Friday, 6 January 2023

British vs. American English

Have you ever wondered why there are differences between British and American English? Have you ever looked up the word "colour" or "flavour" and noticed two different ways to spell the same word (e.g. "colour/color", "flavour/flavor")?  A famous poet and playwright Bernard Shaw once said “England and America are two countries separated by the same language”.

How Did These Differences Come About?

The English language was first introduced to America by British settlers in the 17th century, and it has evolved since then.  A key player who nudged American English away from British English was Noah Webster.  In the 18th century, he decided to create the now well-known Webster dictionary and worked on developing a new version of English for America.  He wanted American English to be more independent from British English and to spell words more as he believed they sound. Britain kept its spelling of words which was anchored in other languages such as French and German.

Differences between British English and American English
  • Words spelt with an "our" in British English and just with an "or" in American English:

  • Words that end with an "ise" in British English and with an "ize" in American English:

  • As well as differences in spelling, there are different words used in British and American English for the same thing. Here are some of the most common word differences:

            British English            American English

            Football                        Soccer
            Petrol                            Gas
            Rubbish                        Garbage
            Crisps                            Potato Chips
            Holiday                         Vacation
            Film                               Movie
            Chips                             French Fries

These are just a few examples of the many differences between British and American English  that you may come across. Next time you watch an English film or perhaps speak with a native English speaker, you may start to notice these differences and understand a little more about why these differences exist.

Students Learning British English in Our London Classroom 
Students Learning British English in Our London Classroom

Students Learning American English in Our New York Classroom

Friday, 2 September 2022

A Funny Day in Chinatown

We are walking as a human chain, like a creature we sing and laugh. As we exit the Tube station and walk along the great avenue to one side of Leicester Square, street performers, musicians, and people from all over the world creating the rich tapestry around us, and I think to myself as I do most days at Hi-London, how lucky we are to experience this great city in such a fun and creative way.

We turn to the right and walk down an alley, and the sounds and smells of Chinatown envelope us. We continue to sing and walk and talk. We stop in front of the bakery with its windows full of exotic shapes and colours. Chinese lanterns blow in the sky above our heads. I point to things that are interesting, and the children gaze with mouths wide open and grins.

We enter the bakery, and its warmth and sweet smells welcome us. The Chinese lady smiles,  and I suggest bean cakes and various things as the children choose something. Then we are outside with a collection of moon cakes and buns, and we chat as we munch on our treats.

Then one child is pulling on my arm. “Misha! Misha! My tooth!”, and sure enough there is a small gap with blood, and her tiny tooth hanging by a thread of skin and red stains on the thing she is eating. “Oh wow!” I say, and Vania comes to the rescue. “Bite down on this tissue”, she instructs softly but firmly. The child obeys and closes her mouth holding her teeth together. 

A few moments later, the tooth comes out and we wrap it in a clean tissue. “Save it for the tooth fairy”, I whisper. “It is extra special when you lose a tooth in Chinatown!”. A few moments later, we pack up our things and make our way back to the Tube station, one tooth less but so much gained on another grand day at Hi-London!

Friday, 3 June 2022

007 Saves the Day: A Short Screenplay

Scene One: James Bond and his Chief

007 talks on the phone with his chief.

JB: Hi chief, what’s going on?

Chief: It is urgent. You must stop Dr. No. 

JB: Why? What’s happening?

Chief: He is very dangerous. He is going to destroy the world with a nuclear bomb. You must catch him so that we can put him in jail.

JB: Right away sir.

Scene Two: Introducing Dr. No

Dr. No is in a room with his great machine. He caresses it rather dramatically with love and admiration.

Dr. No: Ah … my beautiful machine! Soon you will help me to destroy the world! Then I will be King of The Universe!

Scene Three: 007 Arrives at Crab Key

James Bond jumps down from his helicopter dressed in black clothing. It is night. He has arrived on the island called Crab Key, the home of Dr. No. He calls his chief and speaks quietly into his phone so as not to be heard.

JB: Hello sir. I have just arrived at Crab Key.

Chief: Good. Keep me informed.

Scene Four: The Bedroom of Dr. No

James Bond sneaks quietly into the bedroom of Dr. No. No is sleeping on his back with his gloved arm resting on a special device to keep it elevated. He snores loudly. His bodyguard stands at the door and doesn’t notice JB as he comes into the room.

James Bond goes to strangle Dr. No. Dr. No awakes suddenly and starts to scream and struggle. His bodyguard jumps onto James Bond, and a fight ensues. James Bond manages to knock out the bodyguard and then he runs after Dr. No who has escaped from the room.

Scene Five: The Chase

James Bond runs after Dr. No. They run through the vast gardens of Dr. No’s estate. Finally, James Bond manages to shoot Dr. No with his special gun. The bullet makes Dr. No fall unconscious immediately.

Scene Six: The Reward

James Bond talks to his chief on the phone.

Chief: Good work 007. We have managed to put Dr. No behind bars.

JB: It is my pleasure sir. 

Chief: You have saved the world once again. For this I will reward you with 100 000 pounds. 

JB: Thank you sir. I am just relieved that I can be of service to the world once again!

Thursday, 2 December 2021

A Painting that Came to Life

 This summer, two of our students wrote a play and performed it in Holland Park . Since we teach our students not to be afraid of making mistakes, we present to you their story before corrections are made. Making mistakes is cool!  It’s an important part of the learning process.  Please sit back, relax and enjoy!  

Hi you!  We are Bianca (13) and Adele (12). We would first like to introduce you to the main characters of our story. 


Josephine is a 19-year-old girl. She is from France, has red curly hair, green eyes, freckles and is tall. She’s a rebel but also wise, independent, brave and shy. She loves the library and wants to read another romance. 


Tom is a 14-year-old English boy from Scotland.  He has brown hair and green eyes. He is very brave and curious, but Tim is very scared of spiders. He is independent and extraverted and enterprising. 

How Josephine and Tom Met

Tom, who didn't like reading, went to the library for pickup and previously requested school books.  While Josephine was in the middle of the bookshelf, she bumped into Tom. He is looking for a book for school. They start to talk and turn in the library together. 

Tom: “May I ask you why you have come to the library?”

Josephine: “Oh I am here cause I want to read another romance. I love them!"

Tom: “Do you see all those trees and that very dark one?”

Josephine: “Let’s go to that painting. It looks beautiful."

They stop in front of a strange painting. Tim looked at the wall and suddenly the painting takes life. From here starts an incredible adventure.

Josephine’s and Tim’s Adventure

Josephine: “Wow! Can you enter the painting?”

Tom: “Yes, but how can we come out?”

Josephine: “Do you have any idea of where we have to go?”

Both are screaming  “THERE ARE 20 SNAKES!”  Both are scared.

Tom: “I can throw them in my bag.”

Nothing happened. It doesn't work.

Tom: “Let's climb the rock.” 

Both are climbing on the rock.

Josephine: “Yeah, the snakes are leaving, and that's strange!”

Tom: “It’s not just a spider, it’s a giant spider! Let's go down, take a stick and hit the spider!” 

They see a man.

Tom: “Let's ask him to help us.”

Josephine asked the man: “Can you help us to leave this world?”

The man: “For leaving this world you have to  restart the game.”

Tom: “But, what does it mean?”

Josephine: “Let's climb in the tree.”

Reaching the top of the tree, Josephine and Tim found their way out of the painting.

When they were back in the library, Josephine asked Tim: “Do you want to go to the bar for a coffee?

The End

Friday, 27 March 2020

Hi-London for Adults

Earlier this month, we had some young adults join our new course called London Foodies.  As you probably guessed, all the activities and lessons were food-related, with culture, history and language squeezed in for good measure!
The course kicked off with a trip to Hampton Court Palace to visit the Tudor kitchens, which provided copious amounts of food for the court of Henry VIII.  We then visited Kew Gardens to find out about their sustainable food project to battle the effects of climate change.  We finally rounded it all off with a wander around the famous Borough Market, a paradise for food-lovers!
Like our programmes for children and teens, our adult programme immerses the students in the English language, history and culture, giving them plenty of opportunities to interact with native English speakers and actually use the language on the go.  This flexible environment means the students feel less pressure to “get it right” than when they’re in the classroom. The young adults on the London Foodies course all agreed that they preferred learning in this way with the teacher always being on hand to correct mistakes or answer questions.  They didn’t have to face the embarrassment of having their mistakes and answers corrected in front of everyone!
Being surrounded by native speakers is the best way to pick up the little quirks of a  language that you just don’t come across in a classroom. One of the students said what she enjoyed most about the course was being able to immediately ask the teacher to explain a “strange” word or phrase she had heard on the street. For example, we heard a lady tell her child to “Put a sock in it!”  This means “stop talking” or “cover your mouth”. This kind of immediate linguistic and contextual feedback is something that’s almost impossible to get while studying at home or in the classroom.
Most students find that the biggest challenges in English are spelling, pronunciation and intonation because we don’t say the words exactly as they are written. There are also many exceptions to the rules.  For example, the “ch” in “school” is pronounced differently from the “ch” in “choose”.  Also, different syllables are stressed in words like “clothes” and “cloth”, and although they look similar, they mean completely different things.
We believe that the most efficient and effective way to learn the above points is to encounter them in context and be active in your learning.  We were pleased to discover that like the children and teens, adults too respond to our approach of immersion and on-site correction and reinforcement.  English.  Live It.  Learn It.” seems to work across the age spectrum!

Saturday, 28 September 2019

Moon Stories

By three young writers during the summer of 2019

From the Moon to the Stars
Hi, I’m Chris, and I was a citizen of the moon. The moon was a great place to live. Every night, there was a beautiful view of the universe, and the cities were so comfortable. I lived there with my family: My husband Jack, my son Joel and my daughter Allie.

We were a happy family. On the moon every family was happy, everyone was happy. There was such a magical power on the moon. But one day, things started to change. The army of Mars invaded the moon. It was 21 October when I woke up, and I felt that something was strange. I didn’t know what, but I was worried. 
I got dressed. I had breakfast, and then I went to work. It was my job to clean the gardens on the moon. As I went outside, I noticed that strangely the sky was very black, there wasn’t any light and I couldn’t see the sun. Then, the army of Mars invaded us! There was a war for many days, and in the end the Martians won and stole the lunar gravity. Life on the moon without gravity became impossible. 
The period of the war was terrible. Lots of people died, and going outside became dangerous. Many moon people thought this would be the end of our moon as we knew it, and so it was. Little by little, people started to fly away due to the absence of gravity. In the end, the moon became uninhabited. The moon people were blown away and died. And to remember this fact, the Great Sky made a star from every citizen of the moon. Now I am a star too. I will live in the sky forever with my friends, and we will watch over and protect the moon for the rest of our lives. 

Travels with the Moon
A long time ago, the moon had her own sky. It was purple, green and blue, and it was bright and full of stars. It looked beautiful, and it was the best place in the whole universe because there wasn’t a lot of wind and the temperature was perfect. But the moon felt alone and sad, and every day, she wanted to find out what was hidden behind her sky. So, she decided to create a strong and powerful wind, and she blew away the atmosphere and the gravity. When she looked at the universe behind her sky, she was speechless and fascinated; there were many more stars and planets, and the space was full of twinkling lights, suns and clouds.
The moon was excited and joyful, and then she realised that she yearned to find a new friend. Standing still was useless; so, she started to travel about the universe, and she certainly met many interesting fellows! But what the moon was searching for was a place to settle down near a friend where she could stay forever. One day she entered into our solar system, and the first planet that she met was Neptune. He was a very lazy planet, and since the sun was really far from him, he was always sleeping during the long nights. When the moon arrived with her light, she woke up Neptune who happened to be having a good dream, and that made him really angry. He didn’t want the moon close to him; so, she had to go away. 
The second planet that she got to know was Saturn who was really busy. He had big rings, and on each one of them, there were rocks chatting and having fun. The moon wondered how it would be to stay there, but sadly there was no more space for her; so, she had to go away and leave that amazing planet. 
She was getting closer to the sun when she decided to stop on the big red sphere that was Mars. Now everybody knew that Mars was the most grumpy and solitary planet!  Nonetheless, the moon started to tell her story to Mars, but Mars was getting really annoyed and angry. Suddenly, he screamed and shouted, and he scared the moon so much that she ran away. 
At that point the moon became demoralised. She thought that no one would ever like her, and she started to cry! But not far away from her, there was Earth, and Earth was really beautiful with her seas and countries, and she was also so kind and sympathetic.  She asked the moon what was wrong - why she was so sad? So, they started to talk, and they realized that they had many stories and experiences waiting to be told to someone who would listen. They spent three days and three nights sharing their adventures and their thoughts, and they were having a really great time together! Also, the citizens of Earth enjoyed the presence of the moon that could replace the Sun during the night. And so it was that the Moon offered to stay with the Earth forever, and she decided to change herself every night so our planet would never grow bored or tired of her.

We are Aliens!
Many years ago, the people of the moon lived in peace. But after some time, their resources were finished on their planet, and they became very hungry and didn’t know what they could eat. Arcus, the king of the moon citizens, was very angry because he was very hungry. He couldn’t eat because nobody had anything to eat. He was so hungry that he started to eat his planet! And then, the other moon citizens started to copy him!
Now let me tell you, the moon citizens were strange aliens because they were very small, and there were many of them. They had long necks, they could fly, and they were green and very intelligent. They decided to eat the moon with their own mouths, using knives and forks. But they didn’t know it was poisonous! So, in the end, they had to leave their planet and move to a new planet. 
The name of the new planet was Earth. On this planet, there were lots of strange animals: Lions, tigers, ponies, horses, birds, and elephants.  There were also many plant species. The moon citizens decided to change their appearance. Nowadays, they can’t fly, and they haven’t got long necks any more. Now they are yellow, black, and white, and they are taller. They have changed their names. The new name is humans. On the new planet, they still have quite a lot of resources. But they need to be careful! And so, yes, we are the aliens!  

Monday, 12 August 2019

Hi-London Mystery Series

The Egyptian Crime (Alicja)

One day at the British museum, the staff was changing the exhibition in the Egyptian Room. They started to move the things around in the room, and they realised that something was very wrong. Why was the coffin of the Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamun so extremely heavy? They decided to open the coffin and check. The truth was horrible. There, lying in the coffin were three bodies of young workers, all dressed in orange.

The staff called the police immediately. When the police came, they checked the scene of the crime and found a note that was written in Egyptian hieroglyphs, and the Inspector already knew whom he should call to investigate this situation! Sherlock and Watson were called immediately!

Sherlock deciphered the note as saying “Good morning Mr. Holmes. It looks like you
need to find me. 87.663.” Sherlock was shocked but also thrilled. He returned
to 221b Baker Street and started brainstorming. What was the meaning of
these numbers? Was it a phone number? Was it a postal code? How could he
find this person?” He went into a deep trance for two hours and then he knew!
In London’s Chinatown, the dishes were numbered this way.

He took a taxi and went straight to Chinatown. He checked every single
restaurant and only in one of them did the numbers on the plates match.
When he ordered the food, the waiter said; “It did not take you long to find me,
Mr. Holmes. Follow me and I will show you something!”

Sherlock followed the waiter into the kitchen, and he saw something terrible.
The whole kitchen was full of dead bodies all in orange clothes and without
sleeves. “I wanted you to witness this, and you came here by yourself. What an
irony! Well I think orange suits you!” The waiter almost screamed with
terrible wild delight.

“You thought you could fool me! The great Sherlock Holmes!” Sherlock
answered. It turned out that he had a hidden camera in his hat, and the police
were following him the whole time.  In an instant, the waiter-criminal was
handcuffed! And that was the end of the Egyptian Crime! 

A Mystery in a London School (Ary)

It was a normal day, and in a London school, the students were studying in
their classroom all morning. Then they went to lunch. After lunch, the students returned to their classroom, and they saw a horrible thing! Semir was dead! The police were called immediately. When the police arrived on the scene of the crime, they found footprints on the ground.  They tried to
follow them, but it was very difficult. Finally, Sherlock Holmes, one of the most important detectives, was summoned.

Sherlock decided to interrogate every teacher and every student. Then he
went to the basement, and he found fingerprints! Apparently, none of the
students had seen the murder because all of the students were in the

After one hour, four students came to Sherlock. These students
were: Lady Alicia, Ben, John and Mary. They were all tall and thin. They had
long black hair, and they wore black sunglasses. Lady Alicia stood up to speak, and she told Sherlock what she knew. They had heard the shot, and although they had been at the scene of the crime, they hadn’t seen the criminal.  Lady Alicia had a lot of important things to tell Sherlock anyhow.

Afterwards, Sherlock went to Semir’s house, and he spoke with the parents of
the victim. After that, he spoke to the maths teacher. The maths teacher was a
bad man. He was very short and fat. The victim, Semir, had been very
intelligent, and perhaps the maths teacher was jealous.  Sherlock could see
that he wasn’t always friendly with the students.

After about fifteen minutes, the police called Sherlock, and they told Sherlock that the footprints on the floor in the classroom were the footprints of the headmaster.  Sherlock couldn’t understand it because the victim had died in the morning when the headmaster apparently hadn’t been at school yet.

The next morning, Sherlock went to the headmaster, but he wasn’t at school
yet! Sherlock called the police, and they told him that they should find the
headmaster fast because he could be a very big danger to other people. And then,
with sudden clarity, Sherlock understood the story!

The headmaster had had a secret relationship with the victim’s mother, and the victim Semir had found out the secret. Semir had gone to the wife of the headmaster, and he had told her
of the affair! So, the headmaster arrived early at school that fateful morning,
and he told Semir that because he had found out the secret, he had to die! The
headmaster took Semir to the basement, and he shot him! Afterwards, the
headmaster went to the classroom to make it look like suicide.

But Sherlock was too clever! Once again, he had solved the case! And that was the end of
the Murder in a London School.

Death in the Underground (Irene)

It was a normal day in London, and everything was the same as any other day.  When in the Underground, which went all the way to Notting Hill, a woman heard a strange noise. It was a shot! In fact, when she got out of the train, she saw a person who was dead! The blood was all over the place! The woman started to scream, and the other people in the Underground came to see  the dead body too.

The lady called the police immediately, and as she spoke, she was crying because it was so terrible. The woman told the police everything, and soon they arrived on the scene of the crime. The police interrogated everyone, but no one had heard a shot and no one had seen anything suspicious. By that point, they had discovered the name of the victim, Mrs. John.

Because this was a special case, the police decided to call Sherlock and Watson.  Sherlock arrived promptly and started to speak with all the people who had seen the body, but even for him, this case was very complicated from the beginning. Sherlock and Watson spoke with the police, and they asked questions like “What time did the shooting happened?”.  The police said that the crime happened around 1 a.m. when there were hardly any people
around because it was so late.

Sherlock and Watson started to investigate the scene of crime when they immediately found a strand of hair! They put it in a very small bottle, and they went to their house on Baker Street.  They went straight to bed because it had been a long day.

When they woke up at 8a.m., they started looking for the person who killed
Mrs. John in the Underground. They looked at the strand of hair with great
attention, and after a few days they finally discovered to whom it belonged!
The person’s name was Mr. Bell; so, they started to ask everybody if they
knew Mr. Bell, but no one knew him.  Finally, a very short man said that
he knew him.  He said that Mr. Bell was about 50-years-old and that he had a
moustache. Thanks to this information, Sherlock and Watson soon found Mr.
Bell’s house. Unfortunately, he wasn’t at home; so, the two investigators had to
wait for him behind a tree for two whole days!

When Mr. Bell arrived, they immediately caught him and took him to prison!  Of course, he didn’t know that Sherlock and Watson were waiting for him behind the tree! Before he was put behind bars, they wanted to know why he had killed Mrs. John. So, Mr. Bell told them everything.

Some days before the murder Mr.Bell and Mrs. John had entered a challenge, and the loser had to give the other 1 million pounds! Bell was the loser, and he had to give the money to
Mrs. John. But of course, he didn’t want to, and on that terrible night, Mr. Bell
had killed her instead!

After hearing this story, Sherlock said, “It seems that you aren’t a very good killer, because a good killer wouldn’t leave a strand of hair on the floor!” And then Sherlock and Watson went back to Baker Street, maybe to make themselves a cup of tea!

That is the end of the story of the Murder in the Underground!