Sunday, July 19, 2015


The two short reading activities below focus on the pleasure of going out and doing things alone; something I personally greatly enjoy. Watch the videos, tackle the two reading tasks and write your essay where you share your own views.
“People avoid going out by themselves because they think they’ll appear antisocial, but it turns out they’ll end up having a lot more fun than they expected”
By: Joe Pinsker
Level of Difficulty: **
Study the following and make some notes before moving on to the reading tasks proper
·         “12 Things everybody should do alone at least once”
·         “How to be alone”
1.       The opening of restaurants like Eenmaal should not really come as a surprise because……………..and ………………………………….
2.       What self destructive decision to some people make about doing fun things?
3.       What misconception did Ratner and Hamilton’s test subjects entertain? Be very precise. You will need to tweak the text.
4.       The negative social reaction to doing things alone that causes reluctance is the fear that………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….
5.       The above fear makes no sense at all because there was a close correlation / a positive correlation / little correlation / no correlation between the negative labels these same people expected to be given when doing things alone and those they themselves applied to similar people.
6.       Most people seemed to feel that going to a café or restaurant alone was more acceptable if they could feel that………………………………………………………………………………………
“Sitting solitary through a summer blockbuster has its perils. But that’s O.K.”
By: Chris Le
Level of Difficulty: **
·         “The case for going to the movies alone”
1.       Why does the writer go to the movies?
·         To be alone
·         To listen to other people
·         To watch a movie
·         To meet people
2.       The writer feels that it is strange / unusual / unnecessary / unpleasant / pathetic / fun to be accompanied to the movies.
3.       According to the information in the text, which of the activities would not be “immune to stigma”?
Going to a football match, going to the mall, going to a pop concert, going on a picnic in the park, going to the school cafeteria, going to the launderette
4.       Why is the writer happy to go to the movies alone but not to a party where he doesn’t know anyone? After all, he doesn’t know anyone else at the cinema either. Use your own words.
5.       The writer implies that whether the lone movie goer is likely to enjoy a solo visit to a movie theatre in the summer or not depends on………………………………………..
Think about what you have watched and read. Then write about the advantages and disadvantages of doing things alone.
I have always felt sorry for people who shut themselves up in their homes because they have no one to accompany them to various places. I have personally always greatly enjoyed my solo outings despite a wide circle of friends and actually crave the me time these excursions to cafes, restaurants and the like provide the opportunity for. This being the case, I couldn’t resist these two little texts.  Hopefully, there will be some converts.
  1. Today more than a quarter of American households are home to just one person and the median age at which Americans get married has reached a record high.
2.       They decide to not do things all the time just because they are alone
3.       They predicted low levels of enjoyment while strolling through a nearby art gallery alone
4.       People would think they didn’t have any friends
5.       Little correlation
6.       They could be productive; OR the experience was an accomplishment
1.       To watch a movie
2.       Unnecessary
3.       Going to a football match, going to a pop concert, going for a picnic in the park
4.       The purposes are different. Watching a movie is an individual experience and doesn’t have to be shared; the purpose of a party is to socialize.

5.       The film; The type of film

Friday, July 17, 2015


“In some jobs, being in touch with emotions is essential. In others, it seems to be a detriment. And like any skill, being able to read people can be used for good or evil”
By: Adam Grant
Level of Difficulty: ***
Watch all three of the videos below in the order they have been presented and make notes:
1.       According to the information in paragraph one, which of the following speeches would not require emotional intelligence? You may need to do a little research first.
·         Obama’s speech when he won the presidency
·         Churchill’s speech to the British people on the eve of WWII
·         David Cameron’s presenting of the party program to parliament
·         The Queen’s Christmas message of 2014
·         Julius Caesar’s speech beginning “Friends, Romans countrymen lend me your ears”
2.       Adolph Hitler tried to exploit the power of emotions in order to…………………………………
3.       The purpose for teaching emotional intelligence is to foster: mark the ones that fit.
·         More empathy with others
·         More charity and donations
·         More voluntary work
·         More  future opportunities
·         More sympathy for others
·         More self interest overall
·         More concern for others
·         More individualism overall
4.       A politician or a leader who is an expert in emotional skills has a distinct advantage because if he wishes to he can………………………………………….An example to the latter is the German people’s giving up their democratic rights and giving Hitler absolute power in a referendum.
5.       Why could the “awestruck effect” also be called the “dumbstruck effect”? Because the audience………………………………………………………………………………………………….
6.       The manager of the computer company studied by Gideon Kunda is an example of a/an…….
7.       The purpose of the same manager in praising the project yet distancing the organization from it was to undermine his colleague. We know this because he wished to guarantee that………..
8.       The purpose of people who adapt their emotions according to their surroundings is to……….
9.       The manager of the computer company studied by Gideon Kunda and Body Shop founder Anita Roddick are similar to each other in that they both ………………………………… but different in that ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….
10.   Nurses, teachers, social workers and care givers are examples of professionals who benefit / don’t benefit from emotional intelligence because …………………………………………………………….
11.    Why would emotional intelligence be a handicap for a mechanic? Because:
·         His attention would be divided
·         He wouldn’t be concentrating
·         He would get worked up
·         He would endanger himself
·         All of the above
·         Other: please specify
12.    A manager with any sense would value staff with high levels of emotional intelligence in their company because they would……………………………………………………………………………..
13.   The difference between a hot headed person and an emotionally intelligent person is that the latter is able to …………………………………………………………………………………………………..
14.   Who would the manager be more likely to listen to? The hot headed person or the emotionally intelligent person? Why?
15.   The example of the self assessment of emotional intelligence is provided to prove that a lot of the research done on the subject is……………………………………………………………………………
Use all that you have learnt to write about the up sides and the down sides of emotional intelligence
Some texts, because of their style and content, allow me to write the kind of comprehension questions any teacher would dream of; this is just such a text. The questions are tough and they require full understanding of the text; nuances, shades of meaning and all. The task is also practical in that the answers to the questions are clear cut, brief and direct. There is an added bonus: the text has a wow factor and the task will lead to a good writing task.
1.       The second and the third
2.       An absolutely spell binding public speaker
3.       One, two, three, five and seven fit.
4.       Motivate people to act against their best interests (This answer fits with the example that has been provided)
5.       Stops thinking critically (and just emote)
6.       A Machiavellian with high emotional intelligence
7.       The company’s founder blamed the colleague
8.       Fabricate favorable impressions of themselves
9.       Use emotional intelligence; Anita Roddick doesn’t use it (emotional intelligence) for nefarious purposes
10.   Benefit; these jobs require extensive attention to emotions
11.   His attention would be divided ( He wouldn’t be concentrating is too strong)
12.   Challenge the status quo by speaking up with ideas and suggestions for improvement
13.    Keep his anger in check and reason
14.   The emotionally intelligent person because his ability to express enthusiasm would help him avoid threatening the leader
15.   Fatally flawed

Tuesday, July 14, 2015


Maximum productivity and thus maximum profits is the ultimate aim of all businesses. This would be relatively easy if the businesses were peopled with cyborgs but they are not; they are peopled with human beings with emotions and limitations. The Nazis tried to ignore these limitations and worked detainees to death and then replaced them; this was a method that worked but which cannot be applied in the modern world. The solution in the current times is paying closer attention to business practices and human psychology.

Efficiency brings greater productivity and higher profits and starts with reducing bureaucracy and cutting red tape. There is nothing that slows down the production process like red tape as demonstrated by the state sector in many countries and the former Soviet Union. The first step to reducing bureaucracy lies in keeping channels of communication open as in the Japanese ringi system, where the worker on the factory floor can access and talk to the manager. When the right people are given a free reign and not hampered by red tape, work will get done much faster.

A second business practice to avoid is denying change. New ways of doing things more efficiently are continually being found and refusing to consider these innovations will mean bankruptcy in the long run. The most obvious example to this is mechanization and robot technology, which has revolutionized the factory floor. No business can expect to compete in the modern world without the latest computer technology: businesses are global enterprises now and potential customers may be on the other side of the world. Such companies need to be able to arrange conference calls in cyberspace or Skype to be able to do business. The office of the future is a purely digital one where there is no paper. In short, keeping up with the times is vital for a company to realize its full potential.

Last but not least there is the human factor. People need to feel happy in order to reach peak performance and cracking the proverbial whip will have the adverse effect. Managers and supervisors should treat staff like human beings and show sympathy and understanding when needed. They should show appreciation and reward progress or good work; they should take a hands on approach when tackling problems and not hesitate to sit down and discuss issues with members of staff. Some companies have recreation rooms, ping pong tables – Yahoo – and policies like dress down Friday to keep people relaxed and happy. In short, managers need to respect their employees if they want them to be productive.

Increasing productivity doesn’t mean pushing staff and raising target figures it requires a knowledge of good business practices and human psychology. The sooner managers get their heads out of the clouds and make a genuine effort to reach their full potential the better.


Achieving happiness has always been the ultimate aim of everyone. People try to find their vocations to enjoy a satisfying and rewarding professional life; they try and find their soul mates to enjoy marital bliss. In short, all human activities are directed towards achieving that elusive state: happiness. What most people would like to believe is that this effort is in no way connected to wealth or money and that it is a purely spiritual experience. Yet nothing can be further from the truth: the host in the famous film Cabaret had it right when he said “Money makes the world go round”. The truth is that happiness is impossible without money.

There are those rare individuals like Buddhist monks who experience bliss on a purely intellectual level but they are a minority. Most people would be miserable with one outfit and a begging bowl. For modern man, not knowing where the next meal is coming from would create enough stress to destroy any glimmer of happiness.  Young lovers who feel that nothing else matters and that they can be happy in a hovel soon change their minds come day two when there is nothing to eat, they can’t charge their mobiles and there is no internet connection. We are living in a consumer society where acquisitiveness is drummed into us and has become a part of our DNA. No modern child of capitalism will ever be convinced that it is possible to be happy without all that money can buy.

It is all very well to claim that happiness is a spiritual state and has nothing to do with money but financial difficulties are the biggest reasons for divorce. The sympathy and compassion accompanying redundancy will quickly grow sour as weeks pass and bills keep piling up. The empathy will melt away and the depressed partner will be blamed for the family’s predicament. The social roles dictated by society are too ingrained to be overlooked and those who can’t shape up are expected to ship out; hence, divorce. An accustomed lifestyle is very hard to shake off and will always supersede plain old love.

In short, money has become the end all and be all of life however much we may like to pretend it hasn’t.  Success, joy and happiness have become linked to commodities and opportunities provided by greater wealth. It is true that money didn’t use to be able to buy happiness but modern capitalism has turned this view on its head. Today, for better or for worse, money and happiness are closely entwined.

Thursday, July 9, 2015


In the past, when a foreign power wanted to conquer a country they sent in the army; in the modern world, it is the media that needs to be controlled if one is to have complete power. This is because the media is the single most powerful force in the modern world and exerts an enormous influence on all areas of life from shopping habits to political opinion. The media can shape public opinion and set trends in the modern world as it has access to us 24/7.

When voting or expressing an opinion on any topic, most people will preface their remarks with a phrase like “I think”; however, is it really their own opinion that they are expressing or have their opinions been manipulated? With the reach the media has in the modern world, can anyone honestly claim they have not been influenced at all? The media has now gone viral and bombards us with opinions by means of our computers and smart phones as well. The amount of brainwashing achieved by the media in the current world is phenomenal: the media can promote some politicians or public figures and ruin others; it can foster some points of view and bury others. If you think you are immune to all this persuasion, you need to think again.

The media also sets trends thus helping the advertising sector with which they work hand in glove. Thanks to the media, a new product can become a must-have for everyone in a matter of days; new fashions can spread like wild fire with everyone wanting to purchase the new type of blouse. The media doesn’t achieve all this by means of overt sales tactics but covertly by dressing presenters in a certain way, bombarding you with images, celebrities or people using a certain product. Eventually, you come away thinking that you simply must have whatever it is but you would have trouble explaining why. A good example would be smartphones: the queues outside Apple stores when İPhone 6 went on the market are a case in point. No one changes their phone because their old one has stopped working; they do so because of the innate urge to purchase the latest one. In short, if you imagine that you yourself decide what you want and don’t want, you are very much mistaken.

To sum up, the media is by far and large the greatest power in the modern world, which is why politicians, businessmen, celebrities and other public figures hate to get on the wrong side of the media. The public should also try and be more aware of the way the media works and be more objective. In short, the public should look before they leap.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015


The internet is without doubt the greatest innovation of the previous century in that it has enabled globalization on a massive scale. It has brought people together, provided easy and fast access to sources of information and transformed the way we do business, teach, learn and socialize. Yet it is not without its negative effects like most things in life. These down sides stem from the breadth and depth of the internet and the fact that it is almost impossible to regulate.

There are no limits to the amount of information available on the internet and it is continuing to expand rather like the universe. When an individual reads a particular article the internet will throw up other related articles that the system has decided he may be interested in. This sets off a chain reaction with the person moving from web site to web site and video to video. Meanwhile, the clock is ticking and before he knows it, it is two in the morning. The virtual world is much more colorful and richer than the real world in some respects and some people find it more and more difficult to tear themselves away. Before they know it, they become hooked. In fact, internet addiction is a recognized condition and lack of access creates the same withdrawal symptoms that alcohol and drug addiction do. In short, you can have too much of a good thing.

The freedom of expression available on the internet has been applauded by one and all as its best quality yet complete freedom and lack of regulation can cause problems. Freedom of speech means that every psychopath, sadist, pedophile, terrorist; in short, any undesirable individual can say whatever he likes. Sexual sadists may have websites, terrorists may post the abc of bomb making, pedophiles may post child pornography. Although governments have been combating such people, the dark web is indeed a very dark place. The World Wide Web includes not only a lot of stuff that is very good and useful but also a lot that is extremely dangerous and detrimental. Caution needs to be exercised when enjoying all that it has to offer.

To sum up, every innovation feels wonderful at the beginning and the down sides start to emerge in time. The same is true for the internet. The initial euphoria should not blind us to all the dangers lurking out there. The vulnerable and impressionable should be provided with help and guidance when they are using the internet and the fight against undesirable websites should continue. 


Equality has always been a dream of mankind: political systems have tried to provide it and failed; societies have tried to provide it and have been marginally successful. There have always been more fortunate and less fortunate people in society and the latter have always suffered. The aim of every welfare state is to try and alleviate some of these problems because the negative effects impact both the individual and society.

Inequality impacts the individual directly by restricting his purchasing power. He is unable to provide any small luxuries and certainly not basic necessities. Summer holidays, family outings, new technology and the like are the first to go. Clothes are mended and passed down to younger siblings; meals are simple and basic; living areas are crowded and people learn to share early on. Children work in the summer and cannot socialize after class. They go to state schools and have fewer opportunities later in life. Meanwhile those who are born with a silver spoon in their mouths go to the best schools, go on two holidays a year and enjoy all the privileges their family can provide. The worst thing is that the two groups of people are well aware of each other’s situation: shanty towns exist side by side with modern apartment blocks and television broadcasts the life of the well to do middle class family. In short, inequality creates a lot of resentment too.

The anger simmering below the surface does eventually boil over as inequality can prompt social and political change. The Russian revolution was a direct result of the rift between the boyars and the peasants. The resulting turmoil caused the overthrow of an ancient dynasty. Inequality can bring people out into the streets to protest their situation causing economic problems for the government. Riots cause property damage and people get hurt. The widening rift in society may cause the well to do to look down on the less fortunate in all walks of life. The widening gap between the have and the have nots is a recipe for disaster. In short, people suffering inequality tend to express their anger, which in turn impacts society and the political system.

The answer to all this is the welfare state and all it has to offer. Providing free housing to the less fortunate is the first step and food is the next. Meals could be served to children at school and poor families could get hot meals distributed to them by the municipality or by organizations like meals on wheels. Free health care is the next step and this should be followed by small luxuries like public parks, public entertainment and the like. If the needy are fed housed and clothed, they will have less to complain about and be happier.