Welcome to HLS English class - the best place to learn English in Kuantan, Malaysia. English class for children and adults conducted in a fun and creative way. Learn English with Horne Learning Services. English speaking and conversation, reading, writing and listening training based in Kuantan. This is what we do . . .

Saturday, 22 December 2012

English Quizzes

Sometimes I will conduct English Quizzes in our classes. Quizzes are fun and provide opportunities for teamwork. They usually end up as boys versus girls, which adds a little extra spice!

As with everything in our syllabus, I've made the quizzes by myself without any help from any other source ie. the internet.

The quizzes consist of 20 questions of varying degrees of difficulty, and are based on a single letter of the alphabet. I hope to formulate 26 quizzes ready for 2013.

Our English quizzes involve spelling, sentence-making, grammar skills, rhyming words, synonyms, antonyms, general knowledge, and whatever else I think of.

The students do enjoy it!

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Reading your way to good English

In my previous post, I explained about the art of listening, in particular by watching English movies.

A good companion to listening is reading. Reading, reading and more reading!

One of my current primary school students is passionate about reading. His mother has to pull him away from his books so he can do his homework, eat dinner etc. Coupled with him speaking English at home, he has such a strong grasp of English that he speaks equally as good as me and gives amazingly coherent and sophisticated speeches in class with an unbelievably wide vocabulary for his age!

Reading good English on a regular basis will work wonders for you! Of course, all good English books are great for reading and building one's confidence and vocabulary. Fiction, non-fiction, biographies, magazines and newspapers are all wonderful additions.

In my adult classes, I have recently introduced another reading tool, which is my personal blog.

My personal blog can be found at:

At my blog, my students, and indeed anyone, can browse a plethora of articles I have posted about life in Kuantan, since mid-2009. My students find it particularly useful for quick, easy, and free reading practice, seeing how sentences are strung together grammatically, and bolstering their vocabulary.

So feel free to browse my blog, and whatever you do, please get reading!

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Learning English through movies - Mirror Mirror

Welcome to Horne Learning Services and our blog post for today!

I do hope you are enjoying life and being successful.

Today I'm going to talk about learning English through listening.

Most people who want to learn or improve on their English, always demand speaking classes, or say "I just want to speak!" But English is about a lot more than just speaking.

"Speaking's" best friend is called "listening", and if they don't go together, "speaking" just isn't the same!

Listening is an important exercise in mastering the English language. And that doesn't mean a class of students should have to listen to each other's imperfect English while the teacher sits down and lets them get on with it. That is not the ideal listening exercise.

Students need to listen to correct English, from somebody who can speak English perfectly, which in most cases, should be the teacher. The exposure to listening to correct English is a big advantage for English students to have.

Fortunately for me and my students, I'm from England, and English is my natural language, it hasn't been learned like other languages had to be.

As such, I try to talk to my students a lot, give them instructions to see if they have listened well and follow them. I will not speak in any other language but English, to them. Very soon, they get comfortable with English and their listening improves.

I record myself speaking and give them listening tests with questions to answer. Best of all, I watch English movies with my students, young and old!

This week we are watching the movie, "Mirror Mirror", based on the story of Snow White, but told from the point of view of the evil queen. I've prepared 20 questions for students to answer by watching the movie and listening very carefully.

Students will not understand every single word that is spoken, and at times it may seem that people in the movie are speaking very quickly, and students may feel that they are losing pace from time to time.

It is however, a great opportunity for students to practice listening, look out for key words and answers, and develop an understanding of how the English language works. Learning new words to add to their vocabulary is another privilege.

But it's the exposure to listening to correct English which is the overriding benefit here.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

English Workshop @ Vistana Hotel, 10th Nov, 2012

We held our 4th English Workshop of the year at Vistana Hotel on Saturday 10th November, 2012. The English Workshop was attended by 37 children, some of them our English students, some joining one of our activities for the first time.

Group photo of a session of the English Workshop held at Vistana Hotel Kuantan

The children enjoyed a number of exercises including:

  • The shoe game
  • Word Cloud (Creative writing)
  • Map of Malaysia comprehension activity
  • (Separate worksheets for the kindergarten children)
  • Listening Test
  • Pictionary
  • Treasure Hunt
Refreshments were provided afterwards, as usual.

Tucking in to the food

Leah takes a seat at the back as the children get to work at the Treasure Hunt

Children trying to solve the Treasure Hunt clues and questions:

Treasure Hunt 9AM session:
Treasure Hunt winners

2nd place

3rd place

4th place

Group photo of the 9AM session of the English Workshop at Vistana Hotel, Saturday 10th November, 2012


Children participating in the Treasure Hunt:

Treasure Hunt winners from the 1 PM session:

2nd place

3rd place

The 1PM session group photo at English Workshop, Vistana Hotel Kuantan, Saturday 10th November, 2012


Children doing activities at the English Workshop:

Treasure Hunt winners at the 4.30PM session of the English Workshop

2nd place

3rd place

Group photo of the 4.30PM session of the English Workshop at Vistana Hotel, Saturday 10th November, 2012

Thank you to all those who attended the English Workshop. Hope you had a lot of fun learning English through games and fun exercises. 

Until next time . . .

Friday, 12 October 2012

Essay writing - a pain in the posterior?

Essay writing is generally viewed by students in Malaysia as a pain, and most probably because it involves a lot of creative thinking and lots of writing!

Our key point #1 "Think in English" applies to essay writing very much. Along with a good command of English and understanding of grammar skills, creativity is what is needed in essay writing.

On the second week of each month, our classes write essays. Form 1-5 students (age 13-17) will be expected to write an essay of over 200 words while Standard 1-6 students (age 7-12) will write an answer to a question of between 70-100 words.

The task is getting students' minds stimulated to think creatively and come up with more than one idea on a certain subject. Then they need to be able to explain all of those ideas in greater detail. That's the challenge.

When writing essays, most especially for students in Form 1-5, I have devised a criteria which I believe makes up a great essay.

#1 - PLAN

Every great essay begins with a plan. Typically in answering an essay question, one should think of 3 main points (or 4 or 5, as the question may request), and then come up with 3 sub-points to further describe each main point. This should be brief. This plan provides the frame for the entire essay.


Using correct English grammar is vital in writing a great essay. Good sentence structure, correct use of tense and spelling makes an essay easy to read with good flow.


Possessing a wide vocabulary is an important part of writing a great essay. Nobody wants to read a couple of pages littered with the same words, repeated again and again and again throughout the essay. Instead, a student should demonstrate a knowledge of synonyms (words which have similar meanings to each other), and how to use them appropriately.


In essays where general issues or topics are discussed, a student can really bring his essay to life by writing about his own personal experiences related to the question. This will set his essay apart from the others and make it more interesting to read. It will be his own essay, and not merely a copy or one which is full of cliches (often-repeated phrases or words).


A truly great essay should also include the writer's opinion on whatever subject or issue is raised in the question. Like point #4, this will further personalise the essay and make it more unique.

In our classes, we strive to emphasise these five important points students may follow in writing great essays.

Essays don't need to be a pain in the posterior when they are planned with creative thinking, good grammar and vocabulary, and include personal experiences and opinions.

What do you think? Do you enjoy essay writing? What is the biggest challenge in writing essays?

Monday, 1 October 2012

First English lesson via Skype

Today we conducted our first English lesson via skype with our good friends from Russia whom we blogged about previously.

English class via skype. I'm wearing the sunglasses to block the bright computer screen!

The skype call went well and the English lesson lasted for 90 minutes and included some speaking, reading and writing exercises.

We are gathering ideas for the skype lessons so hopefully we'll come up with a whole English syllabus in the near future.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Monday night class

Here's our Monday night class as of yesterday. During week 4 of September we are having a number of activities including: word game, writing sentences, speaking, creative writing, a grammar check and wordsearch. Looking forward to the rest of the week!

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Adult Classes

Adult classes are up and running at Horne Learning services. Classes for adults are currently being held on Wednesday nights (both at Vistana Hotel and in residence), Thursday mornings in residence and Thursday nights in residence.

Adults will have the opportunity to practice speaking in English, listening to me speak English to them, write sentences, read short stories, have discussion and begin writing a daily diary.

They are also encouraged to keep learning English every day by choosing something new to try out each day, whether that be reading a book or newspaper or magazine, listening to the radio, speaking English with a friend for 5 or 10 minutes each day, or any other thing which could improve their English.

Monday, 3 September 2012

English Workshop 1st September, 2012

Our 3rd English Workshop of the year was a success and was attended by 32 children over 3 sessions. Vistana Hotel provided the setting for us, with a nice Function Room and some good refreshments.

The agenda for the Workshop included:

  • Ice-breaking
  • Pictionary
  • Boggle
  • Speech
  • Listening Test
  • Treasure Hunt

The children really enjoyed themselves. This time we gave everyone individual points for how well they performed on each task. 

At the end of each Workshop the points were totalled and a winner declared. So here are the three winners:

9am session winner: Karthik

1pm session winner: Jia Qi

4.30pm session winner: Ken Foong

Congratulations to our three winners who scored the most points in word games, writing, listening and speaking exercises!

Here are some photo highlights of each session of the English Workshop:


And here are the treasure hunt winners!

2nd place:

3rd place:

4th place:

9am session group photo:


Speaking topic - "If I could go to the moon, I would . . . . ."

Speaking topic - "If I was the Vistana Hotel manager, I would . . . ."

1pm session treasure hunt winners:

2nd place:

1pm session group photo:


Treasure hunt winners:

2nd place:

4.30pm session group photo:

Thanks to all of the children who attended this English Workshop, and for their parents who support us in this event.

The final English Workshop of the year will be held some time in November, 2012.