Christmas Traditions: History of the Christmas Tree 🎄

History of the Christmas Tree 🎄

Have you ever stopped to wonder why we do certain Christmas Traditions? Long before the advent of Christianity, plants and trees that remained green all year had a special meaning for people in the winter.


In the 18th century, it began to be illuminated by candles, which were ultimately replaced by Christmas lights.

Today, there is a wide variety of traditional ornaments, such as garlands, baubles, tinsel, and candy canes.

An angel or star might be placed at the top of the tree to represent the Angel Gabriel or the Star of Bethlehem, respectively, from the Nativity.

Modern Christmas trees have been related to the “tree of paradise” of medieval mystery plays that were given on 24 December, the commemoration and of Adam and Eve in various countries. In such plays, a tree decorated with apples (to represent the forbidden fruit) and wafers (to represent the Eucharist and redemption) was used as a setting for the play. Like the Christmas crib, the Paradise tree was later placed in homes. The apples were replaced by round objects such as shiny red balls.


When you’re in the office next at Lexis Byron Bay make sure to check out our own little Christmas Tree!




Information adapted from:
Learn English in Byron Bay. Lexis English students study General English, IELTS, FCE, CAE and English plus Surfing and Yoga in a friendly and professional school right in the heart of Byron Bay and only 15 minutes from the beach.

Meet Suzie! Lexis’ new Yoga Teacher


We are delighted to have the fabulous Suzie on board with us as our very own Lexis Yoga Teacher! Our students are really loving her classes each week. If you would like to join, her (free!) classes are every Monday at 2pm and Tuesday at 11am in room 8. 🙂

Here’s a little bit about Suzie…

I grew up in a city called Preston it is located North West of England, close to Manchester and Liverpool.

I speak Swedish and little Hebrew. Oh! and English!

When I was younger I wanted to be an actress. As I grew older I wanted to do something that helped people.


I have visited many counties but a few that touched my heart are: India, Sweden, Israel, Norway, Central America, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Andaman Island, Nepal, Thailand, Most of Europe…

I am 18 weeks pregnant! 😀

– Eat Vegemite
– Visit Western Australia
– Visit vineyards
– Hold a koala bear
– Feed some kangaroos

Going to the beach (my favourite is Tallows), sitting at Main Beach and watching the sunset and walking around to check out the street artists.

My dream holiday would be to visit the Maldives.

Don’t be afraid if you have never tried yoga before. We all start at the same place, its just up to us where we take it. If it’s been on your mind to start yoga , that’s your calling to start, nothing is easy in the beginning but with practice its get easier.


Learn English in Byron Bay. Lexis English students study General English, IELTS, FCE, CAE and English plus Surfing and Yoga in a friendly and professional school right in the heart of Byron Bay and only 15 minutes from the beach



Meet the Staff – This week Campus Manager, Lisa


in Brisbane at a Lexis Academic Managers’ Meeting


Just English fluently, but I studied Spanish in Guatemala for a few months and I’m currently learning Turkish.



…an author, a fashion designer, an explorer, a gardener and a Campus/Academic Manager in Byron Bay.



…on learning to surf. I only started this year and it’s the most amazing, relaxing, addictive thing I’ve ever done.



Surfing, eating, laughing, practising yoga, and spending time with my dog – Jacko.



With my 15 year old dog – Jacko


…I’ve been a vegan (no meat, fish, dairy or eggs) for nearly three years.



I’d love to spend a couple of years travelling the whole world doing different /treks/camps/retreats/workshops/classes.



Enjoying the sun and the water in Singapore


Because it feels good to help people achieve their goals, it’s creative, and no two days are ever the same.



At the 2017 Lexis Byron Bay Christmas Party at Mez Club


Try to follow your passions in English e.g. if you like gardening, find a community garden, if it’s yoga, attend yoga classes in English, If you love soccer, join a club. When you make English part of your everyday life, you’ll improve without effort.


Learn English in Byron Bay. Lexis English students study General English, IELTS, FCE, CAE and English plus Surfing and Yoga in a friendly and professional school right in the heart of Byron Bay and only 15 minutes from the beach.

Meet The Staff – Harriett – Teacher / Front Desk Support Officer

A big hello to everyone at Lexis English!!

My name is Harriett but you can call me Harry!  I am super excited to be a new member of the Byron Team working in the sunshine as a new Teacher / Front Desk Support Officer.


I am 26 , from the UK and arrived in Australia in June for my working Holiday visa. I have been living in Melbourne for the past 3 months but am very happy to be swapping the rain and cold for the beach and surf in Byron Bay!

I have spent the last two years living and teaching English and Art in Thailand.  I am so excited to get back into the classroom to have lots of fun  sharing my love for English with everyone at Lexis!


I will be running the morning activities at 11am and teaching some classes in the afternoons.

I am very creative, I  love to drink tea, paint, draw, make and create. I hope to get messy and  artsy with everyone in some of our morning activities !

Please come along to the  for a cup of tea or coffee and introduce yourself.

I am really friendly, bubbly and love to meet new people!



I am looking forward to getting to know you all and helping make your time at Lexis English fun and full of laughter!

Learn English in Byron Bay. Lexis English students study General English, IELTS, FCE, CAE and English plus Surfing in a friendly and professional school right in the heart of Byron Bay and only 15 minutes from the beach.



Meet the Teachers – Michelle!



Where did you grow up?

Sunshine Coast, Queensland


Which languages can you speak?

Japanese and English.


Which countries have you visited?

I haven’t been overseas yet!


What do you love the most about teaching?

Helping students reach their goals.


What is your top English learning tip?

Practice, practice, practice


Apart from a teacher, what else have you always wanted to be?

Speech pathologist.


Where will we find you at 11pm on a Saturday?

In bed, fast asleep


What about 8 am on a Saturday?

Mountain bike riding at Nightcap National Park


Tell us something not to miss out on in Byron Bay….

Make sure you visit all the National Parks in Byron and Lismore.


Which is your favourite restaurant/cafe in Byron Bay?

Traditional Thai.


What is your dream holiday destination?

Norway! I would love to see the Northern Lights.


Tell us something we didn’t know…

I have a pet duck called Alfie.


Learn English in Byron Bay. Lexis English students study General English, IELTS, FCE, CAE and English plus Surfing and Yoga in a friendly and professional school right in the heart of Byron Bay and only 15 minutes from the beach.


Meet the Teachers – Georgie!



Where did you grow up?

 In Saudi Arabia, the Ukraine, and the U.K


Which languages can you speak?

 English (kind of) and Chinese (with pointing)


Which countries have you visited?

 So many!


What do you love the most about teaching?

 When students make me laugh


What is your top English learning tip?

 Be my student 🙂


Apart from a teacher, what else have you always wanted to be?

 A musician


Where will we find you at 11pm on a Saturday?

 In bed


What about 8 am on a Saturday?

 In bed


Tell us something not to miss out on in Byron Bay….

 One or two people surf around here I think….


Which is your favourite restaurant/cafe in Byron Bay?

 The Sustainable Bakery next to  the bus stop


What is your dream holiday destination?



Tell us something we didn’t know…

Wombats can be as fast as horses (for a short time)! Wombats are also just generally very cool, OK?


Learn English in Byron Bay. Lexis English students study General English, IELTS, FCE, CAE and English plus Surfing and Yoga in a friendly and professional school right in the heart of Byron Bay and only 15 minutes from the beach.


Meet The Staff – Claire: Activities and Student Support Officer

Hello! My name is Claire and I’m very excited to be joining Lexis Byron Bay as the new Activities and Student Support Officer.


I’m from the UK but have been living in Byron Bay for 2 years now; which means I’ll be able to help you with questions about the local area and also about settling into a new country!

I love any outdoors activities and my favourite thing to do in my time off is camp, preferably close to a beach or somewhere with rainforest walks and a good chance of spotting wildlife!


I also love to travel and have visited many countries all over the world and worked in both Spain and Guatemala.


I will be based at reception and running the activities so please come along and introduce yourself; I’m really looking forward to getting to know you all and help you make the most out of your time in Byron Bay!

Learn English in Byron Bay. Lexis English students study General English, IELTS, FCE, CAE and English plus Surfing in a friendly and professional school right in the heart of Byron Bay and only 15 minutes from the beach.



Surf Lesson! October 6

Today we had two surf lessons with the awesome team at Let’s Go Surfing Byron Bay: one in the morning for the students studying in afternoon classes, and one in the afternoon for students studying in the morning classes!

Four students joined the morning class with instructor Johnny, and twelve students joined the afternoon class with instructors Blake and James.


Noori, Julie, Mara, Astrid, Jules, Yuki, Pauline, Lucile, Clara, Anna, Jane and Maria at the afternoon class

They first learnt the basics of surfing on the beach before heading into the water to put these skills into action.

The conditions were perfect both in the water and out, and it was a great day for beginners to learn how to surf. After falling off a few times, getting some more tips from the instructors and refining their skills a few more times, the students all caught some waves and had a lot of fun learning to surf!


Ana, Corinne, Fanny and Leticia at the morning surf lesson


Learn English in Byron Bay. Lexis English students study General English, IELTS, FCE, CAE and English plus Surfing in a friendly and professional school right in the heart of Byron Bay and only 15 minutes from the beach.

Bye bye Josie

Today everyone is sad to say goodbye to the upper intermediate teacher Josie as she is leaving Australia…don’t worry though, it’s not forever, she is lucky enough to be taking a holiday for two and a half months! Her first stop is Hawaii, then Canada and after that a tour of Europe! She’ll be back refreshed in time for the rush of summer when our CAE and FCE Cambridge classes start up again on the 5th of September. If you want to catch her before she jets off then head to the Railway bar this evening at 6pm where some of the students are going to have a few beers and celebrate the start of the long weekend! And if you don’t know already, there’s a Brazilian party at the Buddha Bar later on this evening so don’t forget your dancing shoes!


Meet The Staff – Megan: Activities and Student Support Officer

Hello! My name is Megan and I am the new Activities and Student Support Officer at Lexis Byron Bay.


I am from Australia and grew up in the Barossa Valley, a famous wine region in South Australia. I have also lived in Adelaide and Melbourne, and am now very excited to be living in beautiful Byron Bay.

Over the past ten years I have done a lot of travel and have lived overseas in the UK, Europe, North America and South-East Asia. I love to travel and have many great memories of exploring new places and meeting new people.


I really love outdoor activities – playing sports, going to the beach, hiking, snowboarding, bike riding and trying new things like paragliding. I also enjoy helping out at local animal rescue centres, and have done this in Australia, Canada and Nepal.


I am based at Reception and will be running activities through the week, so come say hi and introduce yourself! I am so excited to be part of the team at Lexis and am looking forward to helping you all enjoy your time here in Byron Bay.

Who’s Who at Lexis Byron Bay?

We have a lovely team of staff here at Lexis Byron Bay and it’s a small school, so you’ll probably meet most of us during your time here! Keep reading to find out more about everyone, including a few fun facts about us all!

Lisa is our Campus Manager and Director of Studies, so she has the challenging job of keeping the whole school organised and running smoothly.

Lisa decided to come to Australia because she met 2 Aussies on a Nile cruise in 1999!



Yvonne is our Homestay and Student Services Officer, so she matches students with our lovely homestay families and helps students with any other day-to-day questions.

Yvonne has a great sense of humour and is always making us laugh in the office!



Laura is our Activities and Student Services Officer, so she organises daily student activities, keeps our Lexis Byron Bay blog and Facebook page up-to-date, helps students with any questions or problems and makes sure every student is happy! Laura is sad to be leaving Lexis Byron Bay soon, but hopes to return later in the year!

Laura loves taking photographs with old film cameras – in fact, you can see her photographs here 🙂



Claudia currently teaches our Intermediate class in the mornings and our Mixed Skills class in the  afternoons.

Claudia used to live in Los Angeles and partied in some of Hollywood’s famous nightspots!



Paul has been teaching at Lexis since 2012 and he teaches our Cambridge CAE students.

In his twenties, Paul was an amateur boxer and kick-boxer!



Kathleen has taught many different classes but recently she has been teaching our Intensive Intermediate class. She is about to take a holiday to travel overseas, but we’re looking forward to welcoming her back afterwards.

Kathleen’s dream holiday destination is South East Asia, particularly Laos and Cambodia.



Julia also teaches our Cambridge CAE exam students.

Julia can do fire poi – she taught herself during many hours spent on the beach while travelling in Asia!



Josie’s FCE students like her so much, they wrote a lovely Valentine’s Day card for her using perfect essay-style English!

Josie was born in London, but grew up in both Ireland and Kenya as well as having lived in Scotland, France, Spain, New Zealand, Canada and here in Australia.



Anji currently teaches one of our Pre-Intermediate classes during the mornings and IELTS during the afternoons.

Anji started the first women’s boxing club in the UK in 1994!



Mel is currently teaching our Elementary and Pre-Intermediate classes during the mornings and our English and Cooking class in the afternoons.

Mel has lived in Peru, Spain and Colombia!


Mel has lived in Peru, Spain and Colombia!

Beckie is currently teaching our Pre-Intermediate class during the mornings and our  English and Cooking class in the afternoons.

Beckie can hula-hoop for over an hour!

beckie-2 (1).jpg


David is currently teaching our Upper-Intermediate class.

David’s dream holiday destination is coastal France or Tahiti.



Kristy is teaching our Elementary and Pre-Intermediate classes at the moment.

Kristy travelled around the US for 3 months by herself and stayed with people from couch surfing, who she’s still friends with!



Ellie is currently teaching one of our Cambridge FCE classes.

In April and May, Ellie is going to Tasmania to learn how to build wooden boats using Viking-style methods. Then she’ll be returning to Lexis for the winter 🙂



I hope you enjoyed getting to know who’s who at Lexis Byron Bay! If you would like to know more about us, chat to us when you see us around school 🙂

Meet Marcella from BWT!

Most of you have probably met Marcella by now, or at least seen her at the BWT travel desk downstairs in the student lounge. Marcella works for Backpackers World Travel and she has been with us for a few weeks now, working with Luiz as our travel expert. Read on to find out more about her…

Marcella_Lone Pine_Brisbane  (3).jpg

Tell us about yourself!

Originally I’m from Santos on the East Coast of Brazil. I put my backpack on just over three years ago now and have never got round to going home! Most of that time has been spent in Australia.

What is your favourite trip or destination in Australia?

How do I pick something like this? I absolutely loved Uncle Brian’s Rainforest tour in Cairns as well as the reef trips, but nothing can beat the thrill of jumping out of a perfectly good aeroplane at 14,000ft!!!!!

What is your favourite thing to do in Byron Bay?

I love the sunrise at the lighthouse where I can admire the beautiful Byron Bay beaches, but my favorite trip is the snorkel at Julian Rocks Marine Reserve which is home to three different species of sea turtle, an assortment of rays including mantas, hard and soft corals, friendly wobbegong sharks and over four hundred different species of fish. What a beautiful please to explore the marine life!

Where are you planning to travel to next?

I never want to stop travelling! There are so many places still on the wish list, but the top two for now have to be the West Coast and Tasmania .Oh, and I’ve just been invited to go Skiing in Japan next year!

Marcella will be at Lexis every Monday, Wednesday and Friday between 12pm and 3pm. Introduce yourself when you see her around and ask her all of your travel-related questions! 🙂


Meet The Staff – Jodie Roberts

Jodie (3)

Which languages can you speak?

English, some German, and some Swiss German

What have you always wanted to be?

A mermaid

What is Byron bay’s best kept secret?

Iced “dirty” (has a shot of espresso in it) chai lattes at the ginger pig – make sure you get ice cream in it!

Tell us something we didn’t know about you

I’m also a scuba diving instructor

What are you usually doing at 11pm on a Saturday?

At the Rails, a great locals pub. Or in bed!

What about 8 am on a Saturday?

Scuba diving Julian Rocks

What is your dream holiday destination?

The Maldives. Amazing beaches, amazing diving, amazing holiday

Which is the best restaurant/cafe in Byron Bay?

Bay Leaf. Such great food.

Tell us one of Byron Bay’s highlights…

Sunrise at the Lighthouse. Well worth getting up early for

What is your English learning tip?

Speak to as many native English speakers as possible and don’t be afraid to make mistakes – it’s how you learn!

Meet The Staff – Kristy Jones

KristyWhich languages can you speak?

English and kiwi 🙂

What is Byron Bay’s best kept secret?

To walk along the beach from Main beach to Belongil, especially during twilight or at night with a full moon.

Tell us something about you that we didn’t know

I’m learning Italian so I can speak to my mother in law.

Which is the best restaurant/cafe in Byron Bay?

Green Pig

What is your English learning tip?

Learn new words every day and practice using them to expand your vocabulary

Meet The Staff – David Wakefield

David (3)

Which languages can you speak?

English and bits and pieces

What have you always wanted to be?

I always wanted to be a fit and healthy surfer who plays various musical instruments, travels and teaches

What is Byron Bay’s best kept secret?

The fact you can ride your bike along the beach at low tide and it’s as hard as the road.  It’s especially great with the wind at your back.

Tell us something we didn’t know about you…

I make the best lemon-lime tarts in the entire world.

What are you usually doing at 11pm on a Saturday?

Either watching documentaries, ‘Friends’, home renovating shows on TV or asleep

What are you usually doing at 8 am on a Saturday?

Sitting on the patio having a coffee and checking the weather, surf, wind and tide report for the day

What is your dream holiday destination?

Coastal France or Tahiti.

Which is the best restaurant/cafe in Byron Bay?

Miss Margarita Mexican Restaurant or Roadhouse Café

Tell us one of Byron Bay’s highlights…

Having a smoothie from Naked Treaties in Marvel St.

What is your English learning tip?

Sing in English as much as possible.

Meet The Staff – Melinda McGrath


Which languages can you speak?


What is Byron Bay’s best kept secret?

Lake Ainsworth – a huge tea tree lake at Lennox Head.

Tell us something we didn’t know about you…

I have lived and worked in Spain, Peru and Colombia.

Where would we find you at 11pm on a Saturday?

At home watching a DVD with a glass of red wine

What about at 8 am on a Saturday?

You’ll find me in bed trying to sleep in.

What is your dream holiday destination?


Which is the best restaurant/cafe in Byron Bay?

Orient Express

Tell us one of Byron Bay’s highlights…

The Farm

What is your English learning tip?

My English learning tip is don’t be afraid to speak. The more you practice the better and more confident you will become.

Some Lovely Feedback


All our students go through a Four-Weekly report process, which means that after 4, 8, 12 etc weeks their teachers writes a report about their progress and takes them through it and then the student has the chance to give feedback on their teacher and their progess.

This week three students in Claudia’s Intermediate class gave this lovely feedback:

Claudia is a very good teacher and her lessons are always very entertaining. She does a lot of games and everyone takes part.

Eva Marie

I am very happy with the school and the teaching materials. My teacher is always in an absolutely great mood and ready to help at any time. Thanks!


Our teacher explains the grammar very good. She makes an example to the grammar. She is patient and makes the lesson interesting and funny. The games are funny and the grammar clearer. The essay is difficult for me but this helps me to improve my English.


Thanks Claudia for doing such an amazing job and to Eva Maria, Fridolin and Simona for taking the time to provide such thoughtful and eloquent feedback.

Claudia 001

Meet The Staff – Laura: Activities and Student Support Officer

Hello everyone! I’m Laura and I’m the new Activities and Student Support Officer here at Lexis Byron Bay.


I’m from the UK but I first came to Australia 2 years ago as a backpacker. I had a great time travelling to places like Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Noosa, the Whitsunday Islands, Tasmania and of course, Byron Bay! I came back to Australia earlier this year and I’m really enjoying living in Byron, it’s such a fun place to live and work.


In the past I’ve worked at an aquarium, a beach and a museum. I’ve also worked with language students, so I love meeting people from all over the world.

My hobbies include photography and anything to do with the beach – I spend most of my free time there. I also love to travel… so far I’ve been to France, Cyprus, Germany, Netherlands, Spain, Norway, Italy, South Africa, Thailand, Indonesia and Australia. In the future I’d like to visit New Zealand and South America.


I’ll be based up at reception and running the activities, so come and say hello and introduce yourself when you see me at school or around town. I’m excited about getting to know you all and looking forward to helping you make the most of your time in Byron!

Goodbye Grant (sob sob)

In some ways it only seems like five minutes since Grant joined the Lexis team in January,  in other ways it seems like he’s been here forever.

One thing is certain – we will miss him next week when he is gone. As our students know Grant is from California and he started working at Lexis Byron Bay in January on a Working Holiday visa. Unfortunately, this means that he can only work for the same employer for six months so, apart from a few weeks in July when he’ll be back to work with  our surfing juniors, this is goodbye. 🙁


Grant cooking his famous Mexican BBQ

Grant has provided awesome (one of his favourite words) student and administrative support throughout his time at Lexis and also run some fabulous activities. He has got students making animals noises, singing karaoke and doing salsa and has presided over some extremely competitive games of ping pong, soccer, volleyball and poker. He also proved to be a super chef when he created a delicious Mexican BBQ.

Here in the office, we will miss his sarcasm, his competitiveness and his loud shirts and I’m sure I speak for everyone when I say “don’t be a stranger.”

To find out a little more about Grant and his strange hobbies, take a look at one of his first ever posts from January this year, where he introduces himself to you all.

Goodbye and good luck Grant. Missing you already!


Meet the Staff – Teacher Paul Flanagan


Many of you will know Paul who has been teaching here since 2012. Paul has taught all levels and classes and is currently inspiring students on our Cambridge FCE Preparation Course. Below are some things you may or may not know about him:

  • He went to University in Indonesia (studying Islam, Linguistics and Indonesian)
  • He is a keen surfer and returns to Indonesia at least once a year
  • He used to be a chef and has worked in a number of restaurants in Byron Bay
  • In his twenties he was an amateur boxer and kick-boxer
  • His passion is pronunciation as anyone joining his class will know


Finally, here are some things that his students have said about him:

“Paul is a very patient teacher; funny, serious, reliable and organised.”

“He is the best and very helpful.”

“He’s a good teacher. He gives us more exercises – not only the book.”

“It’s funny in his class and learning English with him is easy.”

” He can explain the vocabulary and the grammar well and he checks that the pronunciation is correct.”

“I like Paul. He does a good job. He makes school funny and interesting with his jokes.”

“Paul is very funny and it’s a pleasure to learn with him.”

Meet the Staff: Academic Manager Lisa!



This week we meet Lisa, our Academic Manager here at Lexis English | Byron Bay!

Here she talks about her top tips for exploring Byron Bay, using the English Only policy to make friends and her sinister past as an embroiderer! 

Languages spoken: Spanish (enough to get by badly) Turkish (enough to ask for a cup of tea)

I always wanted to be a …. Fashion Designer and my degree is actually in Fashion and Textile Design – specialism: Embroidery!

Byron Bay’s best kept secret is …. Lexis English school of course! It’s probably the most beautiful place in the world to learn English – and to work.

I’ll bet you didn’t know …..I always live in places beginning with B. I grew up in Botley (Oxford, England), went to university in Birmingham (England), spent my 20s in Bicester and Banbury (England), moved to Brunswick (Melbourne) in 2006 and now live in Byron Bay.

At 11pm on a Saturday, you’ll find me …. Curled up on the sofa, cuddling my two dogs, reading a good book, listening to some soulful music and drinking a nice glass of red wine.

At 8 am on a Saturday, you’ll find me….. walking my dogs on one of the many beautiful beaches around Byron and looking forward to the rest of the weekend.

My dream holiday destination is ….a raw food and yoga retreat by the beach

Best restaurant/cafe in Byron Bay is ….I haven’t been able to try them all yet, but anyone who comes to Byron simply must try drinking cocktails at the Balcony  

When you’re in Byron Bay, don’t miss …. Chocolate Yoga, snorkelling at Julian Rocks and a surf lesson or two.

My English learning tip is….to make it sociable. Our English Only policy means that even when you’re not in class you’ll be speaking in English – on activities, at lunchtime and when leaving school. And when you make friends with students from different countries, your English will improve without you even having to try.

Thanks Lisa! Look out for her with her dogs on the beach, supping cocktails at the Balcony or at your next Chocolate Yoga session 🙂


A very happy student – Fumitoshi Homma


Fumitoshi (Toshi) has been at Lexis Byron Bay for 6 weeks. He is one of the happiest, most positive people I’ve ever met and it has been an absolute delight having him at the school. Today he flies to Perth, ready to start at Lexis | Perth on Monday. I caught up with him before his flight to ask him some quick questions.


Why did you choose to study Byron Bay?

First I was just going to go to Noosa and Perth, but then I heard that Byron Bay was really beautiful so I decided to spend some time here too. I’m happy I did.


What was the best thing about studying English in Byron Bay?

The beaches, the teachers and the fact that everyone is so close; both classmates and teachers. It’s like a family here.


Has your English improved much since you arrived?

I hope so. Yes, I think so. (His teacher says it has a lot; especially his speaking.)


What helped your English the most?

The English Only Policy. It was perfect. And my lovely teacher, Kathleen. She is the best teacher I’ve ever seen!


And finally, what would you say to anyone who was thinking about studying English at Lexis Byron Bay?

You must come here!


And we’d love more students like you, Toshi. I hope you have a really great time in Perth. We’ll miss you.

Meet the Staff: Kathleen!



Meet Kathleen! Kathleen has been teaching our Pre-Intermediate class here at Lexis | Byron Bay, and has always been a hit with the students, who love her teaching styles and easy to understand explanations.

Here are some things that you might not know about our wonderful Kathleen!

Kathleen always wanted to be a teacher, philanthropist or beachbum. It looks like at least two out  of these have come true!

When asked, she says that Byron Bay’s best kept secret is The Rails Friendly Bar on a Sunday afternoon.

Her special tidbit for living in Byron is to learn the local lingo! She says that ‘Jingi Walla!’ means welcome in the indigenous Bundjalung language of Byron Bay.

At 8 am on a Saturday, you’ll find her at the gym – yeehah!! This applies to any day in fact – Kathleen is a real gym bunny!

Her dream holiday destination is South East Asia, particularly Laos and Cambodia. Long painful cycling trips really turn her on 🙂

And finally – her invaluable tips for learning the English language are:

– When you’re in Byron Bay, don’t miss school!

– Find funny/interesting ways to remember the grammar rules.



Lisa’s Study Corner – THIS WEEK – When do I use Present Perfect?


In my experience the perfect tenses are the ones that confuse students the most; they are difficult to make correctly (Is it has, have or had? What is the past participle?) and they are used in a number of situations which may not directly correlate to a tense in your language. However, Present Perfect, which links the past with the present, is probably one of the most used tense in conversational English – so you need to be able to get it right.

Here, I will focus on when you use (and don’t use) the PRESENT perfect.

  • Unfinished Past
    Present Perfect literally means that it happened or started before the present. The first example of this is when we are talking about something that started in the past and continues into the present time. For example, “I’ve lived here for five years” or “He’s written five bestselling children’s books.” You started living there five years ago and you still live their now or he started writing books at some point in the past and he’s still writing them now. Compare this to the Past Simple “I lived here for five years/He wrote five bestselling children’s books”. In these sentences you don’t live there anymore; he isn’t going to write any more children’s books.German speakers, in particular want to use the Present Continuous in these situations but “I am living here for five years” is incorrect because Present Continuous cannot be used for something that started in the past. It can be useful to remember you can’t use for + period of time or since + point in time with the Present Continuous, so always use the Present Perfect or Present Perfect Continuous (I have been living) instead.
  • Experience
    A second time we use Present Perfect to talk about something that happened before the present is when we are telling people about our experiences, and when it’s the experience itself that’s important not the details of when, where and how it happened.
    It’s easier to understand this if we make questions. So imagine the questions “Have you been to America?” or “Have you ever tried crocodile meat?” These questions are asking you about your experiences from any time in the past up until the present time (before present) and time and details aren’t important. You just want to know “Yes” or “No”. As soon as you begin to describe the experience, however, you go back to Past Simple. For example “Yes, I have. I went there two years ago to study English.” or “Yes, it was delicious.”
  •  Something that happened in the past which is important now
    The final use of Present Perfect is when we want to talk about something that happened in the past but has an impact on your current situation. For example, “I’ve lost my keys,” (I lost them in the past but it’s important now because I can’t open my front door) or “I’ve finished the exercise,” (I finished it just before, but I’m telling you about it now so we can check it). As I’m writing this I’m scratching my leg because I’ve been bitten by a mosquito (the mosquito bit me at some point earlier today but it’s itching right now.) Compare this with Past Simple “I lost my keys,” “I finished the exercise,” “I was bitten by a mosquito.” These events all happened in the past and there is nothing linking them to the present.
  • When you don’t use it
    So it’s useful to know that there are three times we use the Present Perfect but it can be equally useful for students to be aware of the times they cannot use Present Perfect. In my experience there are two mistakes that students commonly make.
  1. Using the Present Perfect to give details about something that happened in the past.
    For example, “Yes, I have been to America in 2010.” This is not correct because you have given the detail of time. Remember, you use the Present Perfect to talk about the experience and then Past Simple to give the details “I went to New York and Boston to study English.”
  2. Using the Present Perfect when you are telling a story about the past.
    If you are telling a story you need to use the three narrative tenses: Past Simple, Past Continuous and Past Perfect. Not Present Perfect. For example, “He didn’t go surfing because he had tried it before and knew he didn’t like it.” Not “He didn’t go surfing because he have tried it before.” The key thing to remember here is that we use Present Perfect to describe an action before the present and Past Perfect to describe an action that happened before the past.

So to summarise this week’s Tip – Perfect tenses join two times together and the Present Perfect joins the present and past together. We need to do this to talk about 1.) something that started in the past and continues into the present, 2.) something that happened at any point in the past up until now when the details are not known or not important and 3.) events that happened in the past which are important to the current situation.

Lisa’s Study Corner. THIS WEEK – How can I practise speaking outside of class?


Lisa’s Study Corner. THIS WEEK – How can I practise English outside of class?

<p>In the past, students have said to me, “I get good results in class but I really don’t think that my English is getting any better. Why not?”

The answer, in my experience, is simple. You need to practise more. Think about when you learned to drive. You had lessons with an instructor, yes, but you also probably spent a lot of time terrorising your dad, your friends and other willing victims by driving their cars while they sat white-knuckled beside you. It’s the same with English – the lessons give you the foundations but you need to practise, practise, and practise to be able to apply what you learn in class. Below are some easy ways you can do this.

1. English Only
By far the most important factor to your progress is how much time you spend using the language – that’s why Lexis English Byron Bay has an ‘English Only’ policy. Make the most of this rule by speaking in English at breaks and lunchtime and before and after school. When everybody is speaking English as a second language, you don’t need to feel embarrassed.

2. GIL
Come along to GIL which is on every afternoon in Room 1 between 2 and 3 pm. GIIL is a great opportunity to get special attention from our excellent teachers. You can get personalised help and extra practise with any language points you need.

3. Activities and Workshops
Our workshops help with particular skills – for example, Job Club (next one 23/04) offers advice on writing CVs, looking for work and going for interviews. Coffee Lounge (14/04), on the other hand, provides an opportunity to chat to students from other classes about a wide variety of topics. And, of course all our activities also provide an opportunity for you to practise English and have fun at the same time. Check out the activity calendar above for what’s on this month.

4. Homestay and Out & About
Practice makes perfect! So make the most of the opportunity to live with an Aussie family and get to know them – it’s ok to make mistakes, just give it a try. Speaking with native speakers as much as possible is an excellent way to increase your confidence, while listening to native speakers is also a great way to pick up the intonation and pronunciation patterns – so keep your ears open!

5. Real World English
During your stay in Byron you can learn from all different kinds of English language media – movies, music, newspapers and magazines. Try lots of different ways of encountering English, it doesn’t matter if you don’t understand everything – the process will build your confidence and help you on the way to fluency!

Most importantly, don’t worry about what you cannot remember, or cannot yet understand, or cannot yet say. It doesn’t matter. You are learning and improving. The language will gradually become clearer in your brain, but this will happen on a schedule that you cannot control. So enjoy!

So to summarise this week’s Tip – Just make sure you spend enough time with English. That is the greatest guarantee of success.

Lisa’s weekly tips provide answers to the most common student questions THIS WEEK – Am I ready for the next level?


In the past, students have said to me, “I think my English is better than the other students in the class. Can I go up to the next level?”

The answer, in my experience, is not simple. It’s possible that you are ready for the next level, in which case your teacher can recommend you for promotion. However, it’s possible that you think you are better than the other students because you’re a confident speaker but really the other students may be much better at grammar or vocabulary or writing than you. When assessing students’ level teachers and Directors of Studies look at many different things; the list below might help you understand why you and your classmates have been placed together.

1. Fluency V Accuracy

Some students sound brilliant to their classmates because they always speak in class, they love participating in discussions and answering questions in front of the class. However, while they are fluent communicators, these students often are not speaking correct English but instead speaking in their own language using English words. They can still be understood but compare them to the other student who thinks carefully before he or she speaks. This second student rarely makes mistakes, they are focused on accuracy as much as communication. It takes them a long time to say what they want to say, but when they do it’s perfect. Who is the better speaker?


 2. Strengths and Weaknesses Likewise, you can’t just judge your classmates ability by their speaking alone. Some students are excellent at the receptive skills of listening and reading, but find the productive skills of speaking and writing more difficult. Some students find grammar really difficult but have a really wide range of vocabulary. And finally some students are easier to understand than others simply because of their pronunciation. Each student is unique and has his or her own strengths and weaknesses.


 3. Confidence and Commitment In my experience, it’s also important to consider a student’s personality. Some students are shy and don’t like to speak in front of others. In this case, it is usually better for the student to be placed in a class they are near the top of rather than near the bottom. Other students are very curious. They always try to see the bigger picture and ask intelligent questions about things they don’t understand. These students usually work much better in a class that is just a little difficult for them. And of course, commitment is important too. If a student is prepared to study outside of class, to look up things that they don’t understand or to go to GIL and ask the teacher there for extra help, then they can probably cope with a class a bit high for their level. On the other hand, if the student has to rush off to a job straight after class or only hangs out with friends who speak the same language their progress cannot be fast-tracked in the same way.


As teachers we all want our students to develop and progress as quickly as possible, but we also recognise the problems of students trying to run before they can walk. If you genuinely feel like you are not learning in the class you are in you should speak to your teacher or Director of Studies as soon as possible, but, generally speaking, when your teacher thinks that you are ready for the next level they will discuss it with you.



So to summarise this week’s Tip – Don’t automatically think that because you are the best speaker in the class you should be in a higher level. If you are still learning or getting better you are probably in the right class. However, you can (and should) always speak to you teacher or you Director of Studies if you don’t think your English is improving.

Memories of the sun from last Friday’s beach cricket game!

friday beach cricket


So, you may have got a little bit soggy on the way to school today. I took the bus and still look like I swam across the Bay to get here.

But, here are some memories of the beautiful weather last Friday! Julia took a group of students down to Clarkes Beach to play beach cricket. I’d hazard a guess that today’s Beach Ultimate Frisbee will be cancelled but no worries if you brought your swimmers anyway, you might need them for the way home 🙂

Meet the Staff : straying to BWT this week – meet Maya!!

maya interview

As you probably already know, Maya from Backpacker World Travel has left the Lexis travel desk, and in a month will be leaving Byron Bay itself for a brand new adventure in Cairns!
We sat down with Maya to talk about her time in Australia and her top tips for travelling this amazing country!

Maya is from the Netherlands, where she grew up on a cargo ship! This is obviously where the travelling spirit comes from 🙂

Maya, how long have you been in Australia?

I’ve been in Australia now for three and a half years! I was supposed to come for six months as a backpacker, but I fell in love with the country – the wide, open spaces –it’s an amazing place to live.

Where have you travelled in Australia so far?

I actually came to Australia once before and travelled the East Coast – as well as the red centre, Kakadu National Park (which I’ve now been to six times!) and the Great Ocean Road. This time, I was in Sydney for two days searching for my lost backpack (!), then flew to Perth, travelled up the coast to Broome, carried on to Darwin, then down to Alice Springs. From Alice Springs I went to Adelaide, then along to Melbourne, and ended up in Sydney – where I lived for three or four months. I then explored Tasmania, before flying to Adelaide and travelling from there to Perth – driving across the Nullarbor. I found a job in a country pub in Narrabeen, which is 300km inland from Perth! I met three girls there who I travelled up the West Coast with, and they dropped me at a cattle station where I did my three months regional work for my second working holiday visa. After that I flew to Sydney and got a job with Backpacker World Travel! I worked there for eight months, before they asked me to move to Darwin and work in the store there for six months. Finally – I moved to Byron Bay to work for BWT here, and I have been here for 18 months! So as you can see – I have been everywhere!

Where is your favourite place that you have lived in Australia?

Can I have a top three?! My top three places that I have lived are Sydney, Byron Bay and Fremantle, Western Australia.

If I had two months to see as much as I could in Australia, what would you recommend?

It depends on when you are here – as the seasons can really affect where you want to go! If you are here in summer, then I think you shouldn’t miss the Great Ocean Road, and driving across the Nullarbor is an incredible experience. Also the West Coast – you should always do the West Coast!

In the winter, I’d say go to Perth and travel up the coast to Broome, and then further up to Darwin, and don’t miss Kakadu!

Do you have a favourite pub in Australia that you have found?!

That’s a hard one – so many pubs! Probably the Norfolk on Cleveland Street in Sydney – it’s a great pub and has an amazing pub garden.

Which activities do you think shouldn’t be missed whilst you are in Australia?

There are just endless options! Swimming with sea lions on the Nullarbor is amazing, and swimming with whale sharks on Ningaloo Reef as well – you pretty much always know that you will see some in season as they use spotter planes. Also Uncle Brian’s in Cairns is the best day trip I have ever done – it’s just a day of swimming, eating, swimming, eating – waterfall after waterfall and laughing the whole time – literally, your stomach hurts by the end f the day because you have been laughing so much!

And how about activities in Byron Bay?

Fly Gyro is really fun – flying over Byron Bay and the beaches and waves in a little two person plane. Also a skydive – it’s just such an adrenaline kick, everyone should do it once in their life!

Is there a travel spot outside Australia that you’d recommend for someone wanting to explore on their way home?

Definitely Sri Lanka – everyone should go there! Its so unspoilt and not touristy at all – kids are waving at you the whole time, there are elephants and tea plantations – it’s just beautiful.

And last, but definitely not least – tell us more about what you are up to next!

I’m still here in Byron Bay for another month, so I’m still around if you need to book any travel, trips or activities. Then I will be moving up to Cairns to work for BWT there. Byron Bay is a small town, and although I love it, I do need a challenge! Plus, I’m so excited to have the Great Barrier Reef in my back garden! Cairns is a bigger store than Byron, but I will really miss dealing with the Lexis students, you get to know them and spend so much time helping them plan their trips. The biggest difference will probably be that I’m sending people down, instead of sending them up – I’ll have to re-memorise the bus timetable!!

If you are in Cairns – make sure that you pop into the store and say hi! I’ll give you a voucher for a free meal at the Woolshed 😉

Thanks Maya and GOOD LUCK!!!!

LISA’S WEEKLY TIPS – How can I remember new vocabulary?


In the past, my students have often said to me, “When I study vocabulary in class, it’s easy to remember but a couple of days later I’ve completely forgotten it. What can I do to make sure I remember the words?”

The answer, in my experience, is simple: Repetition and Personalisation

1.      Repetition
Yes, learning vocabulary is just like anything else; the more you do it, the better you get. Most studies agree that it is essential to repeat or practice a new set of words immediately after being exposed to them. And then repetition should follow at progressively longer intervals. So when you learn new words remember the saying “Use it or lose it”.  Try to use the new words in your journal or in conversation with your classmates, or stick post-its of the words around your bedroom and when you see a post-it try to use the word in a sentence to describe your current situation. Choose one day per week to go back over the words you have learned that week and if there are any you forgot, add them to the list for the following week and keep doing this until they are stuck in your brain. Make it fun by getting a friend to test you or test yourself and buy yourself a small reward when you get 10/10.

2.      Personalisation
It’s a fact that memory works best when dealing with things that are already important to us. Therefore, if you link a new word into an aspect of your life you are much more likely to remember it. For example, imagine the word: difficult. You could try to learn this word by looking at its opposite: easy, or by using synonyms: hard but you’re more likely to remember it if you write three example sentences that make the word mean something to you. e.g.

  • Monday’s test was really difficult so I only got 5 out of 10.
  • I’m no good at tennis. I find it really difficult to hit the ball.
  • Yesterday was a difficult day for me because my car broke down and I was late for work.

This takes more time to do, but the personalised example sentence not only helps the word stick in your brain it also helps you feel confident in adding the word to the range of vocabulary you already use. Try it, and then remember to follow up with Step 1.

The most important thing is to be realistic and to self-study. Very few people can remember something they only see once but if you take the time outside class to review and personalise the new vocabulary you learn every day, you’ll soon find that you can remember more and more.

So to summarise this week’s Tip – To remember new vocabulary, make it meaningful to you and then try to review and use it regularly.


Sad Farewell to two Lexis | Byron Bay legends!

josie and maya


We say a sad farewell to two Lexis legends today!!

Maya Bwt Byron Bay will no longer be smiling from the travel desk in the student lounge as she is off to start a new adventure with Backpacker World Travel in Cairns! She is replaced by Pierre who will be here Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays – but we will miss Maya’s amazing travel knowledge and cheerful enthusiasm!

Also today was teacher Josie Rork‘s last day! Josie will spend a few weeks relaxing and working on her watercolours in Byron – look out for in the early hours of Saturday morning in the Northern! She then goes home to Ireland for a few months, but will hopefully be back in Australia soon. Josie was a hit with the students and brought infectious humour to the Lexis staff room, and will be missed!

From everyone at Lexis – we wish Josie and Maya all the best!!!

Meet the Teacher: Josie



It is teacher Josie’s last week here at Lexis English | Byron Bay – and so we thought we’d feature her on Meet the Teacher before she disappeared!

Josie has been a teacher here at Lexis in Byron for six months, during which time she has brought to life the Movies and Songs Options class, made great friends with her students, and dreamed of learning to surf – whilst lying on the beach with a beer.

Josie was born in London, but grew up in both Ireland and Kenya; as well as having lived in Scotland, France, Spain, New Zealand, Canada and right here in Australia.

She studied Languages at university in Edinburgh, and speaks French as well as her native English.

She always wanted to be a travel writer; and her creative side lives on – she has been known to dazzle people with her watercolours! Her dream holiday destination is the Caribbean, as she absolutely loves the beach.

At 11pm on a Saturday, you’ll find her having a few glasses of wine – and her top pick whilst in Byron Bay is to head to the Rails for live music.

Last, but not least – Josie’s top tips for learning English are… Speak English outside class and live with Australians!

Lisa’s Study Corner – Should I do Cambridge or IELTS?


THIS WEEK – Should I do Cambridge or IELTS?

In the past, my higher level students have often asked me about studying on an exam course. They (rightly) think it would be a good idea for them to gain an English qualification but don’t know which exam would be most suitable for them.
Here, I will try to make the answer simple by asking you three questions.

1. What is your English level?

Basically the Cambridge First Certificate is an Upper Intermediate examination and the Cambridge Advanced Certificate is, you guessed it, Advanced. These courses and tests are written for students specifically at that particular level of English. A student needs to get 60% or above to pass, 75% or above for a B and 80% or above for an A.

IELTS is a bit different. There is no pass and fail rate and the material is not adapted for a particular level. The test is designed to find out a candidate’s English ability. Scoring is out of 9 and a score of 4-5 indicates roughly an Intermediate level while a score of 6.5 – 7.5 is Advanced.

2. What do you want the qualification for?

The majority of students who take the IELTS exam, do it because they have to. For example, if you want to study at a university or TAFE in Australia, the UK and various other countries around the world, you may be asked for an IELTS score. Also, if you are applying for a visa to immigrate to Australia and the UK you may be required to prove your level of English by taking an IELTS test.

In contrast, many people take the Cambridge exams for their own satisfaction, for the beneficial effects of taking an exam course or to be able to list their qualification on their resume. Many international businesses recognise the Cambridge courses as a great preparation for working with native speakers and the Cambridge exams have the benefit of being valid for life. Your IELTS score, on the other hand, can only be used for official purposes if less than two years old.

3. What kind of English do you want to learn?

This is probably the most important consideration. There are two different IELTS tests but most schools focus on the Academic one that students need for further study. This test involves skills such as listening to lectures, describing graphs and tables and reading academic articles from books and journals. It’s a very useful course for giving students the vocabulary and reading/writing skills they need for study, particularly at a university in an English speaking country.

On the other hand the Cambridge exam courses are more focused on everyday English; the English that people use in everyday conversations, in magazines, newspapers and films and in the workplace. It’s a great course for improving your accuracy, increasing your knowledge of phrasal verbs and idioms and learning how to write for different purposes and genres.

So to summarise this week’s Tip – My recommendation is to choose IELTS if you plan to study in English or if you have been told you need to provide an IELTS score but to choose Cambridge if you want to do a qualification that will help you focus on accuracy and equip you better for work, travel and conversing with native speakers.

Monday’s Study Corner with Lisa: How can I find suitable reading material?


NEW! Lisa’s weekly tips provide answers to the most common student questions.

THIS WEEK – How can I find suitable reading material?

In the past, my students have often said to me, “I want to read English books/magazines/newspapers but I can’t understand everything? What can I use to practise reading outside of class?”
The answer in my experience is simple. Understand that there are two type of material: 1. Authentic material written for native speakers and 2. Adapted material written for language learners. You can read both of these at any level of English as long as you understand the difference between the two.

1. Reading Authentic Material
Yes, you can and should try to read authentic material. This includes newspapers, magazines, websites, menus, books, information leaflets, advertising information, cereal packets – basically anything and everything. The trick is to simply try to understand the main ideas while accepting that you won’t understand everything. When you meet unknown vocab, ignore it. Don’t look up every new word in your dictionary. Trust me, if it’s a word you need to know you’ll keep meeting it again and again and will soon understand its meaning anyway.

Reading authentic material is a great way to build your vocabulary and increase your accuracy, so don’t make it a chore. It’s better to read lightly and often than to spend all day on one article making a note of every new word in your notebook.

2. Reading Adapted Material
Of course, sometimes, it’s nice to be able to understand everything. This is when you need adapted material. The readings in your student books, for example, are changed to suit your level. At the school we also have “Readers”. These are classic books such as “Pride and Prejudice” or “Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde” which have been adapted to suit different levels of English. Go to GIL (Room 1 2-3pm) if you want to borrow one to take home and read. In addition, the internet is a great source of adapted material. Try for a long list of links.

The most important thing is to keep reading. If you think about how you learnt your mother tongue, you probably met a lot of new words through reading. Reading is also an excellent way to get used to English grammatical structures and collocations.

So to summarise this week’s Tip – Try to read a variety of authentic and adapted reading material and relax and enjoy it rather than struggling to understand every word.

Meet the Staff: this week – Marie!!


Marie hails from England, used to be a secondary school teacher in London, and is one of our English teachers here at Lexis English | Byron Bay!

She studied Arabic at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, and spent some time living in the Lebanon where she was able to practice her use of the language.

Marie is incredibly popular as our Elementary teacher, as well as teaching Business English, Movies and Songs and Debate Club in the afternoon Options sessions.

You will also find her running sports tournaments and taking students to the beach on a Friday afternoon, where she has been known to throw herself into volleyball, football, beach cricket and ultimate frisbee!

Here are some things that you might not know about Marie, as well as her top tips for learning English:

– she always wanted to be an Astronomer!

– she thinks that Byron Bay’s best kept secret is the stunning hinterland and farmland surrounding the town.

– at 8 am on a Saturday, you’ll find her running on the beach or eating soft boiled eggs and soldiers (toast cut into strips).

– her dream holiday destination would be island hopping around Indonesia and the Philippines.

– and last, but not least, her English learning tip is…. to have fun! Not only do you learn so much more quickly, but also when you’re relaxed you find yourself speaking a lot more. Crack out the jokes guys.

Thanks Marie!

Monday’s Study Corner with Lisa: How can I understand native speakers?


NEW! Lisa’s weekly tips provide answers to the most common student questions.

THIS WEEK – How can I understand native speakers?
In the past, my students have often said to me, “I can understand you and my classmates, but when I’m outside school and I speak to a native speaker I don’t understand anything. Why is this?”
The answer, in my experience, is simple. It’s not about vocabulary or grammar or even listening. It’s usually because of pronunciation. In particular, a feature of pronunciation called connected speech.

Think about the following sentence:

I’ve got apples and oranges.

You would probably say (and expect to hear):
I . have . got . apples . and . oranges.

A native speaker, however, would say:
I’ve gotapplesanoranges.

There are three features of connected speech happening here: contractions, linking and elision.

1. Contractions
Most of you know about (but don’t always use) contractions. A contraction is a shortened version of the written and spoken forms of a word group, created by taking out a letter (sound) in the middle. So, “do not” become “don’t”, “I am” becomes “I’m” and in the above sample sentence “I have” becomes “I’ve” /aiv/. Many students seem shy of using contractions when they speak, but what you must remember is native speakers ALWAYS use contractions in spoken English. Therefore, you need to get used to recognising them.

2. Linking
Linking is a way of joining the pronunciation of two words so that they are easy to say and flow together smoothly. In the above example we can see consonant to vowel linking. This is when the final consonant sound of the first word rolls into the vowel sound beginning of the second word. So in the sample sentence above “apples” sounds like “tapples”, and “oranges” sounds sounds like “doranges” (or more often “noranges”. See #3 Elision below.)

3. Elision
Elision is when you don’t pronounce one or more sounds in a word or phrase, so that it is easier for the speaker to say. You probably all know the examples of “wanna” instead of “want to” and “gonna” instead of “going to”. In the above example sentence, we can see what often happens to “and” between two words of equal value; it becomes very weak and the /d/ sound isn’t pronounced at all. So fish and chips becomes fish ‘n’ chips and black and white becomes black ‘n’ white.

As a student of English you may feel strange using connected speech and it’s not vital that you do because you can still be understood. However, you do need to be able to recognise it when native speakers use it.

So to summarise this week’s Tip – If you find it difficult to understand native speakers ask at GIL for some practice exercise you can do with connected speech and hopefully you’ll see your listening skills improve.

Meet the Lexis English | Byron Bay staff – This week : Amy!!


Amy is the Student Services + Homestay Coordinator here at Lexis English | Byron Bay, and you can usually find her on reception dealing with any one of many student and homestay queries, or sneaking off to Green Garage to buy copious amounts of black coffee!

Amy is from London in the UK, and moved to Australia over three years ago. She has lived in Byron Bay for about six months now and sees absolutely no reason why anyone would want to live anywhere else.

Amy takes care of Lexis Byron’s homestay programme, placing students from all over the world with friendly local families and couples, and making sure that everyone is kept happy! She also recruits new families for the programme, ensuring that Lexis | Byron Bay has a steady supply of fantastic hosts waiting for our new students.

She also looks after Lexis | Byron Bay’s free activity calendar – filling it with fun and engaging activities each month, and running Job Club, movie screenings, sports tournaments, cookery workshops and trips to the pub!

When she’s not placing students in homestay and running activities – Amy updates the Lexis English | Byron Bay blog and Facebook page daily, runs orientation for new students, books airport transfers, books your surf lessons and deals with any problems or questions that students may have – a busy day!

Here are some things that you might not know about Amy, but feel free to quiz her next time you see her supping a beer at the Rails!

– she studied Drama at university and spent a year in London starring in dodgy low budget movies and a detective series for UK’s Channel 5!

– her Mum dated Adrian Smith from Iron Maiden in the 1970’s

– in her spare time she is a writer and freelance journalist – scribbling about anything from the mining industry to Hunter S. Thompson!

– she used to live in South Africa, where she worked on a cage diving boat with Great White sharks and on a safari reserve babysitting baby crocodiles

– she is absolutely obsessed with good pale ales

– she once missed her Nan’s funeral to go and see Rage Against the Machine in Paris with her sister!

Next week, we quiz Elementary teacher Marie!!


Love is in the Air at Lexis English | Byron Bay!!

Valentines Day 2014


Valentine’s Fever is in the air at Lexis English | Byron Bay today!! The Lexis Cupids stormed the school handing out cards to some lucky students and teachers – teacher Kathleen received a grand total of three cards!

Happy Valentine’s Day from all here at Lexis xo

Dave’s weekly tips and tricks for teachers!

Concept Checking Questions

As a teacher, there are a couple of things we should never say or do to our students. For example, pointing at them and laughing when they make a mistake is often frowned upon and will most likely result in an upset student, poor classroom atmosphere, and a newly unemployed teacher. But this, in my opinion, isn’t the worst thing a teacher can say or do in the classroom. In my opinion, the worst thing a teacher can do happens regularly throughout the English language teaching industry and often goes unnoticed. It involves three simple words and is of absolutely no use to teacher or student – the question ‘Do you understand?’

In response to this question, nine times out of ten students will reply with a nodding of their heads, leading the inexperienced TESOL teacher to believe that they all ‘get it’. In actual fact, most students are reluctant to admit in front of a class that they do not understand something and so other methods must be used to check students’ understanding.

One useful method of doing this is through the use of Concept Checking Questions (CCQs). CCQs can be used to highlight the meaning of the target language item, be it vocabulary or a structure. They can be used to point students in the right direction when they are unsure and help teachers recognise whether or not their presentations have been effective.

To work out the CCQs for a particular piece of language, you first need to work out the concept for yourself. For example:

I managed to open the window

When breaking down this sentence into simple statements we can see that:

  1. I opened the window
  2. It was difficult.

So to create our CCQs, we simply turn these sentences into questions:

  1. Did I open the window? (Yes)
  2. Was it easy? (No)
  3. But did I succeed? (Yes)

Seems simple enough, right? But there are a few other things to remember:

  • CCQs should be easy to understand – you’re not checking their comprehension of the questions themselves
  • They should not contain the word or structure being taught – how can you check understanding of something they don’t know by using the exact language they don’t know?


Dave Fox is an experienced teacher and teacher trainer who has worked in Australia, the UK, and Europe

Meet our CAE teacher, Ian!



Why did you choose teaching as your career?

Because I love languages, love travelling and learning about other cultures and I love working with people.


Which class are you teaching at the moment?

I teach the Cambridge Advanced course


How long have you been teaching at Lexis Byron Bay? What did you do before you worked here?

It’s my first week here at Lexis Byron Bay, but I’ve been teaching English for nearly 20 years.  Most of my teaching was in Sydney, and I’ve also taught in Moscow, Bangkok, Korea, Mongolia and Paris!


Do you speak another language? What was your biggest challenge when learning it?

I speak French and German, pretty well, and a little bit of Spanish, Italian and Indonesian.    I studied French for 10 years, but when I got to Paris I couldn’t understand a word, so listening is very difficult for me!


What do you like the most about your job?

Creativity, interaction with people, making a difference in people’s lives and learning about students’ countries.


In your opinion, what is Byron Bay’s best kept secret?

The Pocket, where I live.  There are lots of these little valleys around Byron Bay in the Hinterland, which are beautiful,  green and peaceful.


If you were not a teacher, what job would you have now?

Well, I took a break from teaching for a few years and did something completely different, helping older people live in their homes instead of going into nursing homes (community care).


Please make Ian very welcome at Lexis!