Select English Blog


Hello, I’d like to introduce the Select English blog. This new venture will explore all the different ‘happenings’ around our language school and outside events too.

Select English is a family run school and because of this, there is an emphasis on care and achievement. Alongside learning English, we want all of our students to feel welcomed and comfortable enough to make the most out of their time in Cambridge.

Enjoy our new Blog!

Outside Our Station Road School



Student AchieversSocialStudent InterviewStaff InterviewIELTS AdviceNews

Teaching is always rewarding, but sometimes you receive a letter like this:


My name is Nadja. I am Russian. I had been studied in Select English for three months. That three months not only improved my English, but opened my mind and broadened my horizon. I had a chance to meet many people from different countries; many wonderful people with their original outlook on life experience and opinion.  Thanks to the professionalism of well trained teachers, we had a lot of chances to discuss with each other many different topics, increase our knowledge about politics, economics, culture and history of classmate’s homeland; and also get to know each other better.

I am especially grateful to my first teacher Nadine and Andy. They have created a warm and homely atmosphere from the first day I arrived to school. Thanks to them I didn’t spend my time for the adaptation and quickly joined the stream of study with other students.

After three months I understand how I improved my language skills and I’m proud of myself. Thanks to the attention to detail from teachers I also understood my weak sides and it motivated me to continue to improve my English in my country.

I am grateful to all the people who shared with me these challenging but unforgettable three months.


Leaving with a new confidence in English Language

Select English Student Review

Thank you to 王瑞琦
This post was beautiful and we thank you for your words and pictures:
When I just arrived Cambridge , I had no friends until I met them. After that I got lots of enthusiastic teachers , friendly classmates , I really respect them because they are all kindhearted and hardworking people . I’ll never forget the memories we had together. They’ll never be instead of anybody . I love these people, I love select English.

Select English BBQ

Friday the 22nd of August was the best Friday for several reasons; the first being that it was the start of another Bank Holiday weekend and the second was the lovely weather we had for our student/staff BBQ.  The student/staff BBQ coincided with a visit from English UK, who were on a ‘Spring Inward Mission’.  The mission brought up to 12 invited overseas agents to the UK enabling them to view first-hand the diverse range of accredited ELT on offer.

The day kicked off with the Marketing team planning the set-up of the BBQ and the purchases of fresh food, all while making sure Select English’s guest were also shown around. Our Select English teachers were of course on hand to help out, with Nadine taking over the BBQ once Alex – AKA Mr BBQ – had to welcome the guests.

The weather improved each hour and the food was completely finished off. Finally a game of table tennis took place centre stage of the BBQ, with the staff competing against the students.


Student Manifesto

The Select English students took to their political podium to get votes from you! Which party would you vote for?

The Edision Party: Would… Provide free coffee for all students at school. Provide unlimited supply of free sweets for all students. Create free water points in cities so that people don’t need to buy bottled water; which is a waste of plastic. Provide free bus passes for foreign students.

The Select Party: Would… Lower the cost of public transport. Change the closing time of shopping centres to 9pm daily. Reduce the tax for the poor and increase for the rich. Increase entertainment facilities and enrich people’s lifestyles.

Caption This!

We thought it would be fun to make some of our pictures from the last few months into magazine style front covers.

Send us your pictures and we’ll do the same for you!



At Select English we are running a monthly competition for the best photo that highlights how much fun you have with your group, outside of the classroom.

The prize are cinema tickets to The Light Cinema at the Leisure Centre in Cambridge.

We only ask that the student submit their photo to Facebook and tag their picture, which will also be displayed on our board! May’s winner has been announced, keep posted for pictures and keep submitting photos for June.

We love your active photos!

We love your active photos!

Group Day Out!

Select English enjoy taking bookings from International Groups. This gives us a chance to meet people from all over the world, and in turn have them meet us.  We offer flexibility and encourage groups to tailor their length of stay to suit them.

The group are ready for the day!

The group are ready for the day!

Recently, we had a two week group booking from Indonesia. This group trips consist of English lessons in the morning from 9 am until 12 noon.  Afternoons are then spent playing sports and most enjoyably; touring Cambridge.

Weekends were spent going slightly further afield in order to explore more of England. On Sunday we went to London via the train and underground; this was a different experience for the group, as previously they had been on coach trips. But the train journey itself proved to be exciting, with green fields zooming by and the blue sky being full of planes.

The sights from the train

The sights from the train

The next stop was London’s Kings Cross station.  For anyone who has been there it is a place buzzing with excitement and new architectural design. The group had fun learning to say ‘ticket’ like Londoners, and then piling themselves into the small underground tube carriages. Playing count the stops (nine to South Kensington) proved popular; as did guessing which side of the tube door would open next for exiting.

Finally, we were at our destination; time for the Science Museum, the Natural History Museum and Harrods.

It was great to see the students engage with the interactive elements of the Science Museum; the space section on the ground floor being the popular stop. Especially, sitting to watch the 3D globe telling the story of Human effects on the World (plus it was a chance to rest our legs).

Overall, it was a good day and most important of all was the weather. With a spring Sun; London did not let us down.

Punting Day! A View of River Cam

During the final week of April, Select English students took to river and went punting. Luckily nobody fell and that the smiles remained throughout!

Cambridge is famous for punting and always features in the list for top things to do in the City.


June’s Interview

Name and Country: Floriana and I am from Sicilia. Where I live there is sun, sea and sand…



How long have you been at Select English?

I will leave Select English first of May.

Do you like your lessons at Select English?

I enjoy my lessons; I can find it sometimes difficult to speak in class.

Do you like your teachers?

I enjoy Nadine’s lessons.

Do you stay in a residential or homestay?

I stay with a family and they make me feel at home by cooking pasta. Yesterday they cooked gnocchi.

Do they live far from Select English?

I walk to school and it takes 30 minutes.

After classes what do you like to do?

Go to the park, shopping centre and meet students.

A Select English Student Guide to Studying in Cambridge

our wonderful students

our wonderful students

If you are thinking of coming to Cambridge to study you may feel slightly overwhelmed. Our international students from Select English have written some helpful advice.

  1. Things to bring when you come to Cambridge

Ricky wrote ‘when I came to the UK I took two big suitcases; its stuff I can’t live without’.

  1. Your favourite place in Cambridge

A student said ‘my favourite place is Ely, which is a gorgeous village. There are less people, it’s very quiet’.

  1. English food to look forward to

A favourite response here was of course fish and chips. But the best was ‘afternoon tea with a beautiful cake’.

  1. How to get on with your homestay

Be polite was frequently suggested, as was HUG THEM 🙂

  1. Things that might surprise you about the UK

Unanimously: changeable weather.

  1. Your top tip for studying English

Watch English TV, don’t be afraid to make mistakes and sing with English pop singers (the radio, maybe not on stage).

  1. Why are you learning English?

It is important for my future study, work and knowledge.

April’s Interview


What are your names and where are you from?

My name is Lily and I am from China, which is a busy and rich country.

My name is Alina and I am from Russia. Moscow is a cosmopolitan place and l like the business area and think it is a multi-cultural place.


Lily and Alina, check in to say hello!

Lily and Alina, check in to say hello!


What are your thoughts on being at Select English?

Lily: I like everything about Select English, but sometimes you can tell the teacher has been busy before a lesson.

Alina: There is a friendly atmosphere; I can speak to Kate and other teachers. I can ask advice and they are organised.

Lily: Cambridge is a nice place to learn. There are different atmospheres and structure of learning between London and Cambridge.

 What do you think about the activities?

Alina: There are activities at Select but I do not do them. I would like to do things such as go to the Opera.

 [At which point Lily told Alina that there was an Opera trip that was put on the board in the computer room.]

Lily: I have had a good experience of activities. I went to Select London during Christmas holiday for 2 weeks. There they combined activities with learning English.

Alina: I would like more social conversations with English speaking people, such as teachers.

 [Alina and Lily then both say that speaking with me and having questions is great practice.]

 Do you have homestay or residential accommodation?

 Lily: I found my accommodation on a website, but I stay with a nice woman who has 2 sons. She allows me to cook my own dinners, because I like to eat more vegetables.

Alina: Homestay, I talk with the family mainly at dinner. She bakes often, biscuits, cakes. After school I am exhausted, so I practice English speaking only during dinner. After I have homework; then I sleep.

[Lily tells Alina that she thinks she is an excellent student]

We then talk about how they both want to do a Master’s Degree after Select. Alina enjoys Finance/Accountancy and Lily likes Economics. Before the course, Alina had never spoken a full sentence in English. It is clear that both are great students.

House Manager

Jane is a House Manager for Select English manages up to 12 students, ensuring that they have a cooked breakfast and evening meal, as well as maintaining the house.  The House Manager is on call 24 hours and cooks for 5 working days.

How did you get into House Managing?                  

My background is in nursing, which is a caring role and I wanted something that still allowed me to carry on caring without the stress of nursing. I heard about the role through a nursing friend who told me about her daughter working at an English Language School in Cambridge.

Do you use your nursing skills in the role?

I do, but I use my own personality which is great. I have always wanted to work in a caring role and am quite old fashioned. I enjoy cooking, cleaning and essentially being a House Mother.

How do you balance House Management and House Mothering?

Management is very specific and I follow all the policies/procedures and keep up to date with paperwork.  I have to keep my first aid and fire marshal training up to date and I keep to a budget for shopping. The ‘mothering’ part is where I get to add personal touches, I celebrate all their personal occasions and if they tell me about cultural occasions then I decorate the house accordingly and we all celebrate together. And just like a parent would, they have curfew’s which are set by age. So a 15 year old is 10:30pm.

Finally, do you enjoy working for Select English?

I have never been so content in a job and will do this until retirement. I really believe that Select English is doing a fabulous job in bring international students together and I think this is important for the future. Seeing other cultures unite and work together is just beautiful.

We want our students to have the best

Improving you IELTS score!

Research suggests it takes approximately 200 guided learning hours for a language learner to progress from one CEFR level to the next. That means if you have an IELTS score of 4.5 now (B1 level), you will need roughly 200 hours of lessons to have a good chance of scoring 5.5 (B2 level).

These figures are a guide only and there are a lot of factors that can affect how quickly you improve including:

  • how much you use English outside of lessons
  • how hard you study
  • your first language
  • your age
  • your language learning background

What can I do to improve my IELTS score?

There are lots of ways to improve your chances of getting the IELTS score you need in time.


You need to develop a good range of academic words and phrases for all parts of the exam. Remember to study typical collocations and the grammatical patterns that are associated with new words. You should study vocabulary connected to common IELTS topics example:

  • science and technology
  • the environment
  • employment and money
  • law and order
  • health
  • government
  • the media and advertising
  • science and technology
  • globalisation
  • women and the family
  • education

You can also use the academic word list (the 570 most commonly used words in academic English) to organise your vocabulary learning:


You need to be able to understand and use a range of complex structures in order to score a high mark on the IELTS test. In your writing test and speaking test you could try to use some of the following to help improve your score:

  • noun phrases
  • relative clauses
  • conditionals
  • passives
  • participle clauses
  • modals

You will also need to be able to use basic grammar accurately. You should be aware of the mistakes you usually make and check your work for problem in these areas. Some common errors are:

  • verbs: tense, singular / plural agreement, verb forms
  • spelling
  • use of articles
  • use of linking words

Exam technique and timing:

Learning about the organisation of each section of the exam and typical question types can help to improve your score a lot. Look at past papers to learn about the exam. Other skills you can practise are:

  • timing
  • paraphrasing
  • predicting
  • skimming and scanning
  • checking your work

 Kate O’Toole (Director of Studies)



Books for Africa

Our Director of Studies, Kate received an amazing email from one of our teachers who has been living in Somaliland, East Africa. She was reaching out to Select English for any spare or no longer used teaching materials.

Sarah has been setting up an English Language Department at the Edna Adan University, which is associated with the Edna Adan Hospital. The University runs degree and diploma courses for health care professionals in a part of the world where there is one doctor to 46,000 people.

Quote: One of the challenges is that all the courses are taught in English, but the level of English among students is at elementary/pre-intermediate level.  For this reason, we are strengthening and expanding the English Department and setting up a teacher training programme.

We were happy to help and below are a few pictures of the boxes we donated.


Russian Education Trip

Our infamous staff member Alex went to Russia this month to present Education in the UK, in particular Cambridge and Oxford. The students loved it and the turn out to his talks was huge. The school had this to say…

Алекс был у нас в школе как глоток свежего кембриджского воздуха! Оказалось, что не только мы – в Кембридж, но и Кембридж к нам! У нас еще учаттся те, кого Алекс учил в Select English, и те, кто играл с ним в футбол, поэтому слух о его приезде разнесся моментально, дети забеги поболтать на переменках, а на лекцию собралось столько старшеклассников, что любо-дорого – целый зал. Замечательно, когда есть такая мотивация – это потом залог успеха на ЕГЭ. И на кембриджских уроках дети с удовольствием занимались фонетикой, фразовыми глаголами, и были очень настроены, как можно больше потренироваться с “носителем языка”! Julia Raskina

Which translated (or thereabouts) is:

Alex has been with us in school as a breath of fresh air from Cambridge! It turned out that not only are we in Cambridge but Cambridge to us! Those whom Alex taught in Select English and those who played with him in football still remember, so hearing about his arrival, children instantly spread the rumour and raced to chat on ‘peremenkah’, and so many high school students attended the lecture that lyubo-Dorogo-a Hall was full. It is wonderful when there is such motivation, which is the key to success for the EXAM afterwards. And the Cambridge lessons they enjoy doing, phonetics, phrasal verbs, and have been highly tuned as much as possible to train with a ‘native speaker’!


Social Apps for your time at Select English

If you have decided to learn English abroad and have an I-phone or an Android I have looked into the apps that will help your experience.

  1. Online banking – this is a free app and whether you have opened a bank in England or not there is something to help everyone. TransferWise in particular will help you send money abroad without any hidden fees.
  2. Communication – WhatsApp – i-phone 69p and android is free. I probably do not need to explain this app because you probably have it. With this you can send data to anyone in the world for free.
  3. Facebook messenger – free calls, clear sound. Facebook is a useful tool isn’t it. Not only can we keep all of our friends contained like a digital phonebook, but the instant messenger has free calls with your data or WiFi. How many of you knew that?
  4. Local bus and train apps – free. The common sense app. You have come to England and you want to travel around, my favourite downloads are ‘trainline’ and ‘catchthatbus’.
  5. Google googles – free app which cleverly tells you what historic building you are looking at and links it to Wikipedia (just aim your phone at the building).
  6. Lost in translation – has 36 languages and is free! Select English language students are of course here to learn English, but so are many other nationalities. Nobody will feel lost with this app. Or ‘better translation pro’ – voice recognition and 50 languages.
  7. PhotoSynth – beautiful panoramic scenes linked to Facebook, because you’re going to want your photos to look magical.
  8. I-movie – to capture your moments and literally edit them like a movie and send back home.

Now all you have to do is enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!


Social Media and Education



Today’s student probably has far more say in their education than any student of yesteryear. It isn’t just the parents choosing colleges for their teens; it is the student choosing from social media accounts. Seeing an active college on social media will show both audiences that the college is modern and engaging. Increasingly studying internationally is seen as a popular option; and it certainly has a shared appeal for both.

For parents they have more clarity and understanding that their teens will blossom into well-rounded adults; adults that have experienced a different culture and have learnt a second language (a key tool for global businesses).

For the student, the option of studying abroad is a chance to meet new people and alongside learning a new language, is the attraction of being independent. It is a bold move and one that no doubt sets this student apart from national students.

In the US* the most widespread way of finding a college is through the institutions website, plus social media pages and being engaged by the content. Twitter especially has a unique advantage in the use of # (hashtags). The humble hashtag has waited for three decades to fulfil its destiny of a writing style and can bring an audience to a specific discussion.

Educational institutions are now longer so shy about using social media to attract students and Twitter’s hashtags have reached Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Google+. Making it easier to write educational content and follow it with appropriate hashtag’s like #highered or #globallearning. Some amazing new hashtags pop up every time I check in, the latest being #twinglish; which the Japanese use to learn English through tweeting.

So if you are not using Social Media to bring your students in #startnow!

*According to US non-profit research agency World Education Services.