What’s Great About London

March 16th, 2018

A neo-gothic bell tower, a gigantic Ferris wheel by the river, large neon advertising on the curved corner of two avenues, two-level red buses running everywhere, endless rows of terraced houses – just a few of the iconic images of London. It is a city of contrast. Hectic and  peaceful, old and modern, industrial and green all at the same time. It’s European but with a look and feel that is very different from any other continental capital city. Newcomers find the city alien but exciting. They visit a few museums, take a stroll in St James’ Park, watch as the guards change in front of Buckingham Palace, raid the shops in Oxford Street, venture into the clubs on the very first weekend, just as they were advised by their friends who have been to London before. But is London only about entertainment?

I moved to London more than ten years ago with unspeakable expectations. I still remember the feeling I had looking at the unusual skyline and the seemingly haphazard streets from the ‘Waterloo to Surbiton’ train, on my way to a friend who was kind enough to put me up for a night. It was joyful anxiety. I knew it there and then that this city could be my home, but if I was to lose direction, it would chew me up and spit me out. It became my home. Oddly enough, I spent my time in central London – zone 1 – , seeing the iconic places only in the first year.

I gradually fell in love with an entirely different aspect of London. It’s arguably Europe’s most populous city, and yet it is here that I learnt the true meaning of the word “tolerance”. I can go for months on end without getting angry or frustrated or sad. Work and life in suburban London has shaped me into the person I am.

Visitors, I encourage you to see all the famous sights and try every thrill London has to offer. Take a few moments too to observe people in the street, on the tube, in the cafés. It is worth the study.

Andras’s London in Photos

Photos of London by Andras

Read some more quirky facts about the city or our top travel tips. If this sounds like a place you’d like to visit, LSI can offer courses at LSI Hampstead and LSI Central.

Discover There’s More to Life than Studying at LSI San Diego

March 15th, 2018

Every Monday morning sees a new cohort of students in our LSI schools around the globe. Some may be feeling nervous, others excited, but all expecting that their time at LSI will improve their language skills. What many of them haven’t realised yet is just how much the experience will help them grow as a person. How it changes your outlook on life and make an impact that will last forever. Brazilian Marcela Santos studied at LSI San Diego. She talks about her time at the school and her favourite places in San Diego

“If I could put all my experiences into one sentence it would be this one. What a journey I’ve been on and one that will last forever! And to sum it up in a single word, I’d choose ‘wealth’. The wealth of knowledge, the richness of new culture and language and the ultimate discovery that I can go far beyond what I imagined! I would say that LSI San Diego changed my life and my view of the world. It has taught me that dreams should not just remain in our head but we should act on them! ”

” What would I say about San Diego itself. Firstly I’d recommend you visit Sunset Cliffs, my favourite place. If you love romantic sunsets you can’t beat it. But there are so many other special places in San Diego and the people are so friendly. I’ll never forget the surprise party my classmates through for me whilst I was there. I felt like the most accomplished person ever!”

LSI San Diego student Marcela Santos

St. Patrick’s Day Celebrations Near You

March 8th, 2018

Maybe you’ve never heard of St. Patrick’s Day before? Now’s your opportunity to experience this fun filled festival for yourself if you are studying at an LSI school in the US or UK.

From Boston to San Francisco, New York to London, streets and squares will be decked out with everything Irish from the familiar orange, white and green flag, to lucky shamrocks and crazy leprechauns hats. Expect to see parades with colourful floats accompanied by bands playing the haunting sounds of traditional Irish music and groups of mesmerising fleet footed, Irish step dancers. To fit in with the crowd, wear something green or, to go the whole hog, dress from head to foot in green. Iconic landmarks such as the Empire State Building and the London Eye light up in green for the occasion. And don’t forget to try the traditional Irish beer, Guinness. Be warned though, even the beer will be turned a shade of Gaelic green for this special fun filled day.

Whilst St. Patrick’s Day celebrates Irish culture, its roots began with Irish immigrants and soldiers who settled in the USA. The day was first marked in cities such as Boston (1737) and New York (1762) by homesick Irish settlers and soldiers who were keen to celebrate their common heritage. By the 19th century the tradition had spread to other American cities with large Irish populations. These days, all Americans, no matter their cultural background, embrace these annual celebrations.  It’s the perfect excuse for going a little crazy and having fun.

So what would St. Patrick, Ireland’s patron saint, make of it all? Probably not much. Ironically this 5th century saint was actually British rather than Irish. He was also far more focused on bringing Christianity to the wild, unruly Irish pagans than partying. A far cry from the celebrations held in his name!

Find out more about celebrations near you. Check out the timeout guides for: London, New York, Boston, San Francisco and San Diego.

St. Patrick's Day Parade with costumed dancers

Diminutives in Australian English

March 8th, 2018

Australian English and the use of the dminutive

All languages use diminutives, shortened versions of the original word. We may use them to show affection or perhaps because we want to sound less formal, more friendly. Some diminutives may even be seen as slang. One of the quirks of Australian English is the wide use of them. There are over 5000 known expressions, far higher than in British or American English.

Take a look at the following invite from an ‘Aussie’ friend. Would you say yes?

‘What are you up to s’arvo? Straya are playing footy against the poms on the tellie. I’m having a barbie. We’ve  got snags and loads of stubbies and don’t forget your cossie.’

Does it seem like an alien language?  Packed full of typical Aussies diminutives, it may at first be hard to understand. We’ll take a look at some of the most popular ones and help you unravel your baffling invite.

Our Top Diminutives In Australian English

How many of the following do you already know, or can guess at?

Jobs:  chalkie (teacher), postie (postman), chippie (carpenter), sparkie (electrician), ambo (paramedic), pollie (politician)

Food and drink: chockie (chocolate), snag (sausages), mushies (mushrooms), veggies (vegetables), stubbies ( small bottled beer), barbie (barbeque)

Others: Poms (the British), Aussies (the Australians), Straya (Australia), footy (rugby), s’arvo (this afternoon), cossie (swimming costume),  you beaut (great), tellie (television), roo (kangaroo), rellie (a relative), sunnies (sunglasses), lippie (lipstick), smoko (cigarette break), mozzie (mosquito)

More Examples

Just why are Aussie’s so fond of their diminutives?

It seems many Aussie diminutives have slipped into English dictionary. Who isn’t familiar with the terms ‘selfie’ and ‘uni’?

Are modern day Aussie’s just being lazy? No, argues Dr Nenagh Kemp of the Australian Geographic  Society.  She points out that Australians have been shortening common place words from the early 1800s and in some cases the diminutive version is actually longer than the original.  It seems that their use in more a cultural expression. In general, Aussies are often seen as laid back, friendly, open and welcoming. It makes sense then that the language they use would reflect that.  We hand over the last word to Dr. Kemp

“I think we all have an intuitive feeling that these words also make an interaction more informal, more friendly and relaxed.”

British English or American English

February 9th, 2018

Where you learn your English affects not just how you pronounce words but even the vocabulary you use. Which language do you speak? British English or American English?
British English or American English

British English or American English Test

Anticlockwise or counterclockwise

Biscuit or cookie

Chemist  or drugstore

Autumn or the fall

Car park or parking lot

Crisps or potato chips

Sweets or candy

Casualty or emergency room

Cinema or movie theatre

Dustbin or garbage can

Football or soccer

Garden or yard

Holiday or vacation

Lift or elevator

Lorry or truck

Mobile phone or cell phone

Petrol or gas

If you selected the first option in each line, you are speaking British English, the second option being American English.  Did you end up with a mixture of the two? The reality is in many cases, even the Brits themselves may end up using ‘Americanisms’.  Perhaps not too surprising when you consider  the global dominance of American movies and TV.

Have we piqued your interest?  Discover more with Oxford dictionaries.

Changing Life’s Priorities – Studying English at LSI

February 5th, 2018

We wanted to share this humorous and heartfelt account of one student’s experience of studying English at LSI and his reasons behind taking up his studies. It was written by Spanish journalist, Nacho Goicoechea, who has been studying English at LSI Brighton. As you will see from the photos, he’s not a bad photographer either! Nacho’s story …

Studying English in Brighton - Nachos

Hello. My name is Nacho, I am 35 years old, and I was a workaholic. I know I’m not in an AA meeting, but if I was, this could well be my opening line. I work in journalism and I owned my own company in Spain, an agency creating tailored content for sports clubs. My life was my work. I would work six days a week, 12 hours a day, leaving me no time for anything else. I had no girlfriend, and barely any spare time to spend with my friends or family. Infact the last time I stopped to blink, I was 30 and using work to recover from a break up.

After five years, I realised that I had to make a change. I needed an excuse to just leave everything behind me and make a fresh start. I suppose that studying English was as good a pretext as any, so I made up my mind and I quit my job. Life, or karma if you prefer, can be hard sometimes. I do have to admit however that it knows how to reward you when you finally learn how to listen. For the first time in ages,  I  began to sleep well. I even had time to  meet an incredible girl, and finally find some peace of mind. So I packed my bags and set off on my new adventure.

I decided to come to Brighton because a friend of mine had lived here for a couple of years . She’d told me what a wonderful place it is and how right she was! Brighton was far enough away for me to forget all my bad work habits, but close enough for the people that I love to come to visit me. I felt the city receive me with open arms. It is so similar to my hometown that I immediately felt at home.

Here, I am facing my fears – it’s my first time living abroad, knowing nobody.  I’m outside my comfort zone, constantly challenging myself. Although it may sound like a cliché,  I am doing stuff that I’ve never attempted in my life before. I’ve learnt how to carve pumpkins for Halloween. Can you believe I even won the school contest?  I took part in the Christmas Panto (I wanted to die of embarrassment but I did it) and I skated on ice without falling once! I took tea and scones at 5 o’clock with my little finger proudly extended and I enjoyed a football match in the Amex Stadium -go Seagulls! I’m having the time of my life. The most important thing is that I’ve found myself. So mission accomplished.

Of course my English is improving a lot thanks to some amazing teachers. A special thanks to Justin and Steve who have been very supportive and patient. When I arrived, I wasn’t able to write an email or barely make a phone call. Now I’m happy because I have time to read, watch movies and  whole TV series. I spend my weekends walking on the beach, taking photos of the pebbles, the seagulls and my  own personal favourite Brightonian landmark, the old West Pier. The people I’ve met from all over the world, the places I’ve been to and all the things I’ve experienced will always be part of me. Brighton will always be in my heart.

Photos of Brighton taken by Nacho who was studying English at LSI Brighton

Check out more great photos on  Instagram @nachogoico or out more about studying English at LSI Brighton.

The Benefits of Language Learning for Older Students

February 5th, 2018

It seems that the old adage ‘You can’t teach an old dog new tricks’ definitely doesn’t apply to language learning.  Recent studies show not only just how beneficial language learning is for the brain but that in some ways older students have an advantage over younger students. Great news indeed for those of us who are 40+ and looking to embark on learning a new language!

Research has shown that older students out perform their younger counterparts in areas such as vocabulary acquisition, better study skills, literacy skills and mnemonic devices. In general older adults have a larger vocabulary in their own language. They use this knowledge to map the newly acquired vocabulary to. However older students are more likely to struggle with pronunciation and the grammar and syntax of the target language.

Learning a language also helps to keep our brain fit. We know from current research that our brains change in response to new experiences and adapt accordingly. Thus acquiring new language skills actually develops new neural pathways in the brain adding increased flexibility. We are in essence giving our brain a good ‘work-out’.

It is true that it is more difficult to learn a language as we get older. However some researchers argue that we gain more if we learn at an older age. Thomas Bak was a researcher on a large project carried out by Edinburgh University.

“Learning a language later on in life might be more beneficial than learning it earlier, because it takes more effort. It has parallels with physical exercise. A stroll is good for your health, but not as beneficial as a run,” claims Bak.

It seems that there are so many good reasons to take up a new language. Why not check out our many language courses on the LSI website.

Language Learning for Older Students

Students at LSI New York


Learn to teach English on LSI Brighton’s CELTA Course

January 18th, 2018

Would you like to learn to teach English?  Throughout January, LSI Brighton has been running it’s popular CELTA  teacher training programme. The course focuses on the skills needed to become a successful English language teacher. Find out more about the course here.

It seems however that some of our newly trained teachers have plans which go beyond the usual class teaching. Once they have completed their CELTA course, five students plan to use their new skills in a very different way. Instead of basing themselves in the classroom,  they will be leading adventure and activities holidays for international students. They work for the PGL organisation which specialises in outdoor activities for young people.  PGL has used LSI for a number of years to train its staff . The company offers  English Language programmes which combine English courses with Orienteering, Archery, Climbing and Raft Building. It would be true to say therefore that the ability to teach English is a skill that can be used to support many many other skills!

Learn to teach English and open great job opportunities beyond the classromm

The English Coined by Shakespeare

January 17th, 2018

English coined by William ShakespeareThere are few of us who haven’t heard of William Shakespeare, the famous 16th century English playwright. Most of us would even be able to name at least one of his most famous works. Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet or Macbeth perhaps? Far fewer of us though would have claimed to have read one of his plays  or been to see a performance. The archaic language makes comprehension difficult even for native English speakers.

However the language of Shakespeare may not be as out dated as it may at first appear. Many terms that Shakespeare either coined or popularised  are still in common usage even today. The following is a list of our favourites:

In a pickle’ – To be in a difficult position (The Tempest)

‘Waiting with bated breath’ – To anticipate something with great eagerness ( The Merchant of Venice)

‘On a wild goose chase’ – A search for something that is difficult to find or doesn’t even exist (Romeo & Juliet)

‘The be-all and end-all’ – The only thing/person that matters (Macbeth)

‘A heart of gold’ A sincere, generous and kind nature  (Henry V)

‘Fair play’ – Conformity to agreed rules or morally upright conduct  (The Tempest)

A  ‘Gossip’ – A person who habitually reveals personal or sensational facts about others (A Midnight Summer’s Dream)

‘Gloomy‘– Unhappy and without hope (Titus Andronicus)

And last but not least ‘Fashionable’ – Conforming to the current style or fashion (Troilus and Cressida)

Find out more about Shakespeare’s contribution to the English language.

LSI Zurich Celebrates St Lucia

December 19th, 2017

December 13 is Saint Lucy’s Day. Also known as St Lucia, she is mainly celebrated in Scandinavia where her day becomes a festival of light. This year, LSI Zurich celebrates St Lucia with a special evening of ‘light’.

As part of the theme of light, there was an exhibition room where students showed their art & craftwork. Examples of our students creativity included candle holders made by Hans and a photographic slide show produced by Rafael. In the room next door, LSI Zurich’s German students gave performances for all the language students.  Some enacted  a Dürrenmatt poem whilst others presented a sketch based on an old Grimm’s fairy tale. Later in the evening staff and students listened to Christmas stories and pulled crackers. There was even a  blazing fire and soul-warming Christmas food. A hint of Xmas magic was definitely in the air.

However the  highlight of the evening was perhaps the performing dog that brought the Brechtian-style fairy tale to life – it almost stole the show. It  reminds us that our students are not just language learners. We discovered a lot about their hobbies and interests during the run up to the show!

LSI Zurich celebrates St Lucia with an arits and craft exhibition