Learning English at University College Cork, Ireland

Life inside and outside the language classroom

Let’s meet one of our Host Families!

Thank you for taking the time to do this little interview with us. We really appreciate it.

The reason we are doing it is because one of the main attractions for students to come and learn English in Ireland is the opportunity to experience the Irish welcome. Our students report how happy they are to come and stay with Irish families and that they feel such a part of the family when they come. For those who have also been to other countries to learn English, they say there is nothing to compare to an Irish family.

Matthew and Pat

Matthew and Pat

Tell us a little about yourselves?

Hi, my name is Patricia and I am Matthew. We like cooking, entertaining and travelling. We love interacting with students. We talk about travelling, cooking, gardening with the students, depending on the students’ interest.

How long have you been hosting international students?

Over 15 years.

What made you start taking international students?

From the experience of travelling abroad, we found that we love meeting foreign people and speaking foreign languages. As I was near retirement, we thought why not host foreign students and interact with them. We enjoy having them here.

What are some of the challenges students encounter when they first come to Ireland?

I would say the language barrier and the different culture, different meal times and trying to get used to the Irish way of life. I feel that it’s our duty and our job to make them feel welcome and their stay with us enjoyable.

What do you usually do with students to help them to adjust to Irish life?

We like to speak with them and encourage them to speak with us in English. You know, it’s just to make them happy and to have a bit of fun as well as the learning.

Do you make contact with the student assigned to you before their arrival e.g. by phone, email or Skype?

Not all of them but most of them do actually send an email with their photographs and I email them back and have a conversation via email before their arrival. We try to assure them that they are very welcome as they may feel a bit uncertain.

What advice would you give our students before arriving in Cork?

Ah ha, please bring plenty warm clothes and clothes for rain.

What advice would you give them about staying in Cork?

Be careful. Don’t take any risks and stay together if they are going out as a group at night.

Usually they don’t go into the city at night. If they do they stay together and watch out for each other.

Tell me about a typical day with our students.

Breakfast. When they come back from the school they do their homework. Actually I found that they often go to bed for an hour and take a nap before dinner time. Then we call them for dinner. Dinner can last 2 and half to 3 hours with conversation. After long conversations they are tired and they watch TV or use Skype to talk to their family. They go to bed early enough as they have school the following day.

Do you have any funny story or experience with our students?

Xanty from Spain used to look at the kitchen to find out what the dinner was every night. As you know, in Ireland potatoes are our staple diet so most dinners would involve some type of potatoes, one form or another. One night, he called me and said “Again tonight potatoes?”

So I said “yes”. Xanty said “I am going to a restaurant tonight with my friend”. So I said “no problem. But can you tell me the name of the restaurant? I need to talk to the head chef to make sure that he will serve plenty potatoes for you tonight”. He was down on the ground laughing.

Matthew and hos pet dog

Matthew and his pet dog

We had another student called Hitomi. She was a lovely Japanese lady. We brought her to an Irish evening night in my brother in-law’s house. Hitomi was very musical and she was good at piano and my brother-in-law was in his element too. Hitomi asked me to sing Danny Boy and she recorded me singing. She got very emotional. Now I might be a very famous singer in Japan, I presume.

Why do you think students love staying with Irish families?

They just love it. Well, we are from Cork and the conversation and the craic is mighty.

What is it about the Irish welcome in comparison to other countries?

There is no comparison. There was one boy and we were collecting him from the airport. We gave him a big hug when we met him in the airport. He was surprised and said, “You even didn’t know me but gave me a hug.”

Are the students who come to stay with you culturally different?

A little bit different but not much. They are not very different.

What do you usually cook for your students?

The best of Cork home cooked meals. If they come here thin, we will make sure that they put on plenty weight. J

Can you give examples of weekday meals and weekend meals? Irish Stew, Bacon and cabbage, Chicken and Fish. Matthew loves going fishing. So we have fresh fish very often. Depending on the students, if they wish to go fishing, they go with Matthew. I did a course on international cooking a few years ago and I got a certificate and everything.

Do you cater for students will allergies or food intolerances or special dietary requirements? Yes we do.

Does the student have study facilities available to them and do you help them with their homework?

Yes, they have them, and we do help them with homework all the time.

Would you tell me what the student should expect while living with a host family and should not expect from the host family?

We change the bed linen every week. We do their washing every week but only light washing.

Are there some students that come back to visit you again?

Yes. Some Spanish and some French came back to us and stayed with us. A Japanese student recommended us to his friend who was coming to Ireland.

Are you still in contact with those that stayed with you previously?

Quite a few of them. Some people always send us Christmas greetings. One of the Korean students still sends us emails with her family pictures as well.

Thank Matthew and Pat for taking the time to do this interview with us.

Matthew and Pat

Matthew and Pat

bathroom.jpg

bathroom.

bedroom.jpg

bedroom

dining roon.jpg

dining roon

kitchen.jpg

kitchen

garden.jpg

Beautiful garden

Congratulations to our winners

We are delighted to announce the winners of our third annual Photography Competition!

In third place, is Luis Gago with this photograph.

Luis Gago

Luis Gago

Here is what he said about his photograph:

I took this photo in County Galway, that is where I live since I moved to Ireland last february. What I like about taking photographs in Ireland is to have the chance to capture the wilderness and the history that makes this country unique. Untamed but full of beauty, young but with countless layers of history.

In second place is Katrin Brandmair:

Katrin Brandmair

Katrin Brandmair

Here is what Katrin said about her photo:

“It was taken in Killarney National Park, close to the Ross Castle. It was the first daytrip with my new roommate and the start of a really good friendship.”

And our winner is Priscilla

Priscilla Oliveira

Priscilla Oliveira

Here is what Priscilla said about her photo:

“I love Ireland and its beautiful scenery. This photo was taken the Connemara path these are some of my favorite photos behind me a sense of peace.”

Congratulations to all our winners and a big thanks to those who entered the competition. Come to our Summer School this year and you could get a beautiful photograph that just might be the winner next year.

The winners need to contact our office to reclaim your prizes. Email here.

Photography Competition – shortlist

Good morning! We will be posting the ten images selected in the shortlist for this year’s Photography Competition on our Facebook page.
Here is how it will work. The winning photos will be the photos with the most likes on Friday 27th at 5 p.m Irish time. In the case of a draw, Language Centre staff will choose a winner. For details on the prizes, please visit our Summer School page.

Here are the ten photos we have selected. Please visit our Facebook page and click like for the photos you want to win.

priscilla%20oliveira

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Denise LuziiGiant%27s%20Causeway

MatheusdeBritoCorrea_Ballyvourney

LUIS_GAGO_GALWAY

Katrin%20Brandmair_Killarney%20National%20Park_August2014

Katrin%20Brandmair_Inishmor%2c%20Aran%20Islands

annelise_serraKerry

annelise_serraCork

20150219_Felix_Connemara_020

Photography Competition 2015

Hey guys, just a quick update regarding the competition. Tomorrow is the last day to get your entries in. We will be posting the shortlist of selected images on our Facebook page from next week and we will allow public voting. The photos with the most likes will win the prizes. Still plenty of time to get your entries in. All details here.

To enter all you have to do is to email in three of the best photographs you have taken in Ireland. You can send your entries to b.ose@ucc.ie. Make sure to write PHOTOGRAPH COMPETITION in the subject line of the email and to include all your contact information in the email. Also, please write some background information about your photographs, such as where you took it, why you like it and so on.

When sending your photographs, make sure to title the photograph file with your own name and location of image. We cannot accept entries that are not properly titled.

The competition will close on March 14 and the winners will be decided by a public vote.

We have some great prizes for the winners. The winning photographer will win a three-week English language course in the month of August in our Summer School 2015. Second place will win a two-week English language course and the third place photographer will get a one-week course for free.
Check our Facebook page each week to see some examples of the photographs people are sending in.

We are really looking forward to seeing your photos!

Saint Patrick’s Day Video Competition

We are very pleased to announce a Video Competition to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day. To enter the competition, you need to make a video of a maximum of 60 seconds about your idea of Ireland or Irishness. The video should start in this way, ‘Hi, my name is …, I’m from …. and this is my message about Ireland’. To enter the competition, you will need to upload the video on your Facebook page with the hashtag #Patrick2015UCCLanguageCentre. Videos can be uploaded from the 19th to 30th March 2015. Please make sure if you are using music that you do not use  copyright protected music as we cannot share this on our pages if your do. You can find a lot of music you can use on YouTube’s copyright free library. Click here for that.

We have some great prizes for the winners. The winning video will win A TWO-WEEK FREE ENGLISH COURSE in our Summer School in the month of August. Second place will win FREE REGISTRATION FOR A CAMBRIDGE ENGLISH EXAMINATION and the third place will get FOUR WEEKS FOR THE PRICE OF THREE on our Summer School in August.

The winning video will depend on the amount of ‘likes’ the video will get on our Facebook Page (UCC Language Centre). All videos will be vetted before the publication on the Language Centre Facebook Page.

Winners will be announced before Easter!!

We are really looking forward to seeing your video!

Photography Competition 2015

We are very pleased to announce that our annual Photo Competition begins today. Last year we had a huge number of entries from all over the world. You can read about the winning photograph from last year’s competition here.

To enter all you have to do is to email in three of the best photographs you have taken in Ireland. You can send your entries to b.ose@ucc.ie. Make sure to write PHOTOGRAPH COMPETITION in the subject line of the email and to include all your contact information in the email. Also, please write some background information about your photographs, such as where you took it, why you like it and so on.

When sending your photographs, make sure to title the photograph file with your own name and location of image. We cannot accept entries that are not properly titled.

The competition will close on March 14 and the winners will be announced on March 21st.

We have some great prizes for the winners. The winning photographer will win a three-week English language course in the month of August in our Summer School 2015. Second place will win a two-week English language course and the third place photographer will get a one-week course for free.
Check our Facebook page each week to see some examples of the photographs people are sending in.

We are really looking forward to seeing your photos!

02 – Gestures and Embodied Cognition – Scott Thornbury

ucclangcent:

Very interesting podcast.

Originally posted on Master of TESOL:

MOT 2 1400

In class, we point behind us to represent the past. Forward for the future. But, other than Total Physical Response, how else can we use gestures?

View original 159 more words

Summer School 2014 Photography Competition

Hundreds of students sent in hundreds of photographs for our Summer School 2014 Photography Competition and the task of choosing three winning images was not an easy job. However, in all competitions there needs to be a winner.

The following three images were chosen by our panel of judges. Thanks to all for entering the competition. Remember we will be having another competition after Christmas and you can win great prizes.

 

In third place, Urara Nagata’s Cliffs of Moher.

We love the bird’s-eye view on this, and the textures – soft grasses, rugged cliff edge. Great shot!

Urara Nagata

Urara Nagata

 

Congratulations Urara! Please contact our office to claim your prize. 

 

In second place is Charles Fort, by Mohammed Tumi! Please contact our office to claim your prize. 

We think the panoramic view works splendidly here, capturing Charles Fort in its entirety and stretching all the way across to the town of Kinsale in the far right. Cork Harbour at its best!

Mohammed Tumi

Mohammed Tumi

 

Congratulations Mohammed!

 

1st Prize: UCC Quad, by Miyu Kuroda
This photo gets our number one vote for its creativity and sense of fun! Even on those cloudy days in summer, UCC is still a great place to be!

Miyu Kuroda

Miyu Kuroda

Congratulations Miyu! Please contact our office to claim your prize. 

Again, thanks to all the students who entered the competition. It was a great summer and thanks to all for taking part.

It is a great feeling, a combination of both a personal and a professional success

Núria Massot, a Catalan native, recently completed with flying colours a four-week intensive CELTA teacher training course. Here she talks to me about her experience.

nmassot

Núria Massot

Hey Núria, thanks for taking the time to do this. Now that the four-week intensive CELTA course is over how do you feel?

I feel so relieved and proud of having successfully achieved the CELTA. It is a great feeling, a combination of both a personal and a professional success. I do not only have the certificate, but also everything I learned during these 4 weeks is fantastic, overwhelming.

Can you tell me what were your reasons for doing the course?

I was looking for new job opportunities in teaching and one of them was to teach English as a foreign language in Spain. After some research on different training courses and after asking for advice to some English teachers, I realized this certification was the best for me and it would open up new doors, especially in Spain.

Can you tell us a little about the application process? What did you have to do?

The process was very straightforward. First, I had to complete a 1-hour long test on my knowledge of the English language and then I had an interview with one of the tutors. In the interview, the tutor gave me a clear idea of how demanding the course was and how to get ready for it.

What about before the course – were there things you had to do in preparation?

Yes, there was a pre-task, which I had to do before the course, and I also read a couple of the recommended books. I also registered to Cambridge English Teacher where I took an online course, as once you register for the CELTA you get a free online course. It’s worth doing it!

Tell us about the first day? What was that like?

I knew I was about to start a big project and I was nervous. We started with some ice-breakers, which were great to get to know each other and to produce confidence, and then the tutors told us about the administration and planning for the course. After the lunch break (on the 1st day we could still fully enjoy our breaks), we were divided into 2 groups and started with our first input class about planning, as the next day at 9am we were already teaching! This was quite impressive.

They say the course is really intensive. It is as relentless as they say or is it exaggerated?

It is incredibly intensive. The tutors advise you it is going to be very demanding but I could not imagine that level of intensity. In those 4 weeks I could just focus on the CELTA, nothing else. My mail and my phone were just for my CELTA colleagues. FB? For those 4 weeks, FB meant nothing else than Feedback!

On the course you have to teach for a total of six hours? How does that work out?

You have to teach 3 hours with each level (pre-intermediate and upper-intermediate). In two weeks you have to teach 3 x 40-minute lessons and a 1-hour lesson with one level. In the following 2 weeks, you teach the same amount of hours with the other level.

Are the students ‘real’ students?

Yes, they are real! The students are very cooperative and give you a lot confidence, so from the very first class it is easy to create a good atmosphere. The students have very different profiles and nationalities, and they are all very supportive, willing to learn English and to enjoy your classes.

On average how long did it take you to prepare for a lesson?

It could take me about 5 hours. Lesson planning is really demanding, as everything has to be very accurate. You have to make sure you set up the appropriate steps for the lesson, you define both your teaching and personal goals, you implement the suggestions from your previous lessons, prepare your Whiteboard… A good lesson plan is fundamental for your lesson to succeed, so it’s worth preparing it well.

Did the tutors give you a lot of help in the planning stage of your lessons?

Yes, they did. The tutors are really supportive. In the first days, they helped us a lot in the planning stage, both before and after the lessons. As the course went on, the teachers continued to guide us but we were supposed to be more independent at each lesson. In the last 1-hour class, we were totally independent, although the tutors were available in case we had some questions.

So, in the morning you have teaching practice and then in the afternoon you have input sessions? Tell us a little about those.

We start at 9am with the teaching practice until 11am. Then, after a short break, we are back to class to provide feedback to the trainees that were previously teaching and to plan for the following day.

In the afternoon, we have input sessions. Although they mainly cover aspects of theory, they are all very practical. Every input session was helpful for different aspects of our classes: planning, language analysis, teacher roles, classroom management, etc.

What is the hardest part of the course?

For me, the hardest part of the course came after the first week, when I had a couple of assignments to submit, I was starting to plan my lessons more independently and I also had to plan my 1-hour lesson. Moreover, I was also getting very tired and lacking hours of sleep. However, once you get through it, you are already half way, nearly there. The important thing is to keep visualizing the end of the course, when you will get your certificate and when you will also become an English teacher.

Was there anything you found easy?

I would not say anything was easy. Maybe I found easier to explain some aspects of grammar and to give tips on how to prepare for the listening or reading tasks, as I had already experienced it as a foreign English student myself. However, the limited amount of time and the huge pressure we were under made every aspect of the course very demanding.

Was there anything you had not expected at all; something that surprised you?

Although in the interview I was already told about the good friends I would make, the comradeship really surprised me. I would highlight the strong relationship within the group and the great cooperation and support to each other at all times. This was also really important for us to succeed, one of the key elements, I would say.

What advice would you give someone preparing for the intensive 4-week CELTA course? Are there any books or websites you would suggest?

One of my suggestions is to do the pre-task work and to read a couple of the recommended books (one on grammar and one on methodology). It is not necessary to read them in detail, but it would really help you to get to know the terminology and to have an overview of the topics covered. You will need to refer to them in your assignments, so it is better to prepare for that in advance, as you won’t have much time to read them during the CELTA.

It would also be very useful to review grammar before starting the course. When you register for the CELTA, you are given a free online course on English grammar through Cambridge English Teacher.

Being organized and keeping all your notes and files in order is also essential.

And most of all, tell your friends and family you are not going to be available for 1 month and it might also be very helpful to have some meals ready in your freezer (no time to cook either).

And finally, now that the course is over what are your plans? How do you intend to use your CELTA qualification?

My plans are to continue teaching Catalan at UCC and to try to complement it with a part-time job teaching English in Cork. I am also planning to go back to Catalonia in the near future. Having the CELTA would definitely help me to find a job there as well as to keep improving my teaching in general.

Thanks so much for taking the time to do this little interview, Núria!

The input from my fellow student teachers really surprised me

20140823_115543

Mark O’ Mahony

Mark O’ Mahony, a recent CELTA graduate, talks about his experience on the four-week CELTA teacher training course.

Hey Mark thanks for taking the time to do this. 

Now that the four-week intensive CELTA course is over how do you feel?

Qualified, confident and armed to teach English.

Can you tell me what were your reasons for doing the course?

To be awarded a CELTA qualification ( at UCC a five star university.) I will live in Thailand sometime and want a hobby and to contribute to society there. I wanted to learn HOW TO TEACH also as I will be teaching at Welcome English in Cork City. I also did the course to reintroduce myself to the 9 to 5 environment, deadlines, learning etc..  

Can you tell us a little about the application process? What did you have to do?

I filled an application form, did an tough interview and paid the fee.

What about before the course –  were there things you had to do in preparation?

YES. There was a pre course task, which you MUST do to get full value value from the course. I did do it but did not understand / learn / revise my knowledge fully. This put me under a lot of unnecessary pressure early in the course. 

Tell us about the first day? What was that like?

Fantastic. Straight into the course with the tutors. Straight into building relationships with your fellow students.  It also highlighted that I was disorganized (notebook, pens, drinks, dealing with household tasks etc etc).  They say the course is really intensive.

It is as relentless as they say or is it exaggerated?

YES. Relentless for sure, no exaggeration at all. It gives you strength. You grow. You learn.

On the course you have to teach for a total of six hours? How does that work out?

There are two classes of REAL students at 2 different levels. You teach one class for the 1st two weeks then the other class for the last fortnight. So the 6 hours (360 minutes) works out as 2 x (40 + 40 + 40 + 60) minute lessons that you teach. That is a total of 8 lessons you teach. 8 lesson plans, 8 feedback sessions, 8 preparation sessions.

Are the students ‘real’ students?

100%. I still bump into and chat to at least 5 of them regularly around town. 

On average how long did it take you to prepare for a lesson?

4 – 7 hours , but I did struggle a bit in the middle.  Tips : Get your own printer. Do not get a new laptop the day before the course.

Did the tutors give you a lot of help in the planning stage of your lessons?

YES. You get lots of help.

So, in the morning you have teaching practice and then in the afternoon you have input sessions? Tell us a little about those.

The input session were intense. A perfect mix of theory and practice. I really got a lot out of these sessions ( maybe because I seemed to be fully awake in the afternoons :) ) . 

What is the hardest part of the course?

Dealing with your life outside the course. You, ideally, must put you non CELTA existence on hold. My father took my wife and kids on holidays for the last 2 weeks for me.

Was there anything you found easy?

NO. If you find anything easy on this course you are missing out. From 8:45 on the 1st day you have the opportunity to get value for your money, you will if you are dedicated and prepared. You are being assessed from the 1st second you walk into the building by the tutors.

Was there anything you had not expected at all; something that surprised you?

The input from my fellow student teachers really surprised me. Way above my expectations. We bonded, learned from each other, got to know each other, had some far out discussions and many many belly laughs.

Yes, you were really a great bunch of trainees. 

What advice would you give someone preparing for the intensive 4-week CELTA course?

1.  Do and UNDERSTAND the pre task assignment. Complete the sections you understand and put them away. That will leave the grammar section. Do it until you understand and know it, YOUR STUDENTS WILL KNOW THEIR GRAMMAR.

2. Get sorted with pens, notebooks , folders etc.

3. Get anything you have to sort in your life done BEFORE the course starts.

4. Get stocked up with candy, coffee, red meat and fresh veg for the late night sessions.

Are there any books or websites you would suggest?

Read HARMER . Avoid all SWAN books.

I only use 3 websites : 

http://www.cambridgeenglish.org/

http://www.britishcouncil.org/

http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/learner-english/

And finally, now that the course is over what are your plans? How do you intend to use your CELTA qualification?

 Teach locally in Cork City,  teach in Thailand in the future, do the CELTA-YL next year in Thailand.

Thanks Mark. It was great having you on the course. Keep in touch.  Enjoy your teaching. 

If you are interested in our CELTA courses, you can find all information here. 

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