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"Words, once they are printed, have a life of their own" by Carol Burnett


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Five Reasons to Choose an IB Diploma for your Children

There’s been a lot of debate in recent years about our current education system – what’s right, what’s relevant, whether the current focus on academic subjects over real-life skills is productive.

If you question the relevance of the everyday school system for your kids, you might want to think about encouraging them to look into the International Baccalaureate diploma preparation course.

This programme is a new kind of educational programme. There are 900,000 students worldwide in 140 countries. Here are a few things that make IB schools stand out from the rest and may be the best possible direction for your children’s education.

A growing reputation

First and foremost, the International Baccalaureate has built up a solid reputation in the thirty five years since it was founded. During this time it has perfected its programme, taking a little bit here and there from all of the different countries it works in. Therefore, unlike the standard school curriculum, it adapts with the needs of children across the world.

This reputation is spreading, and all leading universities now recognise this qualification when considering applicants.

Thinking Internationally

Another advantage of working across so many different languages and cultures is the programme itself is not nationally, but internationally focused. This promotes a greater understanding of the world as a whole rather than focusing on one country alone – an essential grounding for the 21st century world of work.

All students of an IC School are expected to learn a second language.


Diversity and Accessibility

Wherever you are, there will be a programme close to you. The IB operates over a wide variety of different schools – national, international, public, private – and all over the world. More than 50 per cent of IB students are actually state educated.

Getting the Balance Right

Playing the violin

Instead of other programmes such as A-Levels – which give students a free choice of any subjects – the IB diploma makes sure its students have a grounding in all vital areas. Students can choose one subject out of each group of five options. There are six groups in total, including languages, social studies and mathematics.

Moving Beyond the Classroom

Cooking class

The IB diploma has the further advantage of moving learning beyond the classroom into the world of work. Students are encouraged to build their skills with real tasks and community service, preparing them more thoroughly for their working lives than traditional academic routes. This will also look very attractive to a prospective university.

These are just five of the many advantages of an IB diploma. Learning life skills, moving outside the classroom, thinking on an international level and having a mixed array of subjects will stand your children in good stead for their future live. And it’s certainly a great way to stand out from the crowd when clammering for a place at university.


Useful links

The Complete University Guide 
Rankings of the top universities in the UK.

Guardian Education
The latest news on Education and discussion from leading professionals.

Do it
Listings for volunteering opportunities in the UK.

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The Keys to a Perfect Presentation

Except for the lucky ones who have no fear in standing in front of a bunch of people, doing a presentation is something most of us aren’t looking forward to. However, it doesn’t have to be an excruciating exercise and by following a few tips, it is even possible to feel good about it. As long as you are confident that you know what you are talking about, you only have to focus on the material side of the exercise.

Simple and concise

If you want to be able to relax during your presentation, you need to be sure that what you are saying is easy to say as well as to understand. Indeed, you don’t want getting lost or see your audience wondering what you are trying to explain. The clue is in the name, you are only presenting a project that will be explained in detail in more complex and complete documentations. Remember that the goal of a presentation is to outline the project, not read it entirely to the audience.

Speak rather than read

Spending the majority of the time reading what the audience can read themselves will not make a good presentation. Restrict the use of visuals for charts and bullet points in order to keep your presentation alive and the attention of the audience. It is fine and recommended to have some written notes but don’t turn the exercise into a speech. Make sure that you address the audience by looking at them most of the time.


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How to Prepare for a Job Interview

There aren’t many moments in professional life that are more stressful and scarier than a job interview, especially if it’s your first or the one for your dream job. Even if you have some past experience, the only thing you can really do to reduce the stress and giving you the best chances is to prepare for the interview. The old adage that preparation is the key to success couldn’t be more true in that case. This preparation takes different forms, all as important as the other.

The company

The first step of the preparation concerns the company that has invited you for an interview. We can assume that before applying for a job, you had a look at the company, at least its website. But for an interview you need to know more than the name of the company and what it does. This knowledge will not only give you the confidence that you can answer any questions from the employer, but it will also shows them that you care about this job and that you are interested in the company. Take the time to research what the company does, who their customers are, how is it organised, and anything that makes it special like awards.

Yourself

Obviously, you will be the one at the centre of the interview, so you need to prepare yourself. This includes knowing what you should expect such as the length of the interview, whether you will have to pass a test and who will be conducting the interview. You can find this out by emailing or calling the company and this will help you to reduce the stress by not having any surprises on the day. Again, this might seems obvious but it is important to have a good sleep the night before the interview and to wear smart clothes in which you will feel comfortable. Finally, make sure that you know where you are going and how long it will take you. If possible, do a reconnaissance a couple of days before in the same conditions.


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Self-assessment techniques in language learning

If you are teaching or learning English through an organisation such as Skola, you may be interested in discovering different assessment techniques. Self-assessment in education helps students to become more motivated, as they are in charge of setting achievable goals and monitoring their own personal progress.

Below are some examples of self-assessment techniques that can be used in language learning:

Self-assessment techniques

Use progress cards

Progress cards or checklists are a good way to start the transition from formal assessment to self-assessment, as the teacher and student work together. The student decides on a series of short-term achievable goals and then ticks them off when he or she feels that they have been mastered.

The teacher then signs off in a separate column when the work has been observed, thereby checking that the student is being honest about the achievement.

Record confidence levels with a rating scale

Rating scales allow students to record their confidence in their ability by responding to a statement with a numerical grade, for example, ‘1’ might express complete agreement and ‘5’ complete disagreement.

By returning to the same rating chart throughout the course, students will be able to record their increases in confidence, as well as making their teacher aware of where they think their weaknesses lie.

Exam

Fill out a questionnaire

Questionnaires allow students to give a fuller articulation of where their strengths and weaknesses are. Rather than just checking off an achievement box, they can let their teacher know in more detail how confident and happy they are with their progress. It also allows the student to raise any issues they have with the teaching environment.

Write a learner diary

Writing a learner diary is a great way to monitor progress and to look back and realise how much you have achieved. It also allows students to look to the future, as they can record their goals, as well as what they plan to do with the language skills they are acquiring.

Film your progress

Increase the learning potential of a learner diary by turning it into a film. This can be a fun activity where students interview one another about their thoughts on their learning experience, or a more personal project, where students document their day-to-day thoughts on their goals, their achievements and their struggles.

Students can also use this to personally assess their language skills. For example, students learning English through Skola schools can film themselves conversing in English and then watch it back and write down well they thought they used body language, accent, vocabulary, etc.

Film your progress

 

Useful links

Karen’s Linguistics Issues

Some suggested techniques on how to use self-assessment in the classroom

LLAS

The Centre for Language, Linguistics and Area Studies’ handbook on assessment methods

NCLRC

The NCLRC’s guide to essential language learning techniques


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Essential skills for IGCSE exam success

The IGCSE is an increasingly popular exam offered worldwide and in many schools in the UK. The Alexanders school, for example, is an IGCSE boarding school in the UK and one of many schools that prefers this qualification over the traditional GCSE.

There are now nearly 100 IGCSE exams on offer but there are some revision skills that will help you whatever subjects you are taking.

The revision basics

So let us assume that you have already used all the basic revision tricks in the book to get those facts drilled into your memory.

• You have prepared carefully-written notes throughout your course.
• You have read through these.
• You have made mind maps to help you memorise important concepts, drawn pictures to help you memorise things and used highlighter pens to make important points really stand out.
• You have reduced your notes down to notecards containing just the essentials and referred to these again and again to check your memory and understanding.
• You have tested yourself and worked with a study buddy to test each other.

If you have done all this you have made a great start, but there are some other essential things that will ensure IGCSE success.

Studying in the grass

The IGCSE preparation master class

What is so often omitted in the revision timetables and planning of students is exam practice itself. You are preparing for an IGCSE exam so you need to be familiar with the papers you will sit.

Exams are like anything else – the more you do them, the better you will get at them. That’s why sitting past papers is such an important part of IGCSE success. Quite simply you can become a past master at IGCSEs before you even sit your first one.

Exams don’t actually change much from year to year. The questions vary but the sorts of questions do not. Find out which exam board provides your IGCSE and visit their website to get hold of as many past papers as you can. Look through them carefully and you will get to know:

• The layout and the names/numbers of questions.

• How the instructions you are given are worded.

• The range of questions there are and whether they are multiple choice, short answers or essays.

• The marking scheme and where more marks are available.

• The pace of the paper and how you should allocate your time.

• The questions that seem to turn up most regularly.

Notepad

It is now time to hone your IGCSE exam technique. Exam practice makes perfect so get as much as you can.

• Work on your timings. If a paper requires four essays then providing four essays of medium length will always be better than three long essays and a few hastily scribbled lines.

• Always allow 10% of your time in an exam for reading the questions at the start and 10% more for reading your answers at the end.

• Look at the marks available for the questions and allocate your time accordingly. Do plenty of timed trials to get this right.

• In the heat of the exam many people don’t read the question properly and so do not actually answer it. Learn to read each question carefully and underline keywords. If it says ‘describe’, ‘criticise’ or ‘contrast’ make sure you understand exactly what you are being asked to do by this. If it is a longer ‘essay’ answer then plan it before you start writing by making a quick mind map of your answer or simply jotting down its key points.

Students in the classroom

Get a good night’s sleep before the exam, and relax: you now know what to expect and what will be asked of you. Good luck (although you won’t need it)!


Useful links

Edexcel IGCSE

Edexcel are the exam board that provides the majority of IGCSEs. You can find their past papers here.

Cambridge IGCSE

Past Papers for the Cambridge IGCSE exam board can be found here.

More revision tips

Find some great study and revision tips to help you plan your revision.