statement, closing statement
to purport to, purportedly
to allege, alleged
to script, to be scripted
to hold out; holdout (noun)
to convict, to be convicted (note the untypical usage in this article)
gender gap
governing body

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Ebook sales continue to fall

Газета 501В

The full article is here.

Useful words and phrases:

driven, to drive
jump (noun)
a year that saw
general trade
high profile, high-profile
break, respite
to favor
to overtake
to plateau
to surge; surge (noun)
industry confidence

Monday, March 13, 2017

And now, a book review of "Лавр" in English

Газета 401

Follow this link for the full text of the New Yorker review.

This review, "Holy Foolery," considers the English translation of the book whose Russian-language review we will consider tomorrow.

"Holy Foolery" is not an easy essay to read, even for native English speakers, and we don't expect you to master it overnight. For our first discussion, please take your paper copies and mark the words and phrases that are interesting or difficult. Here are some basic question we want to apply to both the Russian and English reviews of the novel over our next two or three classes:
  1. What are the special characteristics of a book review?
  2. Based on these reviews, what is the theme or plot of this novel? How is it organized?
  3. What are three unusual features of this novel?
  4. What important questions of life might be touched on by this novel?
  5. (If you have not already read it) ... Are you interested in reading this novel? Why or why not?

Friday, March 10, 2017

More space news: Илон Маск анонсировал полет двух туристов к Луне

Газета 401В

(Link to full article.)

Please be ready to discuss this article in English. Among the questions we might consider:

  • Briefly, what is the "news" in this news story?
  • What is the most memorable aspect or detail of this story?
  • What aspect of the story would you like to know in more detail?
  • Can you detect any enthusiasm or skepticism on the part of the writer?
  • Do you have any interest in becoming a space tourist?
  • What is the voice and register of this article?

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Book review: Лавр, Евгений Водолазкин


(Link to the full text of the review.) Be ready to summarize and evaluate this review in English. (Group 401 will discuss this text next Tuesday, but evening classes have a bit longer to think about the assignment.)

As you read this review, see if you can find phrases and terms that belong particularly to this genre of writing. How would you render them in English? If you're not sure, bring them to class and we'll discuss them.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

"When a Man Loves a Woman"

Remastered and remixed version:

Original recording:

Purchase link.

When a man loves a woman
Can't keep his mind on nothing else
He'll trade the world
For the good thing he's found
If she's bad he can't see it
She can do no wrong
Turn his back on his best friend
If he put her down

When a man loves a woman
Spend his very last dime
Trying to hold on to what he needs
He'd give up all his comfort
Sleep out in the rain
If she said that's the way it ought to be

Well, this man loves a woman
I gave you everything I had
Trying to hold on to your precious love
Baby, please don't treat me bad

When a man loves a woman
Down deep in his soul
She can bring him such misery
If she plays him for a fool
He's the last one to know
Loving eyes can't ever see

When a man loves a woman
He can do no wrong
He can never own some other girl
Yes when a man loves a woman
I know exactly how he feels
'Cause baby, baby, baby, you're my world

When a man loves a woman ...


Tuesday, March 7, 2017

"Emerging Adults" -- phrases and metaphors

Here is the presentation we made to the workshop this past Monday:

The text of the original article is here. The highlighted version we distributed in the workshop can be downloaded here (PDF file).

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Girls' Life and Boys Life--a fair comparison?


You can read the full story (with link to the Facebook post that started the debate) here. You can download our classroom version here (PDF format).

Snopes.com is an online service which many people use to check whether an urban legend, scandalous news story, or viral e-mail campaign is true, partly true, or false. You can read more about their philosophy and methods on their glossary and frequently asked questions pages. Group 401 will digest this article on March 7, and 401V and 501 at a later date.

Useful words and phrases in the article:

more to the story
to feature
disparity, disparate
to treat
side by side
to go viral
purported, to purport to
to convey
sample size
at the expense of
tacit, tacitly
body acceptance
to be tucked (plus preposition)
to dig deeper
to unearth
to boost
general interest (adj.)
trade magazine
to further
despite appearances
to navigate
to shame
gender binary