Group three

Group Three Thursdays 10.30 – 12.00  Upper Intermediate,

Bibliothek, Gemeindehaus, Ernst-Moritz-Arndt Gemeinde,

Onkel-Tom-Straße 80, 14169 Berlin

To find out what to do for next week, scroll to the bottom!

This is a group of people who are interested in all the usual things which will help them improve and remember their English. Some want to use their English travelling or talking to visitors, some need it for relatives-in-law and some…….

A lot of the time they are talking in groups of twos and threes.





Welcome to 2016 -and 2017 and 2018 and

Welcome to 2019 – 

in the hope that I  can look after the website better and that we will have stimulating times together.

We will surely be looking at some of Neil MacGregor’s talks on the subject of LIVING WITH THE GODS:

These can be found at

We have so far looked at the introduction to the book and the chapter called Festivals (chap 15). We’ll look at the table of contents and decide together what else we are interested in.

To start the new year I am planning to talk about 2 short stories that are fun – if also social criticism: On 10th we read chopin story of an hour  and on 17th we’ll be reading  chopin silk stockings 2sprachig.


July 4th:

1. ‘Take home factors’?

What have you appreciated about the novel?

Negative aspects.

2. What’s it about? Death?

– culture conspires against them

– (What it means to be black…) Yet the book is much less centered on race than on friendship, kinship, sexuality.

– This friendship serves as the main plot thread.

– it is the personal encounters that form the gorgeous center of this intense, moving novel

– She longs for friendship, affection, to belong.

– This friendship serves as the main plot thread.

… coming-of-age novel

– …it’s difficult to interpret the meaning of the title. Does “Another Brooklyn” allude to the lost Brooklyn of 1970-90? Or maybe … the secret Brooklyn of girlhood, where young women find strength in the identities they develop together.

(NB Quote is on page 77. AMSP)

Memory, place , dream, dreaming oneself out of something, Inside/Outside……….; poverty/neglect…..

3. Can you talk about the method – how you liked reading/discussing it this way? Other ways? (I seem to have got stuck in a rut /Spurrille, Fahrspur, ausgefahrene Gleise?)

4. Next we’ll talk about MacGregor’s take on ‘Living with the gods, Living with the Dead’. It seems to me there are two things to talk about before we read what he has written:

a. How do we (Northern Europeans?) deal with the dead just after death (whilst dying?)

b. How do we deal with them in the long run?


Please read the article by MacGregror for next week (11th July). Are there any particular tasks you’d like to do?

We also plan to read a second chapter by MacGregor and I suggest that ‘Living with the Dead’ is something that affects us all. Here is the text, again in bits: Scan0001 Scan0002 Scan0003 Scan0004 Scan0005 Scan0006 Scan0007 Scan0008

and here two pictures in colour: 1) ming dynasty ancestor portraits the man wears a prominent badge that indicates his rank – or perhaps that of a descendant   2) This is the Tower of London and Remembrance of the dead in the two world wars, p 80  in the book.

For next week – July 18th – please read the first chapter of

The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith

and think about what you would like to talk about in the time we have together!  (See below)


pp 1 and 12               pp 2 – 3         pp 4 – 5                     

pp 6 – 7                  pp 8 – 9            pp 10 -11


For July 25th please read chapters 2 and 3!!! (Here are the ssons so far.)

group three lesson one no 1 Alison                                                                                             group three 25.7. 2019

On August 1st we cannot meet in the church as it is Kinderbibelwoche. Instead we will meet for a cold drink at Gisa’s:

Gisa Tiedemann, Onkel-Tom-Straße 133.

We will talk about going to York for a week at the beginning of May 2020 probably via the tunnel and staying in St Mary’s Guest Housewhich is 8 minutes walk from the station. ( You can get plenty of information on sites like   and

For August 8th please read chapters four and five  of The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith – up to page 70.

Chapters Ten, Eleven, Twelve and Thirteen (‘Why don’t you marry me?’- to page 137) for the following week = 29th August

No class on September 5th so read pp.134 – 162 for 5th so to speak and pp. 173 – 191 for 13th when we do meet!      chapters 14 – 19 without page references

To p. 219 for 19th     and here is the programme about hte Botswana diamonds, even though I have not managed it very well!

and the end for 26th September


group three 26th Sept 19


For 10th October please read Ian Rankin’s story: About Being Frank

Talking about Good Hanging Being Frank students

For 17th October please read: Not Provan

NB Murder and violent crime are always the most serious offences. Scottish criminal trial courts can deliver one of three possible verdicts – one of conviction (‘guilty’) and two of acquittal (‘not proven’ and ‘not guilty’).

For 24th October please read and think about Chipperfield’s new contribution to the Museum Isle in Berlin Mitte: (for once this is not because I like diversions but because it is not yet clear how you are getting on with the stories by Ian Rankin):

chipperfield museum isle chipperfield map of museumsinsel chipperfield. Talking about museums, art galleries etc incl Chipperfield

chipperfield. Talking about museums, art galleries etc incl Chipperfield

chipperfield map of museumsinsel


chipperfield museum isle


We are now continuing reading some stories by Ian Rankin.

For Thursday 7th November you are reading ‘Tit for Tat’.

Here is some help: ‘Tit for Tat’ for Group Three to read by Nov 7th

Some help for the first part of ‘The Gentlemen’s Club’ The Gentlemen’s Club

In an Advent interval you are reading Gary Hines’ Midnight Forests for December 5th (to be followed by ‘A Christmas Tree in the White House also by Gary Hines and anything else you choose.)

We’ll  all meet on 5th and 12th – some of us on 19th.

For the first meeting in 2020 you’ll be reading Auld Lang Syne by Ian Rankin and I hope I’ll be offering some help between now and then! (Meaning a paper with some vocab and may be leading trhoughts).

On January 16th we’re talking about ‘Playback’ and I’ll find out if you want to read one more story (eg ‘Sunday’) or move on to something else. I am suggesting ‘Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler. I am wondering whether we might listen to parts of this podcast. It is caled: Germany: Justice and Memory and I would say it is about Bewältigung as seen from today. It’s not that I think it is necessarily good as a programme but it is certainly worth talking about, depending how we do it.


For Feb 6th you are reading the beginning of ‘Vinegar Girl’ – a modern retelling of Shakespeare’s ‘The Taming of the Shrew’.

On the first page (and following) you notice that
– the younger sister doesn’t like getting up in the morning
– the older sister is quite energetic
– the older sister makes her father’s lunch
– the father is rather forgetful
– he seems to be a scientist
– the older sister does the gardening

Vinegar Girl:

Chap 1 pp 1 – 14 Father has Kate bring his lunch

Chap 2 pp 15 – 47 In the ‘School’; Pyotr accompanies her a bit on the way home; Bunny has Edward Mintz at home; Father suggests Pyotr could marry her.

– Comments

– Questions

– Foreignness – eg accents p. 8 (Kate cf her mother p. 41)

– surprise friendliness/cavalier behaviour (p. 11 ‘Why are you talking this way?’)

– unexpected feeling of being affected: ‘But she couldn’t say the word ‘hurt’ (p. 12) (cf p. 26 her softer side) (‘Upchucking’, p. 32 cf ‘longed to be … more ladylike’ p. 33) (cf key moment p. 36 ‘…he slowed top her pace. He slowed too.’)

– ‘clumpy pats…startled’, p. 13

– ‘The Something Nice Rule’ (p.22) cf Gregory wanting to go on the seesaw pp. 31Ff

Humour? American English.

– Is there Refugee Literature in German? (Gehen, Ging, Gegangen….)

– Novels in which the main figure(s) have aspergus sydrome. (cf father ‘ignorant…existed in a vacuum….never learned the language’ pp. 43/44; cf ‘develop some social skills….’ p. 30)

– Cooking for a week (as a family, as a single. Crock-pot; nutrients instead of flavour? The advantages of kale 🙂

– Families in which the elder daughter runs the household.

(Sorry – I thought I had been keeping this up regularly, but obviously not.)

For Feb 27thz please read chapters 3 and 4. I know this is a little more so you may not read in such detail……Here is the vocabulary

Vinegar ch 4 ff 73 to mid ch 6 p 116

Topics for discussion:

Chapter three pp.48/72(Quotations to read out? My punctuation is illogical)

(Maria is singing about feeling different and about taking empathetic … hand, is described by her fellow nuns as “a flibbertigibbet, a will-o’-the-wisp, a clown”. Sound of Music. Cf Bunnie p. 54)

The situation had never come up before’: Rules in homes – written and unwritten. How to behave when guests are there? Intuition? FHB : family holds back. Cf p. 56 (cf p.58 where Kate passes filled plates around.)

Miss Hostess of the Month – ‘I miss the pickles’…… (p. 57)

p. 58 to call the shots

…but I know that American men wash dishes’.

In box for canned peaches..His language turned stunted again….’ p. 68

Chapter 4

You could really feel physically wounded….she discovered.

Her own heart felt bruised. (cf ‘swollen heart p.76)

That always soothed her spirits.

Room 4….a contentious period. p. 75

First narrative- (‘everyroning’) – then p. 76 what is going through her head. …..No singel result for Father to justify his sacrificing his firstborn. (Isaac)

Mutton dressed up as lamb.

Narrative to do with dolls, then a boy using one as a motor b u t Kate wonders if she’s having a heart attack. (pp 81/2)

Mrs Larkin drove father ‘distraction’ ( Wahnsinn)

Never let a man meddle….never be on your own after that.

Mother cries when father shows her how to use dishwasher.

Wonders whose idea it was. (‘how mortifying’). p. 84

You can’t get around Kate Battista as easily as that!’ (p. 85)

Rationalized washing tem but Kate has to do it.

He had behaved like this for the past three days. It was pathetic.’ (p.87)

His mouth flew open and he stared at her. (tax returns)

Go, Katherine!’

F. doesn’t stop her from going upstairs. Is reading popular science not a novel. p. 90

On March 5th we’ll be talking about York, the information I gave you about York (including your right/wrong sentences) and about the railway brochure with background about York. Please bring your ideas and your queries!

On March 12th we’ll be talking about ‘Vinegar Girl’ chapters six and seven, up  to page 146.  (The vocab for chapter 6 is on the old sheets and the last few words were on the lesson 25th Feb.) Here is what I’ve looked out for chapter 7 – abit late I’m afraid:


In addition please choose one of these railway (or ship) poems to say why you like it best of the three. Try to enjoy without looking up words :

 Railway carriage and The Night Mail

These are my thoughts for the lesson on March 12th : Vinegar Girl ch 6           Vinegar Girl ch 7

For March 19th we’ll all be reading chapter 8 (up to page 173) and I hope to prepare the vocab for you before the evening of Friday, March,13th.

Thinking about human traficking: Modern Slavery for BTL  and this is the policy of the bus company in York: Modern Slavery Policy trans dev

Dividing up the rest of the book: Chapters 8 and 9 for March 26th

Here is the vocabulary for the rest of ‘ Vinegar Girl’.  I hope you enjoy reading and re-reading it. We’ll see what we do with it when we find out when we see each other again!  Ch 9 to Epilogue Vinegar Girl vocab

And practise reading: This is the night mail crossing the Border, /Bringing the cheque and the postal order.

                                   Letters for the rich, letters for the poor,/ The shop on the corner, the girl next door.

                                   Pulling up Beattock, a steady climb:/The gradient’s against her, but she’s on time.

or, slower and different:          

Chapter 10 for April 2nd

Finishing reading for a possible full meeting after Easter (?)

Do look at BBC co uk news – you know what they are talking about, some of what they say is different, but it’s certainly good for your brain and your English. e.g. 

(Since the rebooting of the website I don’t know where to find the underlining and a couple of other things. If anybody has any ideas they would be very welcome!)

Starting up again. Here is my plan for Thursday June 18th, meeting at Gisa’s: Group Three 18.06. 2020


And  following up on that lesson:

Group Three 18th June – the quacking of bees.


Karin said of herself that she is fastiduous. In ‘The Giver’ the word was applied several times to the way the state was administered. It can be a positive or a negative word. She meant ‘pingelig’ but you can also say that some people stick fastidiously to a recipe and their cake turns out good. Becuase I am not fastidious I usually vary too much and the cake is not so good.

We said the ‘Umbrella’ story was narrated from the point of view of the little girl. In fact it’s a ‘first person’ narrative: I did this, my mother did that, the man did the third thing. You will see that the ‘Pink Rabbit’ pretends to be the third person point of view: Anna did this, the mother sdaid that, the father said the other. But we get to see things more from Anna’s point of view all the same!

Homework: Obviously you won’t be making sentences from the article ‘Delusion’ which we didn’t talk about. You said the article was difficult. It is. But the main points are these:

The statue of slave trader was put up in Bristol in 1895 and toppled in 2020 .

Kettle says

– Britain is divided in diverse ways;

– also Britain does not know its own history,

– Britain is in collective public denial of empire and at present seems to need to be ‘great’.

– History could be seen as a ‘warning rather than a means of self-congratulation’? (l.44)

– Concentrating on statues would continue to stop us from looking at real ‘self and the world of 2020’ (l.92).

Pink Rabbit’ deals with the Third Reich. I think that British intellectuals now think Germany dealt very well with this. We will no doubt get to the subject. Are there any statues to people from the Third Reich left standing? If not, there are surely plenty of memorials, in terms of Hitler’s moving of the Siegesäule, for instance.

You are reading chapter one of ‘Pink Rabbit’ for 25th June. Somebody left her book at Gisa’s last week. At present I can’t find a pdf of the text for that person but several of you have a copy at home in one language or another, I think.

We don’t need to cancel the class any more if it rains. We can use the big room downstairs on the church premises. I will be armed with disinfectant and you are asked to wait outside the building until I direct you to come in.

I think that’s everything – Looking forward to next week’s meeting – hopefully in Gisa’s garden – Stay well until then – Alison


For July 9th (Sorry that my computer was away been seen to last weekend)     chapters four and five

and following that, two chapters each week. Here’s the lesson for 23rd July  Pink Rabbit chapters 8 and 9

So I suggest you read the Nachwort and chapters 10 – 12 for August 6th. That took them to arriving in Paris.

For August 14th please read to page 173 – another three chpaters. We will hope to meet at Gisa’s, depending on the weather.