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Upper-intermediate

Migratory birds in danger

By Di at 12:40pm, June 19, 2018

The Trump administration has announced a position on protecting migratory birds that is a drastic pullback from policies in force for the past 100 years.

In 1916, the U.S.A. and Great Britain signed the Migratory Bird Treaty, which became U.S. law in 1918. The measures protected more than 1,100 migratory bird species by making it illegal to pursue, hunt, take, capture, kill or sell live or dead birds, feathers, eggs, and nests, except as allowed by permit or regulated hunting.

Now the Interior Department has issued a legal opinion that excludes “incidental take” – activities that are not intended to harm birds but do so in ways that could have been foreseen, such as filling in wetlands where migrating birds rest and feed. Why? For fear of “unlimited potential for criminal prosecution,” such as charging cat owners whose pets attack migratory birds, or drivers who accidentally strike birds with their cars, with crimes.

Discussion: 
The article says the U.S. "announced a position... that is a drastic pullback." What's another way to say that?
Why is the shift in U.S. policy concerning the MBTA relevant to other nations?
What other issues transcend national borders?
If environmental protections are a financial burden to a nation's economy, should business protections take precedence over environmental ones?

Video: why Japan has no gun deaths

By Di at 3:00am, March 19, 2018

Watch the explainer video "Why Japan has no mass shootings," then discuss it with your teacher.

Discussion: 
Japan has fewer than 10 shooting deaths per year, compared to 33,000 in the U.S. What are some of the reasons for this?
What can Japan teach the United States about gun ownership?
What do you think about the "infotainment" video? Would you like to watch more in your own time?

Virtual reality holidays

By Di at 3:00am, March 15, 2018

Fasten your seatbelts for a flight departing to Paris-–and never leave the ground.

That’s exactly what 12 passengers did at First Airlines in central Tokyo this week, where they relaxed in first and business-class seats and were served four-course dinners, before immersing themselves in 360-degree virtual reality (VR) tours of the City of Light’s sights.

“A real trip is a hassle to prepare for, and expensive, and takes time. So I think it is good that we can enjoy all this hassle-free,” said Takashi Sakano, 39, who was on his first VR trip, adding that he wanted to try Rome next time.

At 6,600 yen ($62), a fraction of the cost of an actual trip overseas, it’s easy to see why First Airline’s two-hour “flights” to Paris, Rome, Hawaii and New York have been fully booked since the company opened in 2016.

Discussion: 
What is your opinion of virtual reality travel? Do you think First Airlines will be successful in the long term?
Would you take a virtual reality trip? Where would you choose to go?
How do you think virtual reality technology will develop in the next 10 years? 25 years?

This is a sample lesson from our upper-intermediate business course course. This book is suitable for these levels:

The purpose of this trial lesson is to give a sample of the level and content found in Speakout Upper Intermediate. For more information please view the course page.

This conversation lesson is based off a science video about humans going to Mars in the 2030s. Experts say that we are closer to achieving this than ever before. Do you think it's possible or worth the risk?

Everybody's high school experience is different (it usually ranges somewhere between awkward and awesome). This is a conversation lesson based on a social science article. You'll learn about a study done on why cliques exist at some American high schools more than at other schools.

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