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Agatha Christie

March 5, 2020
by Bloomsbury International
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How familiar are you with Agatha Christie and her detective novels?

Well, you have probably guessed that she was English. Correct! But let me tell you more… Agatha Christie was a very well-known writer from Devon, England and she was born into a rich upper-class family in 1890. We could safely say that she was a true specialist in detective stories, murder mysteries and crime fiction. In fact, she wrote sixty-six of them, plus fourteen short story collections.

Let’s have quick look at her life. She was married and mostly lived peacefully in London with her family. In the beginning, she was a rather unsuccessful novelist and had a lot of rejections. Her success, however, came after the 1920s. Christie’s books were published worldwide and people bought more than 2 billion copies of them.

Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie Memorial in near Covent Garden

She really was a genius when it came to writing good stories, but did you know that she didn’t only work as a writer? During the First World War, she was working in a hospital helping groups of soldiers. And during the Second World War, Christie was working in a London hospital as a pharmacy assistant. I bet you’re thinking: why is this important? Because during these experiences, she learned all that she could about the human body, psychology, diseases, but most importantly: poisons! So later, as a writer, she used her exceptional knowledge and made poisons the central part of her novels – Christie used fourteen poisons to “kill off” the unlucky victims fourteen of her novels. That’s not so pleasant…!

Let me tell you about the two main fictional characters that appeared in Christie’s books: Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple.

The most famous of them all is Poirot, the Belgian detective. He’s been portrayed on radio, in film and on television – if you’re interested, I would suggest you check out The Murder on the Orient Express. You can either read it or watch it; there have been multiple film productions made about its story. You’ll surely recognise Poirot from his curled moustache, dark hair and shiny eyes. It’s well-known that he suffers from sea sickness, is extremely punctual and always carries a pocket watch.

I should also mention more about Miss Marple, an elderly and amateur detective. You could ‘meet’ her in a number of novels or spot her in TV episodes/movies. She is famous for being very gossipy and nosy; she always expects the worst. I’ll recommend the following stories: The Murder at the Vicarage, The Body in the Library, and 4.50 from Paddington.

If you’re any interested in theatre… listen up! Remember that I’ve mentioned The Mousetrap? The murder mystery play? It’s set in the countryside: in the quiet and lonely Monkswell Manor, a large country house on a huge estate. You’ll get introduced to each character and you’ll keep guessing who could have committed the murder. I can tell you it’s very exciting and there’s -of course- a twist in the ending. It’s a must-see, in my opinion! It is playing now at St. Martin’s Theatre and it’s been running there since 1974. There are afternoon matinees and evening performances, so it’s easy to book a date that suits you. And the best part? … The theatre is only a 10-minute walk from Bloomsbury International, and maybe it’s not just a coincidence! Will you go after class?

Cartoon

February 20, 2020
by Bloomsbury International
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Are cartoons a way to improve your English? Even if you’re older than a 12-year-old?

Are cartoons a way to improve your English? Even if you’re older than a 12-year-old?

Short answer: YES!

But there’s more to it; just let me explain. You might wonder: “Cartoons were created to entertain children, so how could it be useful/enjoyable for me?” Okay, that may be true, however, just because their target audience is younger people, it doesn’t mean they aren’t not for all ages! There is so much you could digest from an animated show.

Cartoon

You’ll notice that the language is much simpler than it is in normal TV series, like Game of Thrones. You’re also less likely to encounter much slang, which might confuse some learners. Plus, the spoken language in a cartoon is usually slower, so it’d be easier to understand it than, again, in Game of Thrones. (That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t watch Game of Thrones.) If you think about the voices behind the cartoons, they pronounce the words clearly as well, so no worrying about muttered, unheard sentences.

Aren’t they boring? I honestly doubt that. Again, just because kids find them funny doesn’t mean you won’t. They are light, fun, exciting and colourful – there’s music as well! Why not choose these over an average action film on a rainy Tuesday evening?

Don’t they only suit beginners? Don’t worry, the answer is no. I guarantee you’ll see new, useful words and phrases even if you’re a pre-intermediate user or an advanced one.

Are you the type of person who always falls asleep during movie nights? To make you even more excited about cartoons, each episode is quiet short! They usually last anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes, so it is IMPOSSIBBLE that you’d doze off!

Where should you start? I’ve got your back! I’ve listed some shows that could help you greatly to develop your skills in English. Also, you can find episodes of them online or on YouTube – super easy and free! My main recommendations:

Martha Speaks

Martha Speaks was first released in 2008. It’s not only great comedy, but very educational, too: it’s especially huge help for people wanting to upgrade their vocabulary! Why? Because each episode starts and ends with reviewing news words.
The story is about Alice and her dog, Martha who ate alphabet soup, and then the fun begins… She is now able to speak English!

Arthur

Arthur, the Canadian-American cartoon, first aired in 1996. You’ll meet its protagonist, Arthur, who’s just a normal guy but goes on everyday adventures. The show is mostly about friendships and family issues as he’s growing up – lots of personalities, and many more daily conversations!

The Flintstones

This series was first originally released in 1960, so it’s not exactly ultramodern, but it’s been a rather popular show for ages… for a reason!
It is set in the Stone Age and revolves around two families: The Flintstones and their neighbours The Rubbles. Now, just because it wasn’t made yesterday, their topics, conversations and relationships are still fresh and their lifes are crazy, adventurous. Wooohooooo!

The Simpsons

The Simpsons has been around for more than 30 years and it is still going! So, yes, it’s probably quite a successful show, isn’t it?
The plot follows the Simpson family who live in the peaceful, American, but fictional town of Springfield. One husband, one wife, one dog, one cat and three children. It tells a lot about culture, society and people.

Statue of The Beatles in Liverpool

February 6, 2020
by Bloomsbury International
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Who were The Beatles?

Statue of The Beatles in Liverpool

An iconic statue of the Fab Four, in their hometown, Liverpool

4 guys. More than 2 billion albums sold. “The best artists of all time”.

It is safe to say that they were the most famous rock band from Liverpool, England. John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr – they decided to form their band in 1960: THE BEATLES! They created and explored music in several different genres; they weren’t afraid to make art and try new things. That’s what made them so unique. Think anything from rock&roll and pop to ballads, hard rock, Indian music, and so on.

Have you heard? Here are some interesting facts about The Beatles.

1. Is it the Beatles or The Beatles?

Years ago, there was a huge internet argument between fans and experts whether it’s a lower-case ‘t’ or a capital ‘T’. Some believed it was a ‘t’ because John Lennon wrote them in lower-case in his letters. Others said it was a capital ‘T’.

2. Truly a worldwide success

People loved The Beatles all over the world, not just from the UK. They managed to sell 1.6 BILLION singles in the United States, and 177 million albums.
Also, if we look at other parts of the world, The Beatles had eight No. 1 hits in both Switzerland and Zimbabwe. They even scored a few in Ethiopia, too.

3. The lyrics to ‘Yesterday’

One day when Paul McCartney was enjoying his morning, just having breakfast, a new song popped into his head. That was the song now called ‘Yesterday’. Because at the time it was only a melody in his head, he didn’t have lyrics to it yet. So, he just sang “scrambled eggs, baby, I love scrambled eggs”. Isn’t he a genius?

4. The Beatles probably loved food

They had quite a lot to say about food in their song lyrics: pies, eggs, cornflakes, strawberries, pineapples, cherries, truffles, mustard, honey, marmalade… AND a lot more!

5. The story behind ‘Let it be’

When Paul McCartney was having a really stressful period in his life, he had an unusual dream one night. His mother had previously died, but she appeared in McCartney’s dream that night. In an interview, he quoted his mother’s words: “It is going to be fine. Don’t worry. Just let it be.” After he woke up from the dream, he felt extremely happy! So, he immediately wrote the idea down, went to the piano and started working on the new song. This sounds pretty amazing, doesn’t it?

Are you familiar with their famous zebra crossing?

Abbey Road

It’s probably the most popular photo of the Beatles. In 1969, the band released their 11th studio album called Abbey Road. On the cover of the album, the members are walking on the road’s zebra crossing. But where is that? Where is Abbey Road? You can find it in St John’s Wood, London NW8 0AG. The closest tube stations are St John’s Wood (Jubilee line) or Maida Vale (Bakerloo line).

In 1970, they decided to break up the band after 10 years. (Some fans believe it was because Lennon was spending too much and all of his time (even while working!) with his wife, Yoko Ono.) Although The Beatles was over, the artists -of course- didn’t stop working! They all released solo albums in the same year, in 1970.