Interesting articles from staff and other news from OISE Cambridge

  • OISE Cambridge: a TOLES centre

    The TOLES Advanced examination is a challenging test of your legal English skills and abilities in a range of practical areas.
  • New Legal English courses

    Weekend legal English courses now available for lawyers.
  • A Family Affair

    The rewards of language learning can be all the greater, when shared.
  • Coals to Newcastle

    A present from a student, inspires a reflection on tea growing...
  • Illegal

    Thoughts on low level criminality.
  • OISE Cambridge Summer Law School

    We are pleased to introduce the OISE Cambridge Summer Law School, which offers our students a true taste of English legal study in the setting of a world-renowned university.
  • Coasting

    Working too hard, it seems, is not only unhealthy: it is ineffective.
  • TOEIC success

    Le TOIEC vérifie vos connaissances de l'anglais qui s'emploie couramment dans le monde professionnel.
  • Bonfire

    Fireworks are, if we’re honest, peripheral to Bonfire Night. Bonfire Night is all about the bonfire, and the Guy.
  • Institute for Manufacturing

    Some while back, three of our students, Shin, Marcel and Tomo, paid a visit to the Institute for Manufacturing in Cambridge, a cross-disciplinary arm of the Department of Engineering which draws together expertise in technology, management, policy and other related areas. They were shown around by Professor Tim Minshall and talked about, among other things, copyright and ...
  • Engineering at Cambridge

    I spend rather a lot of time watching interviews on YouTube with Elon Musk with my students, most recently about the Hyperloop (which he designed on a restaurant napkin, evidently) but also about SpaceX, and of course Tesla. And now it seems there is a British rival to Tesla on the horizon. The Dyson Company, of ...
  • TOEIC success at OISE Cambridge

    We are proud of many things around here, but lately our students’ TOEIC results are one of our favourite bragging points. TOEIC (Test Of English for International Communication) is one of the best known business English exams out there, so it’s no wonder that many graduate schools around the world require their students to take the ...
  • Original Pronunciation

    How true do your vowels have to be? I often pick my students up on their ‘non-English’ vocalisation, where they approximate English vowels to whatever seems closest in their native tongue. I can be quite hard on them. I point at the phonological table with a solemn face, like some wise old alchemist pointing out ...
  • Learn to Speak TOEIC

    I wouldn’t describe OISE as an exam factory (and I have worked at one or two) but we get our share of candidates passing through. Depending on your life pathway, you might be required to jump through an IELTS-shaped hoop, or a CAE-shaped hoop, or a TOEIC-shaped hoop. Different companies, different institutions, favour different examinations.  The ...
  • Capability Brown in Cambridge

    “‘Now there’ said he, pointing his finger, ‘I make a comma, and there’ pointing to another spot, ‘where a more decided turn is proper, I make a colon; at another part, where an interruption is desirable to break the view, a parenthesis; now a full stop, and then I begin another subject.’” Hannah More on Capability ...
  • Good Enough

    “Among the innumerable mortifications which waylay human arrogance on every side may well be reckoned our ignorance of the most common objects and effects, a defect of which we become more sensible by every attempt to supply it. Vulgar and inactive minds confound familiarity with knowledge and conceive themselves informed of the whole nature of ...
  • Viking

    What sort of a language is English? It will quickly dawn on even the most linguistically incurious student that in terms of vocabulary, English is a mongrel tongue, a hodge-podge of Germanic and French and Latin etymologies, with more than a little Celtic and Viking and Aztec and Bengali thrown in. There is little the English ...
  • Doing the 1%

    I was talking to one of my students a while back about productivity. She told me that when she returned to work after a period of several years away on maternity leave, she realised that she had to be much more efficient in her use of time than before, because now she had a family ...
  • Hyperpreparedness

    Which teacher does not suffer a little preparation anxiety? We all over-prepare, take too much along with us, have stuff up our sleeves. Just in case. In case of what? You would think that if nothing else we have a more or less bottomless pool of language to draw on. We could if we wished talk about ...
  • Bashers and Swoopers

    “Swoopers write a story quickly, higgledy-piggledy, crinkum crankum, any which way. Then they go over it again painstakingly, fixing everything that is just plain awful or doesn’t work. Bashers go one sentence at a time, getting it exactly right before they go on to the next one. When they’re done they’re done.” Kurt Vonnegut, Time Quake When ...
  • Great Stage of Fools

    Last week I taught my students everything they need to know about phrasal verbs. Here is the gist of it: “…a small subset of 20 lexical verbs combines with eight adverbial particles (160 combinations) to account for more than one half of the 518,923 phrasal verb occurrences identified in the megacorpus. A more specific analysis indicates ...
  • CUP

    I’m a little bit frightened of museums which you can visit by appointment only. Or shops for that matter. I’m worried that you might be followed around, have to make conversation. But this is a pity, because one of Cambridge’s most interesting, and smallest, museums requires an appointment. It is the museum of the Cambridge University ...
  • Distraction

    I posted yesterday on the important subject of doodling, a­nd about how it can boost productivity and prevent distraction—concentrating on a low-level task such as scrawling abstract marks on a sheet of paper is better than the various alternatives, such as daydreaming (cognitively expensive) and, our modern invention, staring at our devices. You do not need to ...
  • Doodle Bug

    Former students (especially tutorial students) may have noticed that I like to doodle. I always have a pen in my hand, I’m always taking notes, so I inevitably doodle. For the most part I doodle abstract shapes—networks and nodes, I suppose, or vaguely architectural structures. They are always two-dimensional, a bit of scribble, an iterative ...
  • Keep on keeping on

    I recently overheard one of my colleagues say that so often the problems students encounter are down to poor learning strategies, rather than to any inherent difficulty of English. This is of course true, and partly explains why the second and third foreign languages are so much easier to learn that the first – once you’ve learnt ...
  • Inventing Stonehenge

    A couple of our students are off on a trip to Stonehenge this weekend, where they will be shocked to discover that it was only built in 1958. It seems the fraud is well-documented – online, in slightly dubious corners of the Web, you can find pictures of the great stones being lifted into place ...
  • Purpose

    Are they scientists? Or tourists? If they are scientists, they don’t seem to ask a lot of questions Theoretical Physicist Ian Donnelly in Arrival In the recent movie Arrival, where Amy Adams plays a professor of linguistics charged with communicating with recently arrived aliens speaking an incomprehensible language, there is a moment where Adams’ character is forced ...