Learning English at University College Cork, Ireland

Life inside and outside the language classroom

Category: What our students say

Summer fun outside the classroom

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.

Sonny Kennedy our Summer School Social Programme Coordinator

Sonny Kennedy

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!

  • OK, The UCC Summer School, tell us about that.
    • 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!
  • Is it only English classes the students take or is there more?
    • No there are lots of options available to take! We have course for Cambridge & IELTS exam preparation, English for Academic Purposes, Business English, Focus on Speaking, and much much more! 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 attractions around Cork like Blarney Castle, the Jameson Experience Midleton and the Titanic Experience in Cobh. On Thursday evenings as well we also offered cultural activities/events like traditional Irish music & dance, a photo walk & even a special Ghost Tour of the city!
  • 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 enjoys themselves!

  • 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 myself 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 favorite 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!!

  • 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 3 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, food markets and much much more.
  • Are there new places to visit and things to do planned for Summer School 2017?
    • At the moment nothing has been planned but possibly we could be visiting Spike Island in Cork Harbour and maybe even taking a trip down to West Cork and the Wild Atlantic Way!
Sonny with Ahmed, Limin, Mohammed and Duhayman at Charles Fort in Kinsale.

Sonny with Ahmed, Limin, Mohammed and Duhayman at Charles Fort in Kinsale.

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. 


“The thing I love about UCC is the old building like a castle in the Harry Potter movie.”

I met up with Peter (Zhibo Cao) who is from Henan Province, China to ask him some questions about his time here in University College Cork. At present, Peter is doing an MA in Teaching Chinese and also taking a course in English for Academic Study.

Peter from China

Peter from China

Hi Peter, thanks for agreeing to do this interview. Tell us about your English language course; what does the course cover? This course covers English writing, reading, grammar, pronunciation, appreciation of English novels, etc.

Do you think it is beneficial for you?  Yes, it benefits me a lot, especially the English writing where I have figured out many problems that I felt puzzled before. Most importantly, my advanced English teacher is very serious and responsible for his teaching content and our study.

That is great to hear. 

What about our university; would you recommend it and in particular the Language Centre?  Yes, it’s my pleasure to recommend UCC and its Language Centre, which are the great place to learn and do research.

Thanks, Peter. We are happy you like it. 

What advice would you give a student from your country coming to live and study in Cork? According to my experience, I would suggest that students who will come here should work hard on English study which is a bridge for life here. Then, you need to read some linguistic books or articles which can help you to get used to the courses here.

That is good advice. Thanks!

What has surprised you most about life in UCC? Well, what surprises me most here are the clubs which often organise some activities in bars or pubs whose atmosphere is deeply rooted in the Irish culture. And, of course, that never occurs in China.

Yes, life in Ireland must be very different to life back home in China.

Talking of China, what do you miss about home? Actually, I miss my mother’s cooking most, such as cooked chicken wings, Kung Pao chicken, etc.

Kung Pao chicken

Kung Pao chicken

That looks delicious! I love Chinese food too.

If you could transfer one thing from your home country (not your family) to your home here in Cork, what would it be? A pair of suspender trousers. Because I like the style of it which makes me more handsome.

You know, Peter, you might be able to get those in the city centre.

What about your free time? Have you experienced Cork night life? Tell us about that. In my free time, I often read some original English novels and have fun with my friends in certain pubs to experience the Cork night life, such as Cork Jazz, dance, and folk music.

Finish this sentence: The thing I love about UCC is… The thing I love about UCC is the old building like a castle in the Harry Potter movie.



Thanks, Peter. Great to get to know you! Best of luck in all you do.

Meet Audrey Navarro

Audrey Navarro is a student from Spain, originally from Batangas, Lipa City in the Philippines in Batangas, Lipa City which, she tells us, is about two hours away from the capital city, Manila. Audrey is a World Languages student here at UCC, taking  English for Academic Study and English as a Second Language at the University Language Centre. She kindly agreed to do a little interview with us about her experience here at UCC and in our Language Centre.
Audrey Blanche Navarro

Audrey Navarro

Hi Audrey,
Thanks for agreeing to do this interview. Tell us are you a visiting or ‘resident’ student (doing a full course of study at UCC)?
I am a “resident” student, I live in Cobh,Cork with my mom and my brother. Cobh is a really nice town, people are very nice and welcoming. My family does not own a car, so I have to commute to college everyday. I take the train from Cobh to Kent Station, which is a 24 minute ride. 
What is your main course of study at UCC?
 I am in World Languages studying English, German and Spanish. The language courses are divided into small groups, so it is easy to be in a class where you can get to know everybody. The class contents are really interesting, the lecturers give different kinds of content such as videos and audios aside from texts. The teachers are also very helpful and are available for any queries the students have. Most of the assignments given are readings for future discussions in class. Sometimes there are essays and some presentations to do as well. 
What English language credit module are you taking as part of that course?
 English for academic study and English as a second language. I chose English as one of the course languages because one can never finish learning a language. There are always some room for improvements and things to learn. 
What does the course cover?
 It covers grammar, writing, vocabulary etc. My English class is not that big since there are 14 students in the first semester. The course is really helpful for improving English language. The lecturer gives us books to read as homework but sometimes there are also acivity sheets given to us for reviewing the material learned in class. 
How is it beneficial for you? 
English is my second language, but even though I can fluently speak it there are still areas where I need to improve such as my English writing. I also speak Spanish aside from my native language, which is Tagalog.
Having more than one language can sometimes be difficult to ‘juggle’ because everything I know, I have three versions of ( in Tagalog, English and Spanish). I have noticed some improvements in my English writing but I still tend to struggle with grammar and with linking ideas when composing a text. 
Would you recommend UCC and its Language Centre?
Yes, I do. UCC is not just a place to learn but it is also a place to grow. The Language Centre has many different languages to offer, where the teachers or lecturers are very helpful. 
What advice would you give a student from your country coming to live and study in Cork?
It might seem scary at first but after the first few days you get more adapted to the place by meeting new people and getting to know them. Joining societies or clubs is a good idea to meet other students and socialize. Unfotunately, I have not had the time to join one myself due to the fact that I live far away from the city. That is why it is also a good idea to attend interesting events in UCC because can be quite fun and some of them are educational. 
What has surprised you most about life in UCC?
Realizing how overwhelmingly big the University is and the fact that I have to be independent. Us students cannot depend on parents as much as we did in secondary school. In college students have to know how to do everything independently like time planning. It is important to give time for studying but also some time to relax and have fun, it cannot be just one or the other. Be more responsible, as we are young adults learning how to manage things by ourselves.   
What do you miss about home?
Friends and family. Being apart from people that has always been there close to me is quite a change because being in college, where I do not know anyone, can be nerve wrecking. I also miss the weather, because it is so different in Ireland. I used to live in Lanzarote (Spain) where there is constant sunny and warm weather. In Ireland on the other hand, the weather is cold and wet.
If you could transfer one thing from your home country (not your family) to your home here in Cork, what would it be?
The food, as much as I like European gastronomy, I will always love filipino food. Such as halo-halo which is a typical filipino dessert. It is a mixture of different fruits and ice cream (halo in tagalog means to mix) served in a glass.
img_1186 I also miss street food, as the name states, it is food sild in the streets. There are ice-creams, fried foods, grilled or barbequed delicacies and more. 
Some of the wonderful food Audrey misses

Some of the wonderful food Audrey misses

What about your free time? Have you experienced Cork night life? Tell us about that. 
I spend my free time relaxing at home by reading books, watching movies, listening to music and sometimes go around the Cork. Living away from the city makes it difficult experience ‘life in Cork City’, especially night life, since there are no public transports available late at night apart from taxis. 
Finish this sentence: The thing I love about UCC is…
Its atmosphere, UCC makes you feel at home. There are many fun events around campus and many different societies or clubs to join. 
Thanks, Audrey! 

Keisuke Koyama tells us he misses the brilliant food in Ireland

Keisuke Koyama, a Tokyo University of Foreign Studies student, recently spent some time studying English at our Language Centre. You can read about his experience here.


Keisuke Koyama

Keisuke Koyama

Hi Keisuke, Thanks for taking the time to do this interview with me. I really appreciate it.

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

Keisuke:I am from Japan. I major in Japanese in my university. Specifically, I am studying Japanese literature, Japanese grammar, and so forth.

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?

Keisuke: I came to know this course at UCC Language Centre since my university had a partner relationship with UCC and introduced this English course for the students.

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

Keisuke: I knew that Ireland is located by the UK, and belongs to EU, prior to coming there.

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

Keisuke: It was more difficult than I had expected to find a bank I could exchange Japanese yen into Euro. Finally I noticed I could at the bank in UCC.

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

Keisuke: I stayed with a host family.

Brendan: Is Cork a safe place for Japanese students?

Keisuke: I think it is safe. However some friends advised me not to go out after midnight.

Brendan: Are Cork people friendly?

Keisuke: They are very friendly. When I asked something to them, they answered it kindly.

Brendan: What were your classes and teachers like?

Keisuke: They were really friendly. My classmates’ English was better than mine, which inspired me to study harder.

Brendan: What was the daily routine for you?

Keisuke: After class, I often went to the library to study or to the city centre for our pastimes with my friends.

Brendan: Where did your classmates come from?

Keisuke: Almost half of them were from Japan, I think. Other classmates came from France, Italy, Poland and etc.

Brendan: Did you make friends with your classmates?

Keisuke: Yes. Thanks to getting along with them, I enjoyed myself more.

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

Keisuke: A little bit. At least, I felt I had to use English positively.

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

Keisuke: I visited Blarney, where is near to Cork, and the capital, Dublin on weekends. Those trips were also effective to make a chance to keep speaking English. (One of them somehow knew Japanese and spoke Japanese to me several times actually, but totally they all spoke English.)

Keisuke's Photo of Cork

Keisuke’s Photo of Cork

Brendan: What was the best place for you?

Keisuke: Everywhere I visited. Without guidebook, you can spontaneously find something.

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

Keisuke: I would say you should not make light of the weather. You could see it the moment you arrived

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

Keisuke: Nothing especially. It was exciting enough not to miss Japan.

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

Keisuke: The big thing is I can’t see my friends in Cork now. And what is more I miss brilliant food in Ireland.

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

Keisuke: It is reasonable compared to those of other courses..

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

Keisuke: I will come to Cork again when I have a chance to come there.

Brendan: Is there anything I have not asked you that you would like to tell us?

Keisuke: No, thank you for the days in Cork.

Brendan: Thank you, Keisuke

Keisuke's photo of Cork

Keisuke’s photo of Cork

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

One of the most rewarding months of my life

Emilio Bonome Ares has just completed the four-week CELTA intensive course at UCC. I caught up with him to find out his experience.

Emilio Bonome Ares

Emilio Bonome Ares

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

As everything in life, it’s not black or white; I feel relieved but I miss it at the same time. It’s been one of the most rewarding months of my life. The CELTA course really is an immersion, you even dream about lesson plans and teaching practices during your sleep. But don’t get me wrong, it’s not a suffocating, stressful thing, at least for me it was quite enjoyable. The atmosphere and the support among the CELTA trainees couldn’t be better, we had a good time together.

Why did you decide to do the course?

I have studied English grammar for years so I wanted to move from theory to practice. I enjoy teaching and it’s always good to have a practical training with tutors’ feedback so you can explore different approaches to teaching and have someone with experience telling you what you are doing well and what you need to work on. Knowing a language doesn’t mean knowing how to teach it, so I thought that this course was the right way to test myself as a teacher and my English skills. I feel reassured now and I can say that I am ready to teach English!

What was the hardest part?

The course lives up to its name; it really is intensive. Everything is reasonable and manageable, but you really need to commit and to manage your time effectively. The stress can get to you when you have to submit a lesson plan or an assignment. The beginning is the hardest part because you get too much information all of a sudden and all the terminology used is new to you. However, everything comes with practice and there’s no pressure for perfection. After a few lessons, you’ll start using all the terms adequately, it’s impossible not to get used to them when they are everywhere! Your tutors and peers are the best source.

What part did you enjoy most?

The atmosphere with my fellow trainees was excellent! The afternoon sessions are not only very helpful but also enjoyable. As I said before, CELTA is very rewarding, so I have enjoyed it as a whole, I feel much more confident now about my teaching; I have learnt a lot and I feel really happy for having done it. As for the breaks, the benches outside the ORB will become your new best friends (if the weather allows it). Make the most of the break with your peers; to work at its best, give your brain a rest!

What were the tutors like?

During the teaching practices, the tutor’s presence can feel a bit intimidating at the beginning because they are assessing everything you do, but you soon realise that they are actually very friendly and approachable. They are there to guide and support. The feedback that the tutors provided was really constructive, they highlighted both the positives and the negatives and were very sensitive in doing so. Their attitude was very positive and supportive. They were understanding about the pressure we were going through and highly encouraging.

What was the teaching practice like?

Teaching in front of a class of 12 people can sound quite challenging for those who have no previous experience but CELTA provides you guidance and the perfect atmosphere to start your teaching career. The learners know that you are being trained and they understand your situation; they don’t expect you to have all the answers. In our case, most of the students were very friendly and participative, they really enjoy the classes and they will make you enjoy them too.

What about assignments?

The assignments aren’t very demanding as long as you make your background reading on time. We were given all the deadlines and instructions from day 1. Read through them and make sure you ask any questions you have to your tutor, then you’ll be ready. There’s not much secondary reading involved. The background reading necessary for the assignments focuses on the basics of English language Teaching and will be helpful for every aspect of the course. The books are written in a very approachable prose; they are easy to understand even if you are not used to all the teaching terminology.

What advice would you give to someone starting the CELTA?

Be organised and self-confident. You need to prioritise CELTA; after all, it’s only a month and it’ll be definitely worth it.

What’s next?

Currently, I am a teacher of Spanish as a Foreign Language at UCC, so in September I’ll be back to teaching. I can’t wait to try out everything I learnt during this month. CELTA is not just about English Language Teaching, but also about teaching in general. The course has helped me improve my classroom management skills and to plan my lessons better, so I will be applying that to Spanish soon enough.

I plan to go back to Spain in the future, so I am sure that CELTA will be passport to finding a job back home as an English teacher.

Is there any question I have not asked, but you would like to comment on?

Non-natives, don’t be afraid. As a Spaniard, I didn’t feel fully confident at the beginning. You will think “who am I to teach a language that it’s not mine?” Honestly, if you have enough level of English to be accepted in the course, half the work is done! Seriously, we have been in English classes for years so, in a way, we know what an English teacher should do. We have already studied uncountable rules and tenses, nothing will be completely new. Believe me, non-native speakers are at an advantage.

Thanks Emilio. It was a pleasure to have you on the course and we are so happy you did so well. You give some great advice to people thinking of doing a CELTA course with us. Enjoy your summer.


For all information on our upcoming CELTA courses, visit our website. Our next course begins in September 2015. Applications are now being taken.

The CELTA really is your passport to the world

Claire O’ Dwyer, from Tipperary completed the ten-week extensive CELTA course from January to March 2015. She was an absolute pleasure to have on the course and we wish her all the best in her TEFL career.

Claire O' Dwyer

Claire O’ Dwyer

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

It’s such a great feeling – a huge achievement! It’s been one of the most challenging and rewarding things I’ve ever done. It’s weird getting to bed at a reasonable hour and actually having time to myself!

Why did you decide to do the course?

I wanted to try something new. I’ve always wanted to be a teacher and I’ve always wanted to travel… this is a win-win. After some research, the CELTA was an obvious choice when it comes to EFL courses – it’s what all the employers are looking for.

What was the hardest part?

Late (or sleepless) nights and early mornings; trying to balance work and college was close to impossible. I’m still not quite sure how I managed!

On weeks four and eight we had our usual teaching practice to prepare for, along with two assignment deadlines… stressful to say the least. My advice – don’t leave the assignments until the week they are due, start them as soon as you can – seriously!

What were the tutors like?

We couldn’t have done it without them – they were fantastic! Brendan and Cathy are two of the most helpful and supportive people you will ever meet. Listen to them, ask them anything – you’ll learn so much!

What was the teaching practice like?

Each teaching practice takes a LOT of planning and preparation! We were all nervous at the beginning, and being observed and assessed is a little intimidating at first but, once you’re organised, you’ll really love it! The students are fantastic!


What advice would you give to someone starting the ten-week course?

Make sure you haven’t got too many other commitments; it’s not really a two day-a-week course – you’ll spend the rest of your week buried under lesson plans and assignments! If you need to work, work part-time. Set up email, Facebook and Dropbox groups and SHARE EVERYTHING. We couldn’t have done it without one another. Our FB group is now called ‘CELTA Survivors’ and we talk all the time – we’ve made friends for life.

What’s next?

A new adventure! I’ve Skype interviews next week for summer teaching jobs in both Spain and the UK (fingers crossed!) After that… who knows? The CELTA really is your passport to the world…

That’s great, Claire. We are sure you will do very well. Keep in touch.

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.


There is a wonderful sense of achievement by the end of the course


Becky Coleman

Becky Coleman recently completed a four-week intensive CELTA teacher training course.  She kindly agreed to do a little interview with me about her experience.

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

I feel wonderful! It’s great getting to sleep at a normal hour!

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

I had spent the last year as a substitute teacher in Ireland. I wanted to work full time and I felt the CELTA course would increase my chances of getting full time work as a teacher. I also wanted to travel and I knew that doing the CELTA course would give me the freedom to travel.

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

There was a face-to-face interview and an hour-long exam to test your basic understanding of English, grammar, vocabulary etc. You will be asked in the interview how much pressure and criticism can you handle and do you think you will be able for the intense nature of the course.

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

You will have to do a pre-course task that helps you prepare for the theory the course will cover. The pre-course task is important and it will give you a good idea of how challenging this course will be.

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

I was very overwhelmed on the first day. The tutors did some lovely ice- breaker games with us in the morning, which helped us to get to know each other. All of the other trainees were lovely which really helped! In the afternoon we went straight into lesson planning as we were teaching the very next day. This was VERY overwhelming!

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

Intensive is putting it mildly. It’s beyond intense! I don’t think anyone will really understand how demanding and intense this course is until they do it themselves. You have to be 100% committed to this course. Your entire social life will have to be put aside for the month if you want to get through it. However people do get through it! There is fantastic support from the tutors and especially the fellow trainees, which really helps.

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

You are divided into two groups of 6. You basically teach a 40 minute lesson every second day. You will also teach a 1 hour lesson in the first two weeks and another hour lesson in the last two weeks. Trainees will have the opportunity to teach both upper intermediate and lower intermediate lessons.

Are the students ‘real’ students?

Yes they are! They are from all over the world. There is a very supportive atmosphere within the lessons and the students are lovely. They are enthusiastic and they want to learn. It is very enjoyable teaching them.

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

The dreaded lesson plans! It took me about 5 hours to do a lesson plan in the evenings. They have to be detailed if you are to be confident in your teaching. It’s important to know the subject before you step into a lesson to teach and that is why the lessons have to be so detailed. It was very intense and stressful.

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

The tutors are extremely helpful with the lesson plans. We were very much spoon fed during the first week, however as the weeks go on the tutors will expect the trainees to put their own thoughts and ideas into the lessons. By the last week you will be expected to plan and complete the lesson yourselves.

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

This is the part of the course where you really need to have thick skin! You will be given constructive feedback on how your lesson went. Both the tutor and your fellow trainees will discuss things you did well in the lesson and aspects of the lesson you need to improve for the next time you teach. Take these things on board. The important thing is that you demonstrate improvement throughout the course.

What is the hardest part of the course?

I found the lack of sleep and the input sessions very hard. I was very nervous and anxious listening to the feedback my tutor and peers gave, but overall they are all very supportive and everyone is there to help one another. The feedback is to help you improve. For the entire 4 weeks I was only getting about 3-4 hours sleep a night, I had never experienced such sleep deprivation in my life!

Was there anything you found easy?

To be honest, I found every aspect of this course demanding. But it really is worth it in the end and I felt very proud of myself for getting through it. There is a wonderful sense of achievement by the end of the course.

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

I did not expect to have such wonderful support from the other trainees. Everyone really unites together and helps each other get through the course. I could not have done the CELTA without the support and encouragement from my fellow trainees. I have definitely made life long friends from doing this course.

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

It is definitely worth doing. However, you will need to be able to commit all of your time to this course. You will get very little sleep, you will be stressed, you will cry, you will have great days and bad days, but if this is something you really want, you will get through it! This course will definitely open many doors full of opportunities but you have to be prepared to work very hard.

I ordered some of the books that are suggested in the recommended reading list.

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

I have accepted a job in Spain! I’m moving there in a few weeks and I am very excited about this opportunity!

Good for you, Becky! I am sure you will have a great experience and your students will enjoy your classes a lot. Suerte!

Click here if you would like to learn more about  the CELTA teacher training course.

What is life like for a Japanese student learning English at UCC?

Kumiko, from Japan who was here studying English with us in April, May and June

Hi Kumiko, Thanks for taking the time to do this interview with me. I really appreciate it.

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

Kumiko: I’m from Nagasaki, japan and study in Tokyo. My major is Hindi and I’m studying especially about India.

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?

Kumiko: the support centre in my university suggested me UCC, because I prefer nature to city, and I wanted to study in a place where there are less Japanese. And Ireland is located near Spain(I mean, in Europe), where I’d stayed before going to Cork.

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

Kumiko: I didn’t know anything special, I just searched how the weather in Ireland was.

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

Kumiko: –kindness and cheerfulness of Cork citizens (I had some fear of rational distinction in Europe). And the weather.

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

Kumiko: With an Irish family.

Brendan: Is Cork a safe place for Japanese students?

Kumiko: yes!! Safer (and calmer) than Tokyo, can feel relaxed like in Nagasaki.

Brendan: Are Cork people friendly?

Kumiko: definitely yes.

Brendan: What were your classes and teachers like?

Kumiko: the classes were sometimes a bit hard to keep up for me since it was advanced one, but I’m satisfied with them. Teachers gave a lot of opportunities us to speak and ask any questions.

Brendan: What was the daily routine for you?

Kumiko: 6:00 wake up around—have tea—7:00 breakfast –8:30 leave home by car—13:00 class ends—lunch with my friends—library/city centre/or do something—18:00 dinner at home—have a chat with host mother/do homework/take a shower/watch TV –22:30 sleep     **(wed) extra programme, (thu) Zumba class in mardyk

Brendan: Where did your classmates come from?

Kumiko: Saudi arabia, Kazakhstan, korea, china, brasil, Basque, Kuwait, japan


Kumiko and her friends

Brendan: Did you make friends with your classmates?

Kumiko: I feel proud of having such admirable friends.

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

Kumiko: I think so.

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

Kumiko: yes.

Brendan: What was the best place for you?

Kumiko: cliffs of moher and fitzgerald park

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

Kumiko: bring an umbrella, visit cliffs of moher, have fun

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

Kumiko: I didn’t miss in fact but if I say something, Japanese rice, grilled fish and natto.

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

Kumiko: my friends.

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

Kumiko: it was affordable as students from Tokyo University of Foreign Studies get 20% discount of prices.

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

Kumiko: if I could have a chanceJJ

Brendan: Thank you, Kumiko.


Juan Pardo, one of our Brazilian students visited Killarney

Recently, one of our Brazilian students, Juan Pardo, visited Killarney. He took some great photographs of his trip which you can see below.
Here is what he wrote about the trip.
These photos are from one of the loveliest places in Ireland, Killarney town. Located in County Kerry and approximately 88 km from Cork City (1:30h by bus!), this gorgeous town has an identity with friendly people and amazing nature. Pretty landscapes with mountains, vast forests and also an incredible wild life are examples that you can find there. I highly recommend Killarney!

Click on the images below to see the large versions.

If you want to see more of Juan’s photography, you can visit his Flickr gallery here.

Top of Torc Mountain

Ross Castle

Killarney National Park (5)

Killarney National Park

Killarney National Park (3)

Killarney National Park (4)

Killarney National Park (2)

Killarney Golf & Fishing Club

The class was always fulfilling and enjoyable


Tsuyoshi Saito

Tsuyoshi Saito, a Tokyo University of Foreign Studies student came to Cork to improve his English in our Summer School this year. Here you can read about his experience.

First of all, thanks for taking time to do this little interview Tsuyoshi Can you tell us a little about yourself? Where are you from? What are you studying?

I’m from Japan and my major at university is European study.

Why did you choose to come to take an English language course at UCC Language Centre?

I chose UCC because I wanted to study in Ireland, where few Japanese people pay attention to. While many Japanese look at U.S.A or U.K as places to study in, I wanted different experience.

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

I knew a bit about Irish history. I knew that the Potato Famine killed many Irish, that there are many people all over the world who have Irish roots, and the story about IRA.

Except for the history, I knew that potatoes, beer and whisky are famous in Ireland. And that people in Ireland are really nice. 

When you arrived what was the biggest surprise for you?

As soon as I arrived at the airport, I felt really cold. It was around 9 p.m. and the temperature was 9 degrees centigrade. Since in Japan it is around 35 degrees in August, I couldn’t believe it was so cold in Cork.

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

I stayed with an Irish old lady and her dog. There were three of us.

How would you describe it?

The lady in the home was really kind to me. She let me use my own bedroom and bathroom, and she cooked really well. She has many relatives and introduced me to them. She even gave my mother an Irish necklace as a gift.

I can’t write down everything she did for me, but I had no stress about the stay because she was really kind.

 Is Cork a safe place?

I think so. Compared to Tokyo, my hometown, Cork is secure. I once walked around the City Centre about 11 o’clock at night, but I saw few stupid fellows there.

Are Cork people friendly?

Not all of them are nice. I saw some people who were prejudice against Asians. One day I went to a bus office to get my ticket, and one of the clerks spoke viciously to me. He even threw the card to me. I got really frustrated and told my host about it. She was sad about it, too. The next day she called the office and reported it. But only some were mean. Most people in Cork behaved properly to me. When I asked for direction, they answered kindly. When I was choosing presents for my family in a gift shop, the clerk explained to me which gift is popular.

Do you have any nice stories about Cork people?

One day I was walking around the City Centre and saw some students doing campaign. They are in a group named “Sinn Fein Republican Youth” and worried that the unemployment rate in Ireland is getting higher. I spoke to the female leader of that group, and it was a good experience for me to listen to their views. I only spoke to her for only a few minutes, but she kindly said to me “Enjoy your stay in Cork”. I’m impressed with their kindness and passion.

What were your classes and teachers like?

At UCC, I was in Proficiency, which is the highest class in Summer Course. In the class we studied about very difficult topics such as environment and psychology. I sometimes had difficulty in keeping up because the level of the class was really high. But I think it was worth it. Students in the class were all serious about their study and I had a nice interaction with them.

We had two teachers in the two weeks. One was male and the other was female. Olan, the male teacher, listened to each student seriously. He used to work in Japan and cared about me a lot. He seemed to be supported and trusted by all the students.

Jo, the female teacher, was really funny lady. She really laughs a lot. She laughs as if the Earth is exploding. Her explanation was also easy to understand.

What was the daily routine for you?

On a weekday, I would get up around half past seven and had cereal and toast for breakfast. I always took bus that left ten to nine. The bus took me to UCC in about twenty minutes.

At 9.30 our class began. I was in the highest class and the class was always fulfilling and enjoyable. From 11.30 to 12.00 we had breaks. During the break, I spent time in the common room and had chats with students in other classes. The later class ended at 13.30 and after the class I always had lunch at a restaurant in the university.

After lunch, I spent time freely. I really liked to walk around the City Centre watching the views and shops. We had Social Programme that UCC prepared for us twice a week, and I joined that, too. One day we went to Kinsale, and to a theatre to see a musical. Each was quite enjoyable.

Where did your classmates come from?

The class had seven students including me. Three ladies were from Spain, a girl was from France, one boy was from Poland and one guy was from Slovakia.

Did you make friends with your classmates?

Yes. They were so nice to me and I had no difficulty in interacting with them. I presented each of them with Japanese gifts I brought, and they were pleased with them.

I was really impressed because some of them already had works. I guess it is not easy to work in their own country while brushing up English skills. Also, the English level of each of them was obviously beyond me. But I believe that helped me improve my English.

Anyway, my classmates are all nice. I keep in touch with them through Facebook, G-mail, and WhatsApp. And I’m looking forward to meet them again.

 Do you feel more confident in using English now?

Definitely. The stay greatly improved my English and I now find it quite enjoyable to use English.

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

Yes. I went to Kinsale and Blarney Castle for social programme. Both of them were quite nice, but it was a bit disappointing that it was rainy when we visited Kinsale. At Blarney Castle, I kissed the stone and it was scary.

And I also visited Cobh with my host and her two grandchildren. I saw a huge luxury ship which was about to leave for Southampton.

What was the best place for you?

City Centre. The River Lee along the city was really beautiful. City Centre has a lot of things to see but it wasn’t too big. That’s the point I like it.

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

I would tell them to prepare jackets. It is much colder than Japan.

Other than that, I would want them to come to UCC when their English level gets high enough. I was in the highest class and my classmates were all from various countries, while lower classes were full of Japanese students. If they ever use Japanese or rely on their Japanese friends who come with them during their stay, they would learn nothing.

What did you miss about your Japan when you were in Cork?

Except warmth in temperature, I missed nothing else. The food I had was really good and I never missed Japanese rice.

What do you miss about Cork, now that you are back?

Now I miss people who I got friends with in Cork including my host, her family, my classmates and teachers.

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

Yes, hopefully, next March I’ll get another chance to UCC. If I could, I’d like to see my friends and my host.

I look forward to you coming back, Tsuyoshi. Thanks for doing this!