George Orwell, world famous author whose experiences in the Spanish Civil War inspired him to write his most famous books
George Orwell was a British journalist and author, who wrote two of the most famous novels of the 20th century ‘Animal Farm’ and ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’.
Look at this vocabulary first:
civil servant – a person who works for the government
homeless – a person who doesn’t have a home to live in
menial – a simple or basic job
sniper – a person who shoots a rifle from a hidden place
bullet – the projectile from a gun
lifelong – all your life
betrayal – to be disloyal to someone or thing
Orwell was born on 25 June 1903 in eastern India. His real name was Eric Arthur Blair. His father was a British colonial civil servant. He was educated in England and, because they didn’t have enough money to send him to university, his family decided that he should join the British Imperial Police.
Blair went to Burma, where his grandmother lived, which was a British colony. After five years he resigned in 1927 and decided to become a writer. He lived in both London and Paris where he spent a lot of time learning about the poor and homeless. He didn’t have much success as a writer, so he often had to do menial jobs to get by. He described his experiences in his first book, ‘Down and Out in Paris and London’, published in 1933. He chose the pseudonym George Orwell before its publication. His first novel, ‘Burmese Days’, was published in 1934.
An anarchist in the late 1920s, by the 1930s he considered himself a socialist. Orwell married Eileen O’Shaughnessy on 9 June 1936. Later that year he travelled to Spain to fight for the Republicans against Franco’s Nationalists. He spent a lot of time in Barcelona, Catalonia and Aragon. He was injured by a fascist sniper’s bullet and later had to escape from Spain when Soviet-backed Stalinists started suppressing Anarchist and Socialist militias including Orwell’s own party the Trotskyist POUM. These experiences are graphically recorded in Orwell’s classic work on the Spanish Civil War – Homage to Catalonia – and turned Orwell into an anti-Stalinist.
Between 1941 and 1943, Orwell worked on propaganda for the BBC. In 1943, he became literary editor of the Tribune, a weekly left-wing magazine. By now he was a prolific journalist, writing articles, reviews and books.
In 1945, Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’ was published. It was a political fable set on a farm but based on Stalin’s betrayal of the Russian Revolution. It made Orwell famous and ensured he was financially comfortable for the first time in his life. ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ was published four years later. This was in an imaginary totalitarian future, and the book made a deep impression, with its title and many phrases – such as ‘Big Brother is watching you’, ‘newspeak’ and ‘doublethink’ – becoming part of everyday English. By now Orwell’s health was deteriorating and he died of tuberculosis on 21 January 1950.
QUESTIONS TO CHAT ABOUT
- Have you read any books by George Orwell?
- What experiences in his life influenced his books?
- Why do you think some writers use pseudonyms?
- Are you reading a book at the moment? If so, explain a little about it.
3 QUICK TIPS
What you can read to help improve your English.
- Books adapted to your level e.g. the Jane Austen and Mr. Bean books in picture 1.
- Wikipedia – find information about something you are interested in on Wikipedia. Do this in your mother tongue and then click on ‘English’ in the languages column on the left.
- Think about your hobbies. Find and read English websites about your hobbies.
Whenever possible try to read and listen to the text at the same time. You can do this with songs but perhaps the best way is to get a video of someone talking and at the same time get the script of what they say.
You can do this with many of Barack Obama’s speeches. If you go to www.whitehouse.gov and click on the briefing room section. Here you can find ‘Your Weekly Address‘ where you can watch Barack Obama speak on a weekly basis to the American people and at the same time you can download the video, the audio AND the transcript. Plenty of material for you ti use!
From champion cyclist and triathlete to doping boss?
Look at this vocabulary first:
road racing cyclist – a cyclist who competes in competitions that take place (occur) on roads.
performance-enhancing drugs – drugs that help you compete better
banned (to ban) – to officially or legally prohibit
handful – a small quantity or number
signed (to sign) – to put your name (signature) to a contract
successful – to do or complete something well
prerecorded (to prerecord) – to record something in advance
broadcast – to transmit programmes, typically by radio or television
Adapted from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/aLance_Armstrong
Lance Edward Armstrong (born Lance Edward Gunderson, September 18, 1971) is an American former professional road racing cyclist. Armstrong had won the Tour de France a record seven consecutive times between 1999 and 2005, but in 2012 he was disqualified from all his results since August 1998 for using and distributing performance-enhancing drugs and was banned from professional cycling for life.
At 16, Armstrong began competing as a triathlete and became a national sprint-course triathlon champion in 1989 and 1990. In 1992, Armstrong began his career as a professional cyclist with the Motorola team. He had notable success between 1993 and 1996, including the 1993 World Championship, Clásica de San Sebastián in 1995 and a handful of stage victories in Europe, including the stage to Limoges in the Tour de France.
In October 1996, he was diagnosed with testicular cancer that had spread to his brain and lungs. His cancer treatments included brain and testicular surgery and extensive chemotherapy. In February 1997, he was declared cancer-free and the same year he founded the Lance Armstrong Foundation for cancer support.
Tour de France
By January 1998, Armstrong had renewed serious cycling training, having signed a new racing contract with US Postal. He was a member of the US Postal/Discovery team between 1998 and 2005. On July 24, 2005, Armstrong retired from racing at the end of the 2005 Tour de France. However he returned to competitive cycling with the Astana team in January 2009 and finished third in the 2009 Tour de France. Between 2010 and 2011, he raced with Team Radio Shack.
On February 16, 2011, he announced his retirement from competitive cycling. In February 2012, he returned to triathlon, competing as a professional in several events. In June 2012, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) charged Armstrong with having used illicit performance-enhancing drugs. In August it announced a lifetime ban from competition, which applies in all sports which follow the World Anti Doping Agency code. He lost all titles won since August 1998. The USADA report stated that Armstrong enforced “the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen”.
On January 13, 2013, it was reported that Armstrong would admit doping to Oprah Winfrey in a prerecorded interview to be broadcast on January 17th.
Look at the pictures below, there were taken at a basketball match. Think about all the different things that are happening. Write down some notes and then talk to a colleague, a partner or your ECP coach about them.
After, you can write down the ideas in an email and send them to your ECP coach who can help you correct and improve your writing.
Why not record them to practice your speaking? Read what you have written to your ECP coach to improve your intonation and pronunciation.