Lisa's week

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Lisa's week: Harry Potter turns 20

It’s 20 years since Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was first published which seems hard to believe, don’t you think? Were you one of the millions of people to get caught up in the fantasy tale of a small, seemingly insignificant boy who fought against He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named for all 7 years that he was a wizard in training at Hogwarts?

One of the facts that I find particularly interesting is that JK Rowling, who is the first author ever to become a billionaire, decided on a very interesting concept for her series of books which is helpful to know if you are looking for books to read in the original language to help your own English learning. In the first book, Harry is in his first year at senior school – Hogwarts – and is 11/12 years old. JK Rowling wrote the book with the level of detail and language for a child that age and as Harry gets older, so the writing and plot becomes more sophisticated and complicated. Which means that if you decided to read all 7 books, the books would start at the level of an 11-year old and that final book is written at the level of an 18-year old.

This is a great strategy for either reading the book in original or even listening to it in audio book form. As your English comprehension improves through practice, the text becomes more advanced giving you an interesting learning experience. The unabridged (unedited) version of the audiobook read by Stephen Fry is considered to be excellent and easy to understand – a super tip if you are looking for a way to use that long car journey to advantage!

From its original 500 printed hard back copies of the first book, which are now worth as much as £30,000, the series went on to sell more than 450 million copies and changed the language of a generation. Words such as “muggle” and “Quidditch” are now used as if they’ve been around forever! In fact, “muggle” was incorporated into the Oxford English Dictionary in half the usual time (in 2002), such was its popularity and common usage even if the dictionary definition of “a person who lacks a particular skill or skills, or who is regarded as inferior in some way” is not exactly the same meaning as in the books where a “muggle” is someone without the magical powers the wizards’ world is full of!

I have to admit to not having read all the books, although this is always on my list of things to do! But I have seen all 8 films and have to admit that even though I’m definitely not such a big fan of fantasy, I found myself totally caught up in the story of Harry, Hermione and Ron along with the rest of the wonderful cast of characters - both on the side of good and evil. The films are entertaining, excellently made, full of a wonderfully talented, mostly British cast, and also another excellent way to practice your English if the idea of reading all those thousands of pages over 7 books is rather overwhelming.

Maybe it’s time to dust off the DVDs and celebrate 20 years of Harry with a viewing marathon. Care to join me?


What is Lisa's week?

"We’ve (hopefully) been entertaining you so far with the meaning and background of a weekly English idiom and now we’ve decided to expand that a little to give me the chance to share some details that come my way in my daily life as a Business English teacher. I hope to find weekly tidbits of information and experience to tell you about such as British traditions that I (or we) celebrate, or typical mistakes made when speaking English, or even some of the funny things I come across in my daily life. We hope that you’ll enjoy the insight into the life of a Brit in Germany!"


Episode 1: The Queen's 90th birthday

Episode 2: What did you do last Sunday?

Episode 3: What's the best way to answer?

Episode 4: The sound of London

Episode 5: Not just a last resort

Episode 6: Quick tip of the week: advice vs. advise

Episode 7: Title talk

Episode 8: The Union Jack

Episode 9: Why Thursday?

Episode 10: Quick tip of the week - Are you watching or just looking?

Episode 11: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness

Episode 12: Don't forget to take you handy to the public viewing!

Episode 13: Up in the Highlands

Episode 14: Quick tip of the week - "Popular" false friends

Episode 15: Pie in the sky 

Episode 16: Through the tunnel

Episode 17: Keep left!

Episode 18: Quick tip of the week - Rise vs. raise vs. arise

Episode 19: How do you say that?

Episode 20: Back to School!

Episode 21: Sweet cravings

Episode 22: Can you change a fiver?

Episode 23: Grabbing some "me time"

Episode 24: Typical Mistakes (part 1)

Episode 25: Fancy a cuppa?

Episode 26: Quip tip of the week - Fell vs. fall etc.

Episode 27: Things that go bump in the night!

Episode 28: Remember, remember the fifth of November, gunpower, treason and plot

Episode 29: What's that badge you're wearing?

Episode 30: Bless you!

Episode 31: What are you thankful for?

Episode 32: Where's the larget Christmas Market outside Germany or Austria?

Episode 33: What's behind the door?

Episode 34: The joy of a Christmas cracker!

Episode 35: Does it all fit on the table?

Episode 36: Seeing in the New Year

Episode 37: How are your resolutions going?

Episode 38: Quick tip of the week - "Popular" false friends - part 2

Episode 39: What will the Year of the Rooster mean for you?

Episode 40: Sweet Valentine

Episode 41: A Reminder

Episode 42: I'll have mine with sugar and lemon juice, please!

Episode 43: The joy of golden daffodils

Episode 44: To correct or not to correct, that is the question

Episode 45: The whole world's going green!

Episode 46: Idiom of the week - Raining cats and dogs

Episode 47: The joke's on you!

Episode 48: Left over from the Middle Ages!

Episode 49: More calendar food-based ponderings

Episode 50: We use German words too

Episode 51: Celebrating St George

Episode 52: The perfect start to the day

Episode 53: The tiny apostrophe is actually something big (part 1)

Episode 54: The tiny apostrophe is actually something big (part 2)

Episode 55: The tiny apostrophe is actually something big (part 3)

Episode 56: Holiday season is coming!

Episode 57; ‘Tis the season (of Bank Holidays) – part 1

Episode 58; ‘Tis the season (of Bank Holidays) – part 2

Episode 59: Summer Solstice