Hey guys, sorry it’s already this late, but I haven’t had the chance to post any time sooner today.
In this post I’m going to tell you all about my time at a local language school. Starting with my enrollment to some of the lessons. Not only wanted my host family for me to go to a language school, but I also wanted to go to one to get the Cambridge Language Certificate in the end.
On the 3rd August, just on my third day here, my host mum brought me to a Language school in Finchley Central, which is just two Tube Stations or a 25-30 minutes walk from where I lived. Since the school was still on summer break, I just could do my interview so they can estimate my level and tell me in what class I could take part in.
For the interview I had to do a small test where I just had to choose between four words which one is the right to but in a gap in a text. After the gap text I had to write a 50 word story about either London or my hometown (I obviously choose Trier) and then I had a little chat with one of the teachers there. Apparently I was really good and just got one word wrong. They said that I would need to attend the Advanced Level classes, but I would need to come in September to start and then I could also do my trial lesson first.
When September finally came around, Amelie and I went to Language School on Monday morning, but they sent me back because the Advanced Class wouldn’t start until Wednesday so I would need to come back two days later.
So on Wednesday, 14th September, we went back to the Language school and did our free trial lesson. Because school just started, they haven’t figured out who would teach the class yet so we had a substitute teacher named Thomas. He was a really fun guy and we had a good lesson.
Amelie had to go to another class so she wasn’t part of my class, but there were three other girls. Giulia and Benedetta, both italians and Au Pairs too, who were already a definite part of the class and Rosa, a brazilian who also was there for her trial lesson.
After the lesson I decided that I want to enroll in this school, but because I wasn’t sure on how many weeks I would have to do they offered me a mock exam for Friday.
On Friday I then went back to the college and did my mock exam. Because I want to try to get at least the Level C1 Certificate, I had to do the CAE (Cambridge Advanced Exam). The Exam is subdivided in four different parts: 1. Reading and Use of English; 2. Writing; 3. Listening; 4. Speaking.
The first part is again subdivided into 8 different parts, where you would have to fill in some words, find a different version of a word or just answer questions to a text. One of the hardest ist the gapped text, where a text is divided into paragraphs and some paragraphs have been taken out of the text and you have to fit them back in, in the right order. But the hardest really is to finish all the tasks in just 90 minutes!
The second part consists of two different texts you have to write. The first is compulsory and mostly just an essay. For the second text you can choose between three different writing tasks. This could be a proposal, a report, a letter or a review. Again you have to finish the task within 90 minutes and make sure you don’t have more or less than 220-260 words.
The third part is the listening. Here you have to listen to conversations and choose the right answer, complete sentences and multiple matching, where you have to complete two tasks at one. For this task you’ve got 40 minutes but that isn’t a problem, since this part is led by a CD. The problem here is more the listening part itself.
Luckily I haven’t had to do the fourth part, but even if I would’ve done it, it wouldn’t have been a problem at all.
Before I could do the mock exam I had to enroll at the school, so they could make sure that I’m actually staying with them, before they put all the work in. The enrollment fee is £25 and I’ve paid a £5 deposition. I couldn’t pay for the whole course already, because it depends on how many weeks you’re doing.
The following Wednesday Amelie and I went back to language school. She also took a test on Friday and was able to move a class up and was now part of my class. We now also had a teacher from this school: Emma. She also was the one who interviewed me in August and organised the whole mock exam thing for me.
After class she told me my test results: 70%! You need 60% to pass the test and because I’m also taking lessons, Emma told me that I can even try to get the higher Level C2. For this I would have to take the CPE (Cambridge-Proficiency-Exam), but she thinks that I could actually manage it. On my request on how many weeks I should do, she said that 2 days a week for 6 weeks in total would be absolutely fine.
Luckily my grandfather said he would help me pay for it, because Language schools in England are really expensive and I would never be able to pay for it with the money I earn by working as an Au Pair.
So from then on, Amelie and I walked all the way from North Finchley to the Language school every Wednesday and Friday morning from 9.30am to 12.45pm. After around two weeks Giulia left London to go back to Italy and therefore also left the class. But before she could leave Enrico, also from Italy, joined our class.
I really loved going to language school. Not only did we learn a lot there, but I also found good friends there. Even Emma, our teacher became in a way a friend of us. She would always listen to the problems we were facing at the moment and would try to give us an advice. Because of that it sometimes felt like a support-group for Au Pairs, but we still would connect it to learning english. Talking about our problems helps us to get more fluently and confident in talking and she would always correct us, so we still would learn something.
This class, which really was more like a group of friends, helped me a lot in deciding if I change the family or not. They wouldn’t tell me what to do, but their reactions to the things I’ve told them, made it clear for me that it definitely is not a normal behaviour.
But they not only helped me in making the decision, but one girl especially (apart from Amelie, because we are friends even outside of the classroom) helped me out after I left my family and had nowhere to go. Even though she was an Au Pair herself, she offered me to stay with her for one night.
Sometimes the school has a test day. That means that every class has to write a test, so they can see if we’re improving and for the lower classes if someone can even move up a class. Before I left I we had one of those test days and it was just annoying. In a way the test was nothing more than a mock exam. But we didn’t really want to write a test so we could convince Emma to at least do the writing part in the next lesson.
In my last week with the family, Amelie and I’s friend Kathi joined our class at the language school. This time it wasn’t Emma who was teaching us, but a guy named Tony. Because he looks a bit like Voldemort, we gave him Voldemort as a nickname, but never told him so. He thinks his nickname could be Dumbledore, because he is the head of the teachers and sometimes is referred to being the headmaster. Tony is actually a really funny guy and his lessons are also really good. But his lessons are a lot different to Emma’s. Even though he jokes with us, his whole demeanour is more serious and in a way he is more challenging than Emma is.
During his lesson he would dictate us some phrases and we had to write them down as we heard them or what we thought he said. This was funny, annoying and frustrating at the same time. Annoying and frustrating mostly because we just wouldn’t get it right. But it was all the same so funny, because of the things some of us understood. One time Tony dictated the phrase “I don’t find them easy” and Enrico understood “I don’t find a museum”, which was so funny at that moment.
After this lesson I signed up for a few weeks break. Not only because I was between families, but also because my exam would be in December the earliest. Right at the beginning I decided I would do 4 weeks of language school now and then would do the last 2 weeks just before my exam, so I’m well prepared.
When I first took the break I planned to be back in the last two weeks of November to do the CPE (C2) on the 1st December, but I now decided that I’ll wait until January and do the CAE (C1) then instead.
I decided to do the CAE (C1) instead of the CPE (C2), because you automatically get the C2 Certificate when you get 80% or more in the CAE.
On the Wednesday I had to leave my family I went to the language school to meet Benedetta there and we all did another mock exam where I got 80% without the speaking part, so I would definitely get the C2 Certificate. But even when if it will go wrong during the final exam, I would still have the C1 Certificate, while I would have nothing if I wouldn’t pass the CPE.
So now I’m on break until January, but I want to go back to the language school one or two times to do another round of mock exams and maybe finally even do the speaking part of the exam.
However I have to say that this school is really good and the staff tries his best to help you as much as they can. They even helped me during the time where I had’t found my family yet and are cooperative with whatever problem you have.
Sadly my working hours never allowed me to take part in any of their programs, but just so you know, the school has regularly events scheduled. If it’s a sightseeing trip on a boat, a Halloween party or just ice skating at Alexander Palace. They really try to form a community and to bring their students into contact.
I’ve really missed going to school while I was away and I still do! It’s not only learning. It really is coming together for a few hours of fun and leaving with a better knowledge of the language we have to speak on a daily basis now.
At the end I just want to include a thank you to Emma and the Nacel English School London!
nacel English School London
See you tomorrow (or for most of you later today)