Monthly Archives: September 2010

B1 Speaking Skills – Sixty second idea to improve the world

In the final week of class we listened to a BBC podcast called 60 second idea to improve the world.  The idea is that a guest on the radio show is given 60 seconds to put forward an idea which they think will improve society.

Thanks for preparing your ideas before the final class.  I really enjoyed listening to them and our debates that followed.  I promised to write up summary versions with a few stylistic changes and reformulations from my notes in class.  Here they are…

1)  An End to War      War must be eradicated.  Sounds utopian, doesn’t it?  But how difficult would it really be?  Here’s my idea…  Political leaders need to both talk and listen to each other.  Time after time political leaders send people off to war while they stay at home with their feet up when they should be the ones who go to the front line.  No weapons.  No arms.  They should take only their voices and their ears.  That way I’m sure we would see peaceful borders and a great improvement to the world.

Comments:  1)  I changed politicians should hear each other to listen to – both are fine but listen to sounds more natural to me.  2)  Time after time – this little expression is used to show that something (often something negative) is often repeated.  3)  That way – what does this refer to in the text – what does it prevent having to repeat?

2)  Politicians – Lock them up!  My idea is also about politics and politicians.  They earn high salaries for almost zero productivity.  Why do we tolerate this?  I propose we lock politicians in a room until they solve the problem they are discussing.  Only then can they come out.  They wouldn’t be able to go home if they hadn’t finished – just like us in our jobs!  You know, when a politician here works until 3 a.m., it’s news!  I say it’s time they were kidnapped until they got the job they are paid to do finished.

Comments:  1)  earn a salary better than win a salary.  2)  Look at the grammar pattern with propose – propose + (that) + pronoun + infinitive without to – You can use the same pattern with similar words for putting forward ideas like suggest and recommend.  3)  Key wordkidnapped.

3)  Public toilets = cleaner streets  I’m fed up with the lack of open or clean public toilets around our cities.  It’s no surprise that our streets are so dirty.  We need to make it unnecessary for people to have to do this by providing more public facilities with a cleaner service to keep them clean and well provided with soap and paper.  This maintanence is important so they don’t turn into public sewers!  If we do this it will make our cities cleaner and more pleasant places to be.

Comments:  1)  I’m fed up with…  During the course we looked at various expressions for talking about things we are dissatisfied with.  Others include:  I’m sick of…  / I can’t stand…  2)  keep – this common verb collocates with clean.

4)  Recycling Rewards  At the moment society is beginning to worry more and more about the importance of recycling but a lot of people still think that this is something that doesn’t concern them.  My idea isn’t actually a new one.  It’s something we used to do but now we don’t because the market has changed and because we live today in such a hurry.  In the past, about 25 years ago, all the glass bottles we used were returnable in exchange for a few cents but now the bottles only end up in the recycling container if you are aware enough to put them there.  If we took the idea of returnable things up again, pepole who don’t recycle at present might make the effort to do it.  Especially if it put some money back on the table.

Comments:     1)  ‘end up in the recycling container’ is more natural than ‘finish in the recycling container.’  2) make an effort.

What next? 

Listening:  If you want to listen to the podcast in the future it is updated weekly and you can listen via the bbc website:

Writing:  Please feel free to send through any other ideas on this theme and I’ll try to offer similar feedback again.  You could use the following framework (taken from the 60 second idea we listened to in class), and fill it in with your own ideas…

Introduce the problem My problem is with…
Explain the problem / consequences This problem comes from…As a result… / As a consequence…
Introduce solution What do we need to do?  We need to…If we do that, we’ll become…
Describe the solution We could…This would mean we could…

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Filed under B1 Speaking Skills August 2010