11 Nov 2013

Chimananda Ngozi Adichie: the danger of a single story

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Today I wanted to write about Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie  an Igbo writer from Nigeria that I have very recently discovered. For the moment I have read her short story collection The Thing around her Neck and the novel Purple Hibiscus. I strongly recommend both of them.

She has been labeled as the most prominent of a procession of acclaimed young anglophone authors that has succeeded in attracting a new generation of readers to African literature. Since she's settled in the US, some of her stories also show the cultural clash between the Western and African views of the world.

Listen to her on this very interesting talk about the power of stories. You'll find her extremely easy to understand due to her crystal-clear diction and her outstanding communicative skills.

If you want to read a little bit more about her life, and her writing career, check the document below. You can also visit Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's official website.


5 Nov 2013

Choosing a topic for your oral presentation

Hi there!

In every level you will be asked to prepare one or two oral presentations. Even if you don't like them much, they are extremely helpful for you to revise and consolidate contents, and also to develop your fluency and spontaneity in English.

The teacher might give you the topic, or they might give you the choice to talk about anything you want, but... how do you decide what to talk about?

Normally, students choose the topics based on one of the following criteria:
Oral presentations
  • They talk about what they think the teacher wants to hear.
  • They choose topics that they consider easy.
  • They choose a topic that inspires or excites them.
Without a doubt, the best results happen when the students are inspired by the topic.

The truth about your presentation is that if it doesn't excite you, it won't excite your listeners. If you're not fascinated by the content, the audience will automatically become bored. Plus, you'll lose your own motivation along the way...

So, the next time you ask yourself, "How do I decide what to talk/write about?", start with what inspires you and build from there.

Once you have the topic, explore your book and your notes and try to include all the new things you can!

4 Nov 2013

Health; going to the doctor's; good stress; present perfect simple vs. continuous

Hi there!

These days we've been talking about health and eating habits. In one of the first sessions we discussed whether milk was good for the body or not . Here I post the video in case you may want to watch it again. If you open it directly on YouTube remember that you can activate subtitles. However, remember that they are computer-generated, so you may find many mistakes. Still, they are still helpful to follow the main ideas.


3 Nov 2013

Language, culture and identity: the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis

B2, C1
Hi there!

Today's entry is devoted to the relationship between language, culture and identity: believe it or not, the language we speak shapes the way we are, feel and behave, as it also affects the way our brain works. At the same time, our language is always deeply rooted in one particular culture, which determines the way we think and the way we conceptualize the world.

However, to what extent is that determination true?

Would you agree with the following sentence? What implications does it have?

"Without a culture we cannot see,
but with a culture we are forever blind."
K.J. Irving

The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis holds that the structure of a language affects the perceptions of reality of its speakers and thus influences their thought patterns and world views. Therefore, people who speak different languages can "live" the world from different perspectives and therefore have a richer experience. 

If you are interested in this subject, check out the video below. I must admit it might be a little bit too technical, but it will give you a good picture of what the Sapir-Whort hypothesis defends.

NB: If you open the video on YouTube, you can activate the option "subtitles", although I'm afraid they're only available in Spanish...