Lessons in the "Europe" Category

The Migrant Crisis at Calais

Today, let’s talk about the crisis in Calais and the reasons why it is happening. The French port is suffering from a deluge of migrants who are all trying to get to England.

Why? Because they seek a better life from the one they have escaped from. The French authorities practically encourage the migrants, who are trying to get onto lorries and coaches bound for England either through the Channel Tunnel or via the lorries that use the cross channel ferries.

EU Migrant Crisis: Hungary to Build Fence

The EU migrant crisis deepens by the week. Europe is being overrun by migrants. Yet the unelected leaders in Brussels do nothing except utter a lot of hot air. They seem to care more for the migrants coming in than its own citizens.

Exasperated with a lack of action and decision making Hungary has taken action. The country will build a 175km (110 miles) long, 4 metre-tall (13-foot) fence right across the southern part of Hungary that connects it to Serbia. Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjártó said it is doing so because the EU is ‘too slow to act’. The migrants coming into the EU seek a better life. They want to get to Britain, Holland, France and Sweden.

A European Army?

Does Europe need a European army? According to European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker it does. He says the EU needs an EU army to keep back the Russians.

Mr Juncker said that pooling the defence resources of the 28 EU nations could help send a message to Vladimir Putin that its borders would be protected.

Cobblestones defeat Bond shoot in Rome

The latest James Bond movie to be shot has come up against a new enemy – cobblestones! The producers discovered this unforeseen problem of noisy cobblestones when filming the latest 007 movie Spectre in Rome recently.

The British spy, was involved in a high speed car chase involving his silver Aston Martin DB10 and a Jaguar C-X75. As they sped along the banks of the Tiber river, the sports cars had to drive across cobblestones. Producers noticed with dismay the loud sound created interfered with their audio inside Bond’s car. Post production film audio techniques will no doubt solve this matter.

Referendum on family values

Today’s English lesson is inspired by one of my students. When discussing her weekend activities, she told us she had been helping to promote an upcoming referendum on family values that will take place shortly in Slovakia.

There are three questions:

  1. Do you agree that only a bond between one man and one woman can be called marriage?
  2. Do you agree that same-sex couples should not be allowed to adopt and raise children?
  3. Do you agree that schools cannot require children to participate in sex education or euthanasia education if their parents don’t agree?

Je suis Charlie

Today’s English lesson looks at the terrible events that took place in France recently. “Je suis Charlie” – “I am Charlie” is the phrase or slogan given in support of the French cartoonists who were killed by attackers in Paris on Wednesday 7th January at the headquarters of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

Events began at 10.30am when two masked gunmen raided the offices of the French satirical magazine. The gunmen killed 11 people including the magazine’s editor, and a policeman in a nearby street. The gunmen were identified as brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi.

Malaysian Airways Flight MH17 shot down over Ukraine

Today, let’s talk about the terrible Malaysian Airways disaster that happened on the 17th July 2014. The Malaysian Airways Flight MH17 was shot down in Ukraine near the Russian border as it travelled from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.

The Boeing 777-200 aircraft exploded into flames at 33,000ft as it was hit by a sophisticated surface-to-air-missile over territory near Donetsk held by pro-Russian rebels. Dutch authorities said 298 people were on board the flight; including 173 Dutch, 9 Britons, and 27 Australians. Up to 100 passengers on board were headed for an international AIDS conference in Melbourne.

Category: Malaysian Airways / MH17 / Ukraine

Mobile phone banking revolution in Central Europe

In the Central European country of Slovakia, a mobile phone banking revolution is taking place. Thousands of people are now regularly making payments using their mobile phone. It’s all down to new technology that several Slovakian banks have introduced.

The system being used in Slovakia is called Near Field Communication (NFC) technology. This offers users a user-friendly solution to the mobile payment hang-up, but it requires coordination between banks and mobile operators, as well as infrastructure in shops. Slovakia is considered the European leader in adopting innovative solutions.

Category: Economic / Banks / Business

Ukraine - What next?

Today, let’s talk about the Ukrainian crisis. To briefly recap events: In November 2013, President of Ukraine Victor Yanukovych rejected an EU pending association agreement, choosing instead to pursue a Russian loan bailout and have closer ties with Russia. This led to many protests in Kiev in Independence Square. These protests became known as ‘Euromaidan’ by the young pro-European Union Ukrainians.

Category: Ukraine / History / Eastern Europe

France’s new medieval castle takes shape

Deep in the forests of central France something totally unique is happening. A knight’s castle is under construction. It’s the vision of one man, Michel Guyot, whose idea was to build a complete 13th century castle by using only authentic tools and locally sourced materials.

Every detail of the project is made as accurate as possible, even down to the clothes worn by the workers. If ropes are needed they are made on site; when stone is needed it needs to be quarried out of the ground etc. It’s actually the first castle of its kind to be built for nearly 800 years.

The Château de Guédelon, near the village of Saint-Fargeau in Burgundy, is probably the world’s most unusual building site. It is an exercise in archaeology in reverse, as it is discovery by building up, not by digging down. The foundations were laid back in 1997. It is due to be completed in 2025, when it will be a full-sized castle with battlements and a moat and six towers. According to Monsieur Guyot it is based on the period of 1228.

Category: History / France / Medieval Castle