LANGUAGE SKILL: READING
To make reading more challenging, teachers can test:
Opinion: understanding of opinions expressed or referred to by the writer.
Attitude: understanding of feelings described in the text which the writer or someone the writer refers to expresses.
Tone: identifying from the style of the text or a section of it the impression the writer wishes to create.
Purpose: identifying what the writer is trying to achieve in the text.
Implication: interpreting what is not exactly stated in the text but instead is strongly suggested in such a way that it is clear that the writer intends the reader to make certain inferences.
Exemplification: understanding how a point made in the text is illustrated with examples.
Reference: understanding of what words, phrases or sentences in the text refer to or relate to elsewhere in the text.
Here’s an example of how we can make reading more challenging to the students:
Spanish companies in Latin America.
A good bet?
Apr 30th 2009
From The Economist
1. EUROPE was a grim place during the hard economic and political times of the 17th century. But the mood in Latin America was different, as Ruggiero Romano, a historian, has observed. While Europe’s population, consumption and production fell, Spain’s colonies thrived.
2. Spanish companies that have been doing a lot of business in Latin America hope it will buck the trend this time, too. It is so far proving more resilient to the global financial crisis than Spain, where a decade-long boom has come to a halt. Spanish unemployment has just hit 17%, more than twice the European average. The IMF expects Spain’s GDP to contract by 3% this year. Economic output in Latin America, A is expected to shrink less and recover sooner. The region’s institutional strength should shield it from the worst of the crisis.
3. Telefónica, a Spanish telecoms firm and the biggest investor in the region, says Latin America will be its engine of growth in the next few years. Spanish utilities are also optimistic. “The perception is that Latin American operations are once again becoming a source of strength,” says Sergi Aranda, head of Latin American operations at Gas Natural, a Spanish utility.
4. This is a turn-up for the books. From Mexico’s “tequila crisis” in 1994 to Argentina’s collapse in 2001, B Spanish companies have been on a roller-coaster ride in the region. After nearly two decades of frenzied activity, Spain is now the biggest foreign investor in the region after America. The first wave of serious interest began in 1993, after the establishment of the single European market. Facing increasing competition and the risk of hostile bids from larger rivals in Europe, Spanish firms went to Latin America in search of profits and greater scale.
5. This coincided with a wave of liberalisation in the region. Spurred on by cultural affinity and a shared language, Spanish firms collectively spent an average of $9.7 billion a year from 1993 to 2000, mostly in Argentina, Brazil and Chile. Subsequent crises and some populist policies dampened enthusiasm.
6. The numbers are eye-popping. Six firms undertook 95% of the investment by Spanish companies in Latin America: Telefónica, Repsol, Santander, BBVA, Endesa and Iberdrola, according to a study by Enrique Alberola, a senior economist at the Bank of Spain. C Gas Natural and Union Fenosa also made big investments. The cumulative gross investment by the top five companies was $170 billion. All this generated $28.9 billion of operating profit in 2008. For the six biggest Spanish investors, Latin America accounted for a good chunk (16-51%) of their profits.
7. Telefónica has made the biggest bet, spending a total of $100 billion. Analysts believe Latin American assets account for about a third of its $147 billion enterprise value, including debt. It has gained or held market share in all big markets except Colombia.
8. Latin America is also important for Santander and BBVA, Spain’s two biggest banks. The region accounted for 43% of Santander’s 2008 operating profit and over half of BBVA’s. Mexico and Brazil offer greater potential than Spain. Santander has strengthened its presence in Brazil, where it bought Banco Real of ABN AMRO in 2007.
9. Latin America is not a perfect hedge for Spanish companies. Recent devaluations of some Latin American currencies have dented their profits. But if the region manages to recover quickly from recession, it will provide further vindication of their decision to invest so far from home.
Copyright © 2009 The Economist Newspaper and The Economist Group. All rights reserved.
ACTIVITIES: LANGUAGE AND STYLE
1. What does the author suggest in paragraph 1?
2. What are the four words in paragraph 2 used to suggest that Latin America may be a good place for investments from Spain?
3. In paragraph 3, two expressions are used to highlight the potential of Latin America. What are they?
4. What does the sentence ‘This is a turn-up for the books’ in paragraph 4 imply?
5. What do we infer from the sentence in paragraph 5 ‘Spurred on by cultural affinity and a shared language’?
6. Why does the author use the expression ‘The numbers are eye-popping’ in paragraph 6?
7. What do we infer from the last paragraph?
8. The general tone of the article was:
9. What does ‘its’ in paragraph 3 refer to?
10. Where could this best be added?
a) Letter a
b) Letter b
c) Letter c
11. The sentences below show the timeline of investments
from Spain in Latin America.
Put the sentences in chronological order.
• Spain had a prosperity which lasted for ten years.
• The importance of Latin America to Spanish banks.
• Currency devaluations may slow down profits.
• Latin American countries go through an economic crisis.
• Spanish colonies thrived while Spain collapsed.
• The introduction of the Eurozone triggered overseas investments.