Thursday 29 June 2017

Benefits Of Learning English In England During Summer

Top Places To Visit In England During Summer

So, you’ve decided to come and learn English in the summer - possibly at a summer school in England. Besides improving your English what exactly are the out-of-school benefits of coming here at this time of year?

Well there is just so much to see and do, especially here in the South of England. The question is, where do you start?

If you want beautiful beaches, lovely countryside and a laidback atmosphere, then go to the Isle of Wight. Just 10 minutes from Portsmouth by Hovercraft, you feel like you have stepped back in time. You can visit Osborne House, the gorgeous summer home of Queen Victoria, cycle around the island and go to the famous ‘Needles’ on the West coast or visit the charming seaside towns of Shanklin and Sandown on the East coast. There is even a steam train and an old London Underground train to ride on!

Portsmouth itself is fabulous in the summer. You can spend all day at the Historic Dockyard visiting some of the world’s most famous ships, such as HMS Victory, HMS Warrior and the Mary Rose. While you are there, why not take a boat tour of the harbour. If you feel like chilling out then head for Southsea Common. This huge expanse of green along the seafront is great for a barbecue, playing some sport or simply taking in the sun’s rays. For some stunning views and to fully appreciate what makes Portsmouth so special, go to the top of the Spinnaker Tower.

How about a boat trip? There are lots of possibilities. Numerous boats go up and down the coast from either Portsmouth or Southampton and from many places in between. You can also take lovely boat trips along the canals and rivers in both Chichester and Guildford. If you would like to stretch your legs then take a map and go to the New Forest or the South Downs National Park. Both places give you an opportunity to see what makes the English countryside so special during the summer.

If you like the historic, then look no further than either Winchester or Salisbury. These glorious cities have much to offer. Visit two of the finest Cathedrals anywhere in Europe, go to some fascinating museums or stroll around the streets where you will find lots of great independent shops, pubs and restaurants. End a hectic day with a cream tea in a cafe. What could be more English than that!

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)