Newsletter September 2013

The Conlan School Course Guide

The Conlan School Course Guide demonstrates the broad range of study programmes we can offer you and your students. Through our ever growing network of contacts in the business and educational community, our aim is to provide experiences that will expand knowledge and increase confidence within the culture of Wales and the UK. We hope that during your time with us you and your students can progress personally and positively in every aspect of life!

Please, click here to download "The Conlan School Course Guide"!

Rhyl Air Show

Crowds gathered this month for Rhyl Air Show, a weekend-long event in which a variety of aircraft flew along the promenade above the Irish Sea and entertained those standing beneath. The star of the show was the Vulcan. There is only one left in the world of this plane and it was seen flying by as many as fifty thousand spectators. The Vulcan planes took part in the Cold War and flew in the Falklands. It was accompanied at the Air Show by a Hawker Hunter, a Sea King helicopter and several stunt planes such as the Red Arrows. Also taking part in the Air Show was one of our students, who is doing a technical work placement with Rhyl Pavilion. He has been helping organise the sound and light systems for the event. No technical problems were reported so they must have a done a sterling job!

High School Visits

As the high school students begin their new terms, we look forward to continuing some of the fantastic activities that happened earlier in the year and very interesting visits that allowed our groups to see the differences between their schools and ours. Many thanks to Emrys ap Iwan and John Bright for their continued enthusiasm about Conlan School and our students, and a special thank you to two new high schools who invited our students to visit this year. Bryn Elian is a school of approximately 700 students that, amongst other things, organised a food and cookery activity and an art project with our Italian groups. Their sixth form also put on a very entertaining and professional performance of Grease, which was attended by our Biology group one evening. Glan Clwyd also gave our students a very warm welcome. It is a Welsh high school in St Asaph. Their talented singers performed a song for us that they took to the annual Welsh culture festival – the Eisteddfod. We are very grateful for the way in which all the schools that have taken part this year have enriched the courses; they wouldn’t have been the same without their contributions, so thank you!

Phrase of the Month – To Break the Ice

This phrase is sometimes used when the cold social awkwardness is broken between two people who are meeting for the first time. The earlier meaning of this phrase is 'to forge a path for others to follow', alludes of course to the breaking of ice to allow the navigation of boats. The figurative use is quite old and was recorded by Sir Thomas North in his 1579 translation of Plutarch's Lives of the noble Grecians and Romanes:
"To be the first to break the Ice of the Enterprise."
It wasn't until the latter part of the 17th century that it took on its current meaning of 'establish a relaxed relationship in socially awkward situations'; for example, Samuel Butler's Hudibras, 1678:
"The Oratour - At last broke silence, and the Ice."
Moving forward another 200 years 'breaking the ice' reverts to its original usage, when specialist ice-breaking ships were introduced. These ships, known as ice-breakers, were equipped with strengthened hulls and powerful engines and were employed in the exploration of Polar Regions. Soon after these ships were introduced the term 'ice-breaker' began to be applied to social initiatives intended to get strangers acquainted with one another. In 1883, Mark Twain used the phrase that way in Life on Mississippi:
"They closed up the inundation with a few words - having used it, evidently, as a mere ice-breaker and acquaintanceship-breeder - then they dropped into business."
How that applies figuratively to people is this: When two strangers meet for the first time, the social 'ice' between them, once broken down, makes interaction much easier.
* Paul was set to give a speech in front of a large crowd and was incredibly nervous, but he broke the ice with his audience by starting out with a funny joke.

Krashen’s Theories of Language Acquisition

Stephen Krashen, a prominent writer in the field of language acquisition in EFL students, has a number of very interesting theories backed up by fairly thorough research and experimentation. It’s been ten years since he published Explorations in Language Acquisition but his theories have not become old-fashioned or tired. Here are some of the most interesting from this book:
1. Students learn language items in a linear and rigid process, one item by one item and this cannot really be changed. Therefore grammar lessons are pointless; either the student knows the item already or is probably not ready to learn it!
2. Language is best learnt by being subjected to “comprehensible input,” which is either spoken or written language that can be understood by the student. This enables the students to learn their next item passively when they are ready for it.
3. There is a difference between learnt language and acquired language. It is one thing to learn something in a classroom and quite another thing to acquire a piece of language, i.e. to transfer that piece of knowledge to a part of the brain where it can be used instinctively.
To get a fuller picture of Krashen’s theories, take a look at this or one of his other books.