Thursday, 17 August 2017

British Culture - British Humour - That Very Strange Thing!

Continuing our series on British Culture: 

British Humour


Humour is important in every country and the UK is no exception. However, to truly understand a country’s humour and how and why it is used is not easy. In Britain humour is an important part of life and can be found in just about every situation, no matter how difficult that situation might be. So, what is British humour and how can we best understand it?

British humour comes in many different forms. It is often very sarcastic, ironic or self-deprecating (making fun of oneself); at other times it is slapstick (being clumsy / talking about embarrassing events); sometimes it can be dark; it can even be quite vicious. Most people in Britain expect to hear and use humour on a regular basis and hope that others will understand them when they say something funny. British humour is often very subtle. Perhaps one of the best pieces of advice to understanding British humour is to remember that sometimes the speaker does not want you to take what they have just said literally. So, if someone says to you ‘I really like your new jeans’, try to listen for their tone of voice and not just the words they’ve used. It may be that they really like your jeans or perhaps they do not like your jeans at all!

The British will often use humour as a defence mechanism. If they have done something wrong, forgotten or lost something, or cannot think what to say, they will often make a joke about the situation. The listener may or may not join in, but would be expected to understand why the joke was made.

Humour is frequently found in the work place. The British will often use humour to diffuse a tense situation and to limit confrontation, especially in a meeting or a negotiation, or when giving problematic information during a presentation. Some non-native listeners may feel that the person who is speaking is not taking the situation seriously enough. In fact the opposite is true. Employees like to make jokes about their boss, often right in front of them. As long as the joke is not too harsh, the boss should except it. Even in a place like A&E (Accident and Emergency) in a hospital lots of humour is used to lighten the mood.

Try not to react badly if you are the recipient of the joke. Laugh at it and make a joke back. The first speaker will expect it. Even if the joke is not aimed at you, remember to join in the laughter. What is important to note is that if someone has made a joke at your expense, it means that they like you!

Of all areas of humour there is one that is perhaps most associated with the British, the understatement. So, if it is pouring with rain a British person might say ‘I suppose the weather could be a bit better’. Or if there is a hundred people in a queue someone could say ‘Well, there’s hardly anyone in this queue’. Now that really is fun
ny!

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

We are Looking for an Intern

Fantastic Opportunity! We are looking for new interns.  This is a great opportunity to improve your English language and get experience working in a busy International School.


There are two options:

1. Half day of English lessons at LSI for free (either mornings or afternoons, depending on work needs) + Half day internship work experience at LSI
2. Full-time internship work experience at LSI + £50 weekly allowance

Please see the above for more details and get in touch with us if you would like more information.

Friday, 4 August 2017

Learning Is Fun!

Sometimes our students send us photos - that are just a joy to look at. Raphaela Sonderer recently sent these lovely pictures of Jon D's students having great fun, we thought we'd share them.



Thursday, 27 July 2017

How To Be Successful in Your Pre-Sessional Course



Elly, Majed, Csili, Anna Rita.                             Kosar and Antonio
Here at LSI Portsmouth, one of the most intensive courses we run is our Pre-sessional courses, which prepare students for their university courses.  It is not for the faint hearted, it takes dedication, perseverance and a lot of work.  The students AND the teachers work incredibly hard, putting in so very many hours of preparation, study and course work. 


Last week was Graduation week at the University of Portsmouth and we were so proud to welcome back two very special students who had attended their graduation just around the corner at the university.  We thought it would be nice to interview them, so the lovely girls in reception, who get to know all the students spoke to them and got some fantastic pictures. They both gave some really good advice for prospective university students.

Regular readers of our blog will remember Majed, who did a rooftop interview video for us.

So, this is his second interview, and we couldn’t be more proud to speak to him today.


What is your name?
Majed Alshehri
Where are you from?
Saudi
When were you with us Majed?
September 2014 – July 2015
What courses did you do?
A bit of everything!  GE, IELTS, Cambridge and PSE
What did you go on to do at the university?
Advanced Manufacturing Technology MSc at UoP (And he got a Distinction!!!)
Majed, why did you choose to come to the UK to study?
I was able to go anywhere, but I decided either the UK or the US. In the end, I felt I would have better academic opportunities if I came to the UK
Ok, Majed, what made you choose LSI Portsmouth?
Because LSI is the best!
;-) Thank you very much. So now, Majed what does the future hold for you?
I’m going back to work, I was just promoted because I now have this Masters. (Congratulations Majed)  Later on, I think I may do a PhD, and if so, I would really like to do it at the University of Portsmouth.
If you had one bit of advice you could give anyone who was coming to study English in the UK, what would it be?
It’s really important that you focus on your studies.  It’s only a couple of years and then you can do what you want.  I have seen quite a few people who have wasted their time, not doing the work, maybe because they weren’t paying for themselves, it’s a real shame and such a wasted opportunity.


Majed visited one of our current Pre-sessional classes while he was here, to share his experience and to give the students some encouragement.  To see how much they appreciated it, have a look at their faces!








What is your name?
Kosar Akram
Where are you from?
Iraq
When were you at LSI Portsmouth?
2012
What course did you do?
The Pre-sessional course.
What did you go on to do?
Civil Engineering BEng Hons – (and she got a First!)
Congratulations Kosar. So tell us why did you choose to come to the UK?
Because of the culture.  I love the accent!  I felt that there were a lot of opportunities here.  It is also close to a lot of other places, which gave even more opportunities.
What made you choose to come to LSI Portsmouth?
I did a lot of research before coming here.  I saw really positive reviews from other students. From the photos I saw it looked like a very multicultural place, and I could imagine myself in one of those photos. Before I came I had a lot of contact with the school, through emails and phone calls and I was very impressed with how helpful and friendly everyone was.
So, Kosar, what does the future hold for you now?
Ah so much; My first aim was to get a graduate job, and I did it, I got a job with the UK’s largest construction company! (Congratulations again). I also want to work in women’s rights.  I would love to become one of the inspiring personalities in the world and encourage women to follow their dreams.
I would really like to write a book about my life and experiences and of living through two wars. I would like to work with Kurdish people in the UK, we have a lot of challenges.
If there was one bit of advice you would give anyone coming to study English in the UK?
The absolute most important thing is to INTEGRATE!  You MUST make friends with everyone, no matter who they are or where they’re from.  It’s not just about going to classes.  I believe it is honestly one of the best things I have done since I have been here.
  
(The lady who interviewed Kosar said the following: “I cried multiple times while talking to her – thank god it wasn’t on film.  I am so incredibly proud of her.  When you think about everything that she has overcome and how hard she has worked to get to where she is, it really makes you feel like you need a kick up the backside and get out and do something with your life.  Truly inspiring.)

Kosar gave the speech at her graduation ceremony https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XSOixGgmNN4 watch from around 1:11:00.

Majed and Kosar, thank you so much for coming back to see us and for talking to us today. We are so grateful and so happy that you got what you deserved, you both worked so hard, and showed what can be achieved when you really want something.  Please keep in touch

Thank you Elly and Csili for doing the interviews and photos.

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For anyone thinking of following a Pre-sessional course - here is a brief list of what they study:

• The language and study skills that are needed for a BA/BSc, MA/MSc or PhD taught in English
• The expectations and culture of British universities
• How to become a successful independent learner
• How to adapt to living and studying in the UK Course Content:
• Research skills
• Academic writing including grammar, vocabulary, referencing and avoiding plagiarism
• Academic reading
• Listening and note-taking
• Speaking, for example in seminars and tutorials
• Presentations
• Critical thinking
• Time management
• Independent study skills
• Basic IT

For more information about the courses have a look at this link: http://www.lsi-portsmouth.co.uk/images/PSE_Brochure_High_Res.pdf

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Why Learning English Online May Not Be For You

Pros And Cons Of Learning English Online


Why Learning English Online May Not Be For You

Before you try and answer the question of how to learn English online, it might be useful to start with the question of why learn English online, in fact, why are you learning English at all?
By double-checking your motivation and objectives, you should be able to ensure that you learn English in the best way for you. Learning English online is often seen as a cheaper solution than learning in a local English school, or learning English in England, but it has to work, it has to be an effective use of your time.

How to learn English online: Check your motivation

The question about motivation is important, because the cheaper or simpler the solution, the more motivation you’re going to need to reach the same outcomes. Learning English online can be free of charge, or cost just a few pounds or dollars, but at that price there will be very little to keep you inspired, and you will need to be the driving force behind your learning. So one answer to this question of how to learn English online is “with support”. That could be the support of other students, or it could mean finding an online English tutor. Once you have a small team around you, you’ll be more likely to complete the exercises you’ve set yourself, practise new language you’ve learned or revise for the next session. That gentle external pressure to complete work and move on is one of the biggest secrets of how to learn English online.

How to learn English online: Set objectives

If you don’t know where you’re going, it’s very difficult to know when you’ve arrived. If you need English for your studies or for work, you might be able to identify a specific level of English you need. English exams are a great way to find test and confirm your level to yourself and other people, and it gives you a formal qualification too. Tests like IELTS or Cambridge exams such as Key (KET), Preliminary (PET), First (FCE), Advanced (CAE) and Proficiency (CPE) are very comprehensive ways of testing your English which lead to an internationally recognised level which universities and employers can all use to understand your level of English.
If you’re wondering how to learn English online for an exam such as these, that might be difficult, unless you find an online course which definitely covers all the different aspects of the exam, including speaking and listening. This is when sometime it is better to use face-to-face classes.
By setting objectives, you can also measure your progress. By being aware of your level and how you are moving towards your objective, you’ll be able to see how effective learning English online is for you.

Be certain of the quality

Also, be careful of the quality of online English materials – it’s very important that you don’t learn incorrect English, because it will be quite difficult to unlearn it later. We have had situations here at our school in Hampshire (UK) where students come to us who have spent many, many years teaching themselves English online, and then absolutely insist a particular phrase or sentence in English is correct when in fact no one would ever say it in real life or understand them!

Don’t blame yourself if it doesn’t work out

Even if you’re using a great online English course, with no errors or mistakes, it may still be hard work teaching yourself. The reason learning English online is so cheap is that there is very little or no teacher time, and the same materials are being used for everyone, regardless of what you want to learn, or need and regardless of your learning style, your motivations, you character, your interests, your life and your experiences of learning English in the past.
In short, an online course is not adapted to you. You’ll possibly go through most of it without feeling a deep connection to it, you won’t feel it’s about you, and you’ll still have to do a lot of work once your skills have improved to adapt what you’ve learned to be able to talk about you and your life, and have the kinds of conversations you’d like to have.
If you find it doesn’t work out, that you’re not learning, and you’ve not progressed, then it’s easy to blame yourself – to say “I didn’t try hard enough”, “I wasn’t motivated enough”. That is unfair, because it is very hard to stay motivated when you’re learning something that isn’t about you. Only a tiny proportion of the population can be totally self-motivated in these conditions. Eventually, most people will give up. If they are really keen to learn English, that’s the time when something like a local English class in a group with a teacher, or best of the best, attending an English school in the UK will help the most.

The Pros and Cons of learning English online

Here’s a summary of our pros and cons of learning English online:
PROS (the positive things about learning English online)
It usually will cost less money to learn English online
+ Learning online can fit around your availabilities
+ There is no need to book time off work to study online
+ Online English courses can give you access to more vocabulary and things to read than you would ever need.
+ Learning English online is flexible, and you can do as much or as little as you need to
+ You can combine online English with face-to-face learning as a really great way to consolidate what you learn with a teacher (we think this is the best way of learning online!)

CONS (the negatives about learning English online)

- It can take a long time to build your knowledge through online learning
- You have to be extremely motivated to learn online over a long period
- The quality of cheap online courses may be low, and the English you learn may actually be incorrect
- Learning English online is not the best way to practise speaking and listening with real people
- Sometimes the technology gets in the way of learning, and the experience is not organic like real life
- Online English courses can give you a false sense of security – they don’t always prepare you for the randomness of real life
- Online courses are generic, and do not focus on you, your learning styles, your strengths and weaknesses, your objectives or your likes and interests
- If it doesn’t work out learning online, there is a risk that you’ll blame yourself and become disengaged with learning English (for the wrong reasons)

- You generally get what you pay for, but some big brands charge much too much money for their online programmes, and it might be cheaper in the end to just learn English in England!