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Category : Blog

Valentine’s Day – Origins and how we celebrate it

Valentine’s Day is celebrated on 14th February, where couples and admirers exchange flowers, gifts and chocolates to show their love for each other. But where does this day come from?

The origins of Valentine’s Day are a mysterious one, we know that February has been celebrated as a month of romance for many years and has ties to Christian and ancient Roman traditions. The Catholic Church recognises at least three different saints named Valentine, all of who have different tales behind their name – one tale tells of an imprisoned Valentine who sent the first “valentine” greeting to his prison guards daughter, before his death he wrote a letter that was signed “From your Valentine” and this expression is still used to this day in Valentines cards.

How do we celebrate it?

In the UK, we often celebrate Valentine’s Day by offering gifts and flowers (typically red roses) and writing intimate cards to loved ones, spending time with them and having a likeness to the Saints and their romantic ways!

Write to your Valentine!

This Valentine’s Day buy a gift and write something nice in a card to someone you like, sign it “From your Valentine”, ask someone else to give it to them and see if they can guess who it is from!

Popular gifts to buy on Valentine’s Day!

1. Flowers – normally red roses

2. Chocolates

3. Perfume/Aftershave

4. Jewellery

5. Champagne

Event at the school

New Year, new language. 12 tips for 12 months on improving English

The New Year is here, 2018 is the time for you to improve your English! Whether you are elementary or even proficient – there are always ways to improve, we have put some of our favourite tips together for you to follow, 12 tips for the 12 months of 2018!

  1. Practise your English speaking with friends – have an English only trip to a café once a month, for example.
  2. Use internet websites to practise grammar and vocabulary. is good practise if you are taking a Cambridge exam and BBC Learning English ( has some great material to help you stay up-to-date.
  3. Visit or return to the UK: studying in England means you are always exposed to English, this is arguably the fastest and most efficient way of learning.  (And it would mean that we would see you again, so that’s a bonus!)
  4. Read in English: it’s easy to buy magazines and books in many countries. Or use the internet: reading will increase your vocabulary and it’s amazing how much grammar you can pick up that way, without the pain of doing exercises!
  5. Listen to podcasts: if your friends are busy and there are no English speakers available, you can always use English-speaking podcasts to improve your English listening. Check out the TED Talks at
  6. Watch films in English.  At first, you might want to use subtitles, but have the courage to try without from time to time!
  7. Sing along to English songs: it’s a great way to work on your pronunciation, rhythm and intonation.
  8. To practise writing, join in a discussion at Dave’s ESL Café:
  9. Be a good penpal: keep in touch with the people you have met in England.  Make sure you write to each other regularly either by e-mail or instant message like WhatsApp.
  10. Keep a diary in English: it’s a good way to keep secrets from non-English speakers and will help you to keep your language from going rusty!
  11. Why not throw an English Party?  The music is all in English, people dress up as characters from Britain or British literature and everybody speaks English as much as possible.  (You can provide a sheet with simple phrases for anybody who can’t speak English yet!)
  12. Follow the Southbourne School of English Facebook page, Twitter and Blog.


Credit to: Alison McBain – Assistant Director of Studies, Joshua Garner – Multi Media and Marketing Assistant

British Christmas Traditions

The Christmas Tree

When Queen Victoria’s German husband, Prince Albert put up a Christmas Tree in Windsor Castle in 1848, the Christmas Tree became a tradition throughout England, the United States, and Canada.

Mince Pies

Mince pies were originally filled with meat, such as lamb, rather than the dried fruit mix they are made with today, hence the name! Meat disappeared from the recipe by Victorian times.

dusted mince pies


Christmas stockings originate from the legend of St Nicholas, who was a gift giver. He once sent bags of gold down a chimney at the home of a poor man, which fell into stockings that were drying in the fireplace.

Christmas Crackers

Tom Smith, a sweet maker in London, invented Christmas crackers in the late 1840’s which originally did not ‘crack’, it was only when he found a way to make them crack that they became very popular.

Christmas pudding

Similar to mince pies, Christmas pudding was originally filled with meat. They date back as early as the 14th century and in 1714, King George decided it should be a part of the typical Christmas meal.


The tradition of kissing below a mistletoe was first introduced by early Christians, a berry would be taken from the mistletoe with every kiss, until none remained.

Christmas Carols

Carols originated from pagan times and continued into the Christian era. Ever since then carols have been written, especially in Victorian times. In the more recent day, songs such as White Christmas by Bing Crosby and All I Want for Christmas Is You by Mariah Carey are modern day Christmas carols.

For everyone celebrating Christmas – we hope you have a wonderful one and a Happy New Year!

Things to do at Christmas for students

Things to do at Christmas for students

There is so much to do in Southbourne during the Christmas holidays – Bournemouth town centre comes to life, with a German inspired Christmas market and seasonal decorations covering the high street and gardens.

An ice skating rink and Alpine Bar is open to everyone in the lower gardens, from mid-November to the beginning of January, this is a great way to get into the Christmas spirit. Why not try a Glühwein (if you are over 18), which is a fruity hot mulled wine and enjoy getting involved in singing the traditional Christmas British carols.

We even work with a local student tour company called UK Study Tours, who offer fantastic tours to great destinations during the Christmas period, all provided with details below, see their website for full information:

If you like the idea of discovering how other countries celebrate Christmas in Europe, why not go with other foreign language students and learn about so many different cultures?

10 reasons to study at Southbourne School of English

  1. Courses

We offer a wide variety of courses to suit any English level. Our classes are arranged according to each student’s level of English.

  1. The location

Our main school is located in a safe, friendly residential area, only 10 minutes’ walk from the local award winning Southbourne beach. Students feel safe in our typical English suburb. Dorset is also home to the beautiful Jurassic Coast World Heritage site.

  1. Friendly staff

Southbourne School of English is a third generation family run school with friendly and professional teachers and staff – some who have worked with us for over 40 years!

  1. Accreditations

We are accredited by the British Council. We are also a member of Quality English and English UK.

  1. Nationality Mix

Our school has a fantastic nationality mix, we welcome students from over 50 countries each year.

  1. Host families

All of our host families are within walking distance of the school. They are also checked to ensure the safety, comfort and happiness of every student.

  1. Facilities

We have lots of facilities available at the school, including interactive smartboards in every classroom, 10 computers in our large cafeteria, outdoor seating areas and Wi-Fi throughout the school and garden.

  1. Activities

Our social programme includes a variety of activities that cater to everyone. We provide options to students, so that they can choose what activity they would like to do.

  1. Student care

We take pride in caring for our students, that’s why we have a dedicated Student Welfare Officer and an emergency phone line is available 24/7 for your safety and security.

  1. School reputation

We have fantastic feedback and many returning students, some who have met lifelong friends at Southbourne School of English. See our Facebook and Instagram pages.

FlyWire – an easier way to pay

FlyWire – an easier way to pay

At Southbourne School of English we are always looking to make life easier for our agents and that is why we are partnered with Flywire to streamline the international payment process. Flywire allows you to pay securely from any country and bank, typically in your home currency.
Flywire offers an innovative and streamlined way to make international payments. It’s fast, simple and cost effective. Take a look below to see how they do it.

Step 1: Choose your country and the amount you are paying in GBP.
Step 2: Choose your payment method. Make your payment to Flywire.
Step 3: Enter your details and those of the students you are paying for.
Step 4: Track and confirm your payment by email, SMS or by logging into:

For more information, please contact Sally Kanan or feel free to call us.

NEW History Tours Course (Age 35+)

Our new History Tours course for ages 35 and above, combines’ visits to our local historical areas of beauty with tuition suited to your level.

The main focus is on spoken English but we also teach grammar, listening, reading and pronunciation. Lessons on British life and culture are also included. As part of your course and learning experience you will also have the opportunity to visit local historical landmarks and beauty spots with your new friends from the History Tours group. We are close to medieval towns, like Christchurch, and cities such as Winchester and Salisbury. Of course, we also have the beach for some beautiful evening walks to end your busy day.

Improve your English with interactive morning lessons and in the afternoon see the sights of our local areas of beauty. From indulging in a delicious cream tea in the New Forest National Park to exploring the historical Jurassic Coast, the History Tours course has much to offer during the 2 weeks of your stay.



Stella – Chinese student questions feedback

StellaStella, 29, Guang Zhou

Stella is one of the long term Chinese student group leaders who is learning English as well. We asked her what she thought of the school, here are her answers:

How did you hear about Southbourne School of English?

“I heard about SSE from the school I teach at in Guang Zhou.”

Why are you studying English?

“I’m studying English to further develop it as I am an English teacher in Guang Zhou, I love English.”

Why do you like the school?

“Everybody is just so nice and also the location is perfect for students, having a beach so near is so special to them because the nearest beach to Guang Zhou is 2 hours away and it isn’t as clean and beautiful.”

How long are you studying for?

“We are studying for 6 months!”

What are your host family like?

“My family are amazing, they are so considerate.”

Joy – Thai student questions feedback

Joy  Joy, 39, Roiet


Joy is one of our Thai student group leaders who is also studying English herself! We asked her what she thought of the school, here are her answers:

How did you hear about Southbourne School of English?

“I heard about SSE from an agent in Thailand, UCE Bangkok. I teach at a school that is a test centre for these agents.”

Why are you studying English?

“I’m learning English to develop it, as I am an English teacher in my country, I teach basic English but I would like to be able to teach more advanced.”

Why do you like the school?

“I am most impressed by the nationality mix. It is a great opportunity for my students and I to learn about other countries, as well as England. With so many different nationalities, this is perfect. I also love the trips that the school organise, especially Bath. It gives my students a chance to understand the culture of native speakers and also to give them a chance to test their English.”

How long are you studying for?

“We are studying for 7 weeks.”

What are your host family like?

“Maggie is my host mother and she is very nice, she makes me feel like part of the family. She knows that as I am Thai, that I love Thai food, therefore she caters to me and makes these dishes. She also calls me to check if I am ok, she is very considerate.”

Accredited by the British Council English UK Quality English young Learners English UK RALSA Cambridge English - Exam Preparation Centre Trinity College London