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Category : Blog

10 Words to Describe the Christmas period!

Christmas is on its way, so here are some wintry words you could use to describe the Christmas period:

Merry – very happy and cheerful.

Snowy – covered with snow.

Festive – relating to a festival, especially Christmas.

Candlelit – lit by a candle or candles.

Mistletoe – a Christmas plant that inspires people to kiss each other.

Holiday – an extended period of leisure and recreation.

Spiritual – relating to religion or religious belief.

Seasonal – relating to or characteristic of a particular season of the year.

Present – a gift.

Celebration – the action of celebrating an important day or event.

German News Article about Southbourne School by Udo Hoepker

The following is a German News Article that has been translated into English; this article was written from information given by Udo Hoepker and his stay here at Southbourne School of English.

You’re never too old to learn English                                                                                            12th October 2016

 Udo Hoepker started to learn the world language as a pensioner. Of course directly on site.

It is no longer classed extraordinary to to travel abroad and learn a foreign language. Students can acquire this experience as Au pairs and somewhat insignificantly older people get attracted by social volunteering programmes overseas during a gap year. But who gets the itch to do this in their mid fifties? Well, Letmathe has one resident who felt exactly this desire.

“This book is the reason why I am learning English”, Udo Hoepker starts and points on the book “My Lively Lady” written by the English author Sir Alec Rose. Then, in the 90s, he received this book after a house clearance. Printed on the book cover is a sailing boat, the lively lady. A coincidence? After all, Hoepker is an experienced sailor himself.

One day the curiosity became prevalent

“This is why I have always been interested in the content of the book, but I never understood a single word written in it.” For many years the book should stay on the shelf in Hoepker’s home in Droeschede. Until 2007, when it had become impossible for the former car salesman to ignore the ambition to learn English. Hoepker had just turned 63 and retired, when he bought himself a dictionary. “Things went quite well with the help of this dictionary. I could manage approximately one page per evening.”

At the institute of education he joined a learning group for seniors, which still exists to this day. Udo Hoepker was getting on well and made progress. “But then I thought to myself that it would be much more beneficial if only I could practice in real life circumstances.” In 2014 he came across an English language school for adults, the family run Southbourne School of English, situated in the city of Bournemouth on the South Coast of England. Only a few days ago the now 72-year-old has returned from his 6th two week trip. “To begin with we all had to sit an exam to evaluate our level before we were allocated to the most suitable class.” Hoepker has been classed “Elementary”. Before he could move up to this level, he had to pass two stages, the beginner and the starter. Looking at it from a sporty point of view, he plays in the 5th of 7 leagues. “Organised almost a bit in  military order”, he admits about the way the school is run. “You are only allowed to speak English. Otherwise you risk a date with the principal. Or if you are not in the class room after the second bell, you have to wait outside for the whole lesson.”

Together with him, a lot of (mostly younger) students from all over the world work on the improvement of their English knowledge. Hoepker got to know Arabs, Asians, South- and Northamericans, the classes are kept small. At the end of every day, teachers hand out the homework. Hoepker struggled to begin with, but soon gets a hint: A group of students does their homework together after school – in a quiet corner of a pub. Eventually, they are done for the day.

Hoepker favours the life in a host family

After finishing the homework, Udo Hoepker returns – exemplary – to his host family. “It is an opportunity which you should perceive”, he explains. Students could easily book a room in a hotel, as lots of married couples do, but this is not for him. “Guess what they do when they get back to their hotel room?”, Hoepker asks. “Exactly, they speak German.” He has not made any bad experience on the island so far, with that one exception. During his first trip to the UK he found himself in a slighlty uncomfortable situation when British Airways “mislaid” his luggage into an airplane which was heading to New York. Friends in his home village Droeschede reacted somewhat irritated when they first heard about his language courses abroad and asked, if it did not feel like a holiday, what he was doing in England. Hoepker replied: “No, it is much better than holidays.”


WAZ Udo Hoepker Oct 2016

12 Commonly Used British Colloquialisms

Here are some great examples of commonly used British colloquialisms/slang that are used all over England:

Chuffed – Proud
“He was chuffed to win the race.”

Fortnight – 2 weeks
“I will see you in a fortnight.”

Tad – a little bit
“She was just a tad smaller than her friend.”

Chap – Male or friend
“He is a nice chap.”

Ace – Cool
“That trick was ace!”

Mate – friend
“They were best mates since they were young.”

Barmy – crazy
“He’s absolutely barmy!”

Lost the plot – to become irrational/act ridiculously
“He has completely lost the plot.

Cheers – Thank you
“That was great, cheers!”

Skive – when someone doesn’t turn up for work by pretending to be ill
“He tried to skive work, but the manager caught him.”

Rubbish – refuse/waste, or when something is of low quality
Refuse/waste: “Throw the rubbish out.”
Low quality: “That football match was rubbish!”

Chin wag – to have a chat/talk with someone
“So we met up and had a good chin wag.”

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.”


File 30-08-2016, 15 19 57

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



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