Reading C1


Cryptocurrency back in the news

Author Philip Inman wrote an online article for “The Guardian” in February 2021 soon after Elon Musk invested nearly $1.5 billion in bitcoin.  Here is a link to this article entitled: 

“Bitcoin surges through key $50,000 level in European trading”.

What do you think of bitcoin?  Is it just another Ponzzi scheme?  Will it only be a matter of time that the system will crash?  Or is it something that will become more secure over time?

We used this topic as the focus of one of our Hangout in English sessions and created a Vocabulary Quiz based on words found in the article related to the stock market.  Maybe you may find this also useful?   Or if you wish to read more about 

We hope you may consider discussing such a topic and others with us at an upcoming Hangout hosted by The Boston School soon! 

 And if you’d like to get the answers to the Vocabulary Quiz, click here:

Stock Market Vocabulary Answer Key:


US Election 2020: The Stakes are High

The election of our lifetime

It is soon time for US citizens to vote – not just for who will lead the country for the next 4 years as President and Vice President but those responsible in Congress.   In fact, there are 33 out of 100 senators seeking re-election for another 6-year term. The Senate, the upper house of Congress, is currently controlled by the Republican Party by a close margin.  

It may feel like eons ago but can you remember? Trump had been convicted on impeachment charges passed by the lower house: the House of Representatives, led by a majority of Democrats. There was plenty of powerful evidence of his abuse of power and the Republicans didn’t deny it in the end. Yet they continued to back Trump to keep a united front. In their point of view, Democrats represented the enemy.  Not the Russians.  Not corrupt politicians.  Not Donald Trump.  So they acquitted him.

When will enough be enough?

And then came the mismanagement of the pandemic, the authoritarian use of power during the racial protests ignited by George Floyd’s broadcasted murder.  Along with the unresponsiveness of politicians to seize the moment to pass a law banning the choke hold used by police officers.  It could have been a positive step forward in fighting police brutality, which could have satisfied the emboldened protestors.  But it didn’t happen. And let’s not forget, the tictoc debacle and Trump’s humiliating drop in the polls.  

You would think you were asking Yankee fans to root for the Red Sox in the final inning of a World Series!  But treating political parties like rival sport teams is very dangerous, indeed. It’s really okay to switch sides.  From sports we should keep in mind: “It’s not winning or losing but how you play the game that counts”.  

Small cracks, which had begun forming prior to all those events, have been growing much larger within the Republican party itself: between Republican conservatives and right-wing Trump supporters. So large in fact that lifelong Republicans are stating publicly and on social media that they will vote Democrat for the first time in their lives. 

But will it be enough?  The stakes are so very high.  And it’s not just all about Trump.  It’s about the average American – Democrats and Republicans, who have drawn a line in the sand, who refuse to speak to their neighbor because they side with “the other team”. 

Will Americans reconcile with each other?

Reconciliation between parties not only has to happen between elected officials but between the people they represent. Family members, neighbors and co-workers have to do their part. Can Americans, who have been trolling and throwing ugly insults at each other for years now, finally say “enough is enough”? Can those who refuse to speak to one another pick up the phone and start with a clean slate?

Whether Trump wins or loses this coming election, there will still be a need for Americans themselves to change their tone and make every effort to unite.   If Trump convinces “his base” that the Democrats cheated to win or the Democrats have proof that Trump abused he helped rig the election, who will believe whom?  

Will there be a peaceful transfer of power in America? 

This is what everyone fears to say out loud but we’re all thinking it. But basically, unless people stop blaming Trump, the Clintons, the supposed Deep State, the FBI, CIA, the US Postal Office or whatever other institute: real or made up, the problems that plague the country will continue to mount.  The promise of a more united union will be harder to deliver on if regular everyday people don’t start to have real conversations with each other. 

Freedom vs. liberty – there is a difference

Will it be Americans desire for individual freedom to not wear a mask, eat as much junk food as they please and buy as many guns as they wish that will trump all? Individual freedom to do whatever you want could win over a deeper sense of duty to one another as a country whose Constitution values liberty and justice for all. What kind of lessons will children be learning from that?

If there is no sense of duty to do right for one’s neighbor – whether they love them or not, then it looks like after all these years, the Communists will be proven right.  The USA may be on its way to becoming yet another country ruled by a large authoritarian figure head and not “for the people, by the people”, after all. 

Ironically, the Republicans call Democrats often “Socialists”.  Yet, it will be the acts of the Republicans that may turn the USA into a country run by a dictator: by Donald Trump, who may never leave office.  Or perhaps spur on a second civil war.

America these days seem to be addicted to drama.  But let’s hope they still are seeking a “they lived happily ever after” ending, too. One not just for the cameras but in real life.  Their own lives.


Serving customers in times of crisis

I came across this insightful article on the website: Help Scout.  It’s an article entitled “Crisis Communication Tips for Customer Service Teams” written by Matthew Patterson at the start of the Coronavirus outbreak in March 2020. 

Hope you find this helpful in managing customer service calls during difficult, stressful times.  I have chosen 25 words from the start of the article and created a B2/C1 level Quizlet vocabulary set.  

Perhaps this article on how to adjust to working from home  might also interest you?

It would be wonderful to hear from our readers. What advice can you give others at this time? Do you have a story to share?  We’d love to hear from you.

How to manage working at home with the kids?



I admit it.  We don’t have kids.  But I can tell you that after running my own business for many years from home and living with my husband, whose own separate business is also home based, I have learned a lesson or two about working and living in close quarters with a family member for an extended period of time.  

For the children aspect, I am glad to share my insights learned by observing young families in similar situations.

Here are my 5 tips for working at home with family membêrs

1) Designate purposes for rooms or shared spaces 

You’ve got to look at your home with a new perspective, especially if you have limited space and both partners need to work full or part-time from home.  Assess objectively what the requirements are for each person. 

For example, if one or both of you are often talking on the phone, then working in separate rooms is best.  No matter what rooms you use: Just do it!  However, it is feasible to work in the same room if both of you have work that involves only reading/writing tasks.

Two such compatible jobs could be accounting and web design work.  But if we consider a sales person and a teacher working in the same room, then no! Don’t!.  You’re going to need your separate work spaces and areas.  Resources, books and files should be easily accessible to those who need it and at the same time not create an eye sore for the other.

Keep in mind, a sensible solution could simply involve moving tables or bookshelves in and out of different rooms. Doing so can transform your space in ways you may have never thought of before.

Also consider storing items that you don’t regularly need into your storage room to gain extra space. Now is also a good time to do your spring-cleaning and take things to Hagenholz or a recycling center.  To remain hygienic and safe, donating your possessions may not be the wisest choice at this time.

Lastly, don’t feel bad if you start out working in the same room as your mate and realize afterwards it’s really best to separate.  Be pragmatic and make it clear why you’d like to try something different. Most likely they will see your point when the new working arrangement improves their ability to concentrate, too.

With children?

Where children are concerned, you may need to get very creative.  A friend of mine transformed part of their living room into a mini-school room/play area for their 2-year old.  They couldn’t use the living room as an office room but it seemed to be a magical area where her daughter could play hours on end

I’ve also just learned my neighbour who has 3 children must now also work from home. The solution he has found is to use the apartment building’s attic to work from so his 1-year old and 3-year old daughters think he’s away at work.  Otherwise, they just wouldn’t understand why he is not paying attention to them. Luckily, his wife is a stay-at-home mom and is taking care of the kids as she usually does.

Not everyone will need to take such drastic measures.  As previously mentioned, when it comes to working with kids at home, you may consider renting a hobby room.  If that’s not possible, you could come to agreement to decide that you’ll spend the morning taking care of the children while your partner works and then switch roles in the afternoon. 

2) Determine “time zones”

Now, this is a tough rule that I have for myself and wish my husband would follow, too.  I enjoy having a clear “end of a working day”.  So when I watch TV in the living room, i.e. “his sometimes office”, I am not reminded of work.  This is hard for me when I can see him sitting at his computer often until bedtime working against a deadline only he has set for himself.

The upside to working from home is that you may be able to take a longer break during the day and work more in the early morning or evening. You may want to retreat into the bedroom or kitchen to not disturb the other(s) when you need “alone time”. This isn’t your corporate office.  Doing a little cleaning or cooking makes for a great break. Then get straight back to work. Keeping a to do list helps to maintain discipline.

Decide for yourself when work time is and coordinate shared time with your partner.  This may change day to day. Remain flexible to work around a conference call or stressful deadlines to meet.

But in the end, you do need to shut off. And so, literally shut your office door, if you have one, when your work day is officially over.  Respecting a set time to stop will help you turn your office back into your home.

3) Relax and unwind together

These are special times: We are not allowed to gather in large groups and we may even feel anxious seeing 1 or 2 friends. Enjoying a walk in the fresh air with family or on our own will be some of the most cherished time of all – because it can offer a sense of freedom and hope. 

Being outdoors is where young children can release pent-up energy and give them a chance to run around and make some noise.  Take a walk in the woods, do a bit of yoga, stretching or running.  Keeping your body fit will keep your mind fit, too.  

In contrast, it may be difficult to get your older children to go outside with you.  They may even try to sneak out of the house to visit friends while you may be gone for a while. Each family will have their challenges. Make sure they clearly understand the consequences of their actions. Making it clear that it is a temporary solution should help and need to know that having them stay in their own room while work hours are on will also be important for them to get on board with.  Allowing them to spend more time on the phone or playing games could help, with parental controls set up

Of course for those families who may have all contracted the virus, going outside won’t be an option available to you.  Having meals together or enjoying a break together, even if it’s to just watch TV, does help reduce boredom and monotony of working all day and helps to keep the family bond strong. 

Take the time, too, to see what new hobbies or interests they may be able to develop while housebound. Encourage each other to cherish this special time given as a way to strengthen healthy habits and develop life skills they will find useful in the future. Teach your children how to cook, clean, sew, repair a bike or do some gardening.  You have been given now a gift of time with your loved ones.  Doing something active as a family will help you to remain positive.

4) Take turns 

As both of you will be at home now and no one will be able to go out to a restaurant for lunch where everything is planned. There will be meals that need to prepared.  We all know that sometimes at work, we work over lunchtime eating sandwiches or a salad in 15 minutes and sometimes at our desk.  

A change in eating habits is very likely to occur.  When it is difficult to know when you can break for lunch, think of easy meals that don’t take too long to prepare and allow each other to eat when they want. 

Others may feel keeping to a strict schedule is best.  Talk about what is important for you so that the other is aware of your needs and preferences.  Work out a meal time and solution that is convenient for all. 

This leads to the point of sharing tasks. Everyone of course is different. But I have to say that I am grateful when my husband can take over some cooking duties for me when I want to work when he wants to eat.  Be honest with yourself and your partner about what days you may need to help out with household duties. And that goes for taking care of the children, too. Work as a team so that resentment does not build up and arguing remains at a minimum.

5) Stay in touch with friends 

Not having to commute to work each day or having the chance to work without your make-up or wearing a suit may sound great at first.  But the concept of living and working 24/7 with your family members is a completely other challenge:  very similar to what people experience when they first retire

Stay in touch with friends and family outside of your home.  Share with one another your stories and advice. Keep connected with someone outside of your home will help you to.  Remember this situation too shall pass.  We will all hopefully learn something from it.  Let’s be there for one another in this time of need

In closing, I wish all of you to stay safe.  Wash your hands often.  Keep away from crowds and follow all the advice the experts are sharing.  May your family members and friends stay healthy: both mentally and physically.  And God bless.

Anything to share? Perhaps about your own experiences during this time?  

We’d be happy if you shared them with us in the comment box below.