Thursday, 22 June 2017

LSI Portsmouth - Past and Present - Spot the Difference

Spot the Differences

Recently one of our teachers brought in a photo that he had seen of Portsmouth taken in 1946.  Below you can see the same view today.
In the top left-hand corner, you can see LSI Portsmouth (labelled on the Google Earth picture).

For people who live in Portsmouth, it really is quite fascinating to see all the changes, how much greenery has gone, how the road systems have changed, the fact that the train line has been lifted to go over the road that is there now. And eagle-eyed viewers will see in the old photo that the Guildhall in the old photo appears to be completely gutted from bombing during the war.

If you can see any other particular changes, leave a note in the comments below.

Photo circa 1946 
Google Earth 2017

Friday, 16 June 2017

Why You Should Take the CELTA

What is the Celta and why do we ask for it?

Today we are talking to Lewis Richards, who is our Exams Director of Studies.  He has worked here at LSI Portsmouth since 2000 and is now also a CELTA teacher trainer.  

So Lewis, firstly for anyone who doesn’t know, what is the CELTA?
So, CELTA stands for Certificate of English Language Teaching for Adults, and it’s an entry-level qualification for people who want to teach English as a foreign language.  It’s a course accredited by the University of Cambridge, and you can take a CELTA in one of hundreds of officially recognised CELTA training centres all over the world.

Who would usually do this course?
You don’t need any teaching experience to do a CELTA, so many people who do it are coming to teaching for the first time, and want to learn how to teach English.  Some people do the course with some teaching experience already, either in another field (for example, they have been state school teachers and are looking for a change), or they have done some English teaching abroad, for example, but without a recognised qualification.  The course is designed for people who have never taught before, so it assumes no prior knowledge.  Once they have passed the CELTA, trainees then can apply for teaching jobs in reputable EFL schools in the UK or worldwide.

What does the training include?
It’s a very practical, hands-on course, and in fact on most courses you will be in the classroom teaching a short lesson (either 20 minutes or 40 minutes) on the first day of the course.  The course is divided into several parts – there is input from the tutors on different aspects of teaching (how to teach grammar, for example, how to correct students, or how to manage a classroom), there is teaching practice, where trainees teach lessons to real students (who are offered a free or very cheap course), and there are four assignments to write during the course, which require the trainees to research and reflect on different aspects of teaching.
After teaching practice, the trainees evaluate their own lessons, and also give feedback to their peers, so it’s a very supportive and developmental atmosphere.

Why do you think it is important for teachers to do a CELTA?
I think it’s essential to have knowledge of and experience of the basics of teaching English as a foreign language, in order to be able to give good lessons to students.  Without the training, input and feedback, it isn’t really possible to teach properly.  The fact also that you are trained and mentored by highly qualified and experienced tutors helps a lot.

What should potential teachers be aware of?
Well, unfortunately there are many ‘EFL’ or ‘TEFL’ qualifications out there online, and only the CELTA and the Trinity TESOL are recognised by the British Council and by good schools around the world.  Be very careful not to pay for a course which looks like a CELTA or a Trinity but actually isn’t.  The best way to check is to look at Cambridge’s list of recognised CELTA centres.  I’ve had the experience of having to turn people down for a job because the qualification they had wasn’t the right one.  It’s worth investing in the proper qualification.

What made you want to become a CELTA trainer?
Well, I was lucky enough to be trained by a brilliant tutor, Paul Seligson (he’s the co-author of some of the well-known ‘English File’ series), and I wanted to try to pass on my experience and knowledge of teaching from the last 20 years to new teachers, just as he did to me.  I’ve taught quite a few courses now, and I find it very interesting and very rewarding.

Thank you so much Lewis, that has answered so many questions.

Fact file:
Cost: £1300 approx.
Length: 4 weeks full-time; part-time courses vary in length.
What else is necessary (first degree and skills):  Education to A’Level or equivalent.  If you are not a native speaker, a C1 level of English is the minimum required.
British Council Accreditation requirements and link
As LSI Portsmouth is a British Council Accredited institution we follow the requirements as laid out in the British Council handbook of minimum requirements for Academic Staff (section 4.2) ( as well as a minimum of two years teaching experience.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Students and Teachers in Court in Portsmouth!

Just recently the 30+ class went to Portsmouth Crown Court as part of the crime theme week. We were inspired by one of our students, Lisa from Germany who is a corporate lawyer. Lisa is at LSI to improve her English before she starts her new job.

We sat in on the sentencing of seven men found guilty of drug dealing. We listened to the prosecution barrister (lawyer) give his summary of the evidence against these men to the Judge. We found out that they had dealt hundreds of thousands of pounds of drugs in Portsmouth. We heard lots of details like the £500 a month leased Audi TT they used to take the drugs from Manchester to Portsmouth. We also heard about the grandmother in Manchester who looked after the drugs in an orange bag.
Neil Powney

“For me, as a lawyer, it was interesting to see a criminal trial at a British court, to see a hearing with completely different habits.” (Lisa from Germany)

“I was a little bit nervous before we went into the court, just in case we saw a murder trial. It was very impressive to see eight barristers all wearing their wigs at the same time.” (Mariko from Japan)

“Learning English in an unusual daily situation is an incredible way to improve a lot of vocabulary. I’m very happy to witness a case in a British court and see the barristers wearing white wigs.”
(Lilly from Peru)

“Yesterday we went to the crown court. I was looking forward to going there with the class. I was wondering why we had to pass through a control like at the airport.

So, when we were in the crown court room I checked the situation and got an overall view. Neil told us before that the trial was for drug dealing. There were eight accused, young lads. I felt sorry for them, then I asked myself what life will bring them in the future? Starting life like this is really bad, and getting out of it is hard.”
(Manuela from Switzerland)

“Yesterday we went to a real English court and looked at a real meeting of the court. As one of our class said, it was like a theatre – very strong judge, prosecutors in the wigs, no phones, no photos, keep silence, very interesting atmosphere. But what is interesting, I didn’t feel pressure so much, because there it was not crowded, there was fresh air and comfortable seats, like a theatre. What a shame that photos and videos were forbidden.” (Ekaterina from Russia)

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Festivals and Holidays - British Culture

Like any country, the UK has plenty of festivals and holidays, some national and others regional. Here are some of the more common/unusual ones.

Burns Night (25th January) – Scotland

This is a celebration of Scotland’s most famous poet, Robbie Burns. On this day throughout Scotland there are lots of events, many of which involve bagpipe playing, the singing of traditional songs, the eating of a classic Scottish dish, Haggis, as well as the drinking of a certain amount of whisky! To know more click here

Glastonbury (June) – England

By far and away the most famous music festival in the UK, Glastonbury has now been going since 1970. Over the years many of the world’s most famous groups and musicians have performed here such as the Rolling Stones, Adele, David Bowie and many others. In addition to the music, there is theatre, comedy, dance and many other forms of art. More information here

Victorious Festival (August) – Portsmouth

This is a two-day music festival held on Castle Field and Southsea Common. The 2017 Festival may be attended by as many as 200,000 people and will have acts such as Madness and Stereophonics. More information here

Goodwood Festival of Speed (June-July) – Goodwood (20 miles from Portsmouth)

If you like cars and racing then you are going to love Goodwood. Many of the latest sports and high-performance cars are on display or racing around, and numerous famous racing drivers are on hand for racing enthusiasts to talk to.

More information here.

Boxing Day (26th December) – UK wide

While in many countries the day after Christmas day is a return to work, that’s not the case in the UK. We have another day to recover from all we’ve eaten and drunk on the 25th! But why exactly is it called Boxing Day? Well, there are many theories but one of them is that in the 19th-century servants and others, who had to work on Christmas Day, were given the next day off as a holiday and in addition they were given a box by their employers which contained a small present. To know more click here

Wednesday, 24 May 2017