Thursday, 31 January 2013

Thursday, 17 January 2013

The Impact of Climate Change on Australia

The ABC has produced an excellent five-part series on the expected impact of climate change on different parts of Australia.

The first topic in the series is rising seas:

The next topics are:

Part 2: What effect will climate change have on agriculture and food production?

Part 3: What effect will climate change have on health in the Pacific?

Part 4: How will climate change affect biodiversity and ecosystems?

Part 5: How will climate change affect Australia's oceans and reefs?

Following the series is highly recommended for learning about the important issue of climate change and the language needed for spoken or written discussion of this very "hot" (!!) topic.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Extraordinary Dust Storm Hits Coast of Australia

Many people have been noticing strange and unusual weather patterns around the word.

Earlier this week a massive dust storm called a "haboob" collided with the Australian coast.

"The storm stemmed from a surge of high winds over the ocean that stirred up dust and carried it huge distances." (

"A haboob (Arabic: هَبوب‎ "blasting/drafting") is a type of intense dust storm carried on an atmospheric gravity current. Haboobs occur regularly in arid regions throughout the world."

More amazing photographs and information here:

Free Tool: Make a Website "Speak"

"Select & Speak" is a free extension for Google Chrome. You can select text on a website and the tool will convert it to speech.

There's a choice of 43 different voices and accents and you can change the speed of the speaking.

Give it a try!

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Learn English with Australian Radio and Television

All of us should maximise our ability to understand English of many varieties and spoken in a range of different accents.

If you're preparing for the IELTS test or planning to study or live in Australia, exposure to Australian English is particularly important.

ABC Australia Radio and Television offer great resources for language learners.

Please check these pages and explore:

Also recommended are:

Avaguddaaaaay! (That's Australian for "Have a good day!")

Monday, 7 January 2013

Is virtual travel the way of the future?

"According to the UN World Tourism Organization, a record one billion people will have travelled abroad for leisure by the end of this year. While Europe remains the most visited region, Asia's tourism industry is the fastest growing.

But the human traffic can cause extensive damage to fragile sites, increasing wear and tear through erosion and light exposure."

For this reason, in future years more of us may make virtual visits to sites of historic, cultural or natural importance.

One example of the success of such 3D technology is the recreation of the Mogau Grottoes of Dunhuang, an oasis on the ancient Silk Road in China's Gobi Desert.

"A flickering torch offers a tantalising glimpse of the exquisite murals painted by Buddhist monks some 1,400 years ago. And then suddenly, the cavern is ablaze with light, its beauty fully revealed in dazzling colour and extraordinary detail."

These virtual recreations not only help preserve the original sites but also offer visitors the opportunity to see and experience far more.

" "You wouldn't be able to see any of this in the real cave because light exposure is so damaging," says Jeffrey Shaw, director of Alive, the Applied Laboratory for Interactive Visualization and Embodiment at the City University of Hong Kong."


What's your opinion?

Can visits to digitised representations replace travel to "the real thing"? What are the advantages and disadvantages?

Learning Suggestion:

Re-read the article and underline/highlight useful words related to (1) Travel and (2) Technology.

Add these words to your vocabulary notebook.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

How important are spelling and grammar mistakes?

Here's an amusing cartoon about writing a blog from

Most of us will have noticed that, especially on the internet, even very minor errors in spelling or grammar can attract a great deal of criticism! At times, this criticism seems greatly out of proportion to the "sin" committed by the writer.

So, what's your view on the importance of spelling and grammar mistakes in writing? Are they important or not? Why or why not?