Monthly Archives: April 2009

Happy Birthday IELTS!

This year, IELTS – the International English Language Testing System – will celebrate its 20th birthday. IELTS is rightfully proud of this occasion, confirming IELTS key role in setting the standard of English language ability for further education and immigration.

Since its development in 1989, the international English language test has developed into a worldwide leader, with the number of people sitting the language test rising over one million in 2008. Today, the IELTS test is accepted globally by more than 6,000 institutions.

Kevin McLaven from the British Council said, “Over the last two decades IELTS has become the leading and most widely accepted international English language test in the world. Whether for work or study, millions of ambitious candidates have benefited from the life-changing opportunities that IELTS enables.”

The success of the English language test can be attributed to it being uniquely fit for purpose, covering the four cornerstones of the English language: reading, writing, speaking and listening. Further, the international English language test is the only test that has a face-to-face examination component, the oral test. And ultimately, the main reason for the success of the IETLS exam is that it is not just a certificate, but it allows students to prove they have the necessary language skills needed.

Representative of its global audience, IETLS was in fact developed by an international team of writers. This international flavour is reflected in the content of the test, with materials coming from writers in the UK, North America, New Zealand and Australia. The global nature of the English language is also taken into account in students’ answers, with all standard varieties of English accepted as correct.

Tax Increase on High Earners Could See British Brain Drain

The Times reports this week that the new 50% tax rate on high earners, announced by Alistair Darling in his second Budget as Chancellor, could herald a 1970s-style brain drain.

Mr Darling admitted that net public sector borrowing would hit a massive £175 billion this year, and total national debt would peak at almost 80 per cent of GDP.

The Chancellor said that those earning more than £150,000 a year would be taxed at 50p in the pound from next April, up from 40p. Those earning more than £100,000 a year will lose all personal allowances, significantly increasing the tax bills of thousands of professionals, including doctors and head teachers.

The tax hike brought immediate warnings from the City that highly-paid individuals would move to countries with more progressive tax regimes, like Ireland or Switzerland, as happened under Labour in the 1970s when the top rate of tax hit 83 per cent.

The UK economy contracted by 1.6 per cent in the last quarter of 2008 and would have declined by a similar amount in the first three months of this year.

The Chancellor is confident that the British economy will suffer less than Germany, Japan, Italy, and the Euro area as a whole this year. The British economy is diverse, flexible and resilient – which is why we can be confident in recovery.”

Mr Darling announced a £3 billion package of measures to help the jobless back into work and prevent those who lose their jobs becoming long-term unemployed. He also announced £1 billion in funding to help fight climate change, £2.5 billion to help businesses invest in high-technology jobs and £500 million to kickstart stalled housing projects.

He also announced a £750 million strategic investment fund, which he said would help to unblock as much as £50 billion in new business investment this year, including £10 billion in the communication sector.

The Government will also contribute £300 million towards a “scrappage” scheme under which motorists can claim £2,000 towards a new car or van if they trade in a vehicle that is at least ten years old.

Despite higher unemployment levels, demand for staff in areas affecting migrant workers, such as the care sector, remains strong, with Care Home employers still reporting shortages of Care Assistants and Nurses.

Huge Rise in University Applications Could See Students Miss Out

The Guardian today reported that as many as 30,000 students could have their university applications refused, due to a dramatic rise in the number of mature students applying to study in an attempt to re-skill and beat the recession.

The crisis is so severe that University vice-chancellors have been told to cap the number of students recruited, or face fines for over-subscribing their courses. UK Government Ministers have announced that they will provide funding for only an extra 10,000 places, despite UCAS – The University and College Admissions Service – reporting that applications for full-time undergraduate degree courses have risen by 8.8% or an extra 38,952 more applications.

The cap on student numbers was introduced by the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills, following their discovery of a £200m shortfall in their budget. UCAS has reported a rise across the board in all applicant types, specifically a 7.3% rise in applicants from school leavers and a 15.8% increase in people aged 25 years and over. Universities themselves predict that these numbers will continue to rise as the country is gripped by recession and employment options dry up.

This surge in applications is going to have two major impacts. First, competition for places is set to become fierce. But of more concern is the fact that there likely to be very few places left for students who go through the clearing route in summer. The real worry is that students who are turned away by universities face a tough labour market and the mid-term future is certainly worrying for many young people in the UK today. However, it is yet to be seen how universities’ strategies will change, perhaps with a stronger focus on international students, to help boost their coffers. Watch this space.

London’s Best Markets

London is a city that’s proud of its markets and justifiably so, as the trade dates back to medieval times and is as vibrant and varied as the city itself. With around 83 major street markets in London you‘ll be spoilt for choice when shopping for anything and everything from antiques and exotic ingredients, to retro fashions and crafts.

London’s huge choice of emporiums and unique street markets will land you in shopping heaven. Therefore why not give your senses a treat and pop along to enjoy the sights, sounds, and scents of some of the capital city’s best offerings.

The markets themselves spin a tale of London’s history. As such, Borough Market is one of the oldest and due to its unspoilt Victorian architecture is a popular location with filmmakers; with various films shot here on a fairly frequent basis. On Saturdays there is a bustling farmer’s market where you can source good quality produce including an excellent selection of cheese and other delicacies, which could be enjoyed with a nice picnic in nearby Greenwich Park.

Brixton is another market you can find in the South of the city and is one of Europe’s biggest Caribbean food markets with somewhere in the region of 300 stalls. Search for exotic fruit and vegetables, specialist fish and meats, African spices and Caribbean baked goods.

Once you’re done with edibles you can continue your shopping spree as Brixton also houses an array of cut-price records and CDs, cosmetics and rails upon rails of clothing. Gabriel’s Wharf is another great south London market to visit if you’re looking for quirky clothes or made-to-measure garments, as it showcases up-and-coming fashion and jewellery designers.

North London also has its fair share of eclectic markets to explore; in particular Archway Market, which has a range of stalls that appear every Saturday. An organic and speciality food section offers an array of treats from organic fruits to free range salamis and Italian cheeses. Fishmongers, bakeries and delicatessens mean you can find pretty much anything you want.

Camden market is also found in north London and is undoubtedly one of the city’s top attractions. As it goes, you can buy virtually anything you can think of at Camden; clothing, music, antiques, ethnic arts and crafts, rugs, as well as food and drink.

Furthermore, the original Camden Lock market which lies next to the Grand Union Canal has three open yards surrounding the Victorian Market Hall where you’ll find vintage clothing, Middle Eastern textiles, hand-carved sculptures and Indian jewellery.

Staying on the north, Wembley is one of the largest Sunday markets around. Held right opposite Wembley Stadium the market has over 500 stalls with traders selling all sorts. You could easily wile away an afternoon here from having a browse through all that’s on offer.

East, West and Central areas all hold their own markets too, so when you’re searching for hotels in London you can remain flexible on location, as you’re never going to be far away from one of the capitals marvellous markets.

Adam Singleton writes for a digital marketing agency. This article has been commissioned by a client of said agency. This article is not designed to promote, but should be considered professional content.

IELTS Test Dates UK – April, May June 2009

University of Liverpool
Next Test Date: 09-May-2009

Basil Paterson College (Aberdeen)
Next Test Date: 25-Apr-2009

Aberystwyth University
Next Test Date: 21-May-2009

ELCOS Bangor University, Wales
Next Test Date: 16-May-2009

University of Bath
Next Test Date: 13-Jun-2009

Aston University
Next Test Date: 13-Jun-2009

Richard Language College (Bournemouth)
Next Test Date: 09-May-2009

Sussex Downs College (test venue in Brighton)
Next Test Date: 09-May-2009

Eurocentres Brighton (test venue)
Next Test Date: 25-Apr-2009

University of Bristol
Next Test Date: 25-Apr-2009

Anglia Ruskin University
Next Test Date: 27-Jun-2009

Chaucer College Canterbury
Next Test Date: 13-Jun-2009

Cardiff University
Next Test Date: 30-May-2009

Colchester English Study Centre
Next Test Date: 16-May-2009

City College Coventry
Next Test Date: 11-Jun-2009

Sussex Downs College (Eastbourne)
Next Test Date: 25-Apr-2009

Basil Paterson College (Edinburgh)
Next Test Date: 25-Apr-2009

Exeter College ( Sub Centre of Mayflower College)
Next Test Date: 27-Jun-2009

University of Glasgow
Next Test Date: 13-Jun-2009

Guildford, Surrey
University of Surrey
Next Test Date: 27-Jun-2009

Harrogate Language Academy
Next Test Date: 20-Jun-2009

Harrogate Language Academy (Leeds)
Next Test Date: 27-Jun-2009

International House London
Next Test Date: 13-Jun-2009

Eurocentres Lee Green
Next Test Date: 09-May-2009

Southwark College – London
Next Test Date: 25-Apr-2009

University of Westminster
Next Test Date: 30-May-2009

Middlesex University
Next Test Date: 16-May-2009

Wimbledon School of English
Next Test Date: 09-May-2009

Ealing, Hammersmith & West London College
Next Test Date: 25-Apr-2009

Eurocentres London Central (test venue)
Next Test Date: 16-May-2009

British Institute of Technology and E-commerce, London
Next Test Date: 21-May-2009

University of Manchester – Language Centre
Next Test Date: 04-Jul-2009

Anglia Ruskin University (Norwich)
Next Test Date: 20-Jun-2009

University of Nottingham
Next Test Date: 04-Jul-2009

King’s School Oxford
Next Test Date: 09-May-2009

Mayflower College of English (Plymouth)
Next Test Date: 13-Jun-2009

Language Specialists International (Portsmouth)
Next Test Date: 25-Apr-2009

Warwickshire College
Next Test Date: 13-Jun-2009

Sheffield Hallam University
Next Test Date: 25-Jul-2009

University of Southampton
Next Test Date: 13-Jun-2009

City of Sunderland College
Next Test Date: 30-May-2009

5 More Ways to Improve Your English

The English language can certainly be tricky for those who are not used to using it on a regular basis. Word order, vocabulary, and inflection can be very difficult without proper modeling. For this reason, there are several things that language learners can do on a regular basis to further improve their language skills. Read on to learn a little more about ways to improve your English language skills.


Reading as much and as often as you can in a new language can really help bridge the gap between the way words sound and what they look like on paper. Newspapers are a great source of reading material, and the internet certainly has no shortage of information available in English. Try reading stories in English and then in your native tongue to make sure that you are grasping the full meaning of the text.


Writing in a new language will further assist you in your acquisition of a new language. Keep a journal that tracks your daily events and do it completely in English. When you are unsure of a word, use a dictionary to ensure that you are using the appropriate word that fully expresses your intent. Emails, letters, and summaries of what you have read are other things where writing can assist you when learning English.

Interactive Web Pages

Web pages are intrinsically interactive; however, there are many language acquisition sites out there that will help you to hone your skills. Work on reading and comprehensions, or practice listening and answering questions. The learning process can be very involved and every advantage you can take will help you to become a better speaker in less time.

Listen to Music

Music is a wonderful form of expression and listening to music can sharpen your ability to listen to words and interpret them. Additionally, you can read long with the lyrics as you listen to the song and truly engage your mind while adding to your comprehension of the language in multiple ways.

Change the Settings on Your DVD Player

DVD technology has many benefits for viewers who are also learning a new language. Almost all DVDs have the option to play the movie in English. If not, there is usually an overdub option. In addition to watch and learning in the process, you can turn the captions on and read along to further enhance your learning experience.

This post was contributed by Courtney Phillips, who writes on the subject of the online college degrees. She invites your feedback at CourtneyPhillips80 at