We are twelve students from CAE1, who came to New Zealand as inexperienced and naive greenhorns. But the time at Languages International has changed us into self-confident and all-knowing academics with a great deal of life experience. Now our teachers, HD and Victoria, think that we are ready for the ultimate task: writing a review about the CAE3 class‘ blog and adding some of our own ideas.
Review of the blog
"Advice for Cambridge, TOEFL and IELTS students" is a great piece of writing, which offers new students a good insight into a student's life at Languages International. First of all, the blog is well divided into different, clearly structured paragraphs. Furthermore, the pieces of advice given cover spare time as well as school time and emphasise the importance of a good study-life balance. But as all the students study in their very own way, it seems to us a little too general. Nevertheless, it has a very good effect on the target reader and encourages the students to think about their personal way of learning which will lead them to successful exams.
How to keep the learning motivation
· If you don't see the wood for the trees, set your priorities.
· Look for short-term, reachable, realistic goals and stick to them because the saying of “it’s never too late“ doesn’t apply in terms of preparing for a CAE exam.
· It's better to learn step by step - just three new words a day instead of desperately learning a whole list. This vocabulary should be used in your daily speaking for the purpose of helping yourself to remember the words.
· Reward yourself after reaching a goal. Recharge your batteries by doing leisure activities, go on a trip and enjoy yourself and New Zealand. Take part in the Social Programme.
· If you don't feel like studying, just watch a movie, listen to some music or discuss current news in English. This is also helpful to broaden your knowledge of English.
· Read one article out of a newspaper a day. By doing so you will get used to reading quickly and efficiently.
· Change your learning routine. For example, learn with a friend instead of learning alone all the time.
· You should use a wide range of grammar and vocabulary in your writing, because your writing will be marked higher if you do so.
· You should have been speaking English in your free time throughout the course, because this offers you another way of learning new vocabulary and you get into the language more easily.
And keep in mind "never bury your head in the sand".
Specific advice about the Learning Center
· You may ask the supportive and helpful teachers for help at any time.
· Take advantage of making an individual appointment with a teacher. Being supported by a teacher, you will learn more efficiently.
· We suggest trying to make the most of the materials in the LC in order to improve your general language skills by borrowing books from the library, watching DVD‘s and using the interactive learning resources on the computers.
· If the LC is too busy or crowded to concentrate on studying, use the quiet study room to do your work on your own.
We hope our blog has inspired you to think about the ways you are studying and how to cope with your possible lack of motivation.
As soon as you have finished this course, don’t stop learning and using English. Your gained knowledge will be a major help in your future life, whether it is while travelling or meeting people from any part of the world or most likely communicating in your professional life.
Don’t forget to enjoy your time in New Zealand. Remember this might be the best time of your life.
By the CAE1 class at Languages International Auckland
25 November 2008
19 November 2008
The original region of traditional food, Jeonju attracts a number of visitors who want to taste Bibimbob or a variety of side dishes. With over 30 ingredients, this food includes bean sprouts, glutinous rice and hot spices and provides an abundance of nutritional value. So by everyone from citizens to tourists this unique cuisine is loved. Another reason is that it is famous for its plentiful quantities. Paying only $25 for Bibimbob fills the table to the edges. Jeonju, called the country of tastes, produces fresh vegetables and fermented food like soy sauce, paste and Kimchi.
As well as being respected for its food culture, Jeonju features a wide range of festivals both downtown and just 20 minutes drive from the city. Here the greatest contest in South Korea, including folk dance and music, takes place. And a series of fusion concerts, harmonizing folk music instruments with modern ones, is held in a recently finished building.
by Heeran, a student at Languages International Auckland
18 November 2008
New Zealand's national election and the U.S. presidential election have both been big news here in New Zealand recently. Languages International student, Kim Maria from Russia, shares with us her experience of the Russian presidential election held earlier this year:
I am going to talk about one of the most important days for my country, which was the election of the third President of Russia. It was at the beginning of March. I think for all people (as well as me) it was a big step towards changing our lives. We had two real candidates, but one of them, Medvedev, was extremely popular in Russia. He was supported by our ex-president Putin. Besides, he was well-educated, determined and confident. He wanted to make the best living conditions for ordinary people across the whole country. So before voting, the nation felt excited and worried about the special day which could influence the history of Russia.
My university, known as The Kuban State University, was involved in a campaign to encourage people to vote. All students had to do statistics reports to find out which person would become the president. I was put in a group which needed to do questionnaires for the department of voting. My group worked hard and after we completed these lists we were sent to Moscow to an electorate. For five days we worked under pressure doing important research about the future election. So when the results of the reports were announced, I felt proud because our ones showed that Medvedev was going to be the next President of Russia.
When the day of the election came, I voted for Medvedev, as most people did. The country had to wait for the result. At the end of the day we knew that Medvedev had been chosen. People were glad and satisfied, because they knew that he would provide many benefits for Russia, increase salaries and improve economic policy.
Nowadays, I know that our country chose the right person, because the world has had an economic crisis, but Russia has experienced few changes to the economy of the country. So for me this day of voting was really important.
by Kim Maria, a student at Languages International
Have you ever been rice shopping at a Foodtown near your home? Actually these days, every big supermarket has a variety of rice. You might not be able to count the number of types of rice. South Korea is famous for rice products and there are similar foods in Japan, but I would like to let you know about the festival of rice cakes which happens in South Korea. This festival takes place every year in many places, including Seoul, the capital city, and other place around the country.
Everywhere I looked there were people making rice cakes in many shapes and flavours. Through the big glass window of the shops, passing people are able to watch the rice cake-making process. Curious tourists waited in a long line for the chance to step onto the main stage where they could hit the rice dough with a huge mallet and make rice cakes themselves. The louder the sound when they hit the dough, the wider their eyes and the happier they seemed. This performance looked a lot like a rural market.
Visitors tried some free samples before they bought the ones they liked. By watching their faces you could imagine how the rice cakes tasted. Someone said ‘It’s like chewing gum’ while smiling.
Many stallholders had come there to sell their products. A number of people were moving along both sides of a series of stalls. Everybody who had taken part in the exciting events was listening to the folk music which filled the whole street. Bilingual volunteers helped many tourists from near-by Japan and from English-speaking countries. So, if you’re interested in food and culture, this festival extends a warm and genuine welcome to you.
by Heeran, an Upper Intermediate student at Languages International Auckland
17 November 2008
16 November 2008
On the first November, I went to Hanmer Spring with several other students from both our school and other language schools. I started my horrible experience from the very beginning of that day. I should be at the pick-up place at 9:15 in the morning and when I opened my eyes I was already 8:59 and besides I had a 15-minute walk to be there. I had no time for breakfast and just grabbed my bag running to the pick-up without washing and brushing. Finally I got there one minute earlier.
The weather seemed to be friendly to us at first and we all wish it could last forever, because we all knew what Kiwi weather look like. Unfortunately, it started to rain when we just arrived there and just got dressed with our swimming suits. What should we do? At that moment, the only thing we could do was to jump into the hot pool. Can you imagine that some poor frozen frustrated guys stayed at the hot pool with a heavy rain pouring just above their heads?
Anyway, the weather turned to be better the next day when we went to Kaikoura to see the whales. We got up at around six and went to the sea after breakfast. I had no idea if I would be sea-sick, anyway I took a pill just in case after I saw the strong sea sickness warning shown everywhere in the hall. At first, everything was just perfect and to enjoy the excitement best, I chose to sit at the very front of the boat. However, all that excitement was gone 30 minutes later and I felt something in my stomach started to move. So I had to move to the back of the boat and hoped to be better. However, it seemed that it didn’t work at all. When everyone else was just enjoying the whales and dolphins performance, I just could not stop vomiting. Finally I felt better when we went back to the beach so I could take some pictures of dolphins and I also got a picture of whale from one of my friends.
I didn’t know what happened when I got 20 percent refund and they told me the reason was that we only saw 2 whales instead of many of them. What a terrible experience! I think I could never forget that.
Story contributed by Sally, a student at Languages International Christchurch.
14 November 2008
New Zealand is truly an amazing country. Being slightly larger in size than the UK, it is packed with a spectacular landscape: primeval forests, vast tussock grassland, snow-capped mountains, windswept beaches, craggy coastlines and bubbling volcanic pools. Besides its unparalleled scenery, it also offers unlimited activities for those who know how to enjoy life on the quiet, as well as for those who seek the thrill.
The seemingly endless possibilities in this country are overwhelming and you can easily lose track of what’s going on. So, it’s crucial to plan your trip roughly before setting off. New Zealand might appear small on a map, but the distances in reality are considerably long and may fool many. Therefore, allow yourself at least five weeks for the whole trip in order to cover all the main sights and gain a reasonable insight into this unique culture.
Having made up your mind concerning the time you’d like to spend in New Zealand, it is also important to decide how you want to discover this country. There are several bus companies which offer guided tours all around the two islands and you are free to hop on or off at most of the places (if you feel like spending more time somewhere). This kind of travelling might be especially suitable for backpackers with a smaller budget or for those who want to meet a lot of new, like-minded people.
Discovering New Zealand with a car, though, doesn’t restrict you at all and gives you a feeling of complete freedom. This freedom, on the other hand, has certainly its price, yet it’s worth digging deep in your pocket since a lot of stunning areas are lying hidden off the beaten track.
Once you are on the road, don’t get too carried away and spend all your money at one place. It would be a shame to miss out on a hike on Fox glacier or a kayak trip in the Abel Tasman National Park, for example. Bear your financial situation in mind and spend your money wisely.
All in all, no matter how long you’d like to stay in New Zealand, nor how you want to travel around, this country will please you in every aspect. Not without reason do the Kiwis call their country “Godzone” (God’s own country).
Story contributed by by Mirjam Schnarwiler, a CPE student at Languages International Auckland
Having been in Auckland for almost four months now and having seen most of the city’s attractions, I didn’t expect last weekend to become particularly special or exciting. However, my rather boring expectations turned out to be completely out of place.
First of all I must mention that for the first time since I am here, Auckland’s weather during the last weekend was dominated by blue sky, not as usually by clouds. The sun was shining non-stop and as there was no sign of a sudden weather change in the sky, I finally resolved to leave the house in short trousers and a t-shirt. For the first time I almost felt like a real Kiwi, walking around in summary clothes instead of being wrapped in two pullovers, long trousers and a scarf. To say it in a few words, only for the weather’s sake the weekend had made it already to the top of my ‘Best Weekend in Auckland’- list. However, it was about to get even better.
Sunday was even nicer, partly because of the weather conditions had even improved, but in particular it was a great day since my host parents made the snap decision to go to Takapuna Beach and watch a ‘Bathtub Derby’ together. A ‘Bathtub Derby’? Indeed, this was nothing I had ever heard about before in my life and I therefore decided to join my host parents and check it out. I believe it was one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen: People dressed up in a range of hilarious costumes, having a race in bathtubs converted to boats. However, it took some of the participants quite long to complete the required loop as their bathtub steadily ran full with water and even twisted over in some cases. The following rescue actions in order to bring the participants and their boats safely back on land were almost more amusing than the race itself. The rescued, striking the funniest poses on the rescue boat, didn’t seem to care about their defeat. It was obvious that for them as well as for all the other participants taking part and having fun was much more important rather than winning the race. This attitude towards the competition created an amazingly relaxed and funny atmosphere among the spectators and made the race, as well as the whole sunny weekend, an unforgettable Auckland-weekend.
Story contributed by Jolien, a CPE student at Languages International Auckland
Are you tired of the delayed, crowded and loud buses in Auckland? Are you maybe concerned about your figure because you have put on weight since you have left home? Then it is high time for you to get a bike and cycle to school!
The most important thing you have to know about cycling in New Zealand is that you have to wear a helmet, is it required by law. Nobody would dispute the fact that Auckland is the wrong place to learn how to ride a bike, but if you have already some experience, cycling in Auckland is not more or less dangerous than in other cities.
If you want to bike to school, you should first ask your hostfamily and other people you have met in New Zealand whether they can give you a bike. If they can not, there are a lot of shops where you can buy one. Two of the biggest shops are “Pennyfarthing Cycles” at the Corner Symonds Street/Khyber Pass Road and “Avanti”, which is located at 66 Mt. Eden Road. I bought my bike at “Mt. Albert Bikes and Mowers”, which is near Mt. Albert Shops on New North Road and where you can get good deals as well.
As you can use the bus and bike lanes, you do not have to share your lane with cars. But there are still some streets like Symonds Street left, which do not have a bike lane and where you have to be extremely careful, especially when the streets are jammed.
In the case you got in a dangerous situation, it is important to stay calm. Getting angry with Kiwi drivers is a bad idea and could cause even more trouble. You should keep in mind that there are always two people needed to create a dangerous situation, so maybe your behaviour was inappropriate as well.
When your time at Languages International comes to its end, you should think about selling your bike again. Some bike shops buy bikes back, but normally for a quite low price, because they want to make a profit again. Maybe your hostparents are happy to buy your bike, if they did not have one before. If not, you could advertise it at school or try to sell it at www.trademe.co.nz.
So what are you waiting for? Get a bike today and become a more active, independent and environmentally friendly person today!
Story contributed by Alexander Geml, a student at Languages International Auckland
12 November 2008
Visiting Queenstown has been one of the highlights of my time in New Zealand. Queenstown offers a wide range of outdoor activities. My friends took the plunge and decided to do Skydiving. We had a memorable jump out of the plane, which provided a stunning view of the landscape. What is more, Queenstown has an enjoyable night-life with many bars and pubs, where fun is guaranteed. In addition, several walking tracks are easily accessible from the city centre and wind through some magnificent scenery. It is definitely worth spending some days in Queenstown!
Story contributed by Martina Fellmann, a student at Languages International Christchurch
11 November 2008
You should take warm clothes and an umbrella in case it rains, but also your sunglasses and your sun cream because the weather in New Zealand is very changeable.
Take a map in case you get lost, but if you don’t have a map, it isn’t a problem because the people in New Zealand are really friendly.
If you have to take the bus to school, get to the bus stop early and if you’re staying longer than one month, buy a monthly pass. (It’s cheaper!)
If you want to improve your English skills, you should go to the Learning Centre because there are many things you can do to practice.
If you join the social program you can make friends and do some interesting activities; like sailing, visiting the Skytower, playing football and visiting local pubs.
If you have a problem, you can talk to your counsellor, your teacher or Peter and Annie.
If you are going to go back to your homestay late, you must send a text to your homestay family.
If there is an emergency, you should call 111.
If you want to get around the city, the Link bus and the Free bus are useful.
If you want to go shopping, you should go to Sylvia Park, Dress Smart, Newmarket and Victoria Park.
If you want to eat good ice-cream in a beautiful place, go to Mission Bay.
If you want to go out to bars or buy alcohol you should take your passport with you.
These tips were brought to you by; Ayumi, Amber, Cherry, Dome, Hyun Ju, Mirjam, Pordon, Raeweewan, Ryun Hee, Sae, Simone and Terry - all students in Lara's intermediate class at Languages International Auckland
04 November 2008
We are students from CAE 3 and are about half-way through our course. Our teacher, Craig, suggested that we write some suggestions for any current or future students at Languages International about what to do if you are studying for an exam like Cambridge Advanced or First Certificate or IELTS and TOEFL. Here’s what we think:
Before the course
Before the course starts you can prepare yourself in different ways. A good idea is to watch DVDs with subtitles to get used to listening to English. You should have a note book and a vocabulary book to keep a record of different vocabulary features.
At the beginning of the course
At the beginning of the course, it is useful just to talk and read books in English. Make a rule with your friends to speak English in your freetime too so that you can improve your fluency. Don’t push yourself too hard. Try to find a balance between studies and leisure time.
At a midway point in your language course, you might feel less confident and less motivated. We have worked out a couple of tips to help you carry on with your studies:
• The more you read the more you become familiar with the language. Vary your readings and listenings (newspapers, magazines, novels, audio books, DVDs, TV news etc.). At the same time, you will also improve your writing and speaking skills.
• Don’t forget to have fun with other people! You can go to the cinema, go on trips during the weekend, go on social programme activities or join a club. Don’t be afraid to meet new people from different cultures and speak with them!
Independent study in general
You may have already recognised that only studying in class is not enough to improve your English skills. You should also use the Learning Centre in order to practise your general English skills and in particular your weak points, which you have worked out before with a teacher. In the Learning Centre you can find a lot of resources to study almost every area of English and to practise specific points for the exam. What’s more it is important that you improve your general ability in developing familiarity with English.
by Bo Ra, Boris, Sonja, Tae Woo, Joel, Valerie, Darsh, Simon, Karen - all students at Languages International Auckland.
03 November 2008
After finishing my military service, I came to New Zealand to study English. The reason why I chose to come here was that my grandparents have been living here for 4 years. That meant it was easy for me and I had no difficulty in adjusting. I could eat Korean food, could get in contact with my parents, and didn’t feel homesick.
As I saw some of my classmates suffering from culture shock I thought I wouldn’t like to live in a homestay. As time went by, however, I changed my mind. Even if I have difficulty living in a homestay I want to have the opportunity to speak English more. I thought it was a waste of time speaking Korean at home when I live in New Zealand!
I’m moving to a homestay this weekend. I don’t know whether it will be good or not but I will do my best to adjust and to study English as well. I hope I will be happy at the end of my New Zealand life and have no regrets.
Story contributed by James Jang, a student at Languages International Auckland.
I arrived at my homestay on a Saturday at midnight. My homestay family quickly showed me around then they went to bed. I wasn’t tired so I wrote emails to my friends and after that I felt tired.
The next morning I didn’t want to get up because I didn’t know them very well and I felt a little uneasy. I wished I was in my own flat in Switzerland. After half an hour I had to get up because I was hungry. It wasn’t bad. My homestay father was playing with the children. He showed me all the breakfast food and I ate breakfast. Leigh was out and came back at midday then she took me to the city. She showed me the school and we went to Westfield shopping centre for lunch. It was very kind of her to show me these places and we had a good talk over lunch.
When we went home I had some time to myself and I thought about all the new places I’d seen and the impressions they’d made on me. Dinner was very delicious and I felt very welcome in the family. I realised that I had been worried about nothing and that everything would be okay.
Story contributed by Gabriela Leuzinger, a student at Languages International Auckland.