Monday, 19 December 2016

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Read Read Read

Many agree that the biggest hindrance to a child succeeding in all forms of English tests (reading, writing and comprehension) is down to the amount of reading they have done form infancy. Unfortunately, boys tend to read less generally than girls and therefore they find these English test disciplines difficult to master. A top private school's headteacher told a gathering of parents who asked: "How can my son/daughter improve her general English skills?" to which the head replied: "Reading, reading and more reading!" 
Writing can be developed from all the genres of reading that pupils have enjoyed, as the imagination will be sparked by good books. Discussing an idea first can then be developed until a story unfolds, writing it down in stages as the the story develops. The draft can then be edited together with your tutor and then in bite sizes, if necessary, it can be written out in its final stage.
Reading and writing will help you to improve the way you communicate to others too and comprehension skills will follow as your confidence in words and their meanings in sentences of books and texts will equip you with the ability to answer questions in any test with consummate ease. There is a knack to answering comprehension questions accurately and this is READ and understand the question, refer back to the text, and then write your answer. Re-read the question and the answer you have given to check they make sense! It's as easy as that!
All these skills will be improved by reading lots of different books, fact and fiction which will lead to a greater understanding of words and their meaning. Reading is for life not just for school. Your power to express and communicate on all topics will be greatly enhanced.

Saturday, 29 October 2016

Life Coaching

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” ― Nelson Mandela

Email for more information and to book your free assessment.

Extending ourselves beyond what is familiar by relating to people who are older than us can offer meaningful life lessons and character strengths.

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Einstein quotes

Everyone is a genius, but if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree it will live its life believing it is stupid. #Einstein

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Helpful English Puzzles

We are so used to being drilled for comprehension questions or creative writing essays that we forget that our brain can work in other ways. If you do not exercise your brain with puzzles and challenges that help you to think divergently, then you could be thrown by these questions.

Here are some ideas to help you use your brain in a more creative way so that when you are faced with these questions, you know how to think -
1. Write down 5-10 random letters. E.g. F S T L M. Then think of a sentence where each word starts with the next letter. Eg, Fred Simmonds tells lies maliciously. It really helps you focus on being grammatically correct as well as finding different ways to start sentences. Also, you could experiment with adding punctuation such as dashes or semi-colons.
2. Make a 3x3 grid and fill it with random letters. Then see how many words you can make from the letters and find the word with the most letters from the grid. This obviously helps with spelling but also rhyme and analogy.
3. Word chains. Think of a topic such as fruit. Write a word connected to that topic e.g. 'banana'. Then write another connected word beginning with the last letter of the previous word eg 'apple'. See how long you can keep going. This helps with developing vocabulary and spelling. I have used all these warm ups, and the children who participated found them both stimulating and enjoyable.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Shoreham Beach Summer 2016. 

A tiny spacecraft landing on a stone while a woman walks her dog nearby.

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Jimmy Murphy in Lanzarote

Jimmy Murphy is a famous singer and entertainer I met a few years ago when I went to see my friend Michael play keyboards in Murphy`s Irish bar. It was a great night. Jimmy is very funny and can impersonate any Irish accent perfectly. He knows Ireland too like the back of his hand.

If you are ever in Lanzarote make sure you go and see Jimmy and say hello from me.

Friday, 24 June 2016

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Are you in a Good Mood?

I love this photo. It is so simple yet so effective. I think it is easier said than done to decide to be in a good mood, however.

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

“Sure you know yourself”

THE time when an Irish person could both simultaneously dodge a question and answer it may be coming to a close, as an international court ruling has demanded an explanation for the expression “sure you know yourself”.
For decades, people from all across Ireland have skilfully steered conversations to their liking by simply responding to any question or query with the catch-all phrase.
“Sure you know yourself”, originally coined by Michael Collins in 1921 when someone asked him how he got on in England, is both an answer to a question and a deflection; something no other phrase in the English language can lay claim to.
However, overuse of the phrase in recent times has led to a UN ruling that either the statement be explained in full, or struck from use altogether.
“No, we don’t know ourselves,” said Mbutu Costello, chief spokesperson for the UN “nonsense-deactivation” committee.
“Please replace this statement with one that makes sense. You can’t just keep using it in conversation while acting like it makes sense. We appreciate  that it’s easy to withhold information about yourself by dodging direct questions with a nonsensical phrase, but it’s annoying and nobody likes it”.
The Irish government is to fight the ruling, stating that it is every Irish citizen’s right to be able to tell you to mind your own fucking business without sounding rude. 

Friday, 27 May 2016

A Great Poem

You`re The Girl In The Book
From Sean Gunning`s book, No Samaritan. Out now £8.70 email

Wednesday, 25 May 2016


Structure, structure, structure!
One of the great things about teaching IELTS is that most of the questions are similar, and even though they increase in level of difficulty throughout, they can all be written to a structure. With the writing tasks, ensure that students include all the necessary information in an essay, such as thesis statementtopic sentences,supporting ideaswell-constructed paragraphs and a conclusion with no new information. Achieving this formula is the half-way point to achieving a decent score. For writing, one of our favourite tasks is what we call a ‘Mini-Essay’. A Mini-Essay builds the students skills by focusing on the structure rather than the overall content. The student must write an introductionbody paragraph and a conclusion.
Practice, practice, practice!
The final tip about the IELTS test that the students must do to succeed is to practice as often as they can. Doing exercises and practice tests is helpful, but can lead to burnout over time. Students can also gain a strong understanding of grammatical structures, speaking and listening from a wide range of media sources. Watching the news should be able to help students with vocabulary relating to science that may come up on the reading test, while providing them with a range of different accents. Reading magazine or news articles is a great way to improve the pace of reading.

Friday, 6 May 2016

Park Life

This photo was taken on May 5th 2016 while out walking in Walpole park in Ealing.

 I like the contrast of the bright pink blossom and the dark green tree behind it. The  water in the duck pond also reflects the pink blossom and the bright blue sky.

Thursday, 5 May 2016

English Grammar The Third Conditional

If + past perfect, would + have + past participle

If I had Paid attention I wouldn`t have got lost.

Friday, 18 March 2016

Great song lyrics

He is awful shifty for a man of fifty.

  By Brendan Shine.


Sup up your beer and collect your fags

there`s a row going on down in Slough. 

By The Jam      

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Beyond Words

"We all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars" Oscar Wilde, Lady Windermere`s fan.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

How Irish are you?

I consider myself to be half Irish. Is this really true? Both my parents were born in Ireland and emigrated to England in the early 1960`s. That makes me Irish right? My parents parents were Irish and as far as I know my great great grand parents were too.

Why then do I feel I need to resist wearing a stupid Irish hat on St Patrick`s Day? I don`t want to go out and listen to the same old Irish folk songs that I used to hate, that now I quite like. Yet if I don`t go out and join in I feel I am missing out that I am not part of the gang. This need to feel part of a group to fit in somewhere is strong still. I want to be around some friends in a bar and relax and share some stories because that is what we do. Now I am older I don`t wish to drink all day. I still like the idea of having some Irish stew or Mum`s bacon and cabbage. I want to mark the day in some way. It is a tradition which I want to keep. I sometimes dream that England will play Ireland in a World Cup final game or Euro final soon. I am Irish right so I want Ireland to win of course !

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Walking Along Beachy Head

What is he thinking as he walks towards me?
Why are we here?
What are we having for tea?
The walk is long the distance is so far.
At the top the sea is so vast and so blue.
The day is warm no need for a jumper or coat.
The day is slow no need for haste.
Our time together goes so fast.
Time now to think and ponder
Time to move and to enjoy.
The path we have travelled is not the same.
The stories and images are ours to keep.
We have walked at a different pace
We look the same but we speak in a different way.

Perivale Poem

Born in Perivale

Not far from Percy Bilton Bridge
I first learned to read and write and pray at St John Fishers
In the street I scored my first goals
I strived to be a Wiseman in Greenford senior school
Sadly this was where I also had to say goodbye to my brother.
The Perivale train I rode to work day after day
So many people in the same race the pace was too fast the cost too high
So one day I stopped taking that same train and left that race.

Now I am home, not far from Flynns And The Fox
Discarded beer cans lying blinking in the rain
Many mini-markets selling food from far places
CCTV cameras and speed-bumps like fallen soldiers
Thousands of tweets, selfies, likes n txts
A Celtic son still close to his Fairfields of home.