Session 4

In this session we find out about TV and radio programmes that are made especially for people affected by hazards and disasters; it's over to you to tell us about your experiences; and News Report brings us one woman's story of the 2004 Asian Tsunami.

Sessions in this unit

Session 4 score

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    Activity 1
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    Activity 2
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    Activity 3

Activity 1

The power of media

Meet Jackie

Natural disasters like typhoons and earthquakes cause huge destruction to lives and communities. Early warning about extreme weather like storms and cyclones can make a huge difference by helping people prepare for them.

Jackie Dalton is a producer and trainer with BBC Media Action, the BBC’s international development charity. Finn from BBC Learning English spoke to her about her job and the work she did during and before cyclone Mahasen, which affected the areas around Bangladesh.

To do

Listen to the interview with Jackie. While you listen, answer this question: how did Jackie's programmes help people in the cyclone areas?


Listen to the audio and complete the activity

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So what kind of things can you do, in your job, to help people?

So, one of the most useful things that we can do, working with media, is to inform people about what's happening around them so they understand so they can take the right decisions. And also listen to them, listen to their questions and their concerns. And also stories to share about what's happening around them.

And to give you an example, two years ago in Bangladesh, when cyclone Mahasen was approaching the country, one of the most important things was that the populations that were at risk of being affected would be able to take action to protect themselves. Go to cyclone shelters and so on. So we were able to work with the government to share information via television and radio with the at-risk population, about what it was that they would need to do to be able to protect themselves.

And so through your content, through the programmes you made, were you able to make a difference to people in that situation?

I think we were able to reach people with some very useful information about what they needed to do to stay safe, and also during the recovery process, the things that they could do to be able to cope with the situation, for example how to stay safe from skin diseases, what to do about the crops that had been destroyed, what kind of compensation the government was able to offer them for the damage that they'd suffered. And they also needed a chance to be able to ask questions and share their stories of what happened once the cyclone had hit.

So, Jackie says the programmes helped people by giving them information about staying safe during the cyclone. The programmes also gave people advice and information about how to recover after the cyclone.

To do

Let's have a closer look at Jackie and Finn's conversation. Have a go at this quiz.

Preparing for Cyclone Mahasen

6 Questions

Choose the correct answers.

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You've heard about Jackie's work: now it's your turn to tell us about your experiences. Have you ever experienced a disaster?

Session Grammar

  • We use can and be able to with infinitive verbs to talk about ability in the present.

    An elephant can carry up to 9,000kg.
    They are able to walk for up to  50 miles a day.

    For ability in the past, use could and was/were able to.

    could see the fish in the water, but I couldn't catch them.
    They weren't able to survive long without food.

    For single events in the past, use be able to for positive sentences.

    We were able to take a photograph of the lions (NOT: We could take a photograph of the lions)  

    For single events, use be able to or could/couldn't for negatives and questions.

    We weren't able to see the elephants today. We couldn't take any photographs. Could you see any giraffes? 

    Use manage to when something is very difficult to do or very successful:

    They managed to travel across the Atlantic Ocean.

Session Vocabulary

  • disasters
    events that cause a lot of harm

    a very strong wind which moves in a circle in the Western Pacific Ocean

    very strong winds which move in circles

    organisation that people give money to so they can help other people

    (here) groups of people in particular situations

    safe places

    programmes on TV, radio and online media

    plants that people grow on farms

    money that is given to someone in exchange for damage or loss