Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The New York Times's 15-Second Vocabulary Video Contest

I've come across this very creative educational project run by the NYT today. The idea is for students to make 15-second videos which present/explain/define meanings of words listed in the NYT's Word of the Day archive. Students submit their videos and once a year winners are announced. Unfortunately IFRom students cannot take part in the official contest because of the age limit (16-19), but why not make your own videos just for fun? Instead of the NYT word bank you could use some words which have come up in our course and have caught your attention for some reason. Give it a try! :)
And here are this year's winners. Some of them are really impressive!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Writing to be read

A very useful piece of advice on how to make your writing more attractive for your readers. It applies to any language, so don't forget it when writing your theses, essays and other academic assignments.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

I hate goodbyes!

Dear 2MA and 3BA students,
Thank you for your blogs, your hard work, and your good vibes. Best of luck! :) 

I've decided to send you off with a song. It is performed by Joseph, a very young band of three sisters from Portland, Oregon. I love the way their voices sound together in harmony, their high energy and authenticity. I have chosen this song for you because of its message: "Burn the White Flag" - meaning: gather your strength and don't give up, don't let anybody tell you what to do. I think it's a pretty good message to take with you. I hope you like the song, too :) (Here is the Spotify link for their latest album)

And here is another one, just a beautiful, sweet song:

Monday, December 19, 2016

My favourite Christmas song (not a carol though) ;)

I hope your Christmas is as sweet as Tim wants it to be, though I don't expect "the white wine in the sun" to be part of it. To make sense of this line you need to know that Tim Minchin, one of the most brilliant and witty people on the planet, is from Australia, where it's the middle of summer now. Do you fancy Christmas in summer? Then Australia IS the place for you! 

Friday, October 14, 2016

New beginnings, big news

OK, so summer is definitely over, gone and done with. Now is the time to pull up our sleeves and get to serious work. For some of you it's the final year of your studies, so some big tasks are ahead of you. For others it is just the beginning. All of you, however, are here with me for a bit of a distraction from your main course of studies, i.e. to develop your command of English. I hope the blog project will give you an opportunity to share some experiences, thoughts, favourites of all sorts, anything you feel like talking about at a given moment.

This week, the big news in the English-speaking world is Bob Dylan's Nobel Prize for literature. I was just stunned! He had been mentioned as a possible candidate by fans, but I don't think many people had considered him to be a likely choice. I am thrilled of course, and all this talk that his lyrics is not REAL literature is just hogwash, although my personal candidate in English-language literature is and has always been Philip Roth.
So far, Dylan has not said a word about his Nobel win. He held a concert yesterday just as it had been planned, but since he never speaks directly to the public - this is just his style - he made no reference to it. Those who know Dylan a bit are not very surprised. Here is President Obama's account of his encounter with the bard during his White House performance:

"Here's what I love about Dylan: He was exactly as you'd expect he would be. He wouldn't come to the rehearsal; usually, all these guys are practicing before the set in the evening. He didn't want to take a picture with me; usually all the talent is dying to take a picture with me and Michelle before the show, but he didn't show up to that. He came in and played 'The Times They Are A-Changin'.' A beautiful rendition. The guy is so steeped in this stuff that he can just come up with some new arrangement, and the song sounds completely different. Finishes the song, steps off the stage — I'm sitting right in the front row — comes up, shakes my hand, sort of tips his head, gives me just a little grin, and then leaves. And that was it — then he left. That was our only interaction with him. And I thought: That's how you want Bob Dylan, right? You don't want him to be all cheesin' and grinnin' with you. You want him to be a little skeptical about the whole enterprise. So that was a real treat."

Wednesday, June 15, 2016


Here it is, the last post in this semester. I know you're gonna hate me for this, but I couldn't resist it :D So, below you can see a nice set of words, some of which should really be called determiners rather than adjectives (no matter, really), but more importantly, words which cause a lot of confusion and frustration to learners of English in Poland and elsewhere. The list is not VERY long, so perhaps you will manage to take it in before you forget about studying for the summer.

There is one more thing I want to ask you, more important one actually. I do this every year, so why not now: PLEASE spend some of your holiday time reading books. It doesn't even matter what they are, it might be pretty lightweight stuff, but do give yourself this luxury of sharing another person's thoughts and ideas, diving into an author's mind, and stretching your imagination. Choose something that you know will be rewarding for you, something that will let you forget about everything that is going on around you. Don't you love this feeling?
It would be excellent if you chose a foreign language book - Spanish, French, Italian, English, whatever works for you. But if you've had enough of that and would rather read in Polish, fine! You know what our first post-holiday English lesson is going to be about, don't you? ;)

Good luck with all your exams, and then have a wonderful, relaxing summer, full of new experiences and inspirations!