I spent most of this month traveling, so just a short column this month.  Sorry!

I read the August 2021 issue of Scientific American, and spotted a few relevant articles:

  • I enjoyed “Play is Serious Business for Elephants,” a long piece about the importance of play for elephants (and many other animal species).  ETS loves to include content on the test about animals.  I can imagine a reading passage about animal play, or a type four speaking question about “two ways that play is beneficial to animals.”  Read this one!
  • I also liked “Stuttering Stems from Problems in Brain Wiring, Not Personalities.” Obviously ETS will never include this sort of topic on the real test, but it is interesting reading for anyone studying for a test that requires rapid delivery of speech without any disfluencies.
  • Also interesting was “The Forgotten History of the World’s First Trans Clinic.”  Again, ETS would never touch this topic with a 20-foot pole but the article is a great read.  It is a short look at the “Institute for Sexual Research” that existed for a short time in Germany before World War Two.  It is a reminder that progress does not always come in a continuous line.  Sometimes we move forward and backward as time marches on.  Perhaps, in some cases, our forefathers were more progressive than we are today.

At the Labuan Bajo airport, I found a copy of the May 2019 issue of National Geographic.  What a find!  Sadly, most of the content from that issue is now behind a paywall, but here’s an interesting Wikipedia article about a feature of some insects discussed in one article – ballooning.   It describes a way that spiders (and some other small invertebrates)  soar through the air.  Sometimes for very long distances.  That could certainly be the subject of a type three speaking question!  

I also read “Lizard” by Banana Yoshimoto.  This collection of short stories won’t improve your academic reading skills, but I liked it.  These stories from the early 1990s are about young urban sophisticates in Japan trying to figure out how to be young urban sophisticates in Japan.  I don’t think Gen-X in Japan had a road map.

More next month!


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