Thursday, 20 October 2016

Practice Tests For The Certificate Of Advanced English

Practice Test: Certificate of Advanced English

Getting the CAE is a big step on the road to success for many people, whether it is for a job, for study, or just for a sense of personal achievement.  Most people see the Certificate of Advanced English as the gold standard of English – in other words, if you’ve passed the Certificate of Advanced English it is a clear sign that your English is really good.  Some people go on to take the CPE as well, but for many people CAE is the point at which they have proved their English to be of a high standard.

So, how can you make sure that you pass the Certificate of Advanced English?  Well, one way of course is to do practice tests.  To see what you need to do, an obvious thing is to look through past papers, and see what kinds of questions come up again and again.  The best place to start is the Cambridge Practice Test books – if you look at these, you can see authentic past papers from previous exams, which therefore show you exactly what previous candidates had to do.  Try a practice test of reading and Use of English from a practice test book from Cambridge, and you’ll be able to see exactly what collocations, fixed phrases, grammar structures and patterns, and phrasal verbs are in the Use of English, and what types of reading question you have to answer in the reading section. 

One tip with practice tests for the Certificate of Advanced English is that when you have finished a test, and you’ve seen your score, you can then go through the practice test in detail, and make a note of all the phrases and grammar you’ve missed.  Take Use of English part one of CAE, for example.  You can look through your answers, and where you’ve made a mistake, you can note down the correct collocation or phrase.  But also, with CAE, it’s a good idea to look at the other possible answers in the multiple-choice and see why they were not the correct answer, and what is the difference between the four options.  These slight differences of meanings are worth recording, and later on, you will come across some of them in parts of the exam.  That way, you really get value from a CAE practice test, and you get to learn more English as well as being tested.

Of course, you can also do an English course in the UK, where you can learn English in England, and prepare for CAE at the same time as using your language in a real setting.  A lot of the material tested in the Certificate of Advanced English is based on real, spoken English, and so you will get to hear, and use, the language you study in your CAE lessons outside of the class.  Pick a school which has CAE specialist teachers, and you’ll find that your chance of passing is much much higher.  Your range of language will increase, as will your ability to use language confidently and accurately.

So, use CAE Practice Tests well, to get the most out of them, and learn from them, along with some lessons from an experience professional, if you have the chance, in order to give you the best chance of success in passing the Certificate of Advanced English.

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Thursday, 6 October 2016

8 Tips which will help you improve your English Grammar

 How to Learn English Grammar

Many nationalities who come to learn English in the South of England are very worried about their grammar, yet their spoken fluency and accuracy is actually very impressive. They are getting the grammar correct, but just don’t know it. Others come to learn English in the South of England with plenty of vocabulary and confidence to speak, but have little in the way of grammatical structure and could definitely do with some help with some grammar basics. English schools get all types of learners and at LSI we like to think we can accommodate all of them.

A lot of the advice below on how to learn English grammar is what is done in class here at LSI and should benefit both the groups described above.
  1. Firstly, when practicing English, try to work out and write down what particular grammar areas you think you are unsure of. Remember that without someone correcting you, you won’t know how accurately you are speaking; you only know you have a problem if they don’t understand you. When this happens, make a note of what you were trying to say. When at LSI, we can direct you to practice activities and explanations from the course books that you get when you arrive here. 
  2. When you read a text, look for and highlight all the examples of the bit of grammar you are looking for. If it is a tense (e.g. present perfect simple), see if you can see any patterns regarding the contexts of when it is used. If it is a conditional sentence, what tenses are used and in what contexts?
  3. Seeing the grammar is one thing, but you need to be able to use it. Try to imagine the kind of conversations you need to have in order to see if your new grammar item seems to work. You then need to practice these conversations as often as possible. We’ll do that in class here but you should also try to do this on LSI Portsmouth’s social activities and conversation clubs and wherever you may travel in our local area – beautiful Hampshire.
  4. If you are particularly worried about a grammar point, don’t be afraid to simply Google it, (e.g., “When do I use the past perfect continuous?). Before you can ask a question like that you might first need to ask Google: “What are the names of the tenses in English?” You may need to translate what you are looking for first but you can get there in the end. The internet is an amazing resource and if all the texts you find say more or less the same thing, they are probably correct.
  5. All the English language course books that you get given when you arrive at LSI have a very clear and simple grammar explanation section. Use them; it is possible to teach yourself.
  6. This may sound mad, but try having a conversation in English in your head, with yourself. When you get stuck, make a note of the problem. Then try to describe to your teacher what you were trying to say.
  7. Try learning the grammar by function. In other words, think: “I need all the grammar and typical vocabulary to complain / praise / persuade / negotiate / reminisce…whatever the function might be. You will find that we tend to use a set number of phrases to carry out that function. This leads to number 8.
  8. Be aware that many English sentences are made up of groups of words that frequently go together. The more English you are exposed to, the more you realise that what you think of as “grammar,” is not so important!
So if you really want to learn English, and you want to improve your English grammar, try putting these tips into practice.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Fishtail Plait Instructions - Online Everyday English Lesson

One more in our 'Everyday English Online Tutorials' - those lessons that reach the English other videos don't ;-).  This time Catherine and Rosie explain how to do a fishtail plait!

For related vocabulary click here: 

See below for some of the other videos in this series our fabulous teachers have made:

If you have any suggestions for other videos you'd like to see, please leave a comment below.

Friday, 23 September 2016

Britain's Best Beer Garden - In Southsea?

The Barley Mow Southsea
Our friends at 'The Barley Mow' in Castle Road in Southsea have been entered into Britain's Best Beer Garden 2016 Competition. one of the top ten pub gardens in the whole of Britain.  It's not a large garden, in fact a special little secret many don't know about, but once you step into it you feel like you are in an oasis of calm.
We are backing them, and hope you will vote for them too - the more support the better.

Click this link to vote:
go to this site

Update: (29.9.16)
Well Done - The Barley Mow came 3rd in Britain's Best Beer Garden 2016

Friday, 16 September 2016

7 Effective Ways To Speak English Posher Than The Queen

What Is The Queen's English: Definition 

Many people who come to learn English in the UK often say: I’d love to speak like the Queen! She speaks perfect English! But does she actually use the language in the way we imagine she does?

English schools in England certainly don’t have English courses which specifically teach the ‘Queen’s English’. After all, what exactly is the Queen’s English? Many dictionaries define it as the language which is spoken by educated people who live in the South of England. Not surprisingly many people in the North would probably take offence at such a definition! Very few people, well-educated or not, actually use English in this way, even those from an upper-class background whom you might expect to do so. A few observers of the Queen feel that she doesn’t either.

If, however, you did want to use the Queen’s English, then how would you go about it? Listed below are seven effective ways to speak English posher than the Queen does!

1. Try to avoid using slang or jargon and keep the language ‘plain’. This is probably much easier said than done, especially since there is a certain amount of disagreement as to what is ‘correct’ language.

2. Always adhere to punctuation rules when writing. With the advent of social media, the correct usage of punctuation has gone out of the window. Only in more formal documents such as reports and instruction manuals is it being maintained.

3. Respect all grammar rules. There is a certain amount of debate as to whether it is necessary to use exactly the right structures to communicate effectively, but if you want to speak the Queen’s English then you should do so.

4. Use a more formal style of address. This was very true in the past, while as today this way of speaking to people may lead to bemusement as much as anything else.

5. Speak with an ‘old fashioned’ form of pronunciation. The Queen’s English is also associated with the way words are actually said, with a type of southern English accent called ‘Received Pronunciation’. Even here it is felt that the present Queen’s accent does not conform entirely to how she ‘should’ sound. Certainly if you were to watch newsreel footage taken when she first became Queen in 1952, there is a noticeable difference in her accent.

6. Read books written in the 19th century, especially by Charles Dickens (born in Portsmouth). These often have lots of ‘correct English’ in them. However, be careful as even here some characters use decidedly non-Queen’s English.

7. Read a book called ‘The Queen’s English – And How to Use it’ from the Queen’s English society. It will tell you everything you need to know.

If you follow all of the above advice then as they say:

‘You’re gonna speak real good English, like what I do!’

P.S. Please note the last sentence is definitely not the Queen’s English.

Friday, 9 September 2016

The Development of the English Language

A Brief Summary of the Development of the English Language

For people who wish to learn English, the development of the English language is in some ways an untold story. Even for those who speak English as their native tongue, many do not know its origins.

So, where does the language that we use today come from? Like all languages, English has gone through a succession of changes. Much of the basis of the language came about during early medieval times (5th – 11th centuries) with the arrival in Britain of Germanic tribes from what is today Germany and the Netherlands. Their collective language was called Anglo-Saxon or Old English. Examples of Old English words are: I, you, good, name, woman, make, yes, and many others.

The Viking invasions of Britain during this period also led to the inclusion of words from Old Danish and Old Norwegian such as: get, husband, knife, take, want, window and lots of others. In total over 25% of English words are of Germanic or North European origin.

With the arrival of the Normans in 1066 the language began to change with the addition of Norman and Old French words. The period from then till the 15th century saw the population of much of Britain speak what we would call Middle English. Norman and Old French words include: beef, soldier, finance, music, blue, theatre and literally thousands of others. Nearly 30% of English comes from these two languages.

From the 15th century English has continued to evolve into what is now termed Modern English. As a result of the influence of countries which were once part of the British Empire, English has taken on board plenty of words from Asia, Africa and the Caribbean. The experience of travel on the part of native English speakers and immigration to English-speaking countries from non-native English speakers has resulted in more words coming into the language from the Middle East, Italy, Spain and elsewhere.

Throughout the centuries medical and scientific terminology, and not just in the case of English but also other European languages, has been heavily influenced by both Latin and Greek.

It must also not be forgotten that while there are plenty of similarities between the English that is spoken in the British Isles, North America, South Asia and Australasia, there are some noticeable differences as far as pronunciation, vocabulary, and to a lesser extent grammar, are concerned.

With the advent of new technology and platforms for using the language such as the Internet and social media, as well as an ever-changing and multi-cultural world, English will continue to evolve in the future. It is quite possible that the English that is spoken in a couple of hundred years’ time will be very different from that which is used today.

Friday, 2 September 2016

5 reasons why learning English is such a good move!

5 Reasons Learning English is Such a Good Move

If you have ever questioned yourself why you are learning English, here are 5 really important reasons why it is a good decision you made ;-)

1. When you go abroad, you can enjoy your foreign holidays more, English is a universal language.

2. Always looks good on your CV, and will strengthen your qualifications! Which in turn will give you more career opportunities!

3. You will be able to understand British and American TV and films, hundreds of hours of entertainment ;-)

4. It’s fun, learning English in the UK is like being in a great big cultural melting pot.

5. Not only will you be able to understand more TV and films, you will also be able to follow the news, current affairs, books, magazines etc, there is so much in English, a whole new world awaits you.

Can you think of anymore? Add them in the comments section below.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

What Makes Portsmouth One Of The Top Destinations To Study English In The South Of England

Learning English In Hampshire

We have spoken to our students, we have spoken to our teachers, then we spoke to the Directors! Now we hear from the Principal himself - Andrew Edwards, why the Portsmouth English language school: LSI Portsmouth is such a special place to study particularly if you want to learn English in the South of England.  Not only is LSI Portsmouth one of the best language schools in Hampshire, it is one of the best language schools in the UK, we were voted joint number one by the EL Gazette, the most popular industry standard magazine.