The TAKE FIVE club has witnessed an exceptionally low attendance for as long as one year, but this tendency seems to be turning around now. Last Thursday, on April 12, no less than twenty people decided to spend a pleasant evening with us, and we are more than grateful for that. Among the old dogs we spotted quite a number of new members who are likely to mark the beginning of a prospective shift in our target audience. With the spring season in full swing, more and more of our students have been joining the sessions. The youngest member is an extraordinary 12-year-old gentleman who has the courage to speak in front of a crowd whenever it comes to games or the 90-second talk. The stunning diversity of the group have truly shaken (not stirred) up the life of the club.
After a long brainstorming period in winter, we introduced a few changes in an attempt to fine-tune our format, and thus make it more inviting to all of our guests. As a starting point, we have extended the intro section so that newcomers have an opportunity to get to know the others and become more comfortable. We throw in a simple ice-breaker, preferably in pairs, to get the ball rolling. Besides the ice-breakers, we also agreed that once we form small groups for the upcoming discussion, people need time for some catching up and getting in the mood. As a cherry on top, we now have an entertaining and interactive way of selecting the topic of the day. If you join us next time, you can see it for yourself!
After introducing ourselves, we formed groups of three to play an amusing get-to-know-you game. There were three questions: What is your favorite food? What is your dream job? Where would you go if you could go anywhere? However, it was not you who had to answer, but your partners had to make guesses before you revealed the truth. The buzz of a crowd quickly overwhelmed the room while we struggled with sorting out the colored cards to assign the five small groups. The winner topic for the night was titled “A series of series”, and it raised questions about the necessity of making TV series out of books:
“…there are more and more series coming out every year. One of the latest was the announcement of a Lord of the Rings series. Do you think series can be a good way of adapting books (because they are longer than films, you can have all the details of a book)?“
The rest of the night, that is, the game section took an unexpected turn. Since covering significant current issues has always been top priority for us, we had planned to bring up the elections in a way that it would not go against our own guidelines. We were not at all curious about who favored which political party. Instead, we intended to cover this topic with two hilarious games. First, as a warmer, the groups were asked to come up with whacky ways to vote, as part of the well-known “whacky inventions” series. The second and last game required even more creativity with a grain of acting on top: each group had to elect a candidate who would replace Zsombor as founder and organizer, and write a campaign speech to be presented by the candidate on the podium.
The breath-taking fun should not stop here. We will celebrate the arrival of our fresh members with a brand new board game from England called Scattergories. We hope you will enjoy playing it just as much as playing Taboo. In case you are interested in the upcoming session, check out the latest event on our Facebook page. You can also find the full photo album of last week’s meeting there.
Adománygyűjtést szervez a TAKE FIVE angol klub. Célunk minél több cipős doboz megtöltése és eljuttatása a MikulásGyárba. A karácsonyi és egyben utolsó klubestig, december 13-ig várjuk a felajánlásokat. Támogasd a gyűjtésünket gyerekeknek szánt ajándékokkal (játékokkal, papírírószerrel, tartós élelmiszerrel stb.) vagy készpénzzel! Elhozhatod hozzánk személyesen december 13-án este 6-tól, vagy írj nekünk üzenetet a Facebook oldalunkon keresztül!
We are organizing a charity donation campaign. We set out to fill as many shoeboxes as possible, which will then be donated to MikulásGyár (a charity organization for poor children). You can contribute to our project with anything for children (stationery, toys, non-perishable food etc.) or cash until December 13, the last session of the season. Bring it to the club, or contact us through our Facebook page.
A MikulásGyár weboldala / the website of MikulásGyár: http://mikulasgyar.hu/
Three Americans walk into an English club… and this is not a joke! One of our most loyal native speaker visitor, Sara, has been stunningly eager to advertise the club ever since she first joined us. About a year ago she rushed back to her homeland after hearing Balázs using his late-night Scottish accent, but now she’s back and fully recovered. (The rest of the organizers are on the mend.) Sara has made our heart melt with one of her Facebook posts in which she explains how difficult it must be for anyone without a great support system to immigrate to Hungary. “TAKE FIVE – English Language Club has been my safety net for sanity when things seem rough…” These kind and reassuring words could be considered a present for our 6th birthday.
6:17 pm. The spotlight is gone forever, and there’s no way to replace the bulb. Only a spherical lampshade on the ceiling is scattering some light around the club room while half a dozen of lamps are timidly glowing in the background as moral support. We should already be sitting around the table introducing ourselves, but probably thanks to the unexpected deluge raging out on the streets, only a few people are wandering around bemused. What we have in common with TV series: every season begins with the appearance of interesting new characters. I am more than excited to welcome three newcomers. I’m used to hearing “oh, my friend told me about the club” from new visitors, so my heart skips a beat when Józsi tells me he just googled “English club Budapest”.
“The crowd is overwhelming,” said I to greet tonight’s guests. Balázs kindly encourages me to drop the irony. He is right.
What thoughts or feelings does fall/autumn evoke in you? We agreed this would make a good introductory question for today. The room is soon filled with laughter as most people associate this season with fairly depressive thoughts. The dramatic effect could be boosted with the pouring rain… if the place had any windows. I can’t seem to smother the urge to share my favorite quote from David Letterman: “Fall is my favorite season in Los Angeles, watching the birds change color and fall from the trees.” A heartfelt giggle erupts from four people as a way of showing empathy towards the aspiring club organizer.
We have new cards for forming groups. Balázs very wisely pointed out that orange cards with only numbers on them are easy to mix up. Therefore, he created cards of different colors. We had to polish our negotiation skills to find the golden mean between practicality and enthusiasm. His original plan was to put numbers on the colored cards in order to provide a “multi-sensory experience” for the people. I suggested we should not get carried away with such luxurious dreams. Colors will be just enough. Era helps us out by joining a two-member group in one of the corners. Today’s topic is “ALL BY OURSELVES?”, an experimental topic about extraterrestrial life. We decided to try topics that rely more on our imagination than our up-to-dateness on current issues.
Balázs and I are standing at the bar. The door opens and she walks in: a lady with ginger hair and glasses. She’s no stranger, she’s our lovely colleague with whom we joined forces to organize a six-day English course a month ago. I’m wondering if she’ll spot the outline of Mark Hamilton’s dead body on the club room floor – a prop that served as an important part of our murder mystery game for the English course.
Before we go on a fifteen minute break, we announce the launch of an unprecedented TAKE FIVE contest. Whoever attends at least four sessions or sends us a topic during the fall season will be put on the list of possible winners. In the end, we are going to pick a random person who wins a TAKE FIVE T-shirt. (Something I didn’t manage to find after having washed all of my clothes.)
7:55 pm. Let the fun begin! Just to get the ball rolling, we bring back our “whacky invention” game, but this time the groups have to invent a piece of equipment that helps defend ourselves against hurricanes. To all language learners’ delight (that is, all of the non-natives), by this time there are three Americans sitting in the room. What an ironic coincidence that we are dealing with hurricanes. The selected speakers from each group take the hot seat on the podium to present their inventions. They never fail to amaze me with their creativity and exceptional sense of humor. One of the things is a ukulele which, when being played, generates a protective bubble around itself.
For the last 45 minutes we put on a storytelling show – a kind of thing we usually have mixed feelings about. The concept of one person speaking while an audience is listening does not necessarily harmonize with the concept of a conversation club. Nonetheless, this one seems to work out well as we have spiced it up with an interactive feature. The game is the following: one person takes the hot seat and begins to share a memorable summer story with the audience. At random moments, Balázs rings the bell and the storyteller freezes. Anyone from the audience can guess how the story is going to continue. We can hardly breathe as born stand-up comedian Jake presents his story of a weird girl chasing him with her love. It seems that Americans are here to bring our talk shows up to standard.
9:00 pm sharp. Let’s give a big hand to Jake! The podium is empty now. I glance at my phone and call it a day. We always take pride in being so precise. I thank them all for being here tonight, concluding my brief monologue with a modest, almost undetectable bow. Meanwhile, I’m very awkwardly trying to avoid making eye contact with them.
Where are we heading? I came to realize a while ago that running an English club requires an incredible degree of innovation and creativity. If we set out to be up-to-date with our topics, and we respond to several events as they are happening in the world, it is then inevitable that we constantly redefine ourselves as time passes. After six years of persistent (and at times painstaking) work, we have now decided to raise the club to a whole new level. From this season on, TAKE FIVE is diving headfirst into the world of charity. Not only do we want to donate money to certain organizations, but we also plan to appear at carefully selected institutes with special tailor-made club sessions.
If everything goes according to plan, the first such institute will be the Tüskevár school where I currently work. It would be a great honor to bring an extraordinary TAKE FIVE session to the school at the beginning of February.
Written by Zsombor
I am strolling down memory lane – taking it slow because there are too many places to stop at. In 2011, we started out in a room overflowing with all the five people and a few packets of salty sticks. We had absolutely no idea how it was going to be. Today we host meetings with fifteen to twenty guests in a nice bar where the backmost room is reserved for us. After months and years of painful struggle, the club began to live a life of its own. Besides the loyal hard core, it has been a true honor to welcome an enormous group of newcomers recently. One of my favorite stories is a guy who told us that he had taken a flyer half a year before so that he could visit us one day. And there he was.
After long weeks of silence, allow me to give you an overview of how we spent our final session in 2016, and also share a few secrets with you about the covert affairs of the club.
On December 15th we brought back the genuine TAKE FIVE Christmas spirit, like we always do. We began with a few rounds of word chain to get the Christmas bulb rolling. Instead of the regular envelopes, we pulled off a prank on the unsuspecting guests. I stood up and said: “We are having a little technical problem because we forgot to bring the envelopes, but…” We had hidden a tiny slip of paper under the top of each mushroom on the tables. They found out the secret quite quickly. On the slips there was a list of questions related to how we celebrate or what we think about Christmas.
There were no speakers on the stage this time since we did not intend to spark any debate on the topic. Instead, Balázs asked questions like “What is the worst present you’ve ever received?” or “What was your most awkward Christmas moment?” It was incredibly amusing. I finally had a chance to share a couple of childhood traumas, including a disgusting Santa Claus toy that started playing some dreadful music when you approached it. The bullies in elementary school were nowhere near the experience – although as far as the Santa toy is concerned, we were able to lock it up in the chamber, as opposed to the former.
One of the best shots turned out to be our fairly new invention, the Alternative Universes, combined with the Christmas theme. As Woody Allen would say, “I am flabbergasted” by the level of creativity and ingenuity of our guests. Did you know that in the Animal Universe, animals eat roasted politicians on Christmas Eve? The pinnacle of this game was a Jingle Bells song with alternative lyrics sung by the citizens of the Superhero Universe. Sing along:
Smashing through the snow
In a one-horse open plane
All the skies we go
Flying all the way
Bells on Batman’s ears
Making heroes laugh
Oh what fun it is to fly with Santa Claus tonight
Spider webs, spider webs
Shining all the way
Oh what fun it is tonight in an invisible plane
Laser eyes, glowing capes
Soaring all the way
Oh what fun it is to wear your Christmas underwear…
…on the outside.
The main attraction of the night was the all-time favorite, the ever-green classic (labels we arbitrarily stigmatized the game with): the Christmas Taboo, which means forty-eight Taboo cards that we created ourselves. The cards contain words that are connected to Christmas or winter in general. We never play this game with teams. We just sit around the table as one big group, and it’s free for all. As the ultimate motivating factor, we promised a handful of szaloncukor for the winner – which we later regretted. (Contrary to popular belief, there is no proper translation for szaloncukor as it is a Hungarikum solely produced in Hungary and Slovakia.)
After Orsi had won the game by a landslide, she presented us with an offer. She would give away all her candies if we poured the entire content of the two bags onto her. It would have been hard to resist. Here’s the evidence:
What you didn’t know about…
You may still remember that our club once organized an extraordinary session for a group of high school students. We decided to revisit this brand new tradition at the beginning of December. I had an opportunity to meet a lovely group of eighth graders during my first teaching practice in the fall semester. I truly enjoyed all the time we spent together, and I felt by the end that I was not yet ready to let them go. I went back one day and invited them to a special TAKE FIVE meeting organized exclusively for them. They looked a bit puzzled first, needless to say, but on the 7th of December – the first Wednesday in the history of our club – ten of my students showed up (and went straight into the darts room).
The story did not end there. On the 15th, two guys came back to see a regular meeting of ours. They said they would join us for future sessions as well, and that they would try to drag some more classmates along. I am looking forward to seeing them, for a number of reasons.
The show must go on
The club is scheduled to reopen its gates on February 2nd. Our plan is to keep the well-known and well-working TAKE FIVE atmosphere with a format very similar to what you have seen before. My only proposal at this point is to make it slightly more flexible, and maybe broaden our horizons by experimenting with new things. You are welcome to assist us along the way. Feel free to send us feedback on any aspects the club, new activities to try out, not to mention topic recommendations.
Keep an eye out for the first Facebook event of February.
This gallery contains 32 photos.
Ladies and Gentlemen, allow us to present to you a fine selection of the professional photographs taken at a special event celebrating the 5th birthday of the TAKE FIVE – English Language Club. All the credits go to Szilvia Liska.