Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Cambridge Certificates

A big congratulations to all our successful Cambridge English learners from 2011/12.  

We had a fantastic percentage of passes for the last school year, from Young Learners, KET, PET, FCE and Advanced level.  

Congratulations everyone!

The photos show just a few of the many students who have been awarded a Cambridge certificate.   

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Student of the Month - December

Name:    Renata Di Martino

Level:   Elementary

Course:   Flyers

Our student of the month for December is 12 year old Renata, who attends the Cambridge Young Learners Flyers course.  There are three stages of Young Learners courses in the Cambridge English programme:  Starters, for those just begining to learn English.  Movers, for children with an existing knowledge.  And Flyers, for learners who are developing their language skills.  Last year, Renata attended the Movers course and successfully achieved her certificate.  

Renata answered some questions about learning English:
  • Congratulations on your excellent result in the Movers exam, how did you feel when you got your certificate?
When I received my certificate, I was very happy because I worked hard for the result.  

  • And now you are attending the Flyers course, what is different from when you attended the Movers course?
We have more information, vocabulary and grammar to prepare us for an excellent result in the exam.  The new classroom is beautiful and there is more space.  The group is bigger this year and we are learning well together.  

  • How is learning English through the Flyers programme at English International School different to learning English in the public school?
Learning English at English International School is very different because we have more information about English.  Also we speak only in English and do more listening exercises.  My teacher in school is Italian but at English International School, I am taught by Sally who is from England.  

  • What do you do to practise English when you are not in your lesson?
I practise English at school and I sometimes read books in English or sometimes watch my favourite TV show, Cyber Girl, in English.  

  • What do you most enjoy about coming to English International School?
I'm loving coming to English International School because English is my favourite language and I like the way we study it.  I like the group I'm in and being at the school.  I especially like learning about food and the family.  

Renata is a fantastic young student who has made steady progress since she started coming to our school.  She is full of energy and enthusiasm, never afraid to try something new.  She has become a vital member of Flyers Group 1 (there are two groups due to the number of children attending this course), she is popular among her peers and always helpful and willing to join in with group work.  We feel very fortunate to have such lovely characters like Renata as members of our school and who are so joyfully receptive to learning English.  

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Saint Andrew's Day - Scotland - Starters

This Friday will be Saint Andrew's Day, celebrated on 30th November every year.  

Saint Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland.  

Today the Cambridge Starters have been learning about this festival and how Scottish people celebrate, as well as learning about Scotland and listening to some Scottish music, they found the following traditional Scottish song, Donald Where's Your Trousers, very funny:

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Student's Recipe - PET

Our full-time PET students have recently been focusing on food.  They have been talking about their favourite restaurants and discussing cuisine from different countries.  They have also spent some time writing recipes.  

Here is Salvatore Schininà's recipe for making Orange Cake:

Orange Cake


2 Oranges  -  300g Flour  -  250g Sugar  -  1 Teaspoon of Baking Powder


  1. Wash the oranges, scratch them and squeeze them in the bowl.  
  2. Put in the flour, the sugar, the eggs and mix everything together.  
  3. Bake the cake in the over for about half an hour.  
  4. Cool the cake and turn it out carefully onto a plate. 

Monday, 19 November 2012

Poppy Day - Cambridge Advanced English Writing

Last week our Cambridge Advanced level students spent some time learning about Remembrance Sunday or Poppy Day in the United Kingdom, a day of national reflection held on 11th November annually.    

CAE Student, Crisitina Gintoli wrote the following piece comparing Poppy Day to Italy's similar day of remembrance:

Celebration in Comparison

The corresponding day to Poppy Day in Italy is held on the 4th of November, in commemoration of the sacrifice of the soldiers who died in the First World War.  

In Italy, it is called the Day of National Unity and the Armed Forces, because they are all celebrated on the same day.  

Both in England and in Italy the highest representatives of the government and the Royal Family unite to honour the fallen at war memorials, the Cenotaph in London and the Altar of the Fatherland in Rome.  

In the UK, there are also parades and poppies are sold to raise money, which is sent to help ex-service men and women.  

In Italy, on the other hand, the military stations are opened to the public, historical exhibitions are held in museums and military bands play in concerts.  The main aim, in fact, is to bring military forces and civilians nearer to each other.  

In previous decades, since it became a moveable feast, this solemnity has had less attention, but nowadays, it is becoming on of the most important feasts again.  

Monday, 12 November 2012

Pronunciation of 'ed' endings.

A lot of English Language Students struggle to get the pronunciation of past simple regular verbs correctly.  

Many of our students have found this explanation from the BBC World Service very useful:

Grammar Challenge © BBC Learning English

© British Broadcasting Corporation 2007

Nuala's Grammar Explanation

Pronunciation: 'ed' endings 

In the past simple regular verbs end in 'ed' and there are three different ways of pronouncing

these two little letters - / ɪd /, / d / and / t /.

First let's look at the / ɪd / ending.

Regular verbs that end in the sound / t / or / d /, in the past simple the 'ed' ending is

pronounced / ɪd /. Here are some examples:


start – started         invite – invited                 want –wanted                 need – needed        decide - decided

The pronunciation of the 'ed' ending for other regular verbs in the past simple depends on

whether the last sound of the infinitive of the verb is voiced or not. Regular verbs that end in

voiced sounds will have / d / as the pronunciation of the 'ed' ending in the past simple. Here

are some examples.


smile –smiled             turn - turned          love - loved            seem - seemed


Finally, regular verbs that end in unvoiced sounds will have / t / as the pronunciation of the 'ed'

ending in the past simple. Here are some examples.  


jump – jumped                 kiss – kissed             wash - washed             look - looked         watch – watched


So, to recap. There are three different ways to pronounce the letters '-ed' for regular verbs in

the past simple and the way to choose how to pronounce them depends on the final sound of

the infinitive. 

Monday, 5 November 2012

Bonfire Night

Today is a very special day in the United Kingdom.  On 5th November every year, Britons celebrate Guy Fawkes or Bonfire Night.  This is the anniversary of Fawkes' attempt to blow-up the Houses of Parliment and kill the king.  

On this night, outdoor fires (known as bonfires) are lit and effigies of Guy Fawkes are burnt.  There are brilliant firework displays, children play with sparklers and huge parties are held across the country.  

On this night we eat special food, such as treacle toffee, parkin (a spicy ginger cake) and black peas with vinegar.  

Today at the school, our students will be learning more about this very British festival.  

Here are 10 about Guy Fawkes:

1. Guy Fawkes was born April 13th 1570 in Stonegate in York. He was educated at St. Peter’s school in York.

2. There were two reasons why the Gunpowder plot was created. The first was because Guy Fawkes converted to Catholicism when he was 16, at this time the Church of England would not tolerate Roman Catholicism. Therefore you could not worship the Catholic Faith freely in England, this was the same for all the participants in the Gunpowder plot.

The second reason was because that king James I (the king of the time) was Scottish and many people opposed to England being under Scottish rule, the plot was meant to stop this.

3. Guy Fawkes fort in the war between Spain and the Dutch which is when he changed his name to Guido, probably because he thought it sounded Spanish.

4. There was 36 barrels of gunpowder that was meant to go off that night which would have been enough to completely destroy the building and damage anything within a mile radius. It is thought that the gunpowder had “decayed” and if it had been lit wouldn’t have exploded anyway!

5. Guy Fawkes used the name John Johnson when involved with the plot and this is the name he gave when arrested.

6. Guy Fawkes was voted the 30th greatest Briton in a pole conducted in 2002 by BBC!

7. When taken to the King’s bedchamber to explain why we wanted to kill him and blow up parliament he answer calmly that he regarded the King as a disease since he had been excommunicated by the Pope. He also explained that he needed such a huge quantity of gunpowder “To blow you Scotch beggars back to your own native mountains!”

8. It took four days of torture before Guy Fawkes admitted his role in the plot and gave the other participants names. They were all tried on January 31st 1606 and then hung, drawn and quartered in the Old Palace Yard in Westminster. This means he wasn’t thrown onto a bonfire, this only happens to straw dummies made of him since.

9. An uninhabited island in Galapagos Islands is named Isla Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes Island. Who knows why? Maybe he planned to escape there?

10. Many people nowadays refer to a man as a “guy”. The term guy was originally a term for an “ugly, repulsive person” in reference to Guy Fawkes, this is why we refer to the dummy we throw on the bonfire as a “guy”. Over time “guy” began to be used as a term for a man (possibly as a half-meant insult) and is still used today.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Halloween Week

We've had a very spooky weeek celebrating Halloween at the school this week.  

We tried to incorporate an element of Halloween to all the courses.  

Kids English groups and Cambridge Starters made these excellent Halloween lanterns, while Cambridge Movers and Flyers had Halloween parties.  Cambridge KET, PET, FCE and CAE groups, as well as the Adults Trinity groups all had some Halloween based activities to do.  

It's been a really enjoyable week for students learning about this traditional festival, celebrated in both the United Kingdom and the USA.  

Here's a song a lot of our students have heard this week - a real favourite at Halloween parties!

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Student of the Month - November

Name:    Carmelo Cappuzzello

Level:   Elementary

Course:   Trinity 5-6

Our Student of the Month for November is retired Police Officer, Carmelo Cappuzzello.  This is Carmelo's second year with English International School, last year he successfully completed Trinity Grades 3 and 4, he is now attending the Trinity 5-6 course.  

There are a total of 12 grades in the Trinity programme, starting at Grade 1 - for complete beginners, and up to Grade 12 for more advanced students.  Trinity courses concentrate on spoken English, they are designed for those who want conversational English and are ideal for students, like Carmelo, who want to use English for travelling.  Oral examinations take place at our school, testing candidates speaking and listening skills, these one-to-one examinations are conducted by a native English-speaking Trinity examiner.  

We asked Carmelo a few questions about his experiences learning English:  

  • When did you first start to learn English?
I began to study English in 2010, attending a course of 150 hours in an Italian public school in Modica.  

  • What made you decide to do a Trinity course?
I decided to attend the Trinity courses because it gives me the opportunity to use English pronunciation correctly, because the teachers [at English International School] are mother tongue.  From November 2011 to June 2012, I attended Trinity 3 and 4 level.  In July 2012, I took the exam and passed it!  This September, I started attending the Trinity 5 and 6 level course.  

  • Why do you think learning the English language is important?
English is very important because it is recognised internationally.  It allows you to work almost anywhere in the world.  It helps you to travel abroad.  English also makes it easy for you to purchase online from international companies.  

  • And, how is the language useful in your daily life?
I use English to watch films in their original language, to see the news of the important international television channels, like the BBC and CNN and on the internet, especially to chat with my cousins who live in America, because they do not know Italian.  

  • We recently relocated to new classrooms (within the same building), what do you think of the new classrooms?
The new premises of the school are more beautiful than the first because it is larger and more welcoming, especially in the waiting room.  

Carmelo is a great example of the adult students who attend English International School.  He is strongly motivated, eager to learn and enthusiastic about his hobby of studying English.  He has become a real friend of the school, always arriving early so he can chat to Catherine, Sally and Eliana before the lesson and he regularly popped into the school during the summer to say hello.  We are fond of all our students but Carmelo has a particular place in our hearts, it's a pleasure to teach him and we are really pleased to see him back at the school for a second year, steadily improving his language skills and becoming a more confident English speaker.  

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Pictures of Our New School Classrooms

It has been a busy few weeks moving into our new classrooms... even though they are only a few metres from where we previously were.  

We have had so many positive comments about our new classroms and our new reception area - which is so much bigger and brighter than before.  

Thanks to everyone who has helped during the move and thank you to students for being so patient and understanding while everything was being organised.  We are very happy in our new home and hope you all feel the same about your new learning environment.  

Friday, 26 October 2012

Cambridge English Day for Teachers

Today, Catherine and Sally spent the day at a Cambridge English seminar for teachers in Siracusa.  

In the wonderful surroundings of The Grand Hotel Minareto, with an array of teachers from across Sicily, they spent the day learning about developments within Cambridge English courses and qualifications.  During the day, several speakers lectured on teaching practices and student needs, the speakers included Dr. Herbert Puchta of Austria - celebrated ELT Author and Teacher Trainer, Annette Capel of Cambridge University, who has developed a levelled English language profiling system and Sarah Ellis - Support Officer for Cambridge ESOL in Italy.  

Sally managed to win first place in a competition, for which she will be rewarded with a free Cambridge English Teachers course, qualifications that will extend her existing Cambridge Teaching qualifications.  

The day really emphasised the importance of Cambridge English exams throughout the world, gave fresh ideas and solutions, taught about the cognitive neuro science involved in learning, gave updated insights into the art of teaching and was a fantastic opportunity to meet and converse with all the other dedicated teachers and support staff working with Cambridge English in Sicily.  

All our new ideas will be applied in the classroom immediately, so our students can expect something new over the coming weeks!

Written by Sally

Friday, 19 October 2012

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Friday, 12 October 2012

Ideas for Studying

Students often say that they find listening one of the most difficult skills to master in English.  

I often advise students to watch children's television in English.  I think children's TV is helpful because the language is usually simpler than television for adults.  It's a lot of fun to watch too!

One of my favourite TV shows as a child was Pigeon Street, you can watch episodes of it on, it's a great way to spend a short time in your day listening to the English language.  

Written by Sally

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

A-Z of Animals - Flyers

Today, Flyers Group 2 created an A-Z of animals.  

Here is the list of animals the children came up with, the only one we couldn't think of was an animal beginning with the letter X - can you think of one?


Written by Sally

Friday, 5 October 2012

We Are Moving!

After 10 happy years in our current school building, we have really out-grown the place and so, the time is right to expand to larger premises.  

We are not moving far, in fact, the entrance to our new, larger school is just a few steps away from the school in it's present location.  

Pictured are two of our Cambridge Starters students, demonstrating how close the two locations are.  On the left, Matteo is showing you where to find the new entrance and on the right, Serena is showing you towards where the school's door has been for the last ten years.  

So absolutely no chance you won't be able to find us!

We should be in our new premises at the beginning of November.  

You will find we will have larger classrooms, an extra classroom, a bigger reception area and even an outside courtyard.  As there are now more students than ever enrolled at the school, eager to learn English, we feel having more space is essential for our learners.  

We are very excited about the move, we can't wait to show you our lovely new school!  

Written by Sally

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Job Post - Part-Time Italian Teacher Required - Modica, Sicily

Part-Time Position available for mother-tongue Italian Teacher. 

Starting October 2012

Italian Teacher required on a part-time basis to teach Italian to foreign students.  Mornings only.  

Qualified teaching status preferred but we will consider those who have teaching experience without a formal qualification.  

You must also have the right to work in Italy.  

Our school is an independent language school.  We are a small team with a good working atmosphere.    

Modica is a historical town in the south-east of Sicily, with a good cultural base and is famous for it's chocolate.  The surrounding areas are very beautiful, a mixture of historic hill-towns, Sicilian traditions and fantastic beaches for the summer months.  Our closest airport is Catania and regular buses run between Modica and the airport.  

We are happy to provide details of salary and hours once we have received your application, please feel free to ask any further questions about the school or about the region. 
Please contact Catherine Ciancio, with a CV, qualifications and recent photo attachment to:

We look forward to hearing from you soon. 

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

PET Work - Hobbies and Leisure

Our Full-Time PET students are currently studying the topic of Hobbies and Leisure.

We have had some excellent discussions in class about the student's favourite passtimes and it has been enjoyable to hear about what the students are fond of and what interests they share.

Yesterday, they completed an activity in which they were asked to write about themselves and their hobbies for a magazine feature to find a pen-pal.  Here are a couple of great pieces written by the students:

Hi!  I'm Andrea and I'm 15 years old.  I'm a student and I live in Modica.  I'm keen on sport and I love football and karate but I don't enjoy playing golf.

Hi!  I'm Gabriele and I'm 15.  I love studying English and History.  I'm good at playing computer games but my favourite hobby is going to the swimming pool.  

While concentrating on this topic, the students have reviewed grammar, learned new vocabulary and used all the key skills - speaking, listening, reading and writing.  It has been an interesting focus topic for the group and all students are engaging well in the new school year, showing a developed maturity and understanding of the language.

Written by Sally

Monday, 1 October 2012

Student of the Month - October

Name:    Costanza Savarino

Level:   Intermediate

Course:   PET

October's Student of the Month is 14 year old Costanza Savarino.  

In the 2011/12 school year, Costanza studied towards the KET (Key English Test) exam, she took her exam at the school in July and did fantastically well to pass with Merit.  

Cambridge KET is the foundation level of learning English through the Cambridge programme and gives students a basic understanding and ability to use English.  

This year, Costanza has started the PET (Preliminary English Test) course, she has decided to do the course part-time, so she will take her exam in December 2013.  The Cambridge PET is the second level of Cambridge English exams, through the course, learners develop a wide range of linguistic skills to use in everyday situations, progressing from the base level achieved in the KET exam to an intermediate level, with a greater understanding of English grammar structures and vocabulary.  

We asked Costanza a few questions about her experiences so far at the school:  

  • Last year, you studied for the KET exam, what did you find interesting about the course?

I liked that I could learn English using a computer [in our Computer Lab] and I think that the quality of the school is very good.  

  • You passed your exam with merit, how did you feel when you got the news?

When I got the news I felt very happy and satisfied.

  • And what did you do to prepare for the exam that helped you get this result?

I attended all the lessons with engagement to get this result.  

  • And now you are attending the PET course, are you finding it more difficult?

At the moment, I find the PET course only a bit more difficult than the KET course.

  • Why is learning English important to you?

I study English because it's important for my future and my life.

  • What do you enjoy about coming to English International School?

I enjoy coming to English International School because my teacher [Catherine] is very nice and I have fun when I study.  

Costanza's teacher, Catherine, is brimming with pride and enthusiasm about Costanza.  Catherine describes her as incredibly bright, with a positive character, dynamic and, for a vibrant, young teenager she has an exceptional understanding of the importance of learning English for her future.  Costanza is a great example of the students enrolled at English International School and we are very proud of her KET result and even more pleased to see her back in school, attending the PET course.  

Written by Sally

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

About Me - Young Learners

This week our Starters, Movers and Flyers have been talking about themselves.  

They have been telling us things that they like, such as, dancing, pizza, football and chips!

They have described what they look like.  

They have also told us what they like about coming to learn English at English International School, we have had some excellent answers including;

I like English International School because to learn English is fun and also very important.  I like English because my friends are here and we enjoy together. 
 Mariapia, Flyers

I like English International School because it's fun. 

Serena, Starters

 I like English International School because my teacher is joyful and nice and because English is very important and this school is very good. 
Annalisa, Flyers

I like English International School because my friends are here.  My teacher is nice.  We play games.  

Giulia, Movers

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Song Lyrics Exercise

With the FCE (Cambridge First Certificate in English) group, I have been creating exercises with song lyrics, some of the words in the song are blank and the student has to think of an appropriate word to fill in the blank.  

It is not important if the word the student thinks of matches the original lyrics of the song, the idea is to get students to think creatively in English.  

One of the songs we have worked on is Englishman in New York by Sting.  See what words you come up with to fill in the blanks and then listen to the song and see how many of your words match the original lyrics.  

I don't drink coffee I take __________ my dear
I like my _________ done on one side
And you can hear it in my _________ when I talk
I'm an Englishman in New York

See me walking _________ Fifth Avenue
A ___________ __________ here at my side
I take it ___________ I walk
I'm an Englishman in New York

I'm an alien I'm a legal alien
I'm an Englishman in New York
I'm an alien I'm a legal alien
I'm an Englishman in New York

If, "Manners maketh man" as _________ said
Then he's the _______ of the day
It takes a man to suffer ___________ and smile
Be ____________ no matter what they say

I'm an alien I'm a legal alien
I'm an Englishman in New York
I'm an alien I'm a legal alien
I'm an Englishman in New York

Modesty, propriety can lead to ______________
You could ________ _______ as the only one
Gentleness, sobriety are rare in this ___________
At night a candle's brighter than the ________

Takes more than __________ gear to make a man
Takes more than a ___________ for a gun
Confront your _________, avoid them when you can
A ____________ will walk but never run

If, "Manners maketh man" as _________ said
Then he's the _______ of the day
It takes a man to suffer ___________ and smile
Be ____________ no matter what they say

I'm an alien I'm a legal alien
I'm an Englishman in New York
I'm an alien I'm a legal alien
I'm an Englishman in New York

Written by Sally

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Job Post - ENGLISH TEACHER REQUIRED - Modica, Sicily

Full-Time Position available for mother-tongue English Teacher. 

Starting October 2012

Dynamic teacher required to teach young learners, teenagers and adults.  Both individual and group classes; preparing students for Trinity and Cambridge exams.

We require the teacher to have a CELTA qualification.  

You must also have the right to work in Italy.  

Our school is an independent language school.  We are a small team with a good working atmosphere.  Our students are enthusiastic about English, many of them staying with the school for many years to improve their language skills.  

Modica is a historical town in the south-east of Sicily, with a good cultural base and is famous for it's chocolate.  The surrounding areas are very beautiful, a mixture of historic hill-towns, Sicilian traditions and fantastic beaches for the summer months.  Our closest airport is Catania and regular buses run between Modica and the airport.  

If you a newly qualified teacher, we will provide support in your first year.  For more experienced teachers, we would love to have your input to help develop our school.  

We are happy to provide details of salary and hours once we have received your application, please feel free to ask any further questions about the school or about the region. 
Please contact Catherine Ciancio, with a CV, qualifications and recent photo attachment to:

We look forward to hearing from you soon. 

Monday, 17 September 2012

Kids English Classes

Last week our Kids English classes ages 3-4 and ages 5-7 started their English lessons.  

The children had lots of fun with Sally, playing games, singing songs and listening to a story.  In their first lesson they learned how to say Hello and Goodbye and made badges saying 'My name is...'

We are really looking forward to the next lessons with the children and to seeing them thrive at learning their new language.  

Places for Kids English lessons are still available, please contact the school for more information and to enrol your child.  

Written by Sally

Friday, 14 September 2012

Trinity Certificates

We've had an excellent start to the school year and have enjoyed welcoming students old and new to the school.  

This week, some of last year's successful Trinity candidates have been in to collect their certificates.  We had an excellent percentage of passes for the summer exams, these pictures show just a few of those who were successful.  We had successful students from Grades 1 to 7, most of whom will be continue their studies with us this year.   

If you passed your Trinity exam and haven't been to collect your certificate yet, we hope to see you soon.  

Once again, congratulations to all!

 Written by Sally