English Learning Resources

This is a follow up blog to my old one titled "How I learnt English", I wrote this as an email to a friend who approached me the other day, seeking some tips and tricks on how to improve her English and also if I can share with her some free resources.
I divided my email into four sections to guide her through it, so without further ado here is what I've sent to my friend.

Lessons from Tuesdays with Morrie

Last week I had the pleasure of reading the splendid book 'Tuesdays with Morrie' , it took me up and down into a spiritual trip.
 The book talks about Morrie Schwartz a professor who died 20 years ago with Lou Gehrig's disease, he shared with Mitch Albom his theories on various subjects such as culture, family, forgiveness, death,  and marriage. Albom wrote this novel to help pay the immense medical bills for Morrie.

The little wave

One of the most powerful messages I read this year, it's very simple yet it has great meaning; is the story about the little wave:
" a little wave was bobbing along in the ocean, having a grand old time. He’s enjoying the wind and the fresh air – until he notices the other waves in front of him, crashing against the shore. “My God, this terrible”, the wave says. “Look what’s going to happen to me!”
Then along comes another wave. It sees the first wave, looking grim, and it says to him: “Why do you look so sad?”
The first wave says: “You don’t understand! We’re all going to crash! All of us waves are going to be nothing! Isn’t it terrible?”
The second wave says: “No, you don’t understand. You’re not a wave, you’re part of the ocean."
Albom had the chance to visit his old professor at frequent times throughout the remaining months of his life. He wrote down all the things he learned during this time, and gathered them into his novel.

This book is a page turner, I expressed many powerful emotions while reading the topics that Morrie discussed with Mitch.

He has done something I wish I could do, he exposed himself to the society around him, his fears, tears, and his illness! He was truly a brave man.

However, his proverb "Death ends a life, not a relationship.” demonstrate it's value as he lies dead in his grave when people still cherish his memory.

I want to share with you four lessons I learnt from Morrie:

The 1st lesson on love:

Morrie said: "The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love, and to let it come in.”... “Let it come in. We think we don’t deserve love, we think if we let it in we’ll become too soft. But a wise man named Levine said it right. He said, ‘Love is the only rational act.'”
In truth, I strongly believe that love is the main message Morrie wanted to convey. Love in its pure form, being alive worth nothing if you don't have the ability to spread love around you, so "love one another or die".

The 2nd lesson on wealth:

Money is the devil of all times, yet it's pretty precious, valuable, worthy of respect, but Morrie taught me that:
 “You can’t substitute material things for love or for gentleness or for tenderness or for a sense of comradeship."
another lesson about love! Not surprising at all, because buying new expensive things in hope to substitute the longing for love in our hearts is not the solution.
All in all, wealth can't buy happiness and health. It's a life fact, but many chose to give it a mess!

The 3rd lesson on living:

What makes a perfect life? Is it great achievements, cheerful moments, or huge income. Maybe all of these together, and perhaps none of them, but Morrie has an adorable idea, he said: 
 "Be compassionate, and take responsibility for each other. If we only learned those lessons, this world would be so much better a place."
 Here is a clever hint of how to be part of the ocean.

The 4th lesson on teachers:

Teachers like the ocean of life, they appear massive and risky, but they have great treasures within them. They have an endless impact of their beliefs on generations of young lives, "they to be honoured than parents because they teach the art of living well".

"Teacher to the last"
 that what Morrie wanted to be written on his grave stone. Indeed, it was true, his principles reached thousands of people in the rolling seas of life.

Finally, Tuesdays With Morrie is a tiny book with immense moral reflections, every time I read it, I find something new that startles me, and sharing these lessons with you made me feel like I'm part of the ocean too.

Far Beyond| sequel to the Giver Quartet

Far Beyond by Bassima


Morning breeze entering swiftly from the window made Gabe curl more with his coverlet, "It's Sunday, I'm not doing anything today" he thought, then he covered his head to prevent sunlight from hurting his eyes. 

"Daddy, daddy, wake up granny is expecting us today" little Matty jumped on his father's bed while shouting and sitting on his father's belly. Gabe peeking from under his cover "oh, not today Matt, why don't you go with your mother and I'll follow you later on?" He said. "But daddy you said last week you'll help me catch a birdy so we can put it in the cage granny made for me" Matty said.

He added "also mummy cooked a special breakfast this morning, it's packed and ready for us to have it together at granny's". Gabe rolls his eyes "all right, let me wash my face and we'll go together". 


Sipping her chamomile tea, and looking toward the path waiting for her son and his family to join her, Claire's thoughts drifted far away, she murmured the name Einar and to her surprise, she felt such a longing, nostalgia for Lame Einar, she wondered if he's still strong and tough to look after the herd, how he looks like now after all these years? Does he think about her at all? Like she does, sometimes.

She would never have met her son, if Einar refused to help her that night after he recounted his gritty story with his father and the reason why he wanted to climb out, in his shed, they were sitting together on heap of skins and discussing the possibility of her success to climb, he pointed to her " It be better, I think, to climb out in search of something, instead of hating what you’re leaving."

If it wasn't to her affable friend she would still nursing people's injuries, and deeply crying and sympathising her own loss.

Later that day, an old man walked pass Claire's cottage he heard the laughter of merriment and joy spreading from the Cott, he was satisfied to see a rainbow going over the house and fading in the horizon.

The giver, novel, writing challenge, English, Lois Lowry

English As Second Language

#100HappyDays Challenge - Day 5

    Marhaba/ Hello to your beautiful faces :)

   The world is never the same after I gained English, I used to speak, read, and think in one language, I was a typical monolingual person.

   English has widened my sight toward life, it is a window that allowed me to view the world like never before.

   Five years ago, I had oddly divergent theories about the OTHERS! 

   First of all, I thought there were 2 languages, Arabic, and English, I did not know it is almost 6,500 or even more spoken tongues on earth.

   Secondly, westerns meant only the US for me, I had no clue that almost each country has its own local dialect, I was convinced that everything belong to the US.

   Thirdly, I was absolutely sure all Muslims and Arabs are the best of mankind, and other people are wrong, bad, and they are slaves to their sexual habits, therefore I ought to hate them regardless any human actions they do or show, because they are the wood of Gehenna!.

   Fourthly, non-Muslim women were all prostitutes, and no one respects them, they are dolls for media, and they spend their lives in immorality fen without honour or dignity.

    Lastly, I truly apologies if I offended anyone by mentioning these thoughts, but this is what I grew up believing and learning, obviously I was misled by my society, they thought by implanting the wrong ideas and false facts, they would prevent followers from expanding their vision and realise that they lack a massive amount of their rights.

   Nowadays, I believe not everyone has to be good or bad, and moral principles are different from one culture to the other. Being affiliated to a specific religion doesn't give me the right to hate on others, and be rude to them.

   The universe was here before us and it'll remain after we vanish, there is space for everyone to practise what they consider truth without insisting to convert the planet into their own dogma.

I am happy I speak two languages and the second one helped me reach to this belief before it is overly late.

Beauty Obsession

#100HappyDays Challenge - Day 4

   Hello there gorgeous people

   Today, I spent two hours organising my room, the painstaking part was at the dresser, I had to arrange my makeup kit, sort everything nicely, and get rid of the unwanted items.

   While doing that I thought of writing about beauty aspect in my life, so I took this picture to insert it in my post later on, meanwhile I was thinking whether I'm a beauty freak or just a normal young woman. I do care about my appearance a lot, I rarely go out without slapping a little bit of foundation, mascara, and blush on my face.

   I believe women should get into makeup, owing to the fact that ever since we were young girls we gravitate toward lipsticks, blushes, and nail polishes. Being pretty is just something runs in our blood, it won't make us shallow or less intelligent if we buy a lip gloss now and then. 
   In Ramadan this year I used to watch a TV show, in one episode they showed how in some countries, people get obsessed with being beautiful and perfect which led them to come up with peculiar beauty standards that no one thinks it's ever existed.

   In the show, they stated that society usually looks at an individual better than they imagine and feel about their appearance, therefore we usually focus on our flaws and how we appear more than others do.

   However, I do not like it when some people exaggerate their react about makeup and say it is only for superficial girls just because they don't like wearing it, or perhaps don't know how, I believe in balance. 

   I am thrilled because I am not obsessed with my body-image, though I am glad I can afford buying make-up, it makes me happy and confident.

#100HappyDays, Day4, Beauty, makeup, body-image,Bassima

Wealth Is Health

#100HappyDays Challenge - Day 3

Hello Happy reader,

I hope you are well, and doing great :)

   Yesterday, my mother in law went for walk with her daughter, they walked for about an hour and came back, today at breakfast she was very tired her knees and bones are aching she was in such anguish.

   Realising how weak and fragile she'd become  brought back such dreadful memories, and made me thankful and appreciating the wellness I am blessed with.

   Being quite sound and young are the most valuable gifts in my life, every day passes I grow older and there is no way of living that day again at all. Before my mother's death I've never thought of cancer as a real killing illness, it was something I often learn about in some awareness reports, or hear someone mention it now and then, I've never encountered with a person struggling with cancer.

   However, my mom was ill, she kept getting weaker and pale and no one told me she was fighting with this life sucking disease, until one day I read some of the hospital reports that were in her closet.

   I read the most disturbing, terrifying, and shocking tow words in my life "Throat cancer", when I asked her is that true? why didn't you ever tell me? there must be something to do, she looked affectionately at me "there is no time, I am dying, you must not tell your siblings" she declared, I saw horror, sorrow in her eyes, and it was palpable she is departing this life, she tolerated this fact because "there is nothing we can do".

   A few months later, my mother passed away and left us, the scar of her leaving will never heal, and she will forever be alive in my heart.

  Lastly, if you and your family are healthy and in a good shape be thankful and happy for that.

 I am happy because I am aware of how important being well and healthy.

#100HappyDays, health, wealth, cancer, shape, death, bassima

I Can Read

#100HappyDays Challenge - Day 2

Good evening happy friends. 

   I truly feel happy and lucky when I say "I can read", it might be an absurdity to state that nowadays, because in this modern world  - almost - everyone can read, an illiteracy is not a widespread problem anymore.

   Nevertheless, I was very close to be uneducated person, and that was for some silly conflicts I talked about before in my Prom Queen post.

   However, with my father help I started to learn at about 9 years old, first it was really hard and I didn't feel excited because well I was studying at home.!

   Years passed, today I am 26 years, and my life revolves about reading, books, authors, and booksfair, I never studied a school book in my childhood nor carried a heavy satchel. My family, friends, and fellows always come to me when they need an urgent literary essay for school, or anything related to writing.

   It makes me happy when I tell someone "I've never been to school", and see how they react, the "how?, why? really?" astonished questions often make my day, but inside me it emphasized my sensation that I'm an abnormal individual.

   Anyway, I'd prefer to be abnormal, and unusual rather than living life in darkness and never catch the sunshine of  knowledge.

I am a happy I can read, and they say: 

"a person is never old to learn."

#100HappyDays, reading, writing, illiteracy, #amreading,Bassima

Charming innocence

    #100HappyDays Challenge - Day 1

  Hello Lovely friends..

     I finally got the courage and gathered my strength to do the 100 happy days challenge, it is normally done on Instagram, but I've decided to do an extended version on Blogger because I desire to liven up my dead blog, I usually post reviews about books I've read and some important events in my ordinary life. 

     The first post is always tricky to start with, but just today I was going through some family photos and I saw this ravishing picture of my sister and little niece. 

     It made me recall all the delight and happiness, these two brought to our lives just by being girls. 

     In my childhood, my family were not as open minded as now, thus photography was one of the many forbidden things, I don't have photos of my earlier years when I was an infant, toddler, or even a six year old little girl, the only photo I have is a black and white one in my passport's when I was about 8 or 9.

     Nowadays, I try to snap as many pictures as I can for my little sister, I don't want her to grow up with memories only printed in her mind , I also see myself in her photos, she resembles my missing childhood. 

     Despite all the regulations and principles that control my life as a girl here, I am always happy and positive because with all this restriction I know my family relies on me and they are proud of what I've become as a grown up woman. 

I am happy because I am the eldest baby girl in my family.

100Happydays, Diary, memories, little girls, Saudi Arabia, Bassima

Review The Giver | Lois Lowry

The Giver's cover
Hello Blog Friends :), I hope you are doing well and working hard on your new year resolutions list.

Recently, Shizusan, Shishimesan, and I started reading Lois Lowry's books, and we have begun with the well-known novel 'The Giver'.

I got this book last year at a bookfair, I found the description on the cover intriguing, so I bought it. Later on when I told my teacher about it, she pointed out that it is the first novel of an exhilarating series followed by "Gathering Blue, Messenger, and Son" and she highly recommends us to read the whole set.

Anyway, three weeks ago we finished The Giver, and we really enjoyed going through its chapters despite how some paragraphs sounded funny and ridiculous, such as the telling of feelings ritual every night, and when someone makes a mistake or causes trouble they must apologise by using an customary formula.

 Like in my case: "I  apologise for making you read this useless post" and everyone must reply in unison "We accept your apology, Bassima!".

On the other hand,  the most shockingly gloomy part of the story was when Jonas (plus us for sure) found out what it really means to "release" someone out of the community, I remember when Jonas watched a recorded tape of  his father doing a release of one of a pair of identical twins, Shizusan and I couldn't read that section, so Shishimesan read that dreadful painful part, while we were sobbing and rubbing our eyes. (Women!)

However, if you are willing to improve your English vocabulary, and your level is between intermediate and advanced, I think this is a very useful novel to practise, it is well written and the language is straightforward.

It is not a heavy going book that forces you to check up almost every single word, it is interesting, catchy, fictional, and we went through the book swiftly without any difficulties.

I made notes for the new vocabulary I've learnt while reading, they're in a PDF document , organized chapter by chapter, with some examples, I will insert the link to download the file at the bottom of this post.

Of course the novel is not out of copyright, so I cannot provide any links to download the book.

If you wish to read more information about the setting, plot, and awards check out the giver article on Wikipedia HERE

I would like to send a special thank you to my reading mates from Japan, Shizusan, and Shishimesan -who joined us recently-, for lifting up the burden of boredom and making my Mondays the best ever in my life. Love you guys xoxo

View and download The Giver Notes  (on Google drive)

Tags: Learn English, Reading, The giver, Lois Lowry, Vocabulary, Notes, Bassima