Monthly Archives: May 2009

UK Immigration Update

There will be a number of immigration changes implemented in the coming weeks, the UK Government announced this week. From this week, UK identity cards will be issued to all foreign nationals applying to stay in the UK on a student or marriage visa. Introduced gradually over three years, it is hoped that every person wishing to stay in the UK for more than 6 months will be issued with one.

In November 2009, the following new measures will also be introduced:

  • Tiers 2 and 5 of the new UK Immigration Points Based System will come into force.
  • The news Business Visit Visa will be available.
  • An increase in required age under UK marriage visa rules.

The launch of Tier 2 – for skilled migrants who have obtained a job offer – and Tier 5 – for temporary workers and youth mobility – will see the UK’s new points based system expand rapidly. The current work permit system will become part of Tier 2. People looking to come to the UK temporarily for non-economic reasons – sportspeople, entertainers and charity workers for example – will be governed by Tier 5 from November 2009. This move will also see the existing, complicated youth mobility scheme, which currently has six strands, condensed to a new, single Youth Mobility Scheme. This does mean that the current Working Holiday Maker Scheme, so popular with South Africans and Australians, will be abolished.

The new Business Visit Visa is being implemented to simply which business activities can legally be undertaken by people entering the UK under this visa class.

The minimum age requirement for a UK marriage visa is to be raised to 21. This change reprasents part of the government’s actions against forced marriage.

Effects of English as a Global Language

In most Asian countries, people start learning English as a second language when they enter elementary school. They have to learn for more than three hours a week at the elementary school. As English is becoming a global language, the world is changing. These days, there are many effects of English as a global language. The most important effects are that companies are able to trade with foreign companies well, and that people spend a lot of time to learn English.

The first effect of English as a global language is that companies are able to trade with foreign companies easily. In fact, there are few countries in the world that are self-sufficient now. The overseas market has grown and has become important today. Consequently, most companies are trading with foreign companies. If a company cannot communicate well with foreign companies, their business deals may fall through. So, before, in a meeting or a conference, people used to communicate through a translator. However, people do not need a translator now because they could trade successfully with foreign companies using English. For this reason, companies hire capable professionals that can speak English fluently as a second language. As a result, companies are able to trade with other companies well without misunderstandings that result from language differences.

The second effect of English as a global language is that people spend a lot of time to learn English. In Korea, people began to teach English to every student at the school in 1995. In my case, I spent more time studying English than studying other subjects when I was a high school student. A lot of students usually go to a private institute to learn English after school. Other countries are similar to this situation. Even though students are not good at math or other subjects, they spend much time studying English because many people think that English is the most important subject. Some Korean mothers emigrated from Korea to an English speaking country with their child in order to teach them English, even though their child is too young to speak their own language. Thus, a number of this type of immigrants is increasing.

In conclusion, English as a global language affects companies in communicating well with foreign companies. Also, it makes people to spend a lot of time to learn English. I think that there are both positive effects and negative effects of English as a global language, but one thing that we have to remind ourselves is that we cannot live well without using English. The necessity of English as a global language is very obvious. Indeed, we will use English even more in the future.

This post was submitted by one of our students, Minwoo, in response to English as a Global Language.

The Worst Universities Exposed by Students Themselves

Many subjects taught at so called elite universities in the UK have been reported as some of the worst degrees in the country, according to The Times newspaper.

Universities in the UK can be grouped according to performance. Universities in the Russell and 1994 Groups and considered to be the best. However, students have criticised 33 courses provided by these universities. Of the worst ranked universities, 3 courses were at Edinburgh, five at Manchester and Seven at Bristol.

Social Work courses performed pretty badly, with Swansea, Brunel, Royal Holloway and Birmingham City being reported in the bottom five worst universities in the UK. The business course at the University of Arts London was the fifth member of this group.

In fact, the Swansea Social Work course received the worst rating of all courses in a national survey of 200,000 students. It achieved a performance rating of only 44%. But how bad is bad? The average worst UK university could only muster half the score given to the best UK university course, finance and accounting at Exeter – it scored 96.2%.

The second highest university course by mark was Sunderland’s law course, which got 95.8%, with Medical Science / Pharmacy at Keele University in close third, scoring 95%.

Common complaints of the worst universities included rising class sizes, reduced teaching time and the substitution of professors with cheaper, postgraduate students. The vice-president of the National Union of Students said, “It is vital that institutions listen to student feedback on the development of courses provided in higher education.”

“I think lecturers welcome feedback from students and some of the very best lecturers really want to her what their students think of them.”

The worst univerisites were criticised for not informing potential students about the minimal teaching time of some courses by Anna Fazackerley, a member of Policy Exchange, a think tank. Anna commented, “The government should collect data about how many hours of teaching students receive, whether postgraduate students or professors are doing that teaching and how many students are being packed into classes.”

“This information is kept incredibly quiet, but parents and students have a right to know what they are paying for.”

As you might expect following the exposure of the worst UK universities, there are signs that students are rebelling at the clear lack of teaching time. In May 2009, students studying Economics at Bristol University submitted joint complains about marking which had been done by fellow students and not the lecturer, quickly rising class sizes and even exam lengths being reduced from the traditional three hours, to two.

Law students at Manchester University walked out of lectures in another sign of protest and marched on the vice-chancellor’s office when they were told of plans to reduce teaching time. In fact, Manchester University was highlighted as one of the worst universities in England and despite their politics course being ranked 2,064th, teaching time is to be reduced further. Manchester University have acknowledged the issue and said it would review teaching on all its courses.

“We have had instances of students saying they have not seen any academic for two years. That is not acceptable,” a spokesman said.

The survey was devised by the Department of Innovation, Universities and Skills. Asking a total of 22 questions, it was hoped to be a tool for students to decide where to study. The worst university survey covered questions about student experience and how happy they felt.

A spokesman said, “The National Student Survey is part of the whole process of enabling potential students to have as much information as possible, so they can make their own, informed choice about which institutions to apply to. It’s up to the students.”

Taste of London Festival 2009: Regents Park

40 of London’s finest restaurants will be in attendance to provide food buffs and enthusiasts alike with the best day of their lives! Spread over four belly-bursting days, you’ll be able to feast on famous chefs’ signature dishes, be guinea pig and try their latest recipe ideas and even share in all their kitchen secrets and tips. Make sure you make your reservation at the world’s greatest festival of food and restaurants. Watch the video below to find out what’s on offer at a Taste of London 2009.

The real challenge of the event is to see at how many Michelin starred restaurants you can eat in one day! This fabulous sell-out event is set to return to Regent’s Park this summer. From June 18 – 21, 40 of London’s best restaurants will come together.

And there is even something free for you to do there too; Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall will be doing his thing at the Taste Theater on Friday 19th June. You can see him from 1200 – 1400 and 1730 – 2130. The Taste Theater, in association with Tropicana, is completely free to enter and works on a strict first come fist served basis.

Official Ticket Price: £12 – £75.75

Official Website: http://www.tastefestivals.com/london/

Get the most from your ESL Learning

So you’ve decided to take the plunge, to learn English as a second language (ESL) and you’ve arranged for your place on a course. Fantastic! But, now what? No matter how good your school or course, without the right attitude you could miss out on taking your English skills to a higher level. Read on to find out about our plan to successful ESL learning.

First things first; get out of your comfort zone and really test your English as a foreign language (EFL) skills: meet the locals and hang out with them!

If you really want to be able to speak English well and communicate effectively you must overcome your nerves. Do you feel nervous sometimes when meeting new people? Staying with a host family during your ESL learning can really help your studies. You’ll find the experience extremely rewarding and it provides a fantastic opportunity to find out all about the British way of life. Make sure you overcome any nervous feelings you have, jump right in and practice your communication skills with your host family. By doing this you will greatly improve your speed and achievement whilst learning ESL.

This practice is important for you because what you learn in the classroom can’t be translated directly to everyday situations. During your EFL learning, you will undoubtedly be told how to ask, how to respond as well as what, when and how to say it. But social interactions are never so formulaic. You’ve learnt some important words and phrases, but you should really put them into action by making friends in the local community and really taking part. You could ask people you meet about what people your age do in the area for fun and you can plan trips with your classmates. And the great thing about this extra to your ESL learning is that you may meet some fantastic people who go on to become lifelong friends. Wouldn’t that be cool?

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If you don’t think you’re ready of have the confidence to meet the natives and talk to a complete stranger, then you can still enhance your ESL learning by doing activities that you like with your classmates. Go on trips with them or take part in some outdoor activity and give yourself the perfect opportunity to engage in some lively conversation.

In fact, there is so much you can do than just learn ESL in the classroom. Go to the theatre and concerts, listen to pop music and the radio, grab a coffee at the local café and remember, share your experiences with everyone you meet by starting a conversation with them; don’t be shy! When school’s finished for the day and you put your books away, don’t stop your ESL learning. Put what you’ve learned to good use and keep practicing.

Study Tips for Students

Study Tips for StudentsEvery one of us is different and we all as individuals need to find the best way for us to study. Studying is not just about obtaining knowledge, but about demonstrating that you can stand out from the crowd and offers a way for you to show your areas of excellence. Good study tips will help you to get the most of your time spent studying. So, prepare your brains, set a solid foundation and pick up some quick and easy student study tips.

The following general tips for studying should help you, not matter what your course of study:

1. Find a calm and relaxed place to study

Make sure that you choose a place that has comfortable surroundings and that you enjoy. It should be quiet and comfortable and have the space for everything you need; space for your books and pens and your all important favorite study pillow! It’s good to be organized and being able to leave these things in place at the end of each study session means you do not have to waste any time looking for things outside of your study area.

2. Sleep well

It’s been shown with scientific research that sleeping is very important for healthy brain function. Good, deep sleep will enhance your memory and having had a refreshing 8 hours, you’ll find it easier to understand abstract concepts and even become more creative.

3. Schedule your time well

Take some time before you start studying to plan your time properly. Make sure you plan reasonably and honestly too; ensure that you can stick to the schedule. Remember to include any regular activities – such as going to the gym or playing football with your friends – the key is to make sure that you study plan fits around your regular activities. Remember that if you plan ahead and schedule your studies properly, you shouldn’t have to sacrifice anything from you social timetable.

4. Take regular breaks

Like sleep, breaks are important for our brains too. Every 40 minutes or so, take a quick break from the books and do something else for 5 minutes. Have a walk and a stretch, grab a snack or a drink or simply stare out the window and quietly day-dream. But remember, keep it to around 5 minutes; this is enough time to rest your brain and to keep your focus on the task at hand.

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5. Find a study partner

Study partners and groups are a great way to get ahead with your studies and to break to boredom of studying alone. Granted, it may not be to everyone’s taste, but there are some clear benefits of studying with a partner. You’ll find it easier to concentrate on the tougher topics and having other views and knowledge available, you’ll help each other with new tips and ideas. You could take the study group concept further and specifically seek out people who you consider better at a particular topic than you and therefore you can make the most out of your studies and learn from them.

6. Set goals

How will you study? What are you aiming to achieve each day? How far through the course material will you go each day? It’s very useful to break your study time down into chunks and to concentrate on smaller, bite-sized pieces of information to learn. The key thing about goals is that they should be constantly reviewed. As your studies progress or the topics get harder, rethink your goals and set more time to things that need them.

7. Get some exercise

Exercise is not only a great way to relieve stress and make you feel happier, but it is also excellent for our brains. Good, regular exercise helps your brain to receive more and more oxygen, allowing you to concentrate more and helping to improve your memory.

8. Try to eat well

A balanced diet is important no matter what task we are trying to complete. If you want your body and mind to be in optimum shape, then a healthy diet packed full of vitamins and minerals is essential. You want to be energized and alert, not tired and weak from eating the wrong foods.