Sydney Harbour Bridge

Have you ever been to Sydney?

Have you ever seen an amazing bridge anywhere in the world?

Skim through this article titled A Guide to Sydney Harbour Bridge to find the answer to these questions.

  1. What does Sydney Harbour Bridge connect?
  2. How long did it take to build the bridge?
  3. How many men built the bridge?
  4. How many men died while building the bridge?
  5. How much did the bridge cost?
  6. How many steel rivets were used?
  7. How many lanes are on the bridge?
  8. How many litres of paint were used to paint the bridge?
  9. How high is the Sydney Harbour Bridge?
  10. How high are the traffic lanes above the water?
Answers: 1. north and south shores/ Milsons Point and Dawes Point, 2. 8 years, 3. 1400, 4. 16, 5. $4.2 million, 6. 6 million, 7. 8 traffic lanes + 2 rail lanes, 8. 272,000 litres, 9. 135 metres, 10. 51 metres

Now read the article again and look closer at the language. Answer these questions to get a better understanding of the language.

  1. Why do they call the Sydney Harbour Bridge the “coat hanger”?
  2. What does “exercise their forefingers” mean?
  3. “The likelihood of the bridge actually being built was slim to none during this time.” What does this mean?
  4. What does it mean by “the bridge had warmed locals’ hearts”?
  5. What happened here – “a moment temporarily disrupted by a treacherous Captain”?
Answers: 1. because the shape of the bridge looks like a hanger to hang clothes on, 2. to take photos using the first finger on the hand, 3. "slim to none" means fairly unlikely, 4. the people of Sydney liked the bridge, 5. a Captain with a bad reputation cut the ribbon of the bridge before the Premier, it was just a short moment before they arrested him

For more academic English lessons go to:

Smart English Class

Autonomous cars

Autonomous cars are being developed and trialed at a rapid pace. It will soon be quite normal to see cars driving on the road without a human driver.

  • What do you think of this idea?
  • Would you like to travel in an autonomous car?
  • What do you think the advantages would be of an autonomous car?
  • What do you think the disadvantages would be of an autonomous car?

Read this article from The Conversation titled We asked people if they would trust driverless cars.


While you read through the article highlight any words that you don’t understand or that show an interesting use of language. Make a list of this vocabulary and use your English-English dictionary to find the definitions to add into your list.


After you have read the article do some more research on the topic of autonomous cars. Take notes on your findings.

For more academic English lessons go to:

Smart English Class

Learning a Second Language

When is the right time to learn a second language? As a young child learning two languages at the same time, or as a teenager where it is a compulsory subject at school, or when you are an adult when you have the time and dedication to spend on learning a new language. What do you think?

Warren Midgley has written an article in The Conversation titled Younger is not always better when it comes to learning a second language.


To understand more about an article research is required to explore some of the ideas raised and who the author is. Read through these 3 explorations to give more insight into the article.

  1. Theory of universal grammar – this theory suggests that humans learn to speak their native language by imitating what they hear and repeating it. In other words, we are all genetically programmed to learn and understand our first language naturally.
  2. Critical period hypothesis – this hypothesis suggests that there is a particular period in the first few years of a human’s life where language is learned if there is sufficient exposure to the language. If this does not happen for someone within this critical period of time then learning that language is so much more difficult, particularly grammar.
  3. Warren Midgley is the author of this article. He works as an Associate Professor of Applied Linguistics at the University of Southern Queensland. His fields of research are Education and Linguistics and his work has been published in many academic books and journals.


Now match these words from the article to the definitions.

WORD                                                              DEFINITION

1. second language

a) a language that is learned, not someone’s native language

2. first language b) wanting very much to have something that someone else has
3. fluency c) challenge an action or theory as not being correct
4. envy d) to have a strong effect on something
5. phenomenon e) the skills of understanding thought processes in learning
6. instinctive knowledge f) someone’s native language or mother tongue
7. exposure g) the age between being a child and an adult, usually the teenage years
8. posits h) being in the same place as someone else and interacting in person
9. contested i) a situation that exists
10. influential j) able to listen, read, speak and write coherently in a language
11. immersion k) learning online with people from all around the world
12. meta-cognitive skills l) following one after another in an order
13. adolescence m) having regular contact with something
14. consecutive n) a suggestion of something being true
15. face-to-face o) the level of ability someone has in a language
16. virtual conversation classes p) to be entirely involved in something
17. language proficiency q) a natural response or behavior
Answers: 1a, 2f, 3j, 4b, 5i, 6q, 7m, 8n, 9c, 10d, 11p, 12e, 13g, 14l, 15h, 16k, 17o.

For more academic English lessons go to:

Smart English Class

Plastic Waste

This month is highlighting the awareness of living Plastic Free, trying to reduce our use of plastic and to recycle as much as possible.

Read this article from ABC news titled Plastic and how it affects our oceans.

Write a short summary for each of these questions.

  1. How much plastic goes into the ocean?
  2. How long does plastic last in the ocean?
  3. What is plastic made from?
  4. Where does the plastic go?
  5. What impact does plastic have on marine animals?
  6. So what can we do about it?

For a class divide the class into 6 groups and have each group read and summarise one section to then share with students from other groups.

For more activities on summarizing go to Unit 12 Summarising.

Scam Awareness

A scam is when someone tries to take something, for example money or identity, from another person through dishonest means. With the increased use of the internet over the years this has increased the chance of people illegally trying to take advantage of others.

There have been many reports of people being scammed in many ways and recently there have been media campaigns to make us more aware to stop the scams. There are a number of different ways scammers try to get your information.

Read through this article Stop and check: Is this for real? Scam Awareness Week 2018 and take notes on each of these sub-headings:

  1. Threats to life, arrest or other
  2. Remote access scams
  3. Phishing
  4. Identity theft
  5. False billing

This activity can also be divided amongst 5 groups where each group reads and takes notes on one sub-heading and then shares their notes with the other groups.

For more activities on note-taking go to Unit 6 Scanning, Skimming and Note-taking.

As robots replace old jobs, new jobs should be invented

Read through this article from The New York Times by Garry Kasparov titled As Robots Replace Old Jobs, New Jobs Should Be Invented.

Match the words on the left to the correct definitions on the right:

  1. adaptable –                                  A. boring and dull
  2. doomsaying –                              B. copy
  3. replicate –                                    C. use of automatic equipment
  4. capable –                                      D. to change to suit a new situation
  5. liberate –                                      E. waste something without thought
  6. tedious –                                       F. to predict a negative future
  7. automation –                               G. to free or release
  8. squandered –                               H. able to achieve something


Answers: 1D, 2F, 3B, 4H, 5G, 6A, 7C, 8E

For more activities on reading the news go to Unit 4 Reading News Reports.

Swiss anthem

Do you know the national anthem from Switzerland?

Read about it here, then answer these questions.

  1. What 3 jobs did Leonard Widmer do?
  2. What job did Alberik Zwyssig do?
  3. What did they do together?
  4. Why didn’t the Swiss government declare ‘Swiss Psalm’ a national anthem immediately?
  5. Why did the government allow ‘Swiss Psalm’ to be the anthem in 1961?
  6. When was it officially declared the Swiss national anthem?
  7. What are the 4 languages of Switzerland?
  8. Read through the English version of the lyrics.
1. music publisher, journalist and lyricist 2. music director 3. create the Swiss national anthem 4. the government wanted the public to have an opinion 5. because their original anthem sounded the same as the British anthem, they wanted something Swiss 6. 1981 7. German, French, Italian, Romansch

For more activities on National Anthems go to Unit 2 of the Teachers Course.

The highest paid animal actors

Where have you seen animals acting?

Have a look at the photos in this article and see if you recognise any of the 10 animals from films or TV shows.

Now read through the article about the highest paid animal actors and answer these questions.

  1. What type of dog was Rin Tin Tin?
  2. Who employed Rin Tin Tin?
  3. What was Rin Tin Tin’s nickname?
  4. What movie was Keiko in?
  5. How did Keiko die?
  6. What type of animal was Bart?
  7. How old was Bart when he died?
  8. What was the name of the first dog who played Lassie?
  9. What type of dog was Lassie?
  10. What was the stage name of the dog on Frasier?
  11. What happened when Moose got too old to act?
  12. What type of animal is Crystal?
  13. Why did they stop filming Animal Practice?
  14. What type of dog played in The Wizard of Oz?
  15. What happened to the dog while filming The Wizard of Oz?
  16. What was the name of Skippy’s character in the movies?
  17. What tricks could Trigger do?
  18. What is the characters name of the most famous animal actor?
1. German shepherd 2. Warner Brothers Studio 3. Rinty 4. Free Willy 5. from pneumonia 6. Alaskan brown bear 7. 23 years old 8. Pal 9. Collie 10. Eddie 11. his son Enzo started to act 12. Capuchin monkey 13. because of poor ratings 14. Terrier 15. the dog broke his foot 16. Asta 17. walking on hind legs and untying hands 18.Benji

Go to Unit 2 Reading Books for more reading activities.

Animals of Australia

What Australian animals do you know?

Read the introduction of Australia’s Animals and find what each number refers to.

  • 3
  • 800
  • 2
  • 4000
  • 50
3 groups of mammals - monotremes, marsupials and placentals
over 800 bird species, including the emu
2 crocodile species
4000 fish species
50 marine mammals

Take notes on the different Australian animals as you continue to read.


  • dingo –
  • numbat –
  • quoll –
  • Tasmanian devil –
  • bilby –


  • kangaroo –
  • wallaby –
  • koala –
  • wombat –


  • platypus –
  • echidna –


  • honeyeater –
  • emu –
  • cassowary –
  • kookaburra –
  • penguin –
  • lyrebird –
  • parrot –


  • python –
  • tree snake –
  • crocodile –
  • turtle –
  • lizard –

Marine animals

  • whale –
  • dugong –
  • dolphin –
  • shark –
  • fur seal –

Choose one of the animals from the list and do some further research on it. Find a photo of it and take notes on the animals physical appearance, habitat, diet and reproduction.

Go to Unit 10 Researching to learn effective research skills.

The form guide

Have a look at this form guide from the 2016 Melbourne Cup.


Scan over the guide quickly to answer these questions.

  1. How many horses are in the race?
  2. How many metres do the horses race?
  3. What time does the Melbourne Cup race start?
  4. Which horse won the Melbourne Cup in 2016?
  5. Which horse came second?
  6. Which horse came third?
1. 24 horses 2. 3200 metres 3. 12:00pm 4. Almandin 5. Heartbreak City 6. Hartnell

Now skim the guide to find more detail and answer these questions.

  1. How many horses come from Japan in the race?
  2. What is the name of the horse that comes from Australia?
  3. There is one female jockey in the race. What is the name of the horse she is riding?
  4. Who trained Oceanographer?
  5. What is the name of the other horse in this race that Oceanographer’s trainer trained?
  6. How many horses in this race has Robert Hickmott trained?
  7. Where does the winning horse come from?
  8. Which country has the most horses in this race?
  9. For how many metres do the horses run straight?
  10. How much is the total amount of money that can be won from the race?
1. 1 horse 2. Jameka 3. Katelyn Mallyon is riding Assign 4. Charlie Appleby 5. Qewy 6. 3 horses 7. Germany 8. Great Britain 9. 448 metres 10. 6 million dollars

For more activities on scanning and skimming go to Unit 6 Scanning, Skimming and Note-taking.