Studying abroad – Spaces and exchanges-

Travel broadens the mind

Why study abroad?


Both the article and the video are relevant documents to illustrate the notion of spaces and exchanges. They show that moving away from home, therefore changing spaces,  makes us more open to new experiences : 

Summary of the article: Studies suggest that taking a gap year or studying abroad can positively influence your brain to make you more outgoing and open to new ideas

1 The more countries people have lived in, the more creative their work tend to be. It stimulates our creativity.

2  Travelling and living abroad can also help us to communicate better with people.

3 It increases our openness to new experiences, agreeableness and emotional stability.

4 Moving abroad also allows young adults to gain a new sense of responsibility and independence, and to manage their own finances.

5 We are more likely to know how to deal with unknown or unusual  situations and therefore make the right decisions.

Summary of the video :The speaker in the You tube video  participated in study abroad from Ireland and studied in Caen in Normandy in France. Her experience abroad   has always gotten her noticed in interviews and job applications, more so than almost any other item. Another advantage is that many people nowadays are coming to the job market  with degrees and masters’ degrees. A semester or a year of study abroad  shows that you’re willing to take on a challenge, to be brave,  to be open to living in a different culture. You meet new people, and it takes a lot of courage to do that, to move away from family and friends, and a comfortable environment, and throw yourself into an environment that you don’t know a lot about. So it says a lot for a person to study abroad, especially if English is not their first language . The student has to perfect English very quickly in a stressful environment, in the sense that they’re pressured to learn their second language, so they do have a lot of hurdles to overcome. So it’s quite an admirable event in one’s life to study abroad.


In both documents, the idea put forward is that we can only gain from studying abroad, both on a personal and profesional levels.


I couldn´t agree more with the idea / I totally agree with the idea of …..  because ……

Link the notion with another notion – for example  the idea of progress…..

We can also relate these documents to the notion of progress . It is a lot easier to travel to another country or study abroad nowadays than it was 50 years ago. For example, there are plenty of exchange programmes (i.e. Erasmus) and financial helps (scholarships) to facilitate the studies in another country.

At this point, if you still have time, you can talk about your future plans …. which are studying in France!!!

If you want to add another document to this presentation, you can easily find pictures on the web showing international students on a campus…

For my students : The  interview of former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone,  about the impact foreign students can have on a city could be relevant to support your argumentation.





Useful websites for your BAC revision

Here are a few websites that can help you revise for your BAC. Keep in mind that the best way to get ready is to inform yourself (watch the news, read press articles), and do not forget that other course materials (Philosophy, History, Geography, Economics)  will be ressourful for your English exams.


grammar revision

Grammar revision

Most common grammar mistakes


formal and informal letters








Movies are  great ressources : They can be used as relevant documents to illustrate your topic … and they are so entertaining as well as inspiring. Here´s my list ….. These movies all deal with the topic of immigration to the US.

The Immigrant (1917 Short Film) Director: Charlie Chaplin – Charlie is an immigrant who endures a challenging voyage and gets into trouble as soon as he arrives in America.

America America (1963) Director: Elia Kazan – A young Anatolian Greek, entrusted with his family’s fortune, loses it en route to Istanbul and dreams of going to the United States. (174 mins.)

An American Rhapsody (2001) -Director: Éva Gardos A young Hungarian girl struggles to find her place in the world when she’s reunited with her parents in the USA years after she was left behind during their flight from the communist country in the 1950s. (106 mins.)

A Better Life (2011) Director: Chris WeitzA gardener in East L.A. struggles to keep his son away from gangs and immigration agents while trying to give his son the opportunities he never had. (98 mins.)

Dancer in the Dark (2000) Director: Lars Von Trier – An east European girl goes to America with her young son, expecting it to be like a Hollywood film. (140 mins.)

Gangs of New York (2002)Director: Martin Scorsese –  In 1863, Amsterdam Vallon returns to the Five Points area of New York City seeking revenge against Bill the Butcher, his father’s killer. (167 mins.)

Green Card (1990) Director: Peter Weir – A man wanting to stay in the US enters into a marriage of convenience, but it turns into more than that. (103 mins.)

La misma luna (2007)Director: Patricia Riggen –  A young Mexican boy travels to the U.S. to find his mother after his grandmother passes away. (106 mins.)

Moscow on the Hudson (1984)Director: Paul Mazursky –  When a Russian musician defects in Bloomingdale’s department store in New York, he finds adjusting to American life more difficult than he imagined. (115 mins.)

The Namesake (2006) Director: Mira Nair – American-born Gogol, the son of Indian immigrants, wants to fit in among his fellow New Yorkers, despite his family’s unwillingness to let go of their traditional ways. (122 mins.)

El Norte (1983)Director: Gregory Nava –  Peasants escaping mindless labor and a murderous Guatemalan government head to America in hopes for something better.(141 mins.)

Titanic (1997 Director: James Cameron – A seventeen-year-old aristocrat falls in love with a kind, but poor artist aboard the luxurious, ill-fated R.M.S. Titanic. (194 mins.)

West Side Story (1961)Director: Jerome Robbins, Robert Wise –  Two youngsters from rival New York City gangs fall in love, but tensions between their respective friends build toward tragedy.(152 mins.)

Nybyggarna (1972) Director: Jan Troell – The life of an immigrant family from Sweden in the Minnesota’s forests, during mid 19th century (204 mins.)

Spanglish (2004) Director: James L. Brooks – A woman and her daughter emigrate from Mexico for a better life in America, where they start working for a family where the patriarch is a newly celebrated chef with an insecure wife.(131 mins.)

Scarface (1983) Director: Brian De Palma – In 1980 Miami, a determined Cuban immigrant takes over a drug cartel while succumbing to greed. (170 mins.)

Avalon (1990)Director: Barry Levinson –  A Polish-Jewish family comes to the USA at the beginning of the Twentieth Century. There, the family and their children try to make themselves a better future in the so-called promised land. (128 mins.)

The Immigrant (2013) Director: James Gray – An innocent immigrant woman is tricked into a life of burlesque and vaudeville until a dazzling magician tries to save her and reunite her with her sister who is being held in the confines of Ellis Island. (120 mins.)

Entre nos (2009)Director: Gloria La Morte, Paola Mendoza –  A story based on facts which offers a fresh take on the issue of new immigrants in the United States… (80 mins.)

Lost Boys of Sudan (2003 Documentary) – Director: Megan Mylan, Jon Shenk Lost Boys of Sudan is a feature-length documentary that follows two Sudanese refugees on an extraordinary journey from Africa to America… (87 mins.)

La terminal (2004) Director: Steven Spielberg – An eastern immigrant finds himself stranded in JFK airport, and must take up temporary residence there. (128 mins.)

Amistad (1997) Director: Steven Spielberg About a 1839 mutiny aboard a slave ship that is traveling towards the northeastern coast of America. Much of the story involves a court– room drama about the free man who led the revolt.






Social media

Is social media  a good thing or a bad thing? There are always two sides of everything; most people admire it as a revolutionary invention and some seem to take it as a negative impact on society.

Positive aspects:

Friends and Relations: Social networks allow us to connect with friends in an easy and convenient way.

Reducing Communication Barriers:  Social networks unable us to share opinions about any topic to a large audience.

Negative Effects:

Leads to addiction: Many studies have shown that the extensive use of social media can actually cause addiction to the users.

Leads to isolation: Extreme usage of social media has reduced the level of human interaction.

2 documents to illustrate both sides

Look up

Teenagers and social networking – it might actually be good for them



The social media have created new spaces in our lives, new spaces because they are virtual. How do these new spaces affect our everyday life? (positive and negative aspects)

The social media have created new exchanges between people. To what extent do they allow us to communicate better? (Present the pros and cons)


How does modern technology affect today’s society? Does it have a positive or a negative effect?


A current topic is the migrant crisis in Calais. Thousands of migrants are fleeing their country in the hope of reaching the UK. An interesting topic to illustrate the notion of spaces and exchanges. The following documents (a press article from the Guardian, a video from Vice news, and a Banksy´s  artwork) will illustrate the topic of immigration. Here are a few questions you might want to discuss-

Who is going where? why?how? (podcastenglish level 3 audio and worksheet on the refugees crisis)

Why do most migrants want to go to the UK?

Most migrants consider  Britain as a land of opportunities. Is this belief a myth or reality? (could be mentionned in your conclusion as a reference to another notion)

Banksy´s artwork depicting the child from the musical ¨les Miserables¨ surrounded by tear gas wants to draw our attention on the harsh living conditions of migrant children in Calais. 150 years after Victor Hugo´s Les Miserables, children are still being persecuted. (you might want to question the idea of progress or the myth of a better life in western countries.)

Banksy and the migrant crisis

Commuters in London took pictures of a new piece of art by Banksy opposite the French embassy on Monday. The work is critical of the use of tear gas in the refugee camp in Calais.

The horror of the Calais refugee camp

Migrant Crisis in Calais: Britain’s Border War





FORBES – AUG 14, 2014

The World’s Most Influential Cities – Joel Kotkin , CONTRIBUTOR

In the past century, the greatest global cities were generally the largest and centers of the world’s great empires: London, Paris, New York and Tokyo. Today size is not so important: Of the world’s 10 most populous cities, only Tokyo, New York and Beijing are in the top 10 of our ranking of the world’s most important cities. Instead, what matters today is influence.
In order to quantify cities’ global influence, we looked at eight factors: the amount of foreign direct investment they have attracted; the concentration of corporate headquarters; how many particular business niches they dominate; air connectivity (ease of travel to other global cities); strength of producer services; financial services; technology and media power; and racial diversity. We found those factors particularly important in identifying rising stars that, someday, might challenge the current hegemony of our two top-ranked global cities, London and New York.
London, which after more than a century of imperial decline still ranks No. 1 in our survey. The United Kingdom may now be a second-rate power, but the City’s unparalleled legacy as a global financial capital still underpins its pre-eminence.
Ranked first in the world on the Z/Yen Group’s 2013 Global Financial Centres Index, which we used for our list, London not only has a long history as a dominant global financial hub, but its location outside the United States and the eurozone keeps it away from unfriendly regulators. Compared to New York, it is also time-zone advantaged for doing business in Asia, and has the second best global air connections of any city after Dubai, with nonstop flights at least three times a week to 89% of global cities outside of its home region of Europe.
A preferred domicile for the global rich, London is not only the historic capital of the English language, which contributes to its status as a powerful media hub and major advertising center, but it’s also the birthplace of the cultural, legal and business practices that define global capitalism. London hosts the headquarters of 68 companies on the 2012 Forbes Global 2000 list and is a popular location for the regional HQs of many multinationals. Beyond these traditional strengths, London has become Europe’s top technology startup center, according to the Startup Genome project. The city has upward of 3,000 tech startups as well as Google’s largest office outside Silicon Valley.
New York, which comes in a close second in our study (40 points to London’s 42), is home to most of the world’s top investment banks and hedge funds, and the stock trading volume on the city’s exchanges is nearly four times that of second place Tokyo and more than 10 times that of London.
Like London, New York is a global leader in media and advertising, the music industry (home to two of the big three labels), and also one of the most important capitals of the fashion and luxury business. With iconic landmarks galore, international visitors spend more money in New York each year than in any other city in the world.
The Challengers And Those Slowly Fading
London and New York are clearly the leaders but they are not the hegemonic powers that they were throughout much of the 20th century, and their main competitors are now largely from
outside Europe. Paris may rank third in our survey, but it is way below New York and London by virtually every critical measure, and the city’s future is not promising given that France, and much of the EU, are mired in relative economic stagnation.
Rather than a true indication of global reach, Paris’ high ranking is partly the product of the city’s utter domination of the still sizable French economy and the concentration of virtually all the country’s leading companies there Elsewhere, Europe boast a veritable archipelago of globally competitive cities — Munich, Rome, Hamburg — but none is large enough, or unique enough, to break into the top 10 in the future. East Asia is likely to place more cities at the top of the list.
Full List: The World’s Most Influential Cities
For most of the last century, Tokyo has been Asia’s leading city. It is still the world’s largest city, with the largest overall GDP. In her seminal work on world cities, Saskia Sassen placed it on the same level as London and New York. Tokyo’s limitations resemble those of Paris — its high ranking stems partly from the extreme concentration of domestic companies — and it will be handicapped in the future by a severe demographic crisis, a lack of ethnic diversity and very determined regional rivals.

This text is a good example of how you can relate a document to several notions.

SPACES AND EXCHANGES: Global cities as new spaces/exchanges

The growth of global cities has brought a wealth of cultural, linguistic and ethnic diversity, allowing people to enrich their everyday life and open them to new possibilities of exchange. (magnet for nationals and foreigners – diversity of language and culture – top universities – job opportunities)

How have global cities created new spaces and new exchanges?

Why do global cities depend on exchanges?

What impact do global cities have on people´s everyday lives?

How global cities, as geographical spaces, can have an impact on people and exchanges?

POWER AND SEATS OF POWER : Global cities as seats of power

Concentration of powers (economic, cultural, financial, political) – Global cities=leaders in the world economy – international marketplaces – dynamic hubs – top universities)

To what extent are global cities seats of power?

IDEA OF PROGRESS : Global cities and progress (social, economic)

The growth og global cities has brought wealth of culture, linguistic and etnic diversity. However such dense populations have led to serious environmental problems. (urban issues: overcrowding- slums- pollution – litter- congestion))

Will global cities find a way to create a sustainable and clean environment for the future?

Can we considered global cities as symbols of progress?


Tips for a better understanding of a document

How to read or listen to a document?

  • If there is a title, it will give you the topic of the document
  • Write a mind map with the following elements : WHAT, WHO, WHEN, WHERE, WHY, HOW

Si tu peux répondre à toutes ces questions, tu auras compris l´essentiel du texte ou de l´enregistrement. Ces WH- questions t´aideront à retenir les éléments essentiels indispensables pour comprendre l´idée générale du document. Ils t´aideront aussi à organiser ta réponse .Tu pourras alors  résumer plus facilement, ou répondre aux questions de compréhension générale..

WHAT : identifie l´idée principale

WHO : qui parle ? Qui écrit ? Combien de personnes présentes ? Qui sont-elles ? que font-elles ? Pourquoi sont-elles présentes ?

WHEN : Pour un article de presse la date et la source sont des informations importantes. Quand l´histoire se passe-t-elle ? Repère les indicateurs de temps.

WHERE : Ou cela se passe t- il ? Indicateurs de lieux.

WHY : Pour un article de presse ou un document audio, pose toi toujours la question, quel est l´objectif du document ? Informer ? Convaincre ? Donner une opinion ?

HOW : Toujours pour un article de presse ou document audio, pose-toi la question : Comment le propos est-il organisé ? C´est l´ossature (how are the ideas organized?) if it raises a problem, it might give solutions, and often gives its causes and/or consequences. Another structure could be the pros and cons.

Les documents audio ou écrits en classe ou le jour de l´examen se réfèrent toujours à un sujet que tu as abordé en cours d´anglais. Mais pas seulement !!! Tu abordes forcement ces sujets dans les autres matières. Mon expérience m´a montré que les élèves  ont du mal à relier les matières entre elles. Et pourtant, en espagnol tu parles des mêmes notions ? Les cours d´économie, d´histoire, de géographie, littérature et philosophie te donnent de l´information que tu pourras transférer dans les cours d´anglais et ainsi enrichir ton argumentation.

REMEMBER!!  Always be positive and trust yourself! Don´t rush into the text, Take your time to look at it. Is there any illustration? What does the title tell you? Do you have any knowledge about the topic?


A press article and a video to illustrate the notion of Spaces and Exchanges

  1. Black Britons

2.  Multicultural Britain

Notion: Spaces and exchanges

Theme : Human exchanges

Key concept: Immigration to the UK – Multicultural Britain – Britishness

Questions :

What effect has immigration had on UK´s society?

How strong is the link that keeps the British together?

To what extent can Britain be considered as a multicultural country?

After having introduced the notion and the question you want to deal with, you need to present the documents that will illustrate your point.

If you choose to raise the question of Britain as a multicultural country, you should define multiculturalism first. (the preservation of different cultures or cultural identities within unified society, as a state or nation).

Both documents help us understand how Britain has evolved towards a multicultural society since the post-war years. Doc 1 deals with the different  waves of Caribbean migrants to Britain while doc 2 focuses on 2 generations, father and son from Kenya.

If the first generation of migrants felt more black than British, it is clearly explained that there is no contradiction for the younger generation (born in the 70´s) between ethnicity and identity as can be seen in the title ¨black Britons¨.

As for doc 2, to the question ¨what’s the best thing about living here, Sunny?¨, the young man answers : ¨The food, the different cultures that come in and bring their spices, their experiences and even their rituals, so you get a taste of the world within this small community¨. 

After presenting the documents, make a personal conclusion by giving your opinion on the documents and if you can by opening up onto another notion or future prospects.

These two documents could also be linked to the idea of progress because the younger generation of black Britons live a better life than their fathers. They feel part of a community, they feel proud to be British but also proud of their origins and this can indeed be considered as great progress for society.

A third document to add to your presentation …….


 And two other quotes 

Tony Blair (UK Prime Minister 1997 – 2007- Labour Party)

¨A simple way to take measure of a country is to look at how many want in, and how many want out¨.

JFK : ¨Everywhere immigrants have enriched and strengthened the fabric of US life¨.