Monday, May 31, 2010

Latin in Secondary Schools

Having suffered five years of compulsory Latin at my English grammar school up to GCE 'O' Level, I was quite surprised to find Latin on the secondary school curriculum here in Belgium. Not just find it but to see that it is the number one choice for the brighter, more academically minded children. In my son's school, as long as a child is doing well above average in Dutch, French and Maths then he or she may choose 4 hours of Latin in the middelbare school or 2 hours of Latin with 2 hours of scientific project work.

My 12 year old son loves his classical history and so immediately chose for 4 hours of Latin. In year 2 he can then choose to add 3 hours of Greek.

I checked to see whether British school children are still studying Latin and was dismayed to find that it is not part of the National Curriculum and with a few exceptions, only children at fee-paying private/independent schools have the opportunity to study Latin.

A study by Friends of Classics, unveiled at a meeting, found that 2% to 4% of state primary schools teach Latin compared to 40% of independent schools.

Mr Boris Johnson, Mayor London, said it was "absurd" for Latin to be left out of the curriculum. Mr Johnson, who studied the language at Eton and at Oxford, said:
"I firmly believe that we must not starve the minds of students eager to embrace the great intellectual disciplines of Latin.

"And we must stop the classics being the fodder of the independent sector alone.

"There is simply no better way than to make young minds think in a logical and analytical way."

Dr Peter Jones, co-founder of Friends of Classics, said: "There is no question that the demand is there for Latin."

The study found that a big reason for not teaching the language was lack of funds and resources, with 40% of schools facing difficulty in recruiting staff trained in Latin.

I am delighted that my son has chosen to study Latin. I think this discipline will serve him well in learning how to learn, to think analytically and as a basis for the necessary approach to studying sciences.

Source: BBC

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

5 Tips for Starting a Business Abroad

My friend, Masha Malka, is a successful coach based in Southern Spain. She is being featured in a popular online magazine Expat Women this month.

She talks about her experience of working and living in a foreign country. Here she shares top 5 tips for starting a business abroad:

Don’t rush in

When starting a business abroad it is important to take the time and get to know the culture, the locals, the location, the customs, etc.

What you think might be a perfect business somewhere because it worked where you are, might not be the case in the place you are going to. Also, how you are going about setting up or promoting the business might be different.

If you know someone you can trust who is part of the community and can give you guidance that would be helpful; although, I would still take my time before launching into a business or investing into anything.


It can be lonely and scary to move to a new place, especially a new country where people might speak a language you don’t speak yet. Find local business groups such as Women in Business or charity clubs you can get involved in. Also, join the local American or British or any other clubs where you can initially speak in your own language and meet other expat women.

From my experience, expat people are eager to help other fellow expats because they’ve been there and know how hard it is to start out and integrate plus, they always look forward to meeting someone new!

Get to know the local media

No matter where you are, it is not just hard work but who-you-know that is important when it comes to succeeding in what you do. Local magazine and newspaper editors, radio and TV personalities, as well as socialites can help you raise your profile and attract more business.

But remember, before you ask for anything, think of how you can help someone first.

Find the right balance

By balance I don’t mean work / family / personal needs, etc., though of course it is very important. I mean the balance between integrating into a new culture and still being true to your own.

I love living in Spain but I also find it essential to go to the USA at least 3 times a year and “get recharged”. The energy in the USA, especially New York is so different to the energy in Spain and I need it in order to do my business at the standard that I am doing it.

The fine balance is not to integrate into the new community so that you become one of them and at the same time not to be too different that they can’t relate to you. You want to maintain your uniqueness and bring newness to the community and, at the same time, understand their needs and “speak their language”.

Remember why you are abroad

It is inevitable that there will be times when things become difficult, when you become nostalgic, and when you wish you never chose to move. When it happens, remind yourself why you chose to move abroad. What attracted you to that country in the first place? What is great about living there? What did you learn in the process and how did it help you grow?

At the end of the day, it is people who make our life enjoyable no matter where we live. So make sure to make plenty of friends – be giving, loving, open-minded, and caring and, of course, have fun in all that you do!

Read the full article here

Open Air Summer Concerts in Diest

Visit for great open air summer concerts in Diest, Vlaams Brabant:

•Zaterdag 29 mei, Kathleen Vandenhoudt, Guy Swinnen, Tom Robinson € 25.00 + € 1,6 reservatie (UITVERKOCHT!)

•Zaterdag 5 juni, Toots Thielemans: € 25.00 + € 1,6 reservatie

•Woensdag 23 juni, Suzanne Vega € 25.00 + € 1,6 reservatie

•Zaterdag 10 juli, 10cc: € 25.00 + € 1,6 reservatie

•Zaterdag 14 augustus, Carmel: € 25.00 + € 1,6 reservatie

•Zaterdag 4 september, Anne Clark: € 25.00 + € 1,6 reservatie

•Zaterdag 11 september, The Scene: € 25.00 + € 1,6 reservatie

Tickets zijn online verkrijgbaar via, maar je kan ze ook aankopen in alle Belgische filialen van Free Record Shop.

Het openluchttheater van Diest is een amfitheater en maakt deel uit van het gezellige Warandepark. Omgeven door bomen biedt deze pittoreske locatie zitgelegenheid aan bijna 1.000 bezoekers. Tijdens de acht avonden van Diest Live wordt er net buiten het amfitheater een gezellige drank- en eetzone voorzien, die vrij toegankelijk is. De concerten starten telkens bij zonsondergang, om +/- 22u.

Belgians €9 billion Richer at End of 2009

Belgian collective wealth increased by €9.3 billion in the last quarter of 2009, according to figures from the National Bank, bringing the total wealth to €715.4 billion.

The increase was largely due to more money in savings, the investment of choice for Belgians in the middle of a crisis and in large part a substitute for spending. While Belgians saved €10.7 billion more in the last quarter, they put less money into current accounts and fixed-term investments. The preference for saving over spending depressed demand in the economy as a whole, leading to problems for consumer businessses.

A smaller part of the increase was due to the rise in share prices. An increase of €2.5 billion on the value of the stock market brought total gains in wealth to €13.2 billion and total holdings to €900 billion.

However, debts also rose in the final quarter by €3.9 billion to €184.6 billion. The biggest increase was in mortgages.

Source: Flanders Today