Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Coming back to China

Friday, May 16th, 2008

Hi all – I’m coming back to China for a visit from the beginning of June. I will spend some time in Beijing and it would be great to see you if you are there. I am thinking of visiting CUPL one day. Send me an email if you’re going to be around and maybe we can arrange to meet up.  Jon 


Wednesday, February 6th, 2008


Welcome to the blog

Wednesday, January 16th, 2008

Welcome to my English language and culture blog. This blog originated as a resource for students of my English writing and contemporary British culture courses. I ran these courses at the China University of Political Science and Law (CUPL) in 2007. I hope the material available here will be useful to other students of English too.  Please do leave a comment and let me know what you think of the site. Best wishes, Jon 


Sunday, June 17th, 2007

The first part of the examination will be this Wednesday, as I explained in the last class. Just to remind you, I expect to see that you have chosen a question from the list of questions (see the last post), that you have done some independent research (you can show me your notes to demonstrate this), that you have brainstormed to generate diverse ideas (again, I expect to see notes to show this), that you have chosen a central claim for your essay and that you have begun to plan it.

In order to be very clear then, what you need to show me in the class on Wednesday is the following. Please bring everything to class. You do not need to hand it in, but I want to see it and to discuss it with each one of you.

  • evidence of research (notes, statistics, web addresses, etc.)
  • evidence of brainstorming (lists of ideas, diagrams, flow charts, etc.)
  • your planned central claim (the ‘thesis statement’ that will form the basis of your argument – this should be one sentence)
  • an outline plan of the essay (a list of paragraphs with notes on the content)

You do not need to write the essays for this week. I want to talk through your plans with you before you write the final draft.

 OK – good luck! If you have any questions, please post them here.

End of course assessments

Tuesday, June 12th, 2007

We’re getting near the end of the course, so I think it’s time to begin talking about assessment. I’m not going to set you exams, instead I’m going to ask you to write an essay – or tw essays if you are following both the writing and the Blair’s Britain courses.

 I’m going to give you a wide choice of questions – you can see them here:

End of semester essay questions

The questions are quite hard, but that’s so you can all show me how clever you are!

 I’ll talk more about the assessment tomorrow and you’ll have a chance to ask me any questions then. You can also ask questions by posting comments to this entry.

 See you tomorrow. 

Reith Lectures

Friday, April 20th, 2007

If you’re looking for material to practise your listening skills, you might like to look at the BBC’s Reith Lectures.

Reith was the first Director General of the BBC, and the Reith Lectures are held every year in his memory. For each year’s lectures, an expert is chosen to speak on a topical subject.

This year’s lecturer is Professor Jeffrey Sachs, an economist, who is speaking on the challenges faced by the world’s economy in the decades to come. His second lecture was given on Wednesday in Beijing, at Beida. He will give a total of 5 lectures.

You can also listen to past lectures. I have been listening to the very interesting lectures on the philosophy of trust given in 2002 by Onora O’neill.

Recordings of the lectures are accompanied by transcriptions, so you can follow the text while you listen, and the lecturers generally speak very clearly, so I think these lectures are ideal for practising listening.

If you do listen to some of the lectures, please leave a comment to this post to tell me what you thought of it and whether it was useful.


Thursday, April 19th, 2007

Welcome to the Blog for my English Writing and Blair’s Britain courses at CUPL!

I will use the blog to post summaries of the classes, presentation and handouts. I will also post links to sites that can help you to understand the issues we talk about in class.

Please check the blog often. If you subscribe by using the button below, you can choose to receive emails automatically whenever a new post is added to the blog.