Issue 234 - Time out

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Basic

Vocabulary: Words related to the sky

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The news story

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Time out

Residents of a small island in the north of Norway want to stop using clocks.

The people of Sommarøy went to the town hall recently to speak to a member of the Norwegian parliament. They want to have a time-free zone on the island.

The island of Sommarøy is in the far north of Norway. There are about 300 people living there, and many of them work in the fishing and tourism industries.

Because Sommarøy is so far north, daytime and night-time are different from other places: between 18 May and 26 July the sun doesn’t go down. The island has 69 days of non-stop daylight. In winter it’s the opposite because from November to January the sun doesn’t rise, so there is no daylight.

The residents think that they can use the summer daylight better if they don’t look at the clock. Why go to bed just because the clock says it’s 11 p.m.?

“In summer, when we have the midnight sun, you can see people painting their house at 2 a.m., playing football or going to the beach,” said one island resident.

The people of Sommarøy hope that if the island is a time-free zone, people can have more flexible working hours and shops can open and close when they want. In this way the people of the island can use the daylight better. And maybe tourists will come to the island to relax and live without clocks for a few days.

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Intermediate

Grammar: Substitution

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The news story

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Time out

Residents of a small island in the north of Norway want to abolish time.

The people of Sommarøy went to the town hall recently to make a proposal. They want to have the first time-free zone in the world on the island. The town council met with a member of the Norwegian parliament to talk about the proposal.

The island of Sommarøy is north of the Arctic Circle and has a population of just over 300 people. Many of them work in the fishing and tourism industries.

Because Sommarøy is so far north, people don’t experience time as the rest of the world does: between 18 May and 26 July the sun doesn’t go down, so the islanders have 69 days of non-stop daylight. In winter it’s the opposite as the sun doesn’t rise from November to January, so there is no daylight.

To take advantage of the summer daylight hours, residents think it is better to ignore what the clock says. Why go to bed just because the clock says it’s 11 p.m.?

“In summer, when we have the midnight sun, you can see people painting their house at 2 a.m., playing football or going to the beach,” explained one resident.

The people of Sommarøy hope that if they have an official time-free zone on the island, shops and businesses can open or close when they want and everybody will have more flexible working hours. People would be able to use the daylight hours better and maybe more tourists would come to relax and live without clocks for a few days.

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Advanced

Vocabulary: Synonyms of stop

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The news story

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Time out

Residents of a small island in the north of Norway want to abolish the concept of time. The people of Sommarøy took a petition to the town hall recently, proposing that the island become the first time-free zone in the world. The town council met with a member of the Norwegian parliament to discuss the proposal.

The island of Sommarøy lies north of the Arctic Circle and an hour’s drive west of the city of Tromsø. It has a population of just over 300 people, many of whom are employed in the fishery and tourism industries.

Because of its geographical position, the residents of Sommarøy don’t experience time as the rest of the world does: between 18 May and 26 July the sun doesn’t go down, giving the islanders 69 days of non-stop daylight. In winter it’s the opposite, as the sun doesn’t rise from November to January.

To take advantage of the summer daylight hours residents have decided that they would be better off without conventional timekeeping, ignoring what the clock says about day and night. Why go to bed just because the clock says it’s 11 p.m.?

“In summer, when the midnight sun is out, you can see people painting their house at 2 a.m., playing football or going to the beach,” explained one local resident.

The people of Sommarøy hope that if the time-free zone is introduced, shops and businesses will no longer have fixed opening and closing times, and everybody will have more flexible working hours. This would allow people to make better use of the daylight hours and might attract visitors who want to escape the tyranny of the clock for a while.

Interview: listen to more about the topic

Think about your answers to the following questions. Then listen to somebody answering the same questions. Were your answers similar?

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