“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

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

Listening Center Benefits by Ahmed Zubi

by Sheetal Makhan With my office being on the fifth floor, I get to see the “regulars” of the Listening Center everyday! One student who is there daily is Ahmed Zubi. I was really interested to learn more about how this facility has helped Ahmed’s progress while studying English. Please read his piece below: Listening Center Benefits by Ahmed Zubi Nobody can argue that Listening is one of the most important communicating skills because it enables you to understand people and respond properly to them. That’s why language students ought to give it a considerable effort as well as the language centers ought to do. Listening will expose you to a variety of accents. Moreover it will improve your pronunciation, intonation and ellipsis which are not achievable by reading. However, as reading does, your collocations, structures and expressions will also be improved by listening. Having done both simultaneously, you’ll get most of the input skills, which you can imitate to express yourself. By listening and reading at the same time, your brain can subconsciously bind the word with its pronunciation, but that doesn’t mean you leave reading completely! Realizing all the above, I started going to the Listening Center on the 5th floor and I noted a significant improvement after about one month. In addition I got a better score in listening tests. The center contains a diverse collection of amazing books which explain quaint natural facts such as world wonders. Others speak about courage and people experience, although the majority have been stories of different sorts. They are thought-provoking detective stories, romantic, courage, poignant stories narrated in an fascinating way and taken from different countries (UK, USA, India, South Africa, Ireland and Thailand). However some of them has a message which I disagree with, but it’s  the language that you should seek, not only the ideas. … Read more

EC Cape Town Students experience Cape Town Spices

Teacher Kate took her Low Intermediate class to two well-known shops in Cape Town as a class excursion, here is what happened: “In our low intermediate class we visited Atlas Trading, a spice shop in BoKaap and Anthony’s Golden cup, a coffee shop on Loop Street. Both experiences were extremely aromatic. For the first part of the lesson the students were given a recipe for ‘Boeber‘, a traditional warm milk drink. They had to find the different ingredients in the shop, asking for assistance if needed. The manager gave the students some information about the shop and let them taste and smell different spices.” “For the second part of the lesson we walked down to Anthony’s Golden cup on Loop street. Anthony spoke to the students about his life and about his shop. The students had to listen carefully and take notes because as a follow up activity they would need to write a biography about Anthony. Lastly we ordered coffees and enjoyed winding down in a very cosy environment, after a lot of information.” “We had a wonderful afternoon class. We went to the spice shop and learnt about Indian spices and met a special man, Anthony and his famous coffee shop, I Loved it!!”- Izabel Silva from Mozambique Our students are not limited when studying at EC Cape Town, we try our best to show them all aspects of English as well as how to form full conversations with the people of Cape Town!   __________________________________ Remember to follow us on Facebook or Twitter RELATED BLOG POSTS Free Activities at EC Cape Town “Mystery Restaurant” Class Outing

Weekly football unites students

by Sheetal Makhan / AYC It always fascinates me when expats find each other in a foreign country and soon socialize and celebrate special events as they would if they were in their own country. Homesickness becomes a thing of the past.  I was really interested to learn that a group of our Libyan students have weekly football matches. The sole purpose of these matches is just to foster brotherhood between the guys. I spoke to Abdulmoaz (“Azoo”) who gave me a glimpse into what our students get up to on a Thursday evening. Using the football field near the V & A Waterfront, the guys plan to meet and enjoy a friendly match.Why do they do this?Living in a foreign country, it’s easy to get tied up in ones own life. With the sole purpose of just studying, our students all have goals and a mission to complete it by a certain deadline. While it’s important to immerse oneself into a new culture, it’s also vital not to forget ones roots! “It’s not about competition,” says Azoo, who is quite strategic in the way teams are formed. He explains that depending on everyone’s level and strength, they ensure that each guy has an opportunity to play. It was great to know that these matches aren’t just confined to “Team Libya”. Their Saudi Arabian peers also get in on the action and from time to time, they even play against South African’s!Azoo exclaims, “It’s an awesome, amazing feeling after playing.” He goes on to say that for at least 5 hours a week, the guys imagine that they are not in Cape Town. They’re back in Libya and enjoy spending time together – even after the match, when they proceed to the Waterfront to enjoy dinner together. He advises other students … Read more

Abdul – Our Boxing Champion!

by Sheetal Makhan / AYC For someone who initially thought that boxing “was a little bit weird”, it may come as a surprise that 22yr old Abdulwahed “Abdul” Abdalah recently won his first boxing match! The Business Management student from Libya is currently completing his English course at at EC Cape Town. He’s been in Cape Town for almost a year and prides himself on living and enjoying life to the max. It was during high school that Abdul took a keen interest in the sport and has been training for five years now. “It makes me calm. It’s like a stress relief,” he says. Abdul joined a local boxing club where the coach is a four-time boxing champion. He is confident that his techniques improved during his 11-month training in Cape Town. “Winning a gold medal out of Libya is an honour for me,” says Abdul and goes on to say that he will continue training when he goes back to Libya. Boxing was not a mainstream sport in Libya, forcing those interested in it to train underground. However, after the country’s revolution, there has been a revival and clubs have started to re-emerge. Abdul says that while his family had some (reasonably understandable) reservations about his involvement, they did support him and are very proud of him…as are his friends! Friends of various nationalities came out to support Abdul at his match and have nothing, but praise and pride for him. His advice to those who wish to pursue boxing? Abdul maintains that the sport is “good for the soul, mind and fitness. Not only does it strengthen your heart and broaden your mind, but it keeps you young!” While Abdul towers over many of his peers (and teachers) he has a very soft nature and actually comes … Read more

Proud of our Bookworm, Yalcin Kalay!

by Sheetal Makhan / AYC   I recently received this message from past Turkish student, Yalcin Kalay: “Hi my dear teacher, how are you? I wanna give you a good news. In Turkey there was an Oxford Book Reading Competition between 150 private schools. My school was in that competition and I came fourth in Turkey! And they will put my pics on the billboards in Turkey!” Of course, having taught him last year, I jumped for joy! With the help of his teacher, Yalcin entered a book reading competition whereby students had to read books from the Oxford Bookworm Series. They had to find three interesting scenes in the story and had to write about why they found it interesting. Finally, the student had to recommend the story, backing it up with reasons why friends would enjoy it. Juries will choose ten summaries from each part of Turkey, sending the best ones to Istanbul. Finally, they will be rated and a finalist will be chosen. This is Yalcin’s winning piece – which earned him fourth place in Turkey for the competition! All of us at EC Cape Town are extremely proud of you and so happy that we were part of your “English journey!” Rabbit Proof Fence Review by Yalcin Kalay Rabbit Proof Fence is Dorris Pilkington Garimara’s novel. It is published by Oxford University Press and it is among many other factual books in Oxford Bookworms reader series. It is based on a true story. The story is set in Western Australia during the 1930s. What I have learnt from this book is 20th century was a colonial one with an ill oriented  and disastrous mentality where some of the people either because of their colour, race or religion claimed that they were superiour over ‘’others’’. It was … Read more

Watcha Up To…? Jurgen & Sandra

What a lovely and unexpected surprise when Jurgen (Germany) and Sandra (Brazil) popped in at EC Cape Town to say Hi. They met at EC Cape Town in 2008 and attended the same classes with Nicoletta (current DOS) where they fondly remembered her animated tactics for teaching vocabulary. They also reminisced about hiking up Lion’s Head with Chris (current Centre Director). They are now happily married and live in Germany. Sandra tells us that they kept in contact with another student that was in the class from Spain who is now an English teacher! It is stories like this that proves that learning English in another country is so much more than just studying a language. It’s a life-changing experience and we are very proud to have played a small part in their life story. Thank you, Sandra and Jurgen for sharing this with us. All the very best for the future! -Nicoletta, DOS

With thanks, from Rafael of Brazil

Rafael, who ended his course with us last week wrote this and shared it with his teacher, Hardie: This is my last week in Cape Town and I’m already sure that I’ll miss this place and the people that I met here. I had the chance to get to the top of Table Mountain and see the sunset. It was amazing! I also could know beautiful beaches like Clifton and Camps Bay. The Garden Route was a nice experience and my friends and I visited other cities and different places. During this trip, I had some exciting moments, like bungy jumping. Actually, the most exciting feeling, I think. I also improved my English, appreciated beautiful views, tasted different kinds of food, but I think that nothing pays the chance that I had to know many people from different countries. I’m sure that I’m going back to my country a better person: more responsible, more tolerant, more flexible, more intelligent and more friendly. I just have to say to EC School and my new friends, “Thank you”. ==== EC offers different English Language courses, including business English in South Africa.