Your Guide to Speaking (and Thinking) Freely

A Not-So-Ordinary Language Course
by Sven Gerst

18 мая — 10 июня | вт чт

Most of us had some experience with a language course — some at school or college, some later in life. We know that there are boring bits that you just can’t skip (gotta learn grammar and words!) while others are a bit more entertaining. That part usually happens when you’re familiar with the basics and can actually say something out loud.

Here’s a way to take the next step: why not combine live English-language practice with a discussion on political philosophy?

Intrigued? Read on.

What’s freedom? Well, that’s a difficult question. While many of us have an intuitive understanding of what it means to be free, we struggle with articulating it. And this gets even worse when we have to express ourselves in a foreign language.

That’s the point of this course: in a series of interactive online sessions, we will jointly try to make sense of the concept of freedom from the most diverse viewpoints, practise our English language skills — and (also important!) have fun while doing so.

Your Tutor


Sven Gerst

Philosopher, PhD Student, Department of Political Economy, King’s College London. Sven also holds a M.Sc. in Philosophy from the London School of Economics and Political Science 

«Each session in this course will follow a structure of an impulse presentation, where you will acquire some important theoretical insights, as well as practical skills (ranging from philosophical theory to working with original language texts) before we go to small group exercises that will empower you to speak up and discuss the respective topics together with others in English. Moreover, all sessions will be kept together by short assignments that will trigger your creativity»

You Will Improve:


1

Your understanding of the essential concepts of freedom — as discussed in philosophy, economics and social sciences

2

Your English-speaking skills — and the ability to use them freely in a live discussion

3

Your soft skills — by practising communication, self-expression and group work 

You Should Expect:


You do not need to be a fluent speaker — mid level is fine: as long as you’re comfortable with basic speaking and reading. If you understand what this page says, this course is for you!

We hold all sessions online via Zoom. Having booked a ticket, you will receive all instructions, as well as a link to each session’s videoconference. The course group is no more than 25 participants; each session is 2 hours long. To participate, you will need a miс and a working camera on your laptop.

Core Themes and Schedule


1.

May 18 | Tue | 19:00–21:00

MEET, GREET & CONCEPT

During this intro session we will get acquainted, discuss the course structure and tools we will be using.

2.

May 20 | Thu | 19:00–21:00

PERSONAL FREEDOM: WHAT IT MEANS TO BE FREE FOR YOU?

Freedom is fundamentally linked to individual autonomy. Therefore, it is personal. Let’s talk about what freedom means for you.

3.

May 25 | Tue | 19:00–21:00

PHILOSOPHICAL FREEDOM: POSITIVE, NEGATIVE, REPUBLICAN…WTF!

You can’t discuss freedom without hearing from philosophers. We will jointly make sense of the difference between freedom and liberty and what it means to have negative or positive freedom.

4.

May 27 | Thu | 19:00–21:00

LITERARY FREEDOM: IS BEING FREE BEING ALONE?

Is freedom more like a lonely walk in the forest or more like a discussion in the crowded public space of the polis? We will discuss what writers and poets had to say about freedom — and practise reading and analysing texts in original.

5.

June 2 Tue | 19:00–21:00

FREEDOM AND POWER: WHAT FOUCAULT GOT RIGHT ABOUT LIBERTY

What’s the relationship between power and freedom? Can one ever be free in a society full of intertwined power relations? We will discuss concepts of power in critical theory and see them play out when we face real life problems of dominance vs independence.

6.

June 4 | Thu | 19:00–21:00

FREEDOM AND CULTURE: IS FREEDOM A WESTERN IDEA?

Is freedom a universal value — or do different societies understand freedom differently? We will discuss a common objection to freedom — as a purely Western idea and look at other cultures, including Russian. 

7.

June 8 | Tue | 19:00–21:00

FREEDOM AND OTHER VALUES: WHAT IF I LIKE FREEDOM & EQUALITY?

A free society is not necessarily the most equal society. How do we deal with such value clashes? 

8.

June 10 | Thu | 19:00–21:00

FINAL PRESENTATION AND GRADUATION

During this last session everyone will present their learning progress (philosophically as well as linguistically!) to each other, friends and colleagues.