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The English monthly magazine for you



Jesse J

YEAR XXIII • N° 1 • August • September • October 2011 • Imprimé à Taxe Réduite


Table of contents Focus

4 Obama’s First Term Success or Failure?





The Nobel Prize

The Rugby Union World Cup New Zealand

Birds of Manhattan



12 Historic Upper Manhattan. Washington Heights


14 Jesse J

TV series


Modern Family



Actor James Franco



Issue worksheet


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Karen Russell

Letter to readers Dear Readers, A new school year begins, and Sure! welcomes you to our magazine. Our purpose is

to bring lively, informative news of the English-speaking world to young people learning English as a second language – and to do so by satisfying your curiosity about the issues, personalities, foibles and follies of those your age in English-speaking cultures. An old proverb says, “All the world

Editorial director: Lamberto Pigini Editor-in-Chief: Lisa Kramer Taruschio

The publisher is prepared to make payment for any copyright of photographs where the source has been impossible to trace.

All correspondence should be addressed to: The Editors, Sure! Magazine c/o European Schoolbooks Ltd. Ashville Trading Estate The Runnings Cheltenham GL51 9PQ - U.K.

A few words about the online dictionaries we use. The Cambridge dictionary at provides both British and American definitions and is quite thorough; the American Heritage Dictionary at is great for American English, and at provides concise translations. Many of these dictionaries also include pronunciation options, with audio help online. These are quite useful for determining English vs. American pronunciation (and others as well). We wish you as much enjoyment of the English language as we experience in bringing it to you in its many manifestations. Of course, we would love to hear from you and encourage you to write us expressing your thoughts – positive and negative -- about the magazine and its contents so that we can continue to bring you timely and interesting glimpses into the worlds of English.

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Year XXIII • No. 1 August • September • October 2011

is one country” and thanks to modern communications the world grows increasingly smaller, bringing knowledge and therefore tolerance of others into our lives. And because a language reflects a society’s way of life, we hope that as you perfect your knowledge of English, you enter deeper into the community of mankind.

Have a fruitful and illuminating school year.

Lisa Kramer Taruschio Editor-in-Chief



Obama’s First Term: Success or Failure? On November 4, 2008, Barack Hussein Obama, a 47-year-old Democratic and a three-term* senator from Illinois, made history as the first African American to be elected president of the United States. He is one of the youngest Presidents in American history, and his presidency began on a note of hope and change. More than one million people crowded the National Mall in Washington D.C. on January 20, 2009, to witness* the historic inauguration ceremony of the 44th president. A worldwide audience followed the day’s events on television.

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Obama took over from George W. Bush, a Republican who had been in office for eight years. Bush left behind a nation that was in very serious trouble indeed. The U.S. was facing one of its worse economic meltdowns* and crises in its history; banks and brokerage* houses were in very poor shape or even closing down; unemployment was high across the land; people were defaulting* on their mortgages* and losing their homes; the health ca re system was failing…


Now, 3 years later, facing an election for his second 4-year term in November of 2012, the U.S. President launched his 2012 reelection bid last April. It has been a very very busy three years. Has Obama’s first term been a success or a failure so far? Let’s take a chronological look at the positives—and negatives of his first term.

2009: January 22: In the first major act of his presidency, after just two days in the White House, Obama ordered the closure within one year of the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba, a symbol to Democrats of all that is wrong with the so-called ``war on terror’’ waged* by his predecessor* George W. Bush. February 17: Obama signed a controversial but necessary 787-billion-dollar stimulus bill into law, declaring the ``beginning of the end’’ of the worst US economic crisis since the 1930s. February 27: Obama announces the withdrawal* of most US soldiers from Iraq in August 2010

and a total pullout before the end of 2011. March 20: Obama appeals directly to the Iranian people, urging* an end to three decades of animosity*. March 30: The President presents a major rescue* plan for the car industry, extending government’s support well beyond the financial sector. April 5: In a speech in Prague, Obama pledges he will seek to purge* the world of nuclear weapons. June 4: In an address at Cairo University, Obama calls for ``a new beginning’’ with the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims and an end to ``suspicion and discord.’’ October 9: Obama is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. December 1: The president announces he is sending 30,000 more troops into Afghanistan, determined to ``seize the initiative’’ to end the unpopular war and start a pullout in July 2011. March 23, 2010: Obama signs his historic health care reform into law, extending health care insurance to almost all Americans. It is the first significant reform in health care in the United States since Franklin Roosevelt’s term in office in the 1930s. June 16: Under pressure from Obama, British Petroleum reserves 20 billion dollars to pay claims from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. June 23: Obama names General David Petraeus to replace General Stanley McChrystal as Afghan commander. July 21: The President signs the most important financial reforms since the 1930s into law, declaring that everyday Americans will no longer have to pay for Wall Street’s mistakes. August 31: Obama announces the official end of the US combat mission in Iraq. September 10: Eight months later than he had originally promised, the President again promises to close Guantanamo as soon as he can. November 2: The Democrats lose in mid-term elections; the Republicans reclaim* the House of Representatives and trim the Democratic majority in the Senate. 2011 March 7: Obama reinstates* military

trials for Guantanamo Bay terror suspects, conceding that the camp he has vowed to close will not be emptied any time soon. March 9: Obama authorizes US-led military action to protect civilians in Libya under attack from Moamer Kadhafi’s regime. April 4: Obama launches his reelection campaign. May 1, 2011: To the surprise—even delight-- of the world, a force of U.S. Navy Seals raids the ‘secret’ headquarters of terrorist leader Osama Bin Laden in Abbottabad (Pakistan). Bin Laden is killed. Americans see the terrorist’s death as a triumph for Obama. It is impossible to take a balance of Obama’s presidency in the past years. Many journalists and political analysts feel, however, that Obama’s popularity with the American people endures*—despite the fact that the economy has not improved substantially. On the other hand, many insist that it is sufficient that economic ruin has been avoided. So many would conclude that perhaps Obama simply needs more time. The President’s popularity with the opposition—with the Republicans—is not high, and the opposition puts obstacles in his way every chance they get. But that is what oppositions do. It is not in the Republicans’ favor, as well, that they have no credible candidate to oppose Obama. Few have Obama’s charisma, intelligence, charm and patience. So it is quite probable that he will be a winner again in the 2012 elections. Stay tuned!!

Glossary animosity: hostile feeling brokerage: buying and selling shares on the stock exchange controversy: argument or debate defaulting: failing to pay a debt endures: lasts meltdown: (here) a complete collapse of organization mortgage: a loan agreement secured by property predecessor: person who came before purge: to cleanse reclaim: take back reinstates: reintroduces rescue: save term: length of time in office urging: advising earnestly waged: engaged in withdrawal: retreat witness: (here) attend in person

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It would have been difficult for any incoming president to survive with such a history behind him. But all over the world, hopes were high for the new Chief Executive Officer with the charming and beautiful wife and two lovely daughters. Europe was especially hopeful, an attitude reflected best, perhaps, in the fact that the Nobel Committee awarded Obama the Peace Prize in December of 2009, to great controversy* (see page xx of this issue).



The Nobel Prize It is widely accepted as the most prestigious award in the world – and the priciest. Today, winners of the Nobel Prize take home not only a great honor, a beautiful medal, and a certificate, but also about € 1 million (about $1.3 million dollars). The Prizes are awarded to people, generally, but the Nobel Peace Prize may also go to organizations that have done outstanding*research, invented groundbreaking*techniques or equipment, or made outstanding contributions to society.

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There are five prizes, for outstanding achievement in: chemistry, phy-


siology or medicine, literature, and peace, this last for “those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred* the greatest benefit on mankind.” Sometimes, the prize is awarded to encourage those who receive it to see* the effort through, perhaps at critical moments in a process. And there may be one or more years in which a prize or prizes may not be awarded. However, prizes must be awarded at least once every five years. If more than one person or institution wins in a category, the prize money allotted* to the category is equally divided amongst them.

A Bit of History: Alfred A. Nobel, the Pacifist Who Invented Dynamite

A Swedish chemist by the name of Alfred Nobel, born in 1833 in Stockholm of a family descended from a technical genius of 17th century Sweden, founded the Nobel Prize. One day Alfred and his brother, both chemical engineers, were working on an experiment when an explosion involving liquid nitro-glycerine resulted in the death of his brother. Alfred vowed* to develop a safer explosive and eventually discovered a mixture of nitro-glycerine and silica. He patented the product, calling it dynamite, in 1867. Soon, dynamite was being used

But Nobel’s greatest legacy to mankind was something far more precious than dynamite. When he saw, in his later years, that dynamite was being used increasingly for destructive purposes, Nobel decided to promote humanity’s positive achievements*. He bequeathed most of his nine million dollar fortune to fund* awards in various fields of study, expressly stating that “no consideration whatever shall be given to the nationality of the candidates, so that the most worthy* shall receive the prize, whether he be a Scandinavian or not.” On December 10, 1901, five years after Nobel’s death, the first Nobel Prizes were awarded. To this day, the Nobel Award ceremonies take place every year in Stockholm and Oslo on December 10. The awards have often generated controversy and criticism. One of the most recent surprising and controversial Nobel awards was made in December of 2009, when America’s new president, Barak Obama, elected in November, 2008 and having held office for barely one year, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace. In making the announcement of the award, the Nobel Committee said, The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009 is to be awarded to President Barack Obama for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples. The Committee has attached special importance to Obama’s vision of and work for a world wi-

thout nuclear weapons. Obama has as President created a new climate in international politics. Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play. Dialogue and negotiations are preferred as instruments for resolving even the most difficult international conflicts. The vision of a world free from nuclear arms has powerfully stimulated disarmament and arms control negotiations. Thanks to Obama’s initiative, the USA is now playing a more constructive role in meeting the great climatic challenges the world is confronting. Democracy and human rights are to be strengthened. Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world’s attention and given its people hope for a better future. His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world’s population. But many critics maintained that the President was too young and too inexperienced to deserve the extremely prestigious prize. Characteristically, in his acceptance speech in Oslo in December of 2009, Obama graciously and with genuine humility acknowledged the controversy, saying: I receive this honor with deep gratitude and great humility. It is an award that speaks to our highest aspirations - that for all the cruelty and hardship of our world, we are not mere prisoners of fate. Our actions matter, and can bend history in the direction of justice.

And yet I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the considerable controversy that your generous decision has generated. In part, this is because I am at the beginning, and not the end, of my labors on the world stage. Compared to some of the giants of history who have received this prize - Schweitzer and King; Marshall and Mandela - my accomplishments are slight. And then there are the men and women around the world who have been jailed and beaten in the pursuit of justice; those who toil in humanitarian organizations to relieve suffering; the unrecognized millions whose quiet acts of courage and compassion inspire even the most hardened of cynics. I cannot argue with those who find these men and women - some known, some obscure to all but those they help - to be far more deserving of this honor than I. It is now autumn, 2011, and President Obama is facing his second election for the Presidency. On page 4 of this issue, in our Profile of the American President almost four years into his first term, we look at his presidency so far to see whether the Nobel committee was prescient or overly optimistic in placing its faith in him.

Glossary achievements: accomplishments allotted: assigned conferred: awarded fund: to finance groundbreaking: highly original or innovative outstanding: extraordinary see something through: complete a given task vowed: made a promise will: an official statement made by an individual of what should be done with his or her money and property after his or her death worthy: deserving

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the world over – for blasting the Alpine Tunnel on the St. Gotthard rail line and cutting the Corinth Canal in Greece, amongst other projects.



The Rugby Union World Cup New Zealand

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are expected to travel to New Zealand for the associated games and events. The final is scheduled to be played in Auckland at Eden Park.


The Rugby World Cup comes to New Zealand this fall. It will be played over seven weekends starting on September 10 and ending on the weekend starting 22 October 2011 (the weekend of the final was chosen so it falls on a long public holiday weekend in New Zealand, Labour Day). This 2011 Rugby World Cup will be the seventh Rugby World Cup, a quadrennial*  international rugby union competition inaugurated in 1987. In 2005, the International Rugby Board  (IRB) selected New Zealand as the host country in preference to Japan and South Africa. The event is expected to cost about NZ$310 million to run and to generate NZ$280 million in ticket sales, making it the largest sporting event ever held in New Zealand, eclipsing the 1987 Rugby World Cup, the 1990 Commonwealth Games, the 1992 Cricket World Cup,  the 2003 America’s Cup  and  the 2005 British and Irish Lions tour to Nez Zeland. About 70,000 visitors from overseas

There will be 13 venues* for the 2011 Rugby World Cup, a number of these undergoing redevelopment to increase capacity for the event. Dunedin is currently building a new stadium named Forsyth Barr Stadium, due for completion in August 2011. The construction has been a source of concern because the project is operating within a tight* time frame. If the project is not completed on time, organisers will use Carisbrook Stadium. But construction seems to be running ahead of schedule and is well on target to meet its opening date. Other serious problems caused by a natural disaster have faced the Cup. On February 22, 2011, an earthquake struck the city of Christchurch, killing 181 people and seriously damaging the infrastructure of the city’s stadium, where seven matches had been scheduled. The stadium was unfit for play, and matches that had been scheduled there, including two quarter-finals, had to be moved to other venues. This harmed Rugby

World Cup ticket sales; organisers refunded 150,000 tickets sold for the Christchurch ma tches and gave the original purchasers the chance to buy them back. Two quarter finals will now be played in Auckland, as well as a pool match between England and Argentina, but reselling the remaining games originally earmarked for Christchurch, which includes fixtures such as Australia v Russia, has proved difficult. Chief Executive of the Cup, Martin Snedden, said he hoped sales would rise when tickets went on sale to the general public on July 4, but he admitted that “Realistically, we’re probably not quite as confident as we were before the earthquake happened, but there’s a lot that can be done.” He also said that overall preparations were on schedule, including construction of a new stadium in Dunedin and the refurbishment of Auckland’s Eden Park, where the final will be played. The 2011 tournament will again feature 20 teams. Twelve teams qualified as a result of finishing in the top three in each pool in the 2007 tournament. The remaining eight berths will be determined by regional qualifying tournaments.

Twenty teams will compete in the 2011 World Cup. The following twelve teams qualified by finishing in the top three of their group in the 2007 Rugby World Cup:




New Zeland




South Africa












United States

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The eight teams that qualified through regional qualifying competitions are:

Russia will be the only country making its World Cup debut in 2011.

Glossary quadrennial: every four years venue: the location for an event tight: not having much time to meet a deadline



Birds of Manhattan

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Everyone kept an eye on this pair of unlikely lovers. For quite a few months the President of New York University, John Sexton, and those who visited his office were admiring two red-tailed hawks that had made their nest* on a window ledge* outside the President’s office which is located in the Bobst Library building. The two birds had been named Bobby and Violet. After a number of quiet months of admiring the hawks, President Sexton noticed three eggs in the nest. The New York Times newspaper installed a Hawk-Cam focused on the nest and provided updates about the happy couple; interested viewers could enjoy watching the nesting birds in a live video stream. (Go to: ?v=SqV7vgEsOzw&feature=related)


Before long, thousands of people were watching the mom and dad and waiting for the eggs to hatch*. The New York Times consulted Dr. Robert Horvath, a raptor* rehabilitator, on the day in mid-May that the eggs appeared to be hatching. The doctor wrote back to say, “The egg on the left side definitely shows activity on the right side of the egg. It’s just a start but if that’s last night it should be completely out today.” On May 16, 2011, a baby red-tailed hawk, technically known as an eyas, hatched safe and sound. One baby hawk was born and the New York Times instantly launched a ‘Name the Baby Hawk’ competition*. The Times re-

ceived more than 500 suggestions from readers of the blog; spectators of the Brian Lehrer TV show voted; Twitterers voted; other means of communication were used to vote. Among the favorite names suggested were Pixy Pony, Ledge, and Weehawken. Eggbert, another reader suggestion, even had a Twitter account opened in his name. Although the baby bird’s sex won’t be known for some time, The Times presented the 10 finalists, in alphabetical order, for a final vote. The finalists were: 1. Aeriel “because Shakespeare’s Ariel can be found in the Bobst library and the high nest is an aerie*. The name suits a female or a male.” 2. Archie, “in honor of the neighborhood’s most distinct architectural landmark, the Washington Square arch.” 3. Dewey, for the Dewey decimal system used to classify books in the library. 4. GSHAWK, “after GSOC-UAW Local

2110, the union of NYU graduate teaching and research assistants which picketed* below the nest while on strike* for seven months in 2005-2006.” 5. Hope: “Hope the Hatchling*. Hope the Hawk. Hope, that springs eternal.” 6. Pip*, “for having met our Great Expectations.” 7. Red, for the color of its tail feathers. 8. Sexton, “to thank the man who allowed us into Bobby and Violet’s world.” 9. Torch* “for Bobby and Violet’s flame-colored tailfeathers, their fiery commitment to raising their young, their shifting, fluttering quickness in the air, and even a link to the NYU Torch, symbol of the university.” 10. And—it’s a New York bird, after all—“York“

The results of the amazing voting were counted. The response had been enormous. There were 2,734 votes cast  during the 21-hourand-23-minute voting window*— one vote every 28 seconds. Red (as in –tailed hawk), Aeriel (as in aerie and Shakespeare’s Ariel) and Archie (for the Washington Square Park arch) all did reasonably well, each receiving 275 to 300 votes. But the two frontrunners left the rest of the pack far behind. In the end, York, as in New, had to settle for second place with 519 votes. And the winner, felicitously combining references to Dickens, the recent royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton (the bride’s sister’s name is Pippa), and the

process of hatching itself, was  Pip, with 522 votes. It was a narrow victory, much like the one Pip snatched* from the jaws of nonexistence days before when he or she pipped his or her way out of an egg that the experts had declared lifeless*. “Pip! Having met our Great Expectations!” was how one commenter put it. (Pipping*, in bird speak, is the process of using one’s beak to chip through the shell.)

Glossary aerie: the nest of a bird of prey competition: contest hatch: to come out of an egg hatchling: a newly hatched baby bird ledge: (here) a narrow shelf against a wall lifeless: without life; dead nest: a bird or animal home picketed: held a demonstration or protest Pip: name of the protagonist in Charles Dickens’ novel Great Expectations pipping: the process of a bird using its beak to break through the shell during hatching raptor: a bird of prey snatched: grabbed strike: to stop working as a form of protest update: the latest information window: (here) a limited time period

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The baby hawk after being psychically informed of its name.



Historic Upper Manhattan Washington Heights The Cloisters seen from the New Jersey side of the Hudson River

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Washington Heights is a  New York City  neighborhood located in the north of the  island of  Manhattan. In Bennett Park in the Heights there is a plaque* that marks Manhattan’s highest natural elevation, 265  ft (80.8 m) above  sea level. It is the spot where General  George Washington  and his Continental Army built a fort (Fort Washington) and camped during the first winter of the American Revolutionary Way. During the actual Battle of Fort Washington in mid-November 1775, the fort fell to the British. The American forces suffered terrible losses; 130 soldiers were killed or wounded, and an additional 2,700 captured and held as prisoners, many of whom died on prison ships anchored in New York Harbor. The British held Fort Washington for the remainder of the war. 


Manhattan’s oldest remaining house, the Morris-Jumel Mansion, is also located in the Heights. The landmarked Jumel Terrace Historic District is an historic house museum, faithfully reproducing the colonial era. Today, the ‘Heights’, as the area is called, borders  Harlem  to the South, Inwood to the North, the Hudson River to the West and the Harlem River to the East. The views from the Hudson River side looking toward New Jersey are truly spectacular, showing the tree-lined Jersey Palisades.

The Morri-Jumel mansion

A Mini-Melting* Pot On the series of ridges overlooking the Hudson, villas were built in the Heights during the 19th century, including the property of John James Audubon, the ornithologist. In the early 1900s, Irish immigrants moved to the area; European Jews went there to escape Nazism during the 1930s and the 1940s. During the 1950s and 1960s, many Greeks moved to Washington Heights. By the 1980/90s, the neighborhood had become mostly Dominican. By the 2000s, after years when gangsters ruled a thriving illegal drug trade, urban renewal began. Today, Dominicans still make up 73 percent of the neighborhood, but there are now also many Mexicans and Ecuadorians. Because of its steep*, hilly topography, walking in the Heights is facilitated by many step streets. The longest

of these, at approximately 130 stairs, connects Fort Washington Ave and Overlook Terrace at 187th St. To avoid walking the steps, there are three massive elevators located within the 181st Street Subway Station.

More Landmarks in the Heights: • The George Washington Bridge, designed by Othmar Ammann, may be the most well-known bridge in Manhattan. It spans the Hudson River, connecting the Heights with Fort Lee, New Jersey, and is said to be the world’s busiest motor vehicle bridge. The George Washington Bridge Bus Terminal, designed by architect Pier Luigi Nervi, is located at the Manhattan end of the bridge. • The Cloisters is the best known

The George Washington Bridge

• Columbia University Medical Center and Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, the medical campus and school, respectively, of Columbia University are located in the Heights.

cultural site and tourist attraction in Washington Heights. Located in Fort Tryon Park at the northern end of the neighborhood, with spectacular views across the Hudson to the New Jersey Palisades*, this branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art  is devoted to Medieval art and culture. Endowed by the Rockefeller Foundation, the Cloisters is a medieval-style building. Actual medieval portions of the building were purchased in Europe, shipped to the United States, and reassembled. • The Paul Robeson Home is a National Historic Landmark building known for its famous African American residents including actor Paul Robeson, musician Count Basie, and boxer Joe Louis.

• Parks: ► Bennett Park - the highest natural point in Manhattan. ► Fort Tryon Park - home to The Cloisters ► Fort Washington Park - home of the Little Red Lighthouse*, a small lighthouse located at the tip of Jeffrey’s Hook at the base of the George Washington Bridge. It was made famous by a 1942 children’s book. Today a festival of the same name is held there in late summer. A 5.85-mile recreational swim finishes there in early autumn. This is also a popular place to watch for peregrine falcons.

The George Washington Bridge and the Little Red Lighthouse

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The Cloisters

• The Hispanic Society of America, a cluster of five distinguished Beaux Arts buildings, is a little-visited museum in the Heights. However, the Society has the largest collection of works by El Greco and Goya outside of the Museo del Prado, including one of Goya’s famous paintings of Cayetana, Duchess of Alba.

Glossary lighthouse: a coastal building, often a tall round tower with a powerful flashing light to guide sailors melting pot: a society composed of many cultures palisades: a line of cliffs alongside a river plaque: commemorative tablet steep: sloping sharply


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Jesse J

She looks rather wild, but she is a talented singer-songwriter who is very hot at the moment. She calls herself Jessie J, her stage* name, but her real name is Jessica Ellen Cornish. Born on 27 March 1988  in  Redbridge,  London,  England, Jessie was educated at  Mayfield High School in the London Borough of Redbridge. When she was only eleven and a student at Colin’s Performing Arts School, she won a role* in Andrew

Lloyd Webber’s West End production of Whistle Down the Wind. She has two sisters, who are five and seven years older than she. Both were head girls at school. But unlike her academic sisters, Jessie says she was “never really that good at anything. At school they were like ‘oh, you’re a Cornish girl’ and they kind of expected me to be the same as my sisters. Give me something to draw or an outfit* to pick for someone, or

hair, make-up, acting, write a song, I’m fine with it, but anything to do with sums* – it was never my thing.” Jessie also says that she never based her intelligence on her exam results. She had always been good at singing; it was her “thing.” But she was banished* from the school choir, for being too loud. “I was in it for a day,” she says, “and some of the adults were moan-

She was signed to Gut Records and recorded an album for the label, but the company went bankrupt before releasing material. Jessie then found success as a songwriter. She signed a contract with Sony ATV and also became the supporting singer for Cyndi Lauper during Lauper’s 2008 Bring Ya To The Brink tour. In late 2010, Jessie’s first single, “Do It Like a Dude”, reached second on the  UK Singles Charts*. Her follow-up single “Price Tag” came out in January 2011 and went straight to the top of the charts, remaining number one for two exclusive weeks. “Price Tag” was released in the United States on 1 February 2011 and reached number 23 on the Billboard Hot 100. It went to number-one in  New Zealand  and  Ireland. In 2010, her single “Sexy Silk” was featured in the film Easy A. Fame knocked on Jesse’s door when she began writing songs for American singers Chris Brown  and  Miley Cyrus. The biggest single she wrote was the Miley Cyrus song “Party in the U.S.A.”, which earned Platinum* sales in many countries.  On 7 January 2011, Jessie J appeared at the top of the BBC’s Sound of

Glossary banished: sent away charts: (here) lists of best-selling records moaning: (here) complalining outfit: set of clothes worn together Platinum: designation for a piece of music that sells more than one million as a single or two million as an LP or CD role: part stage name: stroke: a stoppage of blood flow to the brain sums: addition in mathematics

2011 list. In February 2011 she received the Critics’ Choice  award at the  2011 BRIT Awards. Her first single “Do It Like a Dude” made it to number 2 in the UK. Her followup single, “Price Tag”, went straight to

number-one in the United Kingdom, Ireland and New Zealand and top ten in 19 other countries. It stayed at number-one in the UK for two consecutive weeks. Her first album, Who You Are, was released on 25 February 2011 but it had taken six years to record.It was completed on 19 January 2011 and made number-two on the UK Albums Chart. Jessie’s first American television appearance was as the musical guest on the 12 March 2011 episode of  NBC’s  Saturday Night Live.

It wasn’t easy The young singer has known adversity. She has suffered from an irregular heartbeat since the age of 11, and at age 18 she suffered a minor stroke*. As a result, she doesn’t drink alcohol or smoke. “At 11,” she says, “I was diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat. I had wires put in my shoulder, groin and heart to try and zap it to a normal rhythm, but it didn’t really work. Then, at 18, I suffered a minor stroke. It was scary, but I’m fine now. Having bad health has made me realise I can’t take anything for granted and I must look after my body.” In early 2011, Jesse suffered a panic attack  on stage, after she was forced to perform in the dark. “The night was called ‘Black Out’ and I had to perform in the dark,” she told an interviewer. “I asked them to turn on the lights and they didn’t. I was onstage in pitch black and, because I couldn’t see anything, I started to panic. It was awful.”

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ing* that their kids were upset that I was too good. I was 11. Can you imagine? I was heartbroken.” At age 16 she began studying at the BRIT School, and joined a girl group at the age of 17, titled “Soul Deep”.


TV series

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Modern Family


Modern Family, the hit* new American TV sitcom, is entering its third season this fall and has become one of the most popular American TV shows ever, winning both popular and critical acclaim*. The show was created by Christopher Lloyd and Steven Levitan, who are also the Executive Producers. They say that they had the idea for the series while sharing stories of their own “modern families.” In any case, Modern Family is absolutely hilarious, one of the funniest sitcoms* ever. Shown in mockumentary  style, in which the characters talk directly to the cameras during a faux* situation, the show revolves around the families of Jay Pritchett (Ed O’Neill), his daughter  Claire Dunphy  (Julie Bowen), and his son  Mitchell Pritchett  (Jesse Tyler Ferguson). The three families live in a suburban community of Los Angeles, California. Claire is a homemaker-mother married to  Phil

Dunphy (Ty Burrell); they have three children—Haley (Sarah Hyland), Alex (Ariel Winter), and Luke (Nolan Gould). After separating from his longtime wife, Jay has re-married a much younger  Colombian  woman,  Gloria Delgado-Pritchett  (Sofía Vergara), and is helping her raise her pre-teen son, Manny (Rico Rodriguez). Mitchell and his  partner  Cameron Tucker (Eric Stonestreet) have adopted a Vietnamese baby, Lily.

“Not since Frasier  has a sitcom offered such an ideal blend of heart and smarts*, or proven itself so effortlessly adept* at so many comic variations, from subtle wordplay* to big-laugh slapstick* to everything in between.” In a later review the same paper said that “as good as it was in its first year, [the second season] is even better.”  Adweek  called the show one of the 100 Most Influential TV Shows.

In its first season, Modern Family was reviewed very favorably. The magazine Entertainment Weekly said the show was “immediately recognizable as the best new sitcom of the fall”. Time magazine called it “the funniest new family comedy of the year”. BuddyTV  said, “Every actor is fantastic, every family is interesting, and unlike many shows, there isn’t a weak link*”. During its second season, the show was given four stars out of five by USA Today which said,

New York Times TV critic Bruce Feiler wrote about an underlying theme of the show: how communications technology increasingly shapes the way people perceive others, even family members. “[It] is surely the first family comedy that incorporates its own simulta neous self-analysis directly into the storyline,” he wrote, remarking that Mark Zuckerberg (the creator of Facebook) was probably a great influence on  the creators of Modern Family.

The show’s writers and actors acknowledge the huge influence of communications technology. “We embrace* technology so it’s part of the story” said actor Ty Burrell, who plays Phil. He said, “I had this little flash of Phil— and me—that we are parsing* our personality together externally from how people perceive us.” In 2010, Modern Family  was nominated for five Television Critics Association Awards: best new series, best comedy series and best program of the year, while stars of the program  Ty Burrell,  Eric Stonestreet,  Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Sofía Vergara and Julie Bowen, were all nominated individually. At the 62nd Primetime Emmy Awards

(August 29, 2010), Modern Family won Outstanding Comedy Series,  Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series  for the show’s creators Steven Levitan and Christopher Lloyd, and  Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series (Eric Stonestreet). The series has also been put on multiple critics’ lists. Modern Family’s success has also led it to being the sixteenth highest revenue* earning show for 2010, earning $1.6 million dollars an episode. On January 10, 2011, Modern Family was renewed for a third season. See the hilarious trailer at: watch?v=O5uuMr1YEyE Happy viewing!!

The opening screen showing the three families that make up the larger Pritchett clan (from left to right): Gloria, Manny, and Jay; Luke, Alex, Claire, Haley, and Phil; and Lily, Mitchell, and Cam.

Glossary acclaim: praise adept: skillful embrace: adopt something, make use of something faux: pretend hit: successful link: connection parsing: (here) building revenue: earnings sitcom: short for ‘situation comedy’, a type of comic TV series slapstick: boisterous comedy smarts: intelligence wordplay: clever use of words

Jay’s daughter Claire, her husband Phil, and their children Luke, Haley and Alex.

Jay’s son Mitchell and his partner Cameron, and their adopted daughter Lily.

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Father Jay and his second wife, Gloria, and her son Manny.




James Franco “Franco has been described as having ‘an unusually high metabolism for productivity...a superhuman ability to focus’. He enjoys reading on the set of his films.”   – writer Sam Anderson in his profile of actor James Franco in New York Magazine, July 2010.

Indeed, Franco is an actor, film director, screenwriter, film producer, author, painter, and performance artist and student. He is so energetic and multi-faceted* as a person and multitalented as a creative artist that it is difficult to know where to begin to describe him, his activities—and his productivity. Although he does come by his creativity with legitimate credentials*. Nicknamed “Ted”, James Edward Franco was born on April 19, 1978 in Palo Alto, California. His mother is a poet, author, and editor, and his father runs a non-profit agency and a shipping container company. The two met as students at Stanford University. Franco’s paternal grandmother, Marjorie (Peterson) Franco, was a published author of  young adult books while his maternal grandmother ran a prominent art gallery in Cleveland.

Franco’s family upbringing was “academic, liberal and largely secular*”. He grew up in California with his two younger brothers. Talented at mathematics, Franco was encouraged by his father to get good grades and did exceptionally at Palo Alto High School where he acted in plays before graduating in 1996. But in his high school years, Franco got into trouble and was arrested for underage drinking, graffiti and petty theft* from department stores. He faced juvenile prison for these offenses but a judge decided to give him a second chance.


He enrolled at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) as an English major, but dropped out after his freshman year to pursue a career as an actor, taking acting lessons as well as a late-night job at  McDonald’s  to support himself. His first acting break came in 1999, on the short-lived but well-reviewed television series Freaks

and Geeks. (See the box on these pages for Franco’s filmography.)

Franco is also quite the student. In 2006 he reenrolled at UCLA as an English major with a creative writing  concentration (while continuing to act), and earned his undergraduate degree in June 2008. He moved to New York and simultaneously attended graduate school at  Columbia University’s  MFA* writing program (graduating in 2010),  New York University’s  Tisch School of the Arts  for filmmaking (NYU), and Brooklyn College for fiction writing. He is presently a Ph.D*. student in English at Yale University  and plans to enroll in fall 2012 at the University of Houston for the doctoral (Ph.D.) program in literature and  creative writing. In March 2011, it was announced that Franco will teach a fall semester course on modifying poetry into short films to a select group of third-year graduate film students at NYU. When asked about his education, Franco said that he loves school and that it keeps him focussed as well as grounded. “I go to school because I love being around people who are interested in what I’m interested in and I’m having a great experience… I’m studying things that I love so it’s not like it’s a chore.” He has also credited his education for helping him “take acting seriously.” Franco developed an aptitude for art as well during his high school years. He says painting was the “outlet*” he needed in high school, and he “has actually been painting longer than he has been acting.” His paintings were exhibited for the first time at the Glü Gallery  in  Los Angeles, California, from January 7, through February 11, 2006. He launched his first European art exhibition in 2011 at Peres Projects in Berlin.

2000: Romantic teen comedy Whatever It Takes 2001: Played the actor James Dean in the 2001 TV biopic James Dean, a role he researched by immersing himself in the character of Dean. For this role he received a Golden Globe Award and nominations for an Emmy Award and a Screen Actors Guild Award . 2002: Spider-Man, a commercial and critical success. Franco played Harry Osborn, the son of the villainous Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe) and best friend of the title character (Tobey Maguire). (He again played Harry Osborn in Spider-Man 3.) 2008: Appeared as himself in the comedy Knocked Up, and in Pineapple Express (for which he earned a second Golden Globe nomination, for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy). 2008: Starred opposite Sean Penn, Josh Brolin, and Emile Hirsch in Gus Van Sant’s Milk, a performance for which he won the Independent Spirit Award in the category for Best Supporting Actor. 2010: Appeared in the film Eat Pray Love; also played poet Allen Ginsberg in the drama Howl. 2010: 127 Hours; Franco played the real-life mountain climber Aron Ralston in the true story of how Ralston tried to free his hand after it became trapped under a boulder in a ravine while canyoneering alone in Utah,  resorting to desperate measures in order to survive (eventually amputating his own arm). Franco was nominated for most of the high-profile awards, notably an Academy Award, Golden Globe and SAG as well as winning an Independent Spirit Award for this role.

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A Brief Look at Franco’s Film Career

Glossary credentials: official authentication or proof MFA: Masters in Fine Arts multi-faceted: having many sides outlet: release Ph.D.: abbreviation for Doctor of Philosophy secular: not religious theft: stealing



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Karen Russell 20

Author Karen Russell was born in 1981 in Miami, Florida. She graduated from Northwestern University in 2003 with a B.A. (Bachelor of Arts degree) and from Columbia University’s Master of Fine Arts program in 2006. She currently resides in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan (see p. 13 of this issue).

Russell has published short stories in The Best American Short Stories, Conjunctions, Granta, The New Yorker, Oxford American, and Zoetrope.

Her first book of short stories entitled St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves was published in September 2006. In 2009, she was honored by the National Book Foundation’s  “5 Under 35” as a young writer. Her second book, Swamplandia! (a novel about a shabby* amusement park set in the Everglades), was published in February 2011. Russell has taught fiction writing at  Williams College, Williamstown, Massachusetts. Last year she was named one of the New

Yorker’s “20 Under 40” new young writers (see the link below). When the New Yorker interviewer asked Russell what, in her opinion, makes a piece of fiction work*, she replied, I think that different pleasures work for different readers—a friend of mine won’t read anything that’s not a cardiovascular sort of page-turner. I tend to care less about plot*, but I’m a sucker for humor and strangeness. I love weird or funny or beautiful sentences… I do think that great fiction…has an urgency or an inevitability to it, a sense that the writer absolutely had to write this particular story in this way.

My sister and I are staying in Grandpa Sawtooth’s old house until our father, Chief Bigtree, gets back from the Mainland. It’s our first summer alone in the swamp*. “You girls will be fine,” the Chief slurred*. “Feed the gators*, don’t talk to strangers. Lock the door at night.” The Chief must have forgotten that it’s a screen door at Grandpa’s—there is no key, no lock. The old house is a rust-checkered yellow bungalow* at the edge of the wild bird estuary. It has a single, airless room; three crude, palmetto windows, with mosquito-blackened sills; a tin roof that hums with the memory of rain. I love it here. Whenever the wind gusts in off the river, the sky rains leaves and feathers. During mating season, the bedroom window rattles with the ardor of birds.

Now the thunder makes the thin window glass ripple* like wax paper. Summer rain is still the most comforting sound that I know. I like to pretend that it’s our dead mother’s fingers, drumming on the ceiling above us. In the distance, an alligator bellows—not one of ours, I frown, a free agent. Our gators are hatched in incubators. If they make any noise at all, it’s a perfunctory grunt, bored and sated. This wild gator has an inimitable cry, much louder, much closer. I smile and pull the blankets around my chin. If Osceola hears it, she’s not letting on. My sister is lying on the cot opposite me. Her eyes are wide open, and she is smiling and smiling in the dark.

“Hey, Ossie? Is it just you in there?”

My older sister has entire kingdoms inside of her, and some of them are only accessible at certain seasons, in certain kinds of weather. One such melting occurs in summer rain, at midnight, during the vine-green breathing time right before sleep. You have to ask the right question, throw the right rope bridge, to get there—and then bolt across the chasm between you, before your bridge collapses.

“Ossie? Is it just us?” I peer into the grainy dark. There’s the chair that looks like a horned devil’s silhouette. There’s the blind glint of the terrarium glass. But no Luscious. Ossie’s evil boyfriend has yet to materialize.

“Yup,” she whispers. “Just us.” Ossie sounds wonderfully awake. She reaches over and pats my arm.

“Just us girls.”

That does it. “Just us!” we scream. And I know that for once, Ossie and I are picturing the same thing. Miles and miles of swamp, and millions and millions of ghosts, and just us, girls, bungalowed in our silly pajamas.

We keep giggling, happy and nervous, tickled by an incomplete innocence. We both sense that some dark joke is being played on us, even if we can’t quite grasp the punch line.

“What about Luscious?” I gasp. “You’re not dating Luscious anymore?”

Uh-oh. There it is again, that private smile, the one that implies that Ossie is nostalgic for places I have never been, places I can’t even begin to imagine.

Ossie shakes her head. “Something else, now.”

“Somebody else? You’re not still going to, um,” I pause, trying to remember her word, “elope? Are you?”

Ossie doesn’t answer. “Listen,” she breathes, her eyes like blown embers. The thunder has gentled to a soft nicker. Outside, something is scratching at our dripping window. “He’s here.”

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Excerpt from the story entitled Ava Wrestles the Alligator Published in the short story volume entitled St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves

Glossary bungalow: a single story house gators: short for alligators plot: story line ripple: a wavy flow

shabby: worn and threadbare slurred: spoke indistinctly swamp: wetland work: (here) function


Issue worksheet Focus

pp. 4-5

Obama’s First term Success or Failure?

True or False: Obama is one of the youngest presidents in American History. T F 2. President Obama’s predecessor George W. Bush had held office for how any years? a. 12 b. 4 c. 8 3. The terrorist Osama Bin Laden was killed during: a. Obama’s first year in office b. Obama’s second year in office c. Obama’s third year in office




The Nobel Prize 1.

2. 3.

By profession, Alfred Nobel, the founder of the Nobel Prize was: a. a lawyer b. an engineer c. a medical doctor True □ or False: The verb ‘to fund’ means to provide financing for something. T F One of the reasons that the Nobel Committee awarded the Peace Prize to Obama was because: a. He gave the world new hope. b. He was multi-lingual. c. His wife is an attorney.

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pp. 8-9

The Rugby Union World Cup New Zealand 1.



pp. 6-7

Inaugurated in 1987, the Rugby World Cup is held every how many years? a. two b. four c. six True □ or False: The 2011 Rugby World Cup Final is scheduled to be played in Auckland at Eden Park. T F

True or False: In February, 2011, a volcano erupted in Christchurch, threatening rugby matches to be held there. T F


Birds of Manhattan 1.

2. 3.

True or False: The hawks made their nest in one of the libraries of Columbia University. T F How many eyas (baby hawks) were hatched? a. two b. four c. one True or False: The baby hawk was named York. T F


Historic Upper Manhattan Washington Heights 1.



Jesse J

pp. 12-13

True or False: Washington Heights is the name of a neighborhood located at the south end of Manhattan island. T F General George Washington and his troops camped out in Washington Heights durig the winter of which year? a. 1784 b. 1792 c. 1775 The Cloisters is a monument belonging to: a. The Frick Museum b. The Guggenheim Museum c. The Metropolitan Museum

Music 1. 2. 3.

pp. 10-11

pp. 14-15

True or False: Jessie J is the singer’s real name. T F Jessie’s first single was called: a. Price Tag b. Do It Like a Dude c. Who I Am Which malady does Jessie suffer from? a. Swollen glands b. Irregular heartbeat c. Anorexia

TV series

pp. 16-17

Modern Family 1.

2. 3.

True or False: The TV series Modern Family has just completed its third year of programming. T F One theme of the show concerns: a. the effects of communications technology on families b. how many children the average American family has c. the usual diet of the average American family Modern Family won an Emmy in Aust of which year? a. 2009 b. 2010 c. 2011


Actor James Franco 1. 2. 3.

True or False: James Franco played the role of actor James Dean. T F Which of the following is NOT one of Franco’s achievements? a. film director b. novelist c. teacher In which U.S. state were Franco’s paintings exhibited for the first time? a. Nebraska b. Wyoming c. California


Karen Russel 1.

2. 3.

pp. 18-19

pp. 20-21

Author Karen Russell is currently a resident in which New York City neighborhood: a. Washington Heights, New York b. Greenwich Village, New York c. Soho, New York What does the author like in writing: a. Blood and gore b. The supernatural c. Humor and strangeness In the excerpt, who is Ossie? a. The narrator’s mother b. The narrator’s older sister c. The narrator’s paternal grandmother Answers on page 23.

primary school




intermediate advanced


For further INFORMATION and for SUBSCRIPTIONS write to, or phone, the publisher who distributes our magazines in your country.

ELI Distributors


P. 14-15: 1-F, 2-B, 3-B P. 16-17: 1-F, 2-A, 3-B P. 18-19: 1-T, 2-A, 3-C P. 20-21: 1-A, 2-3, 3-2

© ELI Italy 2011

Answers to Issue Worksheet P. 4-5: 1-T, 2-c, 3-c. P. 6-7: 1-B, 2-T, 3-A P. 8-9: 1-B, 2-T, 3-F P. 10-11: 1-F, 2-C, 3-F P. 12-13: 1-F, 2-C, 3-C

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Music The English monthly magazine for you C2 YEAR XXIII - N° 1 ® YEAR XXIII • N° 1 • August • September • October 2011...

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