Lessons in the "2012" Category

The Harry Potter Studio Tour

Hands up who hasn’t heard of Harry Potter! I can’t believe there is anyone who hasn’t heard of him. Just in case you haven’t - he is a fictional boy wizard created by British author J.K. Rowling. For those Harry Potter fans that have read the books and seen the movies I have some good news. Now you can visit the Harry Potter movie set where many of the scenes were shot. You can do this by visiting the Leavesden Studios near Watford, Hertfordshire, in the UK, where all eight films were made over the course of a decade.

The Harry Potter Studio Tour offers fans the opportunity to see behind-the-scenes look at how the films were made. Visitors will be able to see the sets, props and costumes that appeared in the movies. You can wander down the cobbles of Diagon Alley, inspect the table settings in the Great Hall at Hogwarts, gaze at the bookshelves in Dumbledore’s office and peer through the windows of number four Privot Drive. Other things to see include Hermione’s cloak, Harry’s broomstick and Hagrid’s motorcycle.

Category: Films / Harry Potter / Studio Tour

Should Children Learn The Lord’s Prayer?

Recently in Britain the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams said he believes that children should be taught the Lord’s Prayer in school. Speaking to the BBC on its children’s TV programme Newsround Dr Williams said he was worried by news that half as many children know the prayer compared with 40 years ago.

He said, “I’d like to see schools introducing children to the Lord’s Prayer, so that they know it’s there, they know what it means and why it matters and they then can make up their own minds later about whether they wish to use it.”

Category: Religion / Church of England / Lord’s Prayer

Tablets, gadgets & apps

Today I thought we could look at tablets, gadgets and apps. It is a popular topic that is constantly changing, especially with the introduction of new products and new technology. So where to begin? Let’s start with the new iPad. Recently the world seems to have gone crazy with iPad mania hitting practically every High Street across the globe. Just why are iPads and iPhones so popular?

Category: Tablets / Gadgets / Applications

Events in London – April to June

Today’s English lesson focuses on more happening events in London.

Spring - The London Marathon is normally held in the spring. It is one of the biggest running events in the world. It is one of the top five marathons. Started in 1981, it raises money for many good charitable causes.

April – Enjoy some good old English heritage on the 23rd April when it is St George’s Day in England. London hosts the day with a host of festivities including street parades, theatrical events and many children’s activities. The Mayor of London Boris Johnson puts on a family-friendly St George’s Day Festival in Trafalgar Square.

St George is the patron saint of England. His name is commonly associated with St George and the Dragon. Legend tells of St George saving the princess by slaying the dragon. A story every school child knows in England. It is on this day you will see the English flag flying right across the country.

Category: London / Tourism / London Events

Top inventions

Today I thought we could look at some top inventions and talk about them. Of course, there are thousands to choose from. Trying to reduce this to the top 50 or even the top 20 was difficult. In the end I decided to see what I could think of. You can create your own top 20 list during this lesson.

Recent inventions that people like to buy include the new iPad and iPhone from Apple. The tablet market is growing rapidly. The Kindle from Amazon is now popular for book reading. Some of us like to get our hands on the latest Samsung Galaxy or alternatively the latest Blackberry. But let’s consider other good inventions. These include; the internet, email, the computer, and the telephone.

What would we do today without Google, Facebook or YouTube? The camera was a good invention, as was the video camera. Women (and men) might consider the bra and contraception (Condoms and the invention of the pill) as useful inventions.

Category: Inventions / Technology / Creativity

What is SIFI banking?

More than a few months ago I was set a challenge by some students to write a lesson about SIFI Banking. I discovered SIFI has nothing to do with science fiction (Sci-Fi) banking i.e. banking in the future! SIFI actually means ‘systemically important financial institutions’. The term was created in 2009 following the financial crisis of 2008.

Category: Business / Economic / Banking – SIFI

BBC World Service is 80!

“This is London” – Part 1 - Recently the BBC World Service celebrated 80 years of broadcasting. Started in 1932, it broadcast originally on short-wave only. Today it broadcasts on short-wave, FM, digital radio and the internet. Its audiences continue to grow. However, short-wave listening has declined. But for millions BBC World Service remains a lifeline to the outside world.

Short-wave is still important because listeners can catch the signal that travels thousands of miles across international boundaries, sometimes eluding the censors, by bouncing off the turbulent gases of the ionosphere, the layers of electrified gas several hundred kilometres above the earth. Listeners are used to the background noise of electronic warbling, whistling and hissing, that short-wave has reliably delivered for 80 years.

Category: Broadcasting / BBC / World Service

Top 50 James Bond Memories

James Bond’s Aston Martin DB5 from ‘Goldfinger’ and ‘Thunderball’ came top in a list of all time 50 favourite memories from the James Bond hit movies. Second was Oddjob’s metal-rimmed bowler hat that decapitated his enemies. A survey of 1000 moviegoers, conducted by insurance firm esure to mark 50 years of the film franchise, asked fans to name what to them encapsulates their favourite secret service agent.

Coming in at number three was Bond’s favourite drink – a Martini that he prefers ‘shaken, not stirred’. Surprisingly, Ursula Andress – dressed in a skimpy white bikini as Honey Ryder in the first James Bond movie ‘Dr No’ – comes in at a rather lowly 22, but she is still 23 places above hunky Daniel Craig emerging from the sea in his tight swimming trunks in the remake of ‘Casino Royale’.

Nikki Sellers from esure: “Bond is famous for the actors who play him, the villains and, of course, the girls.” She added, “We wanted to also celebrate the non-human stars of the films, such as the amazing cars, the wonderful inventions and the style icons.”

Category: Survey / James Bond / Movies

Why do we wear blue jeans?

Why do we wear blue jeans? Probably because we choose to. They are durable, comfortable and easy to wear. They also last longer than conventional trousers.

Jeans mean different things to different people. Does this explain their wide appeal? The classic symbol of the American West is now a staple in wardrobes for men and women around the world. Today half the world appear to wear them. Okay, there are exceptions - like parts of China, South Asia and the Middle East. But who invented jeans and when?

In the 19th century a Nevada tailor called Jacob Davis was asked to make a pair of sturdy trousers for a local woodcutter. Davis struck upon the idea of reinforcing them with rivets. They proved to be extremely durable and were soon in high demand.

They were worn as workwear by labourers on the farms and mines of America’s Western states. The reason for their success has as much to do with their cultural meaning as well as their physical construction.

Category: USA / Clothes / Jeans

Dickensian London celebrates his bicentenary year

This year marks the bicentenary of Charles Dickens. The famous British writer and author created some of the best known characters in English literature, including Oliver Twist, David Copperfield and Miss Havisham. Dickens was inspired by what he saw in the streets of London. Hence the term Dickensian London.

In his day Dickens saw the capital, its hustle and bustle, its glittering promise and grimy streets and the extremes of poverty and wealth experienced by those who lived there. Dickens was known to spend hours pacing the streets of London, especially at the dead of night, drawing inspiration from what he saw around him. Alex Werner, the curator of the Museum of London: “It triggered his imagination.” He added, “He knew its alleyways and streets better than anyone.”

The Charles Dickens Museum is housed in Dickens former family house in Doughty Street. It was here he wrote ‘Oliver Twist’ and ‘Nicholas Nickelby’. The museum, which opened in 1925, holds the world’s most important collection of Dickens items, including his pens, letters and furniture.

Category: Charles Dickens / Bicentenary / London