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!

Big Voice / Little Voice

Recently I’ve come across an article on Toastmasters about finding your voice in situations in which you need to speak in front of an audience.

It includes some great tips that you might like to know about, so I invite you to read it below.

Once you manage to stand behind a lectern without fainting, then what? You need something to say, and you want it to be interesting to the audience. The age-old excuse people have for avoiding public speaking is, “I don’t have anything to say. My life is boring.” You don’t have to have a life-and-death experience or be an Olympic champion to have a story to share. You may not think so at the moment, but you do have a message to share. And as Toastmasters’ 2006 World Champion of Public Speaking Lance Miller shares in an article for the Toastmaster magazine, the more personal and passionate your story is, the better.

How to define yourself and your message
Look at who you are. What are your passions and interests, what do you struggle with? What challenges have you overcome? Here is a list of questions to ask yourself:

  • What is your philosophy? By what values do you live your life?
  • List the defining moments of your life. Any special lessons or experiences that profoundly affected you? For example: learning how to ride a bike, moving to a different city, taking on a new job, becoming a parent.
  • What subjects and issues are you certain about? The test of this is, How easily can you be convinced to change your mind? Have you discovered the best way to motivate a child to read? To make flowers grow? To create world peace? Then share your expertise with the world!
  • Find the extraordinary in the ordinary. You won’t inspire an audience if you live a negative life. Find the blessings in life and bring them to life for yourself and your audience!
  • What makes you laugh? Share your favorite sources of humor.
  • What makes you angry? Share how you would change the world for the better if you could.
  • What are you struggling with right now? Speak about what captures your attention at the moment. If you have “speaker’s block”, speak about your inability to come up with a speech topic. Don’t have enough time in the day for all your work? Give a speech on that topic! It will help you give a passionate speech and perhaps solve a problem.

So, what do you have to say? Challenge yourself and discover your voice!

To take it a little further, think about discovering the power of your voice, which I will call  the “Big voice,” while keeping in mind the concept of the “little voice,” the inner voice each of us hears inside, accompanying our actions or reactions. An interesting site about mastering the “little voice” belongs to Blaire Singer. Here is what he writes about it:

Everyone has a “Little Voice” that beats them up. Have you ever had a “Little Voice” in your head tell you that you aren’t:

  • Good enough
  • Smart enough
  • Successful enough

…enough of something to successfully to do whatever it is you really want to do?

You’re not alone.

This “Little Voice” has the ability to stop you dead in your tracks, preventing you from believing that you have what it takes to achieve your goals and dreams.

But, the GREAT NEWS is – You can learn to:

  • Recognize this “Little Voice”
  • Challenge it
  • And manage it out of your way you can achieve goals and dreams that would otherwise seem out of reach!

You can even take a free diagnostic test of your power over your “little voice” on the same site, to find out more about your ability to handle objections, to identify emotions, and overcome “I can’t do it,” among others.

Read, learn and enjoy!

Filed under: 5►On-line Assignments, 7► DIY, ■ Brain Matters, ■ Happiness, ■ Self Development Links, ■ Site Scout, ■ Voice Matters, ►11.ON LINE▼, ►META PHORS▼

Read & Be the Judge

Read the two writing samples on the topic of travelling and answer the poll:

Text 1

Not Quite An Obscure Atlas


Magdalena Gunska

Have you wondered how to find places worth visiting during your holidays?

Some of you may already know where he or she is going, but is in need of information about sights worth seeing there. Others may be keen, let’s say, on certain kinds of animals while others are searching for places connected to other subjects of interest. All of these people should pay a visit to the Atlas Obscura website.

This website is a sort of online catalogue of interesting but relatively unknown places from around the world. Anyone can contribute articles to Atlas Obscura. The articles can be browsed by regions or by categories, the latter including “Fascinating Fauna”, “Martian Landscapes”, “Outsider Art”, “Retro-Tech”, “Odd Accommodations” or “Curious Places of Worship,” to list a few examples. Each article contains a short description of the place, as well as useful information such as the address, opening hours, admission cost and location on the map.

From this atlas you can learn about many places you would like to see but couldn’t find information about elsewhere. Of course some could be too far away or expensive to visit, like the Blood Falls in Antarctica. However, you can discover similarly unusual places quite close to where you live! Did you know about the Gliwice Radio Tower which is probably the tallest wooden structure in the world? Or the Dental Museum in Racibórz?

In my opinion, Atlas Obscura can be very helpful if you’re planning a trip that has to be memorable. Everyone can find something suitable for them here; I already did.

Does anyone feel like going with me to the Alchemy Museum in Kutna Hora, the Czech Republic?

Text 2

Travel Today


Radosław Strzałka

We understand travelling nowadays mainly as taking a journey to faraway countries, to other continents. It is to be expected that less known cultures, like the Chinese, are always interesting. Travelling is also easier now because of the globalisation and all of its consequences. Money and political restrictions are not a problem, either, for the most part.

However, I would like to say a few words about travelling in connection with the exploration of nearby areas. Once I took a bicycle trip to Ogrodzieniec with my sister – about 15 km from my home. The ruins of a medieval castle built by king Kazimierz Wielki are still visible there. Although we knew this castle well, we had never chosen that bicycle route for cyclists. When we left the forest, we found a huge sunflower plantation on a hill. It was a field of many hectares, I guess. All plants were turned towards the setting sun. That was an amazing view. The photo I attached, taken with a mobile phone, only partially shows the beauty of it. I didn’t know that there was such a surprising place near my home.

After this trip I remembered my girlfriend’s story about her adventure in Provence. She told me about an identical situation, where instead of a sunflower field there was a lavender plantation. It was the most beautiful place in the world to her. The moral of my story is simple: you don’t have to go abroad to have such beautiful experiences. The variety of landscapes also appears in our “small homelands” and the saying: “cudze chwalicie – swego nie znacie” always stays true.

You may leave your comment below to explain your answer to the poll and post your own writing sample.

Filed under: 5►On-line Assignments, 6▼ Questionnaires, ■ Travel, ■ Writing Samples

Q & A on the Topic of TRAVELLING (1)

Assuming you were required to interview an Erasmus student about the time he spent during a semester abroad, what questions would you come up with?

On Sunday 7th, from 9 pm, tune in to the radio show, “Cultural me, Cultural you,” on RadioWiD. During this radio show you will be able to listen to three interviews and solve the tasks below.

TASK 1: Listen to the interview with Pawel Szmurlo & answer the questions.

Before listening to this first interview, take a look at the questions below. They were addressed to an Erasmus Law student who spent one semester in Ankara, Turkey. You will notice that I change some of the questions I intended to use during this interview, in order to adapt them to the fluency and coherence of the live discourse. Here is the original list of questions:

  • What is travelling for you? (Do you remember the learning metaphor we came up with for travelling?)
  • How many countries have you visited so far?
  • When did you make your decision to go abroad on an Erasmus exchange?
  • Why Turkey? Was it difficult to choose?
  • What did you know and/or expect about your life there?
  • How did you get there?
  • Did you study Turkish before?
  • Did you have an initial cultural shock (in spite of preparation)?
  • What did you discover about Turkey and the people in this country?
  • What would you recommend for a first visit to Turkey?
  • If you were to give travellers some advice for their trip to Turkey, what would your suggestions be?
  • Tell us about your studies there.
  • How are the teachers? The students? The student life? Are there many foreign students?Did you notice any significant differences between the Polish and the Turkish educational system?
  • Was there anything you would like to apply here, in Poland, as a student? Any suggestion for the teachers here?
  • Were the four months you spent there enough time for you do/ learn/see what you wanted to?
  • Would you go back? Why?/Why not?
  • What other countries would you like to visit? For how long?
  • Where do you see your home?
  • What are your aspirations for the future? What do you see yourself doing (what job) and where?
  • Would you agree with the statement that travelling can be a profession?

1.1. During this first interview write down the changes you notice  (questions I add, change, or omit).

1.2. What other questions would you have added to the list? Write them down.

Task 2: Listen to the next interview with Brian Gehrish & answer the questions.

2.1 Did I use any of the questions you thought about?

2.2. What other questions would you have asked Brian?

Task 3: Listen to the third interview with Alexandra Moldovan and Iuliana Csapo & answer the questions.

3.1. Did you discover anything new by listening to the two interviewees? If yes, what was that?

Further Questions

3.2.Which speaker(s) did you understand best? Why do you think so?

3.3. Which interview was the most interesting for you?

3.4. What are your thoughts on travelling?

Write your comments below and bring your detailed notes to class for further reference!

Have an inspiring weekend!

Filed under: 5►On-line Assignments, ■ Radio Shows, ■ Travel, ■ Turkey

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