Question: What do you need to create flow?

Flow is the state when all systems are go and you just do and forget about time. It’s when you feel completely involved and concentrated on whatever you are doing. Even if the task involves a strong challenge, you feel that you are able to meet it. You’re in control, yet not pushing anything. And you feel happy and whole and at peace.

It’s a term developed by a pschologist whose name I can’t spell or pronounce: Mihaly Csíkszentmihályi. (I remember the name this way: “Mick: ‘High chick sent Mick high!'” I’m not the only person who has trouble with his name:

These days I’m working against the clock and around the clock, like many of us at this time of year. But sometimes flow kicks in. Do you experience flow in your working life? Do you have any tips on how to get into flow?

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Question: What new services do we need?

Last week I was getting a class ready to go to “Seven Days in the Life of Simon Labrosse”, a play being presented by the BeMe Theatre. It’s about a guy who has been unemployed and is trying to break back into the market (and into life, really) by inventing new and intriguing services: “emotional stuntman, ender of sentences, ego flatterer, easer of consciences”. Well, I asked my students to invent services they thought there was a market for and to write job advertisements for them. In this week’s podcast I’ll tell you about their ideas — and I’d love to hear yours! Please add yours in the comments below, or blog about the subject and link this post to your blog.

Ref.:

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Question: What risks do you like, and what’s your survival kit?

I’ve been called a control freak by people who actually call themselves my friends. So what do my enemies call me? I think it’s a teacher thing, wanting to be prepared for all eventualities. Yet I’m fascinated by teachers who “teach barefoot”, taking nothing but a smile and a good night’s sleep. I know that will get you far, and I do it too, quite a lot, actually. But I only do it when I know the terrain, when I figure that I have enough tricks up my sleeve to handle pretty much anything that can happen. So while I hate taking blind risks, I love taking calculated ones.

I always take my survival kit with me. These days it consists of a high tech gadget, my multimedia MacBook Pro hooked up for wifi, which is really worth having made me computer-poor, along with my low tech tools: index cards, empty sheets of paper, colored pens, pins, sticky tape. A key element in my survival kit is my beloved Moleskin diary in red – so I can always find it, even when my desk is a mess – containing not only my appointments, but lists of all kinds: ideas and to dos, completely illegible to anyone but me. I love my Moleskin, and if I lost it, well, I might just take a lengthy holiday to run away from my clients and creditors.

How about you? What risks do you like taking, and what’s your survival kit to get through them?

Tipp: Sie möchten Ihr Hörverständnis verbessern? Zwischen dem Podcast und dem geschriebenen Text gibt es viele kleine Unterschiede. Hören Sie genau hin, um sie zu entdecken.

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Question: How do two of the things you do compare?

We generally have more than one kind of task to do at work or at college. For instance, we might need to write up our research and then make a presentation, which are two entirely different kettles of fish (“2 versch. Töpfe mit Fischen” = 2 Paar Stiefel). Or we might need to manage a group of people, but also do some highly specialized work ourselves. Each of those elements of work has its own challenges and rewards.

In my case, as a provider of language services I translate, write and teach, and each of those requires very different skills. I have to change my mindset when I go from one to the other. Let me just compare writing and teaching: When I write I’ve got an audience in my head, and need to use my imagination to figure out what the reader will want and need. When I teach, I do some of the same kind of imagining in advance, but I don’t fix things absolutely. Instead, I wait for immediate feedback, and just need to be very awake and aware to respond to what I see and hear. Another difference is that when I write, I can make corrections once I see the whole thing. But as a teacher, once you’re in the situation, it’s live. This is something I really enjoy. And finally, when I write I’m responsible for the content. When I teach, my students and I share that responsibility.

So: I’d like to invite you to think about two such types of work you do:

  • Where are the challenges?
  • Where do the rewards lie?

Essay models for this question

This could be a nice essay question for a 6 paragraph essay: 1 introducing your subject, then 4 dedicated to the challenges and rewards of the first and second type of work, and then your final paragraph summarizing something that your reflections have led you to recognize.

An alternative, 5 paragraph essay could take 3 differences between the two types (as I did in the text above) and devote a paragraph to each, plus the introductory and closing paragraph.

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Question: What’s your summer picture?

The summer break is coming to an end for us. We’re packing up and going home after our very long holiday. This picture summarizes what was nicest about the summer for me. Have you got a summer picture to share?

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Question: What’s your earliest memory?

Think back to the earliest thing you can remember: Where were you? What were your surroundings like? What do you remember most about the situation? Were you doing anything? Did you see, smell, taste, hear, feel anything? How did you feel about yourself and the world around you? Can you estimate approximately how old you were at the time? Come share your earliest memory with the other readers and me.

Note the difference between state and action verbs:

  • it looked/ seemed; I saw/ heard/ smelled/ felt: state verbs and verbs describing your perceptions are used in the past simple
  • I was looking at/ was listening to/ was trying out/ was holding/ was sitting; the sun was shining: action verbs can be used in the past progressive when you describe what you were doing/ what was going on in a given situation

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Englischlernen mit Blogs is as easy as 1,2,3

If you are practicing English online by yourself, here are three lovely blogs written especially for you to start with. Each one is special in its own way:

1. Der Englisch-Blog

Dieser Blog von Markus Brendel ist auf Deutsch geschrieben und erklärt täglich entweder einen Ausdruck oder eine Frage aus der Grammatik. Gestern hat Markus beispielsweise das sehr aktuelle Thema “Dienstwagen” präsentiert, und ich habe mich total nach Washington, DC versetzt gefühlt, wo die dicken schwarzen “official cars” mit Tatü, Tata! durch die Straßen düsen. Nicht zu verwechseln mit dem “company car”, den Dolce fährt. Und heute geh’s um den Begriff “mad as a hatter” aus Alice in Wonderland.

2. Bite-Sized English

Toby features great topics of everyday life, like getting ready for a baby (which I think he is doing right now) as well as very practical, specialized business English topics. He provides a daily podcast and a worksheet to print out. Often he will feature the same topic several days in a row as a series, so you can really concentrate on it. Right now the topic is cars, or “Automotive English“. I wonder whether he’ll be doing something on having your car stolen?

3. Nik’s Daily English Activities

If you like gadgets and online tools and want to play with all of these fun things, Nik Peachey‘s blog is the place to go. He used to be a jazz guitarist, and I think it shows in his love for experiments. Nik’s very focussed on tools that really help you learn, and his blog for teachers is my main guidebook through this brave world of online learning. Learn to understand English accents, from America to India, using the best of the web, the Speech Accent Archive of George Mason University, in his latest post. Or, to stay on topic, play the eye-opening game in his post on “Driving and Listening to English“.

And those are just three to start with! There are so many, and I promise to feature more. Please have a look at my blogroll “englischlernen” for some of my favorites.

Wenn Sie etwas Spezielles suchen, kann ich Ihnen ja vielleicht einen Tipp geben. Auf Twitter (http://twitter.com/annehodg) folge ich vielen Lehrern mit tollen Blogs. Sie haben echt was zu bieten. Also: Fröhliches Surfen!