What is Sport and Exercise Psychology?

It’s almost impossible to watch a sporting event these days without someone mentioning confidence or motivation or mindset! Sport Psychology is becoming more accepted in mainstream sport, let’s find out why… Sport Psychology is the study of people’s behaviour, thoughts, emotions and experiences in a sport or exercise environment. It focuses on 2 distinct areas depending on the needs of the individual concerned: improving performance and improving well being. Generally we focus on one or the other with clients but there are occasions where the two crossover eg; managing one’s emotions can potentially lead to better decision making in competition or better reactions to mistakes = improvement in performance. This can also help to alleviate feelings of disappointment, frustration or anger at a performance which may cross over into life away from sport = improved well being. “Your your emotions affect your decision making…” How will Sport Psychology help me? Sport psychology is an individual process and every person’s needs differ. There is always development and improvement which can be made at any level of sport, whether amateur or professional. Sport psychology can help to see your sport and your performance from an objective and sometimes alternative perspective. It can challenge you to ask questions about things in your sport and performance that you take for granted. For example: How do you practice? Is it as close to competition as possible? Can you make it closer to competition? Have you tried practising challenging situations? If not, how will you react if you meet these situations in competition? “better decision making leads to improved performance“ What happens during a one-to-one Sport Psychology session? A one-to-one session could be in person or over Skype and can be in an office, at the practice ground or any venue of your choice. Typically, the … Read more

Grammar Question: How do we tell stories in English?

The most important thing about telling a story is making it interesting. Nobody wants to sit there and listen to a boring story. Check out this one for instance. I woke up this morning. I jumped out of bed. I closed the window. I went to work. I came home and went to bed. Yawn, snore! What an awfully boring story; past simple, past simple, past simple! Terrible. But let’s make it a little more interesting and then have a look at the grammar behind it. I woke up early this morning. Outside music was playing loudly and the wind was blowing through the trees, the noise had woken me up earlier than usual. I jumped out of my bed, it was freezing in my room because I had left my window open the night before. I was so tired that I had fallen asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow. I closed my window quickly and ran to the bathroom to have a shower and get warm. See, with just a few changes, this incredibly boring story starts to come alive. Let’s take a closer look at just how we did that. (1) Past continuous “Music was playing loudly” We use past continuous here to describe actions happening at the same time as the main action. They are in progress. Some people call them background actions. They can add atmosphere and information to your stories. (2) Past Perfect “The noise had woken me up…” We use the past perfect here to describe actions that happened before the story or before the main action. These give your stories some background and make them more interesting. Can you find any other examples of these tenses in the story? Can you see how they work? Check our website if you’re … Read more

Our students check out the graffiti in Shoreditch!

 A Guided Tour of the graffiti in Shoreditch!   February in London and a windy grey day did not stop the students of EC Covent Garden who went to visit one of the hidden pearls of the city, the fabulous street art venues in the central borough of Shoreditch! This tour is part of our new Free English Lesson programme, open to EC Covent Garden students, which is composed of two activities, the first one is an excursion in London with one of our English teachers and the second one is a free English lesson based on what our students have done and learned. This is a way to socialise, discover London with Londoners and learn English at the same time! Since 2000, Shoreditch has grown as an important staging ground for graffiti artists from around the world, such as Swoon, Roa, Blek Le Rat and Vhils and local artists like Banksy, Eine, D*Face, Sweet Toof, Pure Evil and Stik. Over the last 15 years the walls of Shoreditch have constantly changed, hosting new and diverse artwork, and turning the area into a huge and astonishing open-air art venue. Graffiti is the oldest expression of art in the history of human beings. The first graffiti art work is 40,000 years old. In the past, graffiti was used to enforce laws, to tell stories or to consolidate religions. Nowadays graffiti is widely recognised as the art form of social and political dissent against the status quo. The day after their excursion, these EC Covent Garden students joined a Free English Lesson, a presentation class, with Kirsty, their English teacher and guide for their tour in Shoreditch. Click here if you want to learn more about our English lessons for adults in the UK. Check out our website if you’d like to … Read more

St David’s Day is coming your way!

What’s coming up in March? Do you love to socialise? If so, then here are two days that you can be part of next month. Learn about what these days mean, some fun facts and how to improve your English below. St David’s Day    When is it? On the first day of March we celebrate St David’s day in honour of the Saint David of Wales who died on that day in 589 AD. Who is St David? He was a Celtic monk who lived in the 16th Century and spread the word of the religion Christianity across Wales. His most famous story is of him standing on a hill and preaching about Christianity… then the ground on which he was standing rose up… and the huge crowd could hear his words. How do British people celebrate this day? Some children wear the national dress of Wales which is a tall black hat and a red cloak. Most people mark this day by wearing the Welsh emblem which is a small daffodil or leek. You usually see magnificent yellow daffodils at the start of Spring which is a very exciting occasion for British people! Why? Because the sun is coming! Goodbye Winter! Want to hold your own Welsh dinner party? Welsh cuisine is wonderful! Try making ‘Cawl’ a dish made with lamb & a mixture of Welsh vegetables like leeks & swede and of course a fusion of herbs like rosemary, thyme & parsley.   If you’d like to improve your English, follow this link and learn more about English parties! What can EC students do to celebrate St David’s? London loves different cultures & celebrating them to the maximum! You can be in the heart of it all.  Near to EC Covent Garden is London’s Welsh centre for … Read more

Understanding Native English Speakers!

If you’ve done an English course in the past but you’re still having trouble understanding native English speakers, it might be because you haven’t spent enough time studying pronunciation. Now I know what you’re thinking: “How on Earth can studying pronunciation help me with my listening skills?!”, well, the fact is that if you don’t know how we (as native speakers) are going to pronounce something, you won’t understand it! It’s not your fault. Have you ever learnt a new word and then suddenly started hearing it everywhere? This isn’t because people have suddenly started saying it more often, now that you know it’s possible, you can hear it. Before, it was just sounds and it meant nothing to you.   This is also the reason you should learn your phonemic symbols, because in English we don’t always pronounce words the way they are written. Have a look at how native English speakers would pronounce the pieces of English below. Use the phonemic chart above to help you or click here to hear the sounds.   Do you want to = /ʤəwɒnə/ If I were you = /faɪwəjuː/ I’m going to = /əmgənə/ I want to = /əwɒnə/ a glass of wine = /əglɑːsəwaɪn/ I should have left = /əʃədəleft/ I can swim = /aɪkənswɪm/ Have you ever = /vjevə/ Do you ever = /ʤevə/ You should notice that there are certain differences between how you would expect these words / phrases to be pronounced and how a native English speaker would say them. But don’t worry, you don’t need to do a whole English course on pronunciation, even from the examples above, you can see there are a lot of patterns. Also, listening to TV shows and films with the subtitles on and noticing how the words are being pronounced can really help you.   If you’re thinking … Read more

Weekly Grammar Question: Changes over time!

If you’re anything like my students studying English in the U.K., at some point in your student life you’ll have been confused by the Present Perfect and the Present Perfect continuous. Well, rest assured, you’re not alone. But that doesn’t mean they are impossible, check out these examples below of the present perfect and present perfect continuous being used to describe change over time, and then have a look at the meaning / use underneath.   So I moved to South Korea for a year about 6 years ago, leaving all of my friends behind. My closest friend at the time was a guy named Stephen. We’d known each other for years. I’ve drawn a picture of him for you. As you can see, he didn’t really look after himself very well. He was the nicest guy you’d ever meet in your life and was an amazing friend but when it came to being fashionable or doing exercise, he was a disaster. After a year in Korea, I returned home and immediately went over to Stephen’s house to say hi to him and his family. Well, you wouldn’t believe the person who opened the door. I’ve drawn another picture for you to give you an idea of what he looked like. So, as you can imagine, I was extremely impressed. “What has happened to you?!” I said. Obviously, the surprise was clear on my face as he just smiled and said the following:   Well, I met a girl a few months ago and everything has changed for me. I’ve been shaving every morning now and moisturising twice a day so my skin has cleared up. I’ve also been exercising a lot more, I’ve taken up jogging and yoga and I’ve lost quite a lot of weight. I’ve been jogging twice a week … Read more

It’s Pancake Tuesday!

Today is Pancake Tuesday, one of my favourite days of the year. When I was young, I used to come home and my mother would make us extra thin pancakes, rolled up with jam, sugar and lemon. We’d gobble them down, they were absolutely delicious. I’ve never really been able to recreate her pancakes and Pancake Tuesday has never really been the same since but I have got quite good at making American-style pancakes and I’ve decided to share what might be the easiest pancake recipe of all time. And, just so you also learn English I’ve added some definitions for the more difficult words. Just click on the word for a dictionary definition. Here’s what you need: Flour Milk salt Sugar Fresh fruit Syrup Here’s what you do: Take a mug of flour and sieve it into a bowl. Fill the same mug with milk and pour that in. Add a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar. Mix it all up. Melt some butter in a frying pan on a low heat. Ladle in some of your pancake mixture and when you start to see some bubbles on top, flip it over. When the pancakes are nice and golden, serve them up with some fresh fruit and syrup.   It’s not quite how mother used to make them but they tick my boxes: easy to make and delicious! So, try them out and let me know how they go…and hopefully you’ll learn English words along the way as well. Here’s a few students at EC London enjoying their pancakes. Now it’s your turn!   Try out our learn English website if you’d like to learn English vocabulary. Have a look at our main website if you’re thinking about booking some adult English courses in the UK.  

Weekly Grammar Question: When is the future not the future? When it’s the future in the past!

The future in English is a wonderful minefield of oddities and exceptions but one thing that actually makes a little bit of sense but is often avoided by students is the future in the past. The idea here is to discuss the future of a past time. It’s very useful, especially for discussing failed or changed plans. Check out the dialogue below between the two men in the picture, talking about their weekend and then we’ll have a look at the structures in more detail. Click on the links to get the meaning of the more difficult words. Andy: So, how was your weekend? Joe: Well, you’ll never believe what happened to me. We went out on Friday night after work for a few drinks in the local and we were hoping to leave there about 8:00 but as usual we ended up having a few more pints than we’d planned. So we left at about 10:00 and we were going to go to a bar in Soho but on the way this fight broke out next to us on Tottenham Court Road. We weren’t involved but somebody called the police and they were going to arrest us because they thought we’d started it. Well, we explained what had happened and some passersby backed us up so the police let us go but it was quite scary. Andy: Wow! Why didn’t you just turn around and run in the other direction when you saw the fight? Joe: Well we were about to run away but a lady fell over next to us and hit her head on the footpath so we were trying to help her when the police arrived. Andy: Oh OK, well maybe next Friday you should leave at 8:00. I think you’re getting a little bit old for this … Read more

Words of the Week: Health

It’s pretty cold here in London and everyone’s health is at risk, it seems like everyone in the city is ill. It’s nothing serious of course, just a cold or the flu but it’s everywhere. Just this morning on the tube somebody sneezed on the back of my neck…this was not pleasant. But it got me thinking about the vocabulary a student might need to use in order to describe their cold or flu. Check out the words, idioms and phrases below for help describing your ailment. Pay careful attention to how they are used and if there’s anything you don’t understand, just click on it for a definition.   “I’m a bit under the weather.” = I’m a little bit ill. “I’m on the mend.” = I’m getting better. “My head is killing me.” = I have a terrible headache   I can’t stop sneezing                       coughing                       vomiting / throwing up     I feel dizzy            weak             nauseous             constipated             much better now   I have  a headache                a stomachache                a sore throat                a fever / a temperature               diarrhea                a blocked / runny nose   So if you’re feeling a little under the weather, get out there and use these handy words / phrases to let people know. But please try not to sneeze on anybody’s neck on the tube…that’s just disgusting. If you’d … Read more

Weekly Grammar Question: Be/Get used to

So, be/get used to, it’s one of those language points that people have a lot of problems with…but why? Let’s have a look at it in context. Check out this short paragraph about when I first came to London. I’ve lived in London for almost 5 years now and I have to say it’s a lot easier for me than it was when I arrived. When I first arrived there were a lot of differences between London and my city that I just couldn’t get used to. For example, when I first got her, I was standing on the left side of the escalator in the tube stations, which is a big no-no in London. People got really annoyed with me. After a week, of course, I didn’t even think about it anymore and I was used to standing on the right and walking on the left. Soon I even started getting annoyed with other people who stood on the left. That was when I knew that I’d never leave London. I imagine if I went back to Dublin now, I’d find it pretty hard to get used to the slower pace of life. Now, let’s take be/get used to apart and see what it’s made up of. Let’s focus on this sentence first:  “People got annoyed with me“. Let’s break it down. “Annoyed” is an adjective. We know this. “Get” is a verb, in this situation it means that the people are becoming annoyed. Now how about this sentence: “I couldn’t get used to it“. Again, “get” means “become”, so what kind of word is “used” here? Well it’s an Adjective of course. In this situation it means comfortable with,  familiar with or accustomed to. So what about this one?: “I was used to standing on the right”. This time we’re using … Read more