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Go Bananas

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bananasGo Bananas provides you with the opportunity to discuss how important they are as a good dietary source of carbohydrates and essential vitamins. These activities centred around the theme of Identity and Well-being which explores how we learn and adjust to the world around us.

Exercise 1Exercise 2Exercise 3Word ListExtension
How did the Cavendish banana become the most popular one on the planet? Watch the video and answer the questions that follow.

Click here to view transcript.


How did the Cavendish banana come to dominate the globe and will it be around for much longer?

Each year humans consume an estimated 100 billion bananas making bananas one of the world’s largest crops after wheat, rice and corn. But bananas weren’t always big bright and yellow, they likely got their start as a browner smaller fruit around 8000 BC grown only in Southeast Asia and Papua New Guinea. Farmers took the early species of banana-like the ‘Musa Acuminata’ and the ‘Muse Alba Siana; and crossbred different strains to produce a more substantive fruit that contained fewer seeds. But only in the 15th century did bananas cross the Atlantic transported by Portuguese colonists and who planted bananas in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Now, over 80% of the world’s banana exports come from those regions. In the mid 19th century helped in part by Jules Verne’s descriptions of the exotic fruit and ‘Around the world in 80 days’ people started going bananas for bananas.

But the legendary Cavendish banana had not caught on just yet the softer and creamier ‘Gros Michel’ variety was the pick of the crop and according to ads they tasted out of this world. However, in the 1920s a fungus called ‘Fusarium Race 1’ ran rampant through the ‘Gros Michel’ banana causing the variety to go almost completely extinct.

People began turning to the ‘Gros Michel’s cousin Cavendish as an alternative by the 1950s. Named after William Cavendish, avid horticulturist and the sixth Duke of Devonshire who acquired an early specimen of that species. But maybe you shouldn’t get too familiar with this variety either the Cavendish bananas don’t produce usable seeds so each new banana tree is actually a clone from the stem of the one before. This means the new epidemic ‘Fusariuml Race 4’ is spreading rapidly devastating crops across Asia, Africa and Australia.  The UN is worried it might soon spread to South America threatening 36 billion dollar industry and a vital food supply. Will the Cavendish survive or will a new type of banana be forced to take its place?

In this activity, we will hear a radio podcast about a man who went shopping to buy a healthier breakfast.

This activity is adapted from Bananas by Englishclip.com

Click here to view transcript

One banana two bananas three bananas four
Five bananas six bananas seven bananas more
One banana is not enough for me
Two bananas is twice as good you see
Three Bananas, now that’s what you call a treat!
Bit of ice cream on top, oo so good!

In case you’ve just tuned in, this is yours truly Justin Time.
Our producer Jerry is not here today because he is a bit down in the dumps. He had, how can I say, a misunderstanding at the supermarket yesterday.

Well, he made me promise not to tell anyone, but I am sure he won’t mind if I tell you, erm as long as you keep it a secret too. You will won’t you, because if he finds out I will be in big trouble.
Anyway, yesterday he decided that bacon ‘n’ eggs for breakfast every day was not good for his health. Can’t think why not myself. Well, he is a bit of an odd character is Jerry.

He went to the supermarket and got some cereal, the one that keeps you going all day, to the toilet, you know, and some natural yoghurt to put in with the milk, not forgetting a bottle of honey. Then he thought, ‘Ah fresh fruit, bananas!’

When he got to the fruit section, there was a large woman standing there in front of the bananas
squeezing them all. Jerry was horrified, the thought of her fingers bruising every one of them He could already imagine the brown marks on them in his healthy breakfast bowl.

Finally, she picked up a bunch and walked away…
So what didgeridoo? Didgeridoo? Hang on, that was last week. Oh, eh sorry about that. It’s a lovely word, isn’t it?

Erm, where were we Dave? You remember Dave my engineer. Ah yes, what didgeridoo, oh dear me. Read my lips, WHAT DID JERRY DO? So he walked over to her and said, ‘Excuse me Madam, you seem to be an expert on bananas. I wonder if I might just give yours a squeeze so that I will know how to find the best ones myself in the future?’

Now the woman was surprised and just stood there with her big mouth wide open. Without waiting for an answer Jerry gave her bananas a squeeze. He said he couldn’t help himself.
Suddenly, the woman went ape, shouting, screaming, carrying on, went crazy, nuts, bonkers. Well, in fact, she went bananas!

Anyway, it all turned out okay in the end. Dave and I went down and got Jerry out of the police station. He had to promise them that he would never touch anybody’s bananas ever again, uninvited that is.

Now he is back on bacon ‘n’ eggs, much more healthy as the winter’s coming on.
He’s gone right off bananas…
Kind of nice when Jerry is not around, Dave and I can have a bit of a laugh, can’t we Dave?
Yeah, can see him nodding and smiling through the glass.
Now I’d like to dedicate this song to Jerry, Who I know is not listening because if were he would have stopped the show already

Read an article about the origins of the banana as well as discussing how important it is as a dietary source of carbohydrates and essential vitamins in the developing world.

Here are keywords and phrases covered in these activities:

  • as long as
  • back on
  • clone
  • consume
  • dedicate
  • dominate
  • down in the dumps
  • extinct
  • go ape
  • go bonkers
  • go crazy
  • go nuts
  • go right off
  • have a bit of a laugh
  • horticulturist
  • keeps you going
  • legendary
  • old character
  • Portuguese colonists
  • substantive fruit
  1. Discuss the following questions: Do you eat bananas regularly? Do you think students should have bananas available as a free snack?
  2. You have been discussing bananas at school. Now create a presentation of the history of them.
  3. Research about the different varieties of bananas and present your findings in class.
  4. You have decided to encourage students to regularly eat bananas. Create a poster or leaflet highlighting the benefits of them.
  5. Draw a banana tree and label it.
  6. Survey the ‘banana-eating habits’ of your school.
  7. Find a cake or snack using bananas as its main ingredient and try to bake/cook it with your friend.
  8. Write a script for a podcast about bananas and record it with your friends.
  9. Grow a banana tree using its seeds or stem.
  10. Make a banana from paper by following these instructions in video.

Especially helpful are exercises that are focussed on a theme or topic as these provide word retention practice so you can be confident to read, write, speak and listen successfully.

Customs and Traditions explores how we celebrate our cultural identity across the globe.

Entertainment and Leisure explores how we spent our free time.

Environment and Nature explores the way humans and animals live, adapt and change on our planet.

Exploring how different societies create roles for people to develop their skills and knowledge.

Exploring how we learn and adjust to the world around us. .

Exploring how we experience the world through our life journeys

The more words you encounter and understand, the broader your day-to-day vocabulary will become. Our word games and puzzles are an excellent way to help to reinforce spellings in your mind.

We add reading and writing exercises on a regular basis. Why not bookmark our site, so you can come back to practice anywhere or at any time of the day?

For this part, you practice how to understand the details of a text, including opinions and attitudes.

For this part, you practice how to understand the structure and follow the development of a text.

For this part, you practice how to find specific information in a text or texts.

In addition, we add listening and speaking exercises in order to practise for this part of the B2 First Exam.

In this part you talk to the examiner about yourself and your life, e.g. your name, school, interests and future plans.

In this part, you talk about two photos on your own which you have to compare for about 1 minute. After you have finished, your partner will be asked a short question about your photo. When your partner has spoken about their photos for about 1 minute, you will be asked a question about their photos.

In this part you express ideas with your partner by looking at a discussion point that the examiner gives you.

This will be available soon.

In this part, you focus on general aspects of a topic with the examiner or you may involve your partner.

This will be available soon.

In this part, you will hear people talking in eight different situations.

In this part, you will hear someone being interviewed.

In this part, you will hear five people talking about different things.

In this part, you will hear an interview.

Cambridge English Examinations:

Cambridge English exams are designed for learners at all levels from the pre-intermediate level Cambridge English: Key (KET) to the very advanced level Cambridge English: Proficiency (CPE). These exams give candidates proof of their ability to use English in a wide variety of contexts, relevant to work, study and leisure activities.

A2 Key | B1 Preliminary | B2 First

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