Title: Women in Science

Provider: The Open University

I’ve written about science before and I’ve written about feminism before. This podcast is in a way about both. For me, as a university student and a woman, this is a true inspiration. Women scientists talk about their predecessors that were an inspiration for them. Not many people think how we as women are blessed to be able to pursue a higher education. This podcasts consists of stories of women who made a difference and who carved that path that we now walk. Without them by now I’d be looking for a husband and realising my dream to further explore the English language, literature and culture would be impossible. While I’m not interested in the fields they excelled in professionally speaking (that sounds a bit majestic, doesn’t it?) as I’ve written before – to claim a higher education you have to  be interested in a little of everything. So, even though I have no desire to find out more about those subjects, I still found listening to this podcast enjoyable. And, anyway, the first of the series is about Maria Skłodowska Curie – a so I was feeling patriotic. And it is her bust that stands in CERN. Only hers. Go Poland!

As always go listen and please come back and comment.

By Izabela


Title: Playwriting

Provider: National Theatre (British)

I love art and I love listening to people passionate about the subject they’re talking about. This podcasts combines both. The title may scare away some people, but believe me you don’t have to aspire to write a play to find this interesting. I was drawn to this podcast because I love to listen to writers talk about their craft. I always want to know more after reading a book: which were the difficult parts to write? Which were the easiest? Where do the names come from? Those and many, many more questions often remain unanswered. I admit I don’t think I’ve ever seen a play by any of the interviewed play-writers. The best part is – I didn’t have to. When a person is truly passionate about their subject I could listen to them for hours on end. This is, of course made more enjoyable by the fact that those people are writers. This shows in the language they use. It may not be particularly fancy or sophisticated, but somehow it just flows and is truly a pleasure to listen to. I can’t stress enough how brilliant this podcast is. It comes in video format and each episode only takes a couple of minutes. After I watched  one I could not tear myself away and watched all the others straight away (even though I should probably have been studying).

This time, for a change, I’m not telling you to go and listen, no, this time go and watch. Just take the few minutes and you will not be disappointed.

By Izabela

P.S. I’m sorry that the link is for iTunes, but the only other source I could find is YouTube.

Title: MSt English Language

Provider: University of Oxford

Since taking History of the English Language is obligatory this year at my university I thought it would be good to find something interesting to listen to. Although the very first post I wrote on this blog is about Old English, I think the subject is really interesting and I wanted to find something more. And here it is. The podcast not only contains useful and interesting information, it also allows the listeners to see how linguists work.

For example, the one about old English was particularly insightful for me. I finally understood how people know how things were pronounced back then. I get grammar and spelling –  there are the manuscripts. But it was fascinating to find out how we know how people spoke in the Middle Ages. And no, I’m not going to elaborate – that would be a spoiler. Just go listen yourself, come back and comment.

And I would appreciate some suggestions on what subject should I find podcasts next. I mean there are only so many thing you can listen to about the language, especially with exams in those very subjects coming up. I need some fun. Pretty please?

by Izabela

Title: I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere
Speakers: Scott Monty and Burt Wolder

This time, I would like to recommend to you the series of podcasts which are provided on the blog “I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere”. The site is hosted by the true admirers of the most famous detective in the world. As I am very interested in the stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in general and as Izabela and I are preparing a presentation about Holmes at the moment, I was looking for some useful materials on the Internet. I came across that blog and I am simply overwhelmed by the amount of work which was done by the authors to provide us with the opportunity to learn more about our favourite literary character. 😉
The blog has started in 2007 and it is still being continued. There are 50 different episodes published – each of them consists of one podcast. And I have to underline that these are not short extracts which last only 15 minutes – every podcast from “I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere” is at least 30 minutes long; what is more, some of them last even an hour or consist of two parts.

So far, I have listened to three of them – “Sherlockian 101” (episodes 4 and 5) and “On Conan Doyle” (episode 38). These podcasts are obviously very pleasant to listen to. To me, they really sound like a casual conversation between close friends who are fascinated by Sherlock Holmes. For those of you who have not been aquainted with Sherlock yet (are there any such people?), I strongly recommend listening to episodes 4 and 5, mentioned above. The authors explain there the phenomenon of Sherlock Holmes, advise where we should start our adventure with him and show how popular he is throughout the world. For me, it was very interesting to find out how many different societies and organisations devoted to Sherlock Holmes are there in the world and how do they function or how can we get into them.

In the episode 4 there is also one extremely wonderful thing – the authors provide us with the list of the Conan Doyle’s favourite Holmes stories. Maybe it would be nice to start our journey with Sherlock or refresh our acquaintance with him from those stories, wouldn’t it?

by Alicja

Organised Chaos

Title: James Joyce. From Ulysses, Lestrygonians.

Speaker: Professor John Bishop

Provider: UC Berkeley

On my final exam from a course on “Ulysses” my first question was whether I would recommend this book to someone else. Well, I would. With caution. It is truly a masterpiece, but one difficult to understand. I must admit that once I grew so frustrated with the book that I hurled it across the room (and this is not a norm for me, far from it). After finishing the novel I can honestly say that everyone should read it. It is very complex – there are many references within the book, recurring themes. Sometimes a veiled reference comes before the explanation itself. Joyce did not particularly bother with the reader’s comfort. However, having said all that, “Ulysses” is a masterpiece. The many narration techniques show the story from different angles. The first time reading you will be frustrated beyond belief and sometimes lost. I was lucky enough to be reading it under the guidance of prof. Oramus, who made the process easier on our class, telling us what to look for in the text and explaining references. So, the second, (and third, and fourth – you won’t resist) time you read the book you will come to appreciate it more and more.

The podcast is a little like this. It focuses on a part from the middle of the book – “Lestrygonians”. It is a good representation of what you might expect from “Ulysses”. It is seemingly chaotic, branching into many digressions. And yet it has an inner structure, making it a pleasant listening material. I have just one warning – the episode selected is focused on food – so don’t listen on an empty stomach. There is not much more I can say – I’m afraid nothing can prepare you for Joyce.

As always, listen, enjoy and please comment. Pretty please?

by Izabela

P.S. I’m sorry that the link provided is on iTunes – I know not everyone uses this program, but I can’t find anything else.

Title: Listen to English – Learn English Podcast

Author: Peter Carter

Today I’d like to recommend a brilliant podcast I use for teaching. As the title of this post says this series is the essence of Britishness. So far my favourite episode is titled A nice cup of tea. I won’t even add anything – the title speaks for itself.

As for the technical stuff , the speech is slow, but at the same time the subjects are interesting. The episodes vary in difficulty, so they are suitable for students on different levels. The only thing that bothers me is the music added to the episodes. But that is just my opinion – usually I’m all for using different tools for learning, but I must admit I didn’t like any of the songs included in the podcasts. But maybe that’s just me – I have a weird taste in music.

I must admit I do listen to a lot of podcasts, but it took me a while to find one I could recommend as a learning tool for intermediate students. I mean the first one that comes to mind is always Stuff You Should Know, but it is too difficult for beginners.

This series is entertaining, quite easy and the episodes are short. Plus there is the enormous help of transcripts and exercises on the website.

As always, go listen and come back to comment. And if you have anything to recommend, please let me know – I really need something new to write about.

by Izabela

You will all have to excuse me in this post, because this time the listening I’m recommending is not that easily available. You see, I was traveling during my winter vacation and, long story short, I was flying home from Geneva and had some time to kill. So, obviously, I went to CERN. Yes, the very same CERN with the Large Hadron Collider. There, in the  The Globe of Science and Innovation, is an exhibition “Universe of particles”. Unfortunately it is not very large, but it is, and there is no word for it, awesome. You must go there if you get the opportunity. Really. If you fly somewhere and have a chance to fly through Geneva do it. The exhibition is admission free.  You need just half an hour, but what a half hour this will be! Imagine a circular, darkened room that explains the mystery of the universe. And it gets better – there are several dome-like armchairs with a speakers built-in. To be fair there are only a few of them, but they are great. You just  sink into them and listen to podcasts in  perfect English about the mysteries of the universe. Why does the force exist? What about the black holes? Why do we need the Higgs Boson and what is it? You will find answers to those and many more questions, all told simply enough for everyone to understand.

If that wasn’t enough there is a multimedia presentation which literally left me with my jaw hanging open. It was beautifully done and helped to imagine the beginning of the universe (though I must admit that the  “The Big Bang Theory” theme song kept running through my head)

And, anyway, their slogan – ‘Accelerating Science”? Priceless.

by Izabela