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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.

By Keystone Studios - DVD screenshot, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19287378

January 23, 2020
by Bloomsbury International
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Who was Charlie Chaplin?

By Keystone Studios - DVD screenshot, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19287378

By Keystone Studios – DVD screenshot, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19287378


According to the British Film Institute, he was “a towering figure in world culture”.

Before I’d share anything about Mr. Chaplin, let me tell you what a silent film is. It is a film that doesn’t have any recorded sounds in it, for example, it doesn’t have any conversations. However, you could hear music in a silent film. The silent film era became popular from the 2nd half of the 19th century, and it only started to become less fashionable around the 1960s. But how is this connected to Charlie Chaplin and who was he?

Charlie Chaplin (1889-1977) was born in London, England. He was an exceptional actor, comic artist and filmmaker in his time, and he became famous during the silent film era.

How did he become so good? He started his career very young. As a child, he was an entertainer already from the age of 5. (Wow!) He soon became a professional stage actor, dancer and comedian. He was so fit that he also worked for a while in a circus. When he was only 19, he joined Fred Karno’s (English theatre producer and organiser) company and that was his turning point. After signing with Fred Karno, he had many more opportunities and decided to travel to the United States. He became even more well-known after that.

Are you wondering how can somebody be so talented? Well, he was surely gifted, but he was extremely hard-working, too – by 1919, he had his own company called United Artists. This meant that he could direct, write, and produce his own films. Not only these, but obviously, he also starred in his productions.

He was most famous for portraying a tramp in his films. (A tramp is someone who always travels from one place to another, and is usually unemployed and asking others for money.) How did he portray ‘the tramp’? It was pretty different from today’s world! He wore too-large, black trousers with a black coat. He put on huge black shoes and had a little hat on his head. Of course, he always had a walking cane in his hand. And let’s not forget the small moustache on his face either! Even his appearance was funny! He played the character of ‘the tramp’ in many of his films.

Around the 1920s, sound films (a movie with recorded sounds and conversations in it; opposite of silent films) started to become more and more popular. Unluckily for Chaplin, he had a very strong British accent, so he couldn’t portray the American character of ‘the tramp’ in the modern productions.

Obviously ‘the tramp’ wasn’t the only role he played. He also played survivors, waiters, firemen and many more.

Chaplin had a very special comedic style and the people loved him. His physical activity was exaggerated for humour; his films were funny, but they had an intelligent story at the same time. Who wouldn’t like that?

Today, there are several statues of him in different countries all over the world.
I know what you’re thinking: “is there one in London?” Of course. The statue here was made in 1979, and now you can find it in Leicester Square.

Charles Chaplin Statue in Leicester Square

Continue to the Chaplin crossword…

Chaplin Crossword