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Lesson-1

Brits Get Health-Wise in Late 30s, Survey Says

When we’re young, we like to think our bodies are invincible, and it’s easy to take our health for granted.

And according to a OnePoll survey for health insurance company Bupa, Brits don’t start taking their health seriously until they’re almost 40 years old.

A survey of 2,000 adults in the UK asked, “At what age did you start taking your health seriously?” The average age given by respondents was 38.

When asked what it was that made them start prioritizing their health, some people said it was after reaching a milestone age, like 35 or 40.

Others said it was after they started feeling the aches and pains that come with age.

And others said they started taking their health more seriously after a friend or family member passed away, or after having a health scare themselves.

Looking back, 84% of respondents admitted they didn’t take their health seriously when they were younger, and almost 40% said they wished they had started taking care of their health earlier.

Around a third of respondents also said they felt they drank too much when they were younger, had a bad diet or felt stressed often.

When asked why they hadn’t taken their health seriously, almost half of respondents said it was because they had felt generally fine. Another 36% believed they had been too young to worry about it, and a quarter of respondents had thought nothing bad would happen to them.

But health experts say it’s never too early — or too late — to start taking care of yourself.

1. Summarize the content of the article.

2. What are your thoughts on the survey’s findings?

3. Do you find it surprising that Brits don’t start taking their health seriously until their late-30s?

4. Why do you think young people feel invincible when it comes to their health?

5. If you could go back in time 10 years, is there anything you’d change about your lifestyle back then?

6. Have you taken up any healthy habits in recent years?

7. Are there any healthy habits you wish you’d started earlier?

8. Who are the most health-conscious people you know?

9. What do you think is the key to a long and healthy life?

10. Happiness lies first of all in health. — George William Curtis. What are your thoughts on this quote?

Lesson-2

Fuji Climbers to Pay $13 Fee from Summer 2024

From this summer, climbers who want to go to the top of Mount Fuji by the most popular trail in Yamanashi prefecture will have to pay a fee of 2,000 yen — around $13.

Yamanashi’s prefectural government hopes that charging a fee will help decrease overcrowding on the mountain, and plans to use the money to pay for safety measures.

An increase in visitor numbers in recent years has brought human traffic jams to the mountain trails.

There has also been an increase in unsafe climbing practices, such as “bullet climbing” — trying to climb the mountain too quickly without resting in one of the mountain huts.

Announcing the new fee at a press conference, Yamanashi Governor Kotaro Nagasaki said, “Keeping the number of climbers in check is an urgent task as we observe overcrowding.”

The new fee will be collected at Yamanashi’s Yoshida Trail, and will be on top of a voluntary fee of 1,000 yen — just under $7 — that climbers are already asked to pay to help look after the mountain.

However, some people who work in the local tourist industry have said the 3,000-yen total might be too expensive.

Shizuoka prefecture has three trails going up the mountain, at which climbers are also asked for a 1,000-yen voluntary fee. But the prefecture has no plans to charge any extra fees.

Yamanashi prefecture has also announced plans to prevent bullet climbing by closing the Yoshida Trail at the mountain’s fifth station between 4 p.m. and 3 a.m. to climbers who have not booked a stay in one of the mountain huts.

Climbing season on Mount Fuji usually lasts from July to early September. According to the Ministry of the Environment, over 221,000 people climbed the mountain last summer.

1. Summarize the content of the article.

2. What are your thoughts on Mount Fuji’s new fee?

3. Do you think a total fee of $20 for the Yoshida Trail is reasonable?

4. Have you been to Mount Fuji? If so, did you climb to the top? If not, would you like to visit someday?

5. What are some of your country’s most popular natural tourist attractions?

6. Have you ever experienced overcrowding at an attraction or destination?

7. Are you into hiking? What’s the coolest trail you’ve hiked?

8. What are the best places to go hiking where you live?

9. What are your favorite ways to spend time outdoors?

10. Are there any outdoor activities you’d like to try?

11. What natural wonders or places are on your must-see list?

Lesson-3

2 Million Foreign Workers in Japan for First Time

At the end of October 2023, there were more than 2 million foreign workers in Japan, according to government data.

It was the first time that the number of foreign workers has been above 2 million.

The new record number — of 2,048,675 — was an increase of more than 12% from 2022. The number has now increased every year since 2013.

Many companies need foreign workers because of labor shortages in Japan. And more than 318,000 companies now have foreign workers.

About a quarter of these workers are from Vietnam, while almost 20% are from China. There are also a lot of workers from the Philippines and Nepal.

One of the reasons for the increase has been the large numbers of people arriving as “technical interns.”

Technical interns come to the country for between one year and five years and often work in low-paid jobs.

Japan says that the idea is for workers to learn skills that they can use in their home countries, but some have said that the program should be stopped.

Thousands of these workers have gone missing before the end of their contracts, and according to Japan’s immigration agency this may be because of poor working conditions.

Most of the foreign workers are in Tokyo and more than 60% of the foreign workers across the country are working for companies with 30 employees or fewer.

1. Summarize the content of the article.

2. What are your thoughts on the increase in foreign workers in Japan?

3. Do you expect the number of foreign workers to continue to increase in Japan over the next 10 years?

4. Do you know many foreigners who have moved to your country for work?

5. Is your industry experiencing a labor shortage?

6. What industries in your country are struggling to find workers?

7. Have you ever lived and worked overseas?

9. What countries would you consider moving to for work?

10. Have any of your friends or family moved abroad for work? Where did they go?

11. What do you imagine makes people want to move to your country?

12. What do you imagine immigrants find hard to get used to about your country?

Lesson-4

Do Plastic Bag Bans Actually Work? Researchers Say Yes

The impact of plastic bags on the environment is well known. They are polluting, they’re harmful to sea life, and they are not biodegradable — meaning they remain on our planet for many years after use.

And single-use plastic bags are particularly damaging to the environment because they are made from fossil fuels.

Over the past 20 years, several countries have introduced laws either banning or limiting the use of plastic bags in shops and other places.

But do these bans actually work?

Well, in just five US states and cities, they save billions of plastic bags per year, according to research by three American environmental groups.

Bans in New Jersey, Vermont, Philadelphia, Portland and Santa Barbara — which cover more than 12 million people — have reduced the use of single-use plastic bags by 6 billion bags a year.

The researchers say this is enough bags to go around the Earth 42 times.

And other bans have reduced plastic bag pollution in some cities and states by at least one third, according to the report.

However, there’s more that can be done, the researchers said, explaining that “loopholes” make certain bans less effective.

For example, some places ban single-use plastic bags, but still allow shoppers to buy thicker “reusable” plastic bags, which still add to plastic waste.

And while paper bags are more environmentally friendly, using them for every trip to the grocery store is very wasteful. Stores should be required to charge at least 10 cents for these bags, the researchers said, as a way of encouraging people to bring their own bags from home.

“The bottom line is that plastic bag bans work,” said Faye Park of the US Public Interest Research Group Education Fund, one of the groups that prepared the report. “People realize quickly it’s easy to live without plastic bags and get used to bringing a bag from home or skipping a bag when they can.”

1. Summarize the content of the article.

2. What are your thoughts on the researchers’ findings?

3. Are single-use plastic bags allowed in your country?

4. Do you use reusable bags when you shop?

5. Do you think plastic bags should be banned everywhere?

6. What single-use items do you think should be banned?

7. What single-use plastic items do you think you could live without?

8. Have you taken any steps to reduce how much single-use plastic you use?

9. Has your government taken any steps to reduce plastic waste?

10. In your opinion, who should be responsible for reducing plastic waste?

11. Do you expect the issue of plastic waste to improve over your lifetime?

Lesson-5

Anxiety Has Kept 28% of UK Children Away from School

Many children in the UK are missing school because they feel too anxious, according to a new survey.

Research by stem4, a mental health charity for young people, found that 28% of children aged between 12 and 18 had missed school in the last year because of anxiety.

There is “an epidemic of unhappiness that is keeping children away from the classroom,” said one politician.

The charity is asking the government, the health service and schools to do more to help pupils with their mental health.

More than 1,000 young people were surveyed, and almost half said that they were suffering from a mental health difficulty.

Experts say that the problems have gotten worse since the coronavirus pandemic.

At the moment, 38% of schools in England have a mental health support team.

But the government has said that it wants to increase that to at least 50% by the end of March 2025, as well as training teachers and giving more money to the health service.

However, the survey also found that it is not only mental health that is keeping children away from school.

Almost a quarter of children aged between 12 and 18 have missed school because of family problems, while 18% have stayed away because of problems with friends or other pupils.

The stress of exams was also given as a reason for missing school.

Nihara Krause, the founder of stem4, said that spending a lot of time away from school can have long-lasting negative effects on children.

1. Summarize the content of the article.

2. What are your thoughts on stem4’s findings?

3. Do you find it surprising that half of participants said they were suffering from a mental health problem?

4. Why do you think anxiety among young people increased after the pandemic?

5. Do most schools in your country have a mental health support team?

6. Has your government taken any recent steps to improve mental health among young people?

7. Did you have any classmates who often missed school?

8. What did you find most stressful about school?

9. What were your least favorite things about going to school?

10. Was bullying a big problem when you were a student?

11. Who were the most supportive teachers at your school?