Month: February 2017

Beyond the taste of Pistachios

Hello, Speak Up London students. Since it’s World Pistachio Day on 26th February, today we’re going to talk about one of our favourite nuts – the humble pistachio. Well, let’s start by saying that they’re delicious. Ok, that might be stating the obvious. But is it just their irresistible taste that makes them so popular? To understand that, we need to know a little bit more about this delicious green seed, pistachio.

Let’s start by acknowledging the fact that among ancient peoples the pistachio was a common food, which was first found in Syria and then later introduced into Roman territories in Europe by the Roman proconsul Lucius Vitellius the Elder. Since then pistachio seeds have been cultivated in an increasing number of countries from the US to China. What drove so many civilizations to engage in the cultivation of pistachios? Have we mentioned their irresistible taste?

According to several researchers, the benefits brought by this seed are numerous. Pistachio is considered one of the nuts whose consumption in certain doses may lower the risk of heart disease. Also, in terms of managing your weight, pistachios are the best choice among nuts, due to their low calories and high protein. Another benefit of the pistachio is its antioxidant properties that can work as a defense against diabetes. What’s more, its antioxidants also work in helping to reduce the risk of contracting the age-related macular disease in the elderly.

And if that isn’t enough, we would like to add to pistachios’ benefits the fact that, when consumed in certain doses, it boosts our immunity, helps us maintain a healthy brain and they have anti-inflammation properties. So, dear students, it is clear that is more than enough reasons to explain the success and popularity of this incredible edible seed. Now, having acknowledged the properties and the benefits of pistachio, we can’t do anything but enjoy eating some, as part of a balanced diet (of course).

Why you shouldn’t pay for followers on Social Media

Hello, Speak Up London followers! We’re back with one of your beloved blog articles. Today, we will be talking about a really common issue among social media users and businesses, hoping that this post might open your eyes and/or give you useful insights for your social media strategy. Let’s cut to the chase: is buying social media followers a good social media strategy? If the answer wasn’t clear enough from the title of our article, we will reiterate it for you: no, you shouldn’t pay for followers.


There are numerous reasons why you shouldn’t pay for followers, but we will highlight the main ones. Let’s start by analysing the action per se. Why do “social media expert wannabes” buy followers? Having thousands of followers on our webpages looks good, it can’t be denied. But the reality is that if those numbers haven’t been fairly earned, they are just good for the ego of the person who paid for them. Why so? Because the majority of those “likes” come from fake accounts, which means that there won’t be people behind those names willing to engage with the content you create and, more importantly for businesses, they are not a realistic reflection of your target market.


As Dave Ken stated on SocialMediaToday.com, “A high engagement rate means that the potential reach of your brand is much greater. Instead of worrying about trying to get more people to like your page, you should work harder on trying to get them to engage with your content more on Facebook”. Therefore, for social media platforms like Facebook, paying for followers can jeopardise your social media strategy, not only because those followers aren’t engaged with your content (being fake fans, they don’t talk about your brand nor share your content) but also because the direct consequence of the low rate of engagement is that Facebook algorithm will allow fewer of your posts to reach your followers. Then, if you rightfully want to pay for an ad to reach your followers, you’ll be wasting your money since you’ll have to pay for more ads because of the fake followers you bought. Those followers won’t translate into a positive outcome for your business, since that number on the platform is only an illusion.


It is a must to add that buying followers is not ethical, it can lead to a bad reputation, and it doesn’t help your business in the long term, since not “gaining” those followers deprives you of the right experience needed to get to know your audience and achieve better results in the future.


In conclusion, after having tried to acknowledge this deep truth about social media, we would like to share some words with you – our loyal, friendly and real 20,000 followers, who appreciate our content everyday and add value to our work. Thank you very much to you all, we respect and value your help in making our family grow everyday.


Maria Chiara Strano

blog post pic

Valentine’s Day

Hello, everybody! Our Speak Up London team is glad to inform you that we are back with another of our blog specials, this time regarding one of the most controversial festivities: Valentine’s Day. But before speaking about the meaning of Valentine’s Day today, we believe it would be beneficial to understand how this celebration started and, more importantly, why this day is dedicated to love.


There are several legends associated with the figure of Saint Valentine, but according to the most popular of them, he was a priest who lived in the territories of the Roman Empire at the time of emperor Claudius II. The Emperor believed that unmarried soldiers were braver than married ones, since they would not have had anyone to be concerned about in the event of their death. As a consequence, the emperor declared it illegal for young men to marry. Then, Saint Valentine, aware of this injustice, ignored the decree and secretly continued to perform marriages for young couples. Once Claudius II discovered this, he formulated his death sentence.


The roots of the Saint Valentine celebration stem from a great demonstration of love and sacrifice, two concepts that are often entwined. And what about our society? What does Valentine’s Day represent for us? There are countless articles claiming that this holiday celebration has been turned into an occasion to glorify consumerism. Think about the massive number of gifts bought, trips booked and restaurants visited. Surely it is not too difficult to become sceptical regarding the true meaning of this festivity if you think about the economic interests behind it.


But, dear Speak Up London students, here is an audacious thought: do flowers, gifts or meals at restaurants cancel the feelings that provoke these actions only because they all involve economic factors? We don’t think so. In an age when it is easy to find rotten aspects of all our lives, we believe people should also find the time to rediscover the beauty of life and, we are sure you can all agree on this point, love plays an important role in the definition of that beauty. Therefore, it is necessary to have a day to remind us how to love, and how crucial love is in our lives. It doesn’t matter if to do so we need to spend money on presents or we just need to see the people we love: love needs to be celebrated, regardless how we do it.


Therefore, dear friends, think about the ways to display your love to your loved ones, and remember that Valentine’s Day is a great occasion to do so, not only for its meaningful origin but also because we all deserve and need to celebrate the noblest of feelings, love.


Maria Chiara Strano


Short memory? Use some mnemonic devices

How many times in your life have you found yourself in a position where you can’t remember something? Don’t you remember? And how many times has it happened when trying to speak another language? Well, guys, you are not the only ones in this position. Memory is extremely important, especially when learning a new language, so strengthening your memory could make the difference when learning things like grammar, vocabulary and syntax.




Despite the fact that difficulties arising when trying to remember a constant amount of things are evident, these don’t have to prevent you from working hard. As we say, practice makes perfect. In the meantime, though, you can help your memory by using some “tricks” and whether you need to remember a list of things to do or grammatical structures of the foreign language you are studying, these expedients will likely help you improve your ability to memorise concepts. Mnemonics are tools to make the process of memorising easier by utilising several elements.

Among the most popular mnemonic devices are acronyms. Acronyms are words formed by the first letter of the words you want to remember. For instance, a useful acronym for remembering the parts of an atom is “PEN” which stands for proton, electron and neutron.

Another useful device is an acrostic, a series of lines where the beginning of each word defines a word or message. A famous acrostic is used to remember the planets: My Very Excellent Mother Just Served Us Nachos. As the bold letters suggest, the planets (and their order) are Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.

If you guys are instead more into music you will be glad to know that some mnemonic devices involve rhythmical tools. For example, one of the most used mnemonics is rhyme, since it can be stored in our brains more easily through acoustic encoding. An example of how rhymes are used to improve memory can be found in this sentence to help people to remember the number of days per month:

Thirty days hath September,

April, June, and November;

All the rest have thirty-one,

Save February, with twenty-eight days clear,

And twenty-nine each leap year.

The mnemonics available to help you remember are plenty, and you can decide to use one of them in accordance with your preference and your particular needs. However, it is important to point out that these tricks aren’t replacements for your ability to memorise, but useful ways to remember intricate features that are difficult to keep in your mind. Whether you use these tools or you are creative and think up your own mnemonics, you’ll see how these simple devices can improve your everyday life.



Maria Chiara Strano



World Nutella Day

Hi Speak Up London friends, we are delighted to inform you that this is a special blog post to celebrate tastiness. Today, February 5th,we are happy to celebrate World Nutella Day with you!

Before talking about the way we celebrated, we should probably explain some of the reasons why it is important to celebrate this event. Dear friends, take a seat, grab a jar of Nutella and read about why we should celebrate World Nutella Day.


Reason 1 

The first reason we should celebrate World Nutella Day stems from the fact that Nutella is a symbol of comfort. Yes, you read it correctly. You might not know it but the forerunner to Nutella was invented by an Italian pastry chef (Pietro Ferrero), who wanted to create a sweet pastry made up with hazelnut and just a bit of cocoa, because there was a scarcity of cocoa following WWII. Therefore, Nutella is a symbol of hope, since with the creation of its forerunner (Giandujot) it helped to restore a feeling of comfort.


Reason 2

Among the reasons that it’s important to celebrate World Nutella Day, is Nutella’s association with the concept of union. An example of how Nutella is able to unify people can be found in an event happened in 2005, when 27,854 people gathered at Gelserkirchen to have a “Nutella breakfast” together. This massive event is a clear example of how the love of Nutella was able to mobilise people, in an era when individualism seems to prevail. It was a record breaking event that even entered the Guinness Book of Records!


Reason 3

Nutella is for most people a synonym for joy. This stems from both its unmistakable flavour and the memories it is able to evoke in us. Did you know that Sara Rosso decided to create World Nutella Day years after her first joyful taste of Nutella to spread that joy in the world? World Nutella Day was launched in 2007 and it has generated a great response around the world. Since that date, thousands of people have regularly shared on social media their happy Nutella moments, making February 5th not only a celebration of the most famous chocolate spread in the world, but also a festivity in honour of its lovers.


Speak Up London Celebration 

In light of what Nutella stands for, the Speak Up London family has decided to take part in World Nutella Day celebrations. To be more specific, some of our students decided to join thousands of other people around the world celebrating Nutella by enjoying Nutella in Soho Square. Our students embody the values that Nutella spreads, and on this note, today we are sharing a picture to show how they feel when they eat Nutella. Spoiler alert: there’s lots of Nutella and, of course, a lot of joy. Happy World Nutella Day to everyone from our Speak Up London family, always ready to spread happiness… this time helped by a sweet friend.


Maria Chiara Strano


IMG_1284 changed


Procrastination: you can fight it

Hello, Speak Up London students. Today’s article is going to help you in any aspect of your life. Indeed, whether you are working, studying, or simply trying to get things done, procrastination is always there, waiting behind the corner. Though, you shouldn’t consider procrastination a synonym for laziness. In fact, in many cases, people who procrastinate are only perfectionists waiting for the best moment to act. Breaking news: perfect moments don’t exist. So, my dear perfectionists here are some tips to help you overcome this overwhelming issue.


  • Let’s start by the first tip, make a list. This particular action will help you be aware of the things you have to do. Don’t let your list overwhelm you! Visualising is the first step towards the completion of your tasks.
  • Now that you have visualised your to do list, prioritise. We suggest you rate each element of your list according to two parameters: urgency and importance.
  • After having rated and divided your list, it’s time to prepare a plan. How much time do you have? Be aware that even though planning can help you get through difficult tasks; sometimes it is really difficult to meet your expectations in terms of time. Therefore, our timeless tip is: set an earlier deadline, in the best case scenario you will gain some time, in the worst case scenario you will still have time to work before your official deadline.
  • The natural thing to do after preparing a plan is to start. There are not tips to help you. Starting a long list of things to do, whether they are study-related, work-related or simply chores is probably the most difficult thing to do. But, the bright side is that once you have found the courage to start, it will get better!
  • One of the ways to make the whole procedure “bearable” is by taking regular breaks. It’ll help you combat fatigue and it is also a little way of rewarding yourself after every piece of work you accomplish.

Procrastination blog post pic

Along with these tips, we would like to point out that there are some very important elements for some people, like the atmosphere around them. Be aware of your individual preferences when you work, and when possible, try to recreate that atmosphere to help you be more productive. For instance some people prefer to listen to music while working, others prefer to work in a particular place, others need to eat snacks. Whatever your preference is, as long as it is healthy, it’ll help you get through your day full of duties more easily. Therefore, our dear Speak Up London friends, good luck with your work and remember that with planning and goodwill you can both fight procrastination and do almost anything! 😉


Maria Chiara Strano