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With summer coming up and the TAKE FIVE season ending, it was clearly fate’s intervention that we ran into two of the organizers as they had just finished a class. Luckily, they had some time on their hands before the next one, so we decided to ask them a few questions about the past, present, and future of the club.
INTERVIEWER: So, how did the spring season of 2015 go? Was it any different from the previous seasons?
ZSOMBOR: It was much more than we’d expected. You know, we have a genuine formula that we use every time we gather. There is a more or less thought-provoking or amusing “warm-up question” which is there to get the ball rolling, like If you had a chance to go on a beach holiday with a famous person, who would it be and why? Afterwards, we fan out the tiny envelopes which contain all the topics with short descriptions and debate questions. For this season we introduced a “summary” part, which means that after the small groups have finished discussing the topics (two or three, depending on their popularity), one speaker is elected in each group. They sit down next to each other, give a brief summary of their discussion to the “audience”, and that usually gives rise to short debates. It depends on the topics, of course. The “What is art?” topic led us to tricky grounds…
INTERVIEWER: There is a game near the end of every meeting, is that right?
ZSOMBOR: Oh, yeah, the game. I have a feeling that everyone is looking forward to that from the moment they walk in. There is a selection of games we alternate throughout the season. If I remember correctly, the games we played in the spring were Alibi, Taboo, Last Letter, and a game we simply call “Nóra’s game” as she was the one who recommended it years ago. It always seems to work because it relies on the guests’ creativity. They all have to come up with a few words which, then, all go into a hat. And… I’m not gonna tell you more. Join us next time and see for yourself! (laughs) Oh, and I played two rounds of chess with Antal, but that’s another story. I hope I’ll have a chance in the summer to make up for that last time.
INTERVIEWER: The readers may also be interested in how the TAKE FIVE club has come to be what it is today.
ZSOMBOR: That’s quite an uninteresting story. I was walking around on Margaret Island in the summer of 2011, and I came across a sign on a post that read “conversation club”. They offered four languages. I became interested right away. For some reason, however, I couldn’t attend the weekly sessions, but as I kept thinking about it, something struck me. I posed myself the question: If you are studying to be a teacher and you already give lessons, why don’t you found your own club? I chewed on it for a while and then decided to give it a shot. Nothing to lose, I thought.
INTERVIEWER: Watching these old photos, the club looked very different. Is it just the photos?
ZSOMBOR: No, it was indeed very different. First, we started out in an empty room of an art gallery in the 5th district. The topics weren’t well organized, to say the least. Sometimes we just picked a slip of paper with “old music vs. modern music” on it, and tried to discuss it. It didn’t really work out. The topics seemed like those sloppy oral tasks from your language exam book. Although the special TAKE FIVE atmosphere came to life in the very first year, it wasn’t quite enough. I decided to raise the stakes, so to speak. I assembled a group of three organizers, including myself, and we began to work hard. We beefed up our Facebook page, created an independent website, and spent a great deal of time collecting topics. This was in 2013, I guess.
INTERVIEWER: Balázs, where do you come into the picture? Were you part of that first organizer group?
BALÁZS: No, I wasn’t part of the organizers at first. I believe I started attending the club in … now let’s see, I’m always in trouble when I’m asked this because I honestly don’t remember (laughs). I think I first attended in the spring season of 2013. I was good friends with Fanni by then, and she suggested I check out the club. Needless to say, it was love at first sight, and I don’t recall that I missed many occasions. I was a regular club member at first, and then in (turns to Zsombor), yeah in the beginning of 2014 I became an organizer. Zsombor hasn’t turned me out yet (laughs), so I suppose I’ll stay on board.
INTERVIEWER: Although all of you were insistent on going on holiday, rumor has it that you have planted the seeds for a summer season. Would you mind telling us a few words about that?
BALÁZS: Yeah, we’re glad you asked. We are proud to say that the rumors are true, and special TAKE FIVE summer sessions will, most likely, be held. It seems that enough people are interested, which is always lovely to see. There will be a few changes, though. First of all, these sessions will be primarily run by me, as I can’t expect the others to take on this responsibility in the summer.
INTERVIEWER: And what about the structure of the club meetings?
BALÁZS: No major changes there. The warm-up question stays, followed by discussion in small groups, and then the game. The only thing that’s different is that we’re going to give the guests a bit more freedom in the choice of topics. They may bring articles that they find interesting, or just an idea, as long as they prepare a few thought-provoking questions as well. Or, occasionally, there won’t be any topics, but they will have to come up with something together, like a sales pitch for whacky summertime inventions. We actually tried this game once this season, and it’s a lot of fun.
ZSOMBOR (laughs): What was your crazy idea? A concrete inflatable mattress?
BALÁZS: No, mine was the palinka-based suntan lotion!
INTERVIEWER: It sounds like a hilarious game! Also, it must require quite a high level of language proficiency. What is the minimum level that you recommend for the visitors?
BALÁZS: We have guests ranging from A2 level [elementary language level] to C2, and I’ve never seen anyone snicker at another’s mistake or incorrect word use. Instead, they listen and nod encouragingly, which is fantastic to see. The most important thing for us is that the general TAKE FIVE spirit is maintained; a fun, inclusive group of people, where you only need to speak as much as you want to, and you don’t have to be afraid of people ridiculing you for your language skills.
INTERVIEWER: And what about the venue? I understand that lately you have been in a teahouse/pub, which is underground.
BALÁZS: Yeah, it’s a great place, but since it’s going to be summer, we will look for something outdoors. We haven’t actually decided on a place, but it will be all in the first event, we will keep everyone informed. So don’t forget to check our Facebook page!
Photos by Orsi Kutas
Three days ago the club came to life with a loud and chaotic opening session. No less than 13 people attended the first meeting of the season, which is quite encouraging and startling at the same time. When we moved to this fantastic bar last year, we started off in the smallest possible room. One year passed and we ended up in the backmost room where all these people could sit around a long table comfortably.
What if the number of visitors keeps rising? We have already hired a bunch of highly skilled economists and mathematicians to calculate probable outcomes of this tendency. It’s not that we dislike the increasing popularity of our club, but – and now comes the serious part – if we go on like this, we will have to consider making changes to the agenda to make it fit a generally bigger group of visitors. We will see.
This time we did not yet have any topics prepared. The plan was to sit down together and discuss recommendations. All thirteen people introduced themselves in two and a half sentences for the sake of the newcomers. (Balázs either said twenty sentences or used lots of commas.) We also played a brief catch-up game in which everyone had to tell us about one of their best and one of their worst experiences from the past two months.
From the next session onwards the one and only, the original, the genuine, the peculiar TAKE FIVE routine will keep the discussion on track with the usual warm-up questions, the colored envelopes, and the ever-amusing games. Keep in mind that we gladly take your recommendations both regarding the topics and the games. Feel free to harrass us on Facebook. See you on February 26!
Special thanks to Kla for the photos! Check out her photography, and our Facebook for a few more photos from Thursday.
The TAKE FIVE club seems to be working at full blast with an average of ten visitors a week. One month ago we almost broke the record of that particular night when we had a headcount of seventeen people in the room. We had to stand on a chair to handle the situation.
At the beginning of the season we made a big change by introducing the colored envelopes. Instead of obstinately sticking to one topic, we form small groups and each group draws a random topic from the hat. Every topic goes around the room to avoid boredom and embarrassed glances toward the exit. This way we can cover a wide range of interesting issues from the world of dreams through street scams to the iCloud scandal. The organizers arm in arm with British scientists are working day and night to fine-tune this new method until we win the Best English Conversation Club award.
So far we have discussed seven topics from the hat, but we keep adding new ones every week. Remember that you can recommend a topic anytime. You just need to send us a short description with a few thought-provoking questions, and if we find it suitable for a club session, we will drop it into the hat.
Let’s not forget about games either. Two sessions ago we played that Activity-like game in which we write words on cards and two teams have to describe them in various ways. Last time we tried to catch murderers by bringing back Alibi. We are proud to announce that the stocks have been refilled, so we bought the Last Letter game, which promises plenty of fun for future club meetings.
You have five chances to visit the club during this season, so don’t hesitate. And finally, a piece of important news: If you would like to take part in a two-day intensive English course and you also have an inexplicable liking for the TAKE FIVE organizers, you have a rare opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. The last weekend of November is the time, but you can read more under Angol kurzus.
Check our Facebook page for the latest event. See you next week!
The ever-spirited club organizers are ubiquitously known to take initiatives. This summer the luscious fruit of their hard work appeared in the form of an extraordinary extracurricular event.
We put our heads together and decided to throw a party, or to be more precise, arrange a two-day English course for the first weekend of August. We set the goal of giving our students a boost with a substantial amount of English, and letting them explore new dimensions of language learning besides the usual one-to-one lessons.
The attendees were divided into two groups: A2 (elementary) and B2 (intermediate). We began both days with refreshing icebreaker games. Then came a somewhat condensed grammar section to revise tenses or the correct use of articles, among other things. Finally, we made a smooth transition into more pleasant and playful tasks, such as listening to well-known songs to find some missing words in the lyrics.
Although this was our first attempt ever at organizing a course (at least the three of us together), we received almost only positive responses. Our students seemed to enjoy most of the tasks; some of them were outstandingly popular. By the end of day one we already knew this wasn’t going to be a one-off opportunity. We are planning to return with a second course in the winter, around the beginning of December, so that anyone who missed it or becomes interested can participate.
Chances are that this is just the beginning of a never-ending journey, as we have toyed with the idea of a one-day long C1 (advanced) level course, too.
We have assembled an exhaustive photo collection in which you can find pictures of each and every task with a short description. Enjoy the rest of the summer, and get ready for the fall season of the TAKE FIVE club with a few changes and new games!
We have gone on vacation, but life never stops outside the club. The organizers are planning to hold a great meeting in July to discuss the future of the club. You can expect a few significant changes from September, all aiming at making the club better than ever. We will also decide on the fate of your financial contributions. If you have liked our Facebook page, you will be notified about the latest news.
As a way of expressing my gratitude towards our devoted attendees, I came up with the idea of assembling a virtual audio CD that contains about 20 tracks. Each of our most frequent visitors has contributed to the playlist with two of their favorite songs, mostly of genres that could serve as background music for the meetings. If you seek to unwind at the end of an exhausting day, or simply want to get a glimpse of the genuine TAKE FIVE atmosphere, this exceptionally eclectic album is the best choice for you. Click on the cover below:
Here is the full tracklist. You can click on the individual tracks to find out about a specific takefiver’s musical taste. Enjoy!
1. Dave Brubeck Quartet: Take Five >>
2. Justice: New Lands – Mózes >>
3. Bee Gees: Man in the Middle – Luca >>
4. Jimmy Somerville: Coming – Fanni >>
5. Placebo: Running Up That Hill – Orsi >>
6. Agnes Obel: Just So – Nóra >>
7. Tori Amos: Cactus Practice – Fanni >>
8. Within Temptation: In Perfect Harmony – Luca >>
9. Gary Moore: Still Got The Blues – Zoli >>
10. Lovett: Eye of the Storm – Boró >>
11. The Doors: Riders on the Storm – Zsombor >>
12. Gene Ammons: Canadian Sunset – Boró >>
13. Jim Hall Sextet: You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To – Balázs >>
14. Neal Schon: Big Moon (cover) – Zoli >>
15. Bill Evans: Peace Piece – Nóra >>
16. Simon and Garfunkel: The Sound of Silence – Orsi >>
17. Albert King & Stevie Ray Vaughan: Pride and Joy – Balázs >>
18. Dire Straits: Sultans of Swing – Zsombor >>
19. Parov Stelar: Booty Swing – Mózes >>
20. Robert Cicero: So geil Berlin – Demet >>
The weary club organizer was trying hard to keep his eyes open on that particular Thursday evening. An endless amount of coffee and the Tom-and-Jerry-like matches in the eyes technique combined would not have been enough for success. “Be strong. Don’t break under the weight of the exam period.” said the voice within. A group of ten people gathered to discuss a few questions regarding computerized education, and also try out a new game together.
It is beyond doubt that with the arrival of the 21st century computers have invaded the area of education. So much so that in certain parts of the world (for example the States), childen do not even visit the schools personally. They stay at home, sit down in front of their computers, and cover the material online, using some educational software.Embed from Getty Images
Although CNN education contributor Steve Perry says (video below) these online classes are based upon social networks, that is, students are actually in contact with their fellows or the teachers, the obvious question still arises: is this way of studying advantageous from the perspective of social life? Besides, Balázs came up with the question of motivation, conjuring up the following scenario: when we have to take an oral test in class, we are surrounded by our classmates while the teacher is standing in front of us. In that case, we are under pressure in a sense, and this pressure must affect our motivation. When it comes to online classes, this factor is out of the game.
There are, of course, many things in favor of online studying. One of the advantages would be that parents can monitor their children’s learning process more easily. There is much less miscommunication between the school and the parent. What’s more, children cannot really accuse any of their teachers of being unjust, asking something in the test that wasn’t covered, and so on.
We all agreed that, regardless of the presence of computers in education, the idea of replacing teachers with them in the long run is way too farfetched. Computers prove to be useful in many cases, but there are certain human factors that they won’t be able to substitute for – at least that’s what we think today. On a personal note, as long as we cannot have a realistic conversation with a computer chat bot, like Cleverbot, we can’t expect machines to take the place of flesh and blood teachers.
We wound up playing a hilarious game. It’s called “Poker Face” and it requires its players to become professional liars. Five cards are dealt to each player. In turns, we put one card on the table face down and tell a story of ourselves. If it is a black card, the story has to be true, but if it is a red one, the story has to be made-up. The point is to make everyone believe all our stories while we get rid of our five cards. In case we are not convincing enough and they become suspicious, they have the option of challenging our story. If it turns out to be made up, we have to start all over, picking up all our cards from the table.
Although the rules needed some fine-tuning in the beginning, everyone seemed to enjoy the short stories and fun facts, and most of all the surprise that some of us are indeed professional liars.
We have good news and bad news for you. The bad news is that June 5 is the last club meeting this season. The organizers deserve a bit of vacation, too. The good news: we are taking a break so that we can refresh our brains and collect our brilliant ideas for the next season. As always, we have quite a lot of plans for making the club better. Don’t forget that the final event will be held at a different place, as CD-FŰ closes for the summer on the last day of May. Come to Erzsébet tér, we’ll be gathering by the pool around 6.
On May 8 we were to discuss the issue of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), but due to low attendance, our conversation shifted to something equally exciting. Fanni and I started a debate on Facebook after she’d posted an article about Neil Harbisson, “the world’s first cyborg artist”.
This weird-looking gentleman was born colorblind. At the beginning of the 2000s, he began a project with Adam Montandon, which later became the “Eyeborg” project. They developed a “head-mounted sensor that translates colour frequences into sound frequences”. (Wikipedia) Today, after a series of events, Neil has a camera implanted into his skull that enables him to hear colors, thus overcoming the problem of colorblindness.
“I’m dressed in C major” says Neil in his rather funny and refreshing 10-minute TED presentation. It is definitely worth watching.
Although we couldn’t recall what our debate was originally about, we managed to raise a short but interesting discussion by reading out a few quotes. There were funny ones, such as “Now if I have problems perceiving a color I don’t know who to go to – an opthamologist, a neurologist, or a computer programmer.” But he went further than that with somewhat radical thoughts, which became the basis of our discussion. “Technology is made by humans so if we modify our body with human creations we become more human.” This statement could entail a day-long debate.
In the end we divided the group into two teams, put down words on slips of paper, then both teams had to roll the Story Cubes to tell their stories, using all the words. We had great fun again. Sick minds always save the night.
We have two meetings left until the summer break. Next time we’ll be discussing the issue of computers in education, that is, can computers replace teachers in the long run? If you like the topic or want to try out the tasty grilled chicken, join us next week, and don’t forget to spread the word.
TAKE FIVE is a place of ambivalence, setting the conflicting aims of raising hard-hitting issues in hopes of inciting heated debates, and at the same time providing an opportunity to chill out at the end of a grueling day playing one of our hilarious games. A bittersweet combination served along with sizzling grilled chicken and steaming tea, just to make the substantial topics easier to swallow.
In the past month our discussions have revolved around crimes, but not ordinary ones – acts that are unlawful from the perspective of jurisdiction, but far not so clear-cut when it comes to common sense.
Juvenile Crime – April 10th
Imagine the unfortunate case of a 10-year-old who finds a loaded pistol at home, and, having watched a few action movies instead of bedtime reading, he sets off to school armed just to show off. Things, however, go off the rail when he encounters his most hated teacher of all down the corridor, and, for some reason, he decides to put an end to the matter by simply pulling the trigger.Embed from Getty Images
Among the flood of questions there are a few to highlight. What happens to the child? He has commited a premeditated crime, but was he fully aware of the consequences? Should he be admitted to a correctional institution or put behind bars? Is a reformatory enough to “fix” his mind? How can we be sure he would not pull the triger again once released?
We concluded that under no circumstances should children be imprisoned. The only feasible way is higher quality correctional facilities, and what’s even more important, children’s seamless reintegration into society should be ensured in the first place.
Copyright Matters – April 24th
“You wouldn’t steal a car. You wouldn’t steal a handbag…” You may remember the short anti-piracy ad before movies on DVDs. Those forty seconds convey the explicit message that stealing a car is no different at all from downloading a movie from the net. This is a logical nonsense in itself. When a car gets stolen, it is no longer there. When a movie is downloaded, however, the source file remains intact – we make a copy.Embed from Getty Images
That’s where the problem of copyrights begin, as it is rather difficult to decide whether an author actually suffers a financial loss in case his work goes viral on the net without its users paying for it. Think of aspiring musicians who use Internet as a diving board into success! Besides discussing personal aspects in groups of two, and clarifying the current related laws in Hungary, we focused more on the above-mentioned approach.
I myself made attempts to challenge every point that supports piracy, but to no avail. It appears that all of the relevant industries somehow benefit from illegal downloads. Many people download a game only to try it out before finally purchasing it. Similarly, if someone falls in love with a song or performer, chances are that he will end up at a concert. Cinemas don’t seem to have run out of viewers either.
“Don’t make people pay for music, says Amanda Palmer: Let them.”
When we were arranging for the Copyright Matters discussion, Nóra posted a TED Talk which I promised her to watch. I must admit that this presentation has been one of my most cathartic TED experiences. Once you watch it, you will understand why. (English and Hungarian subtitles are available.)
Special thanks go to Zoli for helping us as a professional to put together the questions and provide background information for the copyright topic.
A few days ago I got swallowed by the black hole of club data, a huge folder with hundreds of documents – drafts for blog posts, stolen images, poster designs, and photos taken during club meetings. As I took a closer look at those photos, I realized how valuable they are. I found eternalized moments even from the very first month of TAKE FIVE. A wondrous idea struck my mind: why not make a short video that could present the club as it really is? No words, only pictures to show the unsuspecting visitors how these Thursday evenings have been going on for years. Here it is.