English Challenge 01

Article – Colonizing Mars (click for full article)

Reading Assignment to Record (excerpt only)

  1. As already mentioned, there are many interesting similarities between Earth and Mars that make it a viable option for colonization. For starters, Mars and Earth have very similar lengths of days.  A Martian day is 24 hours and 39 minutes, which means that plants and animals – not to mention human colonists – would find that familiar.
  2. Mars also has an axial tilt that is very similar to Earth’s, which means it has the same basic seasonal patterns as our planet (albeit for longer periods of time). Basically, when one hemisphere is pointed towards the Sun, it experiences summer while the other experiences winter – complete with warmer temperatures and longer days.
  3. This too would work well when it comes to growing seasons and would provide colonists with a comforting sense of familiarity and a way of measuring out the year. Much like farmers here on Earth, native Martians would experience a growing season, a harvest, and would be able to hold annual festivities to mark the changing of the seasons.
  4. Also, much like Earth, Mars exists within our Sun’s habitable zone (aka the “goldilocks zone“), though it is slightly towards its outer edge. Venus is similarly located within this zone, but its location on the inner edge (combined with its thick atmosphere) has led to it becoming the hottest planet in the Solar System.  That, combined with its sulfuric acid rains, makes Mars a much more attractive option.
  5. Additionally, Mars is closer to Earth than the other Solar planets – except for Venus, but we already covered why it’s not a very good option! This would make the process of colonizing it easier.  In fact, every few years when the Earth and Mars are at opposition – i.e., when they are closest to each other – the distance varies, making certain “launch windows” ideal for sending colonists.
  6. For example, on April 8th, 2014, Earth and Mars were 92.4 million km (57.4 million miles) apart at opposition. On May 22nd, 2016, they will be 75.3 million km (46.8 million miles) apart, and by July 27th of 2018, a meager 6 million km (35.8 million miles) will separate our two worlds.  During these windows, getting to Mars would be a matter of months rather than years.

Grammar Analysis and Comprehension Questions

  1. What are three similarities between Earth and Mars that would make it easy for us to adapt to Mars as colonists?
  2. What are two reasons we cannot colonize Venus?
  3. What planetary effects are caused by having an axial tilt?
  4. In Paragraph #1, why is the first comma there – what rule? (we’ve had this before)
  5. In Paragraph #2, why is the first comma there – what rule? (new rule we haven’t discussed yet)
  6. In Paragraph #6, the pattern “…would be…rather than…“ performs what kind of function?

1. Day lengths, axial tilts (season variations), Goldilocks zones
2. Too hot, toxic sulfuric acid rains
3. Seasons.  The greater the tilt, the more severe the seasonal differences.
4. Rule:  after an introductory word, phrase, or clause.
5. Rule: Non-essential or non-restrictive relative clause.
6. Comparison or alternatives

Song – Imagine (click to listen to song)


This song tells the story of a man who longs for a world of peace, a paradise where there is no religion, no war, no possessions, no greed or hunger — where all men can live on this world equally as brothers.  He concedes that others may call him a dreamer, a person who imagines and longs for something that can never be (true or real).  This doesn’t bother him, however, since he feels he is not alone in this dream.  His belief is that there are a number of dreamers who also long for this idyllic world and that their numbers will grow and grow until someday, perhaps, it becomes a reality.  This song’s tempo is quite slow and its vocabulary is quite simple, but it posits a profound future.


01 Imagine there’s no heaven.
02 It’s easy if you try.
03 No hell below us —
04 Above us only sky.
05 Imagine all the people living for today. Aha, aah…

06 Imagine there’s no countries.
07 It isn’t hard to do.
08 Nothing to kill or die for, —
09 And no religion too.
10 Imagine all the people living life in peace. Yoohoo, ooh…

11 You may say I’m a dreamer,
12 But I’m not the only one.
13 I hope someday you’ll join us,
14 And the world will be as one.

15 Imagine no possessions.
16 I wonder if you can.
17 No need for greed or hunger —
18 A brotherhood of man.
19 Imagine all the people sharing all the world. Yoohoo, ooh…

20 You may say I’m a dreamer,
21 But I’m not the only one.
22 I hope someday you’ll join us,
23 And the world will be as one.

Questions for the Students

  1. A refrain is that part of a song that repeats several times during the song. In this song, how many paragraphs are used as this song’s refrain?
  2. In Line 05, what do you think “living for today” might mean?
  3. In Line 18, what do you think he means by “a brotherhood of man”?
  4. In Line 23, what do you think he means by “world will be as one”?
  5. A clause is defined as a group of words with a subject and a verb. In Lines 01 through 05, how many clauses are there?  (N.B., the answer being sought here is a single number, nothing more)
  6. We always dream of a perfect world where everyone is happy. Names that we use to represent a place like this include the following:  Utopia, Paradise, Shangri-La, Heaven, Nirvana

1. Refrain is one paragraph.  Used twice.
2. Living for the moment, for today.  Don’t worry about the past or future.  Enjoy today!
3. All people of the world treating each other as members of the same ONE BIG family.
4. All the world will act as one country that covers the world.  Shared love, interests, values, etc.
5. Five
6. No answer required for this one.

TED Talk – Know Your Worth and Then Ask for It (click to see full presentation)

Reading Assignment to Record (excerpt only)
(time markers 01:04 through 03:48)

  1. Now, I approach this today through the lens of the woman business owner, because in my work I’ve observed that women underprice more so than men. The gender wage gap is a well-traveled narrative in this country.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a woman employee earns just 83 cents for every dollar a man earns.  What may surprise you is that this trend continues even into the entrepreneurial sphere.  A woman business owner earns just 80 cents for every dollar a man earns.  In my work, I’ve often heard women express that they’re uncomfortable communicating their value, especially early on in business ownership.  They say things like, “I don’t like to toot my own horn.”  “I’d rather let the work speak for itself.”  “I don’t like to sing my own praises.”
  2. I hear very different narratives in working with male business owners, and I think this difference is costing women 20 cents on the dollar.
  3. I’d like to tell you the story of a consulting firm that helps their clients dramatically improve their profitability. That company is my company.  After my first year in business, I saw the profit increases that my clients were realizing in working with me, and I realized that I needed to reevaluate my pricing.  I was really underpriced relative to the value I was delivering.  It’s hard for me to admit to you, because I’m a pricing consultant.
  4. It’s what I do. I help companies price for value.  But nonetheless, it’s what I saw, and so I sat down to evaluate my pricing, evaluate my value, and I did that by asking key value questions.  What are my clients’ needs and how do I meet them? What is my unique skill set that makes me better qualified to serve my clients? What do I do that no one else does? What problems do I solve for clients? What value do I add? I answered these questions and defined the value that my clients get from working with me, calculated their return on investment, and what I saw was that I needed to double my price, double it.  Now, I confess to you, this terrified me.  I’m supposed to be the expert in this, but I’m not cured.  I knew the value was there.  I was convinced the value was there, and I was still scared out of my wits.  What if nobody would pay me that? What if clients said, “That’s ridiculous.  You’re ridiculous.”
  5. Was I really worth that? Not my work, mind you, but me. Was I worth that? I’m the mother of two beautiful little girls who depend upon me.  I’m a single mom.  What if my business fails? What if I fail?
  6. But I know how to take my own medicine, the medicine that I prescribe to my clients. I had done the homework.  I knew the value was there.  So when prospects came, I prepared the proposals with the new higher pricing and sent them out and communicated the value.  How’s the story end? Clients continued to hire me and refer me and recommend me, and I’m still here.  And I share this story because doubts and fears are natural and normal.  But they don’t define our value, and they shouldn’t limit our earning potential.


  1. To toot one’s own horn is to brag or boast about one’s own abilities, about how great one is.
  2. To sing your own praises is to brag or boast about one’s own abilities, about how great one is.
  3. An entrepreneur is someone who tries to make money using a novel, fresh, or unique idea.
  4. To talk one’s own medicine is to follow one’s own advice, to do what one tells others to do, to do as you say.
  5. Prospects are one’s hopes and aspirations for the future. Your prospects can look bright (hopeful) or dim (hopeless).
  6. Mind you” is a strange phrase we sometimes say for emphasis. It kind of means “no, that’s not what I’m saying at all”.  Example:  It’s not that I don’t like you, mind you; it’s just that I don’t think our work ethics would be very compatible.
  7. To be scared out of one’s wits is to be frightened silly, to be so frightened that one freezes or does something stupid.
  8. Dramatically means in a very visible, stark way that cannot be ignored or overlooked, as if one wants to draw attention to oneself. Example:  She always complains so dramatically as if it’s the end of the world if she has to do any work.
  9. To look at something through the lens of a [writer] means to view something from the aspect of a [writer]. Let me put on my engineer’s hat and look at this problem through the lens of an engineer.
  10. Return on investment (ROI) essentially means “what one receives in exchange for what one gives”. We all want to maximize our interest or dividend on any given investment, to receive more than we give.  To take in more profit than we spend.  This philosophy it trying to “get more bang for you buck” (more impact or value for your one dollar spent).

Comprehension Check

  1. Why was it difficult for the speaker to admit to you that she was underpricing herself to her clients?
  2. How did the speaker conclude that she needed to adjust the price she was asking for her services?
  3. Through what lens does she analyze this problem of knowing what you are worth and then asking for it?
  4. What did the speaker mean when she said she knew how to take her own medicine?
  5. What kind of personality does the speaker have, based on her description of herself?

1. She herself is supposed to be a pricing expert, yet she has underpriced herself!  Ironic.
2. After her first year in business, she saw the profit increases that her clients were realizing in working with her, and she realized that she needed to reevaluate her pricing.
3. Through the lens of a businesswoman, because she was one.
4. She saw the need to take her own advice and was brave and confident enough to do so.
5. From her own description (scared out her wits), she was cautious, frightened, and lacked self-confidence.  From the excerpt, I would say she was also modest (admitted her mistake), caring (worried about her kids), intelligent (she wrote this article), logical (she convinced herself to take her own advice even though she was scared), confident (she convinced herself to take her own advice even though she was scared).

Grammar Notes

This sentence in Paragraph A is called a “cleft sentence”.

What may surprise you is that this trend continues even into the entrepreneurial sphere.

  1. Look up “cleft sentence” on Wikipedia.
  2. Explain what a cleft sentence is used for.
  3. Explain generally how a cleft sentence is constructed.
  4. List at least four types of cleft sentences and give an example of each.
    (May copy and paste if desired.)

1. N/A
2. A cleft sentence is used to strongly emphasize or showcase a point.
3. It is constructed by using noun clauses in the subject or direct object positions to “set the stage” for highlighting or emphasized a particular point.
4. These are some of the types of cleft sentence structures.
It-cleft: It is Jaime for whom we are looking.
    Wh-cleft/Pseudo-cleft: What he wanted to buy was a Fiat.
    Reversed wh-cleft/Inverted pseudo-cleft: A Fiat is what he wanted to buy.
    All-cleft: All he wanted to buy was a Fiat.
    Inferential cleft: It is not that he loves her. It’s just that he has a way with her that is different.
    There-cleft: And then there’s a new house he wanted to build.
    If-because cleft: If he wants to be an actor it’s because he wants to be famous.

Leave a Reply