Learning English at University College Cork, Ireland

Life inside and outside the language classroom

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! 

What is life like after a CELTA course?

What is life like after a CELTA course? What can a CELTA graduate do? Where do they go? What opportunities are available to them? What is the next step for a CELTA graduate in terms of career development?

I spoke to Chris Redmond, a CELTA graduate from 2012 to find out.

Chris Redmond - CELTA graduate

Chris Redmond – CELTA graduate

Hi Chris,

Thanks for taking the time to do this interview. First off, tell me when was it you did the CELTA here with us at UCC?

My pleasure! I did the CELTA at UCC from January-March 2012. Can’t believe it was so long ago!

What are your memories of that? Was it really as intensive as they say?

My memories of doing the CELTA are extremely positive. In fact, I would say, without doubt or hesitation, that my decision to do the CELTA was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I made the decision to apply for it back in October 2011 and it was at a point where I was going through a lot of uncertainty in my life. I finished my MA in Film Studies in December 2010, but after graduating, I wasn’t sure what the next step was going to be. I explored the possibility of doing a PhD in Film Studies, but the CELTA option was always there, and I decided one Sunday in October 2011 to just go ahead and apply for it. I remember feeling a renewed sense of purpose and I couldn’t wait to begin.

       Because of my part-time job, I opted for the 10-week course, which is far less intensive than the 4-week option. Nevertheless, it was a demanding and very challenging 10 weeks, during which I learned an enormous amount about methodology, classroom management, lesson planning, materials design, and so on. A lot of material was covered during those 10 weeks but it was always exciting and I finished each day inspired to put our input sessions into practice. I would even go so far as to say that I have never learned so much in 10 weeks. To this day, I use the methodology learned during the course, and it provided me with the perfect foundation on which to launch my teaching career.

So, you got your CELTA back in 2012, what was your first intention?

My first intention was to begin teaching as soon as possible, and, within days of finishing the CELTA, I began working at ACET (Active Centre of English Training) in Cork City. However, I knew it was only going to be a temporary thing, and I actually wanted to work in Spain. In May 2012, I attended a TEFL workshop in Cordoba to see about finding a job there. Unfortunately, that didn’t bear fruit, so it was time to consider Option 2: South Korea.

Tell us about the process of securing a teaching position in South Korea.

Well, I first applied through a recruitment company that didn’t follow through on their initial response, but I then found a more reliable company called Gone2Korea. The application process was stressful at times, to be honest! I was applying to work for EPIK, the public school teaching program, and it took a long time to get all the documents together to post over to them. I think the whole process – from my initial Skype meeting with the recruiter through to being offered a contract – took about 3 months. They needed notarized copies of my degrees, a criminal background check, passport copy, university transcripts and various other things, including my CELTA cert. The final package I sent to them contained about 80 pages, as they wanted double copies of everything. So it was pretty drawn out. However, the elation I felt when I was finally accepted made it all worthwhile. And I haven’t looked back since.

Very often, when we get students coming to us to learn English from overseas, we can see that they struggle at the start with adapting to a new culture. What was it like for you as a teacher in a new country?

Surprisingly enough, I felt I adapted quite quickly. I don’t remember feeling any culture shock, even though I couldn’t speak the language. All EPIK teachers had to attend a 1-week orientation program before we started teaching, which will certainly go down as one of the best weeks of my life. I got off the plane and was suddenly in the middle of a large group of EPIK teachers who had also made this move, so there was definitely that sense of everyone being in it together. We had such a great time during that orientation week and I was one of about 300 teachers (I think) being placed in Daegu. The advantage of that was, by the time I got to Daegu, I already had a large network of people in that community. The staff in my school were very nice too, so no, I didn’t really experience any homesickness or culture shock.

Starting off in your new job, how much did your CELTA training help you?

It helped an awful lot. I remember we had to do a demo lesson during our orientation week and my observer asked me if I had taught EFL before. When I answered in the affirmative, he said, “It shows.” So that was a nice confidence boost at the beginning! In my high school classes, I used staple CELTA techniques, like asking concept-checking questions, reducing TTT (teacher-talking time), using effective body language, speaking slowly, etc. It was noticeable that those who hasn’t received CELTA training talked way too much during their teaching demos. Doing a CELTA equipped me with all kinds of classroom skills that I continue to use to this day.

Chris with his students

Chris with his students

Were there things you think the CELTA course had not prepared you for?

A CELTA can obviously never really prepare you for the cultural differences that await you in the classroom. Sure, you can learn about, for example, how to make classes more student-centered, but in a culture like Korea, where students are much more used to the teacher doing all the talking, communicative approaches to language teaching are often at odds with the way they’ve been educated. In that sense, I feel that CELTA courses are designed with a European classroom in mind, where students tend to be more outgoing and chatty.

       I also feel that one of the biggest problems I’ve encountered is a lack of motivation from many of my students. It’s not hard to see why. Korean students are under relentless pressure to get a high score in their final exam, and a high English score is often the key to acceptance into a good university. There is almost no communication between the students in English class, and the preferred method of instruction remains grammar translation. If you take a look inside a Korean English classroom, you’ll see almost no evidence that it’s a language class. It may as well be a Maths or Science lesson. Students begin to resent English for all the pressure associated with it, and as a result, motivation is often low. I don’t think the CELTA really prepares you for this kind of thing.




Would you agree with the old adage: there’s no substitute for experience? Is this true about teaching?

Experience is invaluable, as it is in any profession, but you need to be equipped with knowledge of teaching practice. No matter how experienced you are, if you haven’t taken training courses in your profession, I think there will always be some holes in your practice. For example, I have a colleague who just recently took his CELTA, and even after 10 years of teaching he found that the CELTA opened his eyes to how language classes ought to be taught. Despite his experience, then, he still had much to gain from doing a formal training course like the CELTA.

In the years since the CELTA you have continued to study and develop professionally. Can you tell us what motivates you to do this?

Well, the biggest reason, I suppose, is that I really like teaching English and want to keep getting better at it. I decided during the CELTA, actually, that I wanted to make a career of it. I recall one of our tutors reassuring us at different times during the course that we didn’t need to go into any more depth on a particular language point because “this is not an MA in Applied Linguistics”. Well, I remember thinking, “I want to know more about this!”, so I began my MA in Applied Linguistics and TESOL in September 2014 after almost 2 years of trawling through courses to see which one was the most suitable. I went with Leicester in the end because of the flexibility they offered with their online option, as well as the wide range of modules available to students. I’ve also been presenting at national and international conferences inside and outside Korea, in order to continue growing and developing as a teacher.

Tell us about your classes?

I teach university students and elementary school students in the language center of our university. All freshmen must undergo a 3-week Intensive English program in this center. We run these programs throughout the year, and for each session we have 3 groups of students. I teach a presentation skills class, a TOEIC speaking class, and a Digital Storytelling class. Motivation can be a problem for these students because, if nothing else, they have to attend our course after their regular on-campus classes. I sympathize, to a certain extent. We also run a children’s program where we teach elementary students for twice a week for 2 hours. This is not my favourite part of my job, but it’s how the center makes its money, basically! Sometimes, I also teach non-credit classes for college staff who want to improve their speaking skills. Speaking is certainly the biggest weakness for Korean learners, as they almost never get the chance to develop these skills in school.

Chris with his students

Chris with his students

What do you feel your strengths and weaknesses in teaching are?

That’s a good question. In terms of strengths, I think I speak in a clear and comprehensible way. Even with low-level classes, I rarely have any trouble being understood. Adapting your speech according to the level you teach is more difficult than it may seem, but I think I’m quite good at it. I also feel I have become much better at organizing and managing communicative activities, and I always try to provide strong scaffolding for my students before they begin an activity.

       As for my weaknesses, I feel my knowledge of language testing could be improved, as any test I write is normally based on instinct rather than theoretical knowledge. I’m not sure if I test each student according to a class standard or individual standard. When grades are important, this is a potentially serious weakness that I need to rectify. I would also like to be a better motivator of weaker students. Some would argue that this goes beyond the teacher, but I think I could definitely improve in this area.

What are your long-term plans? Coming back to Ireland, maybe?

As much as my family would like that to happen, I don’t think it is on the horizon for me! In fact, this February I will be moving to China to teach English for Academic Purposes at International College Beijing, a college jointly set up by China Agricultural University and the University of Colorado at Denver. In the long-term, I hope to settle in Hong Kong or Singapore, but I am pretty flexible, really. My girlfriend is a college English teacher in China, but like me, she is open to settling somewhere else. So we’ll see what the future brings! I will probably do the PhD at some point if I start doing more research.
We are coming to the end of a CELTA course at the moment. What advice would you give to our trainees as they set out on their TEFL careers?

I would say that if you want to make a career out of this, always be prepared to reflect on your teaching practice. One way of doing this is to make a teaching diary or development folder in Google Docs or somewhere like that. Ask yourself at the end of the lesson what went well and what didn’t, and then try to figure out why. Don’t just pack up and go home. Take a few mins to update your teaching diary before heading to the pub! 😉

       Doing an advanced degree in TESOL would be a huge help, too, and you don’t even have to leave your job for that nowadays, as there are so many online MA TESOL programs you can do with reputable universities, like Leicester, Nottingham or Birmingham. You could also do the Delta as a follow-up to your CELTA.

       I would also encourage you to join a teaching group in your community. In Korea we have a really vibrant association of English teachers called KOTESOL, and they are always having conferences where teachers get together to present the results of their research or conduct workshops. If nothing else, you’ll immediately feel more connected to the English teaching community and your social life will improve dramatically! I think having a network of friends and colleagues is very important when you’re living and teaching in a foreign country, so get involved in any way you can. There are also numerous Facebook groups you could join, the best of which, in my opinion, is Teacher Voices. Put your heart into teaching and it’ll be a very rewarding job.

Thanks so much for taking the time to do this with us, Chris. Would like to wish you all the best as you continue in your teaching career. 

If you would like to know more about our teacher training courses, all information is available here. 

Meet our Summer School directors

I met Nadine (Summer School Director)  and Aoife (Assistant Summer School Director) and asked them some questions about Summer School, 2016.                                                                                  














Hi Nadine and Aoife,

Thanks for taking the time to do this interview.

  • So, let’s begin. It is only a few weeks now to Summer School 2016. How is the planning going? What new things can a student expect this year?

Aoife: Me! This is my first year as Assistant Director of Studies of the Summer School, and I’m really looking forward to it. We have some new courses on offer this year too.

Nadine: Things are shaping up nicely. Check out our new academic courses and afternoon options – some with  a special focus on speaking and learning some authentic colloquial expressions to impress your friends and teachers!

  • Last year was the biggest (and best) Summer School yet for UCC. What did you learn from it?

Nadine: I learnt that I had to be very organised and be very specific about what I was trying to communicate to people whether in admin, my colleagues and peers or to students. I also learnt that planning ahead is the key.

  • The students who come from all over the world for Summer School say that they love the social programme. Why do you think that is?

Aoife: Over the last few years, I’ve accompanied the students on various trips and outings and they really are so much fun. On one trip to Cobh last year, one student was looking out over Cork harbour under a blue sky. He breathed in the sea air and sighed. ‘This is where I’m going to retire to’, he said. That’s what it’s all about for me – getting out there and seeing beautiful places that inspire you.

  • What can a student expect from this year’s social programme?

Nadine: Some old favourites like Kissing the Blarney stone and The Whiskey factory (including tastings!) but also some new offerings (watch this space!) – we always listen to feedback and tailor trips accordingly.

  • There are different accommodation options for students to choose from. What do you think is better: staying with an Irish host family or student accommodation?

Aoife: I think this really depends on each person individually. Staying with a host family obviously gives you maximum exposure to English as a language, but for some, the option of student accommodation can provide a lifestyle (and social life!) more similar to what they have at home.

  • What advice would you give students coming to improve their English in Summer School 2016?

Aoife: Over the years, I’ve noticed that successful students do two things that really helps their English to improve: (1) They engage in activities they enjoy while they’re here like watching movies, listening to music, playing badminton or salsa-dancing where they pick up the language naturally in a relaxed environment and (2) they write down new vocabulary they learn in those contexts and check later in a dictionary or ask their teacher about it.

Nadine: Talk to as many people as possible. Talk about the weather to native speakers at bus stops, talk to other students in other levels, talk to social programme leaders, talk to host mother/brother/sister etc “Talk til the cows come home” as they say!

  • How about your own summer; will you get a chance to have a holiday?

Aoife: I’ll be working here at UCC Language Centre for the duration of the Summer School (and beyond!), so I’m planning to make the most of my weekends.

Nadine: I have a week off next week and 2 weeks off after summer school is all over (Phew!) but we will be raring to go and looking forward to welcoming all the students from the end of June til September!   (Thanks for asking!)

If you are interested in coming to improve your English and experience life in Cork, you can find all details here.

Make sure to check out some of the other interviews with students who have come to previous Summer Schools here.

What is life like with an Irish host family. Find out here. 

Results of our Photography Competition 2016

This year Clonakilty Camera Club judged our Photography Competition. Our Summer School Director, Nadine Carroll is a member there and big thanks to her and her friends for judging the competition.

The theme of this year’s competition was Alternative Ireland. We were looking for images that showed Ireland in a new or unusual way, or showed the unseen Ireland. I am sure you will agree the judges did a fine job choosing from the many entries we received from all over the world.

In first place, Bandar:

Bandar althobaiti image2

Here is what the judges said:

“This is a brilliant image which represents Modern Ireland really well. It makes a change from the typical seascapes with sheep in the foreground.It met the theme of the competition well.”

In second place, Dmytro Seleznov:


Here is what the judges said:

“This is a really well observed and processed image which depicts the mysteriousness and beauty of Ireland.”

In third place, A Oldani:

A.Oldani_CobhHere is what our judges said:

” This is an unusual image but one which conveys the nitty gritty of life. It is very evocative and conjures up questions in ones mind.”

Thank you to all who entered this year. It was a great entry. Remember, our Summer School starts on June 27th this year. All details here. 

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. 

University Language Centre Photography Competition 2016

Great news!
We are extending out Photography Competition until Friday, April 1st, as many people were asking for time to get photographs over the Easter break.
So you now have until Friday, April 1st to get your entries in!
Best of luck!

It is that time of year again. We are delighted to announce that our annual Photography Competition starts today and we will accept entries from today up to March 24th.

This year we are looking for something a little different. We all are familiar with the classic images of Ireland, like this beautiful photograph from Katrin Brandmair:


Katrin Brandmair

Or this beautiful photograph from last year’s winner Priscilla:


Priscilla Oliveira

But this year, we are looking for something different: Alternative Ireland. Send us your photographs that present an original perspective of Ireland.

Sure you can send us beautiful landscapes, but maybe there is something unusual or original about how you create your photograph.

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

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

The competition will close on March 24 and the winners will be announced in the third week of April.

We have some great prizes for the winners. The winning photographer will win a three-week English language course in the month of August in our Summer School 2016. Second place will win a two-week English language course and the third place photographer will get a one-week course for free.

Check our Facebook page each week to see some examples of the photographs people are sending in.

We are really looking forward to seeing your photos!

You can read about the winning photograph from last year’s competition 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.