Category Archives: Hospitality

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Season’s Greetings

2012 Xmas Card

Women Bishops, Noah and Christmas Pud.

Amongst the media bombardment about Middle Eastern rockets and women priests, I notice that today is traditionally the day on which Noah is held to have entered the Ark.

Given the weather we have had this year, I imagine that there are many who feel like copying him, although perhaps without the complete domestic menagerie he brought along.

It is also about now, my almanac tells me, that Stir-Up Sunday falls: the last Sunday before Advent on which the Collect begins “Stir-up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of the faithful…” which was taken as a reminder to stir-up the mixture for Christmas puddings and pies, in order to allow them time to mature.

It was parodied thus:
Stir up, we beseech thee,
The pudding in the pot,
And when we do get home,
We’ll eat it piping hot.

Christmas puddings and pies should always be stirred clockwise with a wooden spoon. All present in the house should take a turn to stir in order of age: father, mother, visitors, children and babies by seniority.

Is there a connection between ‘stirring’ and women?  Certainly Johnny Nash and later Bob Marley thought so in the reggae classic ‘Stir It Up‘ – and they weren’t talking about ecclesiastical ructions within the Anglican church.

Anyway, in this house, if I want a Christmas Pudding  I shall have to make it myself, so I wish you all have a safe ark to carry you forth and that you remember to stir your pudding clockwise. (What happens if you don’t…?)

And if you don’t know how to make one, here’s a Christmas Pudding recipe, for you to try at home.

At HELLO English, we enjoy all the oddities of English traditions – whether in the English language, or in our weird and wonderful institutions, even if their arcane rules seem a little outdated from time to time. To find out more, contact us here.

Did You Know?

Knowledge of English as a foreign and second l...

Knowledge of English in the EU

In Sweden, Holland and Denmark, between 80% & 90% of the population can speak English?

How’s your Danish?

Did you know that:

  • Only 6% of the world’s population speak English as a mother tongue
  • 3 out of 4 people, across the world, know no English at all?
  • 75% of people in Britain think everyone should speak a foreign language
  • Only one in three Brits actually does.
  • The UK could double trade with Europe if we spoke their languages.

Languages are important and so is our ability to speak them: for trade, for communication, for safety, for humanity.

Contact HELLO! Languages for more information about how we can help!

Language Mismatch

Why doesn’t the language we learn in class match what we hear in the street?

This is a serious problem for learners of English and one of the most common questions faced by EFL teachers.

There are many answers. Including:

  • Because my teaching is very old-fashioned,
  • Because I am using poorly prepared materials,
    or
  • Because we don’t really bother to think things through when we are preparing our courses!

None of these would apply to classes at HELLO! – Learning English in the Heart of England, where classes are well-thought-through, relevant to modern usage and tailormade for your individual linguistic and personal needs.

While there is a grain of truth in the above – in other institutions, I hasten to add – the real reason is, of course, that courses tend to be taught prescriptively, because it is simpler. This uses an approach which says: “Say it like this. This is the correct way.”

It requires a great deal of pedagogic experience and linguistic understanding to design courses using an approach that is both clear, descriptive and up-to-date.

That is what we try to do at HELLO! in Birmingham.

We think it works. Thankfully, so do our students!

You’ve got mail…

HELLO! had emails from two of our former homestay students this week.

They say that the improvement in their spoken and written English is holding-up, several weeks after their 1-to-1 courses here.

In the case of the younger of our correspondents, their schoolwork in this subject is so much better that their teacher has remarked on the improvement.

Nice to know that we did not labour in vain!!

Reflection boosts Recovery

Moggy at the MAC

We are in recovery phase at HELLO!

After the departure of our excellent student from Montelimar – we have had a little down-time, so that we can plan and develop for future homestay guests and the next phase of our work at HELLO!.

Obviously, the pleasure of seeing a student’s English improve on a daily basis is really rewarding but, because we teach on a 1:1 basis, it is more draining than working in traditional classroom mode, where students are self-managing, to a certain extent.

At times like these, I am always reminded of Dory Previn’s line: ‘You’ve got no grace if you’ve got no space to be alone.’ You need a little time to re-charge your batteries, to review and re-think after a period of professional engagement – whatever form that may take.

Without this, we become stale and predictable and forget our qualitative reasons for doing what we do.

Certainly, at HELLO!, we find that, because we are fascinated by the English language and enjoy the company of our students, this mixture of enthusiasm and expertise gets through to our students, who rate us very highly in end of course reviews.

This may seem like a mutual love-in, but after years of presenting bad news to failing clients, it is delightful to be able to see improvement and satisfaction grow before your very eyes.

So, quality over quantity every time – it may not make us rich, but it keeps us  and our guests happy, and that is what really matters!!