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Why do we celebrate Halloween in the UK?

Halloween or Hallowe’en is celebrated across the world on the night of 31st October.

Halloween is thought to have originated from the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. It was believed by the Celts that on the night of the 31st October, ghosts of their dead would visit the mortal world and large bonfires were lit in each village to ward off these evil spirits and ghosts.

In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III made November 1st a time to honour all saints and martyrs; the holiday, All Saints’ Day, incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening before was known as All Hallows’ Eve and later Halloween.

Since then Halloween has moved internationally and is celebrated by many different cultures – primarily America, first adopted by the American Indians who would host “play parties”, public events held to celebrate the harvest, neighbours would share stories of the dead, fortunes, as well as dance and sing.

As time has progressed, Halloween has evolved into a celebration filled with child-friendly activities and has taken on a more fun/entertaining form – allowing children and adults to dress up in extravagant outfits then go trick-or-treating or partying!

Don’t forget, we have our own Halloween Party on 31st October available to all students enrolled at this time!

Halloween Party

Body Language and What It Means in Other Countries

Non-verbal communication and body language is an important part of every language’s means of communicating with one another – these include hand gestures, eye contact, arm movements and the like. However, the distinct contrast is the way in which these gestures are interpreted across different cultures/languages.

For example, one gesture that may be seen as commonplace and perfectly acceptable in one language may be seen as disrespectful in another.come here please

“Come here” finger gesture – this gesture is commonly used in the USA and the UK to call someone over, however in some parts of Asia this is seen as very offensive and rude, as if beckoning a dog over.

Eye contact/gaze – in Western culture, eye contact is seen as you being attentive, considerate and respectful. However, in many cultures such as Asian, Middle Eastern, Native American and Hispanic, eye contact is seen as impolite and rude – also, lack of eye contact does not mean that the other person is not paying attention.

Affective vs. Neutral – ‘Affective’ countries are those where emotions are often displayed freely and strongly e.g. laughing, smiling, crying. ‘Neutral’ countries are those where emotions are often controlled and subdued.

Examples of attentive countries are Italy, France and USA and examples of neutral countries/countries that least accept emotional reactions are Norway, UK and Switzerland.

Expressive countries often show their feelings and emotions to receive a direct emotional response such as “I feel this too”. Whereas in neutral countries when someone gives a neutral opinion, an indirect response is anticipated, “I agree”.

okNodding – In Western Culture, nodding is a way of saying ‘yes’ or ‘I agree’ when communicating with someone. However this may not be the case in the Middle East where the direction of the nod determines the message, where nodding your head down means ‘I agree’, but nodding your head up is a sign of disagreement.

‘OK’ finger signal – this finger signal which is made by forming a circle with the thumb and index finger is known in Western Culture as a way of saying ‘OK’, however in some countries this refers to money, and it is also very offensive in other countries.


Differences between American English and British English

Overall, the differences between American and British English are quite subtle and the majority of the language is the same however there are slight differences to be aware of and this blog outlines just a few:

Vocabulary – One of the most noticeable differences between American and British English is the vocabulary.

For example, in British English we say ‘trousers’, whereas in American English they are commonly referred to as ‘pants’. Similarly, where we say a block of ‘flats’, in American English, these are ‘apartments’ or ‘apartment buildings’.

There any many more examples of how vocabulary is slightly different, usually both British English and American English speakers can understand these words from the context of the sentence they appear in.


Collective nouns – In British English, a lot of collective nouns can be followed by a singular or plural verb depending on whether they are seen as a unit or as a group of individuals. Whereas in American English they are always followed by a singular verb, so for example:

British English – “The team are playing well.” and “Which team are losing?”

American English –  “The team is playing well.” and “Which team is losing?”


Use of delexical verbs ‘have’ and ‘take’ – delexical verbs are common verbs that when used with particular nouns have very little meanings of their own. However, where British English speakers use the delexical verb ‘have’, American English speakers use ‘take’.

British English – “I’d like to have a bath.” and “I want to have a nap.”

American English – “I’d like to take a bath.” and “I want to take a nap.”


Use of auxiliaries and modals

In British English, the auxiliary verb ‘shall’ appears quite frequently, and is often used to express the future:

“I shall go home now.”

Whereas in American English, this is very unusual and seen as very formal, instead they would say:

“I will go home now.”

Also, where in American English they would say:

“You do not need to come today.”

In British English, we would drop the helping verb ‘do’ and contract not:

“You needn’t come today.”


Past Tense verbs

The past tense of ‘learn’ in British English can be either ‘learned’ or ‘learnt’, this is rule applies to many other words such as ‘burnt’ and ‘burned’, ‘dreamt’ and ‘dreamed’.

 Whereas in American English they only use the -ed ending.


The spelling of some words vary depending on whether it is British or American English – for example:

British English – “colour”, “flavour” and “honour”

American English – “color”, “flavor” and “honor”.



They Met at Southbourne School and Now They’re Married!

Two German students that studied with us 9 years ago decided to come back and visit us, this time as a couple! They met whilst studying here, became good friends and have since been married for 5 years!

Have a look at this amazing story of their time together at Southbourne School that lead them to fall in love and get married!

Facebook Testimonial Aleksandra Written by Aleksandra


“The first time we met on an excursion to Christchurch. That was our first day in Bournemouth. Later, we went together to London and spent about 3 hours in the National Gallery, where we were very happy and surprised that we found another person interested in art and museums.

Adrian left one week before me but we stayed in touch and wrote long e-mails every day.

I (Aleksandra) lived in Dresden, Adrian lived near Darmstadt, about 600km away. We decided to meet on New Years Eve. Adrian came to Dresden, which was very brave as he was not only visiting me, but also his future in-laws.

Half a year later, we finished high school. Adrian went to military service for 3 months, I started studying. We still met regularly.

After military service, Adrian moved to Dresden and we decided to get married, which we did in 2011.

Five years later, we came back to Southbourne School of English during our holiday – to visit the old hunting grounds.”


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Why Do We Have a Bank Holiday Monday in England?

Just to let you all know that this Monday 29th August, we are closed for the August Bank Holiday Monday!

But why?

The August Bank Holiday was instituted by the Bank Holidays Act of 1871 for a very English reason – to give bankers a day off so they could participate in cricket matches!

However the reason has broadened since then, to give all workers a three-day weekend to relax or vacation and enjoy this hot weather (fingers crossed) before the summer holidays come to an abrupt and undesired end!

So what will you be doing this weekend? Here are a few ideas that we have for you to make the most of it whilst the skies are blue and the sun is shining!

Here are a few activities you could get up to during this extended holiday weekend:Southbourne Beach

  • Southbourne/Bournemouth Beaches – we always talk about the glorious beaches, but there is a reason for it, the summer is the best time to make the most of the sandy shores, with Beach Volleyball, Football, Swimming, sunbathing and much more! So grab your sunscreen and money for ice cream!
  • Notting Hill Carnival (London) – if you’re venturing to London this weekend, then you MUST see Notting Hill Carnival on Portobello Road in London, the largest street festival in Europe and the second largest in the world! With live music, parades and an electric atmosphere – it truly is a fantastic place to be! Click here for more info on it!2011, Notting Hill Carnivaldorset-steam4
  • More locally, The Great Dorset Steam Fair begins from Thursday 25th – Monday 29th August!  Showcasing some of the most vintage steam vehicles that UK has to offer, as well as folk music, cider and WWI Commemoration Displays, the steam fair is an incredibly popular attraction held every year just outside Blandford Forum!
  • Or…just… RELAX! This is your time to just do nothing and enjoy it! The whole point of this public holiday is for everyone to enjoy their free time, and sometimes that just means chilling out!

10 Top Tips for Studying at Southbourne School of English!

When studying at Southbourne School of English it’s important that you enjoy it and learn as much English as you can, making sure you get the most from your stay!


Take a look at these 10 top tips so your time studying at Southbourne is the best it can be:


1. Make friends from different nationalities – this teaches you about new cultures and helps improve your English the most!

2. Eat British food at your host families and in British restaurants – in our previous blog we spoke about the best traditional British food, take a look at this and make sure you try these!

3. Speak English 24/7 – it is simple, the more you speak English, the faster you will pick it up!

4. Travel and go on excursions – travel around the local areas and make sure you go on our excursions to places like London, Winchester and Oxford! You will be able to understand British culture and see amazing new towns and cities.

5. Go to your classes (100% attendance if possible) – you are here to learn English! So use your time here and make sure you don’t skip any classes unless you are really ill.

6. Ask questions and speak to us – we are here to help, if you have any questions then ask us! We don’t bite. Here’s where to go for answers to your specific questions:

  • Classes/Teachers – Academic Office.
  • Health/Illness – Welfare Office.
  • Bookings/Excursions – Reception or the Activity Office.
  • Host Family – Accommodation Office.

7. Watch English TV/Movies – if you watch English TV/Movies, add the subtitles and learn cinema’s spoken word! You may pick up some brand new vocabulary!

8. Carry a dictionary with you! – it can sometimes be very useful to have a dictionary on hand to look up a word you are unsure of!

9. Read English News – keep up to date with current affairs AND learn lots of English! Fantastic!

10. Go places and have fun with friends! – Make sure you go out with your friends and have a great time, make some memories and come back with improved English!

A Student Who Studied with Us 30 Years Ago Came Back with Her Children

Having been running for 50 years, Southbourne School of English has been a home and school for many students over the decades. We pride ourselves on our dedication to ensuring that we provide the best education, friendly and warm environment for all of our students. Also, gaining feedback on how well we did is imperative to our goal to develop to be the best English Language School in our area.

There is nothing more motivating to us than for a student who has studied at the school before to come back and study with us again – and Elena Poletti is a prime example of a happy and satisfied student who came back!

30 years ago, Elena Poletti arrived at the school to begin her studies and this year she decided to come back to study with her children. Here is her glowing testimonial that was so heart-warming to us:



Elena Poletti testimonial



What makes Southbourne a great destination for International Students?

Southbourne is a beautiful residential town situated on the south coast of England – home to some of the finest beaches that the UK has to offer; alongside three other beaches in Bournemouth, Southbourne Beach was awarded the 2016 Blue Flag status which is a mark of quality, cleanliness, safety and environmental management.Southbourne_SSE 7

Southbourne and nearby towns also offer great nightlife to students of all ages, with high class restaurants, cafes, clubs, bars and more. Deli Rocks is an Italian Deli and Espresso Bar on Southbourne Grove Road, with a range of delicious Mediterranean foods available all through the day. Smithson’s Fish & Chip Shop is one of the best examples of what traditional English food offers and students love it! Also, there are various Halal takeaway shops along Southbourne high street that give students with these dietary requirements various excellent options for eating out.

An advantage of studying in Southbourne is that everything you need is within walking distance of the residential area, allowing students to have the freedom to pack their day full of activities, without having to travel far and wide from their houses. The beach nearby provides opportunities for fun activities such as surfing, kitesurfing, windsurfing, beach volleyball, football and many more!

Hengistbury Head is a short journey away from the school and is an incredibly scenic nature reserve that offers a great walk and picture opportunity for students who enjoy beach trips – there are also various cafes and restaurants that students can visit to get a bite to eat or drink!

Bournemouth_SSE 3Bournemouth Town Centre is just a short bus journey from Southbourne and offers a great deal to students all year round – students can go to music/comedy events at the Bournemouth International Centre venue, visit the local Oceanarium that provides visitors with a journey around the waters of the world, and even go indoor or outdoor ice-skating in the winter months. Russell-Cotes Art & Gallery museum in Bournemouth is a trip into the past, hosting a beautiful traditional villa filled with a fine art collection open to the public for a low entry fee. In the evening students who are over 18 can visit the incredibly popular night clubs, such as Halo, Walkabout, Cameo & Myu Bar and many more – a great place to go with friends to dance the night away!

From 17th November onwards until 31st December, Bournemouth turns into a German Christmas Market, with the beautifully illuminated gardens, market stalls selling food, drink and souvenirs, traditional British bars, Christmas parades, a Santa’s Grotto and other festive events!


Bournemouth and Southbourne welcome lots of students from around the world – over 50,000 international students study in Bournemouth alone every year, appealing to those who want to combine their studies with great activities in an ideal seaside location. This fantastic community allows international students to meet so many people from numerous different countries when they visit Southbourne and the local areas – they leave with invaluable memories and lifelong friends.

Top 10 Traditional British Foods

International students absolutely love coming to study in England for a variety of reasons – but one clear one is the great British food that we offer! Take a look at our favourite Top 10 Traditional British Foods chosen by Southbourne School of English:

1. Fish and Chips (savoury)

Fish and chips is one of Britain’s most famous/popular hot takeaway foods – with battered fish and freshly fried chips served typically in newspaper. Delicious!

fish and chips

2. Bangers and Mash (savoury)

Bangers and Mash is a family favourite hot dinner food – consisting of yummy sausages and buttery mashed potatoes, often served with onions to add some extra flavour!

bangers and mash

3. Full English Breakfast (savoury)

Full English Breakfast is a morning feast that can fill any  hungry person’s stomach! These often vary depending on where you are living but the overall basics are the same: sausages, eggs, toast, bacon, tomato and beans – with tasty additions to suit your preferences. (personally I love mushrooms and fried French toast!)


4. Roast Dinner (savoury)

On Sunday’s us Brits have a traditional meal that can compete with any! Our traditional roast dinner! These normally include either beef, chicken or nut roast (vegetarian), roast potatoes, carrots, green beans, other vegetables, Yorkshire pudding, covered in yummy gravy sauce!

roast dinner

5. Toad in the hole (savoury)

‘Toad in the hole’ origins suggest that the name comes from the similarity the dish looks to a toad sticking its head out of a hole! Usually, Toad in the hole comprises of sausages cooked in Yorkshire pudding batter, typically served with onion gravy and vegetables!

toad in the hole

6. Bread and butter pudding (sweet)

Bread and butter pudding is made by scattering slices of buttered bread across a dish and topped with raisins, lemon and other garnishes, then baked in the oven! This is then cut up and served with hot custard…mmm this is making me hungry!

lemon bread and butter pudding

7. Scones and clotted cream (Cream Tea)

A Cream Tea consists of buttermilk scones and a thick cream (clotted cream), usually eaten with strawberry jam! Also, what would a proper British dessert be without a traditional English Breakfast tea!

scones and clotted cream

8. Spotted dick and custard (sweet)

Spotted dick is made with suet pastry and dried fruit, which is then rolled up and cooked in the oven. It is then served with delicious hot custard – we love our custard!

spotted dick and custard

9. Eton Mess (sweet)

Eton Mess is a traditional English dessert consisting of a mixture of strawberries or bananas with meringue and cream!

eton mess

10. Sticky Toffee pudding (sweet)

Sticky Toffee pudding is a very moist steamed sponge cake, covered in toffee sauce and served with vanilla custard or ice cream – a personal favourite of mine!

sticky toffee pudding

French Intern – Celia’s experience of England

I arrived in England on the 3rd of July, in my host family in Bournemouth. They were really nice with me, I felt really welcome. On Tuesday 5th I had my first day in Southbourne School of English, as administrative assistant.

Bournemouth is a really nice city. When you take the bus you can go anywhere you want, at any time. One of my favourite places is the town centre: here you can go to many great shops, restaurants, and there is almost always music there. It is a really nice place to have a good time.

During the weekends, I went to visit some other places in England. On the first weekend I went to London. It was a beautiful Saturday and I had the opportunity to see the House of Parliament, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace and Piccadilly Circus. After that, I went shopping on Oxford Street, the streets were really busy with people enjoying that beautiful Saturday to go shopping in London. It was an amazing day. I also went to see Harry Potter Studios in the North of London by the end of July, as I am a huge fan. That day was incredible as well.

What I can say about England in general is that it is a really interesting country, and speaking English every day at school and every evening with the family made me practice a lot.

This travel has been a really positive experience to practice my English, and learn how to work too. Even if it is not what I study in my French engineering school, it is really interesting to see how it works in a school, especially in the office. When we are studying in a school we don’t imagine how much the office staff can be hardworking and busy, as they work hard for the students to have a good time in the school. The office is really well organised and I have learned how to get more organised too. Such an experience will be useful for all my life.

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