Learning English at University College Cork, Ireland

Life inside and outside the language classroom

CELTA will bring me to Colombia

David O’ Donoghue, from Cork, did a ten-week CELTA course with us here in the Language Centre last autumn. I caught up with him to hear about his experience and what he has been up to since the course ended.

David O’ Donoghue

Tell us a little about your background?

Upon completing secondary school, I went on to work in a number of different roles across various sectors; working with adults with intellectual disabilities, technical support for a payment processing company and customer service for a print-on-demand company.

Why did you decide to do the course?

I was growing increasingly weary of working within an office environment and I felt that I was not born to do the work that I was doing- put simply, I didn’t enjoy dragging myself into work every morning. I had often felt that I would be well-suited to a teaching role as I enjoy engaging with the public and I am somewhat charismatic (I do a lot of drama and play music in my free-time). I felt that the time was right to train as a teacher, especially as I had done some ESL teaching in Cork on cover-basis previously and loved it.

What did you know about the course before starting it?

I had heard that it was extremely intense but that it opens a lot of doors in the teaching field. I understood that the Celta was now a requirement for teaching in private English schools in schools across Ireland.

The course is supposed to be very intensive; did you have to do anything in preparation for the course?

I was sent a link for a mini-grammar course and that was useful for revising a number of grammar points.

Tell us about the first day of course; what is it like?

On the first day, it became immediately clear that the course wasn’t going to be a walk in the park. The structure of the course was outlined in detail.

What was the hardest part?

Personally I found the written assignments the most challenging. We had four such assignments to complete.

What was the teaching practice like?

Teaching practice was a very new experience and forced us to consider how we allocate our time as teachers and how we can keep the students engaged with the topic. Personally, I feel that we learn a lot from observing our fellow trainee teachers and from the feedback sessions as we are forced to reflect our our role as teachers and develop a natural flow in our lesson structure.

How is the course assessed?

We had eight teaching practices to complete and four assignments (of which we had to pass at least four). Teaching practices were graded; below standard, to standard and above standard.

A final grade was issued upon completion of the course: Fail, Pass, Pass B and Pass A depending on the trainee’s overall performance.

How many trainees are on the course? How did you get on with them?

We were twelve trainees in total. We all got on very well and supported each other especially for the final teaching practice where we had to work together to link our lessons.

What were the tutors like?

Very experienced in their field. They would try to make you come to your own conclusions as to what worked or didn’t work in a lesson rather than spoon-feeding you feedback.

What advice would you give to someone thinking about doing a CELTA course?

Although many of us had commitments outside of the course (children, part-time jobs etc), it is best not to have too many outside commitments if possible- if you have children, consider how you can work around parenting to make time for lesson planning or if you are working, consider cutting down on your hours for the duration of the course.

What have you been doing since the course?

Working full-time at an English school in Cork city. I am registered with an online teaching company and so I hope to establish an online clientele as well.

What’s next for you?

I plan to teach English on Colombia for a period of 6-12 months at some stage in the near future. In the meantime, I hope to continue working in the school in which I am working and attain as much experience as possible. I also hope to teach more one-to-one classes and give online classes.

I may consider doing the DELTA (a more in-depth English teaching qualification) in the future.

Thanks, David. Best of luck in your future endeavours.

You can find more information about our CELTA courses here.


CELTA gave me the ability to travel

Niall Horan did a CELTA course with us here in the Language Centre in 2011. It was his passport to the world, but now he is back in his hometown as Head of Programme Coordination in Tralee’s Insititute of Technology.

Niall Horan with his current group of students in the Institute of Technology Tralee

I caught up with Niall to hear his story.

Hi Niall,

Thanks for taking the time to do this interview and tell us about your career path since doing the CELTA back in 2011.

What do you remember about the CELTA course?

Niall: What I remember most was the support from my fellow teachers. I made lifelong friends on the CELTA. Some of them I have worked with since in various schools.

Did you come on to the course with previous teaching experience?

Niall: No. I was new to the ELT industry when I joined the CELTA

Niall with his class on their last day in Oxford, working for EF Oxford

If someone was looking for advice about a CELTA course, what would you tell them?

Niall: I would tell them that they should do it in as little time as possible. The CELTA can be emotionally draining at times, the quicker it gets done, the quicker you can move on to teaching.

What would you say was the biggest takeaway from the CELTA course for you?

Niall: The biggest takeaway was that I realised an hour in a class can either move very quickly or very slowly, depending on how much preparation you have done. If you are under prepared, an hour lasts a lifetime. My first Director of Studies told me something that has always stuck with me. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

Casting your mind back to your first teaching job post CELTA, how do you think the course equipped you in real classroom situations?

Niall: I couldn’t have been better prepared. The nerves one feels during a CELTA during teaching practice serve you well later. Confidence grows each time you teach and speaking in front of a group becomes much easier as time goes on.

Were there things that the CELTA course did not prepare you for in real teaching?

Niall: I would say that during the CELTA we were ‘spoiled’. Printers, Markers, CD players, Overhead projectors, whiteboard etc. I have been to schools where they didn’t have any of these. I feel that this helps you to become more adaptable and able to face any challenge.

Tell us about your first job? How did you choose it and what was the process of getting it?

Niall: I was in Poland at the time for a football tournament. I had initially planned on going to Spain for the Academic year.I happened to be walking past a window in the city of Lodz and read a sign saying “English Teachers Wanted”. When I went inside, the director was convinced that God himself had sent me, as her sister had been living near me in Ireland.

Relaxing after a long teaching day in Riva Del Garda, Italy

Tell us about the different places you have worked in? What were the worst and best aspects of them?

Niall: I went on to work in Oxford for a summer period in a very forward thinking language school. Students came from all over the world and at times, every student in the classroom was from somewhere different. I lived in Spain and Italy as well, both very different and mostly for private language schools. I still claim that I have seen more of those countries than I have of Ireland. At times, the worst thing was the lack of resources or the use of outdated books. The best was without a doubt the ability I had to travel. In Italy, I lived in Riva Del Garda, a town in the north. Every weekend I would drive to another city or country.

What advice would you give to someone looking to make a career in TEFL?

Niall: The best advice I would give is to realise that it is possible to make a decent career in this industry. It is important for people to upskill, go to international events and put themselves out there.

It can be very easy to become stale in teaching; what do you do to prevent that?

Niall: I would say that embracing change is the key to stop staleness. I have worked in schools where teachers don’t want to use any technology. For me, this is a quick way to getting nowhere. I am always researching new technology and how I could bring it to the classroom.

Beautiful Lake Garda, Italy

You are now back in your hometown of Tralee teaching in the Institute of Technology, you have gained a lot of varied experience both in Ireland and abroad; what is the next step for you?

Niall: I have been in The Institute for 3 years now. It has really helped to further my career. I started off teaching here and have been able to move into Management relatively quickly. I still teach a couple of hours a week as I would very much miss that buzz of the classroom. The next step for me is to develop my career in management and look at upskilling further. There are lots of educational opportunities in Ireland at the moment.

What is the best thing about being a language teacher for you?

Niall: The best thing about being a language teacher is the people I have met. Thousands of people from all over the world remember their teacher with a Kerry accent. I have been invited to many places around the world and I always appreciate hearing from my old students again.

Excellent stuff, Niall. Thanks for taking the time to tell us your story. It is great to hear how the CELTA helped you in your career and that you are making such a success of it.

Has Niall’s story given you itchy feet? You can do it too. Check out all the information on our CELTA courses here.

Read other CELTA graduates’ interviews here.


CELTA awakened in me an appetite for learning and study again

I met up with John O’ Driscoll who recently completed our intensive 4-week CELTA course this summer. 

John O’ Driscoll

You’ve just completed the four-week CELTA course. How do you feel?

I am delighted to have successfully completed the course. It was a unique experience – the course structure, the content, the setting and mostly the people all added to making CELTA, UCC Summer 2018 a truly memorable experience.

Why did you decide to do the course?

I was very fortunate given my employer, Tipperary Education and Training Board  offered to pay for a place on the course. I work with CELTA tutors in Adult Education and I was always impressed with the enjoyment and satisfaction they derived from their work. I love teaching and I love the English language and therefore a confluence of events conspired to place me in Cork mid-June.

What was the hardest part?

While all aspects of the course were challenging the assignments were the most demanding. There are four in all. They need a lot of time and research and running parallel to the other course commitments, it cannot be stressed enough how much work they need. Having said that, by virtue of the work that goes in, a lot of learning comes out the other side of them and that is most satisfying. Of course, this is a subjective view – for others, assessments may not prove as significant a challenge but they are an important component of the course.

Tell us a little about a typical day?

Blessed with good weather, Summer 2018 in a really lovely campus made the days special – believe it or not. I tried to arrive by 8am. If I was teaching, I’d set up the classroom and grab a coffee before class began at 9am. You’d meet fellow trainees and teachers and it was time for a quick catch-up. The morning was always teaching practise – the pressure was off if you were observing fellow trainees; the heat was on if it was my turn. While the mornings demanded the most work, it was here the most learning took place. Mid morning after coffee was when teaching-practise feedback took place. After lunch we had inputs: from sessions on pedagogy, phonology, grammar, the CELTA teaching landscape and much more besides, the sessions were relaxed, informative and always leavened with good humour. We enjoyed and benefited from them enormously.

What about the workload; is it true that there is a lot?

The workload is demanding. However, it must be said – it’s doable. When I reflect on the four weeks, I can see I was in some form of overdrive. The starting gun was fired, the challenge began and the adrenalin definitely kicked in and didn’t dissipate until the course was over. One needs that. There was twelve of us on the course. We were all unique people with different life circumstances, different demands and temperaments. Each of us navigated our own pathway through the workload and we all came through successfully. No one was afraid of hard work and that investment reaped dividends in the end.

What were the tutors like?

The tutors were professional and very nice. They were approachable and treated us with respect. We had good fun along the way too. The tutors were exacting  in the demands the placed on us. It was stressed at the beginning and indeed at the interview stage that this would be the case. They were true to their word. They respected our abilities and our potential to successfully complete the course. The teaching practise was where the tutelage came into its own. It was here, in my opinion, where the most valuable learning took place. The lesson plan templates demanded a huge attention to detail but it was matched by equally scrupulous feedback, written and verbal from the tutors. The feedback was fair, informative and comprehensive. Input sessions were very enjoyable and informative. It was all complemented by the atmosphere in UCC – we had to observe experienced CELTA tutors (6 hours) and we were exposed to great teaching and lovely students from every corner of the globe.

What was the teaching practice like?

It is in the furnace the silver is tested – so they say and it’s true. It went like this: teaching material was provided and by and large there was some latitude in how it might be used. Tutors gave some advice on how a lesson might be put together. The lesson plan was a significant document that had to be compiled and it mapped out how a trainee’s class would proceed in terms of stages, aims/goals, student work/teacher work, student/teacher interaction and timing. A language analysis sheet was a significant part of the plan. It was here the trainee teacher prepared for any vocabulary and grammar points that could possibly emerge during a class. It was here you would compile meaning of words/grammar, their use, and their form, i.e. how they appear in sentences etc, their sound, their phonetic spelling and questions as to how you might glean meaning and understanding from students – so called concept-checking questions. This part of the lesson plan was the most demanding but ultimately very useful in that it prepared you thoroughly for grammar/language points that will inevitably arise.

Classes were 40 minutes but two classes were 60 minutes each. Your class was observed by the CELTA tutor and your fellow trainees. Naturally, there is a certain amount of anxiety but by-and-large it acts to keep you focused. After your class feedback was comprehensive – honest, exacting but ultimately valuable. All your lesson plan and language analysis documentation was returned accompanied by tabulated feedback on all aspects of  how the class and your teaching of it proceeded. I found these documents the most valuable. Sometimes criticism ( (always constructive ) was hard to take – there’s no pride like a teacher’s pride – but it proved and will continue to prove to be the most valuable part of the course. But the credit side of the ledger was always satisfying and when progress was noted and commented upon you felt your were learning. Every trainee has a unique quality to bring to a class and  we learned a lot from each others’ classes as we all internalised and practiced the CELTA teaching tenets.

What advice would you give to someone starting the course?

Go for it. As the proverb goes – when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. I would advise a prospective applicant to seek out a former student for some tips. Be prepared for a lot of work. Use the pre-course materials. Do some research online and buy a good English grammar book.

What would you do differently if you were able to do course again?

See the previous question! I was busy with my work and didn’t give enough attention to pre-course preparation material. I also had some work commitments to expedite which coincided with the start of the course. If possible at all, clear you diary for the four weeks.

What do you think is your biggest takeaway from the course?

It was probably a few years since I did a formal assessed course and the CELTA awakened in me an appetite for learning and study again. The CELTA teaching philosophy is to be admired – it respects the existing knowledge and skills of the student and draws forth their acumen for learning language. It equips the teacher with the skills and practises needed to apply what is a most rewarding and productive experience for student and teacher alike. Too often a class can become all about a teacher transmitting knowledge onto  so-called blank slates. CELTA says not so! Rightly so. English language is such a rich tapestry and now with its grammatical superstructure to think about there is so much more to learn and explore. CELTA opens a window into a whole new field of learning and that has to be worthy.

What’s next?

As an existing Adult and Further Education tutor, I am looking forward to teaching some ESOL (English Speaker of Other Languages) classes as part of my overall portfolio of classes. I relish this opportunity. Because I won’t have the all-seeing eyes of our CELTA tutors on my teaching, I might  relax a little. Nevertheless, I will be anxious to apply the CELTA teaching principles at all times. Building up my hours of teaching experience is now important. I would hope to also avail of further training – I would hope UCC provide some workshop type classes into aspects of CELTA teaching as I feel they would be well subscribed to. There are webinars and other online platforms that assist the CELTA professional – but certainly in the short term I am excited about teaching in the ESOL classroom.

Thanks, John. It was a pleasure having you on the course. All the best in the future!

If you are interested in getting a qualification which will allow you to work anywhere in the world, a CELTA course might be for you. All details here.


2018 Photography Competition

We are delighted to announce our 2018 Photography Competition today for our Summer School 2018. You could be flying to Ireland this summer to learn English at our beautiful university.

Photo: brendan ó sé


The competition runs from today, April 9th, until Friday, May 25th.


How can you enter? You need to follow us on Instagram, and post your entries on your own Instagram account with this hashtag – #ucclc18. You can enter as often as you want.


What kind of photos and videos are we looking for? The theme is travel and learning – just like our Summer School – an educational holiday.


What are the prizes? Two weeks free tuition for Summer School 2018 in the month of August, options General English 20 hours per week or EAP (excluding exam classes), and we have some great prizes for the photos  we select in second & third places.


So what do you have to do? You need to follow us on Instagram (just click here), and start taking photographs and post your entries on your own Instagram account with this hashtag – #ucclc18.


Remember, you can enter as often as you want. Tag your friends on your posts. 

Check out the winners from last year. This year it could be you!

Francesco Broginhz


Stephane Mendes

All information about our Summer School is here.

An educational holiday in Ireland

Sonny Kennedy is the Social Programme Coordinator for our Summer School. I caught up with him to learn about what students can do outside the classroom while here with us in the summer.

Hi Sonny, thanks for taking the time to do this interview.

Hi Brendan, no problem it’s great to get the chance to talk to you about Summer School 2018!

Well, the Summer School is the Language Centres annual 10-week EFL programme for non-native speakers looking to improve their English and of course have a great time in Ireland while doing so! As the name suggests it takes place in the summer, so students have the chance to learn while on holiday & hopefully enjoy some Irish sunshine!

  • Is it only English classes the students take or is there more?

No there are lots of options available to take! We have courses for Cambridge & IELTS exam preparation, English for Academic Purposes, Business English, Focus on Speaking, and much much more!

New for this year is our Family Package option as well as Focus on Writing, and a specific Pronunciation course. There really is a course option for everyone no matter what your level or needs.

  • I see, there is also a social programme. What kind of things do you do?

For the social programme we do a wide variety of things. On Wednesdays for example we go on excursions to the “must see” attractions in Cork like Blarney Castle & Gardens the Jameson Experience Midleton and Fota Wildlife Park .

On Thursday evenings we also hold cultural activities/events like an Irish Music & Dance Class Irish Music & Dance Class , a special photography walk & also a local brewery tour.

Cork is where the Wild Atlantic Way meets Ireland’s Ancient East, so theres plenty to see, learn and do!

  • What about the students? Where do they come from? Are they all about the same age?

One of the best things about the Summer School is that we have a fantastic mix of nationalities from across the world, from Spain to Saudi Arabia , Japan to Germany, even Kazakhstan to Korea! Ages can vary from 18 to over 60 but of the things I’ve learned in 3 years of working on the Summer School is that age doesn’t matter everyone makes friends and most importantly everyone has a great time!

Sonny with Giulia, Matteo, Ahmed & Fabio at the Jameson Distillery in Midleton.

  • What is your role in all of this?

My role is as social programme coordinator is to organise and lead the excursions and activities we have but more importantly to make sure everyone is having a good time, learning about Cork & Ireland and speaking English during the social programme of course!

  • What if your level of English is low; can you still enjoy the social programme?

Definitely! All the tours and activities we take part in are aimed towards students with different levels of English and both I and the teachers are always available to help or explain something on every social programme event.

  • What is your favourite place to visit?

My own favourite place to visit is probably the historic Charles Fort & the nearby town of Kinsale. There are amazing views of the harbour and town at Charles Fort, while Kinsale is a lovely place with great food and people.

  • Have you any funny stories to tell about the people or places you visit?

Well the most common funny thing that happens to me at least once or twice a year is that the tour guides might confuse me for someone trying to sneak onto the tour because I’m young and speak English fluently!!

Sonny in a spot of bother on Spike Island

  • In your opinion, why should someone come to UCC Language Centre to improve their English this summer?

For me the key reason why someone should come to UCC Language Centre for a summer is because it is an investment for their future and fantastic way to really experience great teaching & learning both inside and outside the classroom.

  • What would you say to someone unsure or nervous about coming to Ireland to study English?

Firstly I would say that the Irish are the most friendly and welcoming people in the world! Also here in the Language Centre we have a great team of staff who always do their best to look after and help every student. In over 4 years of working in the Language Centre I have never come across a student or problem we were not able to help. A big thing for us is making sure students whose first language isn’t English feel comfortable and happy.

  • What about Cork? Is it a nice city?

Cork is the best place in Ireland, and much better than Dublin! It is a small but very friendly city with great people and characters. During the summer especially there are always lots of things to do like, concerts, festivals, Gaelic matches and much much more.

  • Are there new places to visit and things to do planned for Summer School 2018?

Well last year for the first time we visited the beautiful Killarney National Park in Co Kerry and it went down a storm with the students. So definitely Killarney is on the cards, and we may possibly hold a few Thursday evening activities/events in a cool new venue in the city centre!


Sonny with Ahmed, Chris, Norine, Mohammed, and Sanaa in Doneraile Park 

Thanks, Sonny. I am sure the students who have been here with us have loved the social programme. How about you tell us in the comments which place was your favourite to visit. Share your photos if you have some.

And for you guys who are coming to us this summer, tell us where you would like to visit on our excursions, or what activity you would like to do while in Cork.

Summer is getting close. All details about our courses in the Summer School are available here. 


I am way more confident in English now

Hamza Benhamed was a very popular French student who spent a year with us here in the University Language Centre. We recently caught up with him and learned about what life was like for him in UCC and what life is like for him now in his new job working for Facebook in Dublin.

Hamza Benhamed

Hamza, how are you? It’s great to speak with you again today!

Hi there! I am doing well, thank you. No worries, the pleasure is all mine.

So to start, could you tell us a bit about yourself?

I was a French student looking for a good university that will help me to improve my level in English and communication, but also have new adventures in a foreign country. I strongly like learning from my interaction with new people and different cultures.

You come from Mulhouse in the East of France, what made you decide to come to Ireland and in particular UCC to learn English?

I absolutely love the Celtic atmosphere, folklores, Irish music and Irish culture that you can feel and find in Ireland, and particularly in Cork. I was looking at different places around Ireland, and with some photos and comments on internet, Cork was the best option. When I saw the picture of UCC and references about it, I knew that UCC was the best option.

It’s been a while since you studied with us what have you been doing with yourself?

Well, after my adventure in Cork, I came back in my hometown for professional opportunities. For a year, I did work for a company that I used to work with, and I helped my parents to buy a house in that city near to the border of Germany and Switzerland. A year after, I felt that my English skills, was not used the way that I wanted. So, I tried to look at some opportunities in Ireland and within few days, the big agency CPL asked me to work in Dublin on Facebook website. Now I do work as a contingent worker for Facebook via CPL, and really proud to be part of CPL workers and Facebook workers.

Language Centre

What were your first impressions UCC & the Language Centre?

My first impression? Do not laugh though… I literally said that: ”Is this Hogwarts?” and the funniest part is that UCC also have a club that realize the famous ceremony of houses in Hogwarts. How cool is that.

What did you think of studying in the Language Centre, were you happy with the teachers, classrooms, facilities etc.?

UCC have plenty of rooms, really good facilities and it is a comfortable environment to study. UCC have resourceful teachers that will help you to learn English even if you have different cultures or coming from another country. I am lucky enough to keep in touch with some of them like Brendan, Séamas, Nadine..

In class with classmates Vicent, Adriana, Ilona, Christian and teacher Brendan

Did you find your level improved while you studied here?

Absolutely, I am way more confident in English now than the knowledge I had before coming in UCC. It is way better to learn English when the entire environment around you is all in English, right?

Did you find it easy to settle in and make friends here?

When you are a UCC student, making friends in Cork is so easy because you have a lot of different kind of activities in Cork or around Ireland that UCC plans for students. Also, you have different kind of clubs and most of the time you have student parties everywhere in Cork city centre. You do not have time to get bored.

Do you feel more confident in your English level now?

I am more confident but as every human being, I am still doing some mistakes but I learn from them. I am not afraid to do mistakes because this is how we learn, right? UCC gave me the courage that I need to talk when I have meetings at work or talking with native speakers, friends and even with American Facebook workers.

You studied with us for over 8 months, what advice would you give to students who are thinking of coming to Cork to study English in UCC?

Do you like adventures? Having fun in a really good environment that gives you great opportunities? Share beautiful moments with different kind of people? Not being afraid to enjoy life with friends or making new friends? UCC is your place. But make sure to program your trip to Cork in advance because it might be difficult to find an accommodation near to UCC.

Do you think the time you spent studying with us helped you in your career?

UCC surely helped me to be a Community Operation Analyst for Facebook as a contingent worker. I am able to work in high responsibility environment using English everyday because I got good lectures in UCC, and for fact you need a good level in English to understand, learn, and exchange in a big company in Ireland.


What’s Cork like as a city to live in?

I do not know where to start to be honest with you.. Cork is a wonderful place, really colourful, with sociable people and lot of activities and places to visit.

What did you do in your spare time, do you think there is a lot to do in Cork for students?

Most of the time, I was going out with my classmates and other friends I meet in Cork city centre. We did organize some traditional dinners from different countries like Spain, Korea, Japan, China, Irish, French.. I cannot remember all parties we had in Cork city centre but by Jesus.. it was a good time.

Party time

Having the craic with this friends in Cork

I did visit a lot of places around Ireland with UCC clubs and had the most beautiful moment I never had in my life with some people I meet during those days. I also visited some places with the bus “Paddywagon tours” with some friends, and it was really good as well.

Enjoy the PaddyWagon tour of Ireland.

Enjoying some of the beautiful Irish scenery

Don’t wake the giant

As a student I will say Cork city centre, but as a French tourist I will say every beautiful landscapes you could have around Cork city centre.

Did you learn any Cork slang while you lived here?

Jeez… a lot: “What’s the Craic? That is savage brah! Come back here will ya! No worries, You grand!” and saying the word “like” every sentences you could say to someone else (Cork citizens only).

Is there anything that you miss about Cork?

Oh god… I definitely miss my student life with my friends, my teachers, and all that beautiful moments I had out there.

You’re living in Dublin now, what are the main differences between Cork & Dublin?

On one hand, I will say that Dublin is bigger, darker and a stressful city. On the other hand, it is a good place for professional opportunities and I am living in a beautiful place front of the sea. When I went back to Cork (just one day though), I had that beautiful feeling of a cosy place and really colourful with good people around you.

Which do you prefer?!

… Cork! “And yes.. I agree with you on that one Brendan”. But let’s keep it secret will ya?

Have you any plans to come back in the future?

Of course, I already took my week off this year on March 12th until 18th, so be prepared, I am coming back!

Finish this sentence; “The best thing about UCC Language Centre is….

the student life that you need to experience at least once.

Thanks a million Hamza for taking the time to do this interview. It was great to speak with you again. Continued success for the future and please make sure to call in to day hello!

Hamza relaxing looking out on the skyline of Cork city

If you want to find our information about our courses, please click here. 

New friends, new experiences…

So here we are, already in week 8! At the moment, we are busy making preparations for the final week in UCC Language Centre Summer School and hope to make it the best one yet, with lots of fun, activities and one huge party planned!

For those students who have just arrived, we welcome you to our beautiful city of Cork, but apologise for the rain. Perhaps, it may be sunny again tomorrow…

Ireland: The only country with four seasons in one day and rain featuring in all seasons!
Screen Shot 2017-08-16 at 11.15.14

Today, we are setting off on our second day trip of the summer, visiting beautiful Spike Island. This year, it was nominated for Europe’s Leading Tourist Attractions  2017, which is a massive achievement for the fort. We hope you all enjoy it as much as our past students and please don’t forget to vote for it after you visit and tune in to the World Travel Awards taking place in St. Petersburg, Russia this September. We would love this stunning tourist attraction to get the global recognition it deserves and to put it on the list of places to visit when you come to Cork.

Last Wednesday, we visited the scenic, coastal town of Cobh. Amy and all the staff at the Titanic experience looked after us very well and ensured that everyone had a great time. Students enjoyed learning about the history, while also enjoying the beautiful surroundings that it offers.

Students have enjoyed the Thursday night activities over the past couple of weeks. We all had such fun learning how to do traditional Irish dancing. It was amazing to see how fast  many students picked it up- many of you have such great rhythm. I, on the other hand have two left feet! It was such an enjoyable night and I think everyone agreed that it really is the best music to tap your feet to and really get in the mood for a great time! Check out our Facebook page for the videos, they are fantastic!

We went along to Curraheen Greyhound Track last Thursday and had a great night of betting and fun. Many of our students had never experienced anything like it before, but were delighted to try something new. It is fantastic to see so many students on these social activities, making new friends and having a good time out of the classroom! We have some amazing photos up on our Facebook page, so be sure to take a look!

Have a great week and enjoy the rest of Summer school 2017!!

New faces, new places…

We have been really busy over the last few weeks. Welcoming new students, bidding farewell to others and trying to make everyone’s time at the Language Centre as memorable and fun as possible.

We are delighted to be working with a large group of Chinese scholars and PhD students, who are studying EAP, while undertaking modules in Teaching and Learning at UCC. We hope they enjoy their four weeks with us.

We were lucky enough to launch podcasting in the classroom for some of our morning classes over the past few weeks. We have been busy introducing new strands to the syllabus and making presentations as relevant as possible to third level education and the workplace. It has been a really interesting project to work on and a great opportunity for the students.

The social activities have been hugely successful, with Fota being a real treat last week. The students had great fun visiting the famous wildlife park, taking lots of photos and walking around the beautiful grounds. It is always such a pleasure to take students here because everyone seems to love the laid back, friendly atmosphere.

Cork is buzzing at the moment and there is so much going on. The students have been enjoying wandering around the streets in their free time and enjoying all that our little city has to offer!

Students went to Breandán de Gallaí’s production Aon at the Firkin Crane theatre, which was a first for the Language Centre. It was a very interesting production, which fused traditional Irish music with contemporary elements. It was a little wacky, telling the deeply personal story of individuals being who they want to be instead of what society wants to mould them in to. Sitting very near the front, it was easy to see the hard work and endurance needed for such a performance, with buckets of sweat pouring off each of the talented individuals. They all earned their place on that stage. It was an intensely deep performance. Overall, it was an enjoyable evening and the students were happy to be out and about mingling with each other.

The students went on a tour of Kinsale yesterday. This pretty little fishing town is always a big hit with students, with its quaint shops and various little cafe’s and eateries. It was a big success and the students really enjoyed their time, walking around the cobbled streets and taking in the blissful atmosphere that is so apparent down there. Many of them tucked in to the Fish and Chips in Dino’s and were very impressed!

Everyone is looking forward to the long weekend and taking a well deserved break on Monday. Everyone has been working so hard over the past few weeks, so enjoy the lie-in and see you all on Tuesday!

Summer School Welcome!

We are now well and truly into the swing of things and it’s hard to believe we are approaching week 4 in the summer school. So many students from all over the world have come to join our English language family here at UCC and with every week that passes, the numbers are increasing!

This year, we launched our “word of the day” campaign on Facebook. Every day a new word is posted up, with the aim of teaching students new vocabulary to use in class and as a talking point in lessons.  There is a word for lower levels and higher levels, so choose your level and try and see how much extra vocabulary you can learn through this campaign. We want students to post sentences using the word in a way that gives meaning without defining the actual word. This is a great way of checking that you understand meaning and is also an opportunity for you to share your knowledge with other students!

The social activities have so far proved to be a huge hit! Doneraile, Cork City Gaol, the photographic walking tour of Cork and bowling were great fun. They are a great opportunity for students to meet up and get to know others studying in the summer school. We have got some really exciting tours coming up over the next few weeks, so sty tuned!!

We launched our very first day trip last week. Students crossed the border to Cork’s neighbours, Kerry and enjoyed a wonderful time at Mucross House and Gardens. A photo tells a thousand words and they really showed that you all had a lot of fun. It was great that the sun was shining and you got to see such a picturesque part of the country.

Well now that Wimbledon is finally over, we no longer have any excuse to be sitting outside drinking strawberry frappucinos but I won’t tell if you don’t! Have a great week and enjoy the trip to Youghal on Wednesday!




Teachers are enthusiastic to teach their students and enjoy spending their time with them

What is life like for a South Korean in Cork?

Time to meet one of our students from South Korea. Younni!

Younni on the far right with Hamza, Adriana and Vincent


Brendan: First of all, can you tell us a little about yourself? Where are you from? What are you studying?

Sure~ I’m Yoonsik-Kim from South Korea and studying International studies especially in International trade and Chinese studies.

Brendan: Why did you choose to come to take an English language course at UCC Language Centre? How did you hear about our Language Centre?

I was supposed to study in Dublin at first because I didn’t know many things of Ireland at that moment. However I changed my mind, as soon as I saw several fabulous pictures of the UCC campus. I Felt like UCC campus would make me keep studying hard even if I didn’t like it.

Brendan: Before coming to Ireland, what did you know about our country?

As you know, country of the Guinness, Jameson and St.Patrick’s day! yaaas!

Brendan: When you arrived what was the biggest surprise for you?

Blue sky and tons of stars, the sun sets over 10 in Summer

Also everything closes at 6. 

Brendan: Well, the main stores in the city centre close at 6 most days, but you will find a lot of convenience stores open late.

Brendan: Is Irish weather as bad as people say it is?

Actually, I liked Irish weather ,since it doesn’t have extreme changes. I know You might think I’m a bit crazy while reading this.

Brendan: Did you stay with an Irish family or in student accommodation?

I got my own single room just beside the Lough. My landlord was an American and he used to teach at UCC. He was such a well educated person. I always admired his deep knowledge. There were 6 more International people  besides two of us in our house. All of them were so kind, easy going and talkative. I never got any troubles with my house mates while I lived there. I miss all of them. They are the best flat-mates ever of my life.

Brendan: Is Cork a safe place for Korean students?

Yes it is.. But one shouldn’t expect it is as safe as Korea. Ireland is a safe country, however if one comes here with having a Korean safety standards, perhaps one may get into trouble. I Wouldn’t suggest going out too late since you are a foreigner in this country.

Brendan: It is not all about study. How did you enjoy the nightlife in Cork?

Haha as I was a diligent student of  the UCC. I rarely know many things about nightlife in Cork. Brendan, I guess you’ve got a wrong person lololol But as long as I know, there are a few great night-clubs and bars in Cork to enjoy night out. I’ve been to Secret garden and Voodooroom a few times. These two are the biggest clubs in Cork. Bar and club are the best place to make Irish friends definitely but Ed Sheeran prefers a bar.

Brendan: Are Cork people friendly?

Of course, they are super friendly particularly when they were drunk.

Brendan: People say Irish people and Koreans are alike; would you agree?

I think they are absolutely different. The only thing we are similar is drinking a lot and having a similar colonial history. However, if you lads think these two things are fair enough to define we are alike, then we are similar. But I don’t really think we are alike haha.

Brendan: What were your classes and teachers like?

I’d studied at ucc for 10 months including 2 months holidays. I was in B2 class at first. After finishing the B2 course, I applied for 2 months holidays to travel around other European countries. When I came back to Cork, I was in IELTS preparation course to know what the IELTS is roughly. Next term, I got lifted to C1 class finally.

All teachers I met at UCC were so lovely!!! They are enthusiastic to teach their students and enjoy spending their time with them. They are always so professional and devoted.

Brendan: Tell us about your daily routine for you?

I can’t remember all of my life in Ireland as I left Ireland more than two months ago, but on Monday to Friday from 9 to 1, I was in class (no dodging), after that I went to the gym as much as I can idealistically more than 4 times a week. I also used to learn Salsa every Thursday. On every Tuesday I was in UCC Korean Society to introduce Korean culture to other students, but to be honest I rather learn my culture such as K-pop, or K-Drama from K-soc students. It was a bit embarrassing. Every Monday I was in UCC trad music Society to play Irish tune with my fiddle. Friday went night out for “studying purpose” Every Saturday I did some volunteering work to make our Cork better than before with Reimagine Cork. by the way They changed their name to “mad about Cork”. 

Brendan: Where did your classmates come from?

From France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, China and Japan. I never expected I could meet such various people having different nationality and cultural background at the same time. I’ve got not only language, but also culture.

Brendan: Did you make friends with your classmates?

Yes I did, I still remember everything clearly that I did with Hams, Vincent, Adriana in Ireland.  And I really appreciate to Hams for introducing Jesse to me. I can’t imagine my life in Ireland without these lads.  

Brendan: Ya, they are great people!

Brendan: Do you feel more confident in using English now?

Of course, I already have several Foreigner friends in Korea!! Most of them are exchange students or English teachers. I definitely have  much more confidence in speaking English than before. But I’m still bad at grammar or natural expression, hope they not to feel any awkwardness to my language.

 Brendan: While you were in Ireland, did you get to visit different parts of Ireland?

I’ve been to Dublin, Dingle, Killarney and Kilkenny. I haven’t been to cliffs of moher and Galway yet. I’ll be back to see them and meet a galway girl later.

Brendan: What was the best place for you?

The Alchemy, Lough park, UCC, Mardyke, Internet cafe

Brendan: You also travelled to different parts of Europe; what was the best place for you and why?

Barcelona! The weather was really nice when I was in there. And even if I spent 4 days just only in Barcelona, it wasn’t enough to feel the atmosphere of the city fully. Lovely weather, nice beach, fancy building, cheap drinks, tanned women.

Brendan: If one of your Korean friends was coming to UCC Language Centre, what advice would you give them?

Study grammar in use before studying in Ireland. it helps you a lot. And I didn’t watch NAVER, and Kakao haha.

Brendan: What did you miss about Korea when you were in Cork?

Nothing. Haha I’m missing Ireland now.

Brendan: What do you miss about Cork, now that you are back in Korea?

Friends , Easy going life in Ireland.

Brendan: What about the cost of the course? Was it reasonable?

Compared to other language school in Ireland, it’s slightly expensive but I think it deserves to pay more as it has amazing facilities, like the free leisure centre and all the things in the university. 

Brendan: I hope you will come back to Cork. Will you?

Ohhh I will definitely, it’s become a my second hometown.

Brendan: Finish this sentence: The best thing about UCC Language Centre is…

Atmosphere!!! As you know UCC Language Centre is in the UCC main campus. Concerning facility, socialising and scholar stuffs UCC Language Centre gives you more than just language skill. It’s up to you how you can take an advantages of being a UCC Language Centre student.

Brendan: Thank you, Yuonni. It was great having you in the Language Centre. We hope you come back. 

If you wish to come and study English at our Language Centre, you can find all details here.