News-based English language activities from the global newspaper

December 2009

Level ≥ Lower intermediate Style ≥ Lesson plan
Welcome to the Guardian Weekly’s special news-based materials to support learners and teachers of English. Each month, the Guardian Weekly newspaper selects topical news articles that can be used to practise English language skills. The materials are graded for two levels: advanced and lower intermediate. These worksheets can be downloaded free from guardianweekly.co.uk/learningenglish/. You can also find more advice for teachers and learners on the site.

Telescope hit by broadband problems
Materials prepared by Janet Hardy-Gould

Instructions
Lesson focus: Materials sheet: Time:

reading, writing letter of complaint copies of the article 60 minutes a television b electricity c telecoms 5 It takes more than _____ to send data from one night’s observation. a an hour b a day c a week 6 The people at Salt began negotiations for broadband some _____ ago. a weeks b months c years 7 In September a _____ delivered information faster than broadband. a bird b horse c runner Answers: 1 b 2 c 3 a 4 c 5 b 6 c 7 a 6 Read out the following questions one by one. Students put up their hands to answer. 5 mins a How much did the telescope cost? b How big is the telescope’s mirror? c How far away is the nearest internet cable? d How much money is Telkom asking for? e How far is the drive to deliver data? f How big was the memory stick carried by the pigeon? Answers: a $45 b 11m wide c 18km d $1.3m e 370km f 4GB 7 Tell students they need to write a letter of complaint about poor broadband service. As a class, establish three key paragraphs: reason for writing, details of the problem, what you would like the company to do. Students begin in class and finish for homework. 20 mins

1 Show the class the picture of Salt but don’t say that it’s a telescope. In pairs, students speculate what it is: it might/could be a block of flats, art gallery etc. Class feedback. 5 mins 2 Write up the headline with a gap as indicated below. Students try to guess the missing word: Telescope hit by _____ problems. 3 mins 3 Pre-teach the following set of telescope related words: astronomer, universe, moon, hemisphere, light years, detect, finding, data. Students suggest two or three further words to add. 10 mins 4 Give out the article – students read the headline and learn that the telescope has broadband problems. Ask students if they also have problems with this. 3 mins 5 Write up these questions and go through them as a class. Students read and choose the correct answers. Class feedback. 14 mins 1 The telescope’s broadband connection is very _____. a old b slow c expensive 2 The astronomers send their data by _____. a plane b train c motor vehicle 3 Salt is the _____ telescope in the Southern Hemisphere. a largest b oldest c best 4 Salt has had problems with the South African _____ company.

News-based English language activities from the global newspaper

December 2009

Materials sheet

Article: Telescope hit by broadband problems
1 It can see to the edge of the universe. It can look back in time to the end of the Big Bang. Just don’t ask it to send any information by email. 2 The $45m Southern African Large Telescope (Salt) is a world-famous science facility with everything but fast broadband. Its astronomers have found download speeds so slow that they have to send their findings by road. 3 The problem is familiar to South African residents: very slow service delivery. Politicians have now asked the telephone company to improve the situation and save South Africa’s scientific reputation. 4 Salt, on a hill in the Karoo desert, is the biggest telescope in the southern hemisphere and it has a 11m-wide mirror that can detect a candle flame on the moon. 5 But while it can get data from 10bn light years away, Salt is 18km short of the nearest internet cable. And now five years of negotiations have stopped because Telkom, the South African telecoms operator, is demanding $1.3m. 6 Dr David Buckley, operations manager at Salt, said sending data from a single night’s observation takes 24 hours or more. But in an ideal world it would be done continuously in real time. 7 Buckley and his colleagues frequently put their precious data on disk and make the 370km drive to the South African Astronomical Observatory where it is processed. “We bring the data ourselves in a minibus or car,” he said. 8 “This is something we work with in South Africa: pathetic broadband,” he added. “It’s extremely frustrating. We started negotiations with Telkom in 2004 for broadband that would be efficient and affordable.” 9 In September, a pigeon called Winston beat Telkom’s broadband service when it carried a 4GB memory stick from Howick to Durban in two hours – in which time the ADSL line had sent just 4% of the data. Original article byDavid Smith, rewritten by Janet Hardy-Gould

Dome ... Southern African Large Telescope

Student task
1 Students read and choose the correct answers. Class feedback. 1 The telescope’s broadband connection is . very a old b slow c expensive 2 The astronomers send their data by . a plane b train c motor vehicle telescope in the 3 Salt is the Southern Hemisphere. a largest b oldest c best 4 Salt has had problems with the South African company. a television b electricity c telecoms to send data 5 It takes more than from one night’s observation. a an hour b a day c a week 6 The people at Salt began negotiations for broadband ago. some a weeks b months c years delivered 7 In September a information faster than broadband. a bird b horse c runner

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