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February 02, 2016 07:53 PM PST
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Scene from the Summer 2016 production of King Lear at the Pumphouse, Takapuna. Edgar asks his (now blind) father Gloucester to visualise Dover Cliff.


Visualise means to be able to imagine or understand something visually. Sometimes lecturers ask the audience to visualise a real or imaginary scene which they are describing. Charts and models are important ways of allowing readers to visualise data and theories. One example of this is the way that important concepts in a subject are organised into a taxonomy, which shows the relationship between the different elements in a system – these are typically represented in visual form as a tree diagram or a network. This is the topic of today’s online lecture.


Which one of these sentences is NOT correct?

Can you visualise Donald Trump as US President?

I’d like you to visualise the scene as the emergency services arrivde at the site.

The following slide visualises the structure of dna.

The traditional organizational chart may distort the way we visualise relations between team members.


Which of the following is an important visual symbol of Maori culture?

the koru
the haiku
the torah



This is a TED talk by Manuel Lima about the changing ways in which we have visualised knowledge. I have inserted comprehension questions in the video and added a list of interesting vocabulary at the end.

January 22, 2016 08:24 PM PST
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Next to Milford Beach, Auckland, New Zealand


Oblique means indirect. The word oblique comes from mathematics, where it refers to angles which are not 90, 180 or 360 degrees. But it is also used to describe a message that is deliberately indirect. She made an oblique reference to my lack of experience.


Which one of these sentences is NOT correct? His speech was widely interpreted as an oblique criticism of Government policy. I prefer to set my desk at an oblique angle to the window. We are taking an oblique route to avoid the traffic. The film makes several oblique references to contemporary politics.


This is a TED talk by Tim Harford about the advantages of messy problems - problems and situations that seem uncomfortable and disorganised but can stimulate people to find more creative and successful solutions. I have inserted comprehension questions in the video and added a list of interesting vocabulary at the end.

To see the lecture, click on the url below (or copy and paste it into your browser) and click on 'Start'.


January 19, 2015 03:02 AM PST


A stereotype is an inaccurate, exaggerated (and usually negative) image of people or places. So, for example, a stereotypical English person is supposed to be punctual and to enjoy queuing and talking about the weather. Of course, there is sometimes ‘a grain of truth’ in a stereotype! But stereotypes can be dangerous when they stop people from appreciating diversity and individuality or when they are used as an excuse to look down on people from a particular culture because of unfair and exaggerated prejudices.


Here are four sentences with the word of the day. Three of them are correct – which is the odd one out?

Our research project aims to develop an evidence-based stereotype of kiwi culture.

She was red-haired and quick-tempered and seemed to fit the stereotype of a celtic woman, though she was, in fact, Italian.

Children need to hear stories of strong, successful women that challenge the stereotypes that they may have picked up from popular culture.

A liking for gossip has long been seen as a stereotypical female trait.


What national stereotypes do you know? Where do you think these stereotypes come from? Is there ‘a grain of truth’ in any of them? Have you met people who do not fit the stereotype at all?


Brown’s Bay on the North Shore of Auckland is as especially popular place to live for migrants from which country? China / Korea / South Africa


(Copy and paste this url into your web browser to see the video on the TED site. There you can click on 'view interactive transcript' to read at the same time as listening)


This is a short presentation by a 16-year old girl called Rosie King from England. She challenges the stereotype about what people with autism are like. Pause the podcast and try to answer the questions below while you watch and listen. Afterwards, you can play the end of the podcast to check your answers.

1) Rosie argues that autism is more __________ than most people think.


2) Which character from a Hollywood film do most people think of in relation to autism?


3) At school, Rosie found it difficult to ____________


4) Rosie finds it hard to understand why a lot of people work hard to be _____


5) In what way are Rosie’s younger brother and sister different from her?



November 15, 2013 08:27 PM PST


If something is versatile, it means that it can be used successfully in different ways. Versatility is important for people as well, especially in the modern, changeable society we live in. Companies look for versatile employees who can deal with a wide range of different and complex tasks.


Here are FOUR sentences with the word of the day. But only THREE are correct. Which is the Odd One Out?

Her versatility is apparent from her appearance in both comic and serious roles in major films this year.

The off-road performance of the new model adds a new level of versatility to a well-known and dependable brand.

Carrots are among the most versatile of vegetables, featuring in salads, soups, main courses and cakes.

The programme is intended for a versatile audience, ranging from young children to the elderly.


Does your profession require more specialisation or more versatility?

Can you think of any examples of versatile tools, furniture or clothing?


What proportion of New Zealanders have Korean ethnicity?

one in ten / one in a hundred / one in a thousand



1)    Which kinds of organisation did Steve Howard work in prior to joining IKEA?

commercial                non-Governmental             Ministry of the Environment

2)    How many cities of more than 1m inhabitants are there in the world?

100 – 200                  200 – 500                  more than 500

3)    Because of the growth in urbanisation and prosperity, Steve Howard describes sustainability as  ________

desirable                    optional                      essential

4)    Earlier sustainable products were of poor quality because they were based on __________

cost savings              experiment                compromise

5)    LEDs are an example of a sustainable product that is ______

fit for purpose         multifunctional         demand-led

6)    In order to make sustainable products competitive in the marketplace, companies need to show 100% _____

commitment             versatility       diversity

7)    The environmental problems associated with cotton derive from the conditions of its ______

production               manufacture             modification

8)    Steve Howard feel that 100% targets provide greater ____

complexity                 clarity             ambiguity

9)    Steve Howard argues that deriving 100% of their energy from renewable resources will create ____ for IKEA

technical challenges           financial gains         marketing opportunities

10)  IKEA has 80 auditors worldwide whose responsibility is to assess the compliance of suppliers with their ______

code of conduct                 profit margins            just-in-time delivery

11)  What proportion of managers in IKEA are female?

approximately a quarter      nearly  half               two thirds

12)  Steve Howard feels that _________ need to be more discerning.

NGOs                                     designers                  consumers

November 04, 2013 06:39 PM PST


Controversy means strong disagreement over what is right or wrong in public life. For instance, the extension of marriage to gay couples in New Zealand provoked a good deal of controversy at the time. It was a controversial law change. Controversial proposals tend to be regarded as shocking by some people because they do not match traditional ideas about what is right or wrong.


Here are FOUR sentences with the word of the day. But only THREE are correct. Which is the Odd One Out?

The game ended with a controversial penalty, awarded by the referee despite his assistant (who was closer to the incident) keeping his flag down.

Everyone agreed that the new system was controversial, but unfortunately there was no practical alternative.

The proposal to move the soccer world cup from the summer to the winter has sparked heated controversy in the sports world.

The Government is standing by its controversial decision to award a major defence contract to an overseas company.


Are there any controversial law changes being discussed in the media?

What issues cause controversy on your campus these days?

Which public figures tend to make controversial statements on a regular basis?


What is the young New Zealand singer, Ella Yelich-O’Connor, who has achieved worldwide success in 2013 better known as?



1)    In Santa Barbara, California, for $82 per night, you can have a more luxurious _________

prison cell  / hotel room / student apartment

2)    Since the 1980’s, Michael Sandell believes that Western countries have become market ________

economies  / societies / consumers

3)    The main problem Michael Sandell sees in market societies is that ______ affects access to fundamental aspects of a good life.

inefficiency / uncompetitiveness / inequality

4)    One argument against a controversial market solution to children’s reading is that it might have a negative impact on their _______

behaviour / incentive / attitudes

5) Michael Sandell argues that a fundamental misunderstanding among economists is that trade does not alter the ______ of goods and services.

value / cost / sale

6) Michael Sandell believes that the increasing application of markets to social practices is responsible for social ______

discontent / division / disorder


November 18, 2012 07:42 PM PST


Conventional ideas or ways of doing things are accepted, common and familiar. Unconventional ideas can be new, unfamiliar and disturbing, but can allow for critical understanding and change.


Here are FOUR sentences with the word of the day. But only THREE are correct. Which is the Odd One Out?

Theirs was a highly unconventional home life, in which parental responsibilities were shared among several adults.

Her approach to design was unconventional and difficult for her colleagues to understand but no one could argue with her results.

His dress sense was, to say the least, unconventional, which certainly made him stand out in a crowd.

The introduction of new, unconventional laws led to widespread resistance and anger among the wider population. 


Would you describe yourself as unconventional in your _________  daily routine? dress sense? taste in music? religious beliefs?


Rhythm and Vines is a popular _________ festival which takes place at New Year in Gisborne, New Zealand.

Music / Food and Wine / Religious



1) According to 2010 estimates, in which year is China expected to become the world’s largest economy?




2) Martin Jacques believes that it is mistaken to assume that modernisation is ________________ westernisation.

independent of

dependent on

associated with

3) Martin Jacques argues that the Chinese concept of the state is different from that in the West because it is based on ______




4) What does Martin Jacques see as the disadvantage of the strong Han identity in China?

it has led to a lack of appreciation for diversity

it has kept China together as a single state

it has led to unsustainable centralisation of power

5) One reason Martin Jacques thinks that the Chinese state has legitimacy and authority is its ___________

democratic roots

long history


6) Martin Jacques believes that the Chinese identify the role of the state as similar to _________

the head of the family

an unwelcome intruder

a constraint on decision-making

7) What two major flaws does Martin Jacques identify in the conventional Western view of China?

laziness and superficiality

greed and hypocrisy

arrogance and ignorance

8) Martin Jacques argues that, compared to Europe, East Asian countries have a stronger sense of the ______




9) Martin Jacques believes that the global shift of power away from Europe and North America is generally  ______





Sentence Inversion. Sometimes, for extra emphasis, we put a negative phrase (Never ____, Only ____, Not only __, No sooner ______) at the beginning of a sentence. When we do that, we need to use the question form of the main verb. Here is an example from the lecture:

  • Never before, in the history of the modern world, has the world’s largest economy been that of a developing country, rather than a developed country.

Do the same with these sentences. Start the sentence with the negative phrase and make the necessary changes to the sentence, keeping the same meaning.

Sicily is the only place where you can only ski and sunbathe in the same afternoon.

Only in ___________________________________________

The new model is not only more powerful than the existing one; it is also cheaper.

Not only _________________________________________

I’ve never seen such maturity in one so young.

Never ___________________________________________

As soon as we had completed our exams, we started preparing for summer school.

No sooner ________________________________________

September 24, 2012 11:00 PM PDT


A stimulus is something that produces a response. So, for example, if the government reduces interest rates, this stimulus may encourage investment and growth, because it becomes easier for businesses to borrow money. According to behaviourist theories of learning, people learn how to behave by responding to stimuli, learning to do things which give them a reward and to avoid doing things which are unpleasant. Stimulus is a Latin word and has an irregular plural, stimuli.


Here are FOUR sentences with the word of the day. But only THREE are correct. Which is the Odd One Out?

The experiment measures the response of participants to a range of visual, kinaesthetic and audio stimulus.

I hope that my presentation will prove to be a stimulus for discussion regarding practical improvements.

The participants were presented with one stimulus in their central visual field and a range of other simultaneous audio and visual stimuli.

This meta-analysis explores research into the value of classroom reading as a stimulus for vocabulary development at intermediate school level.


What were the main stimuli for your choice of subject area, school or university?

What kinds of economic stimulus are used by governments?


Which New Zealand resident, originally from Germany, but now living near Massey’s Albany campus, is facing legal charges in the US related to his internet company, Megaupload?



This is a talk by Patricia Kuhl about how children learn languages. In particular, she discusses her research into how babies learn to recognise the sounds of a particular language – this is known as the phonology of a language. 

1) The Indian language Koro could be described as ___




2) According to the 'Critical Period of Acquisition' theory, a person’s ability to learn a language begins to decline at the age of ___




3) Patricia Kuhl points out that her research may contribute to our knowledge of how  people ___

develop a range of knowledge and skills in early childhood

can improve their accent in foreign languages

can memorise new vocabulary more effectively

4) Patricia’s research project has produced  evidence that babies, up to the age of 12
months,  ____

are better at discriminating between sounds in their own language

can be conditioned to distinguish between sounds in a laboratory setting

can tell the difference between sounds in any language

5) What does Patricia Kuhl describe as the key factor about the sounds of a language that babies notice in ‘motherese’ (the language spoken to them by their caregiver?




6) How did they make sure that simply taking part in the experiment didn’t help the babies improve their perception of Mandarin sounds?

There was a control group

Some of the children had Chinese lessons at home

Only bilingual mothers took part in the experiment

7) The experiment in which babies were exposed to language input on audio and TV, showed that interaction with a real person is ________ for a child’s phonological development.




8) The MEG device allows researchers to analyse ____

brain activity during tasks

cognitive content during tasks

motivational factors in language learning

You can read an academic paper on this topic by Patricia Kuhl at: http://www.pnas.org/content/97/22/11850.full#sec-11

August 01, 2011 09:01 PM PDT


When different things or people are integrated, it means they are combined so that they work effectively as a single unit. So, for example, it’s important that new employees are integrated into the existing team and that new practices are integrated into the existing organisational culture.


Here are FOUR sentences with the word of the day. But only THREE are correct. Which is the Odd One Out?

These resources are carefully designed so that they may be integrated into a range of different programmes.

After the merger, a major challenge will be to integrate the different organisational cultures of the existing companies into a new whole.

Our new committee will need to work hard to integrate itself in order to present a united position to the rest of the organisation.

Migrants have traditionally had to overcome difficult barriers in order to integrate into their new society.


How easy is it for migrants to integrate into New Zealand society?

What methods do organisations use to facilitate the integration of new members?


Which of these teams will NOT be playing in the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand this year?

The United Kingdom / Russia / Japan / Canada



Today’s video features the famous marketing ‘guru’ Phillip Kotler. Click on on pause on your podomatic player and click on play to watch the video and answer the questions below. When it’s over, click on ‘play’ again on the podomatic player to hear me give the answers to the questions.

1) Phillip Kotler describes the relationship between Sales and Marketing as ...

a War

a Line

a Partnership

2) The main preoccupation of Marketing is to build ...

the profits

the brand

the quantity

3) Sales Departments typically complain that the Marketing Department ..

hasn’t accepted their suggestions for the Sales Plan

hasn’t involved them in the development of the Marketing Plan

hasn’t followed up on the leads they have suggested

4) What was the traditional pecking-order in organisations?

sales and marketing were on the same level

marketing was under sales

sales was under marketing

5) It was necessary to develop Marketing departments because of the need ...

to introduce planning into the sales process

to overcome the resistance of Sales Executives to integration

to incorporate sales within broader organisational planning