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Brighton Artists Open Houses May 2017

May in Brighton is packed with events, music, comedy and art: the Brighton Festival (and Fringe), special film screenings and Artists Open Houses! Lilly and I went to see artists in their own  homes yesterday – and saw inside some beautiful Brighton houses. What a fun day out! We met loads of wonderful people and artists at work, exhibiting a huge variety of paintings, prints, etchings, clothes and jewellery. Here is a selection of our favourites.

 

Alejandro Martinez – fabulous prints of Brighton

 

Jane Burrows, Printmaker

 

bip-Art, Printmaking workshop

 

Art lovers enjoying tea and cakes

 

Printmaker at work

We hope that you will be able to come to Brighton in the spring some time to enjoy this inspiring and vibrant city at its creative best!

Cathy and Lilly, Directors, My English Friends

 

Möchten Sie Ihr Englisch verbessern?

Versuchen Sie unser “Homestay” Programm!

 Jeden Morgen warte ich an der Bushaltestelle in der Nähe meiner Unterkunft in Brighton und höre den Sprachschülern – die ja ihr Englisch verbessern möchten – zu, die zu ihren Kursen kommen.

Sie kommen aus aller Herren Länder: Italien, Deutschland, Frankreich, China… alle wollen doch hier ihr Englisch verbessern, aber ich höre Sie jeweils nur miteinander reden – in ihren jeweiligen Muttersprachen. Sie scheinen alle guter Stimmung zu sein – aber ihr Englisch verbessern werden sie so sicher nicht.

Sie werden den ganzen Morgen in der Sprachschule Englisch lernen, mit guten Lehrern und interessanten Inhalten – auf Englisch. Möglicherweise werden Sie sogar selbst ein wenig English reden. Sie werden die Fehler der anderen beim Englischsprechen gar nicht als solche wahrnehmen. Und währenddessen wahrscheinlich auch noch online ihre Facebook-accounts – in ihrer Landessprache – checken.

Nach den üblichen drei Stunden Schule werden Sie auch den Nachmittag mit Ihren Freunden aus der Heimat verbringen und weiter eben nicht Englisch sprechen. Am Abend geht´s zur “Gastfamilie”, mit der sie beim Essen – wenn es hochkommt – eine halbe Stunde Englisch reden, bevor Sie dann wieder in die Muttersprache zurückfallen.

OK, das mag etwas übertrieben sein – viele der Sprachschulen sind wirklich ausgezeichnet und die Schüler verbessern häufig ihre Fremdsprachenkenntnisse.

Aber gibt es keine bessere Art und Weise, sein Englisch zu verbessern?

Der beste Weg optimale Lernfortschritte in Englisch zu machen ist der, eine Engländerin bzw. einen Engländer zum Freund zu haben – was natürlich für Sprachschüler fast unmöglich ist in der kurzen Zeit. Aber es gibt noch einen Weg …

“Homestay” ist nicht ganz neu, aber es entwickelt sich mehr und mehr zu einer sehr beliebten Alternative zur klassischen Sprachschule. Du wohnst bei Deinem Lehrer bzw. Deiner Lehrerin und kommst nicht umhin, Englisch zu sprechen – den ganzen Tag! Im Normalfall hast Du drei Stunden (oder auch mehr wenn gewünscht…) Einzelunterricht und auch alle Malzeiten nimmt man zusammen ein. Die meisten der Anbieter haben auch noch Ausflüge und andere Aktivitäten auf dem Programm (Kino, Kneipe, Konzert…) und so ist man den ganzen Tag im englischen “Sprachbad”. Es ist tatsächlich harte Arbeit, sehr intensiv, aber es führt zu erstaunlichen Ergebnissen – fast so, als wenn man eine englische Freundin oder einen englischen Freund hätte.

Der andere Vorteil ist, dass diese Art von Programm älteren Lernenden (ab 25 Jahren) mehr entgegenkommt, weil Sie sich nicht so deplaziert fühlen.

Wenn Sie also darüber nachdenken nach England zu kommen, um Ihr Englisch zu verbessern bzw. zu lernen, warum nicht einmal an einem “Homestay” Programm teilnehmen? Es macht Spaß und man lernt eine Menge über “the British way of life”. Die passiven und auch aktiven Fähigkeiten verbessern sich so außerordentlich schnell, weil man den ganzen Tag mit Muttersprachlern verbringt. Man hört perfektes Englisch und bekommt auch Rückmeldungen über die eigene Aussprache bzw. sprachliche Performanz. Sie werden überrascht sein, wie effektiv das komplette Eintauchen in die Sprache ihre eigene Kompetenz verbessert.

Für nähere Informationen wenden Sie sich bitte an:

www.myenglishfriends.co.uk

Do you want to improve your English?  Try a ‘homestay’ English language programme.

Cathy and Lilly - homestay teachers

Cathy and Lilly – homestay teachers

English language courses in teacher’s home. Every morning I wait at the bus stop near my flat in Brighton and listen to the English language students as they arrive for their classes at the local school where they have come to improve their English.

There are groups of all nationalities: Italians, Germans, French and Chinese students who have come to the UK to learn English in the UK. And what language are they speaking? The Italian groups are speaking Italian, the Germans are speaking German, French students are all speaking French and the Chinese are speaking Chinese! And they are having great fun – but they are not practising their English.

They’ll then spend the morning studying English in their class; if they are involved in the lesson and the teacher is good, they might speak English during the lesson for maybe ten minutes each. They will listen to each other making mistakes and they will spend a lot of time surreptitiously on their iPhones checking Facebook.

After the lessons (usually three hours a day), they will happily leave the school, hook up with their friends from their own country and spend the rest of the day speaking their own language. At the end of the day, they’ll go home to their English ‘host family’ for dinner. During the meal they will speak English for half an hour, then retire to their bedroom where they will chat in their own language on their phone or send emails in their own language or check Facebook (in their own language).

This may be a slight exaggeration; many of the language schools are excellent and students certainly do improve their English, but is there a better way?

It is said that to learn English quickly, the best way is to meet an English girlfriend or boyfriend! The trouble is, many overseas students find that it is very hard to make English friends when they are over here. But there is another way!

‘Homestay’ is not new, but it is an increasingly popular alternative to the traditional language school. You live with your teacher so there is no escape! You have to speak English all day, every day! Usually you have three hours (or more) private, one-to-one lessons each morning and take every meal with your teacher. Most homestay organisations also offer outings and some social entertainment (cinema, pubs, music etc) and you are immersed in the English language 24/7. Yes, it’s hard work and very intensive, but it gets results. It is the next best thing to finding that English girlfriend (or boyfriend).

The other advantage is that it suits more mature students. I have often met students over the age of thirty who feel out of place in classes with predominantly young students under the age of twenty-five. In a homestay situation, conversation is adult-orientated, activities are tailored to an older age group and mature students feel more comfortable.

So if you are considering coming to the UK to learn English, why not try a homestay programme? It’s fun, you’ll learn a lot about the British way of life and your fluency and comprehension in English will improve really quickly. You will be practising your English with native speakers. Your mistakes will be corrected all the time. And you will be surprised at how effective total immersion in the language can be.

© 2017 My English Friends

Queen Elizabeth II is ninety years old this year!

The Queen in March 2015

The Queen is Head of State of the UK and 15 other Commonwealth countries. The eldest daughter of King George VI and his wife Queen Elizabeth, she was born in 1926 and became Queen at the age of 25, and has reigned through more than 5 decades of enormous social change and development. The Queen is married to Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and has four children and eight grandchildren.

The Queen will be 90 years old this year! The monarch traditionally has two birthdays: her real one on the 21st April and the official one on the second Saturday in June. On her actual birthday, although she spends it privately, there are gun salutes in parks in London: a 41 gun salute in Hyde Park, a 21 gun salute at Windsor Castle and a 62 gun salute at the Tower of London.

This is a special year and several events are planned. From the 12th to the 15th of May the Queen and members of the Royal Family will attend a pageant celebrating the Queen’s life at Home Park in Windsor Castle. There will be music, song and dance and equestrian displays reflecting the Queen’s public and private interests, with performers from various countries including Oman, Chile, Fiji, Australia and Azerbaijan, as well as the UK.

As the Queen is the head of the Armed Forces, the military will also be represented by her mounted troops and more than 100 pipers; in fact it will have a similar flavour as the Diamond Jubilee Pageant which took place in 2012. On the 10th June the Queen and her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, will attend a Thanksgiving service at St Paul’s Cathedral. On Saturday the 11th of June, accompanied by members of the Royal Family, she will attend her birthday parade on Horse Guards Parade.

There will also be a lunch party for 10,000 guests from the organisations of which the Queen is patron. This will take place on The Mall on the 12th June. There are more than 600 charities and organisations associated with the Queen, such as Cancer Research and The British Red Cross. A vote will be open to the public for a minimum of 1000 tickets and the charities will pay a £150 per ticket. The cost of the event will be sponsored by corporate sponsors including Boots, Marks and Spencer and others. It is hoped that it will inspire patrons’ lunches around the country to raise money for local projects. It is being organised by the Queen’s nephew and will be attended by Princes William and Harry.

Last year in October the Queen became the longest reigning monarch ever in British history. She has been on the throne for 64 years and for most of that time she has been the most popular monarch on record; one of the reasons for her popularity comes from her unswerving commitment to the Crown, from the very day she was crowned in Westminster Abbey on April 23rd 1953. The promise she made then to the British people, to serve them to the best of her ability up until to her dying day, was made by a young woman recently married with two small children, and still in shock at the death of her father George the Fifth at the early age of 57. In fact when the Queen was born no one ever dreamed, least of all her, that she would become Queen. She was after all only the daughter of the second Prince, the Duke of York. Her uncle should have become King Edward VIII and his children should have succeeded him, but events changed all that.

Her uncle Edward met and fell in love with an American divorcée called Wallis Simpson in 1934. This relationship was frowned upon by Edward’s father the King, as well as by the government of the day, and when his father died and he became King he insisted he wanted to marry her and did so in 1937. The government refused to recognise Wallis Simpson as Queen so he abdicated in favour of his brother George, saying that he would be unable to take on such a responsibility without the woman he loved by his side. However George, who had not been prepared for this, was a shy, retiring sort of person with a stammer – and his stammer was aggravated when he was nervous; so he was not enthusiastic and had to be persuaded to do his duty and become King. He became King George VI and on his death the Queen became Elizabeth II.

As Shakespeare said “Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.” However being the monarch now is not as dangerous as it was in the past – conspiracies are not so common. The country is much more stable than in centuries gone by but there are different challenges, such as scandal and marriage breakdown. The death of Princess Diana, who was greatly loved by the people, was also a terrible blow to the Queen. Despite all this, Elizabeth II has steered a steady course of constitutional monarchy in which the government of the day, voted by the people, governs in her name. This means that although the monarch theoretically has absolute power it has never been used since 1707 to interfere with the laws passed by Parliament. The Queen meets the Prime Minister of the day every week to keep abreast of what the government is doing and is in a position to advise but not make decisions; when laws are passed by Parliament they are signed by her and this system has never changed or been challenged. The Queen has quietly and stoically gone about these duties rigorously for 64 years and may go on for another good few years; after all, her mother, the Queen Mother, died at the grand old age of 102!

Some people believe that the Queen might abdicate in favour of her grandchild Prince William and the crown will bypass Prince Charles, but there is no evidence to support this. She is in good health and may continue, as she promised, to do her job until she dies. If, when she dies, Prince Charles is still young enough to cope with the responsibility, he will be the one to decide whether to pass the crown on to his son. Other people think that Charles will find it difficult to steer the same course as his mother because he is too used to voicing his opinion on certain issues in the public forum. This might cause a ‘constitutional crisis’, which could result in matters being taken out of his hands.

This possible outcome was portrayed in the theatre in a recent play called “King Charles III”. It does seem anachronistic in the 21st century to have a monarchy and there are many people who think it’s time for the UK to become a republic. However, what many people forget, is that we already tried this 400 years ago and it didn’t work but instead ended in the bloody English Civil War of 1642 to1649, which ended in the execution of the king. So for the moment it’s a case of ‘why change something that’s not broken’ and which, after all, does bring a great deal of money into the country through tourism? A palace and a castle without a Queen living there, with colourful guards in uniform parading up and down, would not attract as many visitors!

So God save the Queen and long may she reign over us, we might say.

© 2017 My English Friends

My Homestay Experience in Morocco

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At the start of 2014, fed up with the routine of work, and seeking new adventures, I set off on January the first to Morocco for a language learning experience in the city of Fez.

I chose to stay with a Moroccan family for two reasons: first, I decided it would be the fastest way of learning Arabic, the language I’d been having a stop-start relationship with since living in the Middle East in my childhood; secondly, I wanted to discover more about the Moroccan way of life. Since reading A Year in Marrakesh by Peter Mayne, this North African country had held a seductive power over my imagination. Thoughts of snake charmers, Berbers, spicy-smelling souks and dancing monkeys were never far from my mind.

Surely, I thought, this would be more entertaining than my prosaic and predictable daily existence in London; a life which largely consisted of trawling through an email inbox and forwarding on mails for other people to take action; of attending meetings where nothing was ever agreed on other than to have another meeting. I found myself questioning what the purpose of all of this was, where was the joy and natural curiosity to discover new truths about the world?

And so on day one, after I had arrived in the late afternoon at Abdoulhakem’s and Fatima’s house, I was eager for my cultural experience to begin. It wasn’t long, however, before I realized that I wasn’t prepared for some of the cultural differences that existed between my world in London and my new, unfamiliar surroundings in Morocco’s oldest city.

When I asked if I could take a shower, I was shown where the bathroom was; a room no bigger than a broom cupboard, there was no evidence of a shower as I far as I could see – just a toilet, a sink and a bucket out of which coiled a yellow, stained hosepipe. Abdoulhakem pointed at it and I understood that I was being told to fill this bucket with the cold water from the tap. Now, maybe I’ve been mollycoddled with the experience of hot power showers and bath mats but the prospect of stripping down and washing in temperatures colder than outside (in mid-January in Fez the mercury dips to 5 degrees) brought me out in goose bumps. Abdoulhakem looked at me bewildered when I explained to him as best I could in Arabic: ‘shower prefer myself with water warm, possible?

 At the end of what could best be described as a mixture of pantomime acting and pidgin language, I understood that the best solution to this would be a family outing to the Haram where I could get washed with ‘very, very hot water’ and feel ‘clean like a newborn baby’.

Misunderstanding number one out of the way, I was offered to share some food in the small kitchen. After being invited to help myself to some delicious tajine, some slightly watery tabouleh and some heavy looking but equally tasty lamb kofte, I envisaged that the next activity would be Arabic tea, coffee or maybe some sweets. But Fatima would excuse herself soon before the plates were spotlessly clean, and emerge from the kitchen with more dishes, laden with rice and chicken and prunes and chickpeas. This went on for literally two hours, during which my protestations that I was full were completely ignored and more food was piled on my plate as if I was a malnourished child.

Lesson two in my homestay experience: it is practically useless to refuse the offer of food in Morocco. They will just fill up your plate anyway.

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Then there was the difference in attitudes to personal space and privacy. After these gargantuan feasts, I would often politely excuse myself from the living room and go to my bedroom where I hoped to study and use the Internet. This proved to be an almost impossible task.

Each time I would close the door to my room, and before I drew breath to begin my work, there would come a knock on the door. ‘Why are you shutting yourself in your room? Was there something wrong? Why not come to the living room and play cards with the kids? There was more food on offer, there was Arabs Got Talent on TV, Hakeem needed some help with his English homework’, and so on it went…

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Many of my experiences were shared by other students in the language school I went to. And despite the initial frustrations at not being able to communicate, most people felt as I did, that Moroccan people went out of their way to make us feel comfortable in their homes as guests, as members of their families and not as commodities which were undoubtedly providing a large proportion of their monthly income. They had even given me my own bedroom while the two boys slept in the living room.

Although I continued to find it difficult to come up with excuses to decline the offer of a sixth helping of couscous, of saying that I’d rather study than watch the TV repeat of last week’s show, I realized that I was having a formative experience and a privileged insight into the life of a Moroccan family, which I wouldn’t have had in the comfort of the student residence up the road.

By week six, I’d also mastered enough Arabic to tell them that Arabs got Talent just ‘wasn’t my plate of couscous’!

Michael Dewar, Roaming Reporter for My English Friends

© 2017 My English Friends