The Robinson List

Robinson List

Are you looking for a way to get rid of those pesky telemarketers who call you at home time and time again?

The answer here in Europe is called the Robinson List (La Lista Robinson). By far the most effective legal way to protect your privacy while saving a few extra minutes of your life. Time is money.

How much time have telemarketers and the like stolen minutes or even hours of your life, trying to convince you to buy, purchase or subscribe to their services? When I think about the amount of time spent on the telephone trying to explain to the poor, defenseless and desparate salesperson on the other end that I don’t have time (nor the money) to cater to their sales pitch, my blood begins to curdle.

I still remember having to explain to a telecommunications company the fact that my mother had passed away and that I didn’t have time to talk to them about their new service. The unfortunate caller that day was left speechless and even apologised for his untimely call.

But that is just what you can expect from joining the Robinson List. Just today I received a phone call from a law firm offering their services here in Spain and I mentioned that I belonged to the Robinson List – the response? – “I am sorry for having phoned you without your express permission. Please accept our sincerest apologies . This will never happen again.”

I was taken aback at such professionalism on the part of the telemarketer. But then again, I realised just how much time they had stolen from me throughout the years and I began to thank God for the existence of the Robinson List.

If  you suffer from a similar predicament and are looking to rid yourself of untimely and inopportune telemarketers, be sure to check out the Robinson List (la Lista Robinson).

Be sure to visit:


to get rid of: to free yourself from something, to liberate yourself

pesky: annoying, bothersome

telemarketer: a person or salesperson that tries to sell you something via telephone

by far: without a doubt, to a strong degree

to purchase: to buy

to cater to: to pay attention to, to serve

to pass away: diplomatic language for ” to die ”

speechless: without words to say

express: adj. expressed in writing or by word of mouth

to be taken aback: to be surprised

Posted in A1 - Beginners English, A2 - Waystage English (Pre-Intermediate), B1 - Intermediate English, B2 - Upper Intermediate (Advanced English), C1 - Proficiency | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Cyprus: 300 Euros Per Citizen


The days of rationing have returned and there is no end in sight for the average or median citizen in Cyprus. Three hundred euros is the limit on how much they can withdraw from their own bank account.

How would you feel if your government were to limit the amount of money you can take out of your own account? How would you feel if they were to expropriate your earnings for the common good? How deep does the crisis run through the actual system itself? These are some of the questions on the mind of the common European citizen.

A simple analysis sheds some light on the current “crisis” – which is actually not a crisis at all, but a simple mistake in Accounting 101 – “Do not spend more than you have.” European governments are experts at budgeting huge amounts of money towards camouflaged social activities that really have an effective lucrative purpose in mind.

Behind the ranks of government officials, especially in countries like Germany, Spain, Portugal and Italy are an increasing minority – those who steal money “on the fly” and those who truly care about the welfare state.

The fact of the matter is that there is no longer an ideological battle between socialism or capitalism – this is long gone. What the current dilemma really involves is a battle for popularity.

Popularity is a two-edged sword. You can use popularity to your advantage to convince or to persuade, yet each and every word that comes out of your mouth is fiercely weighed and measured in terms of political correctness, manners, congeniality, etc. This is what European politicians have forgot. They simply have no interest in connecting with the average citizen. They have simply wasted their foregone popularity, only to drown in an abyss of self-pity and inevitable remorse.

On the upside, there is an increasing majority of citizens who are willing to take public office and to change things for the better. Every news item in a European newspaper must be taken with a grain of salt: There are still the old-fashioned critics of capitalism long gone, and the advent of newcomers looking to make their room in the battle for popularity.

Posted in B1 - Intermediate English, B2 - Upper Intermediate (Advanced English), C1 - Proficiency | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

David, You Are In Hot Water


The PM of the United Kingdom, David Cameron announced his proposal for new immigration controls for the United Kingdom. Among the most controversial points of the new policy are his plan to cut immigrant healthcare and unemployment benefits.

Cameron bases his policy on what he calls the “culture of something for nothing” that has taken the nation by storm. According to Cameron, immigrants from the European Economic Area  have been signing up for unemployment benefits, while neglecting to even seek or apply for new jobs.

In order to stem the new wave of “something for nothing” immigration, he plans to cut unemployment benefits to said immigrants and also vows to bill immigrants directly for any healthcare or medical attention received. If not, he says that member nations should be responsible for covering healthcare expenses they receive in the UK.

But his new plan to curtail immigration has received serious opposition and complaints from other council members and EU member countries.

Watch the entire proposal in English and see what you think.

Keep in mind the following questions and give us your opinion:

1) Does this new proposal sound fair and just? Or is this just another way  for the UK to dissuade immigrants from entering the UK to begin with?

2) How will this new policy affect EU citizens seeking job opportunities abroad?

Just click here to view:

PM Cameron Offers His Proposal to Crackdown on Immigration in UK

Useful Terms:

to announce: v. , to make public

controversial: adj., causing controversy or misunderstanding

to base: v., to found, to formulate

to take by storm: v., to rapidly grow suddenly

to sign up for: v., to register

to stem: v., to stop, to prevent

to vow: v., to promise

to cover expenses: to pay for any bills

to curtail: to drastically reduce or decrease

Posted in B1 - Intermediate English, B2 - Upper Intermediate (Advanced English), C1 - Proficiency, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Trouble in Paradise: Hands Off Cyprus


Leaders of the World Monetary Fund, along with board members of the ECB (European Central Bank) meet today to decide the fate of Cyprus.

Cyprus is in deep financial trouble. The government is against an intervention or rescue from the EU or European Union, but it is clear they have no alternative.


trouble: problems

paradise: a heavenly place, a place of pleasure and happiness

Hands off!: Don’t touch! (No tocar)

World Monetary Fund: n – the world institution in charge of economic rules (el FMI o fondo monetario internacional)

ECB – European Central Bank: n. – most important bank in Europe

the fate: n. the future

to be in deep financial trouble: v. to have monetary problems

to be clear: v. to be evident

alternative: n. choice, option

Posted in A1 - Beginners English, A2 - Waystage English (Pre-Intermediate) | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Spain Richer Than Germany Says Bundesbank


Unbelievable, but true. A new report from the German Central Bank, or as it is called, the “Bundesbank”, has announced that, according to their calculatons,  Spaniards are 33% richer than Germans.

According to them, Germans can only dream about possessing the wealth and prosperity enjoyed by the Spaniards.” But how could this possibly be true?

Stats offered by the Bundesbank cite the enormous patrimony accumulated by Spanish families, including properties, cars and objects of priceless artistic value: Spaniards enjoy an average net patrimony of 285,000 euros, while in Germany this average falls to some 195,000 euros.

Surprisingly, the report makes no mention of the overvaluation of Spanish properties that have fallen almost 30% on average from the moment they were purchased. The report does not take into account another important fact: most of these properties which are attributed to private owners are currently owned by banks, due to the real estate crisis and rise in evictions and debt default.

On the other hand – truth be told – the percentage of German homeowners is a scanty 44% compared to the astounding 82% of home ownership in Spain. This fact is largely due to the German tendency to rent, rather than to own their own home. On the surface this may seem like a disadvantage – living in someone else’s home strikes fear into the minds of Spanish families. However, the important savings in maintenance costs and real estate taxes speaks volumes to German prosperity.

Just a couple of years ago, the Bundesbank considered home ownership as a poor option to business growth. When putting together this report, this same bank should have realized what they have been preaching to the rest of Europe: “accumulating debt doesn’t necessarily mean you are rich.”

The German central bank offers the following reflection: The average German family disposes of 51,400 euros, while the average Spanish family (according to them) disposes of an annual net patrimony of over 178,000 euros. (No wonder we haven’t already been rescued!)

The same study compares the existing conditions of inequality between rich and poor, yet it neglects to include the fact that paying the bills in Spain is not as cheap as it is in Germany, where families receive substantial financial assistance in the form of subsidies and what not in the form of children’s dental care and the 170 euros each German family perceives per child every month!

To put things in perspective, a Spanish couple would have to have 15 children and earn less than 35,620 euros to even come close to receiving the amount a Geman couple with two children receives in subsidies for healthcare and benefits from the German government.


to announce: to make public, to speak in public about something

to cite: to give as an example

average: the median, the most common considering all the numbers

to make no mention of: to not say anything about

to attribute to: to make reference to

default: failure to pay

“truth be told” – to tell you the truth, to tell you the real story

home ownership: owning a house

real estate: referring to properties: houses, chalets, land

to speak volumes: to say a lot about

“no wonder”: why should anyone have any doubt

to neglect: to not do, to fail to do something

to put things in perspective: to give you the real picture

Posted in A2 - Waystage English (Pre-Intermediate), B1 - Intermediate English, B2 - Upper Intermediate (Advanced English), C1 - Proficiency | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

All Is Well on the Eastern Front?

All Is Well on the Eastern Front?

North Korea prepares to attack

North Korea prepares to attack (Feb. 2013)

China has appealed for calm on the Korean peninsula, hours after North Korea said it had scrapped all peace pacts with the South and threatened pre-emptive nuclear strikes.

China, the North’s only major ally, said all sides should continue to talk and avoid “further escalation“.

Pyongyang has reacted angrily to another round of sanctions imposed by the UN over its recent nuclear test. The sanctions restrict luxury goods imports and banking activities. Beijing provides fuel, food and diplomatic cover to Pyongyang. It has repeatedly voted in favour of UN sanctions imposed over the nuclear programme, but enforcement of the measures in China is patchy.

Hua Chunying of China’s foreign ministry told a news conference on Friday: “China and North Korea have normal country relations. At the same time, we also oppose North Korea’s conducting of nuclear tests.

The threatened pre-emptive nuclear strike seems more bluff than reality, since the North’s leaders know it would be suicidal, and an attack on the US seems impracticable given the still technically rudimentary quality of the North’s ballistic missile programme and the unproven state of its nuclear miniaturisation technology needed to place a nuclear warhead atop a missile.

A more troubling possibility is that the North might choose – out of irritation with the UN – to precipitate a border clash with South Korea, either on land or sea, as it did in 2010.

Will sanctions persuade or provoke?

“China calls on the relevant parties to be calm and exercise restraint and avoid taking any further action that would cause any further escalations.”

Chinese and US officials drafted the UN resolution passed on Thursday.

It contains similar measures to earlier resolutions, but the US said it had significantly strengthened the enforcement mechanisms.

In response, the North Korean regime published a message on the official KCNA news agency saying it had cancelled all non-aggression pacts with the South.

The two Koreas have signed a range of agreements over the years, including a 1991 pact on resolving disputes and avoiding military clashes.

However, analysts say the deals have had little practical effect.

The KCNA report detailed other measures including:

  • cutting off the North-South hotline, saying there was “nothing to talk to the puppet group of traitors about”
  • closing the main Panmunjom border crossing inside the Demilitarized Zone that separates the two countries
  • pulling out of the armistice that ended the Korean War.

The North also claimed it had a right to launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike against its enemies.

The threat drew an angry response from the South’s defence ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok, who said that the North would become “extinct from the Earth by the will of mankind” if it took such an action.

The US State Department said such “extreme rhetoric” was not unusual, but said the US was well-protected.


to appeal for: to ask for again

to scrap: to desist, to stop

escalation: an increase or rise

a round: a number of

to impose: to apply to

enforcement: making sure the rules or laws are followed

patchy: vague

bluff: a deception or lie

unproven: without being tested or proved

clash: a fight or friction between

restraint: the act of desisting or placing obstacles to the probability that something occurs

drafted: to put together, to come up with, to print

cutting off: separating

pulling out of: to exit or leave

to draw a response: to invite an answer to

rhetoric: language used, terms

Posted in B2 - Upper Intermediate (Advanced English), C1 - Proficiency, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment