November 30, 2018



‘Weekly Academic Challenge’ is made up of a series weekly tasks all designed to improve students’ English for Academic Purposes (EAP), critical thinking, research and study skills –  all needed to succeed at English-speaking universities.   


‘Challenge’ is open to all ambitious international students preparing for English-speaking universities.

Due to my background and interests, the Challenge is highly beneficial for prospective international  students (Masters, doctoral and PhD) interested in academic English, research skills,  education, social science, psychology, medicine, language education, research methods.


Join my Google Classroom or Facebook Page


1. I publish every week on Monday a new ‘Weekly Academic Challenge’ with academic tasks and activities. 
The challenge is published on my Facebook page, this page and Google Classroom.

It might be an influential research paper to read, a controversial academic talk to watch, or an interesting podcast to listen.  Students work only with authentic materials (e.g. TED talks, academic journal articles, video lecturers) which cover different areas of academic study (e.g. science, social sciences, education, business, and health studies). 

2. Students complete academic tasks and activities (e.g. mini essay, looking for bias, looking for evidence, research tasks, reading assignment, vocabulary activity, peer review exercise, quiz, study skills task, reflective self-assessment, a hands-on project, critiquing academic texts or presentation). Students might want to complete all task or pick the ones they like. Students might want to spend much or little time on a task. It is entirely up to students.  

3. Students are encouraged to post completed tasks, answers on my Facebook Page or in Google Classroom  (video files, audio recording, written tasks).

4.  I prepare on the basis of students’ replies video feedback and additional tutorials and post them online.

4 To maximise the learning experience and increase students’ motivation,  I held with students a weekly Zoom seminar (usually on Friday). We discuss the topic and tasks. Thus, students participate in meaningful conversations around the authentic materials they have just read/watched/listened. It helps students activate new vocabulary, revise grammar, expand knowledge.  I facilitate students’ discussions. Consequently,  I ask questions, ask for clarifications, explanations, definitions,  critical evaluations etc. 


No registration is needed.  
Requirements: FREE Zoom app, positive attitude, willingness to help others. 


There’s a lot to be gained from joining the challenge! On the basic level, students working with materials develop academic vocabulary, reading comprehension, and listening skills.  Students who choose to work on academic tasks and activities develop a range of academic skills  (academic writing, research skills, study skills, knowledge management skills, autonomy, evaluation skills, critical thinking).  These tasks are aligned with authentic tasks students usually perform at university. It is, in fact, a form of university preparation.

Finally, students who participate  in a weekly Zoom seminar develop oral communication skills needed in an academic environment (seminars, academic presentation, and oral exams).


My name is Bernard Parniewicz. I attended Queen’s University in Belfast (the UK) for his MSc in TESOL and a PhD in Education. Since 2016, I have taught both online and on-campus academic courses, academic writing, dissertation writing and statistics. My research interests include second language acquisition, autonomous language learning, computer-assisted language learning (CALL), quantitative research methods, Randomised Controlled Trials, study skills, early literacy development, developing reading comprehension, vocabulary acquisition, English as an Additional Language, bilingualism, parent tutoring, intervention evaluation, technology in early literacy development.


Contact me :).

This Week Challenge

In this genuinely funny and rather persuasive TED talk. Ken Robinson (author/educator) challenges  the way we’re educating our children.  Ken touches on an important subject using an entertaining mixture of colloquial and academic language. I suggest watching the talk first, then reading the transcript. The clip has about 50 million views and more than 5,000 comments! 

Introductory Task:

Watch/Listen to the talk. 
Does Ken’s message resonate with your personal school experiences? What themes emerge from the talk?



Critical thinking

Answer the following questions: 

(1) Is Ken right when he says that schools kill children’s creative talents?
(2) Is creativity as important as literacy?
(3) Do all kids have talents?
(4) Can Ken’s ideas be put into practice? 

What evidence can you present to substantiate your claims? Can you provide links to the evidence?

Organising information

Enumerate claims Ken is wrong/right about?

Research task

Ken says:
‘by the way, there’s a shaft of nerves that joins the two halves of the brain called the corpus callosum.
It’s thicker in women’

What would be the best evidence supporting Ken’s claim? Can you find it? Send me the link!

‘Explain the meaning’

Ken used several interesting expressions.  Can you explain their meaning in the context? Can you provide other contexts in which they can be used?

  • If a man speaks his mind in a forest, and no woman hears him, is he still wrong? 
  • vested interest
  • stigmatise mistakes
  • hierarchy of subjects
  • epiphany
  • predicated on the idea of academic ability
  • a protracted process of university entrance
  • process of academic inflation

Writing task

Write a short summary of the talk  (at least 200 words). Send it to me!

Language learning skills

Ken used in his talk about 800 different words. How do you record new vocabulary? How do you select vocabulary for learning? Kens talks might be challenging for some language learners. Why is that?


Friday, 14th of November 8 pm 
ZOOM: Meeting ID: 972-966-1531
We will discuss Ken’s talk and the tasks.  Some rules: criticism must be constructive and helpful. Rants are unacceptable.  I might restrict meeting capacity, so please contact me by email if you want to ensure your participation.


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