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In London this week: Queen Elizabeth II celebrates 60 years since her coronation

I know what you may be thinking –

“Wasn’t the 60th anniversary last June?”

Indeed, Her Majesty celebrated her Diamond Jubilee in June 2012 – marking 60 years since she became Queen in February 1952.  However, what you may not know is that at the start of her reign, it took 16 months to organise her official coronation ceremony, which took place in June 1953.

So this year she has been marking the 60th anniversary of her coronation, with a number of official ceremonies.  After all, she is the Queen – she has 2 birthdays every year (one is her real birthday, and the other is her official ceremonial birthday), so we expect her to celebrate everything twice!

So how has the Queen been celebrating?

The main event was a service at Westminster Abbey, attended by all of the Royal Family including the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.  Almost all monarchs since 1066 have been crowned at Westminster Abbey and this special service was a celebration of the promises made by each monarch to their people.

Tower of London 62-Gun SaluteFor the first time since the Queen’s coronation, the St Edward’s Crown left the Tower of London to be on display in the Abbey during the service.  All new monarchs receive the St Edward’s Crown during their coronation.

Meanwhile, at the Tower of London a 62-gun salute was sounded in honour of the occasion, on a beautiful sunny day in London!

For more information –

  • Visit the BBC website to see a gallery of pictures from the Westminster Abbey service
  • Visit the Huffington Post for photographs of the royal guests at the ceremony
  • Visit the BBC Newsround website for an explanation of the Westminster ceremony

Come and see it for yourself!

London is a beautiful city, full of historic buildings like Westminster Abbey and the Tower of London.  And if you study at Excel English you will have lots of opportunities to explore our capital.

Take a look at our summer courses for adults to choose the perfect one for you, and we will see you soon!

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Happy St George’s Day!

23 April is an important day in England for two reasons:

  1. It is William Shakepeare’s birthday
  2. It is St George’s Day

St George's Day

English, not British

But, being English, we are more likely to celebrate our most famous writer than our national saint.  St George is the patron saint of England – Scotland has St Andrew and Wales has St David, while Ireland has the much more popular St Patrick – but we do not have a national holiday, or a traditional celebration – not even a special meal to eat on our saint’s day.

While St David is celebrated with the wearing of daffodils, and St Patrick is celebrated with noisy parties, the English prefer to do nothing on their saint’s day.  Some people don’t even know the date of St George’s day.

Perhaps it means that we feel more British than English, especially since English history has tales of conquering and oppressing the world, while British history contains democracy, heroism and freedom fighters.  Or perhaps it is because many English people mistake patriotism for nationalism, which has never been an attractive quality in our history.

How should we celebrate anyway?

Travel around London today and you might see some English flags (the red and white cross of St George, instead of the red, white and blue Union Flag), but the truth is that the English are more likely to fly our flags for an important football match, than for our national day.

And how would we celebrate anyway?  By eating fish and chips in the rain, or wearing a bowler hat and carrying an umbrella?  We’re not really sure that there is a proper “English” way of celebrating.  So perhaps being quiet and polite about our national day, is the most traditionally English way of all of marking the occasion.

What do you think?  Is there a better way to mark St George’s Day?  Let us know what you think!

Learn more about St George and the “official” celebrations on Trafalgar Square here. 

(This link will take you to the VisitLondon website – Excel English is not responsible for the content of external websites)
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Explore London Experience Special Offer 2013

Explore London Experience students on excursionsThe Explore London Experience is a unique programme from Excel English for young people aged 12 to 17 years who want to come to London to learn English, make friends from all around the world, have fun and explore London!

The course includes 15 hours per week of English lessons in classes with other international students, as well as 4 half day activities and excursions and 2 full day trips every week.  Accommodation in a student residence and all meals are included in the price, as well as admission and travel fees for all excursions.

What’s more, as we only have a few spaces remaining on the Explore London Experience, we now have 2 special offers available for bookings received before 30 April 2013!

Special Offer 1

1-week package (7 nights) includes one full day trip – £1105 Now only £999 plus airport transfer fee! 

Available for arrivals on 30/06/13 and 27/07/13 only

  • Arrivals on 30 June 2013 will visit Oxford including Christ Church College (the model for much of Hogwarts School in the Harry Potter films) on 6 July, and depart on 7 July.
  • Arrivals on 27 July 2013 will visit the Tower of London (a UNESCO World Heritage site, which has stood on the bank of the River Thames for over 1000 years) on 28 July, and depart on 3 August.
  • Arrivals on both dates will also have 4 half day excursions to famous London sights, including Big Ben, a flight on the London Eye and the British Museum.

Special Offer 2

2-week package (13 nights) includes two full day trips – £1920  Now only £1820 plus airport transfer fee!

Available for arrivals on 21/07/13 only

  • Students on this package will have day trips to Brighton (a very popular British seaside resort) and the Tower of London.
  • They will also have 8 half day excursions, including Madame Tussauds, Big Ben and a flight on the London Eye.

Find out more or book your place now!

To find out more about the Explore London Experience or to book your place, visit our website.

To claim this offer, book your place before 30 April 2013 and quote code SOBLOGTELE

Click here to follow the Explore London Experience on Facebook

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Sunday Times Survey: Muswell Hill is one of the 5 best places to live in London

A recent article in the UK’s Sunday Times newspaper listed the 101 best places to live in Britain.  The writers of the report chose these places according to a wide variety of criteria, including life expectancy, levels of crime, location of parks and open spaces and community spirit.  Only 5 of the country’s 101 best places were located in London, so we were delighted (but not really surprised) to see Muswell Hill make the list, along with Richmond, Chiswick, Dulwich and Balham.

So what is so special about Muswell Hill?  Having a brilliant English language school in the area is the reason why our students choose to live here, but for local residents, there are a number of reasons why they never want to live anywhere except Muswell Hill.

Here are some of the reasons why the Sunday Times and Excel English agree that Muswell Hill is a great place to live:

  • Beautiful houses – many of the houses in Muswell Hill are large Victorian homes, with their classic red brick exterior that looks simply stunning.
  • Great views – you can go to Alexandra Park and take in the views of the City of London and the Olympic Park, or just stand at the top of Hillside Gardens (on the Broadway) and you’ll have the whole city in front of you.
  • The shops – Muswell Hill Broadway has some great chain stores that you will find on many shopping streets in Britain, but it also has some amazing independent shops, including Martyn’s, a traditional shop that has been owned by the same family for over 100 years, and sells traditional tea and coffee.
  • The cafés, restaurants and bars – if you are meeting a friend for a meal or a drink, Muswell Hill has some great places to choose from, including Toff’s (voted the UK’s best Fish & Chip restaurant), and the famous “church pub” (O’Neill’s).
  • Great transport links – when people discover that Muswell Hill does not have an underground station, they assume it must be hard to get here.  Not at all!  With regular buses taking you the short distance to Highgate station (Northern Line) and Finsbury Park (Piccadilly and Victoria Line), we have London in the palm of our hand!
  • Friendly people – Londoners come in many different shapes, sizes and colours, and while we may not all look like you would expect (men don’t usually wear bowler hats anymore), when you come here and meet us for yourselves you will discover that ‘Muswell Hillbillies’ are a friendly bunch, ready and waiting to welcome you to our little corner of London!

For more information about Muswell Hill, visit our Muswell Hill information pages, or the We Love Muswell Hill website (Excel English is not responsible for content of external websites).

Muswell Hill Photo gallery

We would love to welcome you to Muswell Hill and Excel English soon.  If you would like to choose an English course, click here to see our English programmes for adults.  Click here for more information about our accommodation options, including homestay accommodation (where you live in a local house and eat your meals with the owners).

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Best of luck to our CAE students this week!

Good-Luck-BalloonsEveryone at Excel English would like to wish our Cambridge CAE exam candidates the best of luck for their written exam this weekend!

The students have worked extremely hard for the past 6 weeks in their lessons with Tricia, practising the techniques they need to get the best result in their exams.  After their spoken test earlier this week, they now only have the written exam between them and the success they deserve!

Our next Cambridge Exam Preparation programme will start on 29 April 2013.  More details can be found in the Exam Preparation section of this website.   The fee for the 6-week programme includes the examination fee and examination textbooks as well as 22.5 hours per week of the best preparation possible – which is why we are certain that these students have everything they need to succeed!

For more information

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New for 2013

As we reach the start of 2013, here at Excel English we are making some changes to the programmes we offer, to improve them even more for our students!

Smaller classes

In keeping with our quality image and our desire to make sure students learn as much as possible, we have reduced our General English class size to 12 students maximum.  The maximum class size for Exam Preparation programmes will be 8 students.

More Intensive general English programmes

As we have noticed a trend for students to enrol for shorter courses but wanting to do as much as possible in the time they are at the school, all our Super Intensive courses will now be 22.5 hours per week, in line with our exam preparation courses.

Dedicated exam preparation programmes

We will now be offering the Cambridge exam preparation programmes (FCE & CAE) over 6 weeks and IELTS and PTE (Pearson Test of English) over 4 weeks.  These courses will be dedicated exam preparation so you will need to take an online test at the time of enrolment, to make sure you are at the right level to begin your chosen course.  If you are not, we will suggest you either do more preparation in your own country or enrol with us for some weeks of general English.  The exam preparation fee includes the cost of the exam textbooks and the exam itself.

Our online learning platform

Our Excel English Online learning platform will be fully operational in 2013, for all students taking one of our adult programmes.  You will have access to it as soon as you have enrolled and paid for your course, so you can start practising your English before you arrive in London.  During your stay with us you will use the system for practice outside lessons, for your tutorials and also to look up school information. And you will also have access to the learning platform for 3 months after you leave the school.  All this is at no extra cost.

New programmes: Football Fanatics Experience & Prime Experience

On our new Football Fanatics Experience, participants will have guided tours of famous stadiums in London, and for an additional fee can also have a trip to Manchester to visit Manchester United and the National Football Museum (price available on request).

The Prime Experience is for people in the prime of life aged 45 years plus.  You will either have our specially written British Culture lessons where you practise your English while finding out about our culture past and present, or you will have general English classes if your level is lower than B1.  The maximum class size for this programme is 8 participants.  Special tours designed to appeal to more mature participants and introduce you to parts of London you are unlikely to have visited before are included in the programme.  We will also be including a special afternoon tea, a fish and chip supper, visits to 2 famous pubs, and 2 weekend trips outside London (in the 2 week programme).

2012 has been an amazing year for London, which we have enjoyed sharing with our students.  But we think 2013 will be even better, and our new programmes are the perfect way to experience it with us.  So visit our course information pages to find the perfect programme for you, and we will see you in London soon!

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It’s official – we truly exceed expectations!

The Independent Schools’ Inspectorate (ISI) recently visited Excel English to assess the quality of the teaching, welfare and other services we offer to our students.  After 3 days of observing our teachers in their classes, asking lots of questions in the office and speaking to our current students, the inspectors agreed that we are a really good school.

The ISI inspection is a new requirement from the UK Border Agency, to ensure that schools which are licensed as Highly Trusted Sponsors of Tier 4 General Student Visa applicants are reliable schools that carefully monitor the whereabouts of their students and offer them a quality education.

Having passed the inspection with flying colours and exceeding the inspectors’ expectations with the quality of our teaching and student welfare provision, Excel English are delighted to add the ISI to our list of accreditations!

You can read the full inspection report here: ISI Report Excel English November 2012.

ISI Accreditation Excel English

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2012 – A Summer Like No Other

As we approach the end of the summer season here at Excel English, we are taking the time to think about the summer of 2012 – referred to by the Mayor of London as a “Summer like no other.”

He was certainly right.  Beginning with the celebrations for Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee in June, and continuing through the Olympic and Paralympic Games and events to celebrate the Cultural Olympiad, London has never hosted so many spectacular events in one summer.

So how has London coped?  Some cynical Londoners (there are many of them) felt that London simply would not cope with so many visitors, so many events, with so much security needed and so many people already living and working here.

Others were confident that, as last year’s Royal Wedding between Prince William and Catherine Middleton proved, London loves to put on a show – and that we are good at doing things right when the world is watching.

I think that majority of us just hoped for the best.  An admirable British trait perfectly illustrated by the Monty Python song “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” – which coincidentally (or maybe not so coincidentally!) featured in the Olympic Closing Ceremony.  Although we might not always get things right, a positive attitude is the key to success.

So who was right?  I don’t think that it is for those of us who live and work here in London to decide.  We know that all the planned events took place in a great atmosphere at venues which looked fantastic.  We know that London’s public transport system (mostly) behaved itself and carried our guests around the city quickly and safely.  We even had a break from the rain that our country is so famous for, so that medal winners could celebrate in beautiful sunshine.

But will our international guests look back on London 2012 as something they will remember for the rest of their lives?  Will they tell their friends and family to come to London – the greatest city on earth – to see it and enjoy it for themselves?  Only time will tell – but we have had a great summer!

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