News-based English language activities from the global newspaper

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September 2009

Level ≥ Advanced Style ≥ Individual or group activities
Welcome to the Guardian Weekly’s special news-based materials to support learners and teachers of English. Each month, the Guardian Weekly newspaper selects topical news articles that can be used to practise English language skills. The materials are graded for two levels: Advanced and Lower Intermediate. These worksheets can be downloaded free from You can also find more advice for teachers and learners on the site Materials prepared by Janet Hardy-Gould

Alexandria library serves up wrong food for thought

Fast food fiction? Bibliotheca Alexandrina The Travel Library/Rex Features

Before reading
1 Look at the headline, photo and caption of the article. Complete the paragraph below with words from the headline or caption. The article is about a modern called the (a) (b) which has been built in the ancient Egyptian city of . However, some people (c) are unhappy about plans for a new area in the building. (d)

2 Match these adjective and noun collocations. secret 1 criticism a 2 plan b multinational 3 scandal c harsh 4 corporation d brand 5 consumerism e corruption brash 6 name f Work with a partner. Look at these collocations and the information in exercise one. What can you predict about the content of the article?


News-based English language activities from the global newspaper

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September 2009

Alexandria library serves up wrong food for thought
1 It was meant to be the library that recaptured the glories of Alexandria, providing a new home for the world’s knowledge almost 2,000 years after its predecessor was burned to the ground. But whereas the old Egyptian library offered a rich diet of philosophy and history to the greatest thinkers of its age, including Euclid, Archimedes and Herophilus, the modern Bibliotheca Alexandrina is attracting harsh criticism for serving up very different fare.

6 “I don’t know why everything promising, everything good, in this country must be destroyed by the government … with their greed and cooperation with the businessmen,” said Zeinobia, a prominent blogger. Ismail Alexandrani, behind a 5,000-strong Facebook group vowing “cultural resistance” to the food court, wrote: “This is about money, money, money.” 7 The controversy is only the latest in a series of disputes to hit the Bibliotheca. The library’s building costs have been criticised as a misuse of resources in a country with widespread poverty. The library has also struggled to build up its collection of books due to a lack of funds. Jack Shenker, Alexandria

2 A row has erupted over the decision to build a food court at the heart of Egypt’s self-proclaimed “window on the world”, with critics accusing the Bibliotheca’s trustees of selling out the library’s venerable legacy for short-term profit. Among the charges levelled at the $220m Bibliotheca, which opened seven years ago, is the accusation that secret plans are being hatched to allow burger chain McDonald’s to open a branch inside the complex, and that the library is putting brash consumerism ahead of serious scholarship. 3 Library authorities have denied the claims, insisting the food area is needed for the annual influx of 800,000 visitors. 4 Six companies have got licences to open stores in the food area and the library insists McDonald’s is not among them. Sharif Riad, PR director, said the court was sensitively designed with no logos visible. 5 But in a country that has seen the presence of multinational corporations proliferate in recent years the library’s assurances have left many unconvinced. Commentators link the invasion of brand names into Egypt’s most sacred cultural institution with broader ties between capitalists and politicians and the ensuing corruption scandals.

food for thought (expression) an idea that makes you think carefully fare (noun) food trustee (noun) a member of a group that controls the financial affairs of a charity or other organisation venerable (adjective) when something is respected because it is old influx (noun) the sudden arrival of large numbers of people, money or goods etc


News-based English language activities from the global newspaper

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September 2009

While reading
1 Read the article. Decide if these sentences are true (T) or false (F). Underline where you find the information in the text. The ancient library in Alexandria no longer exists. a The new library was built more than five years b ago. There are definite plans for a McDonald’s in the c library. Visitors will see brand logos in the food court. d Critics see the food court as part of wider political e problems. There is an online protest group against the food f court. The library has successfully built up its book g collection.

f Zeinobia has accused the government of …

g The costly library is controversial because Egypt suffers from …

After reading
1 Complete the table below with abstract nouns and verbs. Verb Noun invade (a) (b) assure (d) accusation (c) criticism (e) proliferation (g) destruction

2 Read the article again. Complete the sentences with words from the article. a The old library was used by scholars such as …

b Critics think brash consumerism has replaced the tradition of …

co-operate (f) resist

c The authorities say the food court is essential for the …


d At present there are plans for six companies to …

corrupt (i) Look back at how the nouns and verbs are used in the context of the article. Where is the stress in these words? Check with a dictionary. 2 Complete the sentences with words from exercise 1. You may need to change the form of the verbs. a The government has been for working too closely with big corporations. b There have been worrying reports of among top politicians. c The spokesman gave a firm that there would be no visible logos in the library.

e There have been corruption scandals because of links between …


News-based English language activities from the global newspaper

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September 2009

d Bloggers want to stop the food court and they have . started a campaign of e In recent years fast food restaurants have begun to in many large cities. the f Some critics have trustees of bringing consumerism into the Bibliotheca. between g There is positive groups who are raising money for the library.

d The uniqueness of a cultural institution could be destroyed by the presence of multinational restaurants and shops.

Activity — discussion
Decide if you agree [A] or disagree [D] with the statements below. Discuss your ideas in small groups. Use the space provided for making notes Sacred cultural institutions should never open a shops or cafes within their walls.

e It is pure snobbery to say that certain restaurants shouldn’t be allowed in libraries or museums.

For more images and information on Bibliotheca Alexandrina go to b Visitor attractions need to have places for people to eat and shop in order to survive financially.

c Most tourists see shops and cafes as an essential part of their visitor experience.

After reading 1 a invasion b accuse c assurance d criticise e cooperation f proliferate g resistance h destroy i corruption 2 a criticised b corruption c assurance d resistance e proliferate f accused g cooperation While reading 1aTbTcFdFeTfTgF 2 a Euclid, Archimedes and Herophilus. b serious scholarship. c annual influx of 800,000 visitors. d open stores in the food area. e capitalists and politicians. f greed and cooperation with businessmen. g widespread poverty. Before reading 1 a library b Bibliotheca Alexandrina c Alexandria d food 2a2b4c1d6e3f5


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