Chawton Excursion

Recently both our Certificate of English for International Study and our International Foundation Year Programmes went to Chawton. To visit both Jane Austin’s home (now a museum) and Chawton House Library  which was her brother’s home. It’s just one of many excursions that we build into our programmes.

While classroom learning  and independent study are the core of a solid education, there are sometimes things to be gained from getting out of the classroom and visiting relevant locations to get a feel for how things are in real life. Whether that’s visiting a historic location   or an art gallery to see paintings first hand, changing the context and mode of learning can be a huge benefit and can both reinforce as well as enrich knowledge.

Here are some of the (unedited) comments from students who went on the trip.

Chawton House Library:

My most favourite room of the library was a room having bookshelves. It was a historical and beautiful room. I liked the hidden shelf in the room.

Old people were also using wig sign to avoid witches.

Garden which has a gate was beautiful.

Secret shelf.

The oak room is my favourite part of this short journey. Its special smells make me feel relax and comfortable. The corridor which I also like; it was fun to imagine how Jane Austen and other ladies who live in this house before walk on it.

chl-hall

Photo: ELTSU

There were a lot of flowers and they were so beautiful (garden).

Sofa was really comfortable and big stove was so nice. I wanted to relax there more.

Secret space in the library made me exciting. I thought it’s like films!

Garden was so lovely.

chl-garden

Unfortunately not a day for photography outdoors Photo: ELTSU

There were lots of picture of people who were related to Jane Austin and I could enjoy them.

So polite explanation.

chl-talk

Photo ELTSU

I could know about history and growth.

The library was so lovely and brilliant!

I enjoyed the explanation as well.

As well as the care and detail in which the house, library and garden has been kept special attention was also given to the secret bookshelf and the sense of ‘walking into history’. Many houses at the time would have had secret shelves, cupboards or even rooms to hide valuable or dangerous things.

 

Jane Austin’s House:

I though Jane Austen’s house was cute. I like a brick fireplace and a cute white bed.

I like the kitchen, the fireplaces are new and interesting for me.

ja-house-kitchen

Photo: ELTSU

The kiln to burn bread.

The exhibition is great. However, there is just four things that can touch and see and if they can point me which book that Jane Austen may read it will be great.

Kitchen.

We could experience Jane Austen’s era. For example, we could wear costume of the age and make lavender bag.

ja-house-lavender

Photo: ELTSU

Book room.

There were many books which is written by many languages. I found Japanese books so I felt happy.

Before seeing Jane Austen’s house, we could watch a short film of her life. It was good.

Not just seeing the house, we could enjoy wearing clothes and making lavender bag.

House was very beautiful. We could know about Jane Austen more.

We could enjoy making flavour bag.

I could get lovely souvenir.

It was fun that I could try wearing traditional clothes and making a lavender cologne sachet (plus playing the piano).

ja-house-piano

Photo: ELTSU

 

Dressing in period costume,

ja-house-costume

Photo: ELTSU

(also available here and here )seeing the house and especially the kitchen all help us imagine life at the time, and is popular for many museums .  As for the sense of living history there are any number of places that make this real for visitors and it is the essence of why we visit places like this.

The Start is the End!

It’s almost the start of another academic year at Winchester, (Tuesday of Welcome week as I write this). Today is also the pre-sessional exam board. Our tutors have already been teaching for 12 weeks. So with that in mind, and sparked by a conversation over coffee this morning, let’s look at what a pre-sessional programme should do. The points below are all taken from feedback and expectations of students both past and present.

A pre-sessional should:

‘Teach grammar and vocabulary’ – yes and no. This sounds like a very basic expectation of any language class, (from the view that language is made up of grammar and vocabulary). By the time you get to the pre-sessional you have probably got most (if not all) of the nuts and bolts grammar you need. Additionally, the formulaic verb phrase teaching that helped you get this far isn’t as useful in academic contexts. It is true that there are words which are much more common in academic contexts. SEE Coxhead LINK. Practicing sentences with dummy subjects (ones that start with it/this etc.) can also be useful as it’s often left out of grammatical syllabi, or glossed over in application, and you will use this frequently in academic writing. Of course applying some of the grammar and vocabulary knowledge you already have; work on good drafting, proofreading, rewriting and editing skills is invaluable. So teaching grammar and vocabulary no teaching proofreading and editing of that grammar and vocabulary yes.

essay

‘Raise my IELTS score’ – No, proficiency point exams like IELTS can do no more than provide an indication of proficiency in a language. They occur on a single day and can be prepared for and even coached through. Your IELTS might go up (or it might not) the language skills you need at Uni are very different from what you need for IELTS. For example writing you will be writing an order of magnitude more for even first year papers that is possible within the framework of IELTS. What’s more what you write will be expected to be polished through several (or at least a few) drafts, supported with reasoning, citations, data, research, evidence, analysis and argumentation, again hardly possible in a couple of hundred words.

Creative Commons attribution information. Testing times. ©comedy_nose via Flickr

‘Let me on to my University course’ – Well yes if you’ve been required to take a pre-sessional before starting then this is something you need to do. However, this wording gives the impression you’re not really engaging with the pre-sessional in its own right. Any good pre-sessional prepares you for your course of study, but this is much more complicated that the tick box or a traffic light system this implies. Some Universities have separate pre-sessional programmes for different streams of study while this may be in part due to different requirements it’s also because different fields of academia tend to express themselves differently. And when you have so little time to prepare it can be a benefit to prepare very specifically. For example in many business focused programmes reports are much more common than traditional essays. In the arts and humanities (and also business) you’ll almost certainly have to stand up and give a convincing (argumentative) presentation. Whereas in the sciences you might need to report on research or give a presentation of data, but you want to let the facts/data convince the audience not try and argue them into agreeing.

The challenges of academic writing in ESL

‘Help me settle into life in the UK’ – We do pride ourselves at Winchester on the pastoral care of our students. Naturally, we’d argue that all good pre-sessional programmes do this. However, this isn’t something that will get a lot of classroom time devoted to it and even more than adjusting to the academic life this can be a very personal issue. Some students will want to study here for purely academic reasons; others will be much more keen to integrate socially as well as academically. Additionally, every different culture will need to adapt differently, and every student personally.

Coffe

‘Teach me how to do well at Uni’ – Yes this is another thing that every good pre-sessional programme does. Academic culture can be subtly (or quite unsubtly) different at different institutions let alone countries, even ones that share a single language. Many of our American international students have struggled with differing expectations, despite going to school their whole lives in English. Our pre-sessional at Winchester engages lecturers from around the University to teach and give guest lectures, workshops and seminars every week. The current heads of both the English Literature and English Language Programme are former ELTSU tutors. We’ve had lectures from Linguistics, Education, Business, Sport, Music, Archaeology, History and many more.

Shield

Frost

Frost – in one sense it’s weather. As what happens to dew when the temperature is cold enough to freeze it. But, there are a number of interesting linguistic and cultural features using “frost” or a derivative in English.

Jack Frost – an anthropomorphic nature spirit; a representation of winter with a number of spin offs from beer to cartoon characters , and films to games. You might say – “watch out for Jack Frost tonight” – if you think it will be cold.

Jack Frost wikimedia

image via wikimedia

Frosted – adjective used in baking. When there is a thin layer of something (often sweet) on the top or even outside of a baked item. The layer is thinner than icing but more than just a glaze. The cupcakes were frosted with crystallised sugar.

Frosting – noun used in baking. See frosted.

Frost Nixon – a 2008 film directed by Ron Howard. This is a fictionalisation from writer Peter Morgan of the interviews between David Frost (a British journalist and presenter)and Richard Nixon (a former US president with a mixed reputation following the Watergate Scandal).

Touch of frost: expression meaning that there is some frost but not a hard frost.

Hard frost: a very severe frost, many gardeners dread predictions of a hard frost once the spring growth has started. It can be very damaging for many plants.

A frosty reception/welcome: a greeting but without the normal and/or expected warmth. We got a frosty reception at the hotel; despite booking on their website it appears they were closed for renovations so we had to stay somewhere else.

Touch of Frost  – TV programme. Starring David Jason as the eponymous Detective Inspector Jack Frost a determined if not always organised police detective.

A frosty smile/look: When someone looks unfriendly or even hostile despite outwardly seeming normal. I’m not sure we should leave Dave and Simon alone. Dave gave Simon a really frosty look when he arrived I think he’s still upset over losing the poetry prize to him.

Frosty the Snowman – A kid’s song often sung in winter or even as a non-religious Christmas song.

Frostbite – the name for the medical condition where part of your body (starting with the skin freezes. Fortunately, this is very rare in the UK but can be a serious danger in countries that get more severe winters.

Frost Maiden/Queen: a woman who is or seems frightening and/or intimidating and/or unapproachable because of manner, but also one who is logical and unemotional at all times. I’m aware that she seems like a bit of a frost maiden at first; but trust me she’s really very nice just a bit shy around people she doesn’t know. You might be surprised to find that this is a case of sexism in English but there is no male equivalent.