Newsletter, November 2016

Newsletter, November 2016

Newsletter November 2016

What has been happening: a few points about 2016

  • We were pleased to welcome more than 400 students in total!
  • For the first time, we had good numbers of students from various European countries, and also from the Gulf
  • Our first season at King’s College, London, was a great success, and we are pleased to be returning in 2017. Students really appreciated having all the great sights just within walking distance of the College!
  • We completed our move from Oxford to Cambridge. Not that we had anything against Oxford, but the college premises we were using were closing for a major refit.   We are now based at St. Catharine’s College in Cambridge – a historic college right in the city centre.
  • Our two American centres, UMass and UC Berkeley saw their biggest KE groups to date.
  • Our first season in Canada allowed students to combine study and university visits with some outdoor activities in the Rocky Mountains and Vancouver

What will be happening: a few points about 2017

  • We hope to have around 500 students in total next year. We have increased the range of dates and options available, so be sure to check our website fnewsletter2_4or details:
  • For the first time, it will be possible to take a four-week programme in the USA, with two weeks in the East, two weeks in the West – and the chance to take two specialist subjects.
  • All our programmes will now include a new presentation – on presentation skills! Presentations form an important part of our programmes, and we want to give students more guidance on how to do well.
  • We have already started visiting schools to talk about KE – and various other subjects as well. Founder Sam Yang has a new talk on achieving happiness, which complements his other talks on achieving success and merchant banking.  Principal Peter Chapple gives introductions to critical thinking or leadership.  If your school is interested in a presentation, please contact Jacque Yang on

What is critical thinking?

You may have noticed that one of the options offered under our ‘Skills for learning’ is critical thinking.  More of our students take this course than any other.   It’s designed for those with a very good level of English, because some of the concepts covered are quite challenging, and we’re really using English rather than focusing on it specifically.

But what exactly is critical thinking?

The basis of critical thinking is the argument.  Every argument must have a conclusion, at least one reason which is supposed to lead to that conclusion, and it should also try to persuade us of something.

Critical thinking looks for arguments in everyday language.  A remark as simple as this contains an argument: ‘Have you seen those dark clouds?  I’m sure it’s going to rain.’  The speaker is trying to persuade us of something, which is that it’s going to rain.   That is in fact the conclusion, and the reason given is that dark clouds are building in the sky somewhere.

Of course, this is a very simple argument, but one of the things students do in critical thinking is to try to find arguments in much more complicated pieces of language.  Is there an argument hidden there?  Sometimes, although someone is trying to persuade us of something, there is no argument at all!  (This is often the case in advertising, for example.)critical-thinking-large

Having identified the arguments, the critical thinker then has to evaluate them.  So are they good arguments, or poor arguments?  A good argument shows a strong link between a reason and a conclusion.  A poor argument fails to convince that the conclusion follows on from whatever reasons are given.

A series of reasons constitutes evidence.  How much evidence do we need to accept an argument?  If your friends argue that a dog walked past their house today, probably not very much.   But if they argue that a dog flew over their house today, probably rather a lot, because this argument would appear to challenge some well-established principles of biology and physics…

Our young critical thinkers can have a lot of fun looking at situations like this, especially when it comes to dissecting really bad arguments!

Critical thinking skills are valuable in all areas of study.  Engineers as much as lawyers need to find evidence, and then decide whether they have enough evidence to draw a certain conclusion.

Studying in Canada

This August, KE ran its first programme in Canada, and we are planning to go back in 2017.  For next year, we’re proposing something a little different.  Students will spend 11 days at the University of Calgary, and in that period take two of our standard courses.  The academic component of our programme is completed at that point.  After that, students set off on a four-day trip through the spectacular Rocky Mountains, finishing in Vancouver, where they have two full days to explore the city and its potential for further study.

In the course of this programme, students will have the chance to visit four of Canada’s universities, and the top four in the West: Calgary, Alberta, University of British Columbia (UBC) and Simon Fraser.

Canada is a very popular destination for international students.  And according to ‘Ranking web of universities’, 2016 – of course, one of many ranking systems – this is how the four universities we visit are assessed:canada-flag

  • UBC – no. 2 in Canada, no. 20 in the world
  • Simon Fraser – no. 3 in Canada, no. 60 in the world
  • Alberta – no 5 in Canada, no. 70 in the world
  • Calgary – no. 7 in Canada, no. 117 in the world

Clearly, not all universities in Canada achieve these high ratings, and we only visit a selection of those which we feel will give our students a great education, if they decide to study there.  Most of the other high-ranking universities are on the other side of the country, in Ontario and Quebec – but a KE centre there is perhaps for the future!  The West of the country offers easy access to Asian countries in particular, together with amazing mountain scenery, as well as great opportunities for study.

Canadian universities tend to operate on a large scale.  UBC, for example, has over 40,000 students, and is almost like a city in its own right, with its own shops and bus station.  Calgary, while smaller, with around 30,000 students, still has its own railway station!

Here are some key points about university education in Canada:

Most degree programmes run for 4 years.  As in the USA, students tend to start off with a fairly broad general educational experience, and then specialise more and more as they go through their university careers.

  • There is no centralised admissions service – you apply direct to the university.
  • In contrast to the USA, with its SAT and ACT, there is no specialised test which you need to take; you gain entry on the basis of your high school results.
  • The universities may ask you to write a personal profile, but interviews are not normally required.
  • If you are not a native speaker of English, you will probably need to take an English language test, and both TOEFL and IELTS are accepted.
  • Some universities in the East of the country are mainly French-speaking.

To find out more about life on a Canadian campus, check our website to find out about opportunities for next August.  We have programmes for 14-16 year-olds, and 16-18 year-olds.