Monthly Archives: December 2014

Season’s Greetings!

Wishing everyone a very Happy Christmas and best wishes for a wonderful 2015. 

Christmas pic 2014IH_Santa_Clara_Christmas_2014_


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2014 Review: Videos of the year

We asked learners in our Proficiency group which short videos made an impact on them in 2014.  Here we share some of their selections and their reasons behind their choices…

A Pep Talk from Kid President to You

Sharing videos with friends is quite common nowadays and it’s amazing what you can come across these days!  That’s how I found this great mini-film and, to be honest, it caught me completely off guard.  I wasn’t expecting such engaging content.

It’s the result of a partnership between two amazingly creative brothers and part of a broader project whose aim is to deliver both funny and heart-warming moments as well as raising awareness of human behaviour.

As clichéd as it may be, you’ll hear encouraging arguments that will make you reconsider your “level of awesomeness” and the impact it has on those who surround you.  It makes you remember the potential between each and every one of us and it might reignite that long-smouldering flame:  the will to change the world.

Enjoy!  And, in the meantime, prepare to dance…


Life doesn’t wait

Life doesn’t wait, that’s what one of the best videos of 2014 was called.  It was made by an American youtuber called Connor Franta, to whom I’ve been subscribed for over a year now.  As a result, when this video was uploaded it popped up on my subscription box.  Connor is 22 years old, originally from Minnesota, but currently living in Los Angeles, in order to pursue his dreams. I didn’t expect much when I clicked the play button, I assumed it would be just another funny video like he usually makes.  However, it did surprise me.

Firstly, it was filmed in such a quirky, original way.  He didn’t just get his message across, he put a lot of work and dedication into this video.  Each clip was filmed with a view to telling a story.

Secondly, Connor is talking about a taxi ride that made him put things in perspective.  Without giving too many spoilers away, this video makes us question whether we’re living the life we dream of, if we love the life we live, or if we are putting our dreams on hold.

Undoubtedly, it really had a huge impact on me.  Being a student can be scary and it’s natural to have doubts as to whether we’re on the right track or not from time to time.  Due to this video I’ve realized life doesn’t have to be determined by your studies.  You don’t have to give up on doing what you love.  Doing what makes you happy is key for waking up in the morning thrilled about the hours ahead.

To summarise, I think this is one of the best videos of the year as it is deep and meaningful as well as being artistic and original. Everyone tends to settle for the easiest option, instead of pursuing their dreams. Therefore, I recommend everyone watch it. Are you living the life you want to live?


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2014 Review – Students’ Personal Highlights

This week some of our learners have been reflecting back on 2014 and telling us about their personal highlights…

First up, MM tells us why her experience at the Optimus Alive festival stood out for her…

Holidays and travel experiences were recurring themes in our student’s highlights.  For MP it was a cruise…

My personal highlight of 2014 was the cruise I went on during the summer holidays because it was the best experience I’ve ever had.

 I went to Barcelona, Marseille, Rome, Florence, Trappani and Valleta.  It was amazing being able to go to all these places while travelling with every possible comfort.  On the boat we could have a party every night and there was even a special celebration with the captain.

There were so many great experiences that I can’t describe them all.  The ones that particularly stood out were the kindness of the staff, the contests on the boat, the views and all the activities and shows put on by the on board theatre.

I’d recommend it to everyone because it is a once in a lifetime chance to visit so many locations without being concerned about travelling between countries.  It had an amazing effect on me because it broadened my horizons.

AD’s holidays took her to northern Europe and the experience left a lasting impression on her…

My personal highlight of 2014 was in August on my holiday with my parents and friends.  We went for twelve days to Germany and Poland and spent five days in Germany and the other seven days were spent in three different Polish towns.

It was an incredible trip, the greatness of the German buildings and the terrifying story of Poland’s concentration camps.  The place that shocked me most was Auchswitz.  It was horrible to imagine what happened there.  Visiting this place is something I’d recommend to anyone over the age of sixteen in order to become aware of how cruel human kind can be.

As someone once said, “Those who do not know their history are doomed to repeat it.”

It wasn’t just holidays that got our students travelling in 2014…

This year I spent a full week in Spain with some classmates and teachers.  The objective was to meet new people from Spanish speaking countries all around the world with the goal of working together in small groups on a project that was filmed and put on the Internet.

This was definitely a highlight because I made new friends who I still keep in touch with because we became inseparable.  I would certainly recommend it because you can improve your language skills, especially your pronunciation and fluency, and make friends at the same time.


AS also made the most of an opportunity to get to know new people…

My personal highlight of 2014 was the High School Festival.

This gathers high school students together from all over our country, even the islands.  For four days, thousands of students get together at the campsite in Gouveia, northern Portugal.

Music all night, activities during the day, all the freedom you want and friends.  In short, everything a teenager could ask for.  I’d completely recommend anyone to go.  It’ll give you a sense of freedom that you’ve probably never felt and a sense of responsibility that’ll help you in the future.

Sometimes holidays are just the break you need…

…other times a book is enough to transport you to another place…

My personal highlight of 2014 is a book that I read, Divergent, written by Veronica Roth.  It is about a society that’s clearly divided and people have to choose the faction they think they belong to.

Reading this book completely changed my life because before it, I didn’t enjoy reading at all.  This book made me both more aware of life and made me realise I really enjoy reading.  I haven’t stopped reading since.

I thoroughly recommend this book, especially for teenagers who like adventure/action/romance books, but also to adults, even if it’s just to enjoy a good book in an afternoon.


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IHSC Collocation Challenge 10/12/14: 1 word into 7 sentences

Today’s collocation challenge asks you to think of ONE word which completes the gap in all SEVEN of the sentences below.  We’ll post the answer in the comments box in the next few days unless someone beats us to it!  Check back in a few days to find out the answer.

To my surprise she


me aside and asked if she could have a private word with me.

The train


slowly into the station.



her inspiration from her childhood experiences.

The exhibition


over half a million people to the gallery over a 9 month period.

The report


the conclusion that there was a clear link between levels of crime and levels of poverty in society.

I spent a lot on my daughter’s wedding but I


the line at hiring a chauffeur-driven Rolls Royce to take her to the registry office!

The taxi


up outside the house.


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IHSC Collocation Challenge 2/12/14: a wide ….. of

Today’s Collocation Challenge is looking for the five most frequent nouns which fit into the gap in this phrase:

a wide ….. of

Test your ideas by playing clicking on the link to our Family Fortunes Collocation Challenge:  

Click here to play our Family Fortunes Collocation Challenge: a wide ….. of

We’ll publish the answers in the comments section later this week.

Want more?  Check out our previous collocation challenge here.

Frequency data from StringNet Navigator 3.0

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