Friday, 2 December 2016

The Gig - The Uncountables Return

Continuing from yesterday's blog about our annual ‘Great LSI Bake Off’ to raise money for a local charity called ‘Home-Start’, the day continued with the charity theme when the FANTASTICAMAZING Uncountables played their gig at the Edge of the Wedge with DJ Hugo.  Another £300 pounds was raised, and a night of fun, music, singing and dancing ensued. 

The gig was sold out with all 100 tickets being sold (and lots of blackmail going on).  The Band: Lewis Richards, Alan Daysh, Tom Easey and Will Munroe played two sets to an incredible audience of teachers, students and friends of the band and LSI. DJ Hugo played between the sets and then kept the crowd happy until closing time at 1 am.  All in all, Thursday 1st December was a highlight of the year and all in a good cause.


Thursday, 1 December 2016

The LSI Portsmouth Bake Off - Super Yummy


At LSI, we are really passionate about fundraising, and have held many charity events over the years to help raise money for some wonderful causes. From fun runs to parties, we have organised many events, and on Thursday 1st December, we held our annual ‘Great LSI Bake Off’ to raise money for a local charity called ‘Home-Start

We decided that as it’s the first day of advent, we wanted the cakes to be Christmas themed! We were completely overwhelmed with the effort that was put into the cakes and pies! There were Rudolph the reindeer cupcakes, Christmas Dinner Pie, snow-covered banana loaf and a strawberry Santa tiramisu (to name a few)!!! Three members of staff were lucky enough to be the judges of the baking competition, and got to try a piece of every single one! They certainly weren’t disappointed! The entries were judged on both taste and appearance.

After the judging took place, all the staff and students were invited to buy all the cakes and pies! A really fun and exciting experience. Some students even bought 5 different things to eat!

The winners to be announced during the weekly leavers’ ceremony, with Anna Rita’s Santa Strawberry Tiramisu winning the top prize on both taste and appearance! Well done Anna, your tiramisu was AMAZING!

We are so impressed with all our staff for baking such wonderful cakes, and we are also extremely grateful to our students for helping us raise so much money! By lunchtime, we had raised over £150!

As well as our bake sale, the school is also organising a charity night at The Edge of the Wedge, with live music and DJs. Four of our incredibly talented teachers are in a band ‘The Uncountables’ and will be performing tonight for staff and students. We have sold all 100 tickets, so we know it’s going to be a crazy and amazing night. 

Friday, 25 November 2016

Mannequin Challenge from LSI Portsmouth - We are the BEST ;-)

Are these not the BEST students in the world?
The Mannequin challenge filmed yesterday with some amazing students and Belle behind the camera.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Portsmouth - Oh how we love you, all of you

At the last count, we came up with another 11 different places called Portsmouth.  Probably one of the more famous ones is the Portsmouth in New Hampshire.  Recently on Instagram, someone posted a video of Portsmouth, and when watching, it was very much a case of 'how lovely ... hold on a minute ... that's not...'.  It really is extraordinary how similar the two places are.  Check below and see if you agree.

Video from instagram by: @lilyhairullina

Video from instagram by: @LSIPortsmouth

So of course, video number 2 is the Portsmouth, Hampshire, UK, the top video is Portsmouth New Hampshire, USA.

In case you are interested here are the other 11 places called Portsmouth:

Other Portsmouths in UK:
Portsmouth - Calderdale

Places called Portsmouth in America.
Portsmouth - Virginia
Portsmouth - Rhode Island
Portsmouth - Ohio
Portsmouth - North Carolina
Portsmouth - New Hampshire
Portsmouth - Kentucky
Portsmouth - Iowa

Others in the world:
Portsmouth - Saint John, Dominica
Portsmouth - Ontario, Canada

Friday, 18 November 2016

What Experts Are Saying About The IELTS Exam Preparation

IELTS Exam Preparation Material: The Dos and Don’ts

So, you need to pass IELTS, maybe for university, maybe to show employers in a job interview, or just for your own personal satisfaction.  How do you get the best IELTS exam preparation?

Well, it’s certainly possible to study by yourself, and there is lots of IELTS exam preparation material out there that you can use.  For instance, the Cambridge books of exam preparation material (there are 11 versions so far) are good for looking at past papers, and contain reading, listening, speaking and writing past exams from real tests, so you can test your level, and see where you are.  Especially for reading and listening, these books are great – when you’re doing any English exam preparation material, what you want is the real thing, and these tests are authentic past papers, which gives you an idea of what’s in the exam.

However, when it comes to speaking and writing, it’s hard to see beyond getting a teacher to help you out.  To pass IELTS writing, for example, with a high score, not only do you need to learn English to a high level, but also you need to learn the strategies of writing, the different writing types, and what IELTS examiners are looking for.  Many people who take the IELTS exam are not really aware of what the writing questions types are, and this can mean scoring badly in the exam, just because of a lack of exam preparation.

For task 1 writing, for example, there are a whole range of different types of questions, including graphs with a trend, graphs and charts and tables which ask you to compare data, maps, processes, and questions with a mix of question types (e.g. a line graph and a comparative pie chart in one question).  Without having specific IELTS exam preparation by an experienced and knowledgeable IELTS teacher, it will be very difficult to know how to answer all these different types of question.  Similarly, task 2 writing has very specific criteria – the examiner is looking for not only your level and range of grammar and vocabulary, but also how well your answer addresses the task, and how well your answer is constructed and organised.  This requires either a really good self-study writing book, which goes through the writing step-by-step (one recommended book here is ‘IELTS Advantage Writing Skills’, published by DELTA, 2011), and/or a teacher.

Here, though, are a few general tips for IELTS exam preparation:

  1. Familiarise yourself with the different types of reading questions, and try to formulate strategies for each one. Is it a type of reading question which requires general understanding (e.g. paragraph headings)? If so, practice skimming and extracting the general meaning of the paragraph quickly. Is it a type of question which requires detailed analysis of certain small parts of the text (e.g. True/False/Not Given)? If so, you’ll need to focus on the details, and identify the key words in each question on which the answer can turn. 
  2.  Practice your listening as much as possible, and make sure you are familiar with how each section works. Think about, for example, the distractors in part 1 of the listening, and read tape scripts to see exactly how they work. 
  3.  For speaking, remember that examiners value risk-taking and range of language as much as they do accuracy. As part of your IELTS exam preparation, try to expand your range of grammar, and try to work on trying out new vocabulary when you practice the speaking. 
  4. When you’re writing, remember it’s an academic test, so don’t write contractions, informal vocabulary, or spoken language. Look at model answers from IELTS books, and make a note of the key phrases and linkers used, and try to use them in your writing.

 So, make your IELTS exam preparation efficient by making note of these tips, getting hold of good books to work with, and if you can, find an experienced teacher who can make your preparation work effectively.

Good luck!

Friday, 11 November 2016

Why Your Company Will No Longer Survive Without Outstanding English Business Communication

Learning English For Business Communication

Why learn English for business communication?

Well, if you do not, you will be at a serious competitive disadvantage in the international global market. For better or for worse, English language has become the global language for business and professional communications and the standards are changing. Today, small, medium and multi-national companies, educational establishments and even governments are investing heavily in increasing and accelerating their staff’s knowledge and communication skills in this area. It is a game-changer. Why? Because even if you are excellent in your work and offer products and services of the highest quality, it may not be enough! Experience shows that someone who is not as good as you but can communicate his or her message more effectively in business or professional English, has a greater chance of winning international business, defending a budget or perhaps even gaining promotion instead of you.

Is it best to do this training in my own country or go to an English speaking country to do it?

Ideally both. Extensive training can happen in your own country through in-company or private lessons, telephone English classes and on-line learning. Then a visit to a specialist Business English training centre in an English speaking country is highly recommended. An intensive course for at least one week and, if possible, up to four weeks or more can facilitate a tangible increase in your levels of confidence and speaking, listening, reading and writing fluency and enable you to be much more effective in your work.

A specialist centre? So is English for business and professional communication training different from general English training then?

Yes, definitely. It is more intensive and tailored to your specific business and professional needs. Often teaching takes place on a one-to-one basis or a small group basis (or a mixture of both) and focuses not only on your specific language and work-related vocabulary requirements, but also soft skills, cultural awareness and situations relevant to your present and future work needs.

But how do I know what is the best business communications course or training centre for me?

Ask for recommendations from people you know who have done training like this before. Speak to agents or your HR department, look on-line, in the UK look at BEUK or EL Gazette recommendations. When you find a potential centre, look at the listed companies and clients they deal with and how long they have been teaching Business English courses, too.

Another key indicator to consider when looking at a specialist centre’s web-site is the actual training process. Is there a detailed needs audit? What types of courses do they offer? What is the experience of the teaching team, the course content, flexibility, range of nationalities in groups, ages of students, the resources & facilities available, the price and the after course service.

Is there anything else you should consider?

Yes, the location. Do you want to study in a large metropolis where there are many distractions, many people who may speak the same language as you? Would a quieter place, with a slower pace of life, a more relaxing environment perhaps by the sea or in the country be more suitable for your Business English studies?

In addition to this, hotel or executive host family accommodation, the cost of living, the centre’s after class social programme, places of historical and cultural interest, transportation links to airports and places of interest should also be considered carefully before making your decision.

If you had to summarise the importance of learning English for your professional communication needs in one sentence, what would you say?

In these increasingly challenging and globally competitive times, We’d say invest in your future; invest in learning English for Business and Professional Communications now.

Friday, 4 November 2016

Magical Autumn - Portsmouth in all its Glory

Here in Portsmouth, we love Autumn, it is such a special time. The clocks go back at the end of October, the partying starts with Halloween, then Bonfire night and before you know it the early Christmas festivities will start. And nature starts to paint the day with an array of beauty, either from the leaves changing colour or from the stunning sunsets.  The days are getting colder, so boots and coats are coming out of hibernation, the heating has been turned on, soups and stews are being put on the menu to warm us up. This is Britain, this is what is wonderful about changing seasons. Autumn - Magic!

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

10 Facts Everyone Should Know About How To Prepare For An English Exam

10 Facts everyone should know about how to prepare for an English language exam

Language exams can be very difficult and stressful but unfortunately, for many students learning English, they are unavoidable. So you need to try to stay positive and do the best you can. So here are 10 tips for how to prepare for an English exam.

1. Find out how the examiners will mark your work and what you will get points for. Do you need to use a variety of different grammar structures and tenses? Do you need good spelling? Do you need to be creative? Check what is important and do it! In most cases, the examiners need to see what you can do with the language – this often means it may be better to invent experiences and answers so that you can answer the question well. For example, if you’ve never had a pet but you are asked to talk about one – make it up!

2. Check the rules for the exam carefully. Make sure you know how long you have for each section, how many times you will hear the listening, where you need to write your answers, what the word limits are for the writing, whether it’s better to guess answers (if you don’t lose marks for incorrect answers) or leave blanks (if you lose marks for incorrect answers). Make sure you don’t lose marks unnecessarily.

3. Find old copies of the exam and take practice tests. Make sure you are familiar with the layout of the paper and the timing for each section.

4. Try to attend an exam preparation course to learn specific exam techniques and get feedback from a teacher and learn what your strengths and weaknesses are and what you need to improve. Many English courses in England are designed specifically to help students to prepare for exams such as IELTS, FCE and CAE and can really help you to increase your chances of success. If you learn English in the UK, you should also find that your general fluency and confidence in the language also increases as you will be surrounded by the language all the time.

5. When practicing timing, remember to leave a little bit of time at the end of paper to check your work – to check your spelling, make sure you have answered every question, to make sure your writing makes sense and reads well and to make any last-minute corrections.

6. When you are preparing for the exam, set yourself little targets to try and achieve each day or each week – for example you might want to learn the spelling for 10 new words or you might want to take a listening practice test. Keep your targets realistic and celebrate your success when you achieve your targets. This will help you to stay motivated.

7. If you have to write a certain number of words for a writing exam, check how many words per line you write on average so that you can count lines instead of words in the exam. This will make counting your words much quicker.

8. If you need to remember a lot for your exam, experiment with different memorisation techniques. For example, if you want to remember vocabulary, try categorising the words into groups according to topic (e.g. travel / transports / work) or grammar (e.g. verbs + in or verbs + that + clause). If an individual word is really important for you, think about lots of different aspects of the word and draw a ‘spidergram’ to represent it. For example, you could write the definition, the pronunciation, a translation, related words in the same word family, collocations and an example sentence. When writing an example sentence you can also try to write a sentence that is personal and meaningful for you. This should help you to remember the word more effectively. Also try to think about how you learn best: do you remember things if you look at them? If you hear them? If you write them down? Use this to your advantage to help you learn. For example, if you learn by looking at diagrams and drawings, try using highlighters, ‘mindmaps’ and colour-coding to help you remember essay plans or key phrases.

9. On the evening before the exam, try to rest. Don’t do any more preparation but try to relax or do some exercise and go to bed early so your mind is fresh the next day.

10. On the day of the exam, arrive early so that you are not stressed and anxious before the exam starts. Try to stay calm and positive. Imagine yourself passing and doing well.

Put all of these tips into practice and you can't go wron

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