A week or so ago we wrote about one of the best walks in London – the way to see as much as possible in as short a time as possible and all for free! That was to see all the famous sites – Big Ben, Piccadilly Circus, Buckingham palace and so on. If you are learning English in Londonand at UIC then you can always walk the other way (east from the school) and you’ll see a completely different side of London. generally all the tourists in London spend their days in the same few places; by going into areas they don’t normally see you get to see a very different side of London – one that s in many ways more natural and more authentic. From the school walk left – away from Regent Street. You’ll cross Great Portland Street and then keep on going along Mortimer Street. You’ll pass lots of little cafes, offices and a village feel before you come to Tottenham Court road. Cross over and you’ll be right by the University Of London – the main buildings and you can have a walk around here – this area also has one of the biggest bookshops in London. Keep on going and you’ll hit the British Museum (tourists again) but keep on and you’ll start to enter a part of London which is one of the oldest parts and one of the most interesting. Just beyond the British Museum you can find the Dickens museum – in the house where Charles Dickens lived, you can then walk south to the river past the courts, fleet street (where all the newspapers in London were originally printed). If you go a little further East you’ll hit St Pauls and the Bank of England but I’d recommend you spend a little time just wandering around the small roads and alleys in that ares – pop into some of the churches and soak up the atmosphere and have a drink in one of the very old pubs in that area. Once you’re at the river you can walk along the bank in either direction – turn right and you’ll be back at Big Ben in half an hour or so, go the other way and you’ll go to the City. If you cross over the river by one of the bridges you can follow the path all the way to Greenwich – which will take 2 or 3 hours – but then you could catch the boat back which is another great experience.
Archive for August, 2010
When you read guide books about London you’ll find the usual recommendations about what you should see and what not – and they are always full of great recommendations. However …. there is always more to a city than great museums, churches and art galleries. While you’re here try to do these things as well:
1. Walk along the south bank at night – from London Bridge to the London Eye – you’ll get a fantastic view of London at night! Stop in one of the pubs along there or have dinner in the Oxo Tower or at the top of the Tate Modern for a special treat – there are 2 quite different restaurants and a bar so it doesn’t have to be expensive!
2. Catch a boat along the river in the opposite direction to Greenwich – all the way to Kew Gardens and you’ll see just a fairly ordinary part of London, but be in a part of the city you won’t normally get to. On the way you get a great view of the Houses of Parliament and the Tate Gallery. You’ll also be passing the section of the river where the famous Oxford and Cambridge boat race is held.
3. Sit on Primrose Hill and have a picnic – its just north of London Zoo but its a lovely spot and on a nice day you have a breathtaking view of London.
4. Go to Brixton market – its one of the few authentic food markets left in London and specialises in food from the different communities in London. You want some raw ingredients from Nigeria or Jamaica or Colombia to cook with – go there and have a look around. Its at the end of the tube line so very easy to get to and not at all dangerous – whatever you might hear.
5. Go up to Highgate – of another of the old villages in London – that were originally (and not very long ago) real villages – have a great range of shops and often you’ll find lots of charity shops where you can get some great bargains – cheap books, CDs, clothes and so on. They tend to be a bit different form the normal high streets where you can find every street virtually the same!
6. Visit the manuscript department at the British Library – its free and has the most wonderful collection of old books, manuscript and letters. You can see letters written by all sorts of famous people ( for example from old Kings and Queens of England, poets, writers, singers and so on).It’s just near Kings Cross.
7. Visit a brewery … many people think they don’t like English beer – and it can be an acquired taste but at least in one of the breweries still operating in the capital you’ll be guided around and have a chance for an expert to tell you the secrets of one of England’s greatest secrets. Try Fullers in Chiswick
8. See a gig – you might already have tickets for the opera or a musical but you should go see a real concert at one of the smaller clubs in the city – get in touch with one of the things that made London great – there are dozens on every day and it can be a superb experience – to see what real London is like.
9. Have tea at Claridges or the Ritz. A wonderful British Insitution – go around 4 o’clock and have tea, sandwiches and cakes. It’s a bit of a luxury but very British and you can usually eat as much as you want – so it can be pretty good value.
10. And study English at UIC
It’s nearly the end of the season and if you’re from a country outside the Commonwealth (that’s a group of countries that used to be part of the British Empire) you may have no idea what this is about, but while you’re in London studying Englishyou really should take advantage of the opportunity to see one of the best games in the world. Its something so quintessentially English – a summer’s afternoon spend watching a game of cricket – but there is such a lot of it going on, local games as well as internationals that you have no excuse. The rules are basically very simple – like any sport, but there are complications and a special vocabulary and sometimes this can make it seem inaccessible, but don’t give up. Go along to one of the games, sit next to someone who looks like they know what’s happening and ask them to explain it to you.
The home of cricket is at Lords cricket ground (near Regents Park) where some of the internationals are played. There’s also a museum there if you become very interested. In London there is also an international ground at the Oval – near Vauxhall in South London. There isn’t a team from London, but cricket teams are organised into counties so there are teams from the 4 counties surrounding London – Surrey, Middlesex, Essex and Kent. Their home grounds are:
Home ground: Canterbury
Home ground: Lord’s
Home ground: Brit Oval
If you want to see something a bit more quaint then try any village green around London and you’ll be sure to see something on a Saturday or Sunday until the end of August. On the 18, 19 and 20th August there is a test match (an international) when England are playing Pakistan – should be an interesting match. Go on, give it a go
You come to learn English and an English School in London and it’s easy to forget that there’s more to England than London, and even more to England then England! While you’re here you really should take advantage of the opportunity you’ll have to visit other parts of the United Kingdom – Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. Some months ago we had, as part of our social programme, a visit to Northern Ireland and we quite regularly (2 or 3 times a year) visit Edinburgh. At this time of year there are more reasons than ever to got o Scotland (the weather is not always great outside the summer!) but without doubt the best is to see the Edinburgh Festival. The Edinburgh International Festival say on their website
“Each summer people visit Edinburgh from every corner of the globe and enjoy three exhilarating weeks of the very best in international opera, music, drama and dance. Come with us on a journey of discovery in 2010 and celebrate the colour, the passion and the drama of the Edinburgh International Festival. This year performers from the Americas and the Pacific rub shoulders with artists from Spain, Holland, Germany, Russia and the UK, creating a delicious melting pot of entertainment. We’d love you to join us!”.
It is a brilliant place and the festival is so varied, creative and interesting that it is something you must make sure you see – at least once in your life. Even without the festival Edinburgh is great – with it there is just no excuse for not going. Even if you don’t have great English you will enjoy it – there’s plenty for all tastes. The only problem you may have is finding some accommodation, but if you check on the web and with the tourist offices there’s usually something. If you need any help please just come into the office on the 2nd floor and ask us.
There is a special scheme run by English Heritage where a blue plaque is fixed outside the house when anyone famous lived there. There are literally hundreds of these over London – there have always been well known people living here and if you hunt around you can find plaques celebrating where Gandhi, Marx and Napoleon lived for example. In W1 – the central part of London where UIC is you can wander around and find the houses of many different people – here are some of the best known, and remember they are all within a 15 minute walk of the school.
Many of these people are not strictly Londoners in the sense that they were born here or lived all their lives here but they certainly did spend some time here and lived for a short time here, enjoying the city. Within a very small area in central London, and easily accessible form UIC you can find the following – there are certainly more but wandering around seeing these can give you a really good sense of the scale of London – all the things that have gone on here over the years.
AMBROSE, Bert (c.1896-1971)
Dance Band Leader, lived and played here, 1927-1940
The May Fair Hotel, Stratton Street, W1
BAIRD, John Logie (1888-1946)
First demonstrated television in this house
22 Frith Street, W1
BEAUFORT, Sir Francis (1774-1857),
Admiral and Hydrographer, lived here. He invented the scale used to measure wind speed!
51 Manchester Street, W1
BEVIN, Ernest (1881-1951),
Trade Union Leader and Statesman, lived here in Flat No. 8 1931-1951.
34 South Molton Street, W1
COLERIDGE, Samuel Taylor (1772-1834),
Poet and Philosopher, lived in a house on this site 1812-1813. One of his most famous poems is The Ancient Mariner
71 Berners Street, W1
DISRAELI, Benjamin, Earl of Beaconsfield (1804-1881),
Statesman, Prime Minister died here.
19 Curzon Street, W1
Man of Science, apprentice here, b.1791, d.1867.
48 Blandford Street, W1
HANDEL, George Frederick (1685-1759),
Musician, lived and died here.
25 Brook Street, W1
HARTNELL, Sir Norman (1901-1979)
Court Dressmaker,made clothes for the Queen lived and worked here 1935-1979
26 Bruton Street, W1
HENDRIX, Jimi (1942-1970),
Guitarist and Songwriter, lived here 1968-1969.
23 Brook Street, Mayfair, W1
IRVING, Washington (1783-1859),
American Writer, lived here.
8 Argyll Street, W1
KORDA, Sir Alexander (1893-1956)
Film Producer, worked here, 1932-1936
21/22 Grosvenor Street, W1
LAUGHTON, Charles (1899-1962),
Actor, lived here 1928-1931
15 Percy Street, W1
LISTER, Joseph, Lord (1827-1912),
Surgeon, lived here.
12 Park Crescent, W1
MARX, Karl (1818-1883),
lived here 1851-56.
28 Dean Street, W1
MAUGHAM, William Somerset (1874-1965),
Novelist and Playwright, lived here 1911-1919.
6 Chesterfield Street, W1
MORSE, Samuel (1791-1872),
American painter, and Inventor of the Morse Code, lived here 1812-1815.
141 Cleveland Street, W1
So, while you’re studying English with UIC, have a look around and be inspired!
The Premiership is probably the best football league in the world, and without a doubt London is the best place to see football. While other cities might also have well-known teams in the premiership – for example Manchester (with Manchester United and Manchester City) and Liverpool (with both Liverpool and Everton) the most Premiership clubs are in London – this year there will be 5 teams again. Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham, Fulham and West Ham. Given that Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham will also be playing for the Champions Cup you really have a lot of football to watch. The teams are spread out across London – Chelsea and Fulham in West London, Tottenham and Arsenal in north London and West Ham in the east – but all are near tube stations and all very easy to get to. The only real problem you’ll have is getting tickets (or perhaps being very poor after you’ve bought them) but you can fairly easily get tickets for the games when they are playing against less famous teams. If you want to watch Chelsea play Manchester United then you’ll be very lucky to find a ticket but Chelsea against Blackpool won’t be so difficult. The tickets can be anything between £40 and £60 but for many of the early stages of the Champions league the tickets are £25 so there’s an opportunity at least. Also, don’t forget Wembley where you’ll be able to see England internationals – the first one of this season being tonight against Hungary. And of course this will also be the first after the disastrous world cup – perhaps the beginning of a new era for England!
If the cost and fuss of the premiership is not to your liking you can always see teams in the lower leagues – the Championship, or league 1 or 2. Naturally the quality is not always there but they can still be exciting and great fun. London based teams in these leagues are: Championship: Charlton, Crystal Palace, Millwall, and QPR in division 1 Brentford, Daggenham & Redbridge, and finally in division 2 Barnet. GIVE IT A GO!
When you find an English school in London you can expect to get some help with organising this kind of thing and you’ll find UIC is no exception. Just come into the office and ask – or see Mike our social programme organiser.
When you come to study at a language school in London you really want to make sure you benefit as much as you possibly can. One of the obvious reasons to come to London is to be able to meet native English speakers – you can do this fairly easily by staying with a host family but we can offer you something extra. One of the opportunities UIC can offer its students is to take part in a language exchange where one of out international students in London to improve their English meets up with one of our (usually) British students coming to the school to learn a foreign language. Not only does it have the obvious advantage of enabling – for example a Spanish student here to learn English to meet up and practise English/Spanish with an English person learning Spanish in London. It’s always been one of our aims to get something like this up and running and now thanks to the software we have installed as our e-learning platform we are able to offer this fantastic opportunity.
All our students will be given a log in (in fact it’s the normal login for the e-learning) and one of the options they will then have is to log onto the Language Exchange or LX. Once in this area there are different choices you make to describe yourself and you language learning – for example your first language, which language you are learning, your level in the 2nd language and availability. You will then be matched with another student and given the opportunity to email them. We ask that you meet your ‘partner’ in the school on the first occasion so it’s safe and easy – but because everyone who has access t this area is already registered with UIC as a student of one language or the other then it will always be safe. After the first meeting you are free to arrange anything you want.
This service is being launched at the end of September soo make sure you are registered and you take advantage of the fantastic opportunity.
So where other schools may recommend the idea of a language exchange they might not be able to help you very much in achieving it – just telling you to go out and speak to native speakers! We, on the other hand have the perfect way for you to achieve this.
A book recently published by Malcolm Gladwell called ‘Outliers’ claims the difference between someone being very successful and not is not at all connected to natural ability but is simply a question of how much you practise. A number of other books make similar claims – ‘The Genius in All of US’ by David Shenk says our abilities are not genetic and talent is a process – not something you either have or don’t have. “Bounce” by Matthew Syed also makes similar claims – for example “From art to science and from board games to tennis a minimum of 10 years is required to reach world class status”. Geoff Colvin agrees saying “The differences between expert performers and normal adults reflect a life-long period of deliberate effort to improve performance …” Gladwell claims more specifically that you need to practise for 10,0900 hours to be really proficient at something – he calculated for example the Beatles had met this 10,000 hour rule by the time they time they were really famous in 1964!
It seems a lot but I wonder how that translates into learning a language. We often say one level takes 180 hours – and in 6 levels you can go through the levels from beginner to the beginning of advanced. So in around 1000 hours of tuition you can get quite good – this works if you are in the UK surrounded by English which you will absorb, practice and so on for another few thousand hours in the same time – say that takes you half way to the 10,000 then this would presumably be the difference between being advanced and being really fluent – and indistinguishable form a native speaker. With babies in their first language you can safely assume in general parents and carers speak to the baby for several hours a day, so by the time a child is 5 and starting school they will have been exposed to several thousand hours of tuition and practice – and since a child’s grammar and command of the structure of the language (apart form some vocabulary) is generally finished by the time they are 7 or 8 this seems to add up.
So, what’s to be learned for someone coming to the UK to learn English in London at a langauge school like UIC – or someone in the UK wanting to learn a foreign language? Really nothing more than “it’s not easy and will take a long time, practise as much as possible and the homework is important!”. We know you’ll need as much help as possible which is why whether you have come to UIC to learn Japanese or learn French or learn English you’ll be able to take advantage of our Language Exchange and our on-line learning for free!
There’s long been a kind of accepted understanding that men and women study different things at university and go on to do different jobs. There are men’s jobs and women’s jobs. We know that traditionally women have chosen areas of work in the ‘caring professions’ – nursing, teaching whilst men have chosen rather different areas. A recent article in the Guardian (13 July) says that in spite of all the efforts of the last decade to get girls to study subjects that boys have traditionally studied there is still no real change. Girls are still not choosing to study maths and engineering at university – in some cases the numbers are actually getting smaller. For example they point out that 5 years ago 24% of Computer Science students in Higher Education were women that figure is now just 19%. The kinds of subjects women now study are the more traditional ‘female’ subjects – the top 5 being medicine, veterinary Science, education, Languages and Social Studies. The lowest uptake (so I perhaps there is a perception of this being the least feminine) is engineering and technology. It’s a little surprising when you also read the most popular companies to work for in the UK now include (in the top 5) Google, Apple and Rolls Royce. Maybe the kinds of jobs men and women want to do in those companies are completely different, with men taking on the engineering and programming jobs and women taking the marketing, sales and HR types of jobs. The one subject that has equal numbers of men and women studying is Business and Administration.
For us at UIC we do notice that more women than men come to study with us – both from abroad to study English and in London to study foreign languages. It’s not that women make better language students (we certainly have no evidence for this) but just that there are more of them – so our thoughts are in agreement with the survey findings. We have no idea what this means – whether as some suggest women are better at learning languages than men or that women recognise the need for knowing a second language more than men do or just that it’s the kind of thing women do! Who knows!
In a similar line The Observer newspaper also reported young British men were often thought of as “complacent and generally hopeless”. They report 2figures show that the economic downturn caused an increase in graduate unemployment from 11.1% at the end of 2008 to 14% at the end of 2009, but interestingly the number of male graduates unemployed was 17.2% against the number of women at 11.2%. There seems to be a sense that female graduates are a little more mature and focussed. Dr McHenry (Oxford University) says that if you compare men with women you tend to get more men on the extremes, so you will find more men who are geniuses and also more lazy whereas women tend to be more hard-working and conscientious.
What we do know is that there is an ever increasing demand for learning foreign langauges and more women than men enrol for the courses. If it is the case that women are getting more and perhaps importantly more useful skills then it may just be that there will continue to be more unemployed men that women into the future!
Every age uses dress and body decoration to signal what is most important at that historical moment. Throughout most of our history that message has been ,’I am rich’, or ,‘I am powerful’. …today more and more people use their dress style to assert : ‘I am authentic, I am an individual’. In the 1950’s everyone dressed the same. There was no alternative. The designers set the style and ordinary people followed as much as they could afford. London is rightly known for its fashion inventiveness – whilst Paris and Milan might have their reputations from classic fashion styles London has always been a bit different – and a bit more on the edge.
Innovation happens on the street so the best place to look for new fashions and so on is in streets – places like Camden and Portobello in London where lots of young people gather. In fact in Camden there is a well deserved reputaton for dressing in imaginative and different ways. These experiments in dress are then taken on by some of the fashion comanies and you might find them a few weeks later, a little dilluted and in the high street. Of course, the people who invented the style on the street may feel it has been stolen from them and may feel exploited, but typically they move on, invent something new or change the style into something even more different or outrageous.
Rebel fashion chooses to be ‘not pretty’, not how your grandmother would want you to dress. It identifies you as someone who has decided not to follow the mainstream. Black is one of the colours of choice for rebels and ‘outsiders’. Because of its association with death, black also often represents evil.Black looks strange against the natural colours of the countryside, but in a modern man-made environment, such as a modern city, black looks good against steel and concrete.
Punks and Goths choose black for all of the above reasons – The Stranglers had an album called ‘The Men in Black’ . London isn’t full of Goths or Punks by any means, but if you’re here you might well come across someone looking like this! Youth fashion and culture are spread all over London and it is quite easy to find – you’ll need to keep your eyes open. Anything goes and everybody is welcome! So, come and join us at UIC and explore this side of London.