Monday, 15 April 2019

My Madrid, My London

Lisa, who was with us last week, has lived in Madrid and now lives in Grasse.  Here is her comparison of Madrid and London.

Madrid and London are very similar.  They are both capitals of countries, and the two cities have very big airports.  The shopping is also very good in both Madrid and London, and a lot of people visit the two cities for business and tourism.  Furthermore, Madrid and London both have a lot of green areas and museums.

The two cities are also very different.  London is bigger than Madrid.  As well as more people, there are more metros/Tube lines in London.  The people in London are also more diverse.  When I walk through the streets of London, I hear Spanish, English, French, Chinese etc.  When I walk through the streets of Madrid, I hear mostly Spanish, English and French.  Also in London, the people start and end their days earlier.  In Madrid, the day normally starts at 9am.  At 11am, they usually have coffee and eat their lunches at 3pm or 4pm.  They have dinner at 9pm or 10pm and go to bed at 11pm or midnight.  How people live in these cities is very different.

Our Superheroes!

There is something about superheroes that always excites the imagination of our students.  Below are some of their superhero stories.

Friday, 9 November 2018

My Journey in London

Hello.  I’m 15, and I did a one-week course with Hi-London to improve my English and my writing. I also visited a lot of places in London, which I really enjoyed because I love London culturally speaking - it’s such an interesting city.

We visited a lot of museums, and I watched an amazing show about Charles Darwin ( It was so interesting!

I learned a lot about English history, which is important to me because, in my school, we only learn about French history.

I also spoke a lot in English with the teacher who was really nice. I feel that I diversified my vocabulary and also improved my English in other ways.

I also had homework writing essays.  I think it’s important for our future to know how to write essays - like for university.

I met really nice kids, and it was a good experience for me to work with kids.  It might be something that’ll interest me in the future.

Friday, 28 September 2018

Keeping up with a Family Tradition
By Misha

I had the pleasure to speak with two Italian families this summer, both of whom have been returning to Hi-London for 5 years and counting. Family traditions form the foundation of Italian culture, and it seems Hi-London has become a tradition for these two families.

Of course, we have families coming from many countries around the world, year after year. This year, I taught students from Poland, Russia, Slovakia, Brazil, Argentina, China, Japan, Germany, Switzerland, France, Belgium, Saudi Arabia, and many more.  Especially during the summer, well over half of our students were returning for the second, third, fourth or more time. That made for a very rich, international mix! And some would describe us as a family. Such deep relationships were built, with the group moving as one happy organism – together – by the end of the week.

I asked Bruna, the Italian grandmother of two boys and one girl, what had brought her family to return to Hi-London for so many years. She said that she and her grandchildren so appreciated this setting of international exchange. At an impressionable age, children from all over the world are brought together to study English, but invariably they learn so much more. They are introduced to other cultures, and so they quickly grow to accept diversity. They learn to seek it, respect it, and be inspired by it.

I talked to Lara, the mother of Emma, who has been a part of Hi-London since she was 9 years old. Emma is now 13 and started the Teen Programme last year.  She plans to be with us for another 4 years (!) Lara loves many aspects of our school. In the first year, she said she noticed Emma’s progress right away, and she has come to rely on our reports (given to the students who are with us for two weeks or more to track Emma’s growth over the years.

Our teachers give individual attention to each student, and if a student can stay for longer, there is great benefit. It allows us to monitor individual abilities in greater depth and to deliver the tuition and homework aligned to individual need. Also, we are better able to give suggestions at the end of the chosen term so that the student can continue to develop through the year until they return the following season.

There are other unique aspects that keep our families coming back to Hi-London, such as the variety of excursions and language immersion opportunities. Each week, the children and teens travel out into London to explore this great city through the lens of a theme base. We know how to engage our students with the exhibits and material in over 80 venues, museums, and sites across the city. And students sure do love to travel on London’s transport system, whether it be the Tube, bus, boat or train!

Underlying everything is the pulse of new friendships and the family-like vibrations that are built, encouraged and fostered. Of course, the young students have to communicate in English to build these new ties with others. This is such a beautiful motivator to witness! Even though the students may sometimes share a native tongue, more often than not, most of the group will be from different countries. So, this becomes a very different context from an English class back home.

And, at the end of it all, we send photos from each fun-filled week so that the parents and students have a visual diary. For sure, Hi-London becomes like family, like home, and for many – a lasting tradition.

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Theatre: A Tool For Expression and Growth

For 20 years I have been working in theatre and the performing arts. It never ceases to amaze me how bodily expression and play inspires growth and change. To play, to tell stories, to enact characters, and to expand vocal and physical range is to explore and expand who we are.

As a teacher, I use various aspects of theatre and art to elicit responses from children as they learn a new language. People, especially children, hold latent knowledge of language. The use of gesture, mime, objects/props, and costume are all excellent methods for drawing out reaction or response to something. Theatrical expression helps to build new pathways in the brain that with repetition imprint and aid in the memorisation of new information. To elicit is to prompt, to trigger, to spark – and to employ theatrical methods as a teacher is to inspire and encourage students to express themselves in the broadest sense.

I have been teaching at Hi-London since the beginning of the year. In this time, I have worked with a wide range of children/teens with varied levels of ability in the practice and understanding of the English language. Children pick up a massive amount of information and very often know more than they are aware of. It is so vital to encourage the leap between knowledge that is there inside somewhere, latent, and to draw out that knowledge into the practice of speaking and action.

The ability to listen, to focus, and to express are key to learning language. In children, progress can be made quickly if they can be stimulated to take a risk. Play and storytelling are great ways to help children feel at ease. Even before they can formulate or understand words, gesture can be used to cross the boundaries of difference and culture. Gesture can communicate even before words are spoken, and once the children feel safe within the community of a group, they are much more likely to grow. Playing games, drawing and storytelling are excellent methods to build foundations for new skills in communication of a new language, and Hi-London provides the incredible cultural backdrop of one of the greatest cities of the world. There are so many contexts and themes to draw from. Each of our week-long courses are theme-based around a topic which helps the students to stay focused and to create meaningful memory and experience.

One week, the theme was London Jungle. We began the week by reading the story Why Elephant Has a Trunk (Tinga Tinga Tales). At the beginning of the week, even when many words were not yet understood, pictures, gesture, and a theatrical delivery provided the aid to build understanding. Repetition is key. Therefore, to read the same book a few times during the same week was important, and as the children grew more familiar with the story parts, they remembered and filled in information.

During a workshop at a zoo that week, one of the workshop leaders used simple gesture for each animal which the children had to then repeat as they named the animal and its habitat. Gesture is a powerful way to memorise information. In theatrical performance, text is always accompanied by action to clarify the meaning of the story for the audience, but it is also employed to anchor the text in the actor’s memory.

The London Jungle week culminated with the making of animal masks and a re-enactment of the elephant story. Each child chose an animal to perform, and they were encouraged to voice new information from the week as they played. Growth was born easily, naturally and spontaneously from the excitement of theatrical play, interaction, and a city which holds infinite possibilities!

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

London vs. Berlin

By Pia

Although a river flows through both of them, London and Berlin are two cosmopolitan cities with their own characteristics and histories.

When taking a first look at London coming from Germany, there aren’t too many differences to Berlin one is able to realize. People are busily walking around, the traffic is bad, tourists are blocking the footpaths all over the place, and the whole atmosphere is nothing else but hectic. Those are characteristics that London and Berlin share, but when you take a second, closer look  at London, there are more differences than one would have thought in the beginning.

The first rather obvious difference are the buses and taxis. Many tourists get attracted by the look and system of the buses since they are double deckers, but the system is the same in Berlin; so, that doesn’t draw a lot of attention. However, the colour does. London is famous all over the world for its red buses.  In Berlin, the buses are yellow. Also, the look of taxis  differs from the one in Berlin. While in Berlin they are a kind of yellow and don’t need to be a specific type of car, the taxis in London are all black and from the same company.

Another difference are the older buildings. During the war, most of Berlin was destroyed, which caused the population to build new apartments but also buildings for public use. Therefore, Berlin has much newer and higher building than London.

In general, people seem to be more dressed up and wearing business clothes in London while in Berlin, clothing is more casual even in the business district.

Another point which makes the cities differ is that London is known for its great musicals while Berlin isn’t a musical city at all but well known for theatres.

Another characteristic to mention is that Berlin has far more parks and forests within the city and even downtown than London.  London does have its green areas just not as many.

One of the biggest differences between Berlin and London is probably that the United Kingdom still has a monarchy while Germany doesn’t. In London, you see pictures of the Royal Family in almost all the stores while in Berlin, it’s just not part of the society.

All in all, one can say that although both cities are well known in the world, are the capitals of their countries and have citizens who seem to have the same daily life, they still have their own individual characteristics which make them both interesting and important in their own way. 

The River Thames vs. Lake Van

By Alara

Do you know the River Thames and Lake Van? They are located in different countries, and one of them is a river and the other one is a lake. I will give more details about them and compare them to each other. What are we waiting for?  Let’s learn more about them.

Firstly, I am going to start with the River Thames. It is a river that flows through southern London. At 215miles (347km) in length, it is the longest river in England. Its name from Sanskrit means ‘dark’, and the water is often dark and cloudy. Another school of thought is that it is named after the Roman ‘Tiam’ meaning ‘wide’.  The source of the water is the Thames’s Head. There are 50 bridges that cross the Thames, and four of them are very famous. They are:  Tower Bridge, Millennium Bridge, London Bridge and Westminster Bridge. Also, from the sea, it is estimated that the Thames carries over 300,00 tons of sediment each year. More than 100 fish species have been recorded in the Thames over the last 30 years and many of these in the River Thames within London.

Secondly, I am going to give you more information about my country’s longest lake. It is the largest lake in Turkey, and it lies in the far east of the country. It is in the provinces of Van and Bitlis. It is a saline soda lake that receives water from numerous small streams that desend from the surrounding mountains. This lake borders Vann, Tatvan, Ercis and Ahlat. The length of the lake is 11km. Lake ‘Van’ is derived from Chayon, the name of an old capital of the Urartian Kingdom. In the biggest sodium water lake in the world, there are 103 types of phytoplankton.

Lastly, River Thames is bigger than Lake Van, and I will now compare them. My first comparison is the about the difference in their appearance. Lake Van in enclosed by land, and the River Thames is exposed more. The colour is different too. The Thames is brown and looks dirty. Lake Van is not connected to the sea like all lakes, and it is clear. Another difference between Lake Van and the Thames is the movement. River Thames basically runs and flows along, and it often flows in one direction. This is different compared to Lake Van. Lake Van is immobile. It appears that Lake Van flows very slowly, and most of the movements are influenced by the wind.

There is so much to compare when thinking about their history and how they changed the lives of people around them. There is so much more to learn about both of these bodies of water.  This is just a start.