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.