Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Friday, 19 May 2017

What Is IELTS - An Overview - Part One

To continue with our IELTS blogs, over the next few months, we will be publishing a few more blogs on IELTS; what is IELTS? Why do you need it? Tips on how to pass it as well as other information.

In this first blog, we'll start with - What is IELTS? 

Noun [ U ]  UK & US pronunciation: /ˈaɪ.elts/

IELTS stands for International English Language Testing System. It is a standardised test developed to assess the English language level of non-native speakers.

Standardised means that when someone is sitting down to do an IELTS test in Beijing, on the same day in Riyadh, a different student will be doing exactly the same test. Furthermore, if those two students performed in exactly the same way, they would receive exactly the same grade. IELTS examiners go through stringent preparatory courses and are monitored to ensure that they maintain the IELTS standard, worldwide.

The IELTS tests 4 skills – Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking. For each of these parts an IELTS candidate will receive a ‘band score’. The band score ranges from 9 (maximum mark, representative of an expert user) to a 1 (minimum mark, non-user who can only use a few words) to a 0 (did not turn up to the exam).

In 2014, 2.5 million IELTS tests were taken in more than 140 countries. The highest scoring countries were:

The United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, and Ireland.

These were the only four countries which scored average band scores of 7+. Of all those who took the IELTS in 2014, worldwide females scored on average higher than males, 6.0 versus 5.8.

There are two IELTS tests; an Academic test and a General test. Typically Academic IELTS is taken by those who need to prove their level of English is suitable to go to a University, the average mark required varies from University to University but is typically 6.5 or 7.

The General IELTS test is typically taken by those who need to prove their level of English for immigration purposes. Australia, for example, usually requires those wishing to enter the country to score a 7 for each of the four parts of the IELTS test.

Academic is usually more popular than General, with ¾ of all IELTS test takers choosing Academic IELTS.

It is important to note that the IELTS certificate is not a lifetime one, it lasts for 2 years and then ‘expires’. It is therefore important to time your IELTS test with any visa / university applications.

IELTS is the most popular language test for higher education and immigration, there are over 1,000 IELTS test centres in more than 140 countries worldwide. IELTS is accepted by over 9,000 organisations globally, with America being the fastest growing market for the test.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

How Learning English And Having Fun Can Go Hand In Hand

Our 30+ courses are proving incredibly popular and if you read teacher Neil's account below, you can see why.

How To Learn English Easily And Enjoy The Experience!

Mariko, Bruna and Lilli
 As part of the 30+ course we had a yoga class taken by one of our students, Bruna. Bruna is from Brazil, and is studying at LSI to improve her English before she starts a yoga teaching qualification in London. What better way to prepare, than teaching her first ever yoga class? The other students had never done yoga before, but were very keen to give it a go. So, we converted our classroom with a set of LSI yoga mats, and put on our gym clothes in excited anticipation for Bruna’s instruction.

What followed was beyond anything we could have imagined. Bruna led us through a set of beginner yoga positions like the cobra, the mountain pose and the down dog for an hour. As I had never done yoga before I was surprised at how difficult it was, and how inflexible I am. Despite this, I found it really positive for my mind and body. Also, it was the first time I had taught a class whilst laying on a mat, standing on one foot, or doing stomach crunches. This was also rewarding, as it meant we were learning language in a real life context, and we managed to improve our use of imperatives and prepositions.

 Neil Powney

“Being able to share something I love with my classmates and teacher made me incredibly happy, and very satisfied with LSI.” (Bruna, from Brazil)

“My knowledge of yoga was completely overturned after my first lesson. I thought yoga was to relax and to find your balance. In fact, it’s hard work. But I felt very well after that and it awakened an interest for yoga in me and just feeling your body. I like it!” (Mariko, from Japan)

I have done yoga for the last six years. Actually yoga is a good way to release your mind after working or studying a lot. During this class you learn a lot of vocabulary of the whole body, you relax your mind and have a stretching workout. I suggest that everyone tries yoga.” (Lisa, from Germany)

Our 30+ Courses:

Our 30+ General English courses are exclusively for adults aged 30 years or more.  Students can learn English with people of their own age in the lovely surroundings of the south of England in one of the UK’s top language schools. The course is very flexible as can be seen above. Students can study just in the morning if they wish and then enjoy visiting places of historic interest here in Portsmouth, or just wander along the sea, or go shopping at one of the shopping centres here. Of course afternoon classes are available also, it’s all about personal choice and preference.
To see more details please click here

Friday, 5 May 2017

British Culture - Queuing - Why do we do it?

Queuing and why we do it

Another in our series of articles about British Culture. This week we look at the art of Queuing - and why and how to do it properly.

If you were to ask people around the world what they think the British love doing, many would immediately think about queuing. The British are certainly experts on queuing and have a particular set of rules about how to do it properly!

So when in the UK this is what you need to do:

1. Never ‘jump’ the queue! (jump – go to the front of the queue) This is considered the biggest no-no of all and will result in everybody muttering loudly, though being British nobody will probably say anything directly to the queue jumper.

2. Try not to stand too close to the person in front of you. The British like a certain amount of personal space.

3. If a large gap opens up in front of the person who is in front of you, do not tell them to move forward. This is not considered to be polite.

4. On the whole people do not really talk much to each other when in a queue, though a casual remark about the weather is acceptable. Do not talk about Brexit!

5. Do not offer your place in a queue to another person. A ‘newcomer’ to the queue is always expected to go to the back (Unless you came together and will leave together – for example at the Supermarket).

6. In a supermarket it’s OK to ask someone to hold your place in the queue as long as a) you ask politely b) you are near the back of the queue and c) you come back quickly. Otherwise the others in the queue will start muttering again!

So are the British, in reality, actually good at queuing? On the whole they are, but then so are lots of other nationalities. It very much depends on where you are. In a bank, a supermarket or when buying tickets at the cinema, theatre etc. the British are pretty good at queuing. However, at bus stops or waiting to get on to a train or the Tube (the London Underground), the system starts to break down. It can collapse completely outside large stores on the first day of the Christmas sales. Seeing people shoving and shouting at each other, an observer might say: ‘This is just not cricket!’ before they themselves try to force their way into the store!

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Dreams Do Come True - The Beauty Of Learning English In The South Of England

With grateful thanks to

Top Places To Visit In The South Of England During Your Language Stay

In January we had some lovely Russian students who came to stay and learn with us here in Portsmouth. On their return they wrote their feelings about their experiences (in Russian) and it was posted on their website.  Very very kindly, they have translated into English what was said. We are incredibly grateful for the kind words and for the translation - as seen below. 

Dreams Come True

Students of Ivanovo State Power Engineering University (Ivanovo, Russia) share their impressions about the trip to LSI, Portsmouth (Language Specialists International), the United Kingdom.

It is the sixth year when a group of students of Ivanovo State Power Engineering University (ISPU) and other Ivanovo universities has returned from LSI. ISPU is the official representative of LSI in the region and it annually organizes a two-week trip for students and teachers to LSI.

It should be noted that during this visit the cooperation agreement between ISPU and LSI was extended for the next three years, which means that other students and teachers will have the opportunity to visit this language school.

Irina Ermakova (associate professor, Intensive English Learning Department, ISPU, group leader):

I would like to start by saying that on board the plane to London I encountered Irina Lutsenko, a graduate of our university, who now works as a flight attendant in Aeroflot Company (Russian Airlines). Irina also studied at LSI a few years ago and told me that every single time she arrived in London she remembered her trip to Portsmouth. She said, “That experience (by the way that was my first trip abroad) urged me to travel around the world and get to know new countries and cultures. Thanks to LSI, I learnt a lot and got an invaluable experience immersing in the native speakers’ environment. The company I am working for now has strict requirements for the English language skills. Therefore, I can say for sure that LSI played an important role in the way my career is developing now.”

We were really impressed with professionalism of the teachers who taught us modern everyday English, continuous acquaintance with the UK culture (at LSI, in a host family, using public transport and just strolling along the streets, not to mention sightseeing of Portsmouth, London and Oxford). We had a good opportunity to see how traditions and customs of our country differ from others (students from more than 60 countries study at LSI)... “The luggage” of our impressions and received knowledge certainly exceeded all the Customs’ norms. We are sure that these impressions and knowledge will not only serve as an incentive for further English study, but it will also help to believe that dreams do come true.

Big Ben, The Tower of London, Tower Bridge, St Pauls Cathedral, Covent Gardens, Hyde Park and Abbey Road - With grateful thanks to

Here are some students’ impressions about the trip we would like to share with you.

Sofya Gruzdeva:
I was lucky enough to visit such an amazing country as the United Kingdom. We began preparing for the trip three months in advance in order to gather all the documents for the UK Visa Centre. Thanks to the professors of Intensive English Learning Department there were no difficulties in doing it and all the efforts were worth it. I think I was lucky to live with an Indian family and a roommate who was a student from Japan. I was enlisted in B2 level group where I got acquainted with the guys from Italy, France, Belgium, Switzerland, Japan and Saudi Arabia. Those classes with fantastic teachers will never be forgotten. No time to be bored! I also got an opportunity to visit London and go sightseeing: Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, Westminster, Buckingham Palace, Tower of London, Tower Bridge, Saint Paul's Cathedral, Trafalgar Square, the National Gallery and many other attractions. Portsmouth made an indelible impression on me as well. It`s a very cozy, quiet, small city with wonderful people and incredibly beautiful streets and buildings. I would be extremely happy to be back to Britain and study at LSI.

Sabrin and Iasmin Al-Taiasne:
It`s already the third time we have been to Portsmouth. Many people ask us why we go to Portsmouth, they think that our English is perfect. Yes, our English is really good enough and we are no longer surprised by separate hot and cold water taps or ‘invertedly’ placed bus stops. But, England is constantly amazing us and each time we come here, we learn something new. Both the host family and LSI help us to be immersed into the culture of the country. Here we are taught vocabulary that native speakers of English use in everyday life. You can easily talk with LSI teachers about things that have surprised you and share your impressions with them. Captivating lessons boost your desire to learn English. Here you can have a talk on various topics with guys from other countries, play educational games and just have a cup of coffee to restore your energy after difficult grammar lessons. The city itself is stunning. On the one hand, Portsmouth is a quiet, calm and clean city, but on the other it is incredibly lively. Everything here is within walking distance: shops, cafes, restaurants, pubs, etc. It takes just 15 minutes to get to the coast where you can breathe fresh sea air. These things urge us to come back again and again.

Ilia Denisov:
Although it was my second trip to Portsmouth and I knew almost all particularities of the educational process and leisure, I got a lot of impressions. There were two Swiss men, a Bulgarian, a Spaniard and a student from Saudi Arabia in my group and, by the way, I still keep in touch with some of them. As for the teachers, they are real professionals with their individual approach to students, that’s why the lessons were neither hard nor tedious. I spent my free time walking around the city and hanging out in local pubs. To sum it up, if you visit England and spend at least two weeks at LSI, you will improve your English skills, find new friends from all over the world, get experience of coping with challenges, and enrich your knowledge about other cultures. 

Iuliia Vasileva:
First of all, I want to thank ISPU for the opportunity to spend the best winter holidays in my life! I hope that cooperation between LSI and ISPU will continue from year to year. I have already visited the United Kingdom twice in a similar program but I should admit that this trip turned out to be the best! I had a nice and friendly host family, great teachers and an incredible opportunity to practice my English with foreign students! The lessons were so intensive and gripping, the teachers didn’t let you get bored. I am happy I participated in this program and I do want to return! I nurse the hope that I would visit LSI again!

Daria Chistova:

My first attempts of translating the documents for the UK Visa Centre were a good experience. When we had overcome all travel formalities and procedures, our group of 11 people headed for Portsmouth. On the first day we took an exam which helped properly identify our level of English. I found myself in the group taught by a young teacher named Kate. The lessons were top level! Everyone in my group was very friendly and communication with new friends and practice of English were a great joy!

My hostess treated me kindly and we are still in touch with her by communicating in social networks. I enjoyed the cuisine, the nature, the architecture and the attitude of the British to us.

My childhood dream was to visit London and it came true. We spent two and a half days to explore this city. I will never forget Big Ben, Trafalgar Square, Royal Observatory, Tower of London, Tower Bridge, subway trips and nighttime strolls.

I received new knowledge at LSI that will definitely be useful for studying at my university. I hope that I will get a chance to return to this beautiful place.

Maria Ponamareva:
The trip to Portsmouth was magnificent! I really liked LSI, especially those creative lessons! I got a good practice. My English family was wonderful. We were talking for hours touching upon all sorts of topics. I set a goal to visit this place next year. Having once been at LSI you will inevitably wish to get there again.

Many grateful thanks for translating this for us to Irina Ermakova

Ivanovo State Power Engineering University.

This is a condensed translated version of the original article seen here: