Newsletter – September 2015
Looking back on 2015… looking forward to 2016!
The doors have closed now on 2015, our students are all back at school in their own countries… and at Kingdom Education preparations are already well advanced for 2016!
Highlights of 2015
Our first season in the USA was a great success, and over just four weeks we welcomed almost as many students as we did in the UK.
With centres at both UMass in the East and Berkeley in the West, we were able to offer students a great choice of study visits as well as centres. UMass is a large campus university in a semi-rural setting, but from there we were able to enjoy great trips to Boston and New York, with study visits to places such as Harvard, MIT, Brown, Yale and Columbia.
Berkeley has more of an urban setting, and is a great base for short trips to San Francisco and Silicon Valley. For many students, one of the highlights of the stay was the chance to visit companies such as Google and Apple, coupled with a chance to explore the stunning campus of Stanford University. KE also arranged meetings with some important political figures, including Congressman Mike Honda, and California Assemblyman Evan Low, who gave the students a great tour of the state capitol in Sacramento.
We were actually quite surprised to see the popularity of our two-centre programs with one week at Berkeley, two weeks at UMass. But then, for anyone visiting the USA for the first time, this was the perfect chance to see two very different faces of this huge and very diverse country.
In the UK, we began our operations at a new centre, Durham, in the north of England. St. Chad’s College was the perfect venue: superbly located, literally next door to the Cathedral, and just a few minutes’ walk from the city centre, it offered a number of small libraries and a disused chapel among its “quirky” facilities for us to use. The accommodation was in a row of older-style houses along a street which is part of a UNESCO World Heritage site – and every room had its own individual character. Atmospheric!
As in previous years, students in the UK were also able to stay in Oxford and St. Andrews in Scotland, with two visits to London, a trip to Edinburgh – and in Scotland a golf lesson from a golfing professional!
We visited a range of universities in the UK. In addition to those at which we were staying, students were able to see various universities in London, together with a selection from Nottingham, Birmingham, Warwick, York, Newcastle, Edinburgh and Aberdeen. A new addition this year was Leeds, which proved to be very popular with our students.
Countries represented for the first time
It’s always good to see students coming from one particular country for the first time. This year, the new countries represented were: Spain, France, Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands, Bulgaria and Lebanon. Initially, it was mainly Asian countries represented at KE, but now we’re becoming more and more international.
The programs in the USA will actually be pretty similar next year – same venues, same kind of trips. Why change something when it works? One thing we are doing, though, is to address the one criticism we did receive: that the rooms at UMass were so hot, even with fans! It’s true: they were hot – so for 2016 we’ll be taking air-conditioned rooms there. And at Berkeley? Not a problem – the San Francisco area stays remarkably cool in the summer, so air con is not required.
In the UK, there will be a change of venue. After three years in Oxford, we’re moving to Cambridge. This is not because of a change of loyalty, but simply because the premises we’ve been using in Oxford will soon be closing for a major re-fit, which will take a number of years. Our new venue in Cambridge is St. Catharine’s College, one of the traditional colleges at the heart of the city. All the sights of Cambridge are within easy walking distance of the College.
Not everyone, however, will be going to Cambridge. For our 14-16 age group, instead of Cambridge, we’re offering… London! So instead of staying in Cambridge and visiting London, these students will be staying in London and going to Cambridge on a day trip. Of course, being in London will enable students to see more of the big city, as well as visiting some of its leading universities. Full details of our new centre will soon be appearing on our website.
Enrolling for 2016
At the moment, we’re still putting the finishing touches to our programmes for 2016. We’ll be changing the website a little, and also our brochure. It’s not possible to enrol online just yet, but if you would like to register your interest, just email us on firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll be pleased to let you know just as soon as all the information is ready.
This year, there’s a particular reason for enrolling early: for all enrolments completed by December 31, 2015, we’re offering a 5% discount on our fees.
We have programmes ready to go in Australia and New Zealand. But in order that we have enough participants, we need a school to come on board to bring a group! And then we’ll also open these countries up to individuals. The possible dates range from December to February.
One major English-speaking country has been missing until now… Canada! For 2016, we are actually planning to offer a two-centre programme with San Francisco and a university in Canada for one particular school group. We’re looking at opening up this option to all our students in the near future.
How good is your English?
Here’s a little challenge for native speakers and non-native speakers alike (with an emphasis on the errors which native speakers tend to make!).
Unlike the French, Spanish, Italians and others, English speakers do not have an academy to decide on what is correct and what is not: it’s all a question of usage and what people find acceptable. And this changes all the time: at one point, the word ‘hopefully’, signifying ‘it is to be hoped’, was regarded as bad English; today most people accept it with that meaning. Incidentally, when the writer of this passage was at school, starting a sentence with ‘and’ was frowned upon… But today? (Same story with ‘but’ at the start of a sentence!)
Even though standards of correctness are fluid, there is a lot to be said for writing at a level which educated speakers find acceptable. There is certainly a very strong case for writing with clarity and precision. How could the following sentences be improved? At the end, there are, well, not answers (we’re not the Royal English Academy, which doesn’t exist), but, let’s say, suggestions…
- Between you and I, I think he’s jealous.
- I just rung the police station.
- There’s some books on the table.
- If I’d have known he was going to be so horrible, I’d never have gone to see him.
- I’m gonna find a way to get round this problem.
- There are less clouds in the sky now.
- On arriving at the house, the door was locked. We couldn’t go in.
- When I saw him, I was, like, ‘What are you doing here?’
- He was laying down when I saw him.
- That’s the teacher whom I thought was going to be taking us today.
- It’s the only animal with it’s own little house.
- We were sat in the cinema, waiting for the film to begin.
- ‘Between you and me…’ In English, prepositions are followed by object pronouns, not subject pronouns; and ‘me’ follows ‘between’.
- ‘I’ve just rung’ or (US) ‘I just rang’. ‘Rang’ is the simple past tense; ‘rung’ is the past participle, and is used with ‘have’.
- ‘There are some books…’ ‘There is’ should be used for singular or uncountable items, ‘there are’ for plurals.
- ‘If I’d known…’ ‘If I had have known’, which is what is really being used here, simply does not exist.
- Use ‘gonna’ in spoken English, if you must, but not in written English: ‘going to’.
- ‘Fewer clouds’. ‘Less’ is used with uncountable nouns (e.g. ‘less rain’), ‘fewer’ with countable nouns.
- Did the door arrive at the house? Say: ‘When we arrived at the house, the door was locked.’ Or: ‘On arriving at the house, we found that the door was locked.’
- Use ‘like’ in every sentence when you speak to your friends, if you really must torture your elders, but don’t use it in this way in written English. Say: ‘When I saw him, I asked him what we was doing there.’
- ‘Lay’ is a transitive verb. You ‘lay’ something on the table. But the intransitive verb, when there is no direct object, is ‘lie’. So: ‘He was lying down…’
- ‘Who’ not ‘whom’. In modern English, you don’t really need to use ‘whom’ at all, but if you want to use it, make sure you do so only for the object of the clause it introduces. You didn’t ‘think the teacher’, who is not the direct object. Take out ‘I thought’ and you can feel that ‘whom’ is wrong.
- It’s means ‘it is’ or ‘it has’ – it’s an abbreviation. When the word is used for possession, there is no apostrophe: ‘It’s the only animal with its own little house.’
- ‘We were sitting’. But ‘we were sat’ is so common now in British English that it may be almost acceptable. (By the way, Americans might possible say, ‘We were sitting in the movie-house waiting for the movie to begin.’)