Monday, December 26, 2016

Sunday, December 25, 2016

EL119 Grades [Final Update]

Click here to see your grades for the whole semester. 

Good luck on the final exam. 

Saturday, December 24, 2016

EL121 Grades [Final Update]

Click here to see your grades for the whole semester.

I hope you all do well on the final exam. 

Friday, December 23, 2016

EL121 Revision

Below you'll find some important documents which should help you do better on the EL121 final exam.

Information about the final exam [Link]

How to properly answer the definitions [Link]

End of year revision quiz with answers [Link]

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Monday, December 19, 2016

EL119 Reminders

1. For those who missed the Presentation part of the MIDTERM, a make-up presentation will take place on Saturday 24th Dec. at 11am. If you miss this date, no other option will be available. A valid excuse with documentation is needed.

2. For those who missed some other presentation or assignment, we will do them at the end of our last class which will be this coming week (from 24th - 29th Dec.). A valid excuse is also needed.

3. Don't forget to submit your audio recordings by the 29th Dec.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Buying Books Online

So a lot of the times, I recommend or talk about interesting books which cannot be found at any of the local bookstores here in Kuwait.

I personally use two websites to get books that don't exist in Kuwait:

1. Mr Babu - The great thing about this website is that it has everything! It takes all the books (and everything else) you see on amazon and adds a fee to them for shipping and delivery. Even if it's one book you want, Mr Babu will deliver it straight to your door. It usually takes around two weeks for the books to arrive so this is one website I highly recommend.

2. Jamalon - Another great website for books is Jamalon. Originally located in Jordan, this website offers a wide selection (English and Arabic) and ships books all over the world. Their books are reasonably priced but take longer to arrive.  

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Monday, December 12, 2016

How We Learn

In schools and universities, they teach us about subjects, but they don't teach us how we actually learn. If you are serious about becoming a better student, teacher, parent or knowledge seeker, I highly recommend the 4 fantastic books below. They will give you a better understanding of how humans understand and acquire knowledge and what really works and what doesn't. These books will turn you into a more effective knowledge seeker and I guarantee will change your life.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Have Fun Speaking!

So as you all know by now, I'm always trying to find interesting ways to help you improve your speaking. One fun way to do so, is by playing board games with friends and family members. There is a board game called Taboo which I highly recommend. 

It's a game where one person is supposed to describe a given word in one minute to others but without using 5 taboo words. For example, I have to let my team guess the word "fire" by describing it to them but I'm not allowed to use the words "flame, hot, red, heat and match." 

It's a lot of fun, it makes you more creative as you are forced to find other ways of describing the words and it improves your English with time. There is also a Taboo Juniors Edition for those who are not very fluent in English. 

You can find these board games in almost all toy shops in Kuwait.  

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Books that Changed your Life [Updated]

So after attending the above event, I decided to share what I got from it. There were around 15 people in attendance who took part in a beautiful discussion afterwards. The interesting thing about those in attendance was that they were an interesting mix of people from different walks of life. We had professors and experts in science and language, we had philosophers, students, teachers and authors in the group. Below, you will find the names of books that changed our lives the most which I thought would be interesting to share with you all.

Click to enlarge pictures

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Publish Your Own Book!

Wouldn't it be amazing to publish your own thoughts one day? Maybe you have a great story to share with the world or simply a book of poems. Maybe you'd like to share a book about your life. Whatever it may be, Nova Plus can make that a hassle-free reality. Please see the below for rules and regulations. 

Click to enlarge

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

EL121 - The Tell Tale Heart

I hope you all got the chance to read the story, it was very interesting and creepy at the same time. Click here for the notes.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Mr. Farran's Random Thoughts

Feel free to share your own if you wish to do so.

1. Three tips on finding the right partner (click here to listen)

2. Saying the right thing at the wrong time (click here to listen)

3. What is our purpose in life? (click here to listen)

4. Are you a Christian? (click here to listen)

5. The juice seller's dream (click here to listen)

Monday, November 21, 2016

EL121: Units 3 + 4 Quiz

Two amazing stories! Click here to do the quiz!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

But I Don't Have Time to Read!!

I cannot tell you how many times I've heard that excuse from my students whenever I tell them to read at home. Some other excuses include:

* I have a job
* I'm married
* I have kids

Your job, marital status and children should not come in the way of education and seeking knowledge. 

When people say they don't have time to read, what they really mean is they're not organizing their time properly. If you seriously feel that you have no time to read, you've got your priorities sorted out in the wrong way my friend. 

How is it that we have so much time for other things in life, but when it comes to reading, time suddenly disappears? How much time do we spend on our phones? On Whatsapp? Snapchat? Instagram and other such applications? How much time do we spend on the TV watching mind-numbing shows?

It's time for a change. 

Let me tell you something that has helped me personally. Keep in mind that I have a job, I work from home as well, I'm married, and have two little angels who constantly need attention. Nevertheless, I still find time to read everyday. Here's what I do:

Every day before I go to bed (and after putting the kids to sleep), I read for 15 - 20 minutes. My family now knows that this is my time. I do this EVERY single day without exception. Why is doing this every day important? Because if you include reading into your daily routine, with time it will become a HABIT. Habits usually last for a long time and are hard to break.

So pick a quiet time for yourself, it could be early morning when you wake up, sometime in the afternoon or before you go to bed. Give yourself 15 - 20 minutes and read any book of your choice. Do this daily and stick to it. The success of this method lies in your dedication to stick to it on a daily basis. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Choosing the Right Book for You

The Book Fair is currently taking place (until the 26th Nov.) in the International Fairgrounds (ard il ma3arid in Mishref) in Halls 5, 6 and 7. Please take advantage of this opportunity and go there and find something to read. I promise you that you will find something interesting to read if you look hard enough. Remember we are all readers, if you don't like reading, you simply haven't found the right book yet. It's similar to those who say I don't like marriage; they don't like it until they find the right partner. With reading it's exactly the same.

Let me share some interesting books I bought from the Book Fair and hopefully help you on your personally journey to find interesting books as well.

If you're into science and religion, this small book is the right one for you. Personally, I was always amazed at how detailed and specific the Quran was when it came to scientific matters. It's fascinating to know that modern science today is only confirming what the Quran had 1400 years ago Subhanallah.
(Price: 1KD)

Seriously, who doesn't love this guy? Ahmad Al Shughairi is one of my personal heroes in life. He's well-educated, open minded and makes you think. Buy any book you find for him.
(Price: 3KD)

The title of this book instantly grabbed my attention. It was written by a young ambitious Kuwaiti who goes by the name of Dr. Mohammad Qasim. If you're into science and want a book that will excite your imagination, this book is for you. 
(Price: 4KD)

If you don't enjoy stories, or if you like reading quick and simple books, buy books like the above. It's a book of quotations from smart people written in two languages as well. It's an easy read and one that you can pick up and read at any time of the day. Let's say you're waiting for your friend in a cafe and s/he is running late and needs 5 more minutes. You can simply pick up this book and entertain yourself  while you wait. Honestly, I cannot tell you how many books I've actually finished just waiting for people (especially my wife). 
(Price: 5KD)

If you enjoy stories and classics and you're weak in English, then these books are for you. I highly recommend them because instead of using a dictionary to translate the meanings of words you don't understand (which is very time consuming), you simply resort to Arabic to understand what is going on. I use these books myself to improve my Arabic believe it or not.
(Price: From 0.750 to 1.500KD depending on the story)

The only way to move forward in life is to understand where we came from. It is our duty to keep the legacy of those before us alive. I bought these books to teach myself and my children about the Golden Age of Islam and how we had the best scientists, writers and thinkers back in the old days. Most people think that the Americans and Europeans invented almost everything we have today. But before they came along, we had our own intellectuals who changed the course of history based on their discoveries and findings. My goal in life is to create a new Golden Age where knowledge and wisdom take center stage in our lives.  
(Price: 1KD per book)

If you enjoy books about famous people then you will find a wide variety of books like the above. In addition to Muhammad Ali, I found books about Cleopatra, Einstein, Hitler, Martin Luther King and many more. They are easy reads with very interesting information.  
(Price: 1KD)

A good book makes you smile, but a great book makes you think. Mustafa Mahmoud is a famous Egyptian writer, philosopher and thinker. If you want to read a book that challenges the way you think, then read any book for the above author. 
(Price: 0.500 to 1:000KD)

If you're into fiction and want to enjoy a good story, then look no further than this book. The Bamboo Stalk, written by a talented Kuwaiti, was originally written in Arabic and translated into English. They even turned the novel into a television series. Highly recommend for those who like drama in fiction.
(Price: 5KD)

If you enjoy books that go through top 10 lists then this book will be a wonderful read for you. This big book covers the top 100 most influential Muslims to have ever lived (or still living) on this planet. For those who are into religion, this is a great choice.
(Price: 7KD)

It is important to expand our knowledge not only in our chosen area of study, but to also know something about other majors and fields of study. The colorful book series shown above, takes the big and complicated ideas in those fields and explains them in simple terms for the average person to understand. Highly recommend for those who want to know more about other areas of interest in life.
(Price: 8KD each)

For those who like stories about hope, look no further. This is a true story about a young girl who overcame tremendous odds and is now an inspiration to millions of young people around the world thanks to her persistence to stand up for what is right. If you want to be inspired, this book will definitely move you.
(Price: 4KD)

Many of the books I shared above are in Arabic; that's because it's the language I'm working on and trying to improve at the moment. Another reason is that 90% of the books in the Book Fair are in Arabic as well. But that doesn't mean that there aren't any good English books. There are, you just have to look for them. So because a lot of you want to improve your English, now is the time to go and pick something out. Even if you read in Arabic, that's still wonderful. The point is to make reading a habit (like checking your phone every half hour) and to include reading in your daily routine. 

I will update this list when I go again to get more books. Please leave your book suggestions for me in the comments.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

How to Answer Part B on the EL121 MTA

After receiving some messages from my students, I realized some of you are having problems understanding how to answer the questions in Part B.

If you want to do well, please keep the advice below in mind.

Okay so the first thing you have to do is understand the nature of the question itself. Part B is a Close Reading section which means you need to focus your attention on the passage given and not the whole story.

One of the biggest problems I find when students answer this question is that they don't do the above. They talk about the WHOLE story when clearly this question is asking them to focus their thoughts and ideas on the given passage. So please be careful on the exam and do not make the mistake others have made before you.

To do well on this type of question, we also have to go back to the skills we talked about in Book 2 in class. Do you remember Critical Reading and Thinking?

Critical Reading means you approach the text carefully like a detective looking for clues, you read between the lines and try to understand why the author wrote what he did. You're interested in only only what is written but also HOW it is written. Critical Thinking means you ask questions and approach the text with an open mind.

So when you read the passage on the exam, focus on that passage only and read it carefully with an open mind. Remember every passage (no matter how small) reveals something about the setting, characters, theme, plot and many other things as well.

Just be sure to read the question carefully and give us an appropriate answer.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Sunday, October 23, 2016

EL121 - A Letter From Gaza

I hope you all read the story and enjoyed it as much as I did. The story is beautiful and very meaningful. Click here to download the notes.

P.S. The original (Arabic version) of the story can be found here

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Improve Your English!!

If you want to improve your English / Arabic please buy stories like these. These stories are written in both English and Arabic (side by side), so if you don't know what a word means or if you don't understand an idea in one language, you can always look at the other side of the page and understand what is meant using the second language. 

You can find these books in Jarir Bookstore in Hawally. 

Friday, October 14, 2016

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The Painting My Dad Rejected

In class, I once spoke about the time I decided to suddenly test my artistic abilities and start painting. When I enthusiastically showed my dad my very first painting (below), he wasn't really impressed and told me not to waste my time and to focus on other things in life. I still paint until this very day. 

P.S. I know what you're all thinking and I'm sorry it's not for sale. 

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Friday, October 7, 2016

Monday, October 3, 2016

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Friday, September 30, 2016

EL121 - A Sound of Thunder

I hope you all read and enjoyed the story as much as I did, click here to download the notes.

The story talks about the "Butterfly Effect". Click here to see a short video to get a better idea. There's also a great movie called the "The Butterfly Effect". Watch it if you can.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

EL121: Unit 1 Quiz

Click here to do the quiz! 

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Monday, September 19, 2016

Saturday, February 19, 2011


Welcome AOU students!

On this blog, you will find a lot of useful information to help you with your courses. Please feel free to ask me any questions that might come up and please do give me your suggestions and ideas on ways to improve this blog. I want to hear from you all!

I hope you all have a wonderful semester!