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Unit 1 Born to be brilliant

  • Reading

  • Vocabulary

  • Grammar

  • Writing
  • Reading


    1 The Yosufs house is unlike any other house. In the sitting room, instead of a television, there is a blackboard on the wall. For two hours everyday Mr Yosuf writes complex mathematical problems on the board. His daughter, Zuleika, copies them into an exercise book and solves them.

    2 Zuleika is special. She's five years old, but instead of watching cartoons or playing computer games, her favourite pastimes are solving equations and reading books. She already spends hours every day in a university library. Next year Zuleika will become Britain's youngest 'A' level* student.

    3 Not surprisingly, the Yosufs are a very clever family. Zuleika's two sisters and brother, aged 16, 14 and 12 are also good at Maths and are already at university. Her father, who specialises in Maths research, has taught them all. 'Zuleika is very competitive, ' says her father. 'She sees her brother and sisters working every day and she can't wait to catch up with them. I remember teaching the others Maths when they were eight. Zuleika solves the same problems now, although she took up Maths much earlier. We could see she was interested in numbers at a much younger age.'

    4 So what is the secret of their success? When their first child arrived, Mr Yosuf and his wife made up their minds to teach all of their children at home. They say that home tuition combined with love and understanding has helped their children to succeed. 'We've been patient and supportive, and they take pride in what they do,' says Mr Yosuf. 'Maybe Zuleika has a natural talent for Maths, but I believe given the right surroundings that any child could do well.'

    5 Unfortunately, talented children like Zuleika are often pushed rather than encouraged by their parents. As a result, their abilities rarely develop beyond their teenage years. Tennis stars such as Tracey Austin, and the Home Alone film star Macaulay Culkin are good examples of this. There are some child prodigies who are capable of growing into talented adults, and a few who become geniuses. However, not all geniuses are brilliant youngsters. Einstein, for example, failed his exams at university and worked in an office before writing his theory of relativity.

    6 One thing all child prodigies do have in common is a complete dedication to and love of their subject. They spend many more hours working at it than the average child, and this extra effort is reflected in their achievements. It is not necessary to be extremely talented to be a child prodigy, but you do have to have a lot of motivation.

    The Guardian
    * 'A' level = advanced examination for 18-year-old students


    1 Skim reading

    Read the text quickly and answer these questions.

    1 Why is Zuleika special?

      She is only five and she can solve difficult Math problems.
    2 Who is responsible for her education?

      Her parents are
    3 Name one problem children like Zuleika might experience.

      She might not be so brilliant when she is grown-up.
    Exam training

    Multiple choice questions

    In the exam, you may have to answer multiple choice questions. For each question there will be three or four possible answers. Only one answer is correct, but words and phrases from the text may appear in all the answers. Use these points to help you.

    1 Quickly read the text to find out what it is about.

    2 Read each question only, then read the text carefully. Underline the parts of the text which contain the answers.

    3 Read the four answers and look at the underlined text. Which is the best answer for what you have underlined?

    4 Make sure that the other answers are incorrect.

    2 Multiple choice questions

    Now read the article again and answer these multiple choice questions. Choose the best answer: a, b, c or d.

    1 What is the difference between Zuleika and other five-year-olds?

      a She prefers watching education programmes to cartoons on TV.

      Incorrect. The text says 'instead of watching cartoons ... her favourite pastimes are solving equations and reading books'.

      b She is so clever that she is doing a university course.

      Incorrect. She 'spends hours every day in a university library' but she isn't following a university course.

      c She can solve very difficult Maths problems.

      Correct. The text says Mr Yosuf 'writes complex mathematical problems on the board' and Zuleika 'solves them'.

      d She has already passed an 'A' level exam.

      Incorrect. The text says 'Next year Zuleika will become Britain's youngest 'A' level student.'

    2 How is Zuleika different from her brother and sisters?

      a She enjoys taking part in competitions.

      b She began studying Maths when she was younger.

      c She has always been taught at home.

      d She is much more intelligent.

    3 Mr Yosuf says that his children are successful because:

      a they decided that they wanted to be taught at home.

      b they have a natural talent for all kinds of subjects.

      c they understand the importance of a happy family background.

      d they have received the right kind of encouragement.

    4 The writer mentions Einstein as an example of someone who:

      a was pushed rather than encouraged as a child.

      b achieved great success early on in his life.

      c was not a child prodigy.

      d did not go to university.

    5 What does 'this' refer to in paragraph 5?

      a the success children can achieve in later life

      b an ability which increases with age

      c being pushed by one's parents

      d the future for children like Zuleika

    6 What do all child prodigies have in common?

      a They are extraordinarily talented.

      b Their success is much easier to achieve.

      c They realise they are different from other people.

      d They work harder than most other people.

    3 Definitions

    Find words in the text which mean:

    1 reach somebody who is ahead of you - catch up (paragraph 3)

    2 something that is not known by other people - a secret(4)

    3 giving help to someone (4) - supportive

    4 to force someone to do something - to push (5)

    5 extremely good, excellent - geniuse (5)

    6 wanting to give your time and energy to something - motivation (6)

    Unit 1. BORN TO BE BRILLIANT. Reading. In the mind's eye.
    Unit 1. BORN TO BE BRILLIANT. Vocabulary. Phrasal verbs with more than one meaning.
    Unit 1. BORN TO BE BRILLIANT. Grammar. Modals. Remember + ing or to-inf.
    Unit 1. BORN TO BE BRILLIANT. Writing descriptions. Travel and sightseeing.

    Unit 2. THE WRONG MAN. Reading. A sense of identity.
    Unit 2. THE WRONG MAN. Vocabulary. Crime. Match the people with the definitions.
    Unit 2. THE WRONG MAN. Grammar. Present simple, present continuous and present perfect.
    Unit 2. THE WRONG MAN. Writing a profile. Words describing appearance.

    Unit 3. TIMES PAST. Reading. BRINGING the past to life.

    Unit 3. TIMES PAST. Vocabulary. TV programmes.
    Unit 3. TIMES PAST. Grammar. Regular and Irregular Verbs.
    Unit 3. TIMES PAST. Writing a Talk. The Millenium Dome.

    Unit 4. SMALL BEGINNINGS. Reading. The man who really founded New York.
    Unit 4. SMALL BEGINNINGS. Vocabulary. Nouns, verbs, adjectives.
    Unit 4. SMALL BEGINNINGS. Grammar. The Future. Will.
    Unit 4. SMALL BEGINNINGS. Writing a letter of complaint.

    Unit 5. FAME AND FORTUNE. Reading. A dream come true? How winning a lottery can affect your life?
    Unit 5.  FAME AND FORTUNE. Vocabulary. Prepositions. Money.
    Unit 5.  FAME AND FORTUNE. Grammar. Modals. Language patterns: verb + noun/pronoun + infinitive with to.
    Unit 5.  FAME AND FORTUNE. Writing a composition. The Lottery.

    Unit 6. TAKING RISKS. Vocabulary. Phrasal verbs with take.
    Unit 6. TAKING RISKS. Grammar. Relative pronoun. Who, whom, which or that Quiz. Purpose and result. Language patterns: verb + direct object + (to) do.
    Unit 6. TAKING RISKS. Writing a biography.

    Unit 7. MEANS OF COMMUNICATION. Reading. Getting your Message Across.
    Unit 7. MEANS OF COMMUNICATION. Vocabulary. Adjectives ending in -ed an -ing. Feelings. Body language.
    Unit 7. MEANS OF COMMUNICATION. Grammar. Present perfect and past simple; present perfect simple and continuous; the passive.

    Unit 8. WHAT IF ... ? Reading. Poets and pop stars.
    Unit 8.  WHAT IF ... ? Vocabulary. Words to do with poetry and music.
    Unit 8.  WHAT IF ... ? Grammar. Conditionals. The verbs tell, talk, say and speak.
    Unit 8.  WHAT IF ... ? Writing a discursive composition. An ideal job.

    Unit 9. TRAVELLERS' TALES. Reading. A trip to America.
    Unit 9. TRAVELLERS' TALES. Vocabulary. Describing a journey.
    Unit 9. TRAVELLERS' TALES. Grammar. Past simple, past continuous or past perfect? Reflexive verbs.
    Unit 9. TRAVELLERS' TALES. Writing a story. My holiday nightmare.

    Unit 10. THE RIGHT CHOICE. Reading. DANGER: woman at work.
    Unit 10. THE RIGHT CHOICE. Vocabulary. Negative prefixes. Phrasal verbs give up • get on • turn down • take on • fit in
    Unit 10. THE RIGHT CHOICE. Grammar. Reported Speech. Direct and indirect objects.
    Unit 10. THE RIGHT CHOICE. Writing a job application.