Monday, 10 December 2012

A Magical Christmas with Tom Cruise

AChristmas Memory with Tom Cruise
Tom Cruise

 Christmas is a time to share with family and friends.  Also people will be talking about Christmas memories from the past.  Let’s take a look at Tom Cruise’s favorite Christmas as a child... 

Interviewer: When I was a kid the time of year that I loved was Christmas because it was the only magic time.  Didn’t you one year, I read that there was a gift of poems.

Tom Cruise: Yeah

Interviewer: Tell me.

Tom Cruise:  As I said, a beautiful mother, and it was actually the first Christmas when my parents were divorced and we didn’t have any money. And really not enough to buy each other a present.  And all of the money kind of went to…well didn’t kind of, it went into paying for food on the table.  And so my mother said listen: “What we are going to do is we are not going to buy each other gifts.  We are going to pick names out of hat.  And for a month you are going to do something for that person and on Christmas day we are going to reveal who you are and we are going to write poems for each other.

Tom Cruise: It was actually the best Christmas I had as a kid! It was a great Christmas!

Interviewer: It sounds like a great Christmas.


The story is direct.  Tom starts by setting the ‘scene’ for the listener.  His parents had just divorced.  There was no money to spend on Christmas gifts.  Food was the most important item.  Tom uses past verb tenses to create the scene for the listener. 

Next, Tom tells the story from his mother’s words.  She is using ‘going to’ to express a future within the story time period.  This gives the story a change of pace.  It feels like we are there with Tom, listening to his mother’s Christmas plan.  It is a nice style and more interesting than telling a whole story with past tense verbs only.  Also, changing the pace of a story helps keeps the listener interested.  In the final two sentences Tom reverts back to the use of past tense verbs and finishes telling the story.  Tom reveals the importance of this memory to the listener with great enthusiasm and excitement in his voice:  this was the best Christmas he had as a kid with excitement in his voice.  The excitement in his voice also creates interest from the listener. 

If you want to try out Tom’s Christmas Memory/Story Style, here it is:

Tom’s Story Telling Template:

1.Set the scene in the past in your own ‘voice’ or perspective.
2.Have one of the main characters in the scene/memory tell the story.
3.Return to your own ‘voice’ and why it was important to you (enthusiastically).

Full and original interview with Tom Cruise 'Christmas Memory" 
(Counter: 6:05 - 7:01 – ‘Christmas Memory’ portion of interview)

Tom’s latest movie Trailer



Celebrity English Christmas
 Celebrity English
Connect with Alex here or with the links below!

Monday, 3 December 2012

Little Angels

Angels in our day and time!
Little Angels at Celebrity English
Little Angels!
This week at Celebrity English we are fortunate to be able to interview Tammy Armstrong.  Tammy is a highly educated expert from the field of “education and training for individuals who are severely disabled” and serves as the Director of Developmental Training at the world class Little Angels Center for ExceptionalCare in Elgin Illinois.

"Love, care and support, just like Family!" is one of the motto's at the Little Angels Center for Exceptional care.   Let’s take a look inside the world of Little Angels


Alex Graham: Please tell us a bit about ‘Little Angels’ and the story behind this phenomenal center.

Tammy Armstrong: In 1958, Pat Wasmond, a registered nurse and mother, began her life’s mission to help children who could not help themselves — and to always love them like her own. Her passion began simply by opening her home to a prominent doctor’s child who required 24 hour care and support. It didn’t take long for word to spread about the exceptional care this child was receiving and soon others came to Pat for help. Pat, along with husband Bob opened their home to several disabled children in need. And with that, Little Angels was founded. Now, over 50 years later, Little Angels has grown into a 57 bed skilled care nursing facility caring for children and young adults with complex physical, developmental and medical needs. Our residents are all in wheelchairs, require total assistance for all activities of daily life and are in need of 24 hour nursing care.

Alex: The Little Angels Developmental Training Program has implemented the most modern and up-to-date training techniques for young adults. Can you give us some specific training methods or techniques used to create the best possible environment for the participants?

Tammy: First you need an environment and activities that address all 5 senses. Our residents learn best through a variety of sensory experiences, due to the physical and cognitive challenges they face. Our Snoezelen room is a perfect example of providing a multi-sensory experience through modern technology. (Pronounced Soo-zlen. This is sensory stimulatory equipment that was created, in Holland, specifically for individuals with severe sensory impairments.) We can customize the experience to meet a variety of individual needs. Secondly, you need to make use of the technology available now through a variety of adaptive devices and communication systems. These adaptive devices can give an individual independence and control over their environment with a small movement of an arm, leg or head. There are communication systems that will “talk” for individual using body movement and even just an eye gaze.

Alex: Also, Could you give us a general example of the day in the life of a Little Angel?
 Tammy: Our resident’s days are not unlike yours and mine. They wake up and face the same activities and events we all do. School aged residents get ready for school in the morning. Eat breakfast, get dressed, and get primped and beautified… True, they need assistance with all these activities, but they help to the best of their abilities. Then it’s out the front door to their school bus. Our residents who are over age 21 get ready for their Day Training Program with the same morning activities. This program is adjacent to the Little Angels residence so they can just be pushed in their wheelchair directly to their program. At the end of the day they all come back home and have group activities, eat dinner, have quiet time to watch TV and listen to music and get ready for bed.

Little Angels Celebrity English Interview

Alex: Having a child is a life-changing event for parents and sometimes children come into this world in need of some pretty complex medical needs. If a new parent is facing this type of life challenge what advice would you give them.

Tammy: Learn how to look for and accept help and support. You know the saying “It takes a village to raise a child.” Well with a child with severe disabilities and health issues, it takes a large, compassionate, loving village. There are many folks out there who either have gone through similar experiences and can help you or who are put on this earth to help people like you. You may have to search a little bit, but there are many people out there who are able to and want to help you.

Alex: What are some of the biggest misconceptions you hear from people on a regular basis?

Tammy: People assume that our resident’s lives are sad or that our residents are sad. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Our residents are who they are. This is the life they have been given and the only life they know. They can’t walk, but they have fantastic, comfortable wheelchairs in which to get around; they don’t talk but they sure do communicate; they have likes, dislikes, they love and are loved in return. They lead happy, fulfilled, loving lives.

Alex: What have some of these wonderful ‘Little Angels’ taught the people around them?
Little Angels Interview Celebrity english
Tammy: Unconditional love – these individual love their families and caregivers, regardless of who they are, how much money they, where they come from or what they do. They demonstrate great perseverance. They work diligently to make best use of their skills and abilities, despite the many challenges to accomplish goals. How to simply just enjoy life!

Alex: I saw on The Little Angels website a very unique button called ‘Angel Songs’. What is Angel Songs’?

Tammy: Angel Songs is a gala that we hold annually. It’s a fundraiser, but just as important, it’s a celebration of Little Angels. We celebrate our resident’s lives, their accomplishments and we celebrate the staff and friends who love and support these individuals.

Alex: For people who want to get involved or help out, what can they do? How can they connect with you?

Little Angels logo
 Please check out our website at Sign up to receive our newsletters. If you live in the Northern Illinois area we’d love to give you a tour of our facilities and introduce you to our wonderful residents and staff. For questions or information please contact Mary jean Adkins at 847.741.1609 x 101.

Alex: Thank you Tammy Armstrong for this wonderful, informative interview! 

Tammy: You are welcome and thanks again for this opportunity.

Alex:  Special thanks to Mary jean Adkins, Director of Development at Little Angels, who was an indispensable part of this fantastic interview!

I am Alex Graham of Celebrity English and privileged to be blessed by the "Little Angels" today! Best wishes and love to these extraordinary people!

Never met an Angel?

Here is the Little Angels Family Video

 See you next week!
Connect with ALEX here or at

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Do you have what it takes to be James Bond?

How to be James Bond

The latest release of Skyfall marked the 50th anniversary of the James Bond 007 film franchise.  Currently Daniel Craig is starring as the legendary 007 British Spy.  Adventure, intrigue, cars, women/men, futuristic gadgets, “saving the world” are all part of the James Bond "cloak and dagger lifestyle".
How to be a spy like Daniel Craig 007

This week I started to wonder what it takes to be a real spy.  So in the tradition of James Bond I based this Celebrity English feature on a mixture of MI5 and MI6 security services.   
Here are some of the highlights I found.

Need to be a British citizen of the home country; however there are some exceptions.
21 years old (+).
Able to pass a high Security Clearance.
Pass the medical test; physical and mental.

Personal Attributes
Personal Integrity
Working with Others / Teamwork
Planning and Organizing
Analysis and Problem Solving
Leading and Decision-Making
Strong Desire to make a difference in the world!

Recruiting Areas
“The roles for which we recruit fall into the following areas:
Degrees ranging from Architecture to Zoology from 36 different universities have joined us as Intelligence Officers over the last two years. We also have opportunities for people with a range of technical, vocational or professional qualifications, from IT or Electronics to Carpentry or Accountancy.”

Common Jobs in the Secret Service
Intelligence Delivery Officers - Collecting, analyzing and reporting global secret intelligence.

Administrators - Assisting with the essential daily running of the organization, through a broad range of administrative tasks.

Technology - ensuring we have secure, innovative IT systems to communicate internationally.

Corporate Services - Working with a range of departments such as HR and Finance.

Language Specialists - Translating raw intelligence in many different languages and dialects from both written and spoken sources.

Continued training in your field.
Salary similar to many other organizations. Depends on skill, experience, and performance. 
Pension scheme comparable with the Civil Service.
Maternity and paternity leave.
25 days’ annual leave rising to 30 days after five years service (even a spy needs a few days off!)

Current Employment Vacancies

    Business Analysts
    Business Relationship Managers
    Data and Information Professionals
    Forensic Speech & Language Specialist
    Internet Investigation, Exploitation and Cyber Security
    Portfolio Managers
    Speech Technician
    Strategy, Architecture, IT Security and Testing Specialists
    IT Technical Operations roles
    IT Service Management roles
    Intelligence Officer
    Project Managers
    Service Desk Analyst
    Information Specialist
    Application Support Analysts
    Network Systems Engineers
    Language Specialist
    Transport Supervisors
    Facilities Assistants

So now can you pass the test to become like James Bond?
Here are a few to try out:

(1)Try our Intelligence Officer challenge, which will test your ability to maintain a simple cover story.

(2)Investigative Challenge - Intelligence Officers and Intelligence Analysts

(3)Listening Challenge - English Language Analysts

(4)Digital Intelligence Challenge - Internet Investigation, Exploitation and Cyber Security Specialists

Language Learning Section
Here are some common words you will hear in Spy Movies. Test Yourself for Fun!  What do the following words mean?  Just put a few notes or ideas beside each word. 




A spy

A terrorist

To do/conduct surveillance

A bug

Cloak and dagger

Answers and More Espionage Vocabulary!

to be classified: something that is considered confidential or secret information; need a high level security clearance to view the information.

to do/conduct surveillance: the act of carefully watching someone or something especially in order to prevent or detect a crime.

to stake out: to do surveillance. 

to spy : to watch secretly usually for hostile purposes.

to have one's cover blown: you have been exposed as being a spy.

to keep/maintain a low profile:  to behave in a way that does not attract attention.

to sabotage: something: the act of destroying or damaging something deliberately so that it does.
to destroy something : to cause (something) to end or no longer exist : to cause the destruction of.

undercover: acting or executed in secret; specifically : employed or engaged in spying or secret investigation <an undercover agent/police officer>.

clandestine: done in a private place or way : done secretly. <clandestine activities/organization>.

Espionage: ,or spying, involves a government or individual obtaining information that is
considered secret or confidential without the permission of the holder of the information.

a spy:  (1)one who keeps secret watch on a person or thing to obtain information (2) a person employed by one nation to secretly convey classified information of strategic importance to another nation; also : a person who conveys the trade secrets of one company to another.

an operative: a secret agent; a person who works toward achieving the objectives of a larger interest <political operatives>.

a bug: a small hidden microphone (listening device) that is used to secretly listen to and record people.

a conspiracy: an agreement by 2 or more people to commit a crime.

a covert operation : a plan made in a way that is not easily seen or noticed : secret or hidden.

a threat: an expression of intention to inflict evil, injury, or damage.

a bomb: a device that is designed to explode in order to injure or kill people or to damage or something.

terrorism: the use of violent acts to frighten the people in an area as a way of trying to achieve a political goal.

a terrorist: a person who uses or supports the use of terrorism <terrorist activities/attacks/bombings/threats> <a terrorist organization/group/network>.

a sleeper (agent): A sleeper agent is a person who is recruited to an intelligence service to wake up and perform a specific set of tasks or functions while living under cover in an area of interest.

a double agent: a spy pretending to serve one government while actually serving another.

MI5: Military Intelligence, Section 5 - the United Kingdom's internal counter-intelligence.

MI6: Military Intelligence, Section 6 - the agency which supplies Her Majesty's Government with foreign intelligence.

FBI: The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is a governmental agency belonging to the United States Department of Justice that serves as both a federal criminal investigative body and an internal intelligence agency (counterintelligence).

CIA: The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is an independent civilian intelligence agency of the United States government. It is an executive agency and reports directly to the Director of National Intelligence.

Military: of or relating to soldiers or the armed forces (such as the army, navy, marines, and air force) 

behind closed doors:   in private; only the people in the meeting know the information.

cloak and dagger: dealing in or suggestive of melodramatic intrigue and action usually involving secret agents and espionage <a cloak–and–dagger novel>.

Until next week!  Enjoy the Skyfall trailer and the original Dr No.

More James Bond!

Skyfall a Big Hit at the Oscars!

Connect with ALEX here or at
 Celebrity English -  Alex Blogspot

Monday, 19 November 2012

Get Your Shop On! Black Friday & Cyber Monday

Paris Hilton shopping
Paris Hilton
Black Friday is coming this week on Friday Nov. 23!

Black Friday Shopping!
What is it?
-Prices will be slashed and bargain shoppers will be lining up early at their favorite stores.  Even celebrities like to shop for a deal!

When is it?
Black Friday Calender
 -This American shopping tradition occurs the Day After Thanksgiving (4th Thursday of November).  Not an official holiday but treated like one unless you work in retail.
-Generally 5am start time is pretty standard but some stores will open earlier or even be open all night from Thanks Giving Eve. Check the company's website for times. 

Where is it?
-Everywhere in America and catching on in other countries.
-At your favorite shopping store and at their website.

Who will be there?
-Friends, Family, Everyone!  One of the busiest shopping days of the year in the United States. Expect long line-ups and chaos as people rush to get the best deals!

Why is it called Black Friday?
Black Friday – 2 ideas:
(1)Originally a slang idea/expression coming out of Philadelphia, USA:  Black Friday was used to describe the idea of huge numbers of people and vehicles jammed packed on the streets the day after Thanks Giving. Everything seems black, not moving, and people’s tempers rise bringing out the worst in them. There doesn’t seem to be any light or space.  The term had negative connotations.
(2)Currently, Black Friday, simply invokes an idea of bargain shopping.  It is considered the first day of the Christmas shopping season.  Retailers also claim that this is the first day of the year that their companies make a profit or are ‘in the black’.   So, for retail companies from January 1 to Nov. 22 the stores are considered ‘in the red’ or not making a profit.  These two expressions stem from older accounting practices where black pen ink was used for profit and red pen ink was used to show financial losses.  Thus we have the term Black Friday or the day of the year when retail stores feel they are profitable.

How to get ready for Black Friday!
-Check out your favorite Retail Store for Black Friday Advertisements online and in the local newspapers and flyers.  Moreover, social media like Face book, Twitter, Pinterest, You Tube, etc. is filled with Black Friday fun!  There are also tons of apps out there!  Just select a site you trust!

New to the United States? Here are some common 'Big Store Names' that everyone knows.

Also online you will find some Dedicated Black Friday Websites like:

Language Learning Section
Some Common Casual Language for talking about what you are buying or looking for on Black Friday.

For the Shopper that knows what she or he wants on Black Friday.
I am going to buy an Ipod.
I am gonna buy a flat Screen TV.
I want to get a new laptop.
I wanna buy a pair of sneakers.
I’m buying a new set of sunglasses.
I’m looking for a bargain on watches.
I’m looking for a deal on coffee makers.

For the shopper with an idea of what he or she wants on Black Friday.
I’m gonna look for a Christmas present for my husband.
I am looking for something new in the way of winter coats.
I am going to take a look at the appliances.
I am going to take a look at what they have in the way of golf clubs.
I might pick up an espresso machine if they have any good deals on.
I think I might buy some new blouses if I see any at a good price.

Didn’t find what you where looking for on Black Friday? No problem!  There is also Cyber Monday!
Cyber Monday  
‘Back in the day’ a lot of people weren’t very keen to shop online or use company websites.  So to fix this problem and capture email addresses, the retail community invented Cyber Monday in 2005.  Cyber Monday occurs every year on the Monday following Thanks Giving Day.  If you don’t believe me check out Amazon’s Cyber Monday Deals.

Well that is all for this week!  Enjoy the shopping experience of Black Friday and Cyber Monday! Oh yeah and of course Thanks Giving with family and Friends!

Happy Turkey Day to you! Gobble Gobble!
Celebrity English Thanks Givning Message
 Connect with Alex at Celebrity English or