Teaching in the UK
Every country has its own educational culture. Studying in the Britain is not just a question of what you will study but also how you will study it. British teachers expect learners to become responsible, independent, autonomous and self-motivated. So what does this mean?
You will be able to call your teachers by their first names. You must always follow the course and complete your homework or assignments on time. If you are ill or have other good reasons for not finishing work on time, your teachers will be understanding and give you as much help as they can. However teachers cannot help if students don’t do any work!
Your teachers appreciate students who know what their goals are. This could be to learn your subject for a special purpose, to pass an exam, to qualify for a job, or to study the subject as deeply as possible. If you are clear about your goals, your teachers can advise you on how to achieve them. In Britain you can find information to help with your studies in many places - in libraries, bookshops, online, and through television and radio programmes.
Your teachers will tell you where you can find information and how you can use it. They will give you advice on how you can explore your subject and make discoveries for yourself. However, you must be willing to go to teachers and ask for their help and advice. If you do, teachers will be happy to help, but they expect you to do the work.
Questions are the key to learning. If you ask your teachers good, relevant questions, you will show that you are interested in the subject. This also makes the classroom a more interesting place for learning. British teachers like being asked questions. Your fellow students are glad if you ask questions because it helps them learn too.
Teachers will ask you to speak during classes or seminars. This is part of the learning process, especially in language classes but also in other subjects. Speaking will help you form opinions and share them with others. When you speak your teachers are not judging or testing you, they are giving you a learning opportunity. The more you speak, the more you will improve, especially if you are a language learner.
Do not be surprised if your teachers make jokes. Many teachers like to create a relaxed atmosphere in the classroom. Studies show that many people learn better when they are not worried. It is also natural in Britain to make or share jokes during both work and leisure.
At Kings, there are also ‘free’ study periods. During this time you can study alone and make use of resources such as libraries and computers. Teachers expect you to make the best use of your time without being told what to do. Of course, you can always ask teachers for advice on how to use resources during these ‘free’ study periods.
Every group of students is different. Every class you are in will offer you learning opportunities. Your teacher will sometimes encourage members of the class to work together, in pairs, groups or the whole class. This might include work outside the classroom. These will be good learning opportunities. Think of your classmates as live ‘learning resources’. They can help you learn. You may also discover interests you have in common and become friends.
Our job at Kings is to give you an interesting and varied timetable of lessons and activities (this is called a ‘curriculum’) to best help you learn about English, the world, your own skills and the subjects you are interested in.
Students who are taking exam courses such as GCSE, A Level or Foundation have different timetables from students who are on shorter courses learning English. The information below describes the main differences.
University Preparation Courses
In general, these courses take a year or two years to complete, and lead to formal exams. Students will have lessons throughout the day from 8.40 until 17.15, including some lesson time for self-study. Special weeks will be used to practise exams or revise. Formal exams such as GCSE or A Level are mostly taken in May or June, though some can be earlier. Foundation students have two important exams sessions. These happen at two different times in the year. All of these students will have some or all of the activities below.
Academic English Lessons and IELTS Exams
Every student at Kings is studying and taking exams in their second language. These lessons are designed to help you learn the skills needed and styles of English used in British academic study. IELTS exams are designed to help students use the skills they need for university. Students will take two IELTS exams every year. An IELTS exam grade of 6.5 is usually needed for most British universities.
Your timetable will include subject lessons. Some will be compulsory and part of the college plan, and some will be chosen by you. Your Course Tutor and the Director of Studies will help you choose your subjects.
All young people of school age in the UK are required to take part in a Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education Programme as part of their studies. This helps all students understand more about themselves, their future, their role in society and the social pressures and emotional issues that face them as young people, and to help them become responsible adults.
As part of the PSHE Programme, Kings has written a policy on Sex and Relationships Education. Full details of Kings policies and procedures are available to view at: www.kingseducation.com/about-us/policies-and-procedures.html
Your teachers will tell you what books you will need for your courses. Students borrow the course books they need from the college’s Learning Resource Centre. Students are responsible for the books and for returning them at the end of their course.
Kings have written a policy on the college curriculum. Full details of Kings policies and procedures are available to view at: www.kingseducation.com/about-us/policies-and-procedures.html
In the classroom
Classrooms in Britain may be different from classrooms in your country. You may notice some changes in the way teachers and students act in class and the way we think students should learn. In British classrooms it is important to remember the following things.
The Role of Teachers
Instead of the teacher knowing everything about a subject and simply telling the students, the teacher will instead help the student to find out for his or herself. This is how university students on degree courses study.
In class, teachers will ask you questions directly, and want you to answer them. Teachers will put you in pairs or groups with other students to work and teachers will sometimes ask you to talk out loud, giving your ideas to the rest of the class.
In British classrooms and British exams, you will be asked to think about a subject, an event, a text or a problem and analyse arguments on both sides. This is called critical thinking.
The Role of Students
Above all, teachers want students to ask questions about the subject, and take an active part in the class. A question shows that you are interested in learning about the subject, and want to understand it better.
In many classroom activities, the teacher will want you to think about and speak about the subject. They will often ask your opinion or feelings about an idea. They may ask you to argue with an opinion or belief. You may be asked to argue a point of view with other students or even the teacher. This shows them that you are thinking independently and testing the strength of the evidence you are given.
Independent thinking is a very good student skill, and as you progress through the British Education system, you will be frequently tested that you can do this.
Learning by yourself
In Britain, the learner is in control of his or her learning. You must decide what you need to learn, and you must learn it by yourself, with your teacher’s help. If you want to succeed, you must take responsibility for your own success, and try to develop the skills to plan your studies and goals, know your strengths, know what you must improve, and challenge arguments and ideas.
Remember that most of your learning will not happen in the classroom. Study skills are very important to success. There are lots of ways you can help yourself become a better learner.
1. Take responsibility
You are the only person who can learn! If you don’t understand something, please ask, or even find the answer yourself.
2. Keep a Learning Diary or Study Plan
Write down important things you have learned and things you are not sure of in a learning diary. Look at your Learning Diary every day to see how much you have learned and how much progress you are making. Now, make a plan to learn the things you don’t know, and give yourself a time limit to learn them. This is a Study Plan.
Use new language again as soon as you can, in the next lesson, and again the next day. Make cards to learn words you don’t know. Look at the cards every day. Talk to your hosts or English friends. Watch films in English and listen to English conversations.
4. Organise your files and notes
Underline important things. Improve your notes. Use colour and highlighter pens. Put your work in order. Connect similar things. Make your worksheets look interesting and fun. When you have learned something, take it out of your file or store it at the back.
At the beginning of a lesson, think ‘What did I learn last time?’ and at the end, think ‘What did I learn today?’ Test your memory at the end of the day, and again at the end of the week. Make a revision plan. Work regularly with another student. Test each other.
6. Plan your Work and Social Time
Plan when to do your homework and reserve that time. Be strict with yourself and make sure you have some time for yourself or with your friends.
7. Be Kind to Yourself
To work well you need to be calm and wide awake. Take a break after each hour of study. If you are very ‘rushed’, take a moment to become calm (some calm music will help). If you are tired, play some lively music.
8. Be Positive
Don’t worry about mistakes - learn from them. Mistakes are steps to success.
What are your plans for study?
What do you want to learn?
Why do you want to learn?
What do you find easy?
What do you find difficult?
What is your favourite subject and why?
What do you plan to study next year?
What grades do you need to do this?
It is important to think about your answers to these questions as they will help you study better, make better progress and stay motivated. For this reason, you should make a monthly learning plan.
Study Plans normally ask you to choose between three and five targets, or aims, for the next month. These should be things that you have problems with (such as spelling, pronunciation or remembering vocabulary) that you know you can solve within a month. The Study Plan will ask you to write this down and find a way to show you have learned these well.
A good target should be:
- Specific (this means with clear, detailed information)
- Measurable (this means you can count how much it has changed)
- Achievable (this means you think you can do it)
- Realistic (this means it is real and possible)
- Timed (this means you can give it a time limit)
Did you know...
If you are on a course that is longer than 12 weeks, you must agree a Study Plan with The Director of Studies or a Senior Teacher. This means that you will plan together what you need to learn, and how quickly you will learn it. Your progress will be part of your report.
Homework is an important part of learning by yourself and helping memory by testing what you studied in the classroom. It is a good way of thinking independently and develops good study skills. Every student is expected to do between one and two hours’ homework each day.
Always use a homework diary, and prioritise the homework you need to do most urgently. Check you understand the homework before leaving the lesson. If you feel you have too much or too little homework to do, speak to your Director of Studies.
We know that homework is as important a part of your learning as the work you do in the classroom. For this reason, homework is not a choice, and is one of the College Rules (see the section on Your Conduct). You will be expected to complete every piece of homework well, and on time.
Tests and Assessments
You will be tested and assessed regularly while you learn at Kings. Sometimes the teacher will test you, or a classmate will test you, and sometimes you will test yourself. Some tests will be formal, such as an exam paper, and some more relaxed, such as the teacher asking you to give an answer.
It’s important to remember that all assessments are very useful because they help you and the teacher know what you have learned, and what you still need to learn. This helps you to become a better learner and stronger student.
Kings have written a policy on Assessment. Full details of Kings policies and procedures are available to view at: www.kingseducation.com/about-us/policies-and-procedures.html
Tips for language learning outside class
At Kings, learning happens 24/7. Even when you don’t realise, you’re actually learning!
You can always schedule time with a teacher for guidance and support. You can also access the Computer Learning Centre between lessons to develop your language skills. Wireless internet access in every college means you can use your laptop to keep learning on the move.
You’ll want to learn as much English as possible whilst you’re at Kings. To help you learn as quickly as possible, here are some tips which you will find useful. Try to do at least one of these activities every day!
- Watch English television — we especially recommend watching soap operas and the news!.
- If you like soap operas, ask your host family to recommend a good one and to tell you the story
- Listen to the radio — BBC Radio 4 or Radio 5 Live are talk radio stations with lots of discussions
- Keep a diary in English and try to write a few lines every day
- Read an English book — your Course Director can recommend a book at your level
- Write your postcards in English
- Send emails to your friends and family in English.
- Visit lots of English websites
- Talk to your host family and offer to help them at home — you’ll learn lots of new words and your host family will appreciate your help
- Talk to other students in English
- Go shopping — ask where things are, ask if they have things in your size, etc.
- Read magazines and newspapers in which you’re interested
- Use your imagination and think in English.
- When you’re on the bus or walking to college, look around you and try and describe the things or people you can see. Use your imagination to make up stories about them. This will help you think in English!
- Use an English-English dictionary
- Revise the words you learnt in class when you go home
- Try to learn 10 new words or phrases every day. Try and use these words as often as you possibly can!
- Watch videos at college
- Come to college for activities — you’ll have fun and make new friends
The student portal is a service which provides all students with secure access to a host of key information. This information is pulled directly from the school's central management information system (MIS). It also runs a full virtual learning environment. The portal is 100% web based meaning you just need a web browser to use it. It works from in school and from any location around the world that has internet access.
At present students can access the following information:
- Sets and Teaching Groups - including set history
- School Reports
- Public Exams - including your exam entries, timetable, results and exam options
- Virtual Learning Environment
To login to the student portal go to: student-bournemouth.kingseducation.com/api/login/
When you log in you will be presented with your home page, which shows your timetable (today and tomorrow), latest content on the intranet that is linked to subjects you study, your teachers (with e-mail links) and your teaching groups (sets). When you first log in you can register your mobile phone and choose a nickname. It’s important to do this as the Virtual Learning Environment will use SMS to alert you about new content, home work, tests etc.
VLE - Virtual Learning
A virtual learning environment (VLE) is a software system designed to help teachers and students with course administration and to supplement the face-to-face classroom. The system can track students' progress, which can be monitored by both teachers and students.
A teacher’s report helps you know what you do well, and what you could do even better. Students on courses of 4-12 weeks will receive a report at the end of their course. Students on longer courses will receive a report every 4-12 weeks.
The Content of the Report
Reports are written to help, and not to punish students. These will give information on what has been done well, and recommendations for what could be done better. Reports will often use all or some of the following words:
- Attendance (how often you have been in class)
- Attitude (how much you want to study)
- Behaviour or Conduct (how well you act and study in class)
- Language (How much your language is the right level for your study)
- Motivation (How much energy you have to study and learn more)
- Participation (how much you are part of the activities in the class and the school community)
- Potential (how much you could be better)
- Progress (How quickly you get better)
- Punctuality (how often you are on time to class)
- Current grade (what grade you have based on your work now)
- Predicted grade (what grade you would get based on your work so far)
- Aspirational Grade (the maximum grade you would get if you worked hard)
After the Report
We are very interested in how you feel about the report, so you will also have a chance to give your thoughts (this is called ‘feedback’) to your teacher or Director of Studies about the report.
Remember that a report will give you clear information on how to get better, so please use it. If you don’t understand any part of a report, always ask your teacher to explain it to you. A copy of every report is sent to your parents, if they are the fee-payers.
Kings has an Assessment Policy which describes the importance of assessing our students’ learning. Full details of Kings policies and procedures are available to view at: www.kingseducation.com/about-us/policies-and-procedures.html