November 30, 2016

Hygge. The Danish Art of Living.

“The true secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life.” William Morris [Louisa Thomsen Brits, The book of Hygge, 2016, p. 84.]


Hygge (pronounced ‘hue-gah’) is a Danish way of living, meaning togetherness, closeness, cosiness, authenticity, simplicity. Hygge are little moments, like feeling happy when having dinner or playing board games with your close friends. It’s when you’re snuggled in your warm blanket and having your favourite tea and biscuits. It’s when darkness falls and you light the room with dimmed side lights and candles. Hygge can be music, books, magazines, food, interior designs, crafts, summer, spring, autumn, winter, family, friends, etc.


And of course, the Christmas season is very hygge. If you’d like to read more about this concept (or are thinking of buying a hygge book as a Christmas present), I’d like to recommend some recent publications, for example the beautifully illustrated work of Marie Tourell Søderberg, a book of quotations and deeper explanations by Louisa Thomsen Brits, a step-by-step guide to the art of living hygge offers by Meik Wiking and an in-depth analysis of hygge that can be found in Charlotte Abrahams’s book.


Do you remember any nice hygge moments from your life? Let me know more about them in the comments below.

Written by Kinga Macalla

November 23, 2016

Is Global English a New Lingua Franca?

We’re living in the era of English being a global language; one may argue a lingua franca so to say. But what does this mean for learners, speakers and teachers of the English language? I find this subject fascinating and would like to share a few thoughts with you.


New Society of Non-Native Speakers
When you think about English, do you still associate it with the USA or with Australia? Wherever I travel to, people usually greet me in their local language, but then they immediately switch to English. I believe there are so many speakers of English that the language itself has become an international hybrid without one dominating culture behind it. Speakers of English form “a new society, in which English is shared among many groups of non-native speakers rather than dominated by the British or Americans.”[Warschauer, 2000: 512] In the February New Scientist, Hodson presented an interesting hypothesis that “English is on course to be the planet’s lingua franca. It just probably won’t be English that native speakers are used to.” [Hodson, 2016: 31].

This internationalism of English definitely has some impact on the motivation of its learners. Normally learners study a language with the aim of visiting a country that speaks it, or to learn more about its culture. Do we learn English in order to travel to New Zealand? I doubt it; we rather invest in ourselves to become fluent, to be able to communicate with the world, to have better working perspectives, to gain knowledge quicker and to be seen as global citizens. Also, learning English is becoming a matter of necessity and importance rather than a choice linked with its culture, sound or mentality.

Bicultural Identity
Motivation leads us on to identity. Do we still identify ourselves with one language and one culture? As Arnett argues “most people now develop a bicultural identity, in which part of their identity is rooted in their local culture while another part stems from an awareness of their relation to the global culture”. It looks like the global society is on its way to becoming bilingual or multilingual and this phenomenon might be more of a norm than a special feature.

What are your thoughts on the future of English as a global language? Please share your ideas in the comments below.

Read more:
Warschauer, M., 2000. The changing global economy and the future of English teaching, TESOL Quarterly 34, 511-35.
New Scientist Magazine, February 2016.

Written by Kinga Macalla

November 16, 2016

Travelling Corner: How to afford all the travelling you want

Do you dream about travelling? I used to feel the same, but I’m no longer dreaming, I’ve started to act on it. Keep reading to find out how I organise my life in order to pursue all my travelling desires.


Make it a priority
Travelling is one of the biggest priorities of my life. Apart from all of life’s daily necessities (bills, food, etc.) and books, I spend most of my money on travelling. Unless necessary and very carefully chosen, I rarely buy new clothes, furniture, equipment or eat out (I usually invite friends to my place instead). Apart from work and family, I focus all my attention on all travel-related activities, doing research, reading, watching documentaries and obviously travelling. I’m very happy with my lifestyle now.

Cheap flights
Even though my head is full of ideas of where to travel to, I always do a reality check. I simply look for the cheapest flights available. Very often that means that I need to change my travelling plans, either to travel to my chosen destination later or even to change my chosen destination to go somewhere else. Yes, I’m flexible, but also I plan my travels way in advance. I follow this mantra that the world is beautiful and wherever I go I’ll have a new wonderful and inspiring experience.


I have a set of travelling clothes (quite worn now) and I only take a very few of them with me. The reason is that I do not want to be seen as a holiday-maker, but more as an average traveller who would like to learn more about the world. Since applying this rule, I’ve noticed that I’m rarely approached by waiters/sellers who would like to offer me some good. It works well and I feel comfortable, too.


If I travel to warmer places, I always camp. And personally, I love it. It gives me the opportunity to meet new people (you can easily bump into someone and start an interesting conversation), to be outside from sunrise to sunset and to completely change my routine. I also like the fact that I can organise the inside of the tent and make it homely and cosy (I always bring some extra pillows/blankets/electronic candles).


I rarely eat outside to reduce the cost and simply prepare my meals using local ingredients. The items I always bring with me are tea, porridge and raisins. That way I can have breakfast every day – one meal sorted!

Beach tent
I bought my beach tent a year ago and it was one of the best purchases I’ve made. It’s so practical, it can protect you from wind, sun and rain and you can have some quieter time to eat, read or sleep there. It’s not too big nor too heavy, so I carry it with me whenever I go to the beach.


Obviously, all the above is very personal and you may have a very different approach to travelling. How do you organise your life to be able to travel? Let me know in the comments below.

Written by Kinga Macalla

November 9, 2016

Book review: The Journey. The Fine Art of Travelling by Train.

A beautifully photographed album of the world’s luxury and local long- and short-distance train journeys. Since reading Closely Watched Trains (Ostře sledované vlaky) by Bohumil Hrabal, I have become inspired by the romantic and sentimental vibes associated with trains and train stations, to such an extent that I now even live by a train station. I must confess, I simply adore this publication. It gives a precise overview of the most magical train routes in the world. The photographs accompanying each train journey are astonishing. You can definitely taste the flavour of each of the routes, which include the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, The Belmond Royal Scotsman, the Glacier Express, El Transcantabrico, the Trans-Siberian Railway, Kyushu Seven Stars, the Eastern & Oriental Express, Royal Rajasthan on Wheels, California Zephyr, Hurricane Turn, the Royal Canadian Pacific, Belmond Hiram Bingham, La Trochita, The Blue Train, The Royal Livingston Express, the Tazara Railway, La Micheline, The Ghan, the TranzAlpine and many more.


It is a nice read for long, slow wintry evenings (but be careful: after reading it, you may become inspired to book train tickets straight away!). It could also be an excellent idea for a Christmas present.

Do you like travelling by train? What is your favourite route? Please let me know in the comments below.

Written by Kinga Macalla

November 2, 2016

Let’s celebrate festivals from around the world!

Dear Readers,

We feel lucky to be living in Bristol, a diverse and multilingual city, but in December… it’s that time of year again, it gets dark at 4pm… Isn’t that a perfect excuse to join us for an evening of multicultural celebrations and festive treats?


Let’s come together to learn about various festivals from around the world: Christmas, Rozhdestvo Khristovo, Chinese New Year, Ganjitsu, Epifanía del Señor and many more. Food, music and great conversation provided, wanna join?

Save the date: Friday, 2nd December @ 7pm.

Visit our FB page to find out more.

See you on the 2nd!