Click here to go to the main StudentGems site

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Five Ways Students Can Use Technology to Improve Their English

Remember the days when you weren’t even allowed to take your calculator into an exam room? Many teachers will have been brought up in that kind of era, which is why it can be difficult to adapt to the changes of modern technology in today's classrooms. 

However students lives are dominated by the latest devices and by embracing this, teachers can reach out to their students in a much more effective way. There are many ways to use technology in teaching and it is especially effective when learning the English vocabulary in a way that it is used on a day-to-day basis.

Having a reliable desktop computer is a must have these days, but beyond that here are five simple but effective ways to help students use technology to improve their English skills.

Podcasts
The iTunes store provides a wide range of English learning. Students can choose one that suites them specifically. Whether they are beginners or advanced speakers, there are podcasts to suit all levels. The convenience of being able to listen to podcasts anywhere such as on the bus, the train, walking to college or between classes, makes it a great way to develop English skills. Many podcasts also provide transcripts, which can be used for making notes as well as matching written words with spoken words. As well as being convenient, podcasts are also cost effective as the majority of them are free.

Online Tutor Sites
Having your own personal one-to-one tutor is the best way to be taught. However your progress depends on the availability of a reputable tutor located in your area. With the use of technology, students can use an online tutor. Often the tutors will provide a free 15-minute trial before students commit to a course.

You Tube
There are now thousands of videos on YouTube dedicated to teaching the English language. Videos are a great way to enhance English skills because you can see the person talking and this will help students with pronunciation.  This is a free way to learn and it is easy to stop and start the videos whenever you need to. Some of the videos have subtitles included to assist with word recognition.

Free Language Exchange Programme
Skype, Facetime and other video calling methods have made it possible for people on opposite sides of the world to connect. This has prompted the set up of language exchange programmes. The idea of the program is to partner up two people who are looking to learn each other’s language. Once a match has been found, the pair can arrange to talk as often as they like via video link, and improve their language skills,

Phone Apps
There is an app for everything and learning a language is no exception. Make sure you read the reviews before choosing which app to download, as the methods of learning vary significantly for each app. You can find apps that simply take you step by step through the language with tests at the end of each section. These are particularly good if you want to be led through the process. Other apps require you to enter details onto flash cards, so there is some set up time involved. Other apps provide learning as more of a game, which encourages the user to progress quicker and makes it more fun.

With so much help out there, it really is worth embracing technology to enhance the learning journey for students and improve English skills.

Friday, 1 December 2017

Seven ways in which private tuition can enhance classroom learning

One of the many benefits of private tuition is that it can strongly enhance classroom learning. It prepares the student, both academically and personally, for the up-coming challenges of the educational system. Here are some of the most important characteristics of private tuition, highlighting the contribution of having a private tutor to the overall classroom performance.

1. One-to-one approach
While working with their tutor, the student is engaged in one-to-one interaction, meaning they get their tutor’s full attention: the student can, therefore, freely ask for help and will receive it immediately, carefully constructed in the way best suited for him, that is, her. Individual differences between students, such as academic abilities and learning styles, are important and should be respected. With individual tuition, tutors let the students express themselves, they make the effort to understand them and to create the best possible teaching approach. This leads to positive attitudes toward the subject matter and better academic performance.

2. Confronting barriers to learning
If a student has a specific obstacle to learning, such as dyspraxia, dyslexia, sight impairment or hearing loss, a qualified tutor can help overcome those barriers and advance by leaps and bounds. The obstacles getting in the way of learning should be spotted right away and addressed adequately to achieve maximum results. The study on the effect of tutoring on reading achievement for students with cognitive disabilities, specific learning disabilities, and students receiving Title I services, demonstrated its significant positive effects.

3. Increased confidence
When students are getting help with their homework from their tutors, or preparing for an upcoming test in groups, they become more confident about their learning. When they’re doing homework with the help of a tutor, they are really engaging with the subject and are becoming more aware of the knowledge that they are gaining. It is important for the tutor to be able to keep their student focused, interested and confident. Students can be very afraid of tests. The assistance and support from their tutors, who can troubleshoot the flaws of students’ learning abilities and help fix them, can boost the self-confidence of the students.

4. Improving study skills
Besides being an expert in the subject, a good tutor has a strong grounding in pedagogy. It’s important for a tutor to not only teach the subjects, but to also teach the vital study skills. These include time management, summarizing, and focusing on important information. For instance, the students having difficulties with focusing should be presented with some strategies for paying attention in class. Every student has their own learning style, and being familiar with that can be a great base for improving one’s study skills. 

5. Setting goals and objectives
However, doing everything for the student does not make for a good tutor. Good tutors teach their students to set goals for themselves and help them figure out the best way to achieve those goals - there is scientific evidence that setting goals and objectives can enhance classroom learning. Moreover, marks at school are not the only thing on which the tutors should be focused. Their job is to motivate their students, stimulate and challenge them, so they can fulfil their potential.

6. Comfortable environment
Learning in the comfort of their own homes can make students more relaxed than they would be in the formal environment of a classroom. They become more engaged and creative with the subject matter and feel less pressure. Research about learning environments shows that people learn more effectively in environments in which they are more comfortable.

7. Accessibility
Students can have private tuition in the comfort of their home or it can take place online. Either way, students can adjust classes according to their needs. When it comes to online tuition, Singapore for example is one of the many countries finding this facility extremely beneficial. This is because the time and place of lecturing can depend on the student. If the student feels the need for some extra help with their homework or they just want to recap their week’s learning, it’s easy for them to schedule a tutoring session whenever they want and in whichever way they prefer. 

Finally, private tuition is an individual approach, taking place in a comfortable environment. It is very accessible, and the tutor has both knowledge and skills to help the student with their learning difficulties, to motivate them to set goals and to boost their confidence. Consequently, the student’s classroom learning, and their overall learning experience, are being improved.

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Student Loan Leaves Students £221 Short Every Month

Thousands of students will be starting university without enough money to make it through the year, experts warn.
  • The National Student Money Survey reveals two-thirds struggle to get by on the Maintenance Loan on its own
  • Parents expected to plug £221 gap – but government sums still leave students short of cash
  • Call for bigger loans to cover basic living costs
  • Jake Butler from Save the Student: “This shortfall is the most pressing issue with student loans, not the latest increases in fees and interest rate”.
As the UK’s students gear-up to go to university, Save the Student warns many may be walking into serious money problems – and it’s nothing to do with tuition fees surpassing £9,000 or the interest rate jumping to 6.1%.

The National Student Money Survey 2017 reports 84% of students suffered financial hardship last year, with 66% stating that the Maintenance Loan is not enough to live on.

The Student Loan is composed of two parts: a Tuition Loan (up to £9,250 in 2017/18) for course fees, and a Maintenance Loan for living costs.

Save the Student’s research reveals students need an average of £821 to cover monthly spending, with rent alone coming in at £394 nationally. However, the average Maintenance Loan payment (for students with a household income of £35k, studying away from home and outside London) is just £600 per month – that’s £221 too little.

The Maintenance Loan is means-tested and designed to be topped up by parents, with many caught out by calculations which expect them to chip in thousands of pounds

The Parental Contributions Calculator shows parents earning £35,000 are expected to contribute £1,211 each year*. For a household income of £50,000, the contribution rises to £3,027. Almost a third of students say parents don’t give enough financial support.

Emma has just finished her second year. She told Save the Student:
Coming from a less fortunate background, money is a massive worry for me. I don't have the option to ask parents for money, and I'm too proud to ask friends to borrow money either. My maintenance loan doesn't actually cover my rent. How am I supposed to live through university without enough money to cover rent?
Billie, who’s starting university in the North West, adds:
The government allow you the bare minimum to live on and think all parents are able to make up the difference. I think all students should be able to borrow anything up to £10,000 a year for living costs (my accommodation alone is almost £7,000!) as it's us who have to pay it back anyway!
The survey also highlights the dangers of sending students to university unprepared for financial hardship: half of all students report mental health issues due to a lack of cash, with 61% saying they can’t always afford to eat. Unsurprisingly, the majority (57%) feel Student Finance isn’t fair.

Jake Butler, Save the Student’s money expert, comments:
Whilst we’ve campaigned against the growing cost of tuition fees and the unfair way in which student loan interest is calculated, the pitiful size of the maintenance loans and the way in which they’re calculated is the major issue.

It’s quite evident that the student loan is not enough to support the average student and their day-to-day living costs, especially in the wake of grants and other financial support being stripped back. 

Parents are increasingly left to plug the gap, leaving many in a difficult position. Upping the loan available will of course mean students owe even more, but the repayment system is affordable.

Avoid a cash crisis at university: advice from Save the Student

  • Get a realistic idea of all the costs you’ll face over the year: rent, bills, books, food, transport and anything else you can think of.
  • Loans are paid in lump sum installments: it’s very important to budget so it lasts the full term.
  • Save the Student’s Parental Contributions calculator shows how much your folks are expected (by the government) to cough up. Use it to prompt an honest and upfront conversation about how much they can really give you.
  • Check you’ve got all the funding you’re entitled to, including Disabled Students’ Allowance, travel grants, childcare costs or help for care leavers if appropriate. Don’t include non-taxable income in Student Finance applications, as it could leave you with less cash than you’re owed.
  • Investigate extra sources of cash before you need them: a part-time job, council or corporate funds, state benefits or charity cash – try turn2us.org.uk.
  • Save as much as you can, either before university or as you go. If you don’t need the money immediately, ask your parents to pay top-ups into your savings instead of giving cash handouts.
  • Set up an interest-free student overdraft to get the best terms – and cheapest deal – if you have to borrow money. Don’t touch it until you need it!
  • Worried about mounting debt? Get expert, impartial advice before borrowing more to cover living costs. Try StepChange.org or nationaldebtline.org.
  • Find out how to apply for hardship (emergency) funds from your university now. It’s easier to get to grips with before you’re in a pickle.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

How to Promote Your Business Outside of Business Hours

Owning and running a business is tough work and you probably work long hours already to boost your brand awareness, finish client work and to keep your business growing.
Therefore you must ask yourself if there is a way to promote your business out of working hours?
From your traditional promotional ways to digital marketing, there are many ways for you to advertise and promote your business.

Radio
Advertising on the radio is a great way to get heard to a wide audience. With a catchy advert you’ll get listeners remembering not only your catchy tune, or slogan but your business name and what you offer.

Newspaper
Newspaper advertising is also still big in this digital age. Whether you choose to go to print with your advert or to appear on their digital version, you’ll be able to reach thousands of readers, who will become aware of your business.

Social media
Alongside traditional advertising you can use social media marketing, which over the past five to ten years has grown massively in popularity for use of businesses.
You can create new profiles for your business on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, making sure all profile pictures match across all platforms and the same goes for cover photos also, so your followers can see that it is really you.

The great aspect of social media is that it’s free to promote your business.
You can use scheduling tools such as Hootsuite, so you can schedule your social posts to go out at various times of the day and on specific days of the week you want.

You’ll be able to track via Twitter analytics and Facebook Insights to see how many people your social post has reached, as well as what the engagement rate is; comments, likes, shares and when your followers are online, so you can schedule your posts when your followers will see it.
If you link back to your website (which ideally you should be doing in some of your posts) via utms, you can track how many people have clicked on the link back to your website and what they have read on your site, plus so much more through Google Analytics.
This will help you to understanding what your followers, customers and future customers are liking on your social profiles which will help you to determine what sort of social posts you should include in your schedule.

Of course social media marketing can be boosted via paid social adverts too.
These are great at helping you to target your customers more specifically, from gender, to location, age range and interests. This can be done for both Facebook and Twitter. This is a fantastic way to help directly get under the noses of those people who you specifically want to become your customers.

PPC
If you use PPC (pay per click) for your online marketing then you can target adverts on Google and input how long you want the advert to run.
When someone types into the Google search bar a term that relates to your business, your ad will show up within the first few searches. 

Uniforms
Having a customised work uniform will also help promote your business when you are out and about, even if just travelling to and from work.
By having your business logo and/or name on your work top or coat, will catch the eye of passers by who will potentially clock your name and logo and further research it later if it is something of interest to them.
For personalised work wear companies such as the Embroidered Printed and Clothing Company have many years experience of bringing your clothing design to life and producing hundreds of work uniforms to your specifications.

The wonders of the internet means when you are sleeping, your business can still be busy working hard for you, getting itself out in front of your existing clients and future clients too.


Long gone are the 9-5 hour days when it comes to promoting your business. Welcome to the 24/7 world of business marketing!

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Important Skills Students need to Learn at University to Face the Corporate Struggle

Time is changing rapidly and students at university need to learn certain skills that will keep them in demand and give them an advantage during interviews. For a teacher or lecturer, it has now become a tough task to prepare students for the challenging world outside. The picture outside is changing rapidly, so students need to be prepared and learn things practically. Be it the gadget or social media, every field has its own challenges and required a certain skill-set that makes the student stand out from the crowd. Universities are using modern teaching methods and techno savvy to inform students about the real challenging world outside and what skills corporate business looks for while hiring new employees.

Here are some important skills which students should be considering:
Quick Learner:
In today's competitive world, it is important for employers to hire employees who have the ability to learn and act fast. Quick learners usually have their own competitive edge and carry a broad skill set. This certainly boosts the efficiency and minimises the duration of the work involved.

Leadership:
Leadership skills are important and employers are on hunt of people who are ready to lead. A student with excellent leadership qualities has a higher chance of getting the job. Educators need to train their students how to lead and excel. With the help of case studies and practical exercises, educators can teach students how to attain leadership and what makes it important.

Digital Literacy:
The corporate world is going digital and students need to be highly digitally skilled to meet the demand of current corporate world. Digital literacy in the corporate world is often the first and important step on the ladder for a new employee. From social media to IT, students should be trained about different strategies. There are many software packages that help to train people and are often available at an affordable price with vouchers from Bydiscountcodes.

Communication Skills:
The most important part for a student is to have good communication skills to communicate ideas in an effective manner. However, there are certain barriers involved in communication, which educators need to address and work upon. A good communicator can help in reflecting the strategies and presenting the idea for the betterment of the company. In terms of communication, students need to understand potential language barriers, active listening and engaging in a conversation.  There are many self-help books that will help to hone communication skills.

Willingness to Take Responsibility:
The corporate world is demanding and employers expect you to take responsibility, even if it doesn't meet the requirement profile. Educators need to train students on how to take up the responsibility and work smartly. In many situations, the jobs are challenging and require creativity and tenacity.

Other skills a student should acquire are:
·         Analytical Approach
·         Creative Thinking
·         Problem Solving
·         Collaborative Working

Conclusion:
For educators and students, university education is the most important part of life where students should be groomed well to face the corporate world with the right skills to take their career to a high level.