This class has ended. While it was still ongoing, I wrote one entry after the other, so that the newest entries were at the top. After several months, this makes orientation a little difficult and I will put the dates into their correct chronological order. It will be mainly for my own benefit, shall I want to give this class again. However, I am not so sure about that. Due to a much too wide proficiency gap between class participants (from beginners to academic level) and the long stretches of no meetings in between, I feel this class was not very efficient. I commented on that in the beginning and wrote what would be necessary for participants to get something out of our class. However, my impression was that voluntary initiative was low. We spoke about this; feeling of time and exam pressure were mentioned as main reasons. We will meet one last time and I will ask them what they think before I decide to offer this class again.
January 6th, 2021
Hello and welcome to your turn with English.
The situation is still rather difficult, but we will try to make the best of it. In our first meeting, as with all groups, we will have to get to know each other a bit (which will be a little more difficult under face masks, so I will need longer to match names with faces).
I will provide you with a list of questions we will go through together and talk about. In addition, I would like you to fill the questionnaire out at home at hand it in.
You find the course description under the page Introduction.
At the end of our first meeting, we ran out of time a little so I would like to go back to showing you some of the online things you can do and the list of resources you find here on my blog.
Then we will look at some food images and practice food vocabulary with their help. I will show you some food pyramids for you to describe and compare, and I would like you to explain what nutritional concepts seem to underlie each one of them.
In connection with this, I copied a text you will find below. Depending on how things develop and how much time we have, we might just read it together or I will send it to you for homework, because I would like go back to TED talks and show you around that page a little. The list of presentations is vast and it is easy to get lost. This is why you find some playlists where people put together a limited list of talks related to a specific topic. I checked one out on FOOD.
Besides that you find a smaller list of talks I put together under Resources and Recommendations for our classes, all of which I have watched and discussed with one or the other group.
We watched a five minute video by Chinese food activist Mathilda Ho in class. She has a slight Chinese accent so you probably didn’t understand everything. Watch and listen again with subtitles and check the transcript for unknown words and expressions.
Little extra task: go to TED, find the alphabetical list of topics, go to health and find a talk about digestion.
More pages, material and resources for our first online meeting, January 13:
Food image1 (fruits and vegetables)
Food image2 (meat and dairy)
Food sporcles are just a fun way of reviewing food vocabulary. They don’t take much time so you can always squeeze one in if you like them. (The free version of sporcle is loaded with ads, which is why I bought a subscription for four Euro a month.)
Links for second meeting
Examples of nutritional counselling sessions:
My first link is one to a session I could imagine to be very realistic. It’s 20 minutes, so not too long and we have two non-native speakers of English.
Nutritional Counselling webpage, short video from a registered dietician about how she became a dietician and why she likes it so much.
The following is not a counselling session, but what I like here is the enthusiasm with which the dietician talks about food, and the possibilities we have in enjoying making better choices. I believe this could be a very positive basic approach to nutritional changes: develop a joy of food and cooking
We will review some food vocabulary, then take a closer look at the text that I sent you as a word file. If time allows, we will start with an overview of the English verb structure system (commonly called tenses). (We didn’t, so maybe next time or in March)
For those of you who would like to do more than we can manage in class, I strongly recommend that you explore the resources listed on the page above. Many have mentioned as a topic they would like to do dietary consultation. Here I recommend the page Health Literacy. As this is an original source, you might feel it to be too difficult. However, give it a try. I will provide (adapted) material from this page in later sessions.
We will check your homework first, then we will start with ‘body vocabulary’.
This we will watch first:
Then we will do the body parts quiz I sent you. We didn’t have enough time for the tutorial below as it is 20 minutes. You can either watch it on your own, or we watch it together in March. In any case, it is a good review of what we started today.
Dr Sam Webster, Senior Lecturer in anatomy and embryology at Swansea University Medical School in the United Kingdom, explains the whole internal anatomy in this 20 minute youtube tutorial very vividly. Great video that I just found and decided we should watch together. Grammar can wait. (His accent takes some getting used to, but after a few minutes, you understand him better.)
Here Dr Webster’s Podcast Page
How the digestive system works; a TED ED video
We will not meet in February; our next meeting is on the 17th of March. I will provide you with a few things to do during this time. Any interruption is not good for learning processes, continuity is important. Those of you whose English already is on an advanced level I would recommend taking a look at some of the books listed and/or maybe already start listening to the podcasts on the health literacy page, watch some TED talks, whatever interests you. Since your level is already good, I assume reading and watching things in English is something you already do on a regular basis.
Those of you who still need to build up basic language skills or feel that they would like to go back to some basics, there is a self-study series I can highly recommend: English for Everyone published by Dorling/Kindersley. It consists of four levels, each level has a course book and a practice book. I would not recommend the beginners level; intermediate should be fine for everyone. But you can check them out either by downloading samples if you have a Kindle reader or the app, or you can look at the sample pages provided on Amazon. There is also an extra grammar course and practice book. Anybody interested can consult me for additional advice.
March 10, and March 17 (further down)
March 10 plan has become March 24th plan:
Depending on how much time we will spend with Dan Buettner’s Blue Zones, we might watch Dr Berg’s video on explaining insulin resistance. (This has moved to March 24th)
Questions before watching the video:
What body parts are mainly involved when we talk about diabetes and insulin resistance?
Check: Body Anatomy Diabetes
More sporcles found under nutrition e.g. Nutrition Glossary
And some body quiz questions (if time allows) (we didn’t do any of this, so still available for practice 🙂
My plan (March 10) had been a little different as I had hoped that most would at least have watched Dan Buettner’s TED talk in advance, but it seems nobody found the time. And I guess I was not clear enough about how important it is that you do the things I recommend. It is a little difficult in this group as the language levels are so different. This is what it must have felt like when small town school teachers had all grades together in one class.
To tell the truth, I don’t really care how fast or quick we are. We don’t have a fixed curriculum of topics that need to be covered with a test or an exam at the end. However, the more you do, the more ground we could cover and the more your English would improve.
In this respect there is a book I highly recommend referring to the importance and efficiency of just diving into ‘real’ stuff instead of course/school book, mostly grammar and structure related exercises: English: How to Get Really Good at English: Learn English to Fluency and Beyond
Language in context, especially reading and listening as much as you can is the road to improvement. You have to have a certain level of tolerance for not understanding everything, but the more you do the better you will become. It is a gradual process and takes time and patience (and of course you have to want to learn the language). It’s like changing your diet in order to bring your set point down – takes a lot of time, patience and a regular, gradual effort (see Why we eat (too much) by Dr Andrew Jenkinson, 2020; more details on this book under Resources and Recommendations).
The pace in group 44 was not much different and we only scratched upon the topic of consulting. I might change my order of things or move them around a little to make sure we devote more time to dietary consulting. My thinking here is though, how can we consult before we have built up a solid foundation of the language related to the topics dieticians need to talk about with their patients?
Still, I think I will show you one of the consulting videos I looked at with class 44 in two or three weeks.
Today (March 17) we will continue with the topic related to Dan Buettner’s talk on the Blue Zones. I would like to read a few pages from the book Traditional Nutrition by Ben Hirschberg: the first few introductory pages about Weston Price and his studies on the effect of Western diets on health from the perspective of a dentist, and the lists of a number of diets from different ethnic groups towards the end of the book. I find these interesting for analysis, and they provide loads of food vocabulary. The analysis focusses on the question: what is a healthy diet?
We are still at the beginning of our course and I picked this topic because it provides a more general approach to health and diet and thereby loads of general health and food related vocabulary. I think the book is highly readable on a not too advanced level.
We will move on to more specific topics in the coming weeks. We will start with diabetes and insulin resistance. I will provide some preparatory homework.
March 24 we will start with diabetes
And we did. We read a little text summarizing aspects and differences between type 1 and type 2 diabetes. We discussed the question whether cases have increased over the last decades (of course they have for type 2, as this is linked to the obesity epidemic, but what about type 1?).
We also mentioned, among other things, the possible link between obesity and severe Covid 19 cases, and, indeed, there have been studies on this. Here an article with a graph showing a correlation. And we watched Dr Eric Berg’s video explaining insulin resistance.
The question I asked at the end of last weeks session was: what is the effect of artificial sweeteners on the human body? Many people substitute real sugar with artificial alternatives believing this will save calories and thus not have the same effect on their weight or insulin as ‘real’ sugar. I would like to find out if this is true.
In connection with artificial sweeteners, I would also like to look at so-called excitotoxins. Here the link to a little video by Thomas DeLauer on how artificial sweeteners might affect the brain. The presenter might be speaking a little too fast. Anybody interested can take a look and tell me if he does. You can, of course, always add subtitles, but these may also be too fast. However, despite his speed, you might try to understand what he is basically saying and check other sources to confirm or question what he is describing. This question I would like to keep for next time.
Today I would like to listen to an interview with Dr Jason Fung in which he talks about diabetes type 2. I believe Dr Jason Fung speaks more slowly and clearly and is worth listening to.
Some questions before we do:
- What is Dr Fung’s specialty or what medical field does he work in?
- What does he say causes diabetes type 2?
- Is diabetes a chronic and progressive disease or reversible?
- How is diabetes commonly treated?
- Is diabetes type 1 treated differently from type 2?
- What does he say causes weight gain?
- What are the problems with treating diabetes type 2 with insulin?
- What other diseases does he compare this with?
The topic strongly linked with diabetes is obesity. Here I would like to explore the history or development of what now is being referred to as the obesity epidemic, and try to find out if we can determine a beginning of this extreme weight gain development. Furthermore, what kind of answers are there concerning the reasons for the extreme increase in overweight and obese people. And what are suggestions for change?
Having studied several medical authors in the mean time, like Dr Jason Fung and Dr Andrew Jenkins, the calorie reduction concept/diet for weight loss not only fails, but is extremely dangerous when carried out too long and to extremes like e.g. in programs like ‘The Biggest Losers’. In following sessions, I would like to discuss the calorie in/calorie out concept. Where does it come from i.e. what is the idea behind it? (And from a linguistic point of view, what metaphor is used here to describe bodily functions).
Like in class 44, I would like to read what Jason Fung writes about the role of insulin in the body from his book The Obesity Code.
And on a different but related note: does anybody know the TV program Freaky Eaters? In class 44 we watched episode one from the first season. Interesting here is to observe what the nutritionist recommends Josh (the freaky eater of this episode) do to get off his pizza addiction.
Today I would like to review some of the topics we have done so far. We will start with the exercise on general food and diet vocabulary and then move on to the body. We will use some of the links below that we haven’t yet so far (Body Quiz and the Ted Ed lesson on the digestive system and Food Quiz are options. And a Nutrition Quiz I found online that could be interesting to fact check. We won’t manage all).
Note: There are a lot of quizzes and pages on the internet on health and nutrition and it is important to keep a critical mind. Knowledge changes, beliefs change and many things are claimed without real proof (because many things are hard to prove and thus sometimes just myths or common beliefs without real substance). However, for language learning purposes EVERYTHING is good 😉
I sent you chapter 15 from Jason Fung’s Diabesity Code. Unless you haven’t read it yet, do so until next time and answer the questions I will send you on artificial sweeteners.
Also, take a look at the episode linked below on Freaky Eaters. I would like to discuss the nutritional recommendations made in the show. Our next meeting is on the 7th of July.
There is plenty for you to do here. Choose whatever you like or what interests you most. If you haven’t done the tasks I gave you so far, do those.
This morning I had an interesting discussion on FISH. It was triggered by the documentary Seaspiracy on Netflix. In summary you could say the message of the film is: Eat no fish anymore. In this connection I was wondering if you ever discuss the issue of dietary advice and sustainability in your classes.
Update for July 7: I went through all we did and did not do, but had planned (there never seems to be enough time) once more. One of the things mentioned early on in our course was to give you an overview of the English verb structures as a grammar review. As we haven’t done that yet and we did have a long break now, I’m thinking of changing my plan and postponing the work with Kennesaw University’s questionnaire.
If time allows, we will take a look at the Freaky Eaters Episode 1 from season 1 and discuss the dietary advice given.
We have had a long break until our meetings in July. We will meet two times and then again in October. This is a little unfortunate and does not support continuity. Therefore, if you want to improve your English, you will have to show independent initiative and do things on your own. I believe the possibilities offered in class and here so far are sufficient to get you going. All you need is a little time and habit change to integrate some of the topics you are interested in into your weekly routine. (And I know this might be easier said than done.)
We will spend our two meetings in July with some review and start with looking at dietary advice. As a first step, I would like to take a look at the questionnaire from Kennesaw University, define some of the diseases listed there and start with what kind of recommendations you would give in some of those cases.
In our last meeting, in July, we took a closer look at the episode mentioned below about Jeff, the young man ‘addicted’ to pizza and discussed the advice the nutritionist and psychologist give him. There were some critical remarks from your side. Some especially voiced skepticism towards their ‘shock therapy’ strategy.
Links for first meeting after longer break
In our first meeting after a longer break, we will spend some time reviewing topics of past meetings. For this, I will use some of the links below, especially those we haven’t used yet and, if time allows, take a look at Sandra Aamodt’s TED talk, Why diets usually don’t work.
In the following weeks, we will continue with talking about dietary consultation. We will start with identifying several food related diseases and/or ailments that can be positively influenced by dietary measures. Here please bring the exercise pages I sent you via email.
The list of diseases and disorders are from the Kennesaw questionnaire. We will go through the list, fill in the gaps together, talk about some of the problems, and what you would recommend as dietary measures.
We will also watch some examples of dietary consultations on the internet.
Quiz on nutrition This quiz is interesting for discussion as you/we might not agree with all answers
Website about The Best Cooking Shows you can stream
Book recommendation: Health Literacy from A-Z
On October 13, we will start with the list of health problems and diseases I gave you, fill in the gaps and talk about a few in more detail. I would suggest, as a first step, a loose conversation about which health problems are strongly linked to diet, maybe even caused by food choices, which ones can be positively influenced by specific dietary choices and in which cases certain foods should be strictly avoided.
In a second step, we will/should/could look at some examples of counselling sessions of which I will post some links below. And then we can create some situations ourselves with the help of some role play. For this, I plan on creating some role play cards. (Still working on that and considering if we might try creating them together.)
We agreed to watch and discuss Sarah Aamodts TED talk ‘Why dieting usually doesn’t work’.
I will give you copies from Andrew Jenkinson’s book: Why we eat (too much). Dr. Andrew Jenkinson is a specialist for bariatric surgery. Both, the reference to Dr. Sarah Aamodt and to Dr. Andrew Jenkinson came up when we talked about what a ‘set point’ is. The concept of a body’s ‘set point’ plays a prominent role in both doctors’ work. We started discussing it and agreed to continue this in our last meeting this year.
I would also like to share a text that explores what a calorie actually is, and why the author thinks calories should play no role in our nutritional considerations whatsoever.
If time left, which I doubt ;-), we can go through some more disease definitions (unless we do that in the beginning as a little warm up).
November, last comments
We watched Sarah Aamodt’s TED talk focussing on the concept of the so-called set point. You can also check the wikipedia entry for set-point theory.
We will meet again next year summer for a cooking session. We will start planning that some time next year. For those interested in cooking, as you all most likely are, there are loads of great cooking shows out there. Further down you find a link to some of them.
We also briefly touched upon the topic of calories. What actually is a calorie, and how useful or not is this category for our health and nutrition. Here I strongly recommend the presentations/videos by Dr. Jason Fung: Stop counting calories to lose weight.
And here the link to Stephanie Buttermore 🙂
Like with class 44, we will have a cooking session. Check out the notes on their class page.
In addition, here some links to cooking shows:
You can find many youtube videos with Jamie Oliver.