The English Learners' Blog

A blog for English learners and their teachers everywhere, initiated in 2010 with the contribution of students from the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland. More about me on the On-line Profile below. Welcome!

Yes, You Are in “The Teacher” Magazine Again!

The 8-year Anniversary Edition of the Teacher (the June issue, Warsaw, 2010)

This month’s issue of “The Teacher” magazine may not be(all) about you, my Jagiellonian University students, but it definitely says something about you all – especially in the article contributed by yours truly,

Additional learning sources (3)

Students for students, measure for measure.

Ideas & tips for teachers in four acts.”

The magazine is available in Empik stores and on the magazine website

I will let you know as soon as I post online versions of the the “Additional Learning Sources” series on one of my sites.

If you wish to keep an eye out for latest news, hit the SIGN Me Up button on the right-hand column on this page. Enjoy the summer, and keep coming back!

Exam sample papers soon to be posted right here, on the ELB!

Filed under: ■ The Teacher, ►10.IN PRINT▼

End-of-Year Thoughts, Anyone?

This academic year is only a few days closer to its end, so I would like to propose a symbolic toast:

It may have looked like this choir, posing on Grodzka street in Krakow

… or not. Mystery revealed!

Apparatus Blues

was sung by American students. The answer to the question:

Can you guess when it was sung and by which graduates? is revealed by

the Pembroke Record,

a student magazine published by the Women’s College in Brown University,

the September issue of 1923,

that is 87 years ago…

I’m not ecstatic, nor yet enthusiastic

About being acrobatic or doing a gymnastic.

I’d like to be elastic, lithe and supple-plastic

And do those queer gyrastics but I get darn rheumatic.

When I was only eight one didn’t criticise

A person ruminating on sausages and pies

But now alternation is food for contemplation;

So with much agitation I’m reducing in this wise.

Chorus –

I’ve got the ap-ap-ap-ap-ap-apparatus blues, so black and blue.

Oh it’s that hap-hap-hap-hap-hap-hap-haphazard way we jump the boom

I hang my feet on flying rings, shimmy up the great long ropes,

And gee, how they swing.

It’s the things I do that gives me the gol darn blues – I’m black and blue

Patter –

First I breathe 1, 2

Then I bend, 3

Then I twirl on my toe

And that’s where I score.

Turn a summersault.

Then jump on a horse,

If I don’t break my neck

Then it isn’t my fault.

I shimmy up the ropes,

I travel on the rings; I do all sorts of stunts on those BOOMY things,

I hang by my feet till my brains run loose

And now I’ve got the ap-ap-apparatus blues

Chorus –

Well, this is an example of what you could do when you successfully finish one year at University. There is still a little bit of time left until you will graduate, but I would like you to think about the ways you would like to celebrate graduation and the way you are thinking of celebrating this year that is about to pass.

Filed under: 4►LIFE, ■ Good Old Student Life, ■ Graduation

Memories From the Dorm Days…

Pawel Lasko presenting the robot he designed with his team (09.06.10)

Sometimes the best thing about memories is sharing them just to see if others find them as amusing as you do.

Not all of you have lived or are living in a dorm. However, you must have heard some stories in the dorm-days category.  If anyone might ask you to describe a regular day in your life as a student living in the dorm, you’ll probably answer “study, study, study.” Especially now, at the beginning of the exam session, it is only natural, should someone ask you “How does your day look like?”, to answer promptly, “Oh, I study, of course I do!”

What if you were to look back at those particular events and surprises that have spiced up your day and possibly troubled your  in the night’s sleep? Places to hang, eat a great meal, discounts that make it worth having a student ID, daily occurrences, you name it.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez remembers, for example, that in his dorm days “dawns in the dormitory had a suspicious resemblance to happiness, except for the lethal bell that sounded the alarm at six in the middle of the night. Only two or three mental defectives would jump out of bed to be the first in line for the six showers of icy water in the dormitory bathroom. The rest of us used the time to squeeze out the last drops of sleep until the teacher on duty walked the length of the room pulling the blankets off the sleepers.” (Living to Tell the Tale, pp. 194-195)

He further remembers that “starting at  dawn, Guillermo Granados gave free rein to his virtues as a tenor with an inexhaustible repertoire of tangos.” With Ricardo Gonzalez Ripoll, his neighbour in the dormitory he would sing duets of Carribean guarachas to the rhythm of the rag they used to polish their shoes at the head of the bed and the stories continue… HILARIOUS!!!

So what do you do when you don’t cram for exams, read books at the library, attend courses and seminars at University or build robots for international competitions like the students in this picture? What does your “dorm” life look like? Is there anything that you might find difficult to forget – social, cultural, interpersonal, and so on?

Pawel, Piotr & Pawel

Filed under: 4►LIFE, 7►NET WORKS, ■ Gabriel Garcia Marquez, ■ Good Old Student Life

Let’s Talk Generations!


Any questions that define who someone is and what group he or she may belong to are essential questions.

It was only recently that one of my Physics students asked me about the difference between a physician (a doctor of medicine; word origin: 1175-1225) and a physicist (a scientist who specialises in physics; word origin: 1710-20).

Looking back at the history of physicians we discover that in the 18th century, for example, apothecaries (what we now call pharmacists; word origin: 1325-75) were recognised as GPs (general practitioners, today’s family doctors). The apothecaries were affiliated to a Society of Apothecaries and could ascend to higher positions such as, for example, Masters of the Society of Apothecaries, which granted them a respectable position at the royal court in 18th-century England.

Further back in history, the Anglo-Saxon guilds had a strong religious component; they were burial societies that paid for masses for the souls of deceased members as well as paying fines in cases of justified crime. The continental custom of guilds of merchants arrived after the Conquest, with incorporated societies of merchants in each town or city holding exclusive rights of doing business there. In many cases they became the governing body of a town (cf. Guildhall, which came to be the London city hall). Trade guilds arose  in the 14th century, as craftsmen united to protect their common interest.

The tradition of guilds, based on special knowledge and connections such as the disciple-apprentice relationship has grown less popular in today’s world, where anyone willing to learn may jump at the opportunity of getting a degree in a certain field of knowledge that was restricted to special circles and elites centuries ago.


You are probably familiar with abbreviations like   BC or AD. What about a newcomer like BG?

It stands for Before Google (1996).

As Tonya Trappe suggested in a workshop she held in Krakow a few days ago, people over 35 now are considerably younger, BG age considered (your BG age= your real age – 14 years). Leaving the joke aside, what do you see as the characteristics of your generation?

Before considering any answers to this question, let’s look at the definition of a generation, as given by Tammy Erickson in her article “Generational Differences between India and the U.S.

By definition, a generation is a group a people who, based on their age, share not only a chronological location in history but also the experiences that accompany it. These common experiences, in turn, prompt the formation of shared beliefs and behaviors. Of course, the commonalities are far from the whole story. Even those of you who grew up in the same country also had unique teen experiences, based on your family’s socioeconomic background, your parents’ philosophies, and a host of other factors. But the prominent events you share – particularly during formative teen years – are what give your generation its defining characteristics.

After defining the concept of generation, Tammy Erickson proceeds with a comparison between Indian and American generations. I would like you to consider her observations and add your own thoughts and comments on the generation we (myself and most of you currently contributing to the ELB) belong to, called Generation Y (also known as Generation Next or the Millenials).

Generation Y – Born from 1980 to 1995

Globally, Generation Ys‘ immersion in personal technology enabled this generation to experience many of the same events and, as a result, develop as the most globally similar generation yet. Acts of terrorism and school violence were among this generation’s most significant shared formative events. The random nature of terrorism – in which inexplicable things happen unexpectedly to anyone at any time – left many Y‘s with the view that it is logical to live life fully now. Around the world, this generation has a sense of immediacy that is often misinterpreted by older co-workers as impatience.

In the U.S., Y‘s teen years were marked by an unprecedented bull market and a strong pro-child culture. As a result, they are optimistic, goal-oriented, and very family-centric.

In India, the late 1990’s and 2000’s saw the development of a large middle-class and increased demand for and production of many consumer goods – in many ways, a situation reminiscent of the U.S. Traditionalists‘ experience with a rapidly expanding pie. The Indian economy grew under liberalization and reform policies, the country was stable and prosperous, and political power changed hands without incident. India became a prestigious educational powerhouse and respected source of IT talent. By 2008, 34 Indian companies were listed in Forbes Global 2000 ranking.

Y’s in India share the generation’s global sense of immediacy, coupled with the excitement of being part of the country’s first wave of broad economic opportunity. As a result, young employees in India tend to share the rapid tempo of U.S. Y’s ambitions, but with a greater emphasis on financial reward as a desired outcome. They have come of age in an exciting, dynamic country with significant economic opportunity. Most are entrepreneurial and business savvy, as well as technologically capable and connected. Their mental model is heavily influenced by India’s rich, complex democracy – they easily accept diversity of opinion – as well as by the Western heritage of laws and customs left from the old days of British rule, making them strongly suited for global interaction.

If you like to learn more about Tammy Erickson’s take on various generations, have a look at her two videos you can down-load from the “Leading Across the Ages” site. More articles by the author on career advice for Generation X (the people  in their 30s or 40s), on Gen Xers’ dissatisfaction at work and other topics now available online.

Wikipedia lists as the next generation the one referred to as Generation Z, Generation I, Digital Natives, Gen. Tech, or the internet generation.

People from this generation  were born between the mid-1990s and the late 2000s. The oldest members of this generation were born during the late-1990s, usually with the start year of 1997, and the youngest of the generation were born during a baby boomlet around the time of the 2008 Global financial crisis.

What is your opinion about Generation Y in Poland, today? What were its greatest influences and how will it influence the generation(s) to come? You may think about the influence of communism on the current Polish mentality in forms you remember from early childhood, your parents or other people, as well as in other forms you may experience today.

Do you believe you are part of a certain generation? Why? Why not? In either case, what do you think makes you (and others like you) different (if at all) from older generations?

Whatever your point of view is in the present, do you believe it might change as you grow “younger and wiser”?

Filed under: ■ Generations, ■ Harvard Business Review

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