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!

Thinking Space: Where do you get your ideas?

The Economist is asking opinion leaders from around Europe to share where they get their ideas (their ‘Thinking Space’).

Over the next few months The Economist will be featuring the best contributions in the main section of this site, alongside those of the leading personalities already featured like movie director Claudia Llosa, musician Jamie Lidell and Spotify founder Daniel Ek.

Thinking space: Where do you get your ideas?

Filed under: 7► DIY, ■ Site Scout, ■ The Economist, ■ Thinking Space

Leverage Points

I would like to announce Deon Binneman’s new blog for consultants & professional services providers, aimed at advancing their professional knowledge and growing their practice. Deon Binneman is a public speaker & consultant on Business & Organizational Reputation. If you are interested in exploring tips and tools in this area, read on.

This is how leverage points are defined:

Researchers in systems thinking speak about leverage points – those small, well-focused actions that can, when used at the right time and in the right place, produce significant, lasting benefits exponentially beyond the effort required to take the action step itself.

In his first post he published on September 15th, Deon Binneman discusses the benefits of leverage points.

How can a person learn quickly and efficiently? By learning from others what works for them. By implementing best practice techniques.

How can you benchmark your own efforts? By measuring yourself against what others are doing.

How can you increase your chances of success? By leaning from those who are successful you can shorten your own learning curve and the path to success in your chosen endeavor.

Consider the alternative!

  • Trial and error
  • A long learning curve

Going to a bookshop and/or library and reading all the books on consulting and professional services marketing. Last count there were more than 30 books available.

How current and ongoing is your marketing efforts? These are only some of the thoughts and ideas and leverage points I will explore.

Filed under: 8►BUSINESS, ■ Leadership

Call for Compassion

What is the role of  compassion in our lives? The call for compassion bellow was made through the Charter for Compassion initiative.

Filed under: 9►EXTRA, ■ Compassion

Geek Style

The New Web team are starting a fortnightly series of posts giving you the heads up on interesting upcoming events in the media and technology space. Make sure you visit TNW before you decide to buy a ticket to an event in this category. Apart from this, you can follow the channels, regions and countries this site offers info from, to get to the latest scoops in the new media.

I selected for you a fragment from the hilarious GeekStyle series available on the New Web site. Enjoy your reading and if it whets your appetite for more, help yourselves by clicking this link.

This weeks (anonymous) question is about body odor: “Dear GeekStyle, I’m a well adjusted geek working at a medium sized technology start-up. My co-workers are nice and friendly and in my role as intermediary I speak to everybody in the company about our technology roadmap. No problem so far. My experience however is that inside the geek offices my body odor (a badge of honor after pulling an olnighter) is accepted and expected. Outside of my geekcircle it seems to be frowned upon. What do I do?”

Dear anonymous geek, body odor could be a symptom of being nervous or anxious. What causes your anxiety around the office? Your body odor? Aha! You are stuck in an endless loop! Feel less insecure about your sweat glands and exit this loop. In fact: go overboard and slap some extra water on your face before you make your rounds. Alternatively stock up on some extra deodorant and invest in a few extra T-Shirts. In most cases it will be the shirt that stinks, not the geek.

Yes, we also do questions. Have a geek style question you want to have answered? Don’t want to bother your mother? Just ask GeekStyle.

(posted August 27th, 2010)

Filed under: 7►NET WORKS, ■ Geeks, ■ The Next Web, ►11.ON LINE▼

Learn More from Giving

The Giving Pledge is an effort to invite the wealthiest individuals and families in America to commit to giving the majority of their wealth to the philanthropic causes and charitable organizations of their choice either during their lifetime or after their death.

Each person who chooses to pledge will make this statement publicly, along with a letter explaining their decision to pledge. At an annual event, those who take the pledge will come together to share ideas and learn from each other.

If you are interested in learning more from giving, here are the quick links to all of the Chronicle of Philantropy blogroll:

Give and Take
News and notes from the nonprofit blogosphere

Fund raising tips, tricks, and advice

Social Philanthropy
Exploring the use of social media for social good

Government & Politics Watch
Tracking the intersection of politics and philanthropy

Profit and Purpose
Examining the relationship between business and charity

Money and Mission
Discussing the world of nonprofit finance

Layoffs and Mergers
A digest of cutbacks and changes at nonprofit groups

Conference Notebook
Updates from notable events in the world of philanthropy

What are the new faces of luxury?

According to this article from Fortune, “The recession hasn’t killed the good life entirely; it’s just put a renewed focus on value, quality, and story.” Click the link to read more about an iconic fashion house, a fine wine brand, exquisite time keepers, a designer’s world and green-profile cars. We have to wonder about the new faces of day-to-day luxury in our old Europe…

Filed under: 4►LIFE, ■ Charity, ■ CNN Money, ■ Fortune, ■ Giving, ■ Luxury, ■ Perfumes, ■ Site Scout

Run, Vlad Isac, run!

Discover CNN iReport

Why should it interest you? As revealed by the definition below,

“iReport for CNN” is an interactive, international TV program showcasing the most newsworthy and informative iReport contributions and citizen journalism reports on the Internet.

Here is a story recently posted by Vlad Isac via CNN iReport.

A 25 years old, living in Austria, is literally running to Harvard Law School. This Saturday, the 9th of September 2010, he crossed the mile 1,010 of his 4,045 miles run.

His name is Vlad Ioan Isac, he was born in, the back then communist, Romania and currently lives in Vienna, Austria where he is a full-time intern with a large European Bank.

Vlad’s vision is to become a leader and an example for the next generation of political thought and action; and his first step is to graduate the JD program of Harvard Law School and become an excellent lawyer.

So the natural question comes – what has Harvard Law School to do with running?

Normally not much, but in Vlad’s case it’s got everything to do with. The plan is simple: in 15 months he runs the equivalent of the distance between Vienna, Austria and Cambridge, MA which is a bit over 4,000 miles. The runs, the experience, the journey to Harvard are all posted on a regular basis on running2harvard blog and also there, people can offer their support by making a donation for his cause.

His main purpose for doing this is to set an example for young people everywhere of what it’s possible when one is truly standing behind his dreams and passions and in the process he also hopes to raise the amount of money necessary to finance such an education.

In your own words, what is running2harvard about?

“The way I see it, running2harvard is about an ambitious dream and the determination to go for it all the way. It’s about pushing the limits of what one think it’s possible and hopefully emerge stronger and better. By doing so, I hope I can inspire other young people to do the same, to follow their most ambitious dreams no matter the odds, to say “I can do it” and then make that dream happen. Of course, I will be very happy if by the end of the campaign I raise part of the total Law School tuition and living costs.”

Is a law school worth it, may it be even Harvard Law School?

“Yes. It is worth it for me. Becoming a lawyer, being able to support and be part of the justice and policy making process has been my dream since childhood and for a long, long time I didn’t believe that this is achievable given my social background, my education, my nationality. As you are probably wondering what changed, I can only say that I believe that each of us has a tremendous potential for achieving great things in our lives and I also believe that within ourselves already lays the capacity and the tools we need for doing so.”

You have already run more than 1,000 miles; how long did it take you and how do you feel about it?

“It took me 17 weeks to reach 1,000 miles point, which is about 60 miles per week. So far I must say that I feel excellent. From a physical point of view I feel very good; which doesn’t mean that I didn’t experience some pain and small injuries from time to time, but nothing serious so far and I hope to stay like this in the ten months ahead. Mentally I also feel great; very motivated to keep running, to study and do good on the LSAT and prepare a very good application package for Harvard Law School.”

Is anyone coaching you in this process?

“No, I don’t have a formal coach but I receive plenty of support. There are plenty of great fellows out there who go out of their way to support me in any way they can. So far I got plenty of support during the runs, advice for running, for the campaign, for my application overall. And, probably the most important, I am surrounded by wonderful people who encourage me and offer me much moral support.”

What’s next?

“The most important thing in the next period is to prepare for the LSAT exam and put together a very good application package. As well I keep my fingers crossed for some initiatives I am currently working on to take off. One such initiative is a program aiming to support the integration in society of young people coming from challenging backgrounds, through running and community learning. And of course, keep running.”

Is there anything else you would like to mention?

“The only thing I would still like to share is this: it’s POSSIBLE. Each of us can, and should follow our highest and most burning dreams.”

This is it for now about Vlad and his running2harvard campaign. If you would like to know more about him or if you would like to offer him your support you are welcome to visit him on the campaign’s blog or on Facebook and Twitter (vlad_isac).

One more thing to think about:

How far would you go – or run – to get what you want and make your dreams come true?

Filed under: ■ CNN, ■ Harvard Law School, ■ Leadership, ■ Romania, ■ Running, ■ The World

Campuses to live for

Kenyon CollegeVisit the Forbes site

to look at the world’s

most beautiful college campuses

Forbes asked a panel of architects and campus designers to nominate their picks for the best-looking campuses in the world. Click on the link to see their top choices. If you thought about great campuses, which campuses would you nominate and why?

Filed under: ■ Campuses, ■ Forbes, ■ Good Old Student Life

September 11

September 11 (2002),

was and still is available at the main public library here, in Krakow. Free of charge – as it is specified on its cover. That is because this movie tries to raise awareness more than anything else, which it manages to do, with graceful simplicity. I selected some of these stories to show to my students last year. Discussions followed, and, inevitably, my students received a  writing assignment based on it, too. I will be posting fragments from these papers soon.

Before I do, let me re-introduce myself: “My name is Alina, and I am not a terrorist.” This year, the movie that cuts into the same September-11 chunk of reality is “My Name is Khan,” which I warmly recommend. If you get a chance to see it, drop a few lines with your impressions on it. What else? Hm… Remember “The Visitor“?

Filed under: 9►EXTRA, ■ Nationalities and Stereotypes, ■ Sept. 11

EU in 60 days

Forget the ponies and peonies, forget the yodelling and singing,

it’s time for…

doodles, Lari’s doodles!!!

On June  30th, at 9.14 pm, my friend Lari Numminen, who some of my students may remember from the meeting I organised with him during a class in (as long ago as) October 2006, was announcing to the world the following (quoted from Facebook):

Greetings world,

I have two pet projects for my travels over the next two months:

1.) Try to insult every nation in Europe through my irreverent and xenophobic twitter at


2.) Secretly take pictures of interesting looking people all across the continent. First victims here:

The Portuguese - by Lari NumminenMy friend’s project brings to mind Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days and other similar, modern-day Discoveryland adventures. As you can imagine, it’s not easy to visit each and every one of the EU’s 27 countries in two months. You’re likely to get juuust a little tired by the middle of your trip and change your status to “What is the cure for a month of overwalking? Buying a segway? Unicycle? New spacehopper maybe?” – like Lari did.

Most of us store memories visually through photos or vids one click away, through anything, in other words, that takes as little time as possible. Apart from taking photos like a true professional, my Finnish friend likes to doodle. The Swedes - by Lari NumminenI’m not sure how fast he is at this. I imagine it’s the original idea that sets the hand in motion. And then, by the end of the 60 days, there they are: 27 doodles starting with The Portuguese and ending with The Swedes.

Lari’s personal favourite is The Germans. Mine, The English.

What’s your favourite?

Filed under: ■ Comics & Doodles, ■ EU, ■ Meet my friends, ■ Nationalities and Stereotypes

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