Reading: Who goes to Oxford University?

Reading: Who goes to Oxford University?
Intermediate to advanced level (B1-C2)

This year just over 40% of undergraduate places at Oxford University went to UK students who attended independent schools. In 2005, the figure was 48% and in 1995 it was almost 52%, and if you go back to 1961, it was a little over 65%. Continue reading

Reading: 10 miles south of Oxford

It takes about 20 minutes to drive from Oxford to a village called Little Wittenham. It’s a popular place for walking because you get great views from the top of the nearby hills (Round Hill and Castle Hill). The hills, which are usually known as the Clumps, have wild flowers on their slopes and beech trees at their tops. You can see birds such as skylarks, buzzards and red kites.

From the top of Round Hill you can see the river Thames as it meanders by the pretty village of Dorchester (you can see Dorchester Abbey in the photo). If you have time, it’s a good place to have a picnic before walking down the hills and exploring the woods below.

In Little Wittenham there is an organisation called Earth Trust which seeks to encourage sustainable living. At the moment Earth Trust has 1,200 acres of woodland, research plantation, meadow, wetland and farmland.

Cycling in Oxford

There are lots of cyclists in Oxford and usually they have to battle with the buses and cars that also use the streets. However today some of the country’s top cyclists came to Oxford to race.

St Giles in the city centre was closed to normal traffic and converted into a race track as you can see in the photograph.

Pronunciation: Linking English words – a Mini story

Pronunciation and listening: Word linking
Intermediate and higher level (B1-C2)

In normal conversation it is common for many words to be linked together. This can make listening to English a little difficult at the beginning. You can learn how to link words together. Practising linking English words will improve your listening and speaking.   Continue reading

Reading: Air show

Yesterday I went to an air show near the town of Abingdon (8 miles south of Oxford). It’s a fun thing to do in the summer months.

There were aircraft on the ground and flying displays in the air. As well as the planes there were vintage cars, crafts and dancing. Near the end of the show we saw the Breitling Wingwalkers. Two biplanes gave us a 15-minute show with a woman doing acrobatics on the wings of each plane. Very impressive! You can see them in the first photograph.

Each year the Abingdon Air and Country Show raises money for charity. This year they are raising money for the local air ambulance (a helicopter).

Listen Air show

Reading and listening: The boat race

Reading and listening
Intermediate level (B1-B2)

The annual Oxford and Cambridge boat race had to be stopped after an Australian protester swam in front of the boats. The race was restarted and Cambridge went on to win. What I don’t understand is why he needed to get so close to the boats and risk his life.

Listen Boat race

This famous university boat race started in 1829 after a challenge between 2 school friends. It takes place on the River Thames in West London every year. The course is 4.2 miles long – about 6.8 km. So far Cambridge have won 81 races and Oxford have only won 77. In 1877 it was a draw!

In its history there have been striking crew members and boats sinking so this years incident is just one of many.