Cover of The English Verb by Michael Lewis with accompanying written notes.
Cover of The English Verb by Michael Lewis with accompanying written notes.
‘The English Verb’ by Michael Lewis

His book ‘The English Verb’ is now thirty-five years old, but it is still one of the most valuable reads for any EFL (English as a Foreign Language) teacher. Lewis rejects the notion of grammar being about ‘rules and exceptions,’ persuasively arguing that if there are exceptions to the rule, then the rule must be in some way broken (I like how well this chimes in with theories in other domains, such as how Dawkins says that if there were exceptions to the rules governing evolutionary processes, those rules must be wrong and need re-examining).

‘The English Verb’ is not…


Teaching in the age of Covid

Image for post
Image for post

Teaching is a great profession, and we all love it. But it’s been difficult in recent months. How do we stay positive?

Christopher Walker, International House Bielsko-Biala:

“I stay positive by thinking about how much better my students’ writing skills are now that we have online writing lessons.”

Oksana:

“I stay positive by being friendly and sociable and meeting other people from all over the country, which was impossible before the era of online teaching.”

Marina:

Getting my students to be exposed to online platforms, something totally new for them and become winners facing…


There are essentially two reasons for me to take long walks. The first is the desire to improve my health, and aside to the unquestionable damage I am doing to my hips, knees, and ankles, I think it’s working. The second is the search for novelty. By walking extensively, I am more likely to see things that I would miss had I never walked past that particular spot, or if I had taken the bus or a train to more speedily reach my destination. …


The date is burned into my memory like few others, though the fact that it was Friday the 13th rather helps. It was March. Rumours of the approach of the virus towards Poland, where I have lived for more than ten years, had condensed, becoming actionable fears. Practically overnight the lock-down was announced, and that meant the closure of the country’s schools, my own included.

However, since ours was a private language school, we were better placed than most to get back up and running. Almost immediately — we needed just three days of training, alongside which a small maintenance…


Image for post
Image for post
‘The Last Days’ by Laurent Seksik, trans. André Naffis-Sahely, published by Pushkin Press

If you’re a devoted reader — or you love Wes Anderson’s ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel,’ you might know Stefan Zweig already.

He was a writer and one of the greatest thinkers of the 20th century, producing biographies (his ‘Casanova’ is a wonderful read) and long, discursive books (such as ‘Beware of Pity’, also available through Pushkin) and delightful short stories and novellas.

His own story is a tragic one, and has been the interest of generations of writers since he died. …


Image for post
Image for post

Hotel Silence’ is the latest novel by the Icelandic writer Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir, winner of the Icelandic Literature Prize. It is published by Pushkin Press, a fine outfit that specialises in work in translation. ‘Hotel Silence’ is “Humane, eccentric and bleakly funny” according to the Sunday Times, and “A dark comedy that deals with our darkest thoughts with deft humour, and boasts some surprisingly insightful truths about human nature,” according to Esquire. It is well-rated on Amazon.

But I didn’t like it.

I didn’t like it for three reasons, but all three have to do with authenticity. Let me show you what I mean.

First…


Welcome to the first in my series of reviews of FutureLearn courses. I joined FutureLearn’s Unlimited subscription service recently but as well as doing their courses for my own education, I’m also looking at the them from the point of view of an EFL teacher. Are these courses suitable for use in the EFL classroom? Join me as I look to find out!

Image for post
Image for post
This is a review of the second FutureLearn course I completed since joining the Unlimited service

Watch a video review of this course on my YouTube channel, where you can also follow my adventures with FutureLearn. …


Welcome to the first in my series of reviews of FutureLearn courses. I joined FutureLearn’s Unlimited subscription service recently but as well as doing their courses for my own education, I’m also looking at the them from the point of view of an EFL teacher. Are these courses suitable for use in the EFL classroom? Join me as I look to find out!

Image for post
Image for post
This is a review of the first FutureLearn course I completed after subscribing to their Unlimited service.

Watch a video review of this course on my YouTube channel, where you can also follow my adventures with FutureLearn. …


Image for post
Image for post
Mark Dacascos looking suitably serious in the 1997 film ‘Drive’

It was the year 2000. I had just started my final year of university, and my excitement had reached an all-time high. Not because of my studies (I was reading Physics — a bad choice if ever there was one) but because I’d just spent the money I’d earned during the summer on a new computer, and this one came with a DVD drive.

These were the days before streaming video, Netflix, YouTube… if you wanted to watch a film, you had to rent it or buy it from a bricks-and-mortar store. What money I had left over from the…


Why do they do it?

Image for post
Image for post
Outside the Stadion Miejski

That’s the question I was asking for much of last night. It was freezing, ten degrees Fahrenheit showing on the ice-caked thermometer outside my apartment, and I’d gone to watch my local team, TS Podbeskidzie of the Polish second tier, against Stomil Olsztyn.

The tickets cost little — 20 złoty, or about $6 — but even that, and the offer of a free cup of tea at half-time, was insufficient enticement to the supporters, who could in any case see the game on local TV.

The ultras were there, though in diminished numbers. I counted about a hundred, up in…

Christopher Walker

English teacher and writer. I have EFL materials as well as fiction all available on Amazon.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store