During our popular English language summer school, most of our students opt for our ‘full-day programme’, which includes morning English lessons, lunch, and afternoon activities on our premises and around Cambridge. For the last two years I have been working at ABC Languages during my summer breaks from my undergraduate studies, and in this time I have observed and led a pre-planned summer activity programme, and subsequently taken over the planning and running of the summer school activities. Because I lead the activities myself in my first year working at the summer school, I was able to quickly identify any areas where we could improve on both the design of the activity programmes, and how they were carried out. My main objective for the programmes I designed was that all of our students, (and staff) would have fun in a safe setting. In this blog I’ll be taking you through the process of how and why our activities are planned and showing you why our full-day programme is such an unmissable option, with a sneak peak of what’s to come in summer 2020.
The ‘fun-factor’ of adrenaline-filled activities like these is highly important to me when planning the full-day programme. It is a must for us that the activities we run, both on and off our premises, are stimulating and inspiring, and that we continue to build on the English language that the children are learning in the mornings. The most important thing for me, however, is that they have fun! It is so rewarding to see an activity that I have spent time planning be well-received by the students. With this in mind I have spent time researching even more fun-filled activities which are possible for us in Cambridgeshire. New activities for summer 2020 include a roller disco and ice skating as well as bouncy castles on our very own premises!
Options like inflatable afternoons require a lot of space, and luckily this is something that we have in abundance at our new summer school venue. English is not the only thing that children learn at our summer school when you opt for the full-day programme. As well as the excursions I have already mentioned, our unique experience offers children the opportunity to play new team sports, to climb on purpose-built climbing walls, to swim with their friends, to design and make their own jewellery, and to bake yummy cakes and biscuits, to name but a few of the varied options. All of these things are made possible and so much easier in a large secondary school like the one we will be operating out of next summer. With extensive sports fields, indoor gyms, and specially designed classrooms for activities like cookery, the possibilities for fun are endless. Most anticipated by us is the indoor heated pool that all age groups will have regular use of during the afternoon sport sessions.
The tricky age group of the ‘tweens’ – in between our Early Learner and Teen classes – is something I’ve spent a lot of time trying to get right. Activities for them often seem either ‘too young’ or ‘too old’. They form a gap in the middle that I wanted to focus on for the coming summer. I am anticipating that our new programme specifically designed for this smaller age group of 10-13 years old will really make them feel included and actively engaged in the summer school. It has been drawn up as a programme that is mature enough for quickly growing tweens who feel too grown up for some of our younger activities like messy play and trips to soft-play centres but aren’t quite ready for the more independent and academic aspects of our young adult programme.
As a result of these three activity programmes, we differ from our competitors who generally run one activity programme throughout the summer, irrespective of large age gaps between the students. As well as meaning our activities are more specialised by age, the diversity in our programmes creates smaller groups on the activities, giving every student more individual attention from our staff. As our summer school teachers and teaching assistants double up as our activity team the students spend their afternoons surrounded by the staff they already feel comfortable with, who are also excellently qualified to continue assisting them with their English outside of the classroom.
If you would like to know more about our 2020 summer school please get in touch! We would love to tell you more about our new set-up and the different courses we can offer you...
Allegra Goodwin, Student Experience Manager
As we draw nearer to the summer, we have started booking our International Summer School activities for juniors staying with us for morning lessons and afternoon activities.
Some of these activities include pizza making, a bus tour of Cambridge, sports games, science games and punting!
We still have availability for our morning lessons + afternoon activities courses but places are booking up fast! Book now to avoid disappointment!
If you have already booked morning lessons with us but would now like to join in with these fun activities, just let us know and we can book you in!
Feel free to contact us if you have any questions
There are lots of famous people who have studied in Cambridge. Here are just a few notable names that you could follow in the footsteps of while you study English in Cambridge
Stephen Hawking was a famous theoretical physicist and cosmologist. He obtained a PhD in applied mathematics and theoretical physics from Gonville and Caius College Cambridge in 1966.
Charles Darwin is well known for his evolutionary theory that all species descend from common ancestors which is outlined in his 1859 book ‘On the Origin of Species’. He obtained a degree in Theology from Christ College in 1831.
Eddie Redmayne is a famous actor who has stared in Les Misérables, the Danish Girl, and Fantastic Beasts. He also plays the role of Stephen Hawking in the film The Theory of Everything. He studied Art at Trinity College in 2003.
Isaac studied at Trinity College in 1661. In 1687, he published his universal gravitation theory. The story of Newton discovering gravity by being struck on the head by an apple falling from an apple tree at Trinity College is a myth, no such tree existed in Cambridge at the time! It was when he visited his mother at home while studying at Cambridge that he observed apples falling off a tree in the garden and this sparked his gravitational theory.
Prince Charles of Wales
Prince Charles is Queen Elizabeth II eldest child who studied anthropology, archaeology and history at Trinity College Cambridge in 1967.
Stephen Fry is best known for being one half of the double act Fry & Laurie in the Footlights, as well as his appearance in Blackadder and hosting the TV Quiz show QI. He is also the audiobook voice for all seven of the Harry Potter Books in the UK. He studied English Literature at Queens College Cambridge.
David Attenborough is an English presenter and natural historian who is famous for his programmes on the BBC such as Planet Earth and Blue Planet. He studied geology and zoology at Clare College Cambridge with a scholarship in 1945.
Emma Thompson, a famous actress, studied English at Newnham College in 1977. She was the first female member of the Footlights where she performed with the likes of Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie at the ADC Theatre which is right next to our school!
Tom Hiddleston is an English Actor known for playing the character of Loki in Thor, The Avengers, and Thor: The Dark World. He has also been the lead in the BBC series The Night Manager and featured in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris film. He studied classics at Pembroke College Cambridge and earned a double first.
Follow in the footsteps of these famous names and explore the colleges and places that they loved while you study English in Cambridge with us!
As we settle into the new year, we have been reminiscing about our favourite moments of 2018. To share some of these moments with you, here are our 10 most liked Instagram photos of 2018:
This post was from our 2018 summer school where students got to encounter birds of prey
One of our many summer school classes
Our summer school students enjoying their trip to Mountfitchet Castle
Punting on the River Cam is a ‘must-do’ summer activity in Cambridge!
This photo was taken by one of our students while studying with us
Full house for Tea and Conversation!
Christmas Lights in Cambridge 2018
The bridge of sighs taken by one of our students
Our Christmas buffet photo got a lot of likes!
And finally, another beautiful student photo – Kings College Chapel from the River Cam
Remember to follow us on Instagram to keep up to date with all our best moments that are yet to come!
We’ve just had our Christmas Lunch Buffet where students bought in traditional foods that they would eat at Christmas. This was a great way to celebrate and taste different cultures and traditions from around the world; but what do the Brits traditionally eat at Christmas? Here are our top 10 traditional British Christmas foods:
Traditionally in Britain, herb stuffing is eaten with the turkey at Christmas. This is made up of large amounts of herbs such as rosemary or thyme. The stuffing is served inside the turkey or as a side dish.
4. Pigs in Blankets
Many Brits argue that Christmas dinner is not complete without pigs in blankets! These are small sausages that are wrapped in bacon. Vegetarian versions can be made too using meat free alternatives.
Parsnips are a root vegetable traditionally eaten at Christmas as the winter frost makes them taste slightly sweeter. For Christmas dinner, parsnips are usually baked with garnishes or flavourings such as honey mustard.
Why not try some of these Traditional British Christmas foods this year?
Are you looking for ways to practice your English outside of the classroom while you study English in Cambridge?
Here are some of our top picks for apps and websites that create fun and interactive learning platforms for you to improve your English.
We hope these apps and websites help you improve your language skills while you learn English in Cambridge with us! Don’t forget to regularly read our blog posts and social media pages as this can be a great way to practice your English skills.
If you are interested in booking an English course with us, please click here.
Halloween has been and gone, now the UK is getting ready for the next autumnal celebration: Guy Fawkes Night.
Guy Fawkes Night is also referred to as Bonfire Night, or Fireworks Night. It is on the 5th November every year in the UK to remember the day the Gunpowder Plot failed. The Gunpowder Plot was a planned assassination of King James I during the State Opening of England’s Parliament on 5th November 1605.
The Plot failed due to authorities receiving an anonymous letter on 26 October 1605 which was sent to William Parker, the 4th Baron Monteagle. The letter revealed the plotted assassination of the King on the 5th November. As the authorities were made aware of the Plot, they ordered a search of the House of Lords on the 4th November 1605 and at midnight, they found Guy Fawkes guarding 36 barrels of gunpowder - enough to reduce the House of Lords to rubble. Guy Fawkes was arrested on the spot and the gunpowder explosives were ceased by authorities. Most of those involved in the Plot fled from London as they learned of the Plot's discovery. Several plotters made a stand against the pursuing Sheriff of Worcester at Holbeche House. Many men were shot and killed.
Once Guy Fawkes was arrested and the news that the Plot had failed reached the public, people celebrated the survival of King James I by lighting bonfires. Over time, people started to celebrate with fireworks too as fireworks were traditionally made with gunpowder. Therefore, the same celebration has different names.
On the 27th January 1606, the eight known plotters who survived, including Guy Fawkes, were sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered.
Today, Guy Fawkes Night is still celebrated with fireworks, bonfires and sparklers. There is even a saying of “remember remember the 5th of November” so that we remember the day the Plot failed.
Spring has officially arrived, and Cambridge is looking wonderful – what you can see of it through driving rain and occasional snow showers! Still, at least our students have had their preconceptions about the English weather confirmed………
Spring has officially arrived, and Cambridge is looking wonderful – what you can see of it through driving rain and occasional snow showers! Still, at least our students have had their preconceptions about the English weather confirmed! Here's what it should look like............
What makes this seasonal confusion worse is that here in the office, spring has been and gone, and we are already in July, working on our Summer School. While the Summer School is based around the lessons taken by everyone, the afternoon activities are huge part of the experience for very many of our students, and they take a lot of planning. Office conversation is usually about exams, choosing course books or finding homestay places, but this week it’s been quite different:
‘Does anyone have a risk assessment for owls flying free in the building?’
‘We must find the walking rope for the Early Learners’ outings – and phone the punt company to check they have enough buoyancy aids ’
‘Do the Magicians need any special facilities for their show?
We’re dealing with everything from the mundane (booking coaches and lunches) to the weirdly exotic (where to house some meerkats while they wait to go ‘on stage’) – but it’s definitely a lot more fun than everyday life in a language school! Team members are already volunteering to ‘help’ with the more exciting activities, but we have to be quite strict: if it was allowed, everyone would watch the Magic Show, and there would be no one left to answer the phone or emails!
Although winter seems determined not to give way to spring, and summer’s still a long way off, planning all these lovely activities certainly has a therapeutic effect, and is making us all look forward to 25 June and opening the Summer School doors once again to old and new friends.
Here we are, back at work after the Christmas / New Year break –though the rest of the world is still on holiday, it seems! It’s eerily quiet in school: the stone corridors and grand Victorian rooms of the Cambridge University Union Society are empty and echoing (many of our students have yet to return) and dusk falls early on these January days………. Oh! This is crazy! I’m sitting in a brightly-lit office with my lovely colleagues, planning some very interesting courses for the next few months – not a ghost in sight!
We’re actually working on the programmes we offer our younger students: we take under-18s on special courses all year, and through July and August we have our wonderful Summer School where our youngest students are just five years old! However, tempting though it is to dream about punting on the river, and cream teas at the Orchard, we have to focus on designing some courses which are coming up next month, when I fear the weather will still be wintry.
One of the special things we do is provide tailor-made courses for families, where they can choose whether to study together (yes, Mum and Dad and the kids all in the same classroom!) or separately, with the children having their own lessons while parents join our regular group classes.
We were persuaded to offer the ‘whole family’ course by a couple who had experienced this (by accident) at another school, and really enjoyed it. We took some convincing, as we couldn’t see how it would work, but having run a lot of these courses now, we’re quite sure of their value, and they’re great fun for all concerned. They seem to be most popular in the spring and summer, so now’s the time for us to check our stock of games, craft materials, see what’s new online, and start preparing more conventional teaching materials according to what the families have told us about their interests. While Peter (our Academic Team Leader) and I deal with these, Nora (Admin) is gathering up-to-date information about places to visit – we’ve learned that it’s vital to vary the pace and content of the lessons, and going out to the Fitzwilliam Museum, or the Botanic Garden, is an ideal way to freshen everyone up, and enormously enriches the classroom lessons.
We’re talking to the tutors – all chosen because they genuinely enjoy working with youngsters, and embrace the idea of the family studying together – and making sure they are happy with the topics. Frank (Accommodation) is catching up on homestay inspections; our Families already have accommodation in Cambridge, so that’s saved him some work.
By the end of the week, we should have all these preparations in place, and will be able to think about the High-School Groups who’ll be arriving soon, and then ……. it will be time to plan the Summer School!
Well, we’ve finally made it to the end of the Michaelmas Term, and now exams are over, and we’ve even had some snow, things are definitely feeling festive. Here in the office, we’ve taken a break from planning the 2018 Summer School - you really don’t feel like that when it’s -5 degrees outside, anyway – and have been planning the Student Christmas get-together instead: much more fun!
Ever since Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol the English have been obsessed with Christmas; even with global warming we’re still convinced that we should have snow on 25 December, and even though obesity is becoming a national issue, we insist on consuming our own body-weight in frankly strange and food and drink that we wouldn’t dream of eating at any other time. For those of you who don’t generally celebrate an English Christmas, or who might be considering giving it a try this year, here are some of the traditional goodies to look out for (or avoid!):
Christmas pudding: a heavy mix of dried fruits (raisins, currants, sultanas etc) suet (which is grated beef fat – yum!) flour, sugar, brandy, eggs all mashed up, piled into a cloth, tied up and boiled for hours to produce an object which resembles a bowling ball. On the Big Day, when we’ve already eaten mountains of turkey and all the trimmings, we do the only logical thing with this delicacy – we stick a sprig of holly in the top, pour alcohol over it and set it alight. With luck we manage to do this without setting fire to the house, or Grandma……
Mince Pies: First make your mincemeat: it’s the mixture as above, put into jars (like jam), but don’t cook it. Use to fill small pastry cases (do cook!) and serve alongside Christmas Pudding. Useful if you did actually destroy the pudding when lighting it. And don’t worry, there’s been no actual meat in mincemeat since the 1850s.
Christmas cake: As above, minus suet, plus butter. Bake, don’t boil. Cover with marzipan (almond paste) and coat with Royal Icing. This rock-hard sugar coating was presumably invented by dentists…. Christmas Cake is eaten at tea-time (around 5pm) just in case you’re still feeling hungry after your meagre Christmas Dinner!
By the way, all the above should be made no later than September and stored until Christmas. The flavour should improve - and in any case, with modern antibiotics, food poisoning isn’t the issue it used to be….
Anyone still capable of movement after all this food will be expected to pull Christmas Crackers: these are small explosive devices (banned on planes, and sold only to over-18s, though used by anyone over the age of 4) containing a paper hat, a small piece of unidentifiable plastic (sorry, a gift), usually all the way from China, and most importantly…. A JOKE. Appreciating these jokes depends on a) understanding the famous British Sense of Humour and b) having imbibed enough of the Christmas Spirit. Here are a selection, starting with one especially for students of English:
Q: What do you call Santa’s Little Helpers? A: Subordinate Clauses.
Two snowmen standing in a field. One said to the other: ‘Can you smell carrots?’
Q: Why didn’t the skeleton go to the Christmas Party? A: He had no body to go with.
And if you don’t understand them, I won’t be explaining them. I’ve tried that before, at many Christmas parties, and I know from bitter experience that it just doesn’t work!
Anyway, that brings me back neatly to the ABC Student Christmas do, which was a great success and enjoyed by everyone – a lovely way to round off a very happy and successful term.
Merry Christmas to all our friends, and a very happy and peaceful New Year.
Welcome to our school community. We greatly appreciate the trust and loyalty our students, colleagues and partners place in us. Recognising the ongoing and increased uncertainty that coronavirus (COVID-19) is causing around the world, our highest priority is the health and well-being of all those in our school community.
We continue to closely watch the situation with COVID-19 and are doing everything we can to make sure everyone in our school community remains safe whilst also ensuring continuity of business.
In an effort to maintain some normality, it'll be 'business as usual' on our blog and social media channels so do check-in on us for a moment of escapism.
In the meantime, stay home, stay safe!