“Your best teacher is your last mistake”

  by Sheetal Makhan (AYC) With the nature of my job, I have the opportunity of seeing dozens of students on a weekly basis. I observe how people study, interact and progress – sometimes at a rapid rate. Those who know me will know how I feel about the importance of mingling with others and practicing speaking on a regular basis. Many students are afraid of making mistakes and therefore hesitate to converse in a group. “If you don’t make mistakes, then I have no job!” I have said this repeatedly. In fact, I encourage my students to make mistakes as much as possible. Having lived in South Korea for three years, I’m often reminded of how I picked up the language. I did this by asking questions. Lots of questions! If I heard a new phrase or word that caught my ear, I would ask my colleagues and friends what it meant and I would make a mental note of saving it and would try to use it often. Hangul (the language used in Korea) is a complex language where different characters are used. I am, by no means, fluent, but I was able to learn the basics…simply by being curious. I met Mohamed Bay (“Bay”) through his cousin, who studied at EC Cape Town last year. Bay joined the Beginner class in August. Since then, I have observed him with other students. I was pleasantly surprised to know that Bay (from Saudi Arabia) and Kengo (from Japan) meet regularly after class to enjoy free conversation. What I also commended Bay on was that he frequently asked questions to those around him. I strongly believe that it is because of this that his confidence has grown and is now able to hold a decent conversation. I would like to encourage all … Read more

Something fishy!

by Sheetal Makhan (AYC) One of our most memorable AY students, Mayu Kakado has just arrived back in Japan. After her course ended at EC Cape Town in August, she had a great trip planned around Africa. However, not one to waste her time, she spent her free two weeks volunteering at Two Oceans Aquarium at the V & A Waterfront. This was especially apt, because Mayu absolutely loves animals, especially penguins! In fact, this was her primary reason for choosing to study English in Cape Town, South Africa. During her internship, she was involved in many duties to ensure the smooth-running of the aquarium. One of these included cleaning the Touch Pool, which is one of the highlights especially for children. Although an accountant by profession, Mayu also worked at the aquarium in Japan. Touch Pool Her typical working day was from 07:00 to 15:30 and during her two weeks, she was part of a team that built a tank from almost nothing! After sand, rocks and greenery were added, it became the new home of a species of fish called “Butterfly Fish”. While some may find tasks like cutting fish and squid for feeding times gruesome, Mayu admits that she thoroughly enjoyed the experience. “It was a bit challenging communicating with locals, but in true South African spirit, they were very kind and showed me Cape Town hospitality,” said Mayu. Mayu with a co-worker  _________________________________________  Mayu was an Academic Year 20 (AY20) student

AY Student of the Month: September 2014

by Sheetal Makhan / AYC I remember the exact day I met Mohidin (“Mohi”) from Libya. During our interview, he seemed ambitious and a true “go-getter”. As I got to know Mohi and his work ethics, my respect for him has grown tremendously. Always at school well before 08:00, he displays discipline towards his studies. He has been writing with me for a the past couple of months and I sometimes sit in awe and pride after reading his work. Most of all, I’m so proud that he has now joined the Cambridge Preparation Course (FCE). He is a shining example that hard work pays off. Well done, Mohi! Name: Mohidin Amar Esaadi Nationality: Libyan Profession: Doctor When did you begin at EC?: 1 April 2014 What level did you begin at?: Pre-intermediate Current level: FCE Cambridge Course (Upper Intermediate) What is your reason for studying English?: I’m studying English because I want to complete my postgraduate study and I hope to get IELTS Band 7. What extra facilities/classes at EC do you do? (eg Listening Center, Pronunciation Class etc…): I have been listening to a lot of stories and I have nearly finished all of them in the Listening Center. Has this helped? How? Yes, of course. If I talk regarding my medical field, the most important thing to understand in another language is listening. What tips/advice would you give to other students to improve their English?: You will have a lot of disappointments in your way and if you have these disappointments, you will realize that you are on the right path. Remember: Success has to come after a lot of disappointment.

Maximize your time…like Marina!

by Sheetal Makhan (AYC) It’s very easy to find ourselves “stuck in a rut” (to be bored). For some students, routine becomes school-home-school-home. I have said this repeatedly to our students: Cape Town is your classroom! All you need to do is: Open your eyes. Open your ears. Open your mind. One student who did this was Marina Albertini, who is back home in Brazil. I spent some time chatting to Marina about her time here in Cape Town. I was interested to hear about her story, especially when I learned that she was took saxophone lessons. It caught my attention because I thought it was a wonderful way of really “getting out there” and immersing herself in activities during her stay in South Africa. I hope many other students will read Marina’s story and follow suit. Marina has been playing Pop Rock for about seven years. She took music lessons when she was 18 years old, but not for a long time. When she arrived in Cape Town, she was already able to play the piano and guitar, but it was in Cape Town that she started learning saxophone. Like her father, her interest in music started out as a hobby. She soon found it to be a form of expression without using words. She says that she became a bit of an introvert after losing her grandmother. “Music was the one thing I knew how to do,” says Marina, who actually writes her own music with her band back in Brazil. She came to Cape Town to take a break before starting university. Although she always loved the saxophone, she never thought of pursuing it further. She wanted to maximize her time while studying in South Africa and event bought the instrument before taking lessons, which lasted for … Read more

My mother. My blood. My life…

Sheetal Makhan (AYC) In one of my classes recently, we spoke about patriotism and what it really means. What does it mean to be patriotic? [patriotic means to express deep devotion/love for one’s country] Well, this morning, I had a surprise when one of my AY students, Otman Eltalis appeared at my office door. I was surprised because he told me that he wasn’t coming to school today as he had to run some errands this morning. He said: “I just came to give you this,” as he handed me a sheet of paper. A piece of writing to mark? Sure! It was nothing out of the ordinary. Until I actually read it. The best way of knowing if something was written from the heart is if it gives the reader goosebumps. It did more than that for me. I could feel Otman’s emotions. With my extra writing sessions that I have with my students, I tell them that they only need to do one thing when they write: Make your words jump off the page and dance! I interviewed Otman on his very first day at EC Cape Town. He has grown in leaps and bounds, not just with his English, but as a person. I’m so proud of him! With his permission, I would like to share what he has written. by Otman Eltalis  My name: Libya My nationality: Libyan My phone number: Libya My biography: Libya I am a patient. I am a villager. I am a national. I am a soldier for protect my country. I am peaceful. I extend my appreciation to my country everyday. It is my mother, my blood, my life. I left because I was forced. I didn’t like homesick, but this is for you. I hope to accept my excuse. I can’t forget … Read more

Life Advice from Abdulgader Alsharif

Sheetal Makhan (AYC) As part of a writing activity recently, my students had to give advice for…life! As we know, life can be complicated at the best of times and and we often wish there was a handbook for us to refer to, right? Using the letters of the alphabet as prompts for each piece of advice, this is what my AY student, Abdulgader came up with. Enjoy…and take heed! Advise everyone to good ways or avoid people with dangerous ways. Be smiling everyday, for everyone. Continue what you started. Don’t give up! Deal with problems in a simple way. Easy life = huge success. Feel your own feelings, but don’t be selfish. Good friends guide you to a good life. Happiness will get a happy life and reach your achievement. I‘m possible = I’m pleased. Joke around with your friends close to you. Keep life easy. Love. Love. Love. Make fun for yourself and for others to enjoy. Nothing is impossible. Old people have quiet wisdom. Pride of your work leads to success. Quality is magnificent. Read before writing or speaking. Simple = happy = success. Don’t be silly! Try to always have an open heart. Use your brain for every moment. Visit your friends and family to live in peace. Wisdom is your leader. Xerox [copy] your good memories. Yield your negative thoughts. Zero is the beginning of your steps. —————————————— Abdulgader is an Academic Year English Course Student (AY20) student Academic Year English Course Student

“You taught me more than English”

by Sheetal Makhan (AYC) Hailed by Time Magazine (Europe) as one of the “10 Best Movies of the Year 2005” from around the globe, Black is an Indian drama film about a blind and deaf girl, Michelle McNally. A prisoner of darkness, which is the only world she knows, Michelle grows up to be a violent and uncontrollable eight-year-old child. As the saying goes, “There is always light at the end of the tunnel” and for Michelle, it was in the form of an eccentric teacher, Debraj Sahai who sees himself more as a magician. Michelle’s parents don’t approve of Debraj’s unconventional teaching methods, yet…he persists. Slowly, he teaches her words and their meaning through sign language. When everyone was about to give up on Michelle and send her to a mental asylum, it was her teacher who saw that inner “something special”. Years later, Michelle becomes the first deaf-blind person to gain admission at a university to pursue a Bachelor of Arts degree. Little does she know, that her teacher starts to develop Alzheimer’s disease. After an uphill struggle to attain her BA, Michelle gives a speech to her graduating class. She tells them how for the past 12 years, her teacher would bring her to the graduation ceremony and tell her, “I want to see you there one day.” And while he may not be there there to witness her graduate, she tells her class that the reason she is not wearing a graduation robe is because her teacher should be the first to see her in it. At a mental asylum, Debraj has lost his memory and is even unable to speak. Ironically, after all the years that have passed, it is his student who becomes his teacher. The film is inspired by Helen Keller’s life and struggle and certainly evokes a lot of … Read more

I can speak English! by Ahmed Abujarida

Sheetal Makhan (AYC) I have many students who do extra writing for me, over and above what they do in class. One such student is my Academic Year student, Ahmed Abujarida from Libya. He left this piece of writing for me to mark and I felt that it was really written from the heart and I had to share it with all to read. ——————————————- by Ahmed Abujarida (Libya) I am going to talk about how I learned English.When I came to Cape Town in April, I didn’t know how to speak English with people, but I started to learn English at EC School. Also, after three months, I started to speak English and learned a lot of things. For example: vocabulary, listening and grammar. I am really very happy at my school. I would advise everybody who wants to learn English just to speak English. If you’re Arabic speaking, speak English even with Arabic students!If someone speaks Arabic (or their native language) everyday, they will not learn English. Also, I would like to advise people to speak English in the streets – while shopping or anywhere. Then they will improve quickly. When I started studying at EC School, I started at Elementary level and then I moved to Pre-intermediate level after two months.You will be able to practice and do exercises everyday. Guys, I want you to always speak English at school and in class. I saw a lot of people speaking in their native language and not learning English. I learned this from my teacher, my friends from different countries and my host family.I couldn’t believe myself after three months. I can speak English! Guys, please! I want you to speak English as much as possible, because this is very good, worthwhile and important for you! ——————————————- Ahmed … Read more

Creative Writing: Time…

by Sheetal Makhan (AYC) As I’ve said before, nothing excites me more than when students unlock their creative sparks before my eyes. Regardless of their professions, I try to make everyone see that they are capable of creating beauty with words. A couple of weeks ago, I presented the following picture to a small group of students and they wrote the following in just five minutes! by Sancha (Angola) I can see time. Time is money. You can’t take time. You need to use time quickly. Time never stops. Look after people  by Ji-hyun (South Korea) We have time equally. Everyone can use it equally But to succeed depends how well people use it. by Miguel (Venezuela) Time goes easily. Life is now. Now, maybe everybody doesn’t have time, because everybody is busier than other centuries. We are a slave of technology and material things. by Otman Eltalis (Libya) Time as the sword is very quickly in Cape Town, but I will break time by my determination. When I came to Cape Town, all my time is for English language. I don’t like to lose time. by Fathi (Libya) The picture reminds us the importance of time. We must respect time and don’t spend it on unnecessary things. The picture tells us, please always look at time. Every hour that passed never comes back again. The picture tells us that life is very short and we should try to use every second for everything good and to help people. Look after old aged people because one day you will become like them. Quickly. Time passes quickly. ==== Check out EC’s English Courses in South Africa

Watcha Up to..? Ziya Emir

What happens to our students once they’ve left our doors for the last time and fly off into the horizon? Many of our students have gone on to do some pretty interesting things with their lives, and studying English as well as the overall experience of living in a foreign country, has a great deal to do with their success. “Watcha Up To?” showcases past students and have them share with us what they’re doing at the moment. Today we say “Merhaba” to a special student who was in my High Intermediate class last week. He was one of the special gems in that class, because he brought a wonderful sense of maturity to our discussions, despite his tender age. Here’s Ziya’s story! ~Sheetal Makhan / AYC    Hello, I’m Ziya Emir from İzmir,Turkey. I’ve been to EC Cape Town (which has got most lovely teachers, friends and The Big Heart, Abdul) last July to September. I started at Intermediate level and finished at High Intermediate. During my first week I didn’t talk so much to other students and also my teachers cause I was thinking about that if I speak I would make a mistake. Then my host family and my teachers encouraged me for speaking. After few days I realized something: Damn! I was speaking English as like as my mother tongue! Okay truthfully I was working on it. Believe me my friends when you start to speak English, besides this you become to feel more confident and realize that you are able to achieve what you want in this life. Furthermore I have some great memories like this: While I was studying in Cape Town, we celebrated Madiba’s Day. We went to out to distribute some food to people who need it. It was a really different experience for … Read more