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 Neil McGregor’s  ‘A History of the World in 100 Objects’

which is published as a book made from his 2010 broadcasts on BBC. Here are the useful links either to download as a pdf or to look up individually:

links for ‘´McGregor A History of the World

1) Home:

So here you can find the podcasts, lists, pictures (but not directly the transcripts)


= list of 100 objects and possibilities of getting to other pages


= where you can go to download podcasts of McGregor’s talks

4) In order to find a transcript you need to go to

then choose the episode or object you want,

click onto that

then scroll to the bottom of the4 page and

click on: “Transcript

Read the programme transcript“ – which will take you to the individual transcript.

 the Victorian Teaset –



the Lewis Chessmen –

We have now finished with Tim Harford and his 50 ideas at least for the moment. . After Christmas we will be talking about George Orwell to whom a statue has just been erected outside the BBC. I will order books for us all at Buchhandlung Born in the Ladenstraße.

Welcome to 2018!

We are going to be talking a bit about George Orwell

including his short story ‘On Shooting an Elephant’, his fairy story ‘Animal Farm’ and the dystopia 1984.

We  have read and talked about ‘Animal Farm’ and will also have talked about ‘On Shooting an Elephant’ by Easter.

On April 12th we’ll be talking about one chapter out of 1984 which is about language and then on 19th, before some of us go to Scotland, we can round off our readings of Orwell for the moment.

Please read this for April 12th Newspeak (text from Ch 5, ‘1984’)


Still within the context of Orwell’s ideas I would like to practise listening – listening to an interview between a BBC reporter and Daniel Ellsberg.

Here is most of the interview for you to look at it before 17th IF YOU WISH.witness the pentagon papers ellsberg transcript

Here is the interview (9 minutes) if you would like to listen to it at home Ellsberg witness

We’ll listen to it together on 17th May (and probably start to talk about Universal Basic Income)

We are then changing our emaphasis and before reading something new, probably ‘The Giver’ by Lois Lowry, I would like to talk about Universal Basic Income because we have often mentioned it.


Now we have talked about UBI, about protecting children from danger and next week (June 7th) (via supermarket sweep historical legacy)we will get round to talking about the meaning of our nation’s historic legacy for ourselves. Then we will move on to Lois Lowry’s ‘The Giver’ not because it is great literature but because it throws up a few similar topics – we’ll start to look at it probably on 7th, too.


The twelfth of July 2012/2018: For Christa and Monika

Twas the 12th of July 2012:

My Thursday commitments I’ll shelve*.

I know what I need:

To talk English and read;

In my now fallow** English I’ll delve***.

Six years ago two of you came:

Over Sixties’ became the new name.

We must learn’ you both said,

We have talked, we have read:

And now more of you do just the same.

And so we were born: ‘Over Sixties’:

Your English not good? Here we fix it.

Some left and more came,

It is never the same,

But we’re glad we are all ‘Over Sixties’.

You all seem to like coming here

And know there is nothing to fear

So with hard work and chat

You know what you’re at

May we go on for many a year!

Dear Christa, I must say ‘We miss you’

Not just me, the others do, too.

We hope you’re OK,

In the autumn you’ll say:

Yes, now I have energy new!’

(*aufschieben **brach liegen *** mich vertiefen)

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.

On 24th we talked round your summaries of the Silk Stockings – you did very well!    We also talked about a school inChina which functions in many ways by face recognition and we also talked about our experiences of learning musical instruments.

On 31st January we’ll be talking about an excerpt from Michella Obama’s autobiography: M O 10 M O 12 M O 14 M O 16

(Those are 4 pages : 10 – 16). Here is the glossary:: vocab Michelle Obama Learning the piano. 


After reading about Michelle Obama learning to play the piano (and a little bit more)  I’ll give you the first chapter of Neil MacGregor’s ‘Living with the Gods’ to read for 14th Feb.

. As it is his introduction to what he is trying to say in the book I’m sure we all need it. Here is the text. It consists of several pages, each a pdf which you have to click onto:

Lion Man 1 pp 2,3   Lion Man 2 pp. 4,5     Lion Man 3 pp 6,7      Lion man 4 pp 8,9     Lion Man 5 pp 10, 11                                             Lion Man 6 pp 12, 13

I will print these out for you but they are here if, for any reason, it could be useful!  Here is the glossary: the beginnings of belief glossary

Thank you for the discussion on 14th – more has been going through my mind since! (What is magic? SOmething we look up to or down on?)

On 21st Feb I was away. On Feb 28th we talked about Kipling’s ‘The Cat that walked alone’:

Please see what you think of the narrative technique (addressing the reader), the old-fashioned language
and what pictures form in your head while reading. (You might make notes!)

March 7th: Please read the second story in your dtv book: How the elephant got its trunk (or similar). On March 7th we will also read another story that you haven’t prepared, as a little play, and then listen to it being read in different accents. On 28th we read a short biography of Kipling. Next week I’ll give you a longer one to take home and spend more time on.

On March 14th we talked about an article about Kipling and especially the ‘Elephant’s CHild’ but also the Rhino. We listened to the end of the story and you also read it.

For March 21st you will read the second story in the book about the origin of (letter) writing.

I am going to give you a poem by Kipling about a camel or the camel. poem camel’s hump  It very much reflects the time at which it was written (1902). I‘d like you to practice reading it at home – and next week (28th) we‘ll listen to the story of how ‘the camel‘ got its hump – and prepare to move on to reading ‚Another Brooklyn‘ by Jaqueline Woodson.


Another Brooklyn – by Jaqueline Woodson

What do you expect from a book with that title published in 2017?


The novel starts at the end, like many novels nowadays. And then it starts the

real narrative. Here is the very beginning:


For a long time, my mother wasn’t dead yet. Mine could have been a more tragic story. My father could have given in to the bottle or the needle or a woman and left my brother and me to care for ourselves—or worse, in the care of New York City Children’s Services, where, my father said, there was seldom a happy ending. But this didn’t happen.


I know now that what is tragic isn’t the moment. It is the memory.

If we had had jazz, would we have survived differently? If we had known our story was a blues with a refrain running through it, would we have lifted our heads, said to each other, This is memory again and again until the living made sense? Where would we be now if we had known there was a melody to our madness?


Because even though Sylvia, Angela, Gigi, and I came together like a jazz improv—half notes tentatively moving toward one another until the ensemble found its footing and the music felt like it had always been playingwe didn’t have jazz to know this was who we were. We had the Top 40 music of the 1970s trying to tell our story. It never quite figured us out.

(The ‘real narrative‘ starts here:) The summer I turned fifteen, my father sent me to a woman he had found through his fellow Nation of Islam brothers. An educated sister, he said, who I could talk to. By then, I was barely speaking. Where words had once flowed easily, I was suddenly silent, breath snatched from me, replaced by a melancholy my family couldn’t understand.

(I have divided the text up myself and highlighted some bits.)


In the first chapter we find out

– that the narrator is called August

– that August‘s mother is dead

– that her father has sent her to a kind of psychiatrist

– that August grows up with her brother and father

– that she has four great girlfriends

– that ‘now‘ the father has died and Augustu meets her brother for the funeral.

– that ‘now‘ August is busy studying what people do with their dead.

– that she meets one of her old girlfriends but does not want to talk to her

(This is rather a lot for an introductory chapter. After this you will recognize each strand of the plot!)


On the jacket of Susanne‘s book it says this: “For August, running into a long-ago friend sets in motion resonant memories and transports her to a time and a place she thought she had mislaid (verlegt): 1970s Brooklyn, where friendship was everything. August, Sylvia, Angela, and Gigi shared confidences as they ambled (walked) their neighborhood streets, a place where the girls believed that they were amazingly beautiful, brilliantly talented, with a future that belonged to them. But beneath the hopeful promise there was another Brooklyn, a dangerous place where grown men reached for innocent girls in dark hallways, where mothers disappeared, where fathers found religion, and where madness was a mere sunset away. Woodson heartbreakingly illuminates the formative period when a child meets adulthood — when precious innocence meets the all-too-real perils of growing up.“



There won’t be a class on Maundy Thursday (before Good Friday) and I am also away in early May (with the other group) so we’ll start reading the short novel that you already have at home: Another Brooklyn.

You’ll be reading chapter two for April 25th and chapter three for May 2nd. There is no class on May 9th.

You read chapters 4,5 and 6 for May 16th.

We talked about to what extent the milieu depicted in the novel also exists in Beriln today, and – amongst other things – these quotations:

Chapter Five: ‘When we had finally become friends…We opened our mouths and let the stories that had burned nearly to ash in our bellies finally live outside of us.’ p.56

The sadness in her body so deep we had no idea what it was or what it meants or how it got there’ p. 59

We tried to understand without asking if Mother plus Dance equals Sadness’ p. 60.

But Brooklyn had longer nails and sharper blades. Any strung-out soldier or ashy-kneed hungry child could have told us this.’ p. 61

I’m not the boss of me’. p. 63

May be this is how it happened first for everyone – adults promising us their own failed futures’.p. 63

How do we dream ourselves out of this?’ p. 66


We meet on May 23rd. Please read chapters 7 and 8 for May 23rd.


30th May is Ascension and there is also no class on June 6th.

We meet again on June 13th – please read chapters 9,10 and 11 for June 13th.

We meet on June 20th – please read chapter 12 for June 20th

We don’t meet on June 27th. 

I expect we’ll find that you can finish the book (chapter 13  – 16) for July 4th.

In the light of August’s undivided interest in how people deal with death and the dead, it seems to me that we could read MacGregor on ‘Living with the Dead’ (see below) either on July 11th or July 18th (or the first part and then the second). I would definitely like to wrap up ‘Another Brooklyn properly before we move on.




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

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.