Help! What is a notion and how do I describe it?

Mis en avant


Voilà la rentrée est faite et votre professeur d’anglais a commencé à vous parler des différentes « notions » que vous allez étudier tout au long de l’année. Il va peut être vous demander de trouver une définition pour chaque notion (sans regarder sur internet!) – mais comment donner une définition simple et claire pour chaque notion?

Vous trouverez ici des définitions pour les quatre notions que vous allez étudier- à vous de les utiliser et écrire à votre façon. Sous chaque définition vous trouverez également une liste de sujets qui pourraient  être utilisés pour illustrer cette notion.

Si vous avez d’autres idées pour illustrer les notions, des liens, des articles ou des vidéos que vous avez aimé, merci de les partager en bas de l’article et je les intégrerai dans l’article par la suite.

Je profite de la rentrée pour vous rappeler que ce blog reste (et restera ) entièrement gratuite et que j’aimerais que ça devient de plus en plus un endroit de partage de bonnes idées et de conseils – pour les lycéens ainsi que les profs!

Aussi si vous utilisez un bloqueur de publicité je vous remercie de le désactiver sur cette page, la publicité de la page étant le seul revenu pour tout le travail fourni. Thank you 🙂

Myths and Heroes

Myths are stories that are based on tradition. Some may have factual origins, while others are completely fictional, but myths are just as important to us today as in ancient cultures because they help explain the world and man’s experience. They help to answer questions, they reassure us and sometimes even give people hope. The subjects of myths are usually based on topics such as birth, death, the origin of man, good and evil and the nature of man himself.

Myths are not always optimistic – they can also be a form of warning. In this way we can consider them to be instructive and a sort of guide to social norms. They tell us how we should and should not behave. They can be used to justify choices when times are hard.

Just like myths, heroes can be real or completely fictional. A hero can be a mythological figure, a person who is admired for his or her achievements, a superhero or maybe a role model or an icon. Heroes are people we can look up to, people we would like to ressemble – whether they are sports personalities or political figures. A hero is not necessarily someone famous, it can be a member of our family or circle of friends. Someone we simply admire.

Heroes lead, inspire, and entertain the masses. This is why heroes, with all their mistakes and shortcomings, are vital to humanity. Heroic stereotypes can be considered to be unrealistic and outdated, but heroes show how vital they are to society when they inspire younger generations to do great things, and when heroes influence movements toward the improvement of humanity.

Here are just a few examples that could be used to illustrate this notion:

  • rags to riches stories : Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, JK Rowling, Oprah Winfrey, and others here
  • Founding myths of the United States (Pilgrim Fathers, the Constitution, Thanksgiving)
  • the American Dream – stories about those how have succeeded but also reasons to believe that it is simply a myth : the American Dream is dead
  • Heroes or fallen heroes of the Vietnam War that are portrayed in American films (Platoon, Born on the 4th July, Apocalypse Now, Full Metal Jacket)
  • National leaders or figures who can be considered as heroes: Queen Elizabeth II, Obama, Mandela, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Malala Yousafzi …..
  • Pop stars or sports heroes (and fallen idols)
  • American movies : superheroes such as Superman or Captain America and their role in society: why do Americans love superheroes?
  • Famous British film characters: Sherlock Holmes, James Bond
  • British heroes or heroines: Churchill, Florence Nightingale, Stephen Hawking…..
  • British myths and legends: Robin Hood, King Arthur, the Loch Ness Monster

The Idea of Progress

The idea of progress is the idea that advances in technology, science and social organisation can bring about a positive change to our society. These advances help improve our daily lives and give us a better quality of life. Social progress, scientific progress and economic development are usually considered as having a positive effect on our society however there are some cases where this change can have a negative effect too. Very often progress is also accompanied by opposition because society isn’t comfortable with the changes being made (same sex marriage, women’s rights, minority rights to name but a few). We can ask ourselves whether progress is always positive?

There are many kinds of progress and they can be divided in diverse areas.

A. Technological progress

The technological advances of the last decades have totally changed the world we know today. If we take the example of the arrival of internet and access to computers and smartphones it is easy to see to what extent our lives and our relationships with others have been completely transformed. On the one hand we have access to far more information than before, we can easily communicate across borders, buy new products, be informed about the latest news events, share our opinions about different topics but on the negative side many people have become addicted to social media and this creates new problems such as depression, isolation, bullying, cybercriminality…..

Of course there are other types of technological progress that have a more positive impact on society – means of transport, robots, means of communication, energy production, protection of the environment.


B. Scientific progress

Scientific progress has had a direct impact on the improvement of human life. Thanks to advances in medicine we can cure illnesses that could never have been cured in the past. Vaccinations protect millions of children from disease. Antibiotics, painkillers and other medical treatments have helped to improve our general state of health and survival rates. But could there be a point were progress come too far? What should be the importance given to ethics? What about scientific progress in the area of cures for illnesses, cloning, performance enhancing drugs,   genetically modified organisms etc?


C. Social progress

Social progress most often comes about when members of a population feel unhappy with their living conditions or their social rights. Change most often comes about following a fight for rights and this change sometimes accompanied by severe opposition.

Examples that can be used to illustrate this notion:

  • easy communication across the world via internet and the impact this information has on our daily lives
  • information from satellites warning us about severe weather conditions
  • robots and automation in the workplace
  • addiction to smartphones and video games
  • cyberbullying or cybercriminality
  • facebook and twitter and how quickly rumours can spread
  • the pros and cons of medical advances
  • performance enhancing drugs in the sports world
  • « designer » babies
  • the Space race
  • Euthanasia
  • Industrial pollution
  • Ocean pollution
  • the ethics of progress: tests on animals/abortion/cloning/genetically modified organisms
  • the «Suffragettes», an organisation set up by women in Britain to fight for the right to vote at the beginning of the 20th Century
  • the Civil Rights Movement in the US characterized by acts of non violent protest and civil disobedience
  • same-sex marriage in several countries across the world
  • access to education for women
  • the end to apartheid in South Africa


Places and Forms of Power (sometimes called Seats and Forms of Power)

Power is the ability to control others, events, or resources; to succeed in doing what you want to do in spite of obstacles, resistance, or opposition. Power can be held but can also be quickly taken away, lost, or stolen. There is usually conflict between those with power and those without. Power is also associated with authority and influence and certain places can be associated with the authority – for example the White House and the President of the USA, 10 Downing Street and the British Prime Minister,  A place of power can also be a country or a state –  for example the USA is a state which is powerful enough to influence events throughout the world (superpower) and China is a major economic power in today’s world. Power is exercised by states — through military and police, through political groups and bureaucracies, through legislation; it is exercised by corporations and organizations or by social movements within society.

Members of a community accept rules and regulations in order to live or work together but this can also lead to conflict and tensions.

Here are some ideas to help illustrate this notion:

  • America’s gun problem and the gun debate
  • The Civil Rights movement and political recognition (Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Nelson Mandela)
  • Financial power: global financial crises and recession
  • The power of the media: influence over public opinion during elections, reality tv, 24h news channels, tabloid newspapers and scandal stories
  • The power of advertising: how demand is created for new products, designer brands, smartphones, sports clothes (sponsoring)
  • Cinema and power: how do films influence society? Movie stars using their fame to influence public opinion on certain topics (Leonardo Dicaprio, Schwarzenegger)
  • Arts and Power: using art for addressing political, social, and moral issues through paintings (Banksy)
  • The power of education: improving knowledge and education across the world and enabling access to education for all (Malala)
  • The power of music and the music industry: songs used to change people’s opinions on political subjects (vietnam war, US President, poverty, climate change), pop stars who use their fame to bring about changes in the world (Bono, Bob Geldof, Madonna)
  • Political power/terrorism/wars/monarchies/nuclear weapons


Spaces and Exchanges

This notion deals with the idea of giving one thing and receiving another in return    (exchange) and also with the places (or « spaces ») where  these exchanges take place. It is the idea that in today’s modern-day world there are more and more exchanges taking place, more and more interaction between different populations, business, students, families etc. These exchanges can take several forms:  economic – work exchanges, exchange of goods, trading across borders,  cultural – exchange of ideas, information, education,  movement of people – immigration, student exchanges, gap years…  Our modern-day world is changing quickly and seems to be a smaller place due to improvements in technology and communication. Information exchange has become easier thanks to the internet and international trade has enabled us to expand our markets for goods and services that might not have been available to us.

More and more people are crossing borders, leaving their countries to seek better lives elsewhere. This migration can be for several reasons: economic migration – moving to find work or follow a particular career path, social migration – moving somewhere for a better quality of life or to be closer to family or friends, political migration – moving to escape political persecution or war.

These different cultural, economic, sociological and language interactions have transformed and characterised our modern-day world – sometimes for better, sometimes for worse.

Here are some ideas of topics that could be used to illustrate this notion:

  • Globalisation: what is it and what are the positive and negative effects? (BBC link)
  • How internet is changing international business exchanges (product availability, prices, demand…)
  • How internet is changing cultural exchanges (access to information across borders, easier and faster communication but also negative effects)
  • The brain drain: migration of personnel in search of the better standard of living and quality of life, higher salaries, access to advanced technology and more stable political conditions in different places worldwide
  • Student exchanges – work placements and gap years in foreign countries
  • Social media – the advantages and disadvantages of increased access to sites such as Facebook and Twitter
  • Cybercriminality, identity theft, cyberbullying, internet scams….
  • Immigration: the reasons why people migrate and what effect this has on the countries they migrate to and migrate from
  • Immigration to the USA – the problem between Mexico and the USA
  • Immigration to the UK – the migrant problem
  • The reasons for Irish immigration to America
  • The first Americans/ the pilgrims
  • Exchanges across borders – how the European Union was created and how it has developed
  • The Brexit – why and how did it happen and what effect will it have on Europe?
  • The influence of wars and conflicts on the world economy and population

Conseils pour vos révisions!

Vous trouverez sur ce site des conseils de plusieurs professeurs pour vos révisions!!

Good Luck!


(Thank you Laure!! 🙂 )


L’oral d’anglais approche…. quelques conseils!!

Mis en avant

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L’oral d’anglais approche et vous cherchez désespérément sur internet des conseils pour vous aider à vous préparer à cette épreuve? Ce n’est pas facile de savoir exactement ce qu’on vous demande puisqu’elle est abordée de façon différente selon l’établissement où vous la passez. Il est donc très important de demander à vos professeurs ce qu’ils attendent exactement de vous.

Tout au long des deux années de 1ère et Terminale vous avez étudié 3 ou 4 notions et le jour de l’épreuve vous aurez à tirer au sort une de ces notions. Dans certains lycées on a le droit d’enlever une notion pour laquelle on se sent moins à l’aise.

Une fois que vous avez tiré cette notion au sort vous avez 10 minutes pour préparer votre « exposé ».  Qu’est ce qu’on attend de vous exactement?

  1. Définir la notion
  2. Faire un lien entre la notion et ce que vous avez vu en classe
  3. Proposer une problématique et répondre à cette problématique en faisant référence aux documents vus en classe (pas obligatoirement tous les documents vus en cours et vous pouvez aussi en rajouter que vous avez trouvé vous-même!)
    On n’attend pas une description des documents mais plutôt que vous les utilisez pour répondre à votre problématique.
  4. Donner une conclusion où vous donnez votre avis sur le sujet et cela peut servir d’ouverture pour la conversation de la deuxième partie de l’épreuve.

Il est important de préparer cet exposé chez vous à l’avance mais en aucun cas on attend du « par coeur ». L’essentiel est de communiquer avec l’examinateur, de le convaincre, de l’intéresser (parce qu’il voit beaucoup de personnes en une journée!) et si vous le pouvez, l’épater! Il ne s’agit pas de présenter juste les documents mais de proposer une problématique intéressante et ensuite utiliser les documents pour répondre à cette problématique.

Si il faut apprendre des choses par coeur c’est plutôt des mots et expressions pour lier des différentes parties de votre présentation. Vous trouverez des exemples ici:


Dans la deuxième partie de l’épreuve n’hésitez pas à donner votre avis personnel et surtout si vous le pouvez faire référence à des films, séries ou livres que vous connaissez.

Finalement voici quelques expressions que vous pouvez utiliser:

1. Introducing the notion

  • I’d like to talk about the notion of progress
  • I’m going to deal with the notion of spaces and exchanges
  • I’d like to begin by giving a definition of….
  • First I will explain what I understand by……

2. Introducing your key question (problématique)

  • In order to illustrate this notion I will try to answer the question:
  • So I would like to try to answer the question why…..
  • We can ask ourselves why……..
  • Let’s take a look at why/how/ in what way/ to what extent…….

3. Presenting your plan and documents

  • My presentation is made up of two/three main parts
  • I will base my presentation on two main points
  • I would first like to concentrate on… and then I will move on to… and finally I will take a look at…..
  • I will begin with an insight into….. after I will take…… into consideration…. and to conclude I would like to talk about……
  • In order to illustrate this notion I have chosen 3 documents which we studied in class this year.
  • I would like to talk about several documents that we looked at this year ….
  • In addition to the documents we studied in class I would also like to talk about…..

4. Talking about a document/article/video

  • This document raises the point of…/ focuses on…/deals with
  • The main idea behind this article is that….
  • This article points out/underlines the fact that/stresses the fact that…..
  • The journalist draws our attention to the fact that….
  • The artist is trying to show how much…..
  • The author raises the problem of…….
  • He suggests that….
  • He tries to point out that…..
  • The narrator/author/writer approves of….
  • The author totally disagrees with the idea of….
  • The journalist disapproves of….
  • The illustrator is trying to warn us against….

5. Giving your opinion

  • In my opinion/from my point of view/as far as I am concerned…..
  • I really feel that….
  • I get the impression that…
  • I can’t help thinking that….
  • I have the feeling that….
  • I totally disagree with the fact that…
  • There is no doubt that…
  • It is impossible to deny that….
  •  I am convinced that……
  • I really find it hard to believe that….

6. Coming to a conclusion

  • To conclude I would like to say that
  • All in all I would like to point out that
  • To sum up I would like to say
  • By way of conclusion I would like to say that
  • In conclusion we can say that……
  • So to recap I’d like to finish/end/wind up by saying
  • Before I finish I’d finally like to say…
  • To put it in a nutshell (attention! cette expression est parfois un peu trop utilisée maintenant donc ça risque de moins impressionner les examinateurs!)


Surtout n’oubliez pas que l’examinateur va voir plusieurs élèves de suite et parfois plusieurs jours de suite. Si vous le pouvez, essayez d’être un peu original et ne faites pas simplement un copier-coller d’un texte que vous avez trouvé sur internet – de toute façon vous n’allez pas vous en rappeler! N’oubliez pas qu’il s’agit d’une conversation entre vous et l’examinateur et que pour l’intéresser il faut que vous aussi vous soyez intéressé par le sujet. Si vous faites des erreurs de temps/grammaire ne paniquez pas.. corrigez si vous le pouvez et passez à la suite. Sans parler en français! Et sinon si vous n’êtes pas sûr vous pouvez toujours utiliser une petite expression:

  • I’m not quite sure that this is how you say it in English but……
  • I hope I’m not wrong when I say that….
  • I’m not totally sure but I think that…
  • I hope I’m right in saying that….
  • I can’t quite remember how to say it in English
  • I have forgotten how to say…..
  • It has totally slipped my mind how to say….

Good luck!!! You can do it!! 🙂

PS: n’oubliez pas que tous les conseils ici sont gratuits! merci de bien vouloir désactiver votre bloqueur de publicité sur cette page pour que l’accès aux conseils et articles restent gratuit!

The Brexit : all you need to know!


The UK has officially notified the European Union that it is leaving. So what exactly will happen now? Here are a few articles and links to help you understand the situation.

  • All you need to know about the UK leaving the EU : BBC News
  • No turning back now – Article 50 is triggered : BBC News
  • Eight key points you need to know about the Brexit: The Guardian
  • What does Brexit mean? What does Article 50 mean for the economy, immigration, the pound? : the Express
  • The power of the media (places and forms of power) What influence did the tabloids have on the Brexit campaign? : The Guardian 
  • What will happen to London after the Brexit? (places and forms of power) : Bloomberg



Vidéos pour illustrer les différentes notions

Link to a playlist of short videos from the website « storycorps » that could be used to illustrate the different notions, in particular myths and heroes.

Film trailers that could be used to illustrate the Idea of Progress or Places and Forms of Power

The power of money:

The idea of progress – how virtual reality can be used to help people relive their past

Black Friday – what is it and how did it get its name?


The day After Thanksgiving (Friday) is known as Black Friday. This also is unofficially or officially start of holiday shopping season. Almost all stores come out with sales to attract consumers to their stores. People stand in line hours before store is opened, to grab the bargain of the year. Almost every store has something that interests every one. For bargain hunters, if there is a biggest festival in a year, that would be, no doubt, the Black Friday.

Black Friday rumours and the truth – BBC Newsbeat

What is Black Friday and where does it take place? Wikipedia explanation

The dangers of Black Friday and how it is becoming more consumerist – BBC Newsbeat

What is Black Friday?


How Black Friday is becoming more and more consumerist:

Happy Thanksgiving


On the fourth Thursday of November, Americans celebrate Thanksgiving, a national holiday honoring the early settlers and their harvest feast known as the first Thanksgiving. Today Thanksgiving is a very important holiday in the USA, families get together around a traditional meal and give thanks. 

What are the origins of this holiday?

Native Americans

Long before settlers came to the East Coast of the United States, the area was inhabited by many Native American tribes. The area which is now known as southeastern Massachusetts and eastern Rhode Island was the home of the Wampanoag people for over 12,000 years . The native people knew the land well and fished, hunted, and harvested for thousands of generations.

The Settlers

A group of English Protestants wanted to break away from the Church of England. These ‘separatists’ initially moved to Holland and after 12 years of financial problems, they received funding from English merchants to sail across the Atlantic to settle in a ‘New World.’ The ship spent 66 days crossing the Atlantic Ocean, intending to land where New York City is now located. Due to the windy conditions, the group had to cut their trip short and settle at what is now called Cape Cod.

Settling and Exploring

As the Puritans prepared for winter, they gathered anything they could find, including Wampanoag supplies. One day, Squanto, a Wampagnoag who knew how to speak English, visited the settlers.  After several meetings, a formal agreement was made between the settlers and the native people and they joined together to protect each other from other tribes in March of 1621.

The Celebration

The first  harvest celebration took place between the Wampanoag natives and the English men, women and children. The meal consisted of deer, corn, shellfish, and roasted meat, far from today’s traditional Thanksgiving feast. They played ball games, sang, and danced. Although prayers and thanks were probably offered at the 1621 harvest gathering, the first recorded religious Thanksgiving Day in Plymouth happened two years later in 1623. On this occasion, the colonists gave thanks to God for rain after a two-month drought.

The Myths

Unlike the pictures we see, the settlers didn’t have silver buckles on their shoes. Nor did they wear somber, black clothing. Their clothes were actually bright and cheerful. Many portrayals of this harvest celebration also show the Native Americans wearing woven blankets on their shoulders and large, feathered headdresses, which is not true. The Englishmen didn’t even call themselves Pilgrims.

Here are a few links to videos about Thanksgiving:

– kids explain what Thanksgiving is about on Newsround

– President Obama makes his last turkey pardon with a lot of jokes!

– a cartoon about the story of Thanksgiving

– a song by Nicole Westbrook about Thanksgiving (I didn’t say it was a good song!! but it’s very funny!)

– things you maybe didn’t know about Thanksgiving here:

– learn all about Thanksgiving Day (with vocabulary and text on screen)

– The American Thanksgiving story (with subtitles) :

Modern Day Thanksgiving Traditions

Today Thanksgiving has become an important family occasion. Many people live far from family members and travel long distances by car, train, or plane to be with their loved ones. Thanksgiving is the busiest travel day of the year!

Thanksgiving dinner almost always includes roast turkey, cranberry sauce, potatoes, pumpkin pie. Before the meal begins, families or friends usually pause to give thanks for their blessings, including the joy of being united for the occasion. Some families include breaking the turkey’s wishbone as part of their celebration. The wishbone is found attached to the breast meat in the turkey’s chest. After the meat has been removed and the wishbone has had a chance to become dry and brittle, two people each take one end of the bone, make a wish, and pull. Whoever ends up with the larger part of the bone gets their wish!

Each year at Thanksgiving, the President of the United States receives a gift of a live turkey . At a White House ceremony, the president traditionally « pardons » two National Thanksgiving Turkeys , allowing them to live the rest of their lives on a farm!  Or so they say!!!

Television also plays a part in Thanksgiving celebrations. Many families watch the New York City Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The parade includes marching bands, floats, songs and performances from Broadway musicals, and giant helium-filled balloons!

Watch about it here:!5F923FFE-A2AF-408E-81D6-7D73D9F1FFA9

and learn about the history of the parade here: