Election Fever in Britain

If you plan to learn English in London or generally in the United Kingdom in 2015 you will probably hear about the upcoming general election. They will happen in May 2015 but the electoral campaign has already started. The election will decide how the 650 seats in the House of Commons, which is the lower house of the British parliament, are divided up. The majority is composed of 326 seats and any party or coalition which achieves this majority will appoint the new British Prime Minister. The United Kingdom is divided into Parliament constituencies and each constituency will generally elect one Member of the Parliament (MP). There are 533 seats in England, 59 in Scotland, 40 in Wales and 18 in North Ireland. There are 4 main parties which will compete for the elections. The leading ones are the Conservative Party and the Labour Party. The Conservative Party, the party of Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher, currently holds the majority in a coalition with the Liberal Democratic Party. The leader is David Cameron who will run for the general election in 2015 for the appointment of Prime Minister. The Labour Party will be represented by Ed Miliband. Historically this party has always been more powerful in the northern areas of England and in Scotland and its historical leaders are Scottish, such as Ramsay MacDonald, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. The Lib-Dems are the third party. Until the end of the First World War it was in competition with the Conservative Party in the era of David Lloyd George as Prime Minister, but they lost power with the rise of the Labour Party. The last party is UKIP. This is a nationalist party which strongly supports the independence of the United Kingdom and is against any restrictions imposed by the European Union. … Read more

Sunday Meetups To Practise Your English

    IEL Sunday School is an extra Sunday meetup to speak as much English as possible, learn some new vocabulary and meet great people. This Sunday 1st March 2015 we are having our first Sunday School in our EC Covent Garden centre at: 7-11 Stukeley Street, London, WC2B 5LB. The meetup will be very informal and useful, plus you will get to meet people from all over the world who are staying in London. The activity will involve learning some new vocabulary and speaking as much as possible to other people at the meetup. You will need to be an intermediate speaker of English to get maximum benefit from the afternoon. At least one professional English teacher will be there to help you too. The meetup will start at 3pm sharp and will finish at around 5pm so please be on time (or even a little early). The school building café will not be open on Sunday so please bring your own refreshments with you. Please sign up at Reception – it’s only £1 for EC students! Why not come along and practise your English? If you would like to study English in London please visit our website. We also have an interesting travel guide which tells you all about learning English in London, the history of London, useful tips on shopping and entertainment and the current cost of living in London. 

Our students check out the graffiti in Shoreditch!

 A Guided Tour of the graffiti in Shoreditch!   February in London and a windy grey day did not stop the students of EC Covent Garden who went to visit one of the hidden pearls of the city, the fabulous street art venues in the central borough of Shoreditch! This tour is part of our new Free English Lesson programme, open to EC Covent Garden students, which is composed of two activities, the first one is an excursion in London with one of our English teachers and the second one is a free English lesson based on what our students have done and learned. This is a way to socialise, discover London with Londoners and learn English at the same time! Since 2000, Shoreditch has grown as an important staging ground for graffiti artists from around the world, such as Swoon, Roa, Blek Le Rat and Vhils and local artists like Banksy, Eine, D*Face, Sweet Toof, Pure Evil and Stik. Over the last 15 years the walls of Shoreditch have constantly changed, hosting new and diverse artwork, and turning the area into a huge and astonishing open-air art venue. Graffiti is the oldest expression of art in the history of human beings. The first graffiti art work is 40,000 years old. In the past, graffiti was used to enforce laws, to tell stories or to consolidate religions. Nowadays graffiti is widely recognised as the art form of social and political dissent against the status quo. The day after their excursion, these EC Covent Garden students joined a Free English Lesson, a presentation class, with Kirsty, their English teacher and guide for their tour in Shoreditch. Click here if you want to learn more about our English lessons for adults in the UK. Check out our website if you’d like to … Read more

St David’s Day is coming your way!

What’s coming up in March? Do you love to socialise? If so, then here are two days that you can be part of next month. Learn about what these days mean, some fun facts and how to improve your English below. St David’s Day    When is it? On the first day of March we celebrate St David’s day in honour of the Saint David of Wales who died on that day in 589 AD. Who is St David? He was a Celtic monk who lived in the 16th Century and spread the word of the religion Christianity across Wales. His most famous story is of him standing on a hill and preaching about Christianity… then the ground on which he was standing rose up… and the huge crowd could hear his words. How do British people celebrate this day? Some children wear the national dress of Wales which is a tall black hat and a red cloak. Most people mark this day by wearing the Welsh emblem which is a small daffodil or leek. You usually see magnificent yellow daffodils at the start of Spring which is a very exciting occasion for British people! Why? Because the sun is coming! Goodbye Winter! Want to hold your own Welsh dinner party? Welsh cuisine is wonderful! Try making ‘Cawl’ a dish made with lamb & a mixture of Welsh vegetables like leeks & swede and of course a fusion of herbs like rosemary, thyme & parsley.   If you’d like to improve your English, follow this link and learn more about English parties! What can EC students do to celebrate St David’s? London loves different cultures & celebrating them to the maximum! You can be in the heart of it all.  Near to EC Covent Garden is London’s Welsh centre for … Read more

Understanding Native English Speakers!

If you’ve done an English course in the past but you’re still having trouble understanding native English speakers, it might be because you haven’t spent enough time studying pronunciation. Now I know what you’re thinking: “How on Earth can studying pronunciation help me with my listening skills?!”, well, the fact is that if you don’t know how we (as native speakers) are going to pronounce something, you won’t understand it! It’s not your fault. Have you ever learnt a new word and then suddenly started hearing it everywhere? This isn’t because people have suddenly started saying it more often, now that you know it’s possible, you can hear it. Before, it was just sounds and it meant nothing to you.   This is also the reason you should learn your phonemic symbols, because in English we don’t always pronounce words the way they are written. Have a look at how native English speakers would pronounce the pieces of English below. Use the phonemic chart above to help you or click here to hear the sounds.   Do you want to = /ʤəwɒnə/ If I were you = /faɪwəjuː/ I’m going to = /əmgənə/ I want to = /əwɒnə/ a glass of wine = /əglɑːsəwaɪn/ I should have left = /əʃədəleft/ I can swim = /aɪkənswɪm/ Have you ever = /vjevə/ Do you ever = /ʤevə/ You should notice that there are certain differences between how you would expect these words / phrases to be pronounced and how a native English speaker would say them. But don’t worry, you don’t need to do a whole English course on pronunciation, even from the examples above, you can see there are a lot of patterns. Also, listening to TV shows and films with the subtitles on and noticing how the words are being pronounced can really help you.   If you’re thinking … Read more

Study English in London and improve your skills

Julia booked a two week General English course at EC Covent Garden which consisted of 15 hours per week. She also booked two one to one lessons which really helped her focus on her goals. Have a read of her testimonial.   I really enjoyed my stay at EC Covent Garden 30+. The teachers were friendly and very professional. I was really lucky to have a group with only five students, which was great. I’m no longer afraid to speak English with people I don’t know! Thanks to everyone at EC  Covent Garden 30+! Julia Gerstner (German) – General English 20 Lessons + one to one 2   One to One lessons are a fantastic way to focus on your specific needs as an English learner. In a private lesson you can choose EXACTLY what you study and learn. Your teacher can focus on you and you alone. All of the correction you receive will be based on your specific errors and all of the language you learn will be immediately relevant to you. Why not make the most of your study in London and book some extra classes with us? For further details and pricing, please visit our website.  

Study English in London

Ricardo tells us about his experience at EC Covent Garden 30+. Ricardo chose a 4 week Intensive English course consisting of 30 lessons per week. Ricardo was an excellent student and we will miss him very much! Here’s his testimonial…   Ricardo tells us about his experience at EC Covent Garden 30+. Ricardo chose a 4 week Intensive English course consisting of 30 lessons per week. Ricardo was an excellent student and we will miss him very much! Here’s his testimonial… I already liked Britain even before to be there so, go to London was a natural choice. After I studied at EC Covent Garden, I am really sure than I made the right choice. The school is very nice, the teachers are very good, and the staff so hopefull. I could improve my English with confidence I recommend it. I definitely loved the school. Ricardo Augusto T. Batista (Brazilian) If you would like to study English in London please visit our website. We also have an interesting travel guide which tells you all about learning English in London, the history of London, useful tips on shopping and entertainment and the current cost of living in London.

Weekly Grammar Question: Changes over time!

If you’re anything like my students studying English in the U.K., at some point in your student life you’ll have been confused by the Present Perfect and the Present Perfect continuous. Well, rest assured, you’re not alone. But that doesn’t mean they are impossible, check out these examples below of the present perfect and present perfect continuous being used to describe change over time, and then have a look at the meaning / use underneath.   So I moved to South Korea for a year about 6 years ago, leaving all of my friends behind. My closest friend at the time was a guy named Stephen. We’d known each other for years. I’ve drawn a picture of him for you. As you can see, he didn’t really look after himself very well. He was the nicest guy you’d ever meet in your life and was an amazing friend but when it came to being fashionable or doing exercise, he was a disaster. After a year in Korea, I returned home and immediately went over to Stephen’s house to say hi to him and his family. Well, you wouldn’t believe the person who opened the door. I’ve drawn another picture for you to give you an idea of what he looked like. So, as you can imagine, I was extremely impressed. “What has happened to you?!” I said. Obviously, the surprise was clear on my face as he just smiled and said the following:   Well, I met a girl a few months ago and everything has changed for me. I’ve been shaving every morning now and moisturising twice a day so my skin has cleared up. I’ve also been exercising a lot more, I’ve taken up jogging and yoga and I’ve lost quite a lot of weight. I’ve been jogging twice a week … Read more

It’s Pancake Tuesday!

Today is Pancake Tuesday, one of my favourite days of the year. When I was young, I used to come home and my mother would make us extra thin pancakes, rolled up with jam, sugar and lemon. We’d gobble them down, they were absolutely delicious. I’ve never really been able to recreate her pancakes and Pancake Tuesday has never really been the same since but I have got quite good at making American-style pancakes and I’ve decided to share what might be the easiest pancake recipe of all time. And, just so you also learn English I’ve added some definitions for the more difficult words. Just click on the word for a dictionary definition. Here’s what you need: Flour Milk salt Sugar Fresh fruit Syrup Here’s what you do: Take a mug of flour and sieve it into a bowl. Fill the same mug with milk and pour that in. Add a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar. Mix it all up. Melt some butter in a frying pan on a low heat. Ladle in some of your pancake mixture and when you start to see some bubbles on top, flip it over. When the pancakes are nice and golden, serve them up with some fresh fruit and syrup.   It’s not quite how mother used to make them but they tick my boxes: easy to make and delicious! So, try them out and let me know how they go…and hopefully you’ll learn English words along the way as well. Here’s a few students at EC London enjoying their pancakes. Now it’s your turn!   Try out our learn English website if you’d like to learn English vocabulary. Have a look at our main website if you’re thinking about booking some adult English courses in the UK.  

Learn English – today our students learn about superstition and Friday the 13th..

Want to learn English? Have a read of our Friday the 13th blog and get some practice…   Friday the 13th, also known as Black Friday, is considered an unlucky day in the Western world. It occurs when the 13th day of the month in the Gregorian calendar falls on a Friday. There is no evidence for a “Friday the 13th” superstition before the 19th century, and the superstition only gained widespread distribution during the 20th century. Many people have a fear of the number 13 and this has been given a scientific name: Triskaidekaphobia. Can you try pronouncing that? So what are the unlucky statistics behind Friday 13th? A study was carried out in America and concluded that Friday the 13th may be a dangerous day for women, because they tend to be more anxious and superstitious than men. This was illustrated in a study by a group of Dutch researchers who believe that you are LESS likely to be ‘unlucky’ on a Friday the 13th. Why? It is believed that fewer accidents and reports of fire and theft occur when the 13th of the month falls on a Friday compared to any other Friday because people are being more CAREFUL. Many of us are not superstitious and for us non-believers, Friday the 13th is just like any other day so we’re unlikely to change our behaviour and be more careful. Weirdly, we might end up in more accidents as a result. Some people even believe that the number 13 is lucky for them. We often refer to this as ‘Lucky 13’. In fact in Italy it is considered a very lucky number but be careful in Italy with the numbers 7 and 17…these are not so lucky. So whether or not you’re a superstitious person, perhaps go about … Read more