#Name yourself Day

#Name yourself Day

9th April is Name Yourself Day. That’s a lot of fun !

But seriously, names are very important, they are part of our culture and our identity. Take a listen to this TED talk to see how important names are and how adapting our names to new cultures is not always so straight forward. 


Martin Luther King Day

Martin Luther King Day

Who was Martin Luther King Jr. in 500 words.

Martin Luther King Jr, born 15th January 1929, was an American  Baptist  minister and activist who became the most well-known leader of the American civil rights movement in the 1950s and 60s.

Born Michael King Jr, his father later changed his son’s name to honor the memory of the German Protestant leader, Martin Luther.

MLK, as he became known, was a firm believer in nonviolence and  civil disobedience, inspired by his religious beliefs and the nonviolent activism of  Mahatma Gandhi. He participated in and led marches against racial discrimination and segregation for voting rights, labour rights, schooling and other basic civil rights.

MLK first rose to prominence during the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott when Rosa Parks an African American woman refused to give up her seat on a bus for a white man. The boycott lasted more than a year and finally the United States Supreme Court ruled that Montgomery segregation laws were unconstitutional. MLK later became the first president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and he helped organize some of the nonviolent 1963 protests in Birmingham, Alabama. His most successful action was the People’s March in 1963 when he led the march on Washington, where 20,000 people heard him deliver his famous “I Have a Dream”  speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. He spoke of his dream in which the sons and daughters of white slave owners and black slaves would be brothers and sisters living in peace.

Through his non-violent methods he gained much public support for the civil rights demands which resulted in the passage of the  Civil Rights Act of 1964, authorizing the federal government to enforce desegregation of public accommodations and outlawing discrimination in publicly owned facilities, as well as in employment. 

On October 14, 1964, King won the Nobel Peace Prize for combating  racial inequality through nonviolent resistance. In 1965, he helped organize two of the three Selma to Montgomery marches whose aim was to register black voters in the South. The marchers encountered deadly violence from the authorities but  eventually  the Voting Rights Bill of 1965 was passed giving equal rights to all citizens regardless of the colour of their skin.

Although MLK was lauded worldwide for his nonviolent methods to oppression he did face opposition from more radical leaders such as Malcolm X.  

Later in life MLK expanded his focus to include opposition towards poverty, capitalism, and the Vietnam War. In 1968, MLK was planning a national occupation of  Washington DC to be called the  Poor People’s Campaign, when he was  assassinated on April 4 in  Memphis, Tennessee. Riots erupted in many US cities following his death. His presumed assassin, James Earl Ray, insisted he had been framed by the FBI for the murder.

Martin Luther King Jr was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal. 

Martin Luther King Jr Day was created a national holiday in 1986 and is celebrated on the 3rd Monday of January.

Only 2 other people have national days in their honor; George Washington (3rd Monday of February)  and Christopher Columbus (2nd Monday of October)….. but that’s another story ! 

  How to activate your memory for language learning

  How to activate your memory for language learning

  How to activate your memory for language learning

Learning a new language can seem all about memory; how on earth am I going to remember all these new words? Apart from the skills of listening, repeating and practice you can also try handwriting and drawing new words. Living in the 21st century the computer keyboard tends to be our “go to method”, but did you know that you can improve your language learning by handwriting new vocabulary?

Studies have shown that using a pen or pencil activates more areas of your brain than a keyboard does.

In a recent study (i) 12 adults and 12 seventh-graders were each asked to write and draw with a digital pen. Each person was also asked to type on a keyboard. While performing these tasks, each volunteer wore a cap that held electrodes next to their head. The results showed that writing turned on memory areas in the brain whereas typing didn’t. Drawing images also turned on parts of the brain involved with learning. These new findings back up other studies showing the benefits of handwriting, 

So how does handwriting compare to using a keyboard when it comes to learning new information?

Take a moment to think about how you write.

First, hand movements; the same movement is required to type each letter on a keyboard. In contrast, when we write, our brain needs to think about and retrieve memories of the shape of each letter. We also need to use our eyes to watch the shapes we’re writing. And we need to control our hands to press a pen to shape the different letters. In short, all these skills use, connect and challenge more areas of the brain.

Now think about how you select information; key words can be interlinked by highlighting and small drawings.

Take your time; handwriting can be a slow process and this slowing down requires you to think more, activate the brain and remember better.

Get creative; handwriting can also mean drawing. You can also make a mind map, linking words together in a meaningful visual map to enhance meaning and memory.

But don’t abandon technology all together; the computer can be a great tool to help with correcting grammar and spelling.

But still put a pen in your hand; have you noticed that when you reread a printed text ideas flow into your brain the minute you pick up a pen, corrections flow and you also see mistakes immediately on the paper that you didn’t see on the screen.

So, on balance it is recommended to take notes by hand, making a mind map, writing a first draft of an essay by hand but then use technology to check the grammar and spelling for the final draft.

It’s the best of both worlds !



The Captains’ Q&A – 2017 Launch | RBS 6 Nations

The Captains’ Q&A – 2017 Launch | RBS 6 Nations

The Captains’ Q&A – 2017 Launch | RBS 6 Nations

The Six Nations starts on Saturday 4 February 2017 – we are getting really excited and hope you are too.

Here the captains of the 6 teams set out their feelings about what is up ahead.

Should the French captain have spoken in English?

Yes, he should have.
1 Vote
No, he\'s French.
3 Vote
Yes, the Italian captain did.
0 Vote
I\'m not bothered
0 Vote
Yes, it looks bad for France
0 Vote
He can do what he likes
1 Vote

Who will win The 6 Nations rugby tournament 2017?

Six Nations to trial Bonus Points in 2017 | RBS 6 Nations

Six Nations to trial Bonus Points in 2017 | RBS 6 Nations

Six Nations to trial Bonus Points in 2017 | RBS 6 Nations

How complicated is all this?

Just as a way of looking at how the changes could have affected the 2016 6 Nations tournament.

This is how it would have been if the new points system had been in place.

Six Nations to trial Bonus Points in 2017 | RBS 6 Nations

And this is how the tournament finished.

Six Nations to trial Bonus Points in 2017 | RBS 6 Nations

The point of the new system is to encourage attacking play, which should give a better experience for the viewers.


Who will win The 6 Nations rugby tournament 2017?


Cheer up, Today is Blue Monday

Cheer up, Today is Blue Monday

Cheer up, Today is Blue Monday

Cheer up, today is Blue Monday, and according to experts, it could be most depressing ever because of celebrity deaths, Brexit, and fears about a Donald Trump presidency in the US, and the weather.

In 2005 Dr Cliff Arnall, formerly of Cardiff University, came up with a light-hearted formula for predicting the gloomiest day of the year based on factors including weather, debts, time since Christmas and motivation.

The equation, created by Dr Arnall suggests that today, 16 January 2017, is the most depressing day of the year for the following reasons:

The weather is grey and cold

The Christmas period is over

People are broke

People are two weeks away from pay day.

The Blue Monday formula, where W is weather, D is debt, d is monthly salary, T is the time passed since Christmas, Q is the time since the failure of an attempt to give something up, M is low motivational level and Na is the need to take action.

Science Seems ok, right?

Not really. One glaring issue with the above ‘formula’ is that Arnall never specified what the units of measurement were – so we have no idea how the equation would work in practice.

Another warning sign should be that it was first put together in conjunction with the Sky Travel channel (which no longer exists), to make people feel like their mood was low and that, perhaps, booking a holiday might solve this.

It looks clever, but makes no mathematical sense and is a good example of fake science.

With that in mind … Keep Calm and make Monday as good as you can!


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