Japanese Authors – by Candice

September is here! What a fast year it has been. Many people don’t like the approaching colder months, but I admit I do. I love the colour of the trees, the cooler temperatures (you will never find me sunbathing in a country like Spain!) and it is a time to hunker down cosily at home watching good programmes on the television and lighting some candles. One of my other favourite past times is reading and I rarely get the opportunity to do so. However, recently I had a week off work and amazingly, I managed to read 4 books in that time. What I read Two of the books I read were from Japanese authors. I am ashamed to say I read them in English though as my level of Japanese is most definitely beginner! One of the books was ‘The Convenience Store Woman’ by Sayaka Murata. It is a thin book and very easy to read about a lady who works, wait for it… in a convenience store. It is light-hearted and at the same time touching. I would recommend it. ‘The Travelling Cat Chronicles’   My favourite book, however, was ‘The Travelling Cat Chronicles’ by Hiro Arikawa. A superb and delightful little book about a man and his cat. Sometimes told from the cat’s perspective and sometimes in the 3rd person, it recounts the story of a man trying to find his cat a new home by visiting 5 old friends to see if they will take it. Each chapter describes the history the man has with each of his friends and some parts are from the cat’s perspective which seem unbelievably realistic. Having owned cats most of my life and loving them dearly, I could really imagine them thinking in this way about humans and other animals! … Read more

teresa

Welcome to Teresa – our new English teacher!

We have a new English teacher in Oxford. Here you can read our Q&A and get to know her. Q: What did you do before you came to EC Oxford? I did my BA degree in Corporate Communication in Vienna, Austria, before I came to Oxford. After that, I did an intensive teacher training course here in Oxford and started working at EC almost immediately after I had finished that. Q: What is your role here in EC Oxford? I am a teacher at EC Oxford. Q: What have you enjoyed about working at EC Oxford so far? Definitely the atmosphere. Everyone is incredibly helpful, and it seems that the people who work here are just lovely people in general. Q: What do you like about Oxford as a city? For me, Oxford is the perfect combination of a lively city full of students, that has a lot of history and offers a great variety of things to do. And if I want to escape the buzz, I can just take a book, hop on my bike and cycle to one of the numerous picturesque spots by the river. Q: What’s your hometown? Can you describe it to us? I was born in a small town in the very north of Austria. However, I moved to Vienna immediately after I’d finished school and have lived there for the last couple of years. Vienna is a brilliant place to call home. It has the infrastructure and opportunities of a European capital but at the same time it’s quite a small city compared to London or Berlin, which makes it comfortable to move around in. Q: Our school is all about helping people who are learning English, but have you learned any other languages? How did you learn them? My mother tongue … Read more

wellbeing

This week at EC oxford: wellbeing week

Wellbeing is a very important thing in life. It means you are healthy both physically and mentally. There are a lot of things you can do to make sure you are healthy. Exercise and eating vegetables are good for your physical health. Meditation and less stress are good for your mental health. This week at EC we will talk and discuss about these things you can do to be healthier. Monday: On Monday we welcome our new students with a welcome presentation at 2.35 afterwards you can join Lorna for homework club. Here she will answer any questions you might have about your homework or English in general. It is a good opportunity to take your English to the next level. Tuesday: On Tuesday we will take our students for a cafe chat at the Vaults and Garden. This cafe is below st. Mary’s church and gives a nice view of the church and the Radcliffe Camera Square. If you want to join, sign up at the reception and Iris will take you there at 3 pm. Wednesday: This Wednesday Cassandra has prepared a mental health awareness workshop. Here she will talk to the students about mental health and discuss the stigma around it. You can sign up at the reception and the workshop will start at 2.45. Thursday: Thursday at 2.45 we have another clinic for you about mindfulness. Mindfulness is a means to bring someones attention to the present. This can be done by meditation or other activities. If you want to learn more, be sure to sign up for this workshop. Friday: On Friday we end the week with our farewell presentation at 2.45 in the student lounge. Here we say goodbye to the eight lovely students leaving this week. Join us and give them a big … Read more

worldwide superstitions

Superstitions around the world

After having been learning English in Oxford for a while, our Advanced class have experienced several cultural differences, one of them, superstitions. Because it is Friday the 13th, the students in the Advanced class wrote about superstitions in their home country. All of them are very different from the ones here in the UK. Enjoy what these students have to say about scary, or sometimes funny, superstitions from around the world. Mari about Japan: If you cut your nails with clippers at night, you might lose an opportunity to meet your parents when they are dying. I used to cut my nails whenever I wanted but after hearing this superstition, it makes me hesitate although it is obviously just a lore. According to an article, it is believed that cutting tools such as clippers or scissors have spiritual power especially at night. ‘A gap’ which is made by those tools when it is used allows evil to enter the gap and bring on bad luck. Personally, I guess that this tradition started ages ago when people lived in houses which had thin wooden walls. A noise by clippers at night could have been a distraction from sleeping. They would have tried preventing this unacceptable behaviour using a spooky story. Saqar about Saudi Arabia: In the past, superstitions were common in Arabic culture. Nowadays, most people who are from Arabic countries do not believe these superstitions for many reasons. One of them is that a lot of Arabic people are religious. For example, in Islamic rules, there is no one who knows what will happen in the future accept God. Before Islamic times, there were a lot of superstitions that were believed in Arabic culture. For instance, if a person saw a black bird in the morning, he would have a … Read more

Are you superstitious?

Superstitions Coming up this week is Friday 13th. Not the film, but the day. Like Jason, though, this day brings bad luck for everyone who comes across it – or at least that’s what people believe. It doesn’t, of course; Friday 13th is just as good or as bad as any other Friday. It’s just one of the many irrational beliefs that are passed down the generations, either through religious indoctrination or simply cultural habit. These beliefs are called superstitions. Are you afraid of black cats? Would you hesitate to open an umbrella indoors? Do you sometimes knock on wood? If so, then you are probably superstitious. I used to be like that, spending my days saluting at every magpie that I saw out the window, stepping around ladders rather than under them, and hating myself for smashing a mirror one time, apparently bringing myself seven years of bad luck in the process. These beliefs can change the way we go about our daily lives, and quite frankly can really get in the way. They do have interesting origins, though. The number 13, for example, viewed by many as bad luck, comes from the biblical last supper, when Jesus dined with his 12 disciples, ultimately being betrayed and later crucified. The resulting idea that having 13 people around the table is bad luck has continued to this day, 2000 years later! Knocking on wood is said to have come from the ancient Indo-Europeans, who would touch the trees around them to invoke the blessing of the spirits within. If you’re interested in finding out more, I highly recommend watching this TED Ed video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=quOdF1CAPXs), which details these and more origins of superstitions. Here’s a couple of comprehension questions to find the answers to: 1. What is the name for the … Read more

friday the 13th

This week at EC Oxford: Are you afraid of the dark?

This week at EC Oxford our theme is: Are you afraid of the dark? Next Friday it is Friday the 13th, which is an unlucky day here in the UK. Because of this scary and spooky day, our theme this week is also spooky. And we have planned lots of scary stuff for our students. Read here all about the fun things we organised for our students this week and if you want to join, don’t forget to sign up at the reception. Monday: On Monday we welcome our new students at 2.35 on the students’ lounge. Join us and say hi to our 8 new students of this week. Afterwards we have homework club with Lorna at 2.45. She can help you with your homework but also with any problems or questions you might have about English. Tuesday: The 9th and 10th of September the St Giles’ fair is held in Oxford. On Tuesday Adam will take you to the fair and will show you around. If you want to join, meet him at the reception at 3 pm. There is so much to see and do. It is like a mini amusement park, right in the city centre. This fair is only held once a year, so you don’t want to miss it. Wednesday: On Wednesday we will have a superstitions clinic with Cassandra. She will tell you all about superstitions in the UK and you can talk about superstitions in your country. You can learn a lot and have fun, so be sure to sign up. Thursday: This Thursday Iris is taking you to the Pitt Rivers Museum. The museum has very creepy stuff on display about death, religion and witchcraft. They have masks, clothing, weapons and here you can also see the famous shrunken heads. Friday: … Read more