Showing posts from November, 2006

St. Andrew's Day

St. Andrew's Day is celebrated in all Europe on St. Andrew Eve, i.e. on November 29.

That evening girls and young women gather to talk about their future, who of them will be the first one to get married or find their loved one.

Many activities lead to guess the future boyfriend's name, the colour of hair and the happiness in the relationship.

The most popular fortune-telling activity is pouring wax on the cold water and then put one shoe of each girl in the direction of the door - the owner of the shoe that first reaches the door will be the first one on the bridal carpet.

Boys and young men have their similar feast on the St. Catherine Eve, which is celebrated on November, 24.

Another holiday in Poland is December 6 gift-shower when people receive small gifts as proof of love and friendship.

By they way, I regret that I was not able to participate in our weekly Skypecasts, I am really curious about people's opinion about the Borat movie. I found it funny, provocative and some…

Who Has The Crystal Ball?

Ten minutes into this Sunday’s Skypecast, I knew I desperately needed some help. Sure, Marian from Germany helped to handle the virtual microphone, and Paulino, Argentine leaving in the U.S. offered his hands to handle the text message board. That freed me to focus on hosting. Still, I was in deep water.

Over 30 something people joined us at the beginning, and it grew to about 50 in the peak. I made a snap decision not to ask all to introduce themselves one by one to the group, as I did before, and not to ask some of them to share a news item in turn with the listeners. Otherwise, we could have spent whole two hours just to read off a long roster. So I appointed myself to be the king, choosing a few news items that I thought would be interested to most listeners.

Here are the topics I shared with the group: Sony’s latest game console Playstation was selling through the roof worldwide; O.J.Simpson’s latest supposedly confession book was canceled by the publisher because of the outcries f…

Happy Thanksgiving

Today some of my friends are celebrating Thanksgiving Day. So I wish them: Happy Thanksgiving!

On Thanksgiving Day families and friends usually gather for a large meal or dinner. First and foremost, turkey is usually the featured item on any Thanksgiving feast table.

The first official Thanksgiving was held in the Virginia Colony on December 4, 1619 near the current site of Berkeley Plantation. (Wikipedia)

Skypecast # 14

Our next skypecast will take place as usual:

Saturday, November 25, at 8 pm GMT

and Sunday, November 26, at 2 pm GMT.

Participating is easy! Just join the Skypecast, open our ad-hoc web interface and talk!


Podcasts in a nutshell

If you've read Jola's last post (or participated in our Skypecast last Saturday) you surely have a fair understanding about what a podcast is. If not, you can read about what podcasts are in English or in your own language! Look:

Bân-lâm-gúБеларускаяCatalàČeskyDanskDeutschΕλληνικάEspañolEsperantoفارسیFrançaisGaeilgeGalego한국어 (Korean)Bahasa IndonesiaÍslenskaItalianoעבריתLëtzebuergeschLietuviųMagyarNederlands日本語 (Japanese)Norsk (bokmål)Norsk (nynorsk)PlattdüütschPolskiPortuguêsRomânăРусскийSlovenčinaSlovenščinaSuomiSvenskaไทยTürkçe中文 (Chinese)

Of course, we encourage you to read the English article — and, why not? Expand the article in your own language too :-)

Podcasts, in short

Like you can think of weblogs (or simply blogs) as newspaper's next generation, podcasts are radio program's next generation. Listen to topics of your interest when you have time and not when the radio broadcasts.

Myths about podcasts

Some people think that you need a digital audio player (such as an …

A Happy Start, A Biased Ending

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What makes you happy? What a great topic to start off our Sunday’s English Conversation Skypecast.

It made me, the host, happy to ask everyone in the room—a virtual one reaching Europe, Asia, Mideast, North and South America—to reveal his or her recipe for being happy. The answers I got were quite diverse, ranging from watching birds chirping on the tree (Paulino) to aimless writing (that’s me!).

Surprisingly, everyone said money has anything to do with happiness. Those who did mention money said it’s not that important. I agreed. But, then, who are we to speak on behalf of the rich? None of us in the room has ever been on Forbe’s list of 400 richest people. Do we know for sure that a truck load of money would not make us happier?

Niklas and Janus, the founders of Skype, who made our virtual English practice possible, could offer the view of the rich if they had joined us. (A Dane and a Swedish, do they need to practice their English too?)

When I moved on to a serious topic…


Howdy guys!

Yesterday we talked about podcasts, I am sure that Ignacio will post something more complex and in better English. I only want to say that I am often sad that still so many people know so little about this wonderful technology.

We have another website, based on Moodle, and maybe we open a simple course about podcasts to give everyone the opportunity to take advantage of them to learn and improve your English.

While waiting for more detailed information about this, let me suggest a couple of podcasts:

Most intermediate learners start by listening to Dr. Jeff from LA in the US, more advanced ones can listen to The Bob and Rob Show, or to the shorter but full of expressions Johnny's ESL Page.

For our Polish participants I recommend reading an article "Jak odmieniłam czyjeś życie, czyli co nieco o podcastach".

To be honest, there are plenty of learning podcasts and millinons of free, interesting audio for advanced learners of English.

I think that we can prepare informa…

Skypecast #13

Our next skypecast will take place as usual:

Saturday, November 18, at 8 pm GMT

and Sunday, November 19, at 2 pm GMT.

Ignacio has prepared some material about podcasting. Due to the technical problems in the last skypecast, the material was not used last week, so we will use it again this week. Hopefully all will work well.

Participating is easy! Just join the Skypecast, open our ad-hoc web interface and talk!

You can download the slides in either Open Office format or Microsoft Office format. Enjoy!

Globalization, MacDonald Burger, and Obesity

Fortunately, unlike our Saturday’s Skypecast session, the one I hosted on Sunday did work out fine. However, I struggled during the first ten something minutes, mainly because that I had to get a familiar with the control functions of the latest Skype 3.0, which I downloaded yesterday, and that we were a bit swarmed by more people joining us; there were about 30 people in the session at one time. I thanked everyone who was patient with me.

After that, we covered several interesting topics, starting with Russia’s recent entry to the World Trade Organization (WTO), and extending it to the pros and cons of globalization. MacDonald, the fast food chain based in the United States, was singled out as a poster boy for the global trade and western cultural influence. Some of us shared our observations of the MacDonald restaurants in Poland, Argentina, Singapore, China, and the U.S.

On the side, Ignacio of Argentina mentioned about the recent lawsuit file in Argentina against MacDonald because o…

Skype frustration

Today's Skypecast didn't work out at all :-(

I think it was a problem with Skype, because someone else had the same problem in another Skypecast, but it might have been my system or my connection (or both?). My Skype window was refreshing continuously and I just couldn't do much.

It's always frustrating when things don't work the way you wanted them to, but then, Skypecast is still in beta stage of development, so we are subject to these kinds of flaws.

Anyway, we'll keep the material for next time. I really want to thank all the people that joined us today, for their patience and collaboration. At some point we had over 35 people joined! It's really wonderful to see that week after week we have more and more participants :-)

I hope that today's frustrating experience doesn't discourage you to join us next time!

Skypecast #12

We have two Skypecasts scheduled for this weekend:
Saturday, November 11, at 8 pm GMT andSunday, November 12, at 2 pm GMT.Participating is easy! Just join the Skypecast, open our ad-hoc web interface and talk!

By the way, we have a new member in our team: maxie, the producer of the Let's speak German (a daily bit) podcast.

Want to take a look at the wonderful presentation we have for this weekend? You can download the slides in either Open Office format or Microsoft Office format. Enjoy!

From Saddam Hussein’s Death Sentence to Drinking Red Wine

On Sunday’s Skypecast session, over ten people—from Poland, Germany, Argentina, China, Japan, Netherland, U.S, etc.—had participated. We had a great time.

In 90 minutes, we had visited several topics: the death sentence of Saddam Hussein (the news of the day); pros and cons of the capital punishment; NBA games and Yao Ming; the non-smoking law passed in Argentina prohibiting smokers from dining in restaurant; the benefit of drinking red wine, and finally physical excise for living longer.

The theme, as a after thought, seems to be that whether or not Saddam is going to die any time soon, we all want to live longer by not being exposed to the secondhand smoking, getting the magic substance out of red wine, and swimming and doing yoga as often as we can.

We might as well succeed.

Sunday's skypecast

There is a file: skypecast10_sunday_answers with answers for last Sunday's presentation.

And we have another skypecast on Sunday, November 5 at 3 pm GMT. This skypecast is aimed mostly at talking.

To participate in this meeting, just follow these steps in turn:
Join the Skypecast on Sunday 5 at 3:00 pm GMT here.Open our web interface here.Enjoy!

Skypecast #11: Saturday, November 4, 2006 @ 8 pm GMT

Hello out there!

I'm really sorry I couldn't get around to posting this before. I've got lots of excuses but I'll just use the lousiest ever: I've been really busy ;-)

But seriously, I've prepared the presentation for this Saturday's Skypecast. It doesn't look as nice and sophisticated as Jola's presentations, but I still hope it keeps us entertained for a whole hour. I'm introducing not only a new layout, but also and most importantly, a new scheme, a new methodology. Enticing, isn't it?

This is the direct link to today's Skypecast. Just click on "Join this Skypecast" at 8 pm GMT.

Remember that we display this presentation on an ad-hoc web interface for our Skypecast, which you should open when joining the Skypecast, but you may also download the files to your system so as to get aquainted with the topics to be discussed. You may even use them for other purposes.

Download the presentation for Open Office

Download the presentation f…

All Saints' Day

Today in Poland and other Christian countries we celebrate All Saints' Day, during the day according to the tradition we offer flowers and light candles on the graves of deceased relatives. That day is a time to commemorate the dead, reflection on death and sense of human life and its passing.
We also reminisce about great Polish citizens like war heros, artists and thinkers who passed away but the memory of they heritage is still alive in our minds.
Do you have such a day in your country? If so, how do you celebrate it?