The Enigma Machine and the Bletchley Park Code Breakers

BBC History describes the Enigma machine as ”a piece of spook hardware invented by a German and used by Britain’s codebreakers as a way of deciphering German signals traffic during World War Two”

If you like codes and puzzles you can explore the different type of machines and codes that were using during World War Two.

Alan Turing and his team at Beltchley Park managed to crack the Enigma machine and by doing so contributed to the Allied forces Victory in WWII. Bletchley Park was vital to Allied victory in World War Two.

What was Bletchely Park and who were the Code Breakers?  Bletchley Park was the once the top-secret home of the World War Two Codebreakers. Nearly 10,000 people worked in the wider Bletchley Park organisation. You can take a tour of Virtual Wartime Bletchely Park (1938).

Bletchley park code breakers

In a way this was ”the birth of the information age, industrialisation of  codebreaking processes  with machines such as the Turing/Welchman Bombe and the world’s first electronic computer.

also see

Alan Turing and ”The Imitation Game”

Ray Bradbury and Fahrenheit 451

Image in public domain from wikimedia commons

Ray Bradbury ”published hundreds of short stories and close to fifty books, as well as numerous poems, essays, operas, plays, teleplays, and screenplays, Bradbury was one of the most celebrated writers of our time. His groundbreaking works include Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles, The Illustrated Man, Dandelion Wine, and Something Wicked This Way Comes” (from

”Set in the twenty-fourth century, Fahrenheit 451 introduces a new world in which control of the masses by the media, overpopulation, and censorship has taken over the general population. The individual is not accepted and the intellectual is considered an outlaw. Television has replaced the common perception of family. The fireman is now seen as a flamethrower, a destroyer of books rather than an insurance against fire. Books are considered evil because they make people question and think. The people live in a world with no reminders of history or appreciation of the past; the population receives the present from television” (from Cliffnotes)

”Is it true that firemen used to put out fires and not burn boooks?”

Themes, motifs and symbols in Fahrenheit 451


Themes are the fundamental and often universal ideas explored in a literary work.

Censorship; Knowledge versus Ignorance


Motifs are recurring structures, contrasts, and literary devices that can help to develop and inform the text’s major themes

Paradoxes, Animal and Nature Imagery, Religion


Symbols are objects, character, figures and colours used to represent ideas or concepts

Blood, “The Hearth and the Salamander”, “The Sieve and the Sand”, The Phoenix, Mirrors


Language history – Lesson 1

English today is a world language but it all started in the British Isles. To understand the history of English developed it helps if you have access to maps which describe the region and how people (and languages have moved). A series of good maps for illustrations can be found at History of English podcast. Here you can also find a number of podcasts on English language history. There are 85 ! episodes, but among the most relevant are

Way back in time

Celts, Angles and Saxons





You can listen to the sounds of English through history using the BBC Ages of English Timeline


Irregular English verbs

Verbs are often a problem area for students of English as a second or third language.

As such English is quite easy when it comes to regular verbs as you only have the -ed ending (talked, walked…) for past actions, the ing-form for continuous action (and some other cases) and the s-form for the third person singular in the present tense. That only amounts to three different verb endings; -s, -ed, -ing. The problems come with how to use these verb endings, and then, of course, you have all the irregular verbs.

Irregular verbs are common and frequently used. You should learn the most frequent first. (There are more than 200). There are lists in books and on the internet. I will include a few links here below. When you go wrong with an irregular verb. I strongly suggest that you take some extra time to learn the correct form. This is an effecctive use of your study time and will quickly give you and improved proficiency.

50 Most Common Irregular Verbs in the English language, but does not include the auxiliary verbs ”do” and ”have”. (87% of irregular verb use in English!
70 common irregular verbs: pre-intermediate learners Pre-intermediate level students should be familiar with all or most of these words.
List of English irregular verbs: A – F (This is a complete list of English irregular verbs, with their past simple and past participle forms.)

Resources for English 5 – a symbaloo webmix


The symbaloo webmix is a living document and continuosly updated, which means tiles may be moved and link added or removed. It is however made public and adapted to the ESL course English 5. There are general resources for language learning, as well as assignments, games and tools.


Jim Crow Laws and Wendell Scott

Last year, Wendell Scott became the first African American inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

Who was Wendell Scott? If you want to learn more…

Jim Crow Museum

Jim Crow was the name of the racial caste system, from 1877 and the mid-1960s, which is mostly associated with the Southern States in America.  Under Jim Crow, African Americans were made  second class citizens.  Find our more about the Jim Crowe era at the Jim Crow Museum.

Find out more about the Jim Crow Laws.

Jim Crow Stories (resources for learning and teaching from PBS):

”Jim Crow was not a person, yet affected the lives of millions of people. Named after a popular 19th-century minstrel song that stereotyped African Americans, ”Jim Crow” came to personify the system of government-sanctioned racial oppression and segregation in the United States”.

For more posts on Civil rights see

Martin Luther King Jr. and Civil Rights
Civil Rights – a themed project in English 6
Civil rights…(Lesson 1)
Civil Rights…(Lesson 2)

Bend it Like Beckham

Bend it Like Beckham

Before reading: 1415297898_stock_save-pdf beckham_activities_pre reading activities1-2

While reading: 1415297898_stock_save-pdf beckham_activities_while reading_p3-4

After reading: 1415297898_stock_save-pdf beckham_activities_after reading_p5-8


contentBy Narinder Dhami

”Jess just wants to play football but her wedding-obsessed parents have other ideas so she hides it from them. But when Jess and her friend Jules join a ladies team and get spotted by a talent scout, it all kicks off…” Read the first chapter at Google Books,


Shakespeare and the English language

You just can’t study English and escape Shakespeare. Not only is he the most famous playwright, he has also contributed an astounding number of new words to the English Language and coined many expressions such as, ”all that glitters is not gold”, ”break the ice”, ”a heart of gold”. Examples of words are eyeball, elbow, luggage, glomy, unreal or skim milk. These are words and expressions we use everyday or regularly without giving a thought to where they come from.

Shakespeare Portrait Comparisons 2


Blackadder though is less impressed with Shakepeare as you can see in the short clip below.

More on Shakepeare

Also see Language History – Shakespeare’s Time

The Curious Incident… (Lesson 4)

Lesson plan The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, by Mark Haddon.

INSTRUCTIONS_ Reading fiction_The Curious Incident_outline_lessonplan

The outline and lesson plans are constructed for six lessons which are 90-120 minutes long. For shorter lessons the planned content needs to be spread out over two or more lessons. The instuctions can be downloaded as a pdf 1415297898_stock_save-pdfINSTRUCTIONS_ Reading fiction_The Curious Incident_outline_lessonplan or read online. Each lesson will also appear as a post here on this blog which links and embedded resources.

I. Start with a short recapitulation about the main characters. Who are they? What is your impression of them?

Types of characters in literature

II. Group activity – As preparation each student has read 2/3 of the book.

Relate five instances where the head characters’ singular personality shows itself, andcomment in detail on it:

Why this example?

Hand in: Either take notes or make a recording of your discussion and hand in before the end of the lesson.

III.The story: Show the presentation

Key passages in a story. Recount key events using illustrations

IV. Introduce The Secrets of Story Structure, Pt. 5: Inciting Event and Key Event 

V. Five Key Elements of Story Telling

Read more


The Key to a Good Story

Homework for next lesson:

Homework 4: Write a text (400-500 words) where you:
– Tell your reader of the most important thing happening so far in the story. – Your impression of the main characters.

Chose one part of the text which you find especially interesting. – Quote the passage (giving page no after the quotation)
– Motivate why you chose this part from the text
– What is happening during this sequence,

– Why is this event important in the story or for Christopher?

All writing tasks should be handed in before the next lesson giving the teacher enough time to prepare feedback on students’ writing. Feedback should focus on form and content. See General writing outline.

General Writing Outline

General writing outline: download the pdf, 1415297898_stock_save-pdfGeneral Writing Outline,

or read it online.