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Human towers


First listening:
First listen to the BBC clip for the general gist and try to answer the following questions:

1. What three fiestas are mentioned?

2. How many teams are participating?

3. According to the first speaker what age group usually gets involved in the human tower culture?

4. What is the message to the world?

5. What is special about the design of the crash helmet?

6. How many people are in a moving pillar?

7. When does the tower construction officially begin?

Second listening:
Listen again to Sarah, she uses a few very interesting phrasal verbs. See if you can decipher their meaning
from the context.

Take part turn out strike up come off

And finally, when she is talking about the crowd gathered in the town square, she uses three nouns to
describe the atmosphere...can you catch them?


Spain is famous for its fiestas. Theres the running with the bulls in Pamplona; theres tomato throwing too,
and up in Galicia they wrestle the horses, but here in catalonia its the tradition of the castells and one of
the biggest events in the castell calender is right here in Vilafranca.
Now, a huge crowds gathered in the town square here. There are 4 teams, taking part, each of them
wearing a different coloured shirt. Weve got the green team, the red team the blue team and the greys.
And this is an exhibition . theyre here to try some of the most complicated towers theyve ever built, some
of them for the first time ever.

How difficult is this?

Its very difficult. Our team trains 3 times per week. You need to be in good shape to build human
towers. You can find people from 5 years old until 95 years old, so all kinds of people can participate in
this activity.

The youngest children climbing up to the top have crash helmets on for safety. Im told that theyre
specially designed for this sport in particular, because they have to be strong enough inside to protect the
childs head, if they happen to fall. But they also have to be soft on the outside, so that they dont damage
people when they land.

Its part of our identity. Its a cultural activity, a traditional activity. But its a message to all the world
that normal people can do great things.

Catalonias so proud of this tradition of tower making that they want UNESCO to recognise it as intangible
cultural heritage. Now, Miguel Botell- is one of the main campaigners for that.

We think we deserve it. Castells are really a thrilling experience, a performance that is rooted in our
country, but that has certain universal values, especially in the field of integrating people and in the field
of cooperation, also from the point of view of their spectacularity.

I think another tower is just being formed over there

This is a moving pillar, a pillar of 4 people that will walk from the entrance of the square

How difficult is it to do this moving, a moving pillar

All the castells are difficult, because so many people is (are!) working that the coordination and strength
are very important component of castells.

It seems like the whole town of vilafranca has come here to the town square to turn out to watch these
towers take shape, and the grey team are now attempting their 1st construction. One of therir team
members has told me that hes extremely nervous about today, because he says this is going to be the
most complicated tower theyve ever attempted.

Now until the third level is there and is solid, the tower construction hasnt officially begun. When it gets to
3 layers and everyones confident with the tower. Then the music strikes up. And here we go.

And you can tell from the reaction of the crowd just how much this means to the people here in Vilafranca
and in Catalunya; the euphoria, the excitement, the feeling of achievement, when one of these towers
actually comes off.