Session 3

Can you get through a day without taking a picture of yourself? Leave your smartphone behind for a moment and come with us to take a look at the craze of the selfie!

Wayiitiwwan marii boqonnaa kana keessaa

Wayitii marii qabxii 3

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    Activity 1

Activity 1

Crazy about selfies

Are you selfie obsessed?

How many selfies have you taken this week? Be honest. Is it more than four? Maybe fourteen? Twenty four? What’s so appealing about the smartphone self-portrait? Come with us to take a look at the big picture and answer some questions to test your understanding.

To do

Here's an article about selfies. Read it quite quickly the first time and try to answer this question: Why is the White House concerned about President Barack Obama's selfies? The answer is at the bottom of the article.

Barreeffama kana dubbisii shakala kana xumuri

Part 1
Since the 2014 Oscars ceremony selfie showing the likes of Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence took the internet by storm, it seems people can't get enough of the arm-stretching self-portrait. It's been shared more than 3 million times on social media. And now it seems impossible to stop people sharing even their most intimate moments. The reality TV star Kim Kardashian could be called 'the queen of the selfie'. She's turned hundreds of them into a book in which you can see her - amongst other things - in her undies, pregnant, not pregnant and sticking her tongue out.

Part 2
If Kim Kardashian is the queen of the selfie, then you could say Barack Obama is the king. But though Kardashian has nothing to lose by sharing too much, the same can't be said of the US president. Politicians have to be careful with selfies. The photo he took at the funeral of South African leader Nelson Mandela divided public opinion. Some felt it made him look like one of us – glad to record a moment with his 'mates' British Prime Minister David Cameron and Denmark's Prime Minister Helle Thorning Schmidt. Others felt the head of state behaved like a teenager at a pop concert. And his wife, Michelle, was not amused.

Part 3
The White House has been keeping an eye on the selfie president ever since he was photographed with a baseball player who had a deal to promote a Korean smartphone. Barack Obama can't be seen to be advertising a product.

Unfortunately for the US congressman Anthony Weiner, there was no such advice available. His habit of photographing his private parts, which he sent as selfies to women, meant he was soon out of the picture. The scandal killed Weiner's political career.

An obsession with selfies can harm your health as well as your career. Todd Fassler from California ended up in hospital after he found a rattlesnake. And guess what? Yes, you get the picture - he tried to take a selfie with it. The animal wasn't keen on the idea - and bit him.

Part 4
Why do we take so many selfies? Dr Terri Apter, a psychology lecturer at Cambridge University, told the British newspaper the Daily Telegraph: "It’s a kind of self-definition. We all like the idea of being sort of in control of our image and getting attention, being noticed, being part of the culture. There's a sense that if we're not seen, then we're invisible. You can get that exacerbated by celebrity culture that says unless you're being noticed, you're no one," says Dr Apter. "You have to show your life is amazing, even if it isn't."

Part 5
The word 'selfie' was Oxford Dictionaries' 'word of the year' in 2013. But many believe the photographic self-portrait started much earlier. The first one was taken in 1839 by Robert Cornelius, an amateur chemist from Philadelphia. Cameras were basic and he had to uncover the lens, run into the shot for a minute before running back to cover the lens again. These days, you don't need to run for a photo any more and soon, you won't even have to stretch your arms. In the near future you might be able to take a selfie by drone! Attach your camera to it, and it will follow your every move. Does it sound exciting to you? Are you ready for your closeup? Smile!

The answer to our question:

Question: Why is the White House concerned about President Obama's selfies?

Answer: Because Obama was photographed with a baseball player who had a deal to promote a Korean smartphone. It's not good for the US president's image to appear to be advertising a particular commercial product.

To do

Try this quiz to check how much of the text you can understand and to do a bit more practice with articles. You might take a selfie while you're doing it, if you like!


Crazy about selfies quiz

7 Questions

Are you the king or queen of the selfie quiz? Find out now!

Baga gammadde! Qormaata xumurteetta
Excellent! Great job! Carraa badaa! Qabxii argatte:
x / y

End of Session 3

That's it for this session. Join us in Session 4 where Finn brings us another 'How Do You...?' activity. This time he's looking at link verbs. See you there!

Caasluga kutaa kanaa

Session Vocabulary

  • craze
    a thing or activity that is very popular for a short time

    the big picture
    the situation as a whole

    the likes of
    people who have some similarities with each other

    took the internet by storm
    quickly became very popular on the internet

    can't get enough of something
    want more and more of something

    personal and private

    (informal) underwear

    (informal) friends

    thought was funny

    out of the picture
    not involved in a particular situation any more

    private parts
    sexual organs

    get the picture
    understand the situation

    made more intense


    small aircraft without a pilot