The Chilean National English Test: The Years 2001 – 2014

Bienvenido. Welcome to educational testing in Chile. The object of this book is to present as clear an account as possible of the historical development of educational testing in Chile with regards to the Chilean National English Test(s): 2001 – 2014. It is a mixed-genre, story within a story, autobiographical-historical text interwoven into one continuous, developmental narrative, of a teacher and of a nation, Chile.

The aim has been to adapt it to the needs of the great body of busy teachers and learners who have neither the time nor the means to make a comprehensive study, but are earnestly striving to be informed regarding the facts that are indispensable for an understanding of the theory and practice of modern English Language teaching, learning and testing in a foreign language context.

Why this book? This book is written by a teacher, for teachers, worldwide. It deals with questions of interpreting test results, washback, and the inevitable, preparing for international exams, regardless of type.

Yet beyond these considerations, there is the historical aspect. In today’s globalized world, it seems we forget things that happened only a decade ago. Thus, we repeat the mistakes of the past, unnecessarily. This book plays a role in remembering what we have done in the past, especially in English Language Teaching, Testing & Learning.

Yet, is this book able to make a contribution? Does it provide new knowledge, new insights? Despite the hasty conceived generalization that socioeconomic factors explain everything, I believe this book has something new to say, the ability to shed a fresh light, from a different, closer perspective than what we have been provided thus far. I am talking about the view from the classroom, the teacher’s “unheard voice” to what has been left unsaid…

Yes, the public, worldwide, is often led to believe that poor children can’t learn. They go to poor schools, with weak teachers, with low hopes and low self-esteem, hopeless and helpless. Yes, we know, this is what worldwide is often the case for the underprivileged masses.

To exemplify, Carolina Schmidt, the current Minister of Education, here in Chile, said, (I paraphrase in my own words): The situation here in Chile is that learning English is a socioeconomic privilege. I hope the reading of this book will lead you to draw a different, more hopeful, conclusion. Some child’s very future could depend on it…

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#BenedictDonald: A Comparative Analysis Of Benedict Arnold, Donald #Trump, And #Treason

Benedict Donald: A Comparative Analysis Of Benedict Arnold, Donald Trump, And Treason by [Baker, Thomas Jerome]

With the election of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the USA, America once again is forced to realize that the real threat to its liberties has always come, not from its foreign enemies, but from its enemies within.

As the case for President Trump’s treason and impeachment is laid before the American public daily, the time has come to re-examine the treason of Benedict Arnold (Patriot-turned-Traitor), by using a comparative analysis with Donald Trump.

Is President Trump a traitor on the same scale as Richard Nixon, Benedict Arnold, or worse???

Should President Donald Trump be impeached???  Should he resign???

At the very least, we must ask ourselves: Is Trump a Benedict Arnold? Benedict Donald? The answer is complex, controversial, and contradictory. It is a Shakespearean tragedy of epic proportions. The names change, the times change, but treason remains the same dark, despicable crime.

First Review

Benedict Donald: A Comparative Analysis of Benedict Arnold, Donald Trump And Treason

5.0 out of 5 stars Shocking, non-fiction political thriller

And it’s happening right now; right in front of our eyes. Author Thomas Jerome Baker produces a historically accurate, shocking comparison between Benedict Arnold, Richard Nixon and Donald Trump.

This book is written eloquently and with passion and without prejudice. It is a true page-turner you will definitely read in one sitting. I made so many highlights and notes while reading, thinking that I might post a few quotes in this review. But the passages are too truthful and too shocking to be taken out of context. They may be difficult for some people to understand without reading all the supporting text. I truly wish everyone could read this book. I actually learned a lot about Nixon and Arnold. The author makes a compelling case, acknowledging the reality of the true-life horror story we are living in today.

I will indulge myself by pasting one quote here:

“Whether we get the bad news today, or tomorrow, or next year, or in a hundred years, the future will bring a revelation about Donald Trump that will justify our worst fears about him.”

A solid 5 stars for Benedict Donald: A Comparative Analysis Of Benedict Arnold, Donald Trump, And Treason.

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YOU PAY NOTHING! $0.00! #FREEBIE #FREE ALL DAY! 21 Author Interviews: Success Strategies, Advice, And Tips

21 Author Interviews: Success Strategies, Advice, And Tips For Writers From Indie Authors by [Baker, Thomas Jerome]

What is it like to be an indie author, to write, to publish, and to promote your own book? Is it worth the time, the effort, the sacrifice, to become an indie author? All twenty one authors in this book share the same conviction. Namely, yes, it is worth the effort, the time, and the sacrifice. Self-publishing, for all the work it entails, means you, the individual author, are in charge of your own destiny.

You don’t have to find a publisher, because you are the publisher. You control everything about your book. “Everything” means all the hard work, yes, but also a higher percentage of revenues. You control all rights and ownership. You publish when you are ready to publish. For example, since 2011, I have published an average of 27 books a year for the past 6 years. Try doing that with a traditional publisher.

In this book, you will find 21 indie authors. Some, like me, have published dozens, even hundreds of books. Others have just published their first books. The common characteristic we share, is that we are writing because we love writing. That’s why we do it.

According to Guy Kawasaki, “a successful self-publisher must fill three roles: Author, Publisher, and Entrepreneur-or APE.” With all due respect to Mr. Kawasaki, you will find a different definition of success in this book. The successful writer is a writer who enjoys writing.

If money, fame, and glory come our way, it will be happily accepted. More importantly, if these things NEVER come our way, we will still be content, satisfied, and pleased. The enjoyment, and pleasure of writing, you see, is its own reward. In that sense, this book is informative, because it shows 21 indie authors fulfilling their dreams. To all those would be writers, who are yet to fulfill your dream, this book is dedicated to you. If these 21 people could do it, so can you.

21 Author Interviews: Success Strategies, Advice, And Tips For Writers From Indie Authors by [Baker, Thomas Jerome]

21 Author Interviews: Success Strategies, Advice, And Tips

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#ASMSG Congratulations! Your #book is available in the #Kindle Store!

21 Author Interviews: Success Strategies, Advice, And Tips For Writers From Indie Authors by [Baker, Thomas Jerome]Congratulations Thomas! Your book “21 Author Interviews” is now live and available* for purchase in the Kindle Store and enrolled in KDP Select! If you republished your book, your changes will be live in 24 hours.

** Synopsis**

What is it like to be an indie author, to write, to publish, and to promote your own book? Is it worth the time, the effort, the sacrifice, to become an indie author?

All twenty one authors in this book share the same conviction: namely, yes, it is worth the effort, the time, and the sacrifice. Self-publishing, for all the work it entails, means you, the individual author, are in charge of your own destiny.

You don’t have to find a publisher, because you are the publisher. You control everything about your book. “Everything” means all the hard work, yes, but also a higher percentage of revenues. You control all rights and ownership. You publish when you are ready to publish. For example, since 2011, I have published an average of 27 books a year for the past 6 years. Try doing that with a traditional publisher.

In this book, you will find 21 indie authors. Some, like me, have published dozens, even hundreds of books. Others have just published their first books. The common characteristic we share, is that we are writing because we love writing. That’s why we do it.

According to Guy Kawasaki, “a successful self-publisher must fill three roles: Author, Publisher, and Entrepreneur-or APE.” With all due respect to Mr. Kawasaki, you will find a different definition of success in this book. The successful writer is a writer who enjoys writing.

If money, fame, and glory come our way, it will be happily accepted. More importantly, if these things NEVER come our way, we will still be content, satisfied, and pleased. The enjoyment, and pleasure of writing, you see, is its own reward. In that sense, this book is informative, because it shows 21 indie authors fulfilling their dreams. To all those would be writers, who are yet to fulfill your dream, this book is dedicated to you. If these 21 people could do it, so can you.

Thomas Jerome BakerVisit Thomas Jerome Baker Author Page for more great books! Thomas Jerome Baker is the Past-President of TESOL Chile (2010-2011). He is the Co-Founder and Co-Organiser of EdCamp Santiago 2012 & Edcamp Chile 2013, free, participant-driven, democratic, conversation based professional development for teachers, by teachers. EdCamp Santiago 2012 was held at Universidad Mayor in Santiago.

Thomas is also a past member of the Advisory Board for the International Higher Education Teaching and Learning Association (HETL), where he also serves as the HETL Ambassador for Chile. The source and inspiration for his writing comes from his family, his wife Gabriela, and his son, Thomas Jerome Baker, Jr.

Author page:
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21 Author Interviews: Success Strategies, Advice, And Tips For Writers From Indie Authors by [Baker, Thomas Jerome]**

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5-Star #BookReview: Murder At The Fourth by Duncan Whitehead

Murder At The Fourth: A Forest Pines Mystery by [Whitehead, Duncan]Synopsis: Retired Miami Detective, Jenny Pickett, is loving life in the small Montana town of Forest Pines. That is until local businessman, Donald Sands, is found murdered on the local golf course.

Young and inexperienced Sheriff, Steve Calder, needs help and turns to Jenny to assist him in his investigation.

Suddenly Jenny is plunged into a mystery unlike any other she has encountered and faces a multitude of suspects who all have a reason to rejoice the victim’s death.

It isn’t going to be as easy as Jenny thought, as she tries to find out who killed the most unpopular man in town.

A string of mistresses, a jealous husband, a shady realtor as well as a down on his luck store owner, who couldn’t repay a debt, are just some of the suspects as the plot thickens, and twists abound. Meanwhile, skeletons from Jenny’s past are rattling their unwelcome bones. The truth contorts to a climax that will leave readers breathless.

4.0 out of 5 starsExcellent new series – I’m waiting for book 2

Review by “Chloe

I’ve read all of Duncan Whitehead’s books, so I’m a fan! Murder At The Fourth was so fast paced, I read it in three hours. Right now, I’m so involved with the ladies of Gordonston, I found it a bit difficult to wrap my head around the new characters, but this is my fault, not the author.

Due to a medically required retirement, homicide detective, Jenny Pickett, is living a rather reserved life in Forest Pines, Montana with her dog when her life once again gets shaken up. A local businessman who is disliked by pretty much everyone, is found shot to death on the fourth par of the golf course. The case seems overwhelming for Forest Pines young sheriff, Steve Calder, so he incorporates Jenny’s help. This is when the twists and turns begin, and never stop. As Steve, Jenny, and her dog, Thor, work to solve the death, more interesting characters get involved, keeping you turning pages.

I had two issues, but won’t mention one as it’s a spoiler. But the other is that I have to wait until Whitehead completes the 2nd book to keep reading. Kudos to the author for another series I’ll be following. I may return to change my 4 star to a 5 because this is a well written story, so intriguing I read it without stopping. I’m just missing my Gordonston ladies!

5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding!! Review by Thomas Jerome Baker

The first book I read from this author was, The Gordonston Ladies Dog Walking Club. I have been a fan ever since. Duncan Whitehead is an award-winning author (2013 Reader’s Favorite International Book Award and Gold Medalist) who really knows what he is doing when he takes up his pen and puts it to paper. So when I saw he was about to bring out Book 2 in this series, I knew I had to get Book 1 read so I could go on to the next one. That book is entitled: “Murder In Miami: A Forest Pines Mystery, and it just came out on March 6th, 2017.

I found Book 1, Murder At The Fourth, to be everything that I expected it would be. Was it about murder? Yes, it was. Was it a mystery that would parcel out the clues in bits and pieces until you “knew” who did it? Yes, it was. Was I wrong about who the murderer was? Yes, I was. Did Whitehead include a humorous approach to the storyline? Yes, once again. In fact, I found it absorbing and uniquely amusing, which is a surprising characteristic for a story about murder.

My favourite part of the book? That’s easy. It’s the foreshadowing in the first chapter.The encounter, seemingly innocent, between Steve and the stranger, Lawson, caught my attention. It is obvious that this chance meeting will contain significance for later events in the book, and I was not disappointed.

The first chapter seems to present the inner life of a small town policeman who has had the fortune to meet the woman of his dreams, Ms. Jenny Pickett. That part, Steve’s love life, carries the greater impact on the reader. However, it subtly distracts from the fact that Steve’s mission in life is capturing criminals.

The focus on love lulls the reader into taking your eyes off an event that should register more deeply, namely, a stranger in a small town. As you can see, this drew me into the story, and it intrigued me. My hunch was that Lawson would be the eventual murderer, and I read on to see if I could confirm my hunch. As I said before, I failed.

If you are the kind of person who enjoys a well-written murder mystery with twists and turns, you will enjoy this book. Highly recommended.

About the author:

Murder In Miami: A Forest Pines Mystery by [Whitehead, Duncan]Award Winning Writer, Duncan Whitehead, was born in England and is the author of the best-selling and award-winning GORDONSTON LADIES DOG WALKING CLUB Trilogy. The series, inspired by the quirky characters and eeriness in the real life Savannah neighborhood in which he once lived is a humorous mystery, which boasts an assortment of characters and plot twists.

He has also written over 2,000 spoof and comedy news articles, under various aliases, for a variety of websites both in the US and the UK. He has written further novels; a comedy set in Manhattan, THE RELUCTANT JESUS, published in April 2014 and republished in July 2015 & three short stories.

Duncan is well known for his charity work, kindness to animals, children and old people; and, of course, his short-lived bullfighting career and his hideous hunchback. In February 2045, he invented time travel and now spends much of his time in either the future (where he has won the lottery an astonishing 117 times) and the present day.


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FiveStar #Review: Fire In The Water by Janice Ross #MondayMotivation #ASMSG

Fire In The Water by [Ross, Janice ]

Chanel Bissett believed in one fundamental truth—the power of love. She’s adored and loved Zachary Marlowe long before she knew what life meant. And they’ve built a bond so strong that it is beyond untouchable.

Or so Chanel thought…

Rhys Colburn has always been privileged, wealthy and demanding. He was ready to spend the rest of his life with Maggie Cohn so that, together, they could conquer the world.

Rhys couldn’t have been more wrong…

Consistently appearing at the wrong place and wrong time, Chanel and Rhys’ lives begin to clash. Every breath, every word, and every moment is as if the heavens have shifted the earth so that their paths would cross. Whether faith or destiny, they are pushed to emotional boundaries neither can sustain.

Yet, still, hope remains…

Over time, they become stripped of their once known selves. All that’s left are shattered pieces of a once upon a time. And after three years with shadows of memories behind, chance pulls them together again.

Finally, love just might emerge. And this time, destiny might be kinder.

Will either take a chance with a stranger or will the past resurface to shatter the possibility?

5.0 out of 5 stars Review by Arlena

This was quite a interesting novel featuring Chanel Bissett and Rhys Colburn. But was about Zach Marlowe? What had happened with all of the plans that Chanel and Zachary had mapped out for their life together? Now, all of that had started from their childhood, but know almost twenty years later…were things different for Chanel and Zach? This will be some story as Rhys comes into the picture definitely causing a ‘fork in the road’ for these two.

Yes, we will find that Rhys had plenty of issues in his life but was he by himself? How will Chanel’s mother try to help her in wanting her to find herself…to truly know herself? Why was that so very important in this read? As you read this story the reader will be presented with many surprises and twist and turns for both of these two main characters…Chanel and Rhys. How long will these feeling go on between Rhys and Chanel before she will be able to see what in right before her eyes?

I loved how Rhys decides what he really wanted and goes after it. What will it take for Chanel to take a moment to stop and smell the roses! Will the dreams hopefully leave Chanel after what happens to Zach. It was quite a wow moment for me when it all comes out about Zachary. How does this affect Chanel? Will Chanel get the help she needs?

You will get a very emotional story as the reader will see how well the author brings it all out as these two [Chanel and Rhys] lives are intertwined together. So, in the end “Will either take a chance with a stranger or will the past resurface to shatter the possibility?”

I will say that ending left me in tears.. I loved this quote:

“Do you get it! ….You were listening…I saw us in the artist’s take on this work. A tag rested just above the canvas: Fire in the Water…The image was a flame refusing to die while moving from one spot to the next – through the journey of life… The struggle of a determined person will never fully die…Sure, there will be trying forces similar to the water. It’s life. And though your fire might dwindle along the way, your core will remain strong.”

To find out the answers to all of the questions and to understand that ending you will have to pick up this excellent read to see for yourself how well this author presents it so well to the reader.

Would I recommend? YES!

5.0 out of 5 stars Review by Thomas Jerome Baker

I have read other works by this author. My favourite is her “Damaged Girls” series. They were well-crafted, highly engaging, realistic, and aesthetically pleasing. Her use of setting, time, place and rising drama kept my attention throughout each of the books in the series. So, obviously I was curious about “Fire In The Water” after just reading the title. It is metaphorically attractive and literally engaging, especially when one considers the concept of “burning water.” Janice Ross was communicating that this would be a story in which the reader would not be able to trust the evidence of our eyes and ears.

To begin, Chanel loves Zach. That’s pretty straightforward, on the surface at least. Then we have Rhys and Maggie. Rhys loves Maggie. As a story, the anticipation is that the lovestories we are given will undergo trial and tribulation, a test, which will either be overcome, or prove destructive to one, or both relationships.

The plot thickens. Chanel’s love is out of gratitude for kindness shown her when she was young. Rhys, on the other hand, discovers all is not well with Maggie. He is disappointed with her. In this emotional state, distressed, disillusioned, he meets Chanel. Well, Chanel is really not supposed to be available, because she’s in a long term relationship already.

The author builds up the conflict in the story that could have been taken right off the front page of someone’s life story. It could be you, it could be me, it could be anybody. How many people find themselves in relationships that are not of the deep and intense passionate type? Or simply fail to deliver enough sensuality to light up the night, to turn water into wine, or even, to be fire on the water? What happens is a breathtaking tale that readers of both genders will be able to relate to and connect with. As you read, it is highly likely you will answer the question: What would I do if I were in Chanel’s shoes? Rhys? Zach? Maggie?

In sum, this is another intriguing, highly engaging, and realistic story that is sure to please. Highly recommended.


About The Author

Janice Ross was born in Guyana, South America and migrated to the USA in 1980. Although her citizenship certificate now reads the United States of America, she considers herself a citizen of the world. Sure she has not physically been around the world and back, but she’s travelled in her mind and dreams.

Janice enjoys Zumba, Kickboxing, and most exercise classes. When she’s not pushing her physical limits, Janice spends time working on her craft, as well as lending a hand to other aspiring writers.

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Amazon Author Page

Fire In The Water by [Ross, Janice ]

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I Love #Chile: A Hopeful Romance, A Memoir, A History

Chileans love freedom. 200 years ago, Chile won her freedom. 500 years ago, Lautaro, a young Araucanian man, led his people to freedom. The Araucanian are the only Indian tribe on the American continent that forced Spain (1641), and Chile (1825) to recognize, and respect, their territory. They are free men and free women. It is this inheritance that has stood by Chile in her darkest hours. Across the centuries of recorded time, Chile is undefeated on the field of battle.

I Love Chile. If you love Chile, as I do, you must love its national dance, “La Cueca”. It is the heart, the mind, the body, and the soul of cultural expression. Dance Cueca, and you will know what it is like to be Chilean. Dance Cueca, and find yourself in communion with O’Higgins, Prat, Cochrane, Lautaro, Colo Colo, and Caupolican. You have invoked the invincible Chilean spirit. Find yourself bathed in the clear waters of Rio Claro. Find yourself on the northern border of the Bio Bio River, and feel yourself transported back in time. I Love Chile and its indomitable spirit.

I Love Chile. I have tried to refrain from hyperbole, to purposely “understate” the beauty, the history, the cultural traditions that make Chile the great, freedom-loving nation that she is today. As I have done with my own family, I believe it is enough for you just to be here. The spirit of Chile is all around you.

As in the case of Lucy Ana Avilés, even if you leave Chile, Chile will never leave you. Far, far away, in Colorado, Lucy saw her beloved Chile literally burning. The people were losing everything, their homes, their livelihoods, even their very lives. Lucy did not hesitate to reach out a helping hand to her beloved Chile. Lucy is Chile, and Chile is Lucy. Dear Reader, I invite you to read this book, and discover the Chile I love with all my heart and soul…

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From #ObamaCare To #TrumpCare: Why You Should #Care

The 2010 Affordable Care Act, better known as ObamaCare, tried to reform U.S. healthcare, sparking a divisive, seven-year political battle. Obamacare has failed to collapse, despite Republicans best efforts to undermine it. People like Obamacare. It’s their healthcare. They don’t want to lose it. So, what do they want?They want something better. President Trump has promised TrumpCare.

Six years after the enactment of Obamacare, here’s what we know: The uninsured rate dropped to an all-time low (8.8%). 12 million people enrolled in marketplace coverage this year. Also, it’s worth mentioning that Republican governors are praising Medicaid expansion. As you can see, ObamaCare is more popular than ever.

The GOP has failed to deliver on its core promises of working on behalf of families and children instead of fighting for huge corporations. The attacks on health care are only getting worse. While Republicans could simply allow the law to collapse, that would make it hard for Republicans in Congress to get re-elected. Why? Because you would not have any health care. So, Republicans must do something.

Repeal and Replace
President Trump made a promise on the campaign trail: repeal and replace. He said he would repeal ObamaCare and replace it with something better: TrumpCare. Repeal is something the GOP has been talking about for 7 years now. But, Republicans don’t know how to do it. Think about it: 7 years. Repeal and Replace with TrumpCare should have been done on Day 1 of Trump’s presidency.

Republicans have a solution. That’s why, when the House returns after President’s Day, the GOP will try our best to replace your insurance with a HEALTH SAVINGS ACCOUNT (HSA). We will deliver on our promise to the American people, to take away your health insurance to help pay for a massive new tax cut for the wealthy. Yes, we lied about that whole populism thing. Health Savings Account is the solution.

What will the transition from ObamaCare to TrumpCare be like? Stable or immediate? A stable transition is the opposite of what our HSA “plan” calls for. Our efforts will ensure protections for the most vulnerable are eviscerated.

We have a “Better Way” to take away your health insurance. Our replacement plan ensures more tax cuts for millionaires (and billionaires too) and no access to health care for you. Specifically, our “plan”:
– Moves health care decisions away from patients, their families, and their doctors.
– Provides nothing for the 32 million people who would lose insurance under our plan.
– Gives patients Health Savings Accounts, which have no real value for anyone but the wealthy. This is the Republican BETTER WAY!
– Allows those who don’t receive insurance from an employer or government program t have access to quality coverage, if their parent or spouse is a plutocrat.
– Eliminates Medicaid to prevent the most vulnerable from having access to quality health care.

Obamacare is hurting more millionaires and billionaires than it is helping:
– Premiums have gone up by an average of 25 percent this year, if you run the numbers using an abacus.
– Republicans opposed a public option, so nearly 1/3 of all U.S. counties have only one insurer offering plans on their state’s exchange.
– Under Obamacare, we have a new class of uninsured-those paying the penalty because they can’t afford the plans, and those who ae buying plans that have sky-high pemiums and deductibles, prohibiting their access to actually receiving care.

Our “BETTER WAY” Trumpcare plan does nothing for them. Why? We love deductibles. We feel like it’s important now to end $1 Trillion in new taxes for the billionaires who fund our election campaigns.

House Republicans are working hand-in-hand with the new Trump administration to strip health insurance from 32 Million Americans.

There are three different ways we are working to take away your health insurance so our wealthy friends can get another tax cut:
1. Repeal and Replace legislation (Check back in the year 2033)
2. Action from the Trump Administration: (Whatever Russia does for US health insurance)
3. Delivering Solutions through A Trump Executive Order: (Check with President Steve Bannon, since he is the person calling the shots in the White House)

Conclusion: The election of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States, along with the retention of Republican majorities in the U.S. House and Senate, portend major changes for U.S. healthcare, including the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act. President Trump and the GOP is keeping our promise!!

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Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: The danger of a single story

I’m a storyteller. And I would like to tell you a few personal stories about what I like to call “the danger of the single story.”

I grew up on a university campus in eastern Nigeria. My mother says that I started reading at the age of two, although I think four is probably close to the truth. So I was an early reader, and what I read were British and American children’s books.
I was also an early writer, and when I began to write, at about the age of seven, stories in pencil with crayon illustrations that my poor mother was obligated to read, I wrote exactly the kinds of stories I was reading: All my characters were white and blue-eyed, they played in the snow, they ate apples,
and they talked a lot about the weather, how lovely it was that the sun had come out.
Now, this despite the fact that I lived in Nigeria. I had never been outside Nigeria. We didn’t have snow, we ate mangoes, and we never talked about the weather, because there was no need to.
My characters also drank a lot of ginger beer, because the characters in the British books I read drank ginger beer. Never mind that I had no idea what ginger beer was.
And for many years afterwards, I would have a desperate desire to taste ginger beer. But that is another story.
What this demonstrates, I think, is how impressionable and vulnerable we are in the face of a story, particularly as children. Because all I had read were books in which characters were foreign, I had become convinced that books by their very nature had to have foreigners in them and had to be about things with which I could not personally identify. Now, things changed when I discovered African books. There weren’t many of them available, and they weren’t quite as easy to find as the foreign books.
But because of writers like Chinua Achebe and Camara Laye, I went through a mental shift in my perception of literature. I realized that people like me, girls with skin the color of chocolate, whose kinky hair could not form ponytails, could also exist in literature. I started to write about things I recognized.
Now, I loved those American and British books I read. They stirred my imagination. They opened up new worlds for me. But the unintended consequence was that I did not know that people like me could exist in literature. So what the discovery of African writers did for me was this: It saved me from having a single story of what books are.
I come from a conventional, middle-class Nigerian family. My father was a professor. My mother was an administrator. And so we had, as was the norm, live-in domestic help, who would often come from nearby rural villages. So, the year I turned eight, we got a new house boy. His name was Fide. The only thing my mother told us about him was that his family was very poor. My mother sent yams and rice, and our old clothes, to his family. And when I didn’t finish my dinner, my mother would say, “Finish your food! Don’t you know? People like Fide’s family have nothing.” So I felt enormous pity for Fide’s family.
Then one Saturday, we went to his village to visit, and his mother showed us a beautifully patterned basket made of dyed raffia that his brother had made. I was startled. It had not occurred to me that anybody in his family could actually make something. All I had heard about them was how poor they were, so that it had become impossible for me to see them as anything else but poor. Their poverty was my single story of them.
Years later, I thought about this when I left Nigeria to go to university in the United States. I was 19. My American roommate was shocked by me. She asked where I had learned to speak English so well, and was confused when I said that Nigeria happened to have English as its official language. She asked if she could listen to what she called my “tribal music,” and was consequently very disappointed when I produced my tape of Mariah Carey.
She assumed that I did not know how to use a stove.
What struck me was this: She had felt sorry for me even before she saw me. Her default position toward me, as an African, was a kind of patronizing, well-meaning pity. My roommate had a single story of Africa: a single story of catastrophe. In this single story, there was no possibility of Africans being similar to her in any way, no possibility of feelings more complex than pity, no possibility of a connection as human equals.
I must say that before I went to the U.S., I didn’t consciously identify as African. But in the U.S., whenever Africa came up, people turned to me. Never mind that I knew nothing about places like Namibia. But I did come to embrace this new identity, and in many ways I think of myself now as African. Although I still get quite irritable when Africa is referred to as a country, the most recent example being my otherwise wonderful flight from Lagos two days ago, in which there was an announcement on the Virgin flight about the charity work in “India, Africa and other countries.”
So, after I had spent some years in the U.S. as an African, I began to understand my roommate’s response to me. If I had not grown up in Nigeria, and if all I knew about Africa were from popular images, I too would think that Africa was a place of beautiful landscapes, beautiful animals, and incomprehensible people, fighting senseless wars, dying of poverty and AIDS, unable to speak for themselves and waiting to be saved by a kind, white foreigner. I would see Africans in the same way that I, as a child, had seen Fide’s family.
This single story of Africa ultimately comes, I think, from Western literature. Now, here is a quote from the writing of a London merchant called John Lok, who sailed to west Africa in 1561 and kept a fascinating account of his voyage. After referring to the black Africans as “beasts who have no houses,” he writes, “They are also people without heads, having their mouth and eyes in their breasts.”
Now, I’ve laughed every time I’ve read this. And one must admire the imagination of John Lok. But what is important about his writing is that it represents the beginning of a tradition of telling African stories in the West: A tradition of Sub-Saharan Africa as a place of negatives, of difference, of darkness, of people who, in the words of the wonderful poet Rudyard Kipling, are “half devil, half child.”
And so, I began to realize that my American roommate must have throughout her life seen and heard different versions of this single story, as had a professor, who once told me that my novel was not “authentically African.” Now, I was quite willing to contend that there were a number of things wrong with the novel, that it had failed in a number of places, but I had not quite imagined that it had failed at achieving something called African authenticity. In fact, I did not know what African authenticity was. The professor told me that my characters were too much like him, an educated and middle-class man. My characters drove cars. They were not starving. Therefore they were not authentically African.
But I must quickly add that I too am just as guilty in the question of the single story. A few years ago, I visited Mexico from the U.S. The political climate in the U.S. at the time was tense, and there were debates going on about immigration. And, as often happens in America, immigration became synonymous with Mexicans. There were endless stories of Mexicans as people who were fleecing the healthcare system, sneaking across the border, being arrested at the border, that sort of thing.
I remember walking around on my first day in Guadalajara, watching the people going to work, rolling up tortillas in the marketplace, smoking, laughing. I remember first feeling slight surprise. And then, I was overwhelmed with shame. I realized that I had been so immersed in the media coverage of Mexicans that they had become one thing in my mind, the abject immigrant. I had bought into the single story of Mexicans and I could not have been more ashamed of myself.
So that is how to create a single story, show a people as one thing, as only one thing, over and over again, and that is what they become.
It is impossible to talk about the single story without talking about power. There is a word, an Igbo word, that I think about whenever I think about the power structures of the world, and it is “nkali.” It’s a noun that loosely translates to “to be greater than another.” Like our economic and political worlds, stories too are defined by the principle of nkali: How they are told, who tells them, when they’re told, how many stories are told, are really dependent on power.
Power is the ability not just to tell the story of another person, but to make it the definitive story of that person. The Palestinian poet Mourid Barghouti writes that if you want to dispossess a people, the simplest way to do it is to tell their story and to start with, “secondly.” Start the story with the arrows of the Native Americans, and not with the arrival of the British, and you have an entirely different story. Start the story with the failure of the African state, and not with the colonial creation of the African state, and you have an entirely different story.
I recently spoke at a university where a student told me that it was such a shame that Nigerian men were physical abusers like the father character in my novel. I told him that I had just read a novel called “American Psycho” —
— and that it was such a shame that young Americans were serial murderers.
Now, obviously I said this in a fit of mild irritation.
But it would never have occurred to me to think that just because I had read a novel in which a character was a serial killer that he was somehow representative of all Americans. This is not because I am a better person than that student, but because of America’s cultural and economic power, I had many stories of America. I had read Tyler and Updike and Steinbeck and Gaitskill. I did not have a single story of America.
When I learned, some years ago, that writers were expected to have had really unhappy childhoods to be successful, I began to think about how I could invent horrible things my parents had done to me.
But the truth is that I had a very happy childhood, full of laughter and love, in a very close-knit family.
But I also had grandfathers who died in refugee camps. My cousin Polle died because he could not get adequate healthcare. One of my closest friends, Okoloma, died in a plane crash because our fire trucks did not have water. I grew up under repressive military governments that devalued education, so that sometimes, my parents were not paid their salaries. And so, as a child, I saw jam disappear from the breakfast table, then margarine disappeared, then bread became too expensive, then milk became rationed. And most of all, a kind of normalized political fear invaded our lives.
All of these stories make me who I am. But to insist on only these negative stories is to flatten my experience and to overlook the many other stories that formed me. The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.
Of course, Africa is a continent full of catastrophes: There are immense ones, such as the horrific rapes in Congo and depressing ones, such as the fact that 5,000 people apply for one job vacancy in Nigeria. But there are other stories that are not about catastrophe, and it is very important, it is just as important, to talk about them.
I’ve always felt that it is impossible to engage properly with a place or a person without engaging with all of the stories of that place and that person. The consequence of the single story is this: It robs people of dignity. It makes our recognition of our equal humanity difficult. It emphasizes how we are different rather than how we are similar.
So what if before my Mexican trip, I had followed the immigration debate from both sides, the U.S. and the Mexican? What if my mother had told us that Fide’s family was poor and hardworking? What if we had an African television network that broadcast diverse African stories all over the world? What the Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe calls “a balance of stories.”
What if my roommate knew about my Nigerian publisher, Muhtar Bakare, a remarkable man who left his job in a bank to follow his dream and start a publishing house? Now, the conventional wisdom was that Nigerians don’t read literature. He disagreed. He felt that people who could read, would read, if you made literature affordable and available to them.
Shortly after he published my first novel, I went to a TV station in Lagos to do an interview, and a woman who worked there as a messenger came up to me and said, “I really liked your novel. I didn’t like the ending. Now, you must write a sequel, and this is what will happen …”
And she went on to tell me what to write in the sequel. I was not only charmed, I was very moved. Here was a woman, part of the ordinary masses of Nigerians, who were not supposed to be readers. She had not only read the book, but she had taken ownership of it and felt justified in telling me what to write in the sequel.
Now, what if my roommate knew about my friend Funmi Iyanda, a fearless woman who hosts a TV show in Lagos, and is determined to tell the stories that we prefer to forget? What if my roommate knew about the heart procedure that was performed in the Lagos hospital last week? What if my roommate knew about contemporary Nigerian music, talented people singing in English and Pidgin, and Igbo and Yoruba and Ijo, mixing influences from Jay-Z to Fela to Bob Marley to their grandfathers.
What if my roommate knew about the female lawyer who recently went to court in Nigeria to challenge a ridiculous law that required women to get their husband’s consent before renewing their passports? What if my roommate knew about Nollywood, full of innovative people making films despite great technical odds, films so popular that they really are the best example of Nigerians consuming what they produce? What if my roommate knew about my wonderfully ambitious hair braider, who has just started her own business selling hair extensions? Or about the millions of other Nigerians who start businesses and sometimes fail, but continue to nurse ambition?
Every time I am home I am confronted with the usual sources of irritation for most Nigerians: our failed infrastructure, our failed government, but also by the incredible resilience of people who thrive despite the government, rather than because of it. I teach writing workshops in Lagos every summer, and it is amazing to me how many people apply, how many people are eager to write, to tell stories.
My Nigerian publisher and I have just started a non-profit called Farafina Trust, and we have big dreams of building libraries and refurbishing libraries that already exist and providing books for state schools that don’t have anything in their libraries, and also of organizing lots and lots of workshops, in reading and writing, for all the people who are eager to tell our many stories.
Stories matter. Many stories matter. Stories have been used to dispossess and to malign, but stories can also be used to empower and to humanize. Stories can break the dignity of a people, but stories can also repair that broken dignity.
The American writer Alice Walker wrote this about her Southern relatives who had moved to the North. She introduced them to a book about the Southern life that they had left behind. “They sat around, reading the book themselves, listening to me read the book, and a kind of paradise was regained.”
I would like to end with this thought: That when we reject the single story, when we realize that there is never a single story about any place, we regain a kind of paradise.
Thank you.

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Why Are The Dutch So Good At English? #ASMSG #edchat #bilingual

Ming Chen
Chief Culture Officer, EF Education First
Source: Huffington Post

They’re overwhelmingly tall. They ride their bikes everywhere (without helmets). They’ve conquered sea level. And now, they’re ranked #1 in English. In the most recent EF English Proficiency Index (EF EPI) ranking, the Netherlands came in 1st out of 72 countries in English skills. 90 percent of respondents in the Netherlands claim to know English. It can’t just be their astoundingly liberal policies about weed that put Dutch so high in the rankings. These results beg the question: Why are the Dutch so damn good at English?

Small country, big voice

This tiny country of 17 million people punches well above its weight with the 17th largest GDP in the world, and the 5th largest in the EU, according to the IMF. While South America or the Middle East can rely on a sizable Spanish-speaking or Arabic-speaking market to drive growth, there are 27 million Dutch speakers—and 2 billion English speakers. And so the Dutch have needed to learn English to enter the global market.

Brad Pitt and Fred Flintstone speak English

The Netherlands doesn’t dub foreign language TV and movies. As a result, Dutch children grow up hearing English in popular culture from a very early age. Countries with a large enough audience for dubbed TV programs and movies, like France or Germany, dub everything, and as a result, have much less success in integrating English into their cultural life. Dubbing seems to render people linguistically numb to foreign languages, a condition the Dutch have successfully avoided.

Where there’s business, there’s English

The Dutch have always been enterprising—the Dutch East India Company was established as the world’s first multinational company in 1602. That same year, the first modern stock exchange was set up in Amsterdam to facilitate international trade. The country’s business-friendly legacy lives on as many iconic multinational companies (Royal Dutch Shell, Unilever, Heineken, and IKEA) are headquartered in the Netherlands. The Netherlands is in a self-perpetuating cycle where strong English leads to strong business, which in turn encourages the best English proficiency in the world.


The Flying Dutch

While the Flying Dutchman is the stuff of legends, make no mistake: the Dutch love to travel. The education giant, EF Education First, has witnessed steady growth in the Netherlands of students who travel abroad and take gap years since EF’s Amsterdam office opened in 1970. English opens doors not just economically, but also for the average Dutch tourist, and so it’s no wonder why there’s interest in this global language.

The Dutch advantage

Before any English test, the Dutch can thank their linguistic ancestors. Dutch is a Germanic language, just like English, and so they share many roots and characteristics. De? The. Bier? Beer. Wafel? Waffel. While many language families don’t talk at the dinner table, cross-language similarities give the Dutch something to say when it comes to learning English.

The Dutch have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to English skills —and benefit from it enormously. Anyone who remembers that New York was once New Amsterdam will know that the adventurous Dutch have always been a country with global ambitions.Countries a little further down the EF EPI’s English rankings ladder should pay attention. The Netherlands is a great example of how a country’s English proficiency can make it globally competitive and future-friendly. Adds a whole new meaning to the phrase “going Dutch,” doesn’t it?

[Full disclosure:The writer is married to a Dutch man who speaks excellent English.]


Ming ChenChief Culture Officer, EF Education First

Ming is Chief Culture Officer at EF Education First, the world’s largest privately-held international education company focused on language, travel, and cultural experiences. As EF’s Chief Culture Officer, Ming holds the ‘secret sauce’ recipe of EF’s extraordinary culture which has helped the company grow from a small entrepreneurial business based in Sweden to a multinational conglomerate that spans 53 countries and employs more than 43,000 staff and teachers in more than 500 schools and offices. She has been closely affiliated with the EF’s English Proficiency Index ( ). Ming has helped to position the Hult International Business School ( , a new kind of business school for the global generation.

Ming is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Business School.
In her spare time, Ming runs (58 marathons) writes children’s books (Sassparilla’s New Shoes and Ling Ling Looked in the Mirror) and is in awe of her children. She sits on the board of the Keswick Foundation, a philanthropic organization, the Hong Kong Forum, and is an ambassador for Sweaty Betty ( a terrific yoga and running gear brand.

Ming and her identical twin sister were tickled to discover that they appear as vampires in Melissa de la Cruz’s Blue Bloods’ series as Deming Chen, Angel of Mercy, and Dehua Chen, Angel of Immortality.

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