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Happy Holidays

Stacey College will be closed from 19th December until 5th January 2015.

Wishing you a very merry Christmas and a happy new Year.

Please take a moment to read about what has been going on at our college during 2014 in our newsletter that can be downloaded below.

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Aussie Christmas

Down the Rabbit Hole-Stuck in Zhengzhou Part 1

I am writing this blog sitting in a hotel in the middle of a dark hotel room in Zhengzhou, China. Zhengzhou is meant to be a stopover between many larger cities. Zhengzhou is a middle point between two places and Zhengzhou5not often a destination, even though it is a capital city. The fact that I am writing this from a hotel in this city says a lot about how my day has gone. First of all let me say that it is no surprise to anyone that I have a love affair with China. I adore this country. I fly, and to say I hate flying is an understatement, so that I can come to this country.  Having said that, there are days when it throws me for a loop and today was one of those days.
I lost my patience today with several people. I will no doubt be referred to as tiny crazy lady, or dragon lady, in this city for a long time because I got a little peeved. I did not yell, but most people who speak Chinese as a second language will say there are some times when it would be better for everyone around them if they couldn’t speak the language. For me today was one of those times. I checked into my flight at Shenyang airport and the flight was supposed to go to Kunming. At check in I was  informed that I would be changing flights in Zhengzhou and it was not just a stopover. I would actually have to get a new ticket and change planes. “OK” I said politely, “Would I have enough time?” The lady at Zhengzhou8the check in counter replied, “Oh certainly, more than enough.” I had my doubts so I later asked at the gate and found that this person thought I would definitely not have enough time if without someone to help me. “Tell the flight attendant,” she said, “she will arrange for someone to meet you and transfer you.” I then asked, “OK, well I have an international flight leaving from Beijing the next day, I am meant to fly to Kunming for a meeting then immediately after, fly to Beijing, so are there many daily flights from Zhengzhou to Beijing?” She replied, “Oh yes naturally!” Newton’s law went into effect here. A little voice said, “Switch airlines or flights now!” But I ignored the voice, I was already checked in and, I thought,I am not that person that screams about broken phalanges and gets off the plane. (Watch Friends the TV show.) So I took the flight, which arrive a half an hour late, and no one met me to help transfer me so, no, I didn’t make my flight to Kunming.

Zhengzhou7

Zhengzhou

I finally found the domestic ticket desk at Zhengzhou airport, (see picture of airport above to the right), and some people who were reluctantly willing to help me. (At this point I had already gotten put out with the people at the transfer desk who couldn’t help and now was actually power walking mad so their reluctance was very understandable). There was not much they could do though. There were no more flights to Kunming today. The flights the next day were too late to arrive in time for my meeting. Surprise, surprise there were also no more flights to Beijing because there are not, as I had previously been told, many daily flights from Zhengzhou to Beijing. So I cancelled my meetings in Kunming with embarrassment and as much grace as I could manage and moved on to booking a ticket for Beijing tomorrow.
20507975064be68c6999116This sounds easy and it would have been but I am in a city where people are not supposed to stop or do things like buy brand new tickets so I could not pay with foreign currency or used my MasterCard to pay for the ticket. The banks were closed so I couldn’t exchange any of the three other types of foreign currency I had. So, I had to call my husband, have him purchase the ticket online and send me the confirmation while also looking up hotels. Then I had to confirm the flight with the airline which I had been told to do. Shoot to a picture of me still in the airport four hours later.
You may think my story is  finally over, I have a plane ticket for Beijing and a reservation at a trusted hotel chain. “It wasn’t so bad after all”, you might be thinking. You would be wrong because as of this moment the electricity has gone off in the entire hotel and here I sit in the dark writing a blog because that is all there is left to do. You can read about how I ended up in a dark hotel room writing a blog in part 2, coming soon!

Happy Holidays

Thanks to everyone for your support this year. As you can see from the slow down in blog posts things have got very busy with lots of new students. You can download our newsletter 2 to read about the year.

Wishing you all a very happy Christmas and a safe and prosperous New Year.

Aussie Christmas

Get Reading with Free Magazines

ZinioI am always telling my students to read, read, read – whatever you can get your hands on!

Well today I have a great offer for Stacey College blog readers: 10 free magazine subscriptions from Zinio of varying lengths.

All you have to do is fill out the form below with your full name, email address and title of choice. Once all ten subscriptions are taken I can send the details to Zinio and you will be sent your free magazine.

Stacey College will not share your details with anyone other than Zinio.country style june cover

You can check out the range of magazines at www.zinio.com

For English as a Second Language students here are a few recommendations:

National GeographicIntermediate: Taste , Your Garden, Country Style

Advanced: National Geographic, Forbes, The Economist

As the magazine is free why not pick one on a topic that interests you and check it out.

NOTE: Stacey College has not received any payment or free products for this post.

Australian English

The article below, published in today’s Australian newspaper, states that by one count 300 Million Chinese are currently learning English. A lot of these Chinese begin their English learning journey at home in China. Some are in for a shock when they arrive in Australia and find that the English they have learnt is a little more ‘Chinglish’ than English. The article refers to a phrase ‘Thanks for your listening” that may be accepted as good English until coming to Australia.

This problem is not unique to Chinese English learners. Most people who learn English before they come to Australia still have some language adjustment to face once they get here. Australian English is a strange breed! Sometimes we pronounce and spell like the British, sometimes like the Americans, sometimes both ways are acceptable, and then sometimes we throw in our own version! We like to speak casually, with contractions abounding, mixed in with strange idioms as well as the usual sprinkling of phrasal verbs. Many people who have studied English for years outside of Australia are mortified when they find their English skills don’t allow them to understand basic social conversations, or even the news on TV!

What we need to remember is that each part of the world has its own particular version of language, and it is no different with English. Accents are blurring with new phrases and idioms as English spreads throughout the world. One of the great things about English is the way it has taken on words from other languages throughout the centuries. It is this metamorphosing quality of English that keeps it changing, evolving, and continuing to be useful and relevant in rapidly changing world. So whether you speak Chinglish or Anglish (Australian English) remember that second language speakers of English now out number first language speakers, so if you really want a phrase to be part of the English language, you just need to find a way to persuade people that it should be in there!

What’s a word of phrase that is used outside of Australia that you think we should adopt as part of our English?

WARNING: If you are preparing for an IELTS exam (or other such English testing) best to just use the already agreed upon official English. Save the arguments for new words or phrases for lively discussions around the barbie!

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Perth Backpackers

oneworldbackpackers

If you are planning to stay at a backpackers in Perth, let me give a few recommendations. I have visited most fo the backpackers in Perth and two stand out. One World Backpackers in Aberdeen St and YHA on Wellington St.

One World Backpackers was a breathe of fresh air after visiting all the other places in Northbridge. An extra couple of minutes walk were well worth it, as the place was clean, had the feeling of a house rather than a dingey fortress, friendly reception staff, and even a garden out the front. I was so impressed that I went and looked up their website and discovered that they are a family business. Well, it really shows. If I was going to stay at a backpackers in Perth I would choose them.

YHA PerthThe YHA also impressed me with its clean and professional feel. It is huge compared to all the other places. If you’re looking for a place with the lot and well run, the Y is the place for you.

Have you stayed at a backpackers in Perth? I would love to hear your feedback on any of the local places.

Travel Agent Partnership

Studentunitravel_logoStacey College is pleased to announce that we have entered into a partnership with Student Uni Travel and Backpackers World Travel. This partnership allows us to offer our students a dedicated travel agency to look after all their travel needs.

Whether it is day tours from Perth or seeing more of Australia or the world. Student Uni Travel has offices all over Australia with staff that speak a number of languages. They are here to help you and make your travelling experience exceptional! Stay tuned for some great study tour packages as we work together with our new partners to come up with some exciting offers!

Backpackers world travel_logo

So drop in the local branch at 236 William St, Northbridge and say hi to Carla and the gang.

What’s Your Travel Story?

aust_globe1Beyond the name, job, family basic introduction questions, why not try asking people about their travel story?

Mine goes something like this…

Born in Bangladesh to Australian parents I was a foreigner. At 2 years old I travelled to New Zealand and Australia with my family. Only my family could understand me as I spoke a mixture of Bengali and English. Back in Bangladesh we had the occasional holidays in Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore. At 8 years old I travelled regularly to India to go to boarding school. When I was 10 years old the family returned to Australia to settle. No longer a foreigner, but I still felt like one. I saved every penny of my junk mail delivery, babysitting and Chicken Treat money until at 16 years old I paid for myself to return to India to visit my old boarding school. I final goodbye I guess, then time to move on. At 19 I visited Scotland and Ireland with a friend. Married at 21, I have travelled around Australia with my husband and family seeing Queensland, Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales, living in all of those states except QLD. After a couple of years in Mandurah I find myself back in Perth and really coming to love this city and feel at home.

Travelling these days involves 2 trips a year to Switzerland, hopefully a trip to Beijing this year, and quick trips to Melbourne to see family.

A whirlwind summary of my travel story – but if we were sitting having coffee I’m sure it would open up plenty of opportunity for conversation.

What’s your travel story?

Happy Christmas

Things have been very busy at Stacey College. You can download our first newsletter below to see everything that has been happening.

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Most importantly we have our Fulltime English course beginning on February 4th 2013. See the website for full details.

We will be closed for 2 weeks over Christmas, and will return on the 7th January 2013 ready for a fantastic new year!

From us at Stacey College we wish you a merry Christmas and a safe and happy New Year.

nativityNativity by Samara Muhlhan.

Finding Time to Learn a New Language

treasure-chestThe last thing a busy person need is another job to put on the list. What they really need is more fun. So instead of making the issue of time another chore where you must rearrange your schedule, why not make it more like an adventure. Time is the treasure. You are the Treasure Hunter. Time is there. We all have it. Try getting creative and finding that hidden time in your day that could be used for something important. Here’s some examples from my life.

language CDs1. Driving to work – great time to listen to a language CD/tape or foreign radio. Depending on how long it takes you to get to work, this could be a substantial part of your learning time. And the great thing about being in the car is that you can practise your speaking without worrying about too many people listening (only your passengers).

2. Public Transport to work – You can still do the listening, but will probably be limited with your speaking practise! If you are privileged to have a seat it would be a good time to practise your reading and writing.

flashcards3. Waiting to pick up children – If you have kids you will know how much time in your week is spent sitting waiting to pick up your children. Apart from school 5 days a week there are after school activities, and if you have a few children, this time really adds up. So keep a few memory cards in the car so you can use those snippets of time to practise what you’ve been learning. You can even get flashcards for you mobile phone! Every little bit counts. Little and often is the best.

4. Computer Time: There are plenty of great free online language tools. Pick one and spend 5 minutes a day playing on there. Here are some sites I have found helpful:

duolingoBusuu

Memrise

Duolingo

Tranparent Language

learnchineseeveryday (This one I have only just found but looks really good for Chinese!)

Apart from the last one, I have used all these resources and enjoyed them. Some are better for particular languages. Get in there and have a go and see which one you like. There are so many resources out there, just start with one.

If you are already using sites let me know which ones you like.

5. Stick words around the house – this is a classic one and so effective. After the initial work of making your signs, all you do and go about your normal business and you are continually reminded of the words you are learning because they are staring you in the face. The added bonus is that there is a visual memory tag that goes with the word – stick the word to the thing – “book” on a book, “table” on the table etc. See the movie The Colour Purple for a great example of this!

words around the house

Please let me know how your treasure hunt for time goes, and where you uncover that hidden time that allows you to do something new (like learn a language) today!