Author Archives: Ability Admin

Greg (one of our amazing Ability teachers) reminisces about going on excursions with his IntPLUS students :)

I think it’s great when we get to explore a little bit of Sydney life with our students. Once every 12 weeks Ability teachers have the opportunity to take their students on an excursion. It’s one of the few occasions where we all get to relax and spend some quality time outside of the classroom. It is also a time when students can learn more about the city and about their classmates.

On our last excursion most of the groups organised a barbecue at a local beach. However, our GE Plus group wanted to try something different and so decided to take on a challenge – a bush-walk from Taronga Zoo to Balmoral Beach!!! The idea was to enjoy the weather and discover some local walking tracks.

The first part, a ferry from Circular Quay to Taronga Zoo, turned out to be a great experience for some of the students as they had never taken a ferry before. We had a great time doing some sightseeing and observing the CBD from the deck on that fine sunny morning. Then, from Taronga Zoo we went towards Balmoral Beach – not an easy trip… over five and a half kilometres through the bush!!!

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After a few minutes of walking it got really humid and hot. Although the students were well prepared, with water, sunscreen and hats, we all realised what it meant to be in the open at noon in the middle of Australian summer. Although most of us tried to hide from the sun some students seemed to rather enjoy it. 🙂

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The walk was the time when we had the opportunity to chat about our everyday lives, our plans for the future and learn more about the people that we share our time with. We realised that although we all come from different cultures, we all share the same dreams and hopes for the future. After almost two hours we managed to get to Balmoral Beach. It was the promised land for all of us – the cool breeze and the shade of the trees was exactly what we needed.

We all agreed the trip was a great experience but next time it might be a bit shorter…

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An insightful story from one of our Sydney Ability teachers!!!!

Yesterday I met up with a student at the beautiful Bronte and Tamarama beaches for some sunbaking, swimming and interesting conversation. We chatted effortlessly about our lives, her experience in Australia and at the school. I found myself recognising and marvelling at the improvement in her vocabulary, fluency and accuracy as compared to when she first came to the school and joined my class. It gave me such satisfaction to listen to her confidently express complex ideas and to notice that her listening skills have improved dramatically as I rambled on about my daily dramas and she was able to keep up with a majority of it.

We talked a little bit about her experience at the school and she told me how she is starting to feel sad because this is her last week. She knows that leaving the school will change the dynamic of the friendships she has made with her classmates and although she will be in Australia for another two months, the experience will be different.

She told me that she felt a part of a family at the school and she was really grateful for that. She also sympathised with me as a teacher by comparing the fact that she only has to go through this experience of loss once, whereas I and the other teachers, who inevitably form bonds with the students we spend so much time with, have to experience this loss a multitude of times as we say goodbye to the people we have often grown so close to. I felt honoured that she recognised the authenticity of the relationships that are formed at our school.

I told her that Ability is a little unique in this way because there is a prevalent culture of social engagement with the students for the purposes of creating a ‘whole’ experience for them. This is fostered by the encouragement of responsible social interaction within and outside of school. I also told her that I felt fortunate to be an employee here for exactly this reason, as it makes our jobs all the more fun and enjoyable, thereby making us better teachers overall.

This brings me to tell you a little about just one of the many social occasions we organised for the students.

Week 12 is always an opportunity to take the students on an excursion to experience some of the Australian ways of life. Two Fridays ago, end of week 12, was exactly one of these opportunities. Four of the General English teachers organised a barbeque at Coogee beach for the evening students to great success. Four GE classes and thus around 40 Ability students and teachers took over almost the entire bbq section at the northern end of Coogee.

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Everybody had a great time. We ate delicious food, chatted and danced and generally shared an appreciation for each other. Everyone had such a lovely time that most of the students were eagerly asking when we could do it again. Soon I’m sure was my response.

I took just a couple of photos of some of my class and I always wish I could’ve taken more but hopefully you’ll get the picture as to how the night went. Lots of fun!!!

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Who Are We?

Who are we?

This week the students of Elementary 2 have been learning to describe people. Here they are, describing their classmates, and with illustrations!

 

 

Ghali – by Kubra

This is Ghali. He’s in my class. He has sparse hair. He has black hair. He is brown. He is wearing a black t-shirt. His nose is a little long. He is very skinny. He is married. He is tall. He likes to wear shoes.

Ghali

Kubra – by Ghali

This is Kubra. She is in my class. She has a red scarf. She has white and black shoes. She has a brown watch. She has blue jeans. She has a black shirt. She has a red bag.

Kubra

Francisca – by Sherry (Yan)

This is Francisca. She’s in my class. She comes from Spain.

Francisca

Sherry (Yan) – by Francisca

This is Sherry. She’s in my class. She wears a shirt, blue pants and black boots. She is very nice.

Sherry

Group Photo – Ghali, Kubra, Francisca and Sherry

Ghali, Kubra, Francisca and Yan

 

Keichiro – by Julien

He has brown eyes. He’s not very tall. He has long black hair. He’s from Japan. His name is Keichiro. He’s in my class. He’s slim. He’s wearing jeans and a purple shirt. He wears glasses and has boots.

Keichiro

Julien – by Keichiro

This is Julien. He has brown eyes. He is in my class. He comes from France. He has short brown hair and is wearing a black jumper and blue shoes.

Julien

Group Photo – Keichiro and Julien

Keichiro and Julien

 

Ahmed – by Non

This is Ahmed. He’s in my class. He comes from Saudi. He has curly hair and is wearing a blue t-shirt and a red cap.

Ahmed

Non – by Ahmed

This is Non. He is in my class. He comes from Thailand. He is short. He has short black hair. He has a grey pullover. He has grey shoes. He has a black t-shirt and a silver watch.

Non

Group Photo – Ahmed and Non

Ahmed and Non

 

Fabio – by Priscilla

This is Fabio. He’s in my class. He comes from Brazil, too, like me. He’s a tall man with short blond hair. He has a moustache. He’s wearing blue jeans and black shirt with black shoes. He has white skin.

Fabio

Priscilla – by Fabio

This is Priscilla. She’s in my class. She comes from Brazil.

Priscilla

Waleed – by Juan

His name is Waleed . He is from Saudi Arabia. He’s in my class. He’s a very good person. He’s very big. He has. He has black eyes and long brown hair. Waleed is very beautiful.

Waleed

Juan – by Waleed

This is Juan. He’s in my class. He comes from Colombia. Juan has short brown hair. He is wearing a black and white vest. He’s wearing a black watch.

Juan

Group Photo – Fabio, Priscilla, Waleed and Juan

Fabio, Priscilla, Waleed and Juan

Pre-intermediate Class

Pre-intermediate class took on the challenge of discussing the advantages and disadvantages of several different modes of transport this week, building their case through creating a list of pros and cons, and transferring this information into a written piece using the useful linking phrases they had learned.

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Putting the lists into a written response was a good challenge, and students worked together to write their final efforts.

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Students described the advantages of air travel including:

 

“No stressful traffic”, “Really fast and comfortable”, “Easy to travel to other continents”,

Whereas there was a unanimous decision as to “TURBULENCE” being the great disadvantage of travelling by plane. “It is expensive” and “the air is not fresh” on planes being other cons that everyone agreed on.

We also had what became a great and hotly discussed lesson on transport in different countries as some students spoke quite strongly about how BAD the Sydney railway system is, while students from other countries were amazed at this, and expressed their firm belief at how GOOD it is, compared to the networks back home.

 

Class this week became more than a writing class, and a great look at different perceptions and points of view!

What’s Up with Whatsapp?

Smart phones are an omnipresent factor in our lives; they come, of course, with their definite pros and cons! In the English language classroom they can sometimes be a distraction to students and a frustration to teachers who may need the class’ full attention.  But, since the smart phone is here to stay, for the time being at least, how can teachers and students alike use them to enhance the language learning experience?  Already they have become dictionaries as well as tools for accessing instant information and participating in online interactive language practice (thank you Google and Wiki!). But as we know, in this fast moving world of technology, the possibilities and uses could be endless.  Six months ago, an exam class of mine created a Whatsapp group in order to organise social events and keep in touch once the class had come to an end. Around the same time, I noticed that students liked to photograph vocabulary or grammar points rather than copy or make notes. Then one day, when a particular student was unwell, I asked his ‘study buddy’ to photograph some examples from the class and share the information with him in order that he wouldn’t be disadvantaged in the following day’s class. Suddenly an idea was born! In my following exam class, I suggested at the very beginning of their course that they create a Whatsapp group. In the twinkling of an eye, what had formerly been a means for socialising, became a platform for information sharing. With a free creative rein, students were now recording segments of the class, photographing and then posting exercises and examples, and discussing the class retroactively as a group.

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Whatsapp proved to be more helpful than I could have anticipated, especially for a 10 or 12 week intensive course. It became part of the experience that bound us all together on our shared journey towards the Cambridge exams. We posted important notices, and shared the language focus of the day with the students who were not able to attend class.  Our class could at any time (24/7) discuss, question or clarify. If I noticed any important errors in their communications, I could explore them the following day with the class as a whole. Then, as the exams loomed ever closer on the horizon, each and very student had at their disposal readily accessible revision materials and reminders.

So how would this work in a General English class, I wondered, where the student population changes often and the parameters of the course are so different? Our Intermediate class were keen to embrace the idea of forming a Whatsapp group and began immediately to not only communicate socially but also photograph the whiteboard, capturing valuable vocabulary and grammar points, and record pronunciation practice. As their teacher, I can remind the entire group about homework or preparations for the following day, while also giving feedback on spelling, grammar or vocabulary errors or offering common expressions and words to enhance their online skills.  It has, I believe, been a valuable experiment, and a unique opportunity to enhance the students’ language skills.  Interestingly, it has also been a tremendous morale booster: Whatsapp creates an instant group experience, wherein the students feel involved and a productive part of the language learning process.  There is an enhanced sense of ownership within the classroom which is palpable.

 

Class dynamics aside, if nothing else, it’s a virtual, portable language resource and totally eco-friendly – no more mountains of paper!

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And here is what some of my current General English students have to say:

 

Only I can say that my experience in Ability has been great, amazing and special. I would like to improve my English but in the same time enjoy.  So, this Its the perfect school If you search something like this. You enjoy learning. The whatssap for our class is very useful because is a easy and quick way to meet with people and we can organize different activities to do after the class. We like going to the park and sitting on the grass and talking about something… Or  watching a movie and also singing a song.  Fortunately I’m feeling like I was with my Catalan friends or my family.

(Rebeca)

 

 

We are intermediate 1 class. We created a whatsapp group. This become very beneficial for us. We can ask everything to teacher through the whatsapp. We can always keep in touch with each other and with our lovely teacher :).Sometimes we organise easily some activities after school or weekend. We can share the important knowledge we learned during the day and most important thing when we write in whatsapp, teacher correct our mistakes,  also whatsapp improves our class relationship and we thank our teacher for giving the idea…

(Kuyabe)

 

 

I find this concept very interesting. It gives so much advantage, for example if I fall sick, with Whatsapp no worries, it’s like if you are in class.  When on the board there is an important thing somebody takes a picture and sends. It’s especially a help to study. If you don’t remember something, you can check! Whatsapp has so many qualities about studies however there are some others qualities not about the study. With this we are so close ! We are unified. When somebody does one activities he proposes in Whatsapp to come with him and when you do this, but be carefull !! Teacher is never far away ! Always there to correct your mistakes!
(Jim)

Verbal Boxing

Studying at Ability involves learning and having fun. There are various activities in IELTS class that can help students to evoke ideas, we do some of them first thing in the morning to prepare our brain to understand what the teacher is going to explain next, and the other at the end of the day to fossilize what we have learnt, which is absolutely essential for IELTS test to get a higher score.

 

One of the most amazing activities we usually do in the afternoon class that can get students so excited, especially after lunch, is Verbal Boxing. First of all, our teacher, Philippe, divides us into four groups in a way that separates the students who speak the same language from each other, which also happen during the class. Then, Philippe puts different topics on the wall so the students can make a tick on their favourite topics. Next, he picks one of the most preferred topics and decides which two teams are going to play against each other, while the other teams act like judges and evaluate the boxers. As you might know, Verbal Boxing is just like real Boxing, except this one is not physical. It has three rounds with two minutes each and two minutes between each battle. Once he puts the chosen topic on the wall we have to brainstorm ideas for both sides, positives and negatives, for ten minutes, and to make it more challenging the teams don’t get to decide which side they are going to talk about, Philippe does. Each team sends their boxer to the ring to combat with strong arguments and examples. The same thing for the other teams happens, and finally the winners get to face each other for the last battle.

 

This activity helps students to improve their English to pass the test in so many ways. One thing is that the boxers experience some sort of pressure during the battle, which is very important to build our confidence in speaking, and we need to give reasons and examples to support our arguments. This kind of pressure is what candidates are going to feel in the speaking as they might have to talk about things that they are not familiar with, which is why Philippe chooses which side each team should talk about, not us. Another thing is that it provokes ideas on a variety of topics, which is exactly what students need for writing. It is vital to spend some time brainstorming ideas to answer the question fully in writing task two in order for the candidates to get a higher mark. Personally, it helped me a lot for speaking and writing .

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What is great about Verbal Boxing is the excitement that students show to share their knowledge about various subjects with other students. By doing so, we are not only developing and improving our skills of speaking and writing, but also experience positive thinking regarding the test. The more we have positive feelings about it, the more likely we do better, whereas negative feelings can prevent us from doing well. Moreover, some students are painfully shy, which could get in the way of learning English. This activity enables them to overcome their fears of public speaking, at least in the classroom, to encourage them to socialise with other students outside the school.

School Rules!

This week, intermediate students were tasked with creating their own school, complete with their own school rules!

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The students came up with some really creative schools, such as “sh-Cool!” “Bully school” (where you must be a bully to attend) and more. The rules were a mix of innovative, helpful, crazy and bizarre! Check out some of them below.

School rules!

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School begins at 12:00 am and finishes at 7:00am.

On Fridays everyone must wear pink pants.

There is an exam every 3 months and if you fail you must pay $10.

Students must join a school club and can choose between chess, science soccer, badminton or fight club!

Don’t argue with classmates, everyone should be friends!

Uniform must be worn at all time. Boy must wear football kit and girl must wear cheerleader outfits.

You have to be a model or ex-model to work at the school.

You must respect the teacher and give them support!

Teachers should be more like a friend and less like a teacher!

If you break any rule you have to clean the school grounds.

 

Sydney’s Evening Upper Intermediate Students Create a New English Language Centre!!!

The Upper Intermediate students did a speaking activity where they were given the brochures of 3 different English language centres and had to choose the best one. After that, they created their own English school. This is what they’ve come up with:

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THRILLING LEARNING

Location: Sydney (Bondi Beach)

TEACHERS:

  • All the teachers must have at least 5 years of experiencelearn
  • All the teachers must have lived in 3 different countries at least
  • Our teachers must be young, sympathetic, and friendly

 COURSES:

  • General English
  • IELTS
  • Pronunciation
  • Cambridge FCE, CAE, CPE
  • English for musical purposes

EXTRA-CURRICULAR ACTIVITIES:

  • BBQ weekends
  • Beach parties followed by a bikini and a speedo contestlearning is fun
  • Surfing and scuba diving weekends
  • Social events with students from other schools

FACILITIES:

  • Swimming pool open 24/7
  • Each student is given an IPAD to use in the classroom
  • The best coffee in the world for free
  • Game room with pool table, table football, and PlayStation 4

OTHER BENEFITS:

  • The course package includes 4 meals per day, and free public transport to and from the school
  • Our students have a 50% discount on restaurants, pubs, clubs, bottle shops, and travel agencies
  • Enrol for 6 months and get 1 month free

TIMETABLE:

  • Our school is open 24 hours, so the students can make their own timetable

PRICE:

    • Please contact our Marketing team on 02 9876 7675 for information about the price. WE HAVE THE BEST PRICE IN THE MARKET!!!

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Students: Marcin, Ana Guastella, Adiela, Felicitas, Mireia, Beata from Upp1Eve