NEW addition to the blog: Gramatické tabuľky na samoštúdium (SK)

Tu je dlho očakávané doplnenie stránok: gramatické tabuľky na precvičenie základných anglických časov. Nájdete tu prehľad gramatiky a tak, ako v ostatných sekciách, aj tu máte možnosť položiť mi otázku pomocou komentára. Vstúpte kliknutím na červené tlačidlo a pusťte sa do toho:

Ako postupovať? Zo zoznamu na vstupnej stránke kliknite na odkaz gramatického javu, ktorý si želáte precvičit. Myšou ovládajte interaktívne prezentácie s prehľadom tvorenia jednotlivých časov. Po názve času sa objaví tabuľka so všetkými osobami v jednotnom aj v množnom čísle, s nevyplnenými slovesami. Túto využite na doplnenie chýbajúcich slovies najskôr sami, následne si svoje odpovede môžete skontrolovať v ďalšej tabuľke. V ďalšom okne sú vety na precvičenie (v slovenčine), využívajúce daný gramatický tvar. Opäť ich najprv skúste preložiť sami, až potom si skontrolujte správny preklad v ďalšom okne.

Have fun a nezabudnite nechať komentár! ; )

Absolutóriá 2011: za(ne)myslenie

Absolutóriá z angličtiny sa nedajú hodnotiť objektívne. Pri učení sa cudzích jazykov – ostatne ako pri všetkých dôležitých činnostiach v živote – hrá kľúčovú úlohu osobný vstup.

Pri niektorých odpovediach som cítil zadosťučinenie, až eufóriu. Neskromná časť vo mne pripísala všetky vaše úspechy mojim učiteľským metódam, tá realistická ju udržiavala pri zemi poznaním, že akýkoľvek úspech študenta má so mnou pramálo spoločné, keďže úspech je priamo úmerný tomu, ako pristupujete k životu a čo doňho vkladáte.

Preto bolo skvelé sledovať na absolutóriách všetky prejavy sviežeho talentu, hravého intelektu, pokory a neobmedzeného, čerstvého zmýšlania. Bolo skvelé sledovať ich na hodinách a určite bude skvelé rozpoznať ich v čomkoľvek ďalšom, do čoho sa pustíte.

Na druhej strane, boli chvíle, kde pre nedostatok vstupu akákoľvek snaha oklamať nás – a tým samého seba – varením z vody viedla k neúspechu.

Áno, s úspechom je to ako s varením a jedením: ak nič nejde dnu, nič nepôjde, v konečnom dôsledku, ani von.

Ak sa táto (potencionálne nechutná) metafora rozvinie ďalej, kľúčové je ďalej to, čo ide dnu a akým spôsobom sa to strávi. Mojou úlohou vo funkcii lektora angličtiny je, že vám môžem pomôcť pri výbere a príprave jedál z tých najlepších ingrediencií, poskytnúť vám tie najlepšie, na mieru šité, vhodné recepty na ich prípravu do vynikajúcich, chutných a výživných, esteticky príťažlivých jedál. Môžem vám pripraviť tie najlepšie podmienky na ich konzumáciu, prebudiť a zdvihnúť váš apetít vhodne zvoleným aperitívom, stolovaním a predkrmom. Akonáhle však príde k jedeniu, tráveniu, príjmu živín a… podobne, tam už moje schopnosti (a pravdu povediac ani vôľa) nesiahajú.

Ako vravia bratia angličania: You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.

V našom prípade teda: student, food a eat.

Aj preto, hlavne pre to, niektorí z vás neuspeli, a pritom, jediné, čo bolo treba urobiť bolo začať jesť.

Bon appétit!

Exit: Summer term. Enter: Exams.

The exams are about to start, I’ll be seeing most of you over the next week.

We’ll be finding out together about how you’ve developed as an English learner this term.

I’d love to know: Were the “suitcase” activities helpful? Did you enjoy the Who am I? games, word hunts, mimes, pictures, film reviews, discussions, recommendations, reflections?

Borrowing from the gaming industry, do you feel you’ve levelled-up as a learner of English this term?

As with any levelling-up, as with any good gaming experience, the real reward is in enjoyable game-play, in finding out and exploring the game’s story, environments, characters and a few hidden treasures or Easter eggs yourself,  enjoying the rewards as they come.

There’s the easy way, too, of course, the one using short cuts and cheats, bringing instant, short-lived results, no long-lasting enjoyment, but a sour feeling you have robbed yourself of some real treasures, realising there’s nothing more left to do.

The thing about learning is that it can happen any time, anywhere, perfectly rewarding your efforts. What you put in doesn’t disappear, but is transformed into invaluable experience, skill, or knowledge.

Whatever topic you choose on the exam, remember that it’s about communicating in English. Mind your manners, keep it positive, smile and take it easy – it’s about what you know.

Good luck and give it your best shot.

Sn

365 days of horror

Today’s post is about horror films. 365 of them, to be precise. If you like the genre, than you’ll probably love this site:

The idea is very simple: watch one horror every day, for 365 days and share your experiences on-line.

One horror fan decided to do just that and you can read about his experiences in his blog 365horror.

This one-year-long horror watching marathon brought great results: well-written reviews, recommendations and thoughts on the genre, all of which provide a useful perspective and reference for exploring this (sometimes) nail-biting genre.

365horror.co.uk

365horror.co.uk

Your Absolutoria 2010

“Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it.”
Albert Einstein

The time has come for you to do your exams, time for the stuff you put in to come out. What will it be?

Without developing on this metaphor any further, I’d like to take this moment to express a couple of thoughts on our classes. I’ve always considered them as our classes.

I’ll do this by addressing YOU. You know which sentences apply to you and which don’t. Just take your pick:

First off, thank you, who came to class because you wanted it, no matter how often it was.

Thank you, who came there with the attitude of sharing, enjoyment and participation. Your presence was always greatly appreciated.

Thank you, who always tried to use English, not because I wanted it or because you were perfect, but because you wanted to improve and realised the benefits.

Thank you, who thought independently, expressed your opinions, doubts, and feelings openly and was keen to know the opinions of others.

Thank you, who didn’t sit and wait for miracles, but did things for your own benefit, regardless of “bad” circumstances.

Thank you, who took the best from everything.
Continue reading

A few changes to English and Film

It’s been more than a year now since I started English and Film as an online resource tool for everyone learning about film and media in English and I’m very pleased about the wonderful feedback I’ve received from you, whether in the frorm of comments or in classes.

Since the beginning, I’ve made many gradual changes to the layout, content and organisation of the blog, so that it would be easier for you to find what you were looking for.

Still, I’ve often felt that the blog wasn’t anywhere near to what I imagined it to be yet, that the potential for your effective language learning thanks to it wasn’t fulfilled.

Now I have a new vision for the blog and, hopefully, with your help, it will get closer to reaching the potential and will become a much more employed tool in our English classes.

Continue reading

Secretary, S&M drama comedy, USA (2002)

Secretary (2002) www.imdb.com Continuing on the topic of films gracefully treating difficult issues, here comes my all time favourite—and no, it isn’t merely for the poster art (although it surely has to rank among the most effective ones).

A little theoretical detour, first. An interesting film, among other things, successfully recreates and represents unique, individual, or alternative realities, regardless of how seemingly different they are from either the safe, every-day reality of accepted norm or the viewer’s individual preference. It presents the alternative with such ease, confidence and elegance of form that, at least for the time of watching, the unique feels natural, the subjective relevant, and the alternative perfectly acceptable.

As far as the alternative goes, no other subject matter can cause more stir than sex, and, perhaps, no other is as difficult to treat in mainstream cinema. With notable exceptions, it’s been unrealistically scandalized, glorified or embarrassingly dumbed down and it takes great amount of skill and oversight to make a film that’s realistic and relatable, without losing its spark. It’s a razor-sharp balance to maintain.

Which brings us to Secretary—a sadomasochistic comedy about a “demanding boss and the woman who loves his demands”.

Judging by the subject matter (and the poster art) alone, this film could easily be discarded as just another example of cheap exploitation of the modern fascination with sex. Luckily, Secretary proves to be a spankingly good exception all the way through.

Yes, the theme is sadomasochism and Secretary tames this beast of a taboo with disarming charm and eloquence. It cleverly takes advantage of the same stereotypes that would work against it (poster art including), uses the obvious scheme of a boss–secretary relationship, but with effective character and story development tells a charming story of how a disturbed young woman finds her true (intimate) self through the unconventional relationship with her enigmatic boss.

We follow her flourish from a complicated, mentally strained young daughter, whose only comfort from her troubled family history lies in the routinely performed elaborate self-harm rituals, into a confident, proud and matured woman, lead to self-discovery and fulfilment by her enigmatic boss, by gradually submitting herself to his overpowering dominance and willingly yielding to his total control over her physical and mental identity, from which, it goes without saying, she derives not only reassurance and a new kind of strength, but, you guessed it, an entirely new, immense kind of sexual pleasure.

It’s the effective character development that makes Secretary different and successful. Both characters are brilliantly portrayed by the main cast of Maggie Gylenhaal and James Spader, both accurately measuring the depths of their characters’ complex intimate worlds. We understand that the only way for their unconventional personalities to find peace is to become consumed in each other, establishing a fiery balance that neither of them could have found elsewhere without losing much of their complex intimate lives. Learning to maintain the balance between their intimate lives and day-to-day existence proves to be a stimulating challenge indeed for both.

The film throws in the sensual, the sexual and the perverse with mature charm, elegance and subtle, underlying humour, which could easily be overlooked with a less open mind. A less open-minded viewer can easily get stuck on the taboo-like nature of the subject matter and the alternative intimate attractions portrayed, but the alternative is presented with enough openness to excite and enough maturity to avoid being self-servingly provocative. Because the film expects and respects the viewers’ own maturity, it can extend its range beyond the skillfully played out drama to the stylishly spicy, sustained eroticism, emphasized by subtleties of the production design (from the nightly-lit, deep brown and red interior of Mr. Gray’s office and the sensual, fragile orchids he looks after, to Lee’s effectively suggested worn down items of clothing). To all of this, the film’s cheekily sensual mood is perfectly seasoned with the score by Angelo Badalamenti.

To sum it up, the film proves to be a whole, excellent and unconventional viewing experience that proves that life’s true happiness doesn’t lie in being normal, but in finding and harnessing the powers lying deep in your true (intimate) self.

A big praise to director Steven Shainberg and his team and a big recommendation for spicy nocturnal entertainment.

And now: Assume the position…

Continue reading

Mysterious Skin, drama, USA (2004)

mysterious_skin – the ambiguous title reveals little about this film. There’s nothing ambiguous about the story itself, though. I wasn’t expecting much, knowing virtually nothing about it, other than that it was supposed to be dealing with some difficult issues.

Difficult issues….

If a film boasts this, or if it claims to be a “provocative”, “shockingly revealing” or even “openly accurate” depiction of life, it gives me great pleasure to ignore it, relishing in the uplifting feeling of superiority over the “masses” that can be still so ridiculously naive about life that they need a film to slap them in the face, while the filmmakers make a neat commercial profit out of it.

Mysterious Skin is different.

Unassuming, engaging, disturbing exactly up to the extent in which it allows you to feel with the characters, their feelings and events as they remember them, or lived through them.

What happens and our recollections of it are never exactly the same.

Two boys. One can’t remember. The other can’t forget.

The tag line sums it up nicely, without revealing too much about the plot, which is exactly the best way of approaching this film. See it with an open mind. That’s how the truth catches up on us.

Superb story development, atmosphere lightly and effectively switching between realistic and surrealistic, objective and subjective, allowing deep emotional engagement, without losing the firm grounding of the story and still feeling light, nonjudgemental and warm.

The cast include young Joseph Gordon-Levitt, whose uncanny resemblance to Heath Ledger made me wonder almost throughout the whole film if it really was or wasn’t him..

All the way through, an enriching, engaging, weightless drama.

10 out of 10.

mysterious-skin-2

let me know what you think ; )

Sn

The Boat That Rocked, comedy, UK (2009)

Boat that Rocked … and, at least in terms of the soundtrack, Rock it did.

Maybe you’ve seen it, maybe you’ve heard about it, or are planning to see it. Or, maybe, you’ve no idea such film even existed.

In any case, go see it in the cinemas, if you’re looking for an evening of pure escapist fun, feeling generally nostalgic and cool about the legacy of the 1960s fashion and music, would like to forget history for a while and go with the party mood.

You’ll get what you’re looking for. An amazing soundtrack (if historically not always 100% accurate) with the likes of The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, Dusty Springfield, The Hollies, Jimmy Hendrix, Buddy Holly, and many many many more, with charismatic Bill Nighy and a bunch of other equally extraordinary characters, more or less familiar to you, depending on how you enjoy British (or American) comedy (e.g. IT Crowd).

Even if you don’t know the actors, even if you’re not into the music of the 1960s, you’ve got pure feel-good fun thrown in to top it off for a great evening of the Rock’n’Roll partying in the true 1960s sense of the word.

If you’re looking for profound plot development, historical accuracy and consistency, or a true story of a real pirate radio station Caroline that inspired the story, or, in fact, would like to see a true depiction of life in the UK of 1966, do not go to see this film, as you might leave the cinema disappointed.

So, in short, a definite recommendation for cinema viewing, mainly because of the necessary volume that the speakers allow you there to enjoy (and, let me say one more time, what music it is!), but stay out if you are not in a party mood.

Additionally, for a bit of advanced English practise (of course), here’s a link to an interesting interview with Bill Nighy in which he talks about the film, the intentions with which it was made and the atmosphere on the set.

the_boat_that_rocked

So, what about it, then? see you soon, and.. do let me know how you liked it. ; )

Sn

Summer in full swing….

Hi everyone,

enjoying the summer holidays, I suppose? Good on you! ; )

just a quick update today in the English practise&improve section, which now looks way better than before and offers a couple of interesting online places for you to check out and brush up your English with, to prepare for the next term at school (wrote he, with mean laughter echoing in empty corridors and dark studio corners.. )

practise&improve

Continue reading