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Learning English Video Project Blog

Getting Romanian


After three flights, a thirty two hour train journey and a four hour wait in Budapest, we made it from Morocco to Romania. We have been here since Sunday and have been lucky enough to interview, photograph and socialise with some incredible people who have far exceeded our expectations. What we are witnessing in Romania at the moment is going to change the face of this documentary project and bring a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘icing on the cake’. It is 17:30 p.m just now and we still have four more interviews to conduct at different areas around the city. Tomorrow we are hoping to spend the day at International House Bucharest and we head back to the editing studio in Poland upon completion. Sure, that means another thirty something hours on the train this coming weekend but it is worth every second. Bucharest, like the people we have met here so far, is exceptional.

Keep checking the blog for more updates – more Morocco photos and video blog online next week as well as a write up on our Romanian adventure!

Best Wishes To All!

Daniel and Joel.

News flash ~ Casablanca, Morocco

American Academy Casablanca.

I would like to thank the American Academy Casablanca for their incredible assistance with the documentary project. Not only did the school allow us to spend three full days filming on location with them, but they also provided us with a wonderful selection of enthusiastic ESL students with some fascinating ideas about learning English.

Casablanca, Morocco.

Although Morocco is only a short distance away from the southern coast of Spain, the change in culture and climate is truly breathtaking. Upon arriving in the busy city of Casablanca, we were ripped off tremendously by our taxi driver and taken straight to the Medina (a vast labyrinth of market stalls, booths, flats and washing lines). We were  immediately swarmed by reckless hands and fake Rolex watches, beaming faces and bootleg DVDs, a real maze of Moroccan craftsmanship. We started to walk down one of the twirling isles and we were pounced upon by a tall burly fellow with glasses ¨hello my English friends¨ he said with a berserk sense of confidence, ¨let me give you a private tour…¨

This was our introduction to Morocco and the shape of things to come. Desperately friendly people with a lot to share, but at a somewhat questionable price. It was not until we reached the haven of the American Academy that we felt we could let our guard down somewhat and give the project our full attention. Read on »

Spanish Video Blog


For the last few days I have been working hard in editing several rough drafts of the Cambridge and New York sections of the film. I would once again like to extend my thanks to  Antony and Marcus for their help in Cambridge and Joel for his patience and dedication to the project.

The initial sequence to the Spanish Video Blog was shot in a cave in Granada – hence Joel walking into a strange entrance. The rest of the footage was shot in and around Madrid and Granada, which are both equally wonderful places!

I have the remainder of the day at my editing station in Katowice, Poland before heading back to England, ready to meet Joel again for the rest of our ESL adventure. Please keep your comments coming! This is turning out to be a fantastic collaboration of culture and learning – lets keep it going!

One of the questions that we are asking the students we meet is:

What do you think is the most difficult aspect of learning English?

As it would be impossible to meet everybody reading this on, perhaps you could answer that question here!? I would love to see your responses!

Sketches of Spain + Photos

The jet lag hit me like a bag of hammers as soon as I returned to England from New York. Within hours of landing I found myself in the centre of town buying a suit for my sister’s wedding. There was a huge party after the ceremony and little time to sift through our footage for the New York blog before flying out to Madrid. It wasn’t before long that we were on the move again; the flight from London to Madrid took just under two hours. The belting sunshine and warm reception at the airport was a fine introduction to the Spanish section of our journey, but what were we expecting to find here? Was Spain really going to be that different to New York or Cambridge? There was a noticeable absence of English in the air and my Spanish needs a lot of work… We booked ourselves into a small hostel just outside Sol Plaza and set to work at once. The hostel in which we were staying provided the perfect backdrop for an international introduction. Within an hour and a half of arriving, we met several students from Italy, Belgium, Pakistan and Poland who were keen to help us with our project. Everybody we spoke to had interesting stories to tell about their ESL experiences, they also spilled the beans on some of their lesser preferred English language teachers from back home!

The following day we met with Bea, one of our central focuses for this portion of the project. Bea has been studying English for the last thirteen years and was kind enough to spend the entire day with Joel and I. We interviewed her in Madrid’s largest park about her use of English at work and elsewhere in the capital city.

An interview with Bea.


Me, Bea and Joel in Madrid.


Read on »

Spanish Comparisons

Just a quick message from Spain!

After spending several days in the Spanish capital, we have decided to try and film in a smaller city. We are now in Granada, where we have been filming for the last few hours. The trip down south was unplanned and risky but we have strong contacts with a wonderful language school in this smaller community and we want to try and make some comparisons between here and Madrid. We head back to the capital on Sunday.

Sorry this message is so short, we have a lot to do and very little time to do it in!

Stand by for the New York and Spain video blogs, more photos and project details, all online next week!

Best wishes,


New York Pictures

Please see below a small selection of pictures from New York.

1. A group of elderly peace protestors outside one of the large plazas in Manhattan. The protestors were from all over the world and were protesting against the USA’s military activity abroad.

peace protestors in Manhattan

2. Welcome to Harlem. We spent a lot of time here during our stay in the Big Apple.

filming in Harlem

3. Coney Island. We discovered pockets of Eastern European and Russian students living in the south of Brooklyn. Most of them had come to see the fairground before it is torn down.

Coney Island

4. Interviewing a young Spanish ESL student at ISL New York.

interviewing Spanish student

5. Filming in Soho.

Daniel filming in Soho

6.More filming at ISL.

filming at ISL

filming at ISL

7. Thank you Austria. These two budding ESL students allowed us to film them using their English around the city. – Here we are posing on the top floor of the Empire State Building.

Empire State Building

A big thank you to everybody who took part, including all the staff at ISL New York and Teaching English at Saint John’s University. I would also like to thank everybody who has been posting comments on our blog over the last couple of weeks! I hope that this fantastic amount of feedback will continue throughout the project.

IF we were to include one more city in our schedule of places to visit for the project, which place do you think would be best and why? We will be flying to Madrid, Spain on Tuesday 23rd September!

Best Wishes,


New York Update

So, what is New York like and what have we been doing here!?

I landed at JFK airport on September 11th with Joel, my trusty cameraman, and our compact collection of recording equipment. The first New York citizen we met was a jolly Polish lady behind the transport information desk. I spoke with her in her native tongue about life in the city and she told me that the city is a great place to live and that we should easily be able to find lots of interesting people for our project.

We soon boarded our shuttle bus to the city and while we travelled along the course stretches of highway, I spoke with two Lithuanian passengers who were sharing our ride. I had a few questions about Cyrillic script which they were more than happy to help me out with… I want to be able to understand at least some Russian by the time Read on »

Cambridge Overview and Photos

So the Cambridge section of our Learning English Documentary adventure is over…and what an adventure it was! Not only did we manage to meet some fantastic English language enthusiasts from all over the world, but we captured some thoroughly interesting footage and made a lot of new friends on the way.

Daniel and Joel – The men behind the camera


This was our first trip to Cambridge and we are both extremely pleased with how this section of the project developed. With the help of our trusty assistants Marcus and Anthony, we were able to navigate the city without any major problems and meet all of our guests on time and on location.

Anthony and Marcus – Our trusty Cambridge assistants


Marcus and Anthony were only able to assist us on the Cambridge leg of our trip; this is rather unfortunate as their help in England’s college capital proved Read on »

Cambridge ~ City of Language

Greetings! We have two more days in Cambridge before moving on to New York and my oh my, what a productive week it has proven to be so far!

Our first appointment on day two was with the Cambridge International Club, who were most helpful in providing us with heaps of information about Read on »

Learning English Video Project Started in Cambridge

Yesterday was the first day of production on The Learning English Video Project! 

Cambridge is a beautiful English university town with lush green countryside and beautiful college architecture. I arrived here yesterday after a two and a half hour bus journey from London, which is far too long. The bus broke down on the way to the city and I spent forty minutes in a midst of noise and traffic waiting to get started with the film project.

Thankfully, my trusty film crew were ready to start when I finally arrived and we met with Yuan Zhang, the publicity officer for the University of Cambridge International Students Union to discuss their involvement in the project. Our travels then took us to MichaelHouse, a Church/Cafe in the heart of the city that arranges an annual programme for German monks who are looking to improve their English and work in Cambridge for twelve months. Plenty of the MichaelHouse team are eager to get involved in the project and we look forward to spending the day with them today!For more information on MichaelHouse, please visit:

I will try and keep the blog updated everyday to let you know how the project is developing! A series of photographs and perhaps even some footage of the trip will be available to look at from Wednesday, September 10th!

The Schedule

We will be in Cambridge for the next six days when we leave for London on September 8th.

  • From the 11th – 18th September we will be in NEW YORK, U.S.A
  • 23rd September – 1st October – MADRID, Spain
  • 13th – 20th October – CASABLANCA, Morocco
  • 26th October – 2nd November – MINSK, Belarus

If you are an ESL student interested in the project, or even if you are from one of the cities we are visiting and wish to meet with us on our journey, please feel free to contact us –

Its got to be fun!