DIRTY BRITAIN (Reading comprehension) CAE, Advanced Level

Dirty Britain

Before the grass has thickened on the roadside verges and leaves have started growing on the trees is a perfect time to look around and see just how dirty Britain has become. The pavements are stained with chewing gum that has been spat out and the gutters are full of discarded fast food cartons. Years ago I remember travelling abroad and being saddened by the plastic bags, discarded bottles and soiled nappies at the edge of every road. Nowadays, Britain seems to look at least as bad. What has
gone wrong?

The problem is that the rubbish created by our increasingly mobile lives lasts a lot longer than before. If it is not cleared up and properly thrown away, it stays in the undergrowth for years; a semi-permanent reminder of what a tatty little country we have now.

Firstly, it is estimated that 10 billion plastic bags have been given to shoppers. These will take anything from 100 to 1,000 years to rot. However, it is not as if there is no solution to this. A few years ago, the Irish government introduced a tax on non-recyclable carrier bags and in three months reduced their use by 90%. When he was a minister, Michael Meacher attempted to introduce a similar arrangement in Britain. The plastics industry protested, of course. However, they need not have bothered; the idea was killed before it could draw breath, leaving supermarkets free to give away plastic bags.

What is clearly necessary right now is some sort of combined initiative, both individual and collective, before it is too late. The alternative is to continue sliding downhill until we have a country that looks like a vast municipal rubbish tip. We may well be at the tipping point. Yet we know that people respond to their environment. If things around them are clean and tidy, people behave cleanly and tidily. If they are surrounded by squalor, they behave squalidly. Now, much of Britain looks pretty squalid. What will it look like in five years?


Q1 - The writer says that it is a good time to see Britain before the trees have leaves because

Britain looks perfect.

you can see Britain at its dirtiest.

you can see how dirty Britain is now.

the grass has thickened on the verges.

Q2 - According to the writer, things used to be

worse abroad.

the same abroad.

better abroad.

worse, but now things are better abroad.

Q3 - For the writer, the problem is that

rubbish is not cleared up.

rubbish last longer than it used to.

our society is increasingly mobile.

Britain is a tatty country.

Q4 - Michael Meacher

followed the Irish example with a tax on plastic bags.

tried to follow the Irish example with a tax on plastic bags.

made no attempt to follow the Irish example with a tax on plastic bags.

had problems with the plastics industry who weren't bothered about the tax.

Q5 - The writer thinks

it is too late to do anything.

we are at the tipping point.

there is no alternative.

we need to work together to solve the problem.

Q6 - The writer thinks that

people are squalid.

people behave according to what they see around them.

people are clean and tidy.

people are like a vast municipal rubbish tip.


THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE ( Reading Comprehension) (FCE)

The Man Booker Prize

The Man Booker Prize for Fiction is awarded every year for a novel written by a writer from the Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland and it aims to represent the very best in contemporary fiction. The prize was originally called the Booker-McConnell Prize, which was the name of the company that sponsored it, though it was better-known as simply the ‘Booker Prize’. In 2002, the Man Group became the sponsor and they chose the new name, keeping ‘Booker’.

Publishers can submit books for consideration for the prize, but the judges can also ask for books to be submitted they think should be included. Firstly, the Advisory Committee give advice if there have been any changes to the rules for the prize and selects the people who will judge the books. The judging panel changes every year and usually a person is only a judge once.

Great efforts are made to ensure that the judging panel is balanced in terms of gender and professions within the industry, so that a writer, a critic, an editor and an academic are chosen along with a well-known person from wider society. However, when the panel of judges has been finalized, they are left to make their own decisions without any further involvement or interference from the prize sponsor.

The Man Booker judges include critics, writers and academics to maintain the consistent quality of the prize and its influence is such that the winner will almost certainly see the sales increase considerably , in addition to the £50,000 that comes with the prize.


Q1 - The Republic of Ireland

is in the Commonwealth.
is not in the Commonwealth.
can't enter the Man Booker Prize.
joined the Booker prize in 2002.

Q2 - The Man group

was forced to keep the name 'Booker'.
decided to include the name 'Booker'.
decided to keep the name 'Booker-McConnell'.
decided to use only the name 'Booker'.

Q3 - Books can be submitted

by publishers.
by writers.
by judges.
by the sponsors.

Q4 - Who advises on changes to the rules?

The sponsors
The judging panel
The advisory panel

Q5 - The judging panel

doesn't include women.
includes only women.
is only chosen from representatives of the industry.
includes someone from outside the industry.

Q6 - The sponsors of the prize

are involved in choosing the winner.
are involved in choosing the judges.
are not involved at all.
choose the academic for the panel of judges.

Q7 - The consistent quality of the prize

is guaranteed by the prize money.
is guaranteed by the gender of the judges.
is guaranteed by the make-up of the panel of judges.
is guaranteed by the increase in sales of the winner.

Keys are in comments section.



Indicate the Language Functions in the following dialogues:

1.Kristin : Hello, Vijaya, Happy Deepavali to you and your family !
Vijaya : Thank you. Do come in. I'm glad you have come.

(A) To wish
(B) To request
(C) To welcome
(D) to inform

2. Keane : The race will start at 8 a.m., won't it ?
Clerk : That's right. After registration, you have to assemble at the starting line in the field.

(A) To inform
(B) To greet
(C) To request
(D) To describe

3. Lily : Lehman fell while climbing up the rambutan tree.
Rose : I shouldn't have asked him to pluck the rambutans.

(A) To complain
(B) To regret
(C) To apologize
(D) To advise
4. Ronnie : Our team played badly, especially I.
Mat : It's all your fault. You have let the team down.

(A) To advise
(B) To blame
(C) To warn
(D) To protest

5. David : Hello, Sam. You look worried. can I help you ?
Sam : Could you lend me twenty dollars ? I need it urgently.

(A) To inform
(B) To describe
(C) To offer
(D) To request

6. Billy : Why don't you borrow Aileen's bicycle ?
Sarah : Her bicycle has a flat tyre.

(A) To offer
(B) To explain
(C) To advise
(D) To instruct

Aswers / Keys : in the comments section.


Programmes , games and courses to improve your English !

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"Aprende la correcta pronunciación de las palabras en inglés”


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ABAEnglish MiniCourse


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“Demuestra lo que sabes en este juego de preguntas y respuestas on-line”



English as a National Foreign Language in India. (READING COMPREHENSION TEXT) (CAE) C1

India has two national languages for central administrative purposes: Hindi and English. Hindi is the national, official, and main link language of India. English is an associate official language. The Indian Constitution also officially approves twenty-two regional languages for official purposes.

Dozens of distinctly different regional languages are spoken in India, which share many characteristics such as grammatical structure and vocabulary. Apart from these languages, Hindi is used for communication in India. The homeland of Hindi is mainly in the north of India, but it is spoken and widely understood in all urban centers of India. In the southern states of India, where people speak many different languages that are not much related to Hindi, there is more resistance to Hindi, which has allowed English to remain a lingua franca to a greater degree.

Since the early 1600s, the English language has had a toehold on the Indian subcontinent, when the East India Company established settlements in Chennai, Kolkata, and Mumbai, formerly Madras, Calcutta, and Bombay respectively. The historical background of India is never far away from everyday usage of English. India has had a longer exposure to English than any other country which uses it as a second language, its distinctive words, idioms, grammar and rhetoric spreading gradually to affect all places, habits and culture.

In India, English serves two purposes. First, it provides a linguistic tool for the administrative cohesiveness of the country, causing people who speak different languages to become united. Secondly, it serves as a language of wider communication, including a large variety of different people covering a vast area. It overlaps with local languages in certain spheres of influence and in public domains.

Generally, English is used among Indians as a ‘link’ language and it is the first language for many well-educated Indians. It is also the second language for many who speak more than one language in India. The English language is a tie that helps bind the many segments of our society together. Also, it is a linguistic bridge between the major countries of the world and India.

English has special national status in India. It has a special place in the parliament, judiciary, broadcasting, journalism, and in the education system. One can see a Hindi-speaking teacher giving their students instructions during an educational tour about where to meet and when their bus would leave, but all in English. It means that the language permeates daily life. It is unavoidable and is always expected, especially in the cities.

The importance of the ability to speak or write English has recently increased significantly because English has become the de facto standard. Learning English language has become popular for business, commerce and cultural reasons and especially for internet communications throughout the world. English is a language that has become a standard not because it has been approved by any ‘standards’ organization but because it is widely used by many information and technology industries and recognized as being standard. The call centre phenomenon has stimulated a huge expansion of internet-related activity, establishing the future of India as a cyber-technological super-power. Modern communications, videos, journals and newspapers on the internet use English and have made ‘knowing English’ indispensable.

The prevailing view seems to be that unless students learn English, they can only work in limited jobs. Those who do not have basic knowledge of English cannot obtain good quality jobs. They cannot communicate efficiently with others, and cannot have the benefit of India’s rich social and cultural life. Men and women who cannot comprehend and interpret instructions in English, even if educated, are unemployable. They cannot help with their children’s school homework everyday or decide their revenue options of the future.

A positive attitude to English as a national language is essential to the integration of people into Indian society. There would appear to be virtually no disagreement in the community about the importance of English language skills. Using English you will become a citizen of the world almost naturally. English plays a dominant role in the media. It has been used as a medium for inter-state communication and broadcasting both before and since India’s independence. India is, without a doubt, committed to English as a national language. The impact of English is not only continuing but increasing.


Q1 - According to the writer, the Indian constitution recognises

22 official languages.

Hindi as the national language.

2 national, official languages.

2 national languages.

Q2 - English's status as a lingua franca is helped by

its status in northern India.

the fact that it is widely understood in urban centres.

the fact that people from the south speak languages not much related to Hindi.

it shares many grammatical similarities with Hindi.

Q3 - In paragraph 3, 'toehold' means that English

dominated India.

changed the names of some cities in India.

has had a presence in India.

has been in India longer than any other language.

Q4 - Hindi-speaking teachers

might well be heard using English.

only use English.

only use English for instructions.

do not use English.

Q5 - In paragraph eight, it says 'the prevailing view', which suggests that

the view is correct.

the view is held by the majority.

the view is incorrect.

the view is held by the minority.

Q6 - English in India

is going to decrease.

has decreased since independence.

causes disagreement.

is going to have a greater importance.

the keys  are in the comments of this post!! (las soluciones están en los comentarios)



Mark Rothko

Mark Rothko, one of the greatest painters of the twentieth century, was born in Daugavpils, Latvia in 1903. His father emigrated to the United States, afraid that his sons would be drafted into the Czarist army. Mark stayed in Russia with his mother and older sister; they joined the family later, arriving in the winter of 1913, after a 12-day voyage.

Mark moved to New York in the autumn of 1923 and found employment in the garment trade and took up residence on the Upper West Side. It was while he was visiting someone at the Art Students League that he saw students sketching a nude model. According to him, this was the start of his life as an artist. He was twenty years old and had taken some art lessons at school, so his initial experience was far from an immediate calling.
In 1936, Mark Rothko began writing a book, which he never completed, about the similarities in the children's art and the work of modern painters. The work of modernists, which was influenced by primitive art, could, according to him, be compared to that of children in that "child art transforms itself into primitivism, which is only the child producing a mimicry of himself." In this same work, he said that "the fact that one usually begins with drawing is already academic. We start with colour."

It was not long before his multiforms developed into the style he is remembered for; in 1949 Rothko exhibited these new works at the Betty Parsons Gallery. For critic Harold Rosenberg, the paintings were a revelation. Rothko had, after painting his first multiform, secluded himself to his home in East Hampton on Long Island, only inviting a very few people, including Rosenberg, to view the new paintings. The discovery of his definitive form came at a period of great grief; his mother Kate died in October 1948 and it was at some point during that winter that Rothko chanced upon the striking symmetrical rectangular blocks of two to three opposing or contrasting, yet complementary colours. As part of this new uniformity of artistic vision, his paintings and drawings no longer had individual titles; from this point on they were simply untitled, numbered or dated. However, to assist in distinguishing one work from another, dealers would sometimes add the primary colours to the name. Additionally, for the next few years, Rothko painted in oil only on large vertical canvasses. This was done to overwhelm the viewer, or, in his words, to make the viewer feel enveloped within the picture.

On February 25, 1970, Oliver Steindecker, Rothko’s assistant, found him in his kitchen, lying on the floor in front of the sink, covered in blood. His arms had been cut open with a razor. The emergency doctor arrived on the scene minutes later to pronounce him dead as the result of suicide; it was discovered during the autopsy that he had also overdosed on anti-depressants. He was just 66 years old.


Q1 - Mark Rothko emigrated to the United States

with his father and elder sister.

with his mother and brothers.

with his mother and elder sister.

with all his family.

Q2 - Rothko wanted to be an artist

from his early childhood.

when he joined the Art Students League.

when he watched students drawing.

when he moved to the Upper West Side.

Q3 - Rothko thought that modern art

was primitive.

could be compared to children's pictures.

was already academic.

was childish.

Q4 - Rothko's distinctive style

was inspired by Rosenberg.

resulted from moving to Long Island.

resulted from his grief.

evolved in 1948.

Q5 - Who named paintings by their colours?








We are going to show a very useful list with the most important terms for your compositions in English!
Letter A

a corto plazo <> as soon as possible
a corto plazo <> in the short term
a decir verdad <> actually

a decir verdad <> as a matter of fact

a decir verdad <> in fact

a decir verdad <> to tell the truth

a deshora <> at an unusual time

a diario <> day in day out

a diario <> everyday

a estas alturas <> as late as this

a estas alturas <> at this point

a este respecto <> for that matter
a este respecto <> with regard to this matter

a fin de cuentas <> after all

a fin de cuentas <> all things considered

a fin de cuentas <> finally

a fin de cuentas <> in short

a fin de cuentas <> taking everything into account

a grandes rasgos <> briefly

a grandes rasgos <> in a few words

a grandes rasgos <> in a general way
a juzgar por las apariencias <> judging by appearances

a juzgar por las apariencias <> on the face of it

a la distancia <> in the distance

a la intemperie <> in the open air

a la intemperie <> out of doors

a la larga <> eventually

a la larga <> in the end

a la mayor brevedad posible <> as soon as possible

a la sazón <> at the time

a la ventura <> at random

a la ventura <> with no fixed plan

a la vez <> at the same time

a la vez <> together

a la vista de las dificultades <> in the light of the difficulties

a la vuelta de 6 años <> at the end of 6 years

a lo más <> at most

a lo más <> at the most

a lo mejor <> maybe

a lo mejor <> perhaps

a lo que parece <> apparently

a lo que parece <> to all appearances

a lo sumo <> at most

a los ojos de muchos <> in the judgement of many

a manera de ejemplo <> as an example

a manera de ejemplo <> as an illustration

a mi costa <> at my expense

a mi juicio <> in my opinion

a mi parecer <> in my view

a mi parecer <> to my way of thinking

a modo de ejemplo <> by way of example

a nivel popular (comunitario o local) <> at the grassroots

a ojo de buen cubero <> at a rough estimate
a pesar de <> despite

a pesar de <> in spite of

a pesar de todo <> in spite of everything

a pesar mío <> against my will

a pie juntillas <> firmly (believe)

a posta <> intentionally

a posta <> on purpose

a primera vista <> at first blush

a primera vista <> at first sight

a propósito <> by the way

a simple vista <> at a glance

a simple vista <> at first

a su debido tiempo <> in due time

a su tiempo <> at the right time

a su tiempo <> in due time

a tal efecto <> for the purpose
a tiempo <> on time

a toda costa <> at all costs

a todas luces <> obviously
a través <> through

a última hora <> at the eleventh hour

a última hora <> at the last minute

a veces <> at times

a veces <> sometimes

actualmente <> currently

además <> in addition

además <> moreover
ahora bien <> however

ahora bien <> nevertheless

al aire libre <> outdoors

al azar <> at random

al contrario <> on the contrary

al correr de los años <> as the years go by

al correr de los años <> as the years roll by

al efecto <> for that purpose

al fin <> at last

al fin <> eventually

al fin <> finally
al final <> after all

al final <> in conclusion
al pie de la letra <> exactly according to instructions

al pie de la letra <> literally

al pie de la letra <> to the letter

al pie de la letra <> word for word

al principio <> at the beginning

al principio <> at the outset

al principio <> at the start

al principio <> in the beginning

al pronto <> at first
al revés <> backwards

al revés <> in the opposite way

al revés <> in the reverse order

al revés <> inside out

al revés <> upside down

ambos (ninguno) <> both (neither)

ante <> before

ante mí <> in my presence

ante todo <> above all

ante todo <> first of all

antiguamente <> formerly

aparentemente <> apparently

aparte <> besides

aparte de esto <> apart from this

apresuradamente <> hastily

así <> as

así <> thus

así (que) <> so

así como <> as well as

así parece <> so it seems

aún <> still

aun a pesar de <> even though

aún así <> even so

aún así <> for all that

aunque <> although

aunque <> even though

aunque <> though

aunque no lo parezca <> incredible as it may seem

aunque parece extraño <> curiously enough

aunque sea cierto <> although this may be true