Friday, 31 August 2012

Norma - Our First Certificate Country Star

English International School Student Performs 
Live in Modica

On Wednesday night, Catherine and I headed into Modica Bassa to see one of our students of 2011/12 perform at Vida Loca on Corso Umberto.  Norma was pleasantly surprised to see two of her teachers there and even dedicated a song to us.  

In the last school year, Norma studied towards the Cambridge FCE (First Certificate in English), which she should receive the results for within the next week.  She was the perfect student, filled with enthusiasm for the language and always accepting of new ideas and ways of learning.  An absolute pleasure to teach!

Whilst spending a few of her earlier years living in the USA with her family, Norma developed a deep love of Country Music.  She sings in perfect English, complete with American country accent.  Both Catherine and I were greatly impressed by the maturity and strength in her voice and the natural way she delivered English speaking songs.  

Norma will be going to university in the north of Italy next month, which means unfortunately she will not be returning as an English International School student in the new school year.  We wish her all the best, both in her academic career and in music.  

Keep on singing, Norma, you were fantastic!

Written by Sally

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Hear / Here - Homophones

On a recent trip back to the United Kingdom, I noticed this sign outside a pub.  I wondered if any of our students would be able to spot the mistake?

Did you get it?

"Hear to stay" should be "Here to stay".  A common mistake due to the two words sounding exactly the same but the spelling being different depending on the meaning.  We call two words that sound the same but are spelt differently depending on their meaning Homophones.  

A good way to remember is that Hear, when referring to listening, has the word ear in it, so you know that to hear, is to perceive by the ear.  

Example:  Did you hear the doorbell?

Other examples of words that sound the same with different spellings:

  • Their / There

Their is the possessive form of they.  
There means in or at that place, as opposed to here meaning in this place - remember this way to spell there also includes the word here

  • Witch / Which

A Witch is a woman who is said to have magical powers, we usually see pictures of witches at halloween.  To remember when to use this spelling of witch, you might like to think of a witch with an itch on the end of her long, green nose.  

Which is used to identify what of more than one item is being identified.
Example: Which one of these do you want?
We also use which to describe further details about an object that has already been mentioned. 
Example:  This is my house, which is quite small.  

There are many other homophones in the English language, see if you can think of some more and ways to remember the correct spelling.  

Written by Sally

Friday, 24 August 2012

Chippy Tea

In the north of England, Friday night is Chippy night.  

The traditional Fish and Chip shop, known informally as the Chippyis popular as ever and from the time people finish work on a Friday onwards, a good shop can expect queues down the street. 

Usually consisting of battered fish with fried potatoes, in the north many enjoy the addition of mushy peas and always with the addition of salt and vinegar. 

Fish and Chips became a popular meal in working-class Britain due to trawling in the North Sea, the first Chippy opened in 1860.  Friday night became the regular Chippy night due to those of the Catholic faith preferring not to eat meat on this day. 

So ingrained in British culture was the meal, that during World War II, Fish and Chips remained one of the few sources of food not subject to rationing. 

In the north it is common among the working classes to refer to the evening meal as tea but elsewhere (and used more formally in the north), the correct word is dinner… alternatively, if you are feeling particularly superior, you could call your evening meal supper

Here is a video of northern folk band The Lancashire Hotpots with their homage to this Great British tradition.  

Written by Sally of Manchester, England

Friday, 17 August 2012


The Aussie thongs, known as flip flops in the UK and America, are popular summer footwear and fashion icon in Australia.

They are considered to be the oldest form of footwear, dating back to the Stone Age .  In Ancient Egypt  they were made from papyrus and palm leaves, in Africa they used rawhide to make thongs; in India they preferred wooden ones.   


The modern thongs, made from the rubber sole became very popular in the ‘50s in America, when the American soldiers come back from the World War II wearing  Japanese thongs called Zori, made of rice straw.

Today thongs can be found in different colours, styles and material. 

You can wear sporty thongs  with casual dress or stylish thongs in formal occasions.

Useful vocabulary:

Other  Australian words used to refer to footwear:

 gumboots/gummies-Wellington boots

runners- shoes for jogging

Translation of thongs [ "flip flops" ] in Italian: infradito

Thursday, 9 August 2012