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!

The Day Has Arrived for Our Century’s Royal Wedding

My favourite quotes of the wedding day come from the speech given by Lord Bishop of London, Right Reverend Dr Richard Chartres, during the royal ceremony. Of many words that have been said at and about the wedding, these are surely words to keep and nourish on at this time and in times to come. It is my pleasure to rewrite some of them below, to remember.

“This is a a joyful day! It is good that people in every continents are able to share in these celebrations. This is, as every wedding day should be: a day of Hope. In a sense, every wedding is a royal wedding, with the bride and the groom as  King and Queenof Creation, making a new life together, so that Life can flow through them, into the future.

“Spiritual life grows as love finds its centre beyond ourselves. Faithful and committed relationships offer a door into the mystery of spiritual life, in which we discover this:

the more we give of self, the richer we become in soul,

the more we go beyond ourselves in love, the more we become our true selves, and our spiritual beauty is more fully revealed.

In marriage we are seeking to bring one another into fuller life.”

“We stand looking forward to a century which is full of promise and full of peril. Human beings are confronting the question of how to use wisely the power that  has been given to us through the discoveries of our last century.  We shall not be converted to the promise of the future by more knowledge, but rather by an increase of loving wisdom and reverence for life, for the earth, and for one another.

Marriage should transform, as husband and wife make one another a work of art. It is possible to transform, so long as we don’t harbour ambitions to reform our partner. There must be no coertion if the spirit is afloat; each must give the other the space and freedom.”

“As the reality of God has faded from so many lives in the West, there has been a corresponding inflation of expectations that personal relationships alone will supply meaning and happiness in life. This is to load our partner with too great a burden. We’re all incomplete, we all need the love that is secure, rather than oppressive, we all need mutual forgiveness in order to thrive, but as we move towards our partner in love, following the example of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit is quickened within us, and can increasingly fill our life with light. This leads on to a family life which offers the best conditions in which  the next generation can receive and exchange those gifts which can overcome fear and division and incubate the coming world of the Spirit whose fruits are love and joy and peace.”

God, our Father, we thank You for our families, for the love that we share, and for the joy of our marriage. In the busyness of each day, keep our eyes fixed on what is real and important in life, and help us be generous with our time and love and energy. Strengthened by our union, help us to serve and comfort those who suffer.

We ask this in the spirit of Jesus Christ,

and we all say ‘Amen!'”

Filed under: 9►EXTRA, ■ Celebrations, ■ Compassion, ■ Leadership, ■ Richard Chartres, ■ Royal Wedding 2012

Introducing Sarah Kay

Hit play on this TED video to witness a spoken word performance delivered by a talented and enthusiastic spoken word poet.

Should it intrigue you into wanting to know more about her work and interests, I recommend visiting her site, Kay, Sarah (sera).

I found her site refreshing, the perfect image of Action, a place where no words are wasted. Her performance, on the other hand, brings forth an emotional flux of ideas in simple yet powerful words. That is why action and words are, in Sarah’s case, a perfect match. Remarkable. A worthy stop for any English learner.

Enjoy the video and discover your own response to what you hear and see, a response in action and words. It doesn’t have to be spoken out loud or commented on. It suffices if it  speak for itself, whatever the language.

Filed under: ■ Conference Speakers, ■ Happiness, ■ Leadership, ■ Spoken Word Poetry, ■ Talks & Conferences, ►META PHORS▼

Between Living for the Eye and Living for the Soul

The profile of Grace Coddington is the profile of a visually imaginative genius, and this month’s Intelligent Life cover story stands to prove it.  I warmly recommend this article now available online, as an unusual look into the world of fashion through the eyes of the passionate yet charmingly shy creative director of American Vogue. If you have the time and resources, also watch the documentary The September Issue (2009)- also reviewed in the Intelligent Life.

Who is Grace Coddington? Read more about her life and work in the March online issue of the Intelligent Life.


1959: At 18, Grace leaves home in Anglesey, Wales, and enrols in Cherry Marshall’s modelling school in London. Norman Parkinson takes his first shots of her, at his farm in the country. “I was running naked through a wood, but it didn’t bother me. Wenda, his wife, was there, and Parks was so charming and dapper.” She wins Vogue’s Young Model competition the same year. “Ah-ha,” says Parkinson at the prize-giving tea, “you made it here! You’ll do well.”

1961: A car accident smashes her face into the driving mirror and slices off an eyelid. She endures two years of plastic surgery before returning to modelling.

1968: After six years of displaying a tendency to take over on shoots and tell stylists how to style, Grace joins British Vogue as a junior fashion editor, on a salary of £1,100 p.a. This is a quarter of what she earned as a model, but she feels it is time to move on. “All the young models come along and make you feel old standing beside them. And styling seemed like a fun, easy job—until I did it.”

1969: She marries Michael Chow at Chelsea Registry Office. Her new husband is the young, entrepreneurial owner of one of the restaurants of the moment, Mr Chow in Knightsbridge. “The restaurant was buzzing with amazing people. It was so much fun,” she says. ”But I was useless at being a restaurateur’s wife—much too shy to table-hop.” They split up after six months.

1973: Grace goes back to the young Vietnamese photographer, known as Duc, with whom she was in love before her marriage. Her sister Rosemary dies young, and Grace tries to adopt her nephew, seven-year-old Tristan, but the Welsh authorities refuse permission. “It was hardly surprising.” After breaking up with Duc she meets another apprentice photographer, Willie Christie, a rangy, rock’n’roll figure, and mentors him at Vogue.

1976: Willie and Grace marry, but “it’s difficult to be employed by your wife,” she says, and they divorce in 1980. Grace transforms herself into a business-suited, short-haired blonde—what she calls a “Calvin person”.

1980-86: At British Vogue, Grace creates a startling series of “sprawling, National Geographic-style photo essays—more than 20 pages long—in which the clothes were so smoothly integrated they barely registered as fashion photographs at all”, as the fashion writer Michael Roberts put it. In March 1986, Anna Wintour becomes editor-in-chief. Grace resigns in December: “Anna was much more into ‘sexy’ than I was.”

1987: A few months later, Grace takes a new job as design director for Calvin Klein in New York—mostly, she says, so she can spend more time with the French hairstylist Didier Malige, a long-time collaborator of hers, who was based in America. She still lives with him today.

1988: She rejoins Anna Wintour, who has now taken up the reins at American Vogue, because she misses the creative buzz of magazines. “Excitement on 7th Avenue ends with the show. The next day it’s all marketing.” Her influence grows: she becomes creative director, and by the end of the 1990s, her theatrical, narrative style is endemic in fashion photography.

2009: With her appearance in “The September Issue”, Coddington goes from a big name in a small world to a public figure. “It’s not like movie stardom,” she says. “It’s just that people feel I’m approachable. And I like talking to strangers on the subway: I’m a good listener, and sometimes miss my stop.”

Filed under: ■ Fashion, ■ Intelligent Life, ■ Leadership, ■ Photos that Speak

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

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

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