Do it in English

Learn English Using Your City

 
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Were you born in the city you live in?

Picking up a guidebook to read about your city is a great opportunity to both improve your English and either fall in love all over again with the city you've chosen to make your home, or if you were born and grew up in it, perhaps fall in love for the first time!

Three years ago I came to live in Madrid with the Spaniard, despite the fact that he grew up here and didn't leave until he was 25 I was the one running around like a little pac-woman, pulling him away from the touristy spots and towards secret plazas.

I thought he was just very uninterested in his own city until I started meeting friends in places I thought they would know and surprising them with hidden gems like the secret garden in Plaza la Paja (the best quiet shady spot for reading a book or some furtive instagram scrolling for any Madrilenos reading this).

I was equally guilty of not breaking out of my comfort zone when I lived in Manchester, rarely leaving the Northern Quarter for 7 years. In London before that, I went between Regents Park, Covent Garden and Borough Market, it was much more fun visiting friends years later and popping in and out of Greenwich and Portobello Road. 

As a tourist I actually go to the galleries and markets that as a Londoner I used to add to my notes app, an eternal list of things to do that were never checked off.

This is why I strongly recommend you pick up a MONOCLE guidebook for your city, grab your notebook and pencil and go sit in a cafe to see your city through the eyes of someone who loves it.

Why?

1. You already have an idea or feel for the places they are describing, your brain is going to be exercising and training itself to anticipate the meanings of words. You’ll be making connections and building vocabulary without even trying to. 

 

2. The level of language and the quality of writing in Monocle is high with a variety of styles of writing. From introductions to the creators and makers of the city to essays describing writers experiences there on all topics, from politics to relationships to the retail revolution.

Probably my favourite part of them is the neighbourhood guides and suggested routes to walk around. Invest an afternoon every few weeks to follow them and get the latest on shops, bars and galleries in each one. You will hopefully find yourself filled with enthusiasm, or if not you'll at least have plenty of things to talk about in work that week!

 

Use your notebook to write down any particularly interesting expressions or vocabulary, remember to try to sketch pictures to help you remember things and jot (write) your responses down. If the guide claims a certain new cafe is the greatest thing to happen to a street in 5 years and you think it’s the worst, write it down! It will help you both to construct your language and also to remember the structures from the guide.

 

If you find the level of language to difficult to begin with, then start with a blog, usually the language will be more accessible, here are some to begin with but you can find your own for your city simply by googling ‘YOUR CITY’+ BEST + CITY GUIDE + BLOG. 

For Madrid you could start with Naked Madrid.

For Paris try Local Milk, she even has a google map that you can download with the best places to take photographs in Paris!

For other cities DESIGN*SPONGE have great 24 hour guides!

Don’t forget to supplement your reading with a podcast to listen to about cities or culture, or some music in English about your City!

Or pick up a copy of SUITCASE magazine to get some inspiration on other places to visit if your own city hasn’t persuaded you!

 

 

Do it in English - Apps to make the world better

 

This was supposed to be a quick post as I came across an app that felt too good not to share, this then led me down the rabbit hole of the internet and finally I think it might be rather long!

Maintaining and continuing to improve your English means trying to add it into your normal day in as many little ways as possible, these apps are a great way to focus on you, the world and our community while also improving your English. Win win!

It isn’t a complete list at all, and I’ll keep adding to it so please tell me if you have any additions or any experiences with these apps your self, all comments welcome!

environmental apps

Environmental apps

1. ECOSIA

Whilst not strictly an app, but actually a search engine - Ecosia is a fantastic way to plant trees by doing nothing. I installed it as my homepage a few months ago and have racked up 2000 searches in the last few months - as each 45 searches = one tree being planted, that means I’ve ´planted´ 44 trees - not a bad way to balance my hours lost on twitter and instagram!

I haven’t been using it on my phone for 2 reasons, the first that I was too lazy to reenter all my passwords, the second is that initially it just wasn’t as good as google at finding the things I wanted. That might actually be a good thing, as from what I understand, google is so great at knowing what I want because it’s basically listening to and rifling through all my conversations, emails, interactions etc. So Ecosia is winning on the privacy front too! Also the searches have massively improved the longer I use it, so today I’ll change over to Ecosia on my iPhone too. I’ll let you know how I get on!

In their words:

‘You search the web, we plant trees

Searching with Ecosia is like searching with any other search engine, with one major difference. We use the profit we make from your searches to plant trees where they are needed most.’

You also get nice video updates when new things happen on their youtube channel here.

Poverty porn, this isn’t. It’s a group of people putting their money where their mouth is. While politicians have had twitter spats and parties have come and gone, Ecosia has been quietly planting forests and improving the world quietly since 2009. Very inspiring stuff:)

2. Irecycle is only for the states at the moment but there’s still plenty of ideas in the app and on their site. Worth downloading if you’re ever not sure how or what to recycle.

(For my first year in Spain I thought ‘papelera’ written on the bins in the metro meant that they were paper recycling only, so I was carrying my banana skins around until I found a bin that looked appropriate. Not good and more than a little embarrassing! Do I still get points for trying?!) 

3. Joulebug helps you to save money and rewards you for making sustainable choices. It has challenges, community and is a nice proactive way to start taking sustainability steps (and practise your English!)

4. How Good - rates your food choices quickly and easily based on their sourcing, production and organisation. It helps you to make better choices with your money. I strongly believe that we have power with how we spend our money, you only have to look at H & M one of the biggest fast fashion culprits introducing recycling initiatives!

 

apps to cut down on food waste

Apps to cut down on food waste:

Spain:

 Yo no desperdicio Members send pictures of food products and their best before date to the app, you reserve it and collect. Simples! Perfect for clearing out the cupboard for the 10kg of rice you have because you buy one every time you go to the shop….. or is that just our house?

Ni las migas works by connecting shops & restaurants whose food is going to be thrown out at the end of the day but is perfectly edible. You can see what is nearest to you through the app, reserve it, pick it up and give it a new life as your dinner!

The world:

Too good to go

In their words: 'We're fighting food waste by providing stores with a free platform to sell their left over food - instead of just throwing it away.

Similar to ni las migas but European rather than only Spain, you reserve unsold food that vendors have through the app, just show the receipt and collect it when you go to the store.

 Zero Waste App- So this is pretty self-explanatory, wherever you go, you can use it as your one-stop app for zero-waste cafes, markets, activities, communities. 

Click on the link here to see 10 of the guardians global picks.

apps for sustainable fashion & beauty

apps for sustainable fashion & beauty

Good on you - ethical ratings for fashion, if you haven’t seen the documentary the true cost yet then I strongly suggest you do, it raises a number of important questions to ask before you buy.

Gunas - high fashion vegan and sustainably made accessories 

Marche Ethique - an ethical and vegan fashion market with no hemp to see anywhere! Not cheap, but after watching the truecost you might feel happier about spending once and buying for a lifetime rather than cheap and fast.

Lush app - Lush have taken a bashing from various sides including one well known zero waste blogger. For me they have always been on the frontline of activism, they walk the walk have pioneered things like package free products (some better than others!) Personally I’m more than happy to choose lush for my bathroom, in fact if you haven’t bought sleepy yet - go and ask for a sample, you won’t regret it!

Etsy - I’ve added this because of the huge amount of vintage clothing on here, as well as independent makers and sellers of smellies, non toxic candles etc. You can support small, local businesses (maybe not your local but somebodies local! - my favourite candles come from NYC) and buy high quality second hand too goods too so you're not contributing to the make it once and chuck it model.

 

apps for self-care

 

apps for SELF-CARE

This book is on my Wishlist at the moment, I follow them on instagram too in case you're just getting started on the self-care journey!

 

Headspace - if you haven’t heard of headspace yet I can only assume you are actively anti tech and anti meditation, but even so I urge you to try it, the app has come a long way since I was using it 3 years ago in Melbourne (we accidentally moved in with a swinging, psychedelic couple who spent every Monday to Wednesday in tears on their comedown - it was an experience!)

Shine - like having a cheerful American yoga instructor in your ear, I may be British and suspicious of the overly optimistic, but I’ve found my 4pm notification to take 2 minutes out and listen to a happy affirmation actually does energise and prepare me for the second half of my crazy freelancer day.

Sleep cycle  - the negative of this is obviously that you’re bringing your phone into the bedroom, which is bad. However the reality is that most of us use our phones for alarms and if your house is like mine there are probably two phones (Mr Gonz reads comedians on twitter late into the night laughing to himself in the dark), we also have the 23kg pitbull with a broken leg and plastic lamp on her head to stop her scratching. So for me, a sleep app & sleepy from lush is the best way to manage in this imperfect world!

5 minute journal or paper  - of course you can use a normal paper and pen journal to do this, but the idea of using an app is to support you. As you get into a new habit (I can confirm that for me 21 days is indeed about the time I need to develop and stick to a new habit!) it can be handy to use an app that will time you and remind you. The other thing to think about is that as you’ll be journalling in your second language, you may need help with the spelling and punctuation. 

Breathe - very therapeutic and no-frills app to help you to slow your breathing and take stock, until I went to my first yoga class, I hadn’t realised that I was actually bad at breathing, I got very stressed trying to breathe properly, I thought it was ridiculous! Now 3 years on of slow breathing my way out of stressful situations, this is a skill I appreciate!

Yoga apps are their own category so I’ll just recommend that you start with this article here and experiment to see what suits you!

 

apps for easy plant based food choices

Apps for easy plant based food choices

I have to share a story with you before we go on to these apps. The other day I was running late for work, didn't have time for breakfast so I bought a cookie ….which I do a lot….. I pretend it’s healthy because it’s from a fancy baker.  Anyway,  I got a funny look from the guy in the cafe where I get my espresso,  I didn’t realise why until I caught my reflection  crossing the road where I saw myself holding my phone which has a bright blue cookie monster case and eating a giant cookie. I did not feel like the big solopreneur that I pretend to be and decided to make time to prep and eat breakfast at home from now on….. these apps are helping me!

Happy Cow - works globally, all you do is drop your location and it will tell you all the veggie, vegan and veggie-vegan options for restaurants, bars and shops around you. SUPER useful!

Deliciously Ella -  I love this app, her ingredients are all fairly accessible and I really don’t think she’s fallen into the ‘wellness but secretly fat shaming’ group of fraudsters on instagram. I use it a lot when I’m on the metro on my way home, with no idea what to cook and need recipes I can make easily and that are going to make my belly happy instead of a quickly snaffled energy bar and stupidly expensive take away drink.

Blender Girl Smoothies - A friend recommended this (thanks Esther!) and I love it, matches your mood to the juice you should have.

Harvest (free) - tells you what food is in season and when, very handy especially for us city kids who haven’t seen an apple actually on a tree except in the movies. Lovely descriptions of how fruit and veg should look and feel if you’re not familiar with something.

Rawvana makes raw food look appealing and helps you to organise shopping lists to make prepping it much easier! (it’s not my cup of tea everyday, but definitely we could do with more in our diets!)

In the next post I’ll go through apps to maintain your digital wellbeing, but that’s a whole other story!

 

Further resources:

https://www.treehugger.com

http://www.vildamagazine.com

 

 

10 of the best Design Podcasts

 
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I love podcasts

Every year there are more and more to choose from, the quality is only improving as the competition increases and it's such a great way to passively learn. When I'm going between classes during the week I probably get through at least30 hours a week of them! Even if I'm too busy to actually do the fun and cool things I listen to at least I know what's happening and I can recommend things to people who do have a social life.... 

So I've filtered through my podcast library to find 10 of my favourite podcasts on design, both the creative and the business side:

1. Debbie Milman - Design Matters

As her website says, she has the prestige of not only being the most popular design podcast out there but she's also the first! You can listen back as far as 2005 (confession: I didn't know podcasts had been going that long.) On her website you can search by discipline or by the person's name which is fantastic if you're interested in a specific person or area.

2. 99% invisible

99% Invisible is about all the thought that goes into the things we don’t think about — the unnoticed architecture and design that shape our world. With over 250 million downloads, 99% Invisible is one of the most popular podcasts on iTunes .

3. Design Sponge

One of the first podcasts I ever listened to, Grace Bonney is a hero in the design world, one of the earliest design bloggers she has a similar status to Debbie Milman. Grace brings a focus that is not always there in the design world to the work of minorities and the LGBT community, featuring makers from a whole variety of backgrounds and even though she isn’t currently making new podcasts (she’s been writing her fantastic book ‘In the company of women') You can still listen to the archives here, the conversation certainly haven’t dated!

4. The Urbanist + Tall stories
The urbanist and it's baby brother 'Tall Stories' is one of many podcasts created by the media company Monocle, this one focuses on cities and takes a fresh look at how we live in them and the way they’re changing and developing. The miniseries ‘Tall stories’ is bite-sized looks at specific buildings (no more than 5 minutes!)

5. Section D

More Monocle...... (sorry not sorry). 

They say: 'Everything you need to know about the world of design, from furniture to fashion and craft to architecture. Expect fresh stories, new finds and designers and all the latest news from the world’s most exciting studios' and I wholeheartedly agree!

6. The Entrepreneurs + Eureka

The last Monocle podcast today :)

They say: 'Monocle 24’s weekly tour of the most inspiring people, companies and ideas in global business, whether they are starting from scratch, reinvigorating the family firm or developing new technology.' To add to that, I think so many of these episodes are relevant to design it's well worth a listen. As with the Urbanist, there's a mini 5-minute podcast called Eureka which focuses a 6-minute look at an individual or idea for their 'eureka moment'. 

7. Adventures in Design

From the other side of the pond, an American daily pod.

They say: ' A DAILY TALK SHOW FOR CREATIVES JUST LIKE YOU,
EXPLORING HOW OTHERS DESIGN HAPPINESS INTO THEIR PROFESSIONAL LIVES.' It's upbeat, cheerful and always surprising!

8. Design Story

They say: 'Design is more than a plan, a process, or a pretty picture. It’s a way of thinking and disrupting the status quo. Hear stories from the boldest influencers about design, and how it shapes the world around us.' 

9. Creative Mornings

This is more like a movement, similar to Rising Tide, so I'm just going to give you their manifesto and suggest you have a listen!

The CreativeMornings Manifesto

Everyone is creative.

A creative life requires bravery and action, honesty and hard work. We are here to support you, celebrate with you, and encourage you to make the things you love.

We believe in the power of community. We believe in giving a damn. We believe in face-to-face connections, in learning from others, in hugs and high-fives.

We bring together people who are driven by passion and purpose, confident that they will inspire one another, and inspire change in neighbourhoods and cities around the world.

Everyone is welcome.

10. Revision Path

They say: 'Revision Path is an award-winning weekly interview podcast that focuses on showcasing some of the best Black graphic designers, web designers, and web developers from all over the world. On each episode, we explore the stories, processes, experiences, insights, and creative inspirations of these awesome creators.' These podcasts are always interesting and useful, sign up for the newsletter to get even more out of the experience!

 

If these aren't enough for you, have a look at this link here to see Grace Bonney's recommendations for more female podcasters to listen to!

 

How To Learn English With Magazines

 
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I've loved magazines since I was small, as a teenager living in North Wales I used to buy Vogue and dribble over the colours, textures and gorgeous sets, pure escapism from 'boring' small town life - I fantasised about living in London.


When I finally got to London as a student with extremely limited funds, I used the magazines again, to pretend I was a grown up and imagine life with money, sitting in my room listening to Radiohead with a poorly made rollup cigarette and my hipster beret (ouch.) 


Now that I AM a grown-up magazines serve a different purpose, after spending all day plugged into my laptop or iPhone, and having flirted with digital magazines in the past I love getting my hands on a real, made-of-paper Architectural Digest or Wallpaper. Sitting down - alone, this is very important as a part-time anti-social introvert - with a glass of wine and actually touching the paper, scribbling on the pages and tearing bits out to save for later.


It's one of the more fun ways you have to build your vocabulary.  

Magazines let you at once build your vocabulary, get yourself up to date with what’s happening in the country and cities of your chosen language, be it London, New York, Madrid, Paris or Berlin.

You'll find people to follow on social media, events going on to inspire you and recommendations for music to listen to, the latest vocabulary for talking about trends - which, you might not be interested in but will certainly help you when you’re having a conversation with a native speaker or listening to an interview! 

The quality of writing is going to be beneficial too, blogposts are great to get you reading in English, but they’re often lightly edited and can’t compare with an article in the New Yorker or Monocle.

Here are some activities you can do to make the most of your magazine:

ANNOTATE IMAGES

I love to take an article or double page spread in a visual magazine such as Architectural Digest and try to label everything in the image, in as much detail as possible. You soon find gaps in your knowledge, this is the ‘rich’ vocabulary that gives you a luxurious ability to choose your words carefully and control the image that you present (plush velvet for example, was never going to appear in my Spanish classes!) 

REVIEW or SUMMARISE

One of the fastest ways to learn new vocabulary and also improve your structures when writing is to literally steal expressions or phrases from articles that you read. We can ‘hack’ our way to fluency in writing and speaking by making note of and reusing expressions until we assimilate the language. In your native language, you’ve picked up intonations, jokes, ways of saying things from a thousand different sources in your lifetime and this is a way to speed up the process in your second language.


GET ONLINE AND COMMENT or START A DISCUSSION GROUP

This is an easy way to practise the expressions and vocabulary - one of my favourite things to do is to use a dedicated WhatsApp group with your language partner and send a combo of voice memos and actual texts, that way you’re practising speaking as well as writing and recycling vocabulary! If you don’t have a language buddy, you can use your dog/cat/rat/iguana - Rosie is a very obliging language partner to me when we go on our walks together.
 

USE YOUR NOTEBOOK

Take 5 minutes and jot down the things you’ve discovered in a notebook, review it every few days and you’ll soon find you’re remembering things!

So here are my recommendations for magazines to read

 

PRINT:

Monocle - https://monocle.com/magazine/

The New Yorker - https://www.newyorker.com

Buffalozine - https://buffalozine.com

Apartment - https://www.apartamentomagazine.com

Kinfolk - https://kinfolk.com

Cereal - https://readcereal.com

Suitcase - https://suitcasemag.com

 

DIGITAL:

ISUU - https://issuu.com I’m not sure how I came across this site, I think it was to embed a PDF in my site but it’s actually really useful, they curate digital magazines so you can access LOADS of different independent, under the radar and fascinating zines, delivered straight to your tablet or phone!

 

And HERE for the super enthusiastic amongst you is podcast, about magazines! I know, amazing eh?!

https://monocle.com/radio/shows/the-stack/

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5 of my favourite apps for learning English

 
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Photo by Dawid Liberadzki on Unsplash

Every day I discover new apps for learning languages, I test them out to the best of my ability, but at the end of the day it comes down to personal preference. I don't think any of them are a complete resource on their own yet but they certainly have their merits when used in combination with each other and with a good language coach/practise partner!

Duolingo

Duolingo is one of the most popular free language learning apps in the world, if you're starting a language from the beginning or want to review the basics again then it's a great resource. If your level is B2 or above I would suggest starting an online course in your language with skill share or getting involved in a social group. You need to be reading and communicating to get beyond the dreaded B2 plateau that so many of my students arrive stuck on!

Memrise

Like Duolingo, Memrise is free, and like Duolingo it has a fairly great backstory to it, I heard a podcast with the founder Ed Cooke about how he came up with the idea and it's great. It still feels like a game, and you very much respond like Pavlov's dog to the reward system built into the app. That's ok with me though if I'm learning! For me, Memrise is best used for targeted learning, imagine you need to memorise vocabulary for a finance meeting suddenly, well here's a course with all the words you could ever need. Or you're off to London for a week and realise you don't know any slang, you can download a quick course to complete on the flight there and you'll be less lost when you arrive.

Lingvist

I got very excited about Lingvist when it first appeared last year, waited anxiously for the English to Spanish course to come out, and then when it finally did, I stopped using it within a week, so I guess that doesn't bode particularly well. After reading other peoples' reviews about it however for this blogpost, I feel inspired to start again. I remember the clean layout really appealed to me the first time I tested it, so I'm going to set myself the challenge of completing it in the next 100 days and I'll keep you updated!

Fluentu

This one isn't free but you can trial it for 15 days without paying, it's interesting as it uses authentic (real) videos from the web and then teaches you vocabulary and grammar from them. It means you're learning with context and the way native speakers use the language. Which is perfect really :)

Busuu

This app is a nice allrounder, you have listening activities, speaking, reading and writing. Another thing I like about it is that like the tree in Duolingo you can see where you are in the course which can be a good motivator! You have the option to have your answers corrected by native speakers also using the app and of course, you can get involved and correct theirs too which adds to the feeling of being part of a community.

So what do you think of these apps? Are there any more that you've used or have heard good things about? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On My Bookshelf

 
 

This title is misleading, most of these books are also on my Kindle, or have in fact been loaned out insistently (usually after a glass of wine when I can get aggressively generous).
 

They rotate next to my bed in a stack, making a bedside table depending on the season. Nigel Slater’s Kitchen Diaries makes it to the top in Autumn when I’m a little homesick for the UK and want to read about comfort food and allotments. The Bone Clocks is a January read when I'm feeling morbid. I’ve read it numerous times and it fills me with dread for the future, but in an exciting way - like reading a slightly too scary book when you’re a kid. 


These books aren’t for everyone, but some of them will be for you.

 I’ll explain what they mean to me personally and link you to a more comprehensive and qualified review so you can see what you think!

 

1. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind + Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow

By Yuval Noah Harari


These are the story of us, our history and our future. I picked them up together in Manchester Airport a few months ago partly because of the Barack Obama quote on the front of the Homo Sapiens book. I started to read it on the plane and was so absorbed that I became the annoying person reading as the walk through the metro, people bumping into me. Some people I've made buy it have read it and found it a bit depressing, but I felt a deep sense of calm by the end of it. Read it yourself and let me know what you think!

Reviews by the Guardian of Sapiens and Home Deus

A nice Vox interview with the author here

2. Thinking Fast + Slow

By Daniel Kahneman


So far, there hasn’t been a student I’ve met who I haven’t told they HAVE TO buy this. It’s fairly dense, but every page is fascinating and incredibly useful. This is the product of a lifetimes research and work, the author describes one of the most perfect working collaborations in the introduction, which will give you serious colleague goals! Like other books on this list, dip in and out, you’ll find something you can apply to your life to improve it every time. You’ll understand yourself better too without having to go on a hippie mountain retreat - obviously, you can do that too, but you don’t have to!

New York Times review here

3. The Bone Clocks

By David Mitchell


This book is astonishing and uncomfortable and brilliant. Just read it - stick with it, the first part can be a little confusing, but you’ll be hooked! Get a squishy chair and some kind of sugary treat while you’re reading because it’s VERY enjoyable. I reread it every few months to spook myself again.

An epic Vulture analysis of the author and his novel are here

A New Yorker review here

4. Setting The Table

By Danny Meyer


This book is an education in customer service, it isn’t just for hospitality people even though that’s certainly the author's industry. If you work with people (which everyone has to unless they’re a self-sufficient hermit living on an isolated island) you need to read this book. He is relentlessly logical, pleasant and positive. He changed his industry forever for the better by implementing the simple but shocking idea that if you look after your staff, train them, incentivise them, pay them well your business will thrive.

New York Times Review here

5. On Liberty

By Shami Chakrabarti


This book is by the director of Liberty, the human right organisation. She articulates exactly why our rights and freedoms are so important, what they’re under threat from and how to move forward in a positive way. It’s not the lightest read, but you’ll feel much more informed having read it!

A Financial Times review here

6. The Rosie Project

By Graeme Simpson


Gonz and I love this book so much we named our dog after it! I loved it immediately because it’s funny, sweet, and shines a light on the world from the perspective of a man with autism, rather than those around him. As someone with aspies in the family, there were bits of this book that made me cry with laughing. I fell in love with it again when we moved to Melbourne where the book is set and we walked around seeing the actual places that we’d imagined. It’s such a good book, it’s charming and leaves you feeling like the world is sunnier than before you read it. 

The Independent Review HERE (it's shorter than the others, I promise!)

7. The Flavour Thesauraus 

By Niki Segnit


Even as a fairly recent vegan, I love to read this book, the descriptions are truly beautiful and it’s a treasure trove of adjectives for those who feel their speech could do with some colour adding! Yes, it’s about food and cooking, but actually, it’s about thinking outside of the box, taking pleasure in naughtily surprising people with unexpected combinations. 


Especially here in Spain, where I’ve had to get used to the fact that my cooking - (which was always looked forward to and appreciated in the UK)is no longer appreciated. Tortilla de patata, (AGAIN) is king at parties, and my best Ottolenghi chilli, lemon, goats cheese ravioli is left suspiciously in the corner of the table. So for me, reading recipes with Cinnamon, Tomato and Prawn or Coriander seed Coffee makes for an afternoon well spent.

Guardian review here

8. The Monocle Guide to Good Business


Well, where to begin here? My copy is very grubby and lives in the kitchen. It’s brought out and plonked in front of guests when I discover they haven’t seen it. It isn’t small, and could probably do some damage if you dropped it on your toes. But it’s invaluable, inspirational, positive and beautiful. I love the Monocle brand, I feel like they give me hope and ideas in a world that has gotten very scary and bleak, very quickly (double whammy of Brexit and Trump). This book is a manifesto, which, together with Danny Meyers Setting the table, confirms to me that YES you can do business ethically, and with passion and you don’t have to screw people over to make a living. Something I’ve always believed, but at certain points secretly started to worry I was too naive. Buy it, read it, start planning your dream business and penning your resignation from the dreary office/classroom you’ve been dreading going to every Monday. PLEASE (Or as the Spanish say - POR FAVOR!).

Good Reads Reviews here

9. Cradle to Cradle

By Michael Braungart, William McDonough

A few years ago I very slowly and painfully completed an Interior Design Diploma. I have no idea why it took me so long to complete as I loved doing it, but the final unit on sustainable design really grabbed me. This book was the recommended reading before starting the project and IT. IS. AMAZING. Designers, innovators, all you brainy folk out there - if you haven’t read it yet, please do - it might inspire you to come up with the idea that saves the planet!

WATCH the author's TED talk here

10. Daily Rituals

By Mason Currey

This is a cheerful little book, particularly if you’re nosy (like me). The author started a project where he wrote about the daily rituals of lots of great minds including Voltaire, Jane Austen, Nicola Tesla, Joan Miro and Sylvia Plath. The routines are varied and inspiring. It’s a book to dip in and out of, good to keep in the kitchen to read when you have a coffee. I find it’s reassuring that even the most creative and flamboyant characters have to include at least a routine in their life! 

Follow him on Twitter HERE

10 Easy ways to immerse yourself in English

 
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ONE - EXERCISE IN ENGLISH

If you normally do a yoga class or have a half hearted attempt at pilates - then do it in English instead! Kill two birds with one stone - don't worry too much about technical vocabulary, you'll pick a lot of it up through watching the instructor. I still don't know what glutes are and I've been doing these videos at home for years!

Choose instructors with a variety of accents so that you don't get too used to one and get lazy!

Yoga with Adriene - very zen lady, easy to understand.

 Pop Sugar Fitness - Lots of different options and styles!

TWO - COOK IN ENGLISH

Youtube is such an amazing resource, here are some of my favourite cooking channels:

Aine Carlin - Vegan Irish Blogger 

Food Tube - This is Jamie Olivers channel and there's a multitudes of options on here from all over the globe!

THREE - GET A LANGUAGE PARTNER

This is vital, with skype you can find someone to practise with at any time of the day from all over the world. There are many different sites to choose from, but the ones i've used personally and been happy with are the following:

Italki - Online

Meetup - In person (be wary of the language exchanges, they can be a bit of a cattlemarket! I prever to go along with a cinema/book club)

FOUR - PUT FACEBOOK IN ENGLISH

This can be a little frustrating, but it definitely makes you work harder! You can also use the translation element to check your friends messages in English.

FIVE - START AN ENGLISH HOUR AT WORK

Accountability really helps with language learning, and agreeing that the workplace has a designated English hour can provide a bit of light relief during the day as well as meaning that you can review your vocabulary together and have a brainstorm about any shared problems you're having in English!

SIX - MEMORISE A TED SCRIPT

TED, my students know that i'm a little obsessed with TED talks, they can be used in so many ways to help you improve your English and increase your world knowledge! Interesting topics  equal interesting conversation, which means you're using English without thinking about it. Memorising sections of TED talks will help you to increase your fluency quickly, it doesn't even matter if you understand everything. Mimic the intonation and tone and you'll start to enjoy speaking in English so much more!

SEVEN - MAKE A YOUTUBE VIDEO

You don't have to upload it, you can just keep it in your phone for yourself. But taking time to record a video in English in the style of a youtuber helps you to identify any pronunciation errors or areas you want to improve. I was horrified to realise how much I overused the word amazing when I recorded myself teaching (AMAAAAAZING GUYS) and now my delivery is much more punchy!

EIGHT - UPLOAD TO SOUNDCLOUD

Yes, again, recording yourself - but rather than a video, focus on the audio - you could set a series of topics to talk about in order to improve your vocabulary. Evan journalling everyday for a week will help you to set the habit!

NINE - READ A BLOGPOST IN ENGLISH

I sign up for websites in Spanish to make sure that I get their newsletters sent to my inbox everyday. Before I let myself look at the news or my favourite blogs in English, I read at least one in Spanish, it really helps with Vocabulary.

Find a blog to sign up to here.

TEN - TAKE A CLASS IN ENGLISH

Skillshare is a fantastic resource for this, you can do something completely frivolous and fun (my first class on here was a 'knife skills' class) - if you do it in English, it counts towards your practical hours!