Topic outline

  • Do you listen

    the more listen

    Hearing refers to the sounds that you hear, whereas listening requires more than that: it requires focus.  Listening means paying attention not only to the story, but how it is told, the use of language and voice, and how the other person uses his or her body.  In other words, it means being aware of both verbal and non-verbal messages.  Your ability to listen effectively depends on the degree to which you perceive and understand these messages.

    • Sark ends feudal rule

      Chief Pleas, Sark's Parliament

      People of one of the Channel Islands, Sark, are voting today for their first ever democratic government. The election ends nearly 450 years of feudal rule. The island's constitution was changed to comply with European human rights legislation. Jon Kay reports: 

      At precisely ten o'clock the doors to Sark's village hall opened. Waiting in line, a handful of islanders keen to cast their votes before the morning ferry departed. 

      The hall snooker room has been converted into the only polling station with specially constructed plywood booths where voters can fill in the lengthy ballot paper in secret. 

      There are fifty-six candidates seeking office in all - that's one in eight of the islands adult population. There'll be twenty-eight seats in the new parliament and the result should be declared here just after ten o'clock tonight. 

      Jon Kay, BBC News, Sark 

      village hall

      the venue in a village which is a centre for official and social events 

      in line

      queuing one after another 

      a handful

      here, a small group 

      to cast their votes

      to take part in the election, to vote for their chosen candidates 

      polling station

      a place where people go to vote in an election 

      plywood booths

      small enclosed areas in a polling station where you can vote in private; in this case they were made of several thin layers of wood stuck together 

      ballot paper

      a piece of paper on which you write or mark your vote 

      seeking office

      here, competing to become members of parliament 


      here, members 


      announced, made public 

      • Venice floods

        The Italian city of Venice has been put on a flood alert after warnings the sea around it could rise to its highest level in thirty years. A number of streets, including the central tourist district, are already under water. Our Rome correspondent Duncan Kennedy reports: dilmentor venice

        In the past few hours the famous Piazza San Marco, or Saint Mark's Square, has already gone under around eighty centimetres of water. Surrounding streets have also been affected with some residents cut off in their homes. 

        But the Venice Tidal Centre says that levels could go much higher. It says the sea is due to rise to one meter sixty above its normal level - the highest since 1979. 

        Venice is built on hundreds of islands and often experiences high water at this time of the year. The worst incident was in 1966 when the city was submerged by nearly two meters of water amid catastrophic flooding throughout Italy. 

        Duncan Kennedy, BBC News, Rome


        that are around/close by 


        here, harmed, damaged 


        people who live in a certain place 

        cut off in

        isolated in, unable to leave 

        Tidal Centre

        an institution studying and predicting tides, i.e. the cyclic rises and falls of the sea caused by the attraction of the Moon and Sun (tides occur about every twelve hours) 

        due to

        expected to 


        if you experience something, it happens to you, you can feel it 

        high water

        higher than usual levels of water, flooding 

        submerged by

        covered by, gone under (water) 


        very bad, causing a lot of damage 

        • Boy in Congo saved by mobile phone

          A doctor has saved the life of a teenage boy in the Democratic Republic of Congo by amputating his shoulder. He'd never performed the operation before - so, using his mobile phone, he had to text a colleague in Britain asking for instructions. Rob Norris reports: doktors

          It's unclear how the sixteen year old boy lost his left arm - some reports say he was fishing with a harpoon when he was attacked by a hippopotamus, although it's also emerged that he'd been caught up in fighting between government and rebel forces in the east of Congo. 

          When a British doctor found him in hospital in the town of Rutshuru, the wound had become badly infected and gangrenous. The doctor, who works for the charity Medecins Sans Frontieres, knew that the boy would die within days if he didn't take action

          The only way to save him was to perform what's called a forequarter amputation - which means removing the collar bone and the shoulder blade. The doctor, David Nott, knew of only one surgeon in Britain who had the expertise to do it. So, as he explained to the BBC, he sent his colleague a text message: 

          DAVID NOTT:

          Almost immediately he texted me back - the procedure, how to do it step by step. And obviously you have to think for twenty-four hours really whether this is the right thing or not, you know, a little boy in the middle of the Congo with one arm - because it's an enormous operation. In the UK, you'd need an intensive care unit and an HDU unit to do it, and so it was a huge undertaking

          It's all the more remarkable because the doctor was working in a very basic operating theatre, with just one pint of blood for transfusion

          Since he underwent the amputation in October, the boy has made an extraordinary recovery. 

          Rob Norris, BBC

          a harpoon

          a long heavy sharp weapon, similar to a spear, that is fixed to a rope and used for killing certain animals living in water 


          become known 

          caught up

          involved (in something bad) 

          take action

          do something 

          the expertise

          the knowledge and experience 

          intensive care

          the monitoring and treatment of seriously ill or injured patients 


          short for 'high dependency unit', a medical department that provides life support or organ support in patients who are critically ill 

          a huge undertaking

          a very difficult task 


          when blood that has been taken from one person is put into another person's body (usually after an accident or during an operation) 

          made an extraordinary recovery

          become well again quite quickly, even though it wasn't certain this would happen 

          • US carmakers gloom

            Bosses of America's three biggest car companies face grilling in Congress over their request for a multi-billion dollar bailout. Yesterday they faced scepticism from US lawmakers as to whether the bailout would work. Jamie Coomarasamy reports: carmakers

            It was a long and frustrating day for the chief executives whose revised request for a multi-billion dollar loan was met with renewed scepticism by senators. Despite warnings of the impending collapse of General Motors and the view of the banking committee's chairman, Chris Dodd, that inaction was not an option, the six hour hearing ended without consensus

            Some Senators echoed the sentiments of President Bush who warned in an interview against throwing good money after bad. 

            On Friday the carmakers take their case to the House financial services committee. Its Democratic chairman, Barney Frank, has called on president-elect Obama to be rather more assertive on the issue than he has been so far. 

            Jamie Coomarasamy, BBC News, Washington 


            that has been looked at again and, as a result, changed 

            renewed scepticism

            more doubts (about the truth or value of something) 

            impending collapse

            a serious failure that is about to happen 


            doing nothing 

            an option

            here, something to consider, a possible choice 

            without consensus

            with those present unable to come to a single opinion 

            echoed the sentiments of

            expressed the same feelings as 


            an issue that is dealt with by a court of law 

            called on

            firmly asked, encouraged 


            open, strong and confident