From the Library
The Last King of Scotland by Giles Foden, retold by Chris Rice, is a blend of fiction and history. Most of the novel’s key historical moments are accurate, but the story is told through the eyes of a fictional character, a young Scottish doctor.
The original novel won the prestigious Whitbread First Novel Award in 1998. The novel was later made into a star-studded movie that was very well received. Indeed, Forrest Whitaker won the Oscar for Best Actor for his portrayal of Idi Amin.
This is a level 3 story, yet much of the vocabulary is around the A2 level. The story is well told, and the number of characters limited so it doesn’t get confusing.
Chris Rice has managed to keep a good sense of urgency in this retelling of the novel. I think most students will want to finish the book in one sitting if they can; from cover to cover.
A perfect challenge for lower intermediate students.
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SQ1 Original Content – Ed Balls Day (CEFR B1-B2)
Social media is a very divisive topic.
It can provide enormous benefits to people. For example, a person who is passionate about a niche topic can find other people who are also interested in that topic.
It can also be a horrible and angry place. People seem to enjoy leaving rude and nasty messages for people they have never met. Trolls, as such people are known, can make the internet an awful place to spend time.
However, sometimes the internet can create a shared moment that is just right. It’s embarrassing, but not too embarrassing. It’s funny, but it isn’t mean spirited. Most importantly, the person being embarrassed goes along with the joke and isn’t really hurt by it.
April 28th is Ed Balls Day on Twitter. And it is such a moment.
On the 28th of April 2011 a British politician called Ed Balls sent a tweet. The tweet simply said “Ed Balls”. The internet was delighted. The assumption is that Ed Balls didn’t really know how to use Twitter. And so, when he tried to search for his name on Twitter, to see what people were writing about him, he accidentally tweeted his own name instead. Whoops!
Rather than delete his mistake, Ed Balls left it online. Indeed, he himself sends out the tweet “Ed Balls” every 28th of April to celebrate the silly mistake he made.
11 years later and the joke continues. Even his wife, the politician Yvette Cooper, is in on the joke.
It’s a little late, but Happy Ed Balls Day to you dear reader!
Study Tips – NPR Podcasts
I love podcasts. I am a podcast addict. I could listen to them all day long. I travel a long way to work most days (2 hours each way) and if I didn’t have podcasts I don’t know whether I could do it.
I also think they are an incredible free study resource. Especially for students who want to make the jump from intermediate to advanced.
So, why study with podcasts?
First of all, they are almost all free. All you need is a device to listen on.
Secondly, the voices are beautiful. These are professional journalists and the quality of their voices, and their choice of words is exceptional.
Third, the journalist is your friend. Textbook listening comes with questions. It has to be a bit difficult to understand so teachers can check student understanding. Real radio however, wants you to understand. They want the news, the ideas, and the opinions to be as clear as possible. They don’t want to confuse you. They want to support you.
Finally, transcripts! You can read the words as you listen. You don’t have to struggle to catch a word you cannot quite hear. It’s on the page in front of you.
Start with the Indicator from NPR. It’s a short (about 10 minutes) podcast about business and economics. It uses idiomatic English, so you may need to google some phrases, but it is entertaining, and very informative.
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