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26/01/2015 16:25
This Week In History: Australia Day

On January 26, 1788, Captain Arthur Phillip guided a fleet of 11 British ships carrying convicts to the colony of New South Wales, effectively founding Australia.

Australia, originally known as New South Wales, was originally planned as a prison colony. In October 1786, the British government asked Arthur Phillip, captain of the ship HMS Sirius, to establish an agricultural work camp there for British convicts. He had no idea of what he could expect from the mysterious and distant land. Accompanied by a small group of soldiers and other officers, Phillip led the 1,000-strong party, (with 700 convicts), around Africa to the eastern side of Australia. In all, the voyage lasted eight months, with around 30 men dying on the journey.

The first years were almost disastrous. The soil was poor, the climate was unfamiliar and workers didn’t know how to farm.  Phillip had great difficulty keeping the men alive and the colony almost starved. Phillip persevered by appointing convicts to positions of responsibility. Phillip said before leaving England: "In a new country there will be no slavery and hence no slaves."

 Although Phillip returned to England in 1792, the colony became prosperous by the 19th century. In 1818, January 26 became an official holiday, marking the 30th anniversary of British settlement in Australia. And, as Australia became a sovereign nation, it became the national holiday known as Australia Day. Today, Australia Day serves both as a day of celebration for the founding of the white British settlement, and as a day of mourning for the Aborigines who were slowly dispossessed of their land as white colonization spread across the continent.

10/12/2014 12:38
Wednesday Recipe: How To Make English Scones

Ingredients

225g/8oz self raising flour

A pinch of salt

55g/2oz butter

25g/1oz caster sugar

150ml/5fl oz milk

1 free-range egg, beaten, (alternatively use a little milk)

 

Preparation method

Heat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7. Lightly grease a baking sheet.

Mix together the flour and salt and rub in the butter.

Stir in the sugar and then the milk to get a soft dough.

Turn on to a floured work surface and knead very lightly. Pat out to a round 2cm/¾in thick. Use a 5cm/2in cutter to stamp out rounds and place on a baking sheet. Lightly knead together the rest of the dough and stamp out more scones to use it all up.

Brush the tops of the scones with the beaten egg. Bake for 12-15 minutes until well risen and golden.

27/11/2014 19:50

At 11 a.m. on December 1, 1990, 132 feet below the English Channel, workers drilled an opening the size of a car through a wall of rock. This was no ordinary hole--it connected the two ends of an underwater tunnel linking Great Britain with the European mainland for the first time in more than 8,000 years.

The Channel Tunnel, or "Chunnel," was not a new idea. It had been suggested to Napoleon Bonaparte as early as 1802. It wasn't until the late 20th century, though, that the necessary technology was developed. In 1986, Britain and France signed a treaty authorizing the construction of a tunnel running between Folkestone, England, and Calais, France.

 

 Over the next four years, nearly 13,000 workers dug 95 miles of tunnels at an average depth of 150 feet (45 meters) below sea level. Eight million cubic meters of soil were removed, at a rate of 2,400 tons per hour. The completed Chunnel would have three interconnected tubes, including one rail track in each direction and one service tunnel. The price? A whopping $15 billion.

 

After workers drilled that final hole on December 1, 1990, they exchanged French and British flags and toasted each other with champagne. Final construction took four more years, and the Channel Tunnel finally opened for passenger service on May 6, 1994, with Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and France's President Francois Mitterrand on hand in Calais for the inaugural run. The Chunnel is the second-longest rail tunnel in the world, after the Seikan Tunnel in Japan.

 

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