Learning English at University College Cork, Ireland

Life inside and outside the language classroom

Category: Media

Another great TED talk

With MOOCs (what is a Mooc?) becoming more and more prevalent and learning becoming more and more global, will English language become even more important as a language of education? I think so.

Here is a great talk from Anant Agarwal on ‘why massive open online courses (still) matter’.



What is happiness, and how can we all get some?

What is happiness, and how can we all get some? Biochemist turned Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard says we can train our minds in habits of well-being, to generate a true sense of serenity and fulfillment.

Sometimes called the “happiest man in the world,” Matthieu Ricard is a Buddhist monk, author and photographer.

Alison Gopnik: What do babies think?

“Babies and young children are like the R&D division of the human species,” says psychologist Alison Gopnik. Her research explores the sophisticated intelligence-gathering and decision-making that babies are really doing when they play.

Tim Brown: Tales of creativity and play

Tim Brown talks about the powerful relationship between creative thinking and play — with many examples you can try at home (and one that maybe you shouldn’t).


What should be the relationship between teacher and students?

What a wonderful resource TED is! Here are some of the latest TED talks I have been watching.

What should be the relationship between teacher and students?

Rita Pierson, a teacher for 40 years, once heard a colleague say, “They don’t pay me to like the kids.” Her response: “Kids don’t learn from people they don’t like.’” A rousing call to educators to believe in their students and actually connect with them on a real, human, personal level.

‘How to buy happiness’ (another Ted Talk)

Arwa, from Saudi Arabia, gives her review of another great Ted Talk and how she feels it has helped her to improve her English. 

When I had free-time, I visited TED to practise my listening skills. A headline which caught my eye, and grabbed my attention as well was ‘How to Buy Happiness’.

Watching ‘How to Buy Happiness’ by Michael Norton has benefited me a lot. It has influenced me both spiritually and intellectually.

Focusing on the intellectual benefit, it has helped improve my English; I have learned new collocations, word chunks and vocabulary as well.

To begin with collocations, I was introduced to two collocations while watching the video, one of which is ‘resonate with’, which I later searched for the meaning and found that it meant: to correspond closely or harmoniously. For example: ‘Symbolism matters, especially if the symbols resonate with the larger message’ (William Greider). It can also mean ‘to evoke’, as in the example ‘The words resonate with so many different meanings’. The other collocation is ‘slip of paper’ which somewhat is close to the meaning of ‘a piece of paper’. Yet, ‘slip of paper’ seems to be used when it is in an envelope.

Moving on to word chunks, Michael Norton said: ‘So instead of being antisocial with your money, what if you were a little more pro-social with your money?’ This sentence aroused my attention and helped me observe how to use the two antonyms together in the same sentence to attract the reader or listener’s attention and introduce a different idea as well. So, the chunk that I will always remember is: ‘Instead of being……, what if …(antonym)…?’

Moreover, the vocabulary that I learned is donation, which means to volunteer giving a present, usually money to a charity; and infiltrate, which means to be part of an organization or group of people.

Finally, I find TED a very useful website that can boost your English language rapidly. That is, you can see the transcript and observe how the speaker moves from a sentence to another and how he varies in styles according to what he wants to emphasize.

This talk has really affected me. I highly recommend watching the video.

“…there is a tremendous chance for all of us to create a better world.”

“If civil society does it right and joins the other actors — in particular, governments, governments and their international institutions, but also large international actors, in particular those which have committed themselves to corporate social responsibility — then in this magical triangle between civil society, government and private sector, there is a tremendous chance for all of us to create a better world.” – Peter Eigen

Khalid, from France, talks about a TED talk which he enjoyed. 

The TED talk that I’ve decided to describe is the one of Mr Peter Eigen, ex director of the World Bank office in Nairobi for East Africa, and above all, founder of the NGO Transparency International, speaking about bribery and the ways to expose it.

During his speech he explains, among other details, how solid projects benefit  the public, supported by all the investors and the elites of the target countries were put aside for the profit of disastrous projects, and this, only because of  large-scale bribery supported by major Eastern major companies and countries.

I’ve chosen this talk among the others because I think it emphasizes very accurately that corruption is the biggest challenge before implementing efficient development and humanitarian programs, and this, to avoid all the efforts and money invested to be put aside by politicians and businessman fearing neither god nor man.

Not only did the talks of Mr Eigen highlights the correlation between large-scale corruption and failing governance, but it also emphasized his way  to eradicate it by coordinating the work and efforts of  civil society, governments, and international institutions.

I hope you’ll enjoy this talk as much as i did!

Watch it here



Who will win the election?

Who will win?

Wan, from Thailand, was reading about the American presidential election.

I was reading this article because i am interested in politics as my previous work was as a government officer and I also studied this major. The American political scene is very important for the world as their position is the most powerful  and the next president will directly and indirectly affect our lives. That is why I would like to know about it.

Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan were moving to Ohio, where they had hard time to flip that state and it seemed out of control last week. They had been trying to get supporters, which is why Ryan has been saying that Republicans will bring the jobs back to the state, while Romney had been talking about the green energy and not necessary to control  coal as it will not cause much pollution in the future.  In Amercan history  it has shown no Republican has ever been elected President while losing Ohio and today the PPP poll shows Obama is in the lead in this area.

‘Ideas worth spreading’ – ted.com

The Internet offers so many resources for learning and one of the best resources of is ted.com. “Ideas worth spreading”. 

Here, Arwa from Saudi Arabia tells why she feels ted.com is so valuable to students of English. Next week, you will be able to read about great TED talks our students have watched, and you can learn why they feel it is so great for all those who want to learn, and in particular, why it is great for learners of English.

TED is a very useful website that can help foreign students improve their English in many ways. First, it displays the script of the video while you’re watching it, so students can follow up easily if they misunderstand a word or phrase. It can also help students to check the pronunciation of words they aren’t sure of. It can, as well, help students to understand how to come up with different forms and sentences by the active listening technique. What attracted me the most about TED as a student is that you can search the topic you’re interested in, and just watch the video enjoyably! TED is worth to try!

“By reading on a daily basis, you will learn a lot of new words without much effort.”


The classroom is only a springboard for learning.

Here, Christoph from Germany, tells us how he feels reading newspapers outside the classroom can help you to improve your English.

I chose my newspaper article because of my affection for technology. Apple managed to land a big hit again with its new mobile phone despite some flaws. In fact, one of those is a rather funny one. Although the iPhone 5 knows how to convince when it comes to user friendliness, features and quality, its users are literally lost when relying on Apple’s new navigation software. For example, when looking for the closest airport Dubliners could be recommended to take off from Airfield. In particular, this Airfield is no air field intended for planes but a rural city named Airfield. What is more, even the Minister for Justice made fun of this fact, when stating that a cow would be a more appropriate sign for that city rather than the recently “achieved” sign of a plane (in the iOS map app).

Not only is reading newspaper articles important for being informed, but it can also help you improve your language skills. By reading on a daily basis, you will learn a lot of new words without much effort. Moreover, your “guessing” abilities will advance. Besides that, newspaper articles can be exploited for several exercises. One possibility is to predict the story by only looking at the headline. In consequence, it primes your ability to write in that you speculate about a “made up” story. It extends, at the same time, your active vocabulary due to being creative with a text. Likewise, by simply marking word chunks (or plain reading!) you get accustomed to grammar structures like phrasal verbs, collocations or simply word order. Without doubt, reading is really worth the time.