Steps to Success

Steps to Success

i-Learner’s close connection with parents is vital to our teaching success. When students receive consistent support at home and in their lessons, they can master their learning goals and improve their confidence. To reach this goal, our teachers share articles weekly articles on a wide range of topics. These are students’ steps to success! See our Overseas Admissions articles for more from i-Learner. Learn about getting the best overseas education for your child.

Creative Writing

Using Prompts for Creative Writing

Finding inspiration Maintaining a good flow during creative writing tasks doesn’t come naturally to everyone, and it’s a great thing to practise. Choosing a good stimulus can be helpful when avoiding or overcoming writer’s block. Here are some great online resources you can look to for inspiration. First lines – continue the story by adding the next action, detail, or thought. This website has… Read More

Writing Using the Senses

Take a slice of lemon and taste it. If it had a sound, what sound would it be? Perhaps someone dragging their fingers down a chalkboard, or an old fashioned alarm clock ringing. If the taste were a feeling what would it be? Maybe an electric shock, or the prick of a thousand needles against your skin. If the taste had a shape, what would… Read More

Exam Skills



How Science Helps Your Child Succeed

When I moved to Hong Kong, I was very surprised to learn that science is not a core subject for younger students. In my UK primary school, we were encouraged to observe the world around us and get hands-on with experiments. This developed a love of science that never left me, and even led to me studying Biomedical Science at UCL. Throughout my time studying… Read More

Bringing Science to Life

As a student of mechanical engineering at university, I loved creating designs, building new structures, and understanding the mechanics of why things work the way they do. My interests ranged from optimising fans for turbine construction to automating medicine dispensers for the elderly and disabled. While my enthusiasm knew no bounds, my work was often very design-centric and didn’t fully explore the deeper possibilities of… Read More

Science and the Wider World

I studied engineering at university. During my time there, I gained many practical skills in my engineering mathematics courses and my tortuous thermodynamics modules. However, one of the most important skills I learnt was to look at and analyse the world critically with a scientific lense. There’s no escaping science and engineering in the real world. We’re all affected daily by news stories involving the… Read More

Reading Across the Curriculum

In Hong Kong, many English classes have Reading Across the Curriculum projects. As part of this, students read books about science, history, art and more. The Let’s Learn About… series from i-Learner Publishing is used by some classes for this, and it has a great range of fiction and non-fiction books on different topics. Reading Across the Curriculum is an excellent way to explore… Read More


Classic Literature

Reading Classic and Postcolonial Literature

What immediately comes to mind when ‘classic literature’ is mentioned in an English lesson? Perhaps wistful Victorian orphans or spurned women running across a heath. The texts we find in the literary canon are almost entirely Western, and that should not come as any surprise: English is a ‘Western’ language after all. But against the backdrop of a postcolonial and globalized Hong Kong, it is… Read More

Classic Children’s Books

Most contemporary bookshops have a vast children’s section, offering everything from middle-grade adventure stories to young adult dystopian fiction. With so many exciting new titles published each year, it can be easy to ignore older texts, which may seem outdated and difficult to understand. So why bother with children’s classics at all? First off, these books have had an enormous impact on our culture, imprinting… Read More

Classics and Vocabulary Building

As the key developer of Overseas Education materials for 11+ and 13+ examinations, I have spent a lot of time thinking of strategies for students to expand their vocabularies. A strong and broad vocabulary is the best weapon you can have in a Verbal Reasoning, Literary Analysis, Reading Comprehension, or Writing assessment; not only because of the words at your fingertips, but also… Read More

Critical Thinking

Questioning Sources

‘Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.’ – Voltaire Does unlimited data at our fingertips mean we’re better informed than we’ve ever been? Unfortunately, it can bring us closer to misinformation as well as the content we need. Accepting data without questioning it is like drinking without first looking into the glass, so it’s important to develop the right critical thinking… Read More

How Critical Thinking Classes Improve Outcomes in All Subjects

The term critical thinking refers to a process of objective analysis that is used to reach an informed judgement. The more that students practise this process, the more of their potential they will unlock. Many i-Learner courses, such as Critical Reading and Writing and our summer special course Olympian Critical Thinking, train students in critical thinking and equip students with skills that will be… Read More

Fostering Critical Thinking at Home

We all know that critical thinking is a crucial step to success. But how do we get better at it? At what age can your child start to think critically? Can we allow them to just develop this skill naturally, over time? Research has suggested that explicit instruction is the most effective way to foster critical thinking skills. In other words, teach it! And be… Read More

Chinese Punctuation

Poetry Analysis

Visualising Poetry

When I studied English at University, I learned to read a text closely, paying attention to words and their meanings, and to try to visualise these words as I read. Visualising words when we read can make the meaning of a poem much clearer, and allow us to understand it in a new way. These tips will help you practise this too, so you can… Read More

Appreciating Poetry from Diverse Backgrounds

Poetry is an artform employed to explore the deepest human truths that are otherwise almost impossible to get hold of via day-to-day prose. Its musical qualities and relative brevity mean that it has been created by writers from all sections of society, regardless of culture and class, giving us incredible insight into diverse lives. It would therefore be remiss of us to only pay attention… Read More

Understanding Poets’ Backgrounds

Many courses, such as IB English, require us to not just read poems but also understand the context in which they were written. Why is that important? Surely, the words on the page are the significant thing, so what else can we understand by learning about the poet and their background? Knowing a poet’s historical background is often essential to understanding the deeper meanings of… Read More

Rhyme and Rhythm

Essay Writing

Exam Essay Essentials

In exams, we’re often asked to write essays on unfamiliar topics. Some students feel panicked at the prospect of this as they can’t research support for their ideas. This is especially the case in subjects such as English, when the essay topics can’t be studied for in advance. The key to these essays is understanding the planning process. The main thing to remember is that… Read More

Writing with Structure

Writing an essay is like building a house. First, you need to lay a firm foundation with a strong introduction; then, build the storeys with your body paragraphs, and finally, use a conclusion to complete your essay just as a roof covers the entire house. Without structure, the reader will find it hard to follow the essay’s logic and make sense of arguments. Every Part… Read More

Three Steps to Synthesising Information for Essays

Over my years of teaching essay writing, I’ve encountered many students who struggle to find things to write about. They can write well when their teachers or classmates feed them points, but that isn’t a good strategy for long-term success. Nobody will whisper in their ear during exams, so it’s important for these students to learn to think for themselves. Needless to say, great ideas… Read More

Practising Proper Planning

We have all been there – sitting under stressful exam conditions and having to produce a piece of clear and concise writing. Sometimes, we panic and start writing immediately, only to get to the end and realise that it’s not as coherent as we would like. Maybe we didn’t even answer the question properly! By practising proper planning, the essay-writing process (and stress levels) becomes… Read More

Fluent Speaking

The Importance of having Meaningful Conversations with your Child

You might think that speaking to your child is a fairly simple concept. But did you know that the way you do it impacts their language capabilities and vocabulary? Two Stanford psychologists conducted a study that found: The number of words that children hear from their surroundings and adults makes a huge difference in their language capabilities – the more words they hear, the higher… Read More

Organizing and Presenting Ideas

Speaking fluently is one of the most important language skills; it helps us share our ideas easily and with confidence. Fluent speaking isn’t just about knowing the right vocabulary and grammar though. We also need to organize and present our ideas clearly. This may sound draining, but it simply takes practice. When you can do it, your ideas sound clear, systematic and logical, helping people… Read More

Building Confidence in Speaking

We all know the benefits of speaking a second or third language, such as creating international connections and increasing our communication skills. But what if we lack the confidence to practise our skills? How can we improve if we feel too embarrassed to even try? There are plenty of ways to build confidence! Try these tips to find the ones that work for you: Breathe… Read More

Practising Speaking with Tongue Twisters and Poems

An easy way to become a fluent speaker is to practise speaking often. At the beginning of our Global Speaking Passport lessons, i-Learner students practise their enunciation, tone and pacing with different phrases and tongue twisters. Besides improving reading fluency, practising with different phrases and tongue twisters helps students learn how to convey a message or feeling through their speaking, as well as learn… Read More


Learning Vocabulary through Reading

I have always loved reading. As a child, I would devour one book after another. Gradually, I realised that my vocabulary was expanding without me consciously making an effort to grow it. Reading is a fantastic way to expose ourselves to a wide variety of vocabulary. Through reading fantasy novels like The Lord of the Rings, we can learn words such as ‘kingdom,’ ‘curse’ and… Read More

Reading Time with Family

Reading with students is one of my favourite activities when we have free time because it brings so many benefits. This is why I particularly enjoy teaching Love to Read and Critical Reading and Writing – these courses explore amazing books and deepen the enjoyment of reading. Reading outside of the classroom is also very helpful, and reading as a family brings additional… Read More

Fun with Idioms

Idioms are colourful phrases with secret meanings! They are a fun way to spice up your English, so I always make sure my students learn and use them whenever they can. Here are three tips to help you get the ball rolling with idioms! Be all ears It may be difficult to wrap your head around idioms at first because their literal meanings are rarely helpful at all. Instead… Read More

Expand Your Vocabulary with Ease

I was green with envy yesterday after my brother told a white lie and my mother gave him a candy. Today, out of the blue, my mother saw red when I repeated the white lie! White lies are such a grey area for me. Speaking of which, is the use of colours in English a grey area for you? Did the idioms in the previous… Read More

Classic Chinese Learning

Exam Preparation

How to Shine in Exams

It can be very frustrating to see your child do exercises perfectly at home but get bad grades in their exams. Parents often ask me what the problem is, and there are a few causes. Fortunately, there are simple solutions to these, which I use regularly to help students reach their potential. Try the tips below to find the ones that help your child shine:… Read More

Exam Strategies for School Exams

2021 has been a tough year for everyone, especially students. This year, exams are even more challenging as students have been learning in an unprecedented mode. As part of the exam practice team, I’ve helped many i-Learner students prepare for their school exams both online and in person. Although hard work is the key to academic achievements, effective exam strategies are also as important. Read More

Improving Your IELTS Writing Grade

Writing is one of the most challenging tasks in language tests, and Task 2 of the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is no exception. Having worked with both young and adult learners, I have developed three steps to helping anyone improve their band score in IELTS Writing Task 2: Fast and furious  Unlike other exams that test endurance through long essays, IELTS writing is… Read More

Preparation Tips for Cambridge PET Exams

Certificates for well-known exams are a great way to boost a student’s profile. The Cambridge Preliminary English Test (PET) is a very popular exam for students in Hong Kong, and for good reason. This B1-level qualification proves you have the English-language skills needed for everyday use. Many i-Learner students take this four-skill exam, and I’ve got some simple tips for improving grades: Do Past Papers… Read More

Tutorial Classes

Nurturing Curiosity, Critical Thinking and Creativity through Tutorial Classes

Tutorial classes are one of the best ways to nurture intellectual curiosity, critical thinking and creativity, all at the same time. It’s well known that students at Oxford and Cambridge do particularly well with their studies because they can engage closely with their professors in small tutorials. As a former graduate tutor at three Oxford colleges, I’ve seen first-hand just how much students can learn… Read More

How Tutorial Classes Add to School-based Learning

Education is a powerful tool through which to nurture growth, unleash potential, form perspectives, and achieve dreams. Hong Kong has an excellent education system, but the government estimates that 50-75% of students flock to tutorial centres for extra classes after school. What are they looking for? Top marks! In our highly competitive education system, parents and students know the importance of high grades. School… Read More

The Importance of Learning Beyond the Curriculum

During my time at Oxford, I learned the importance of interdisciplinary study and intellectual curiosity. My tutors encouraged me to expand my interests beyond the limits of the curriculum, developing a passion for learning and an engagement with the subject that stretched me to my full potential. Similarly, i-Learner teachers introduce students to texts that are not part of their school courses. This is especially… Read More

Boosting your Grades with Tutorial Classes

Tutorial classes are a popular, and to many people, essential, part of the Hong Kong education system. Parents and students know the importance of good grades, and tutorial classes can give these a great boost. While i-Learner’s ultimate aim is to create passionate, engaged learners, helping our students reach their test and exam goals is also a key part of our role. Having run the… Read More


Overseas Education

Multiculturalism in UK Universities

What are your impressions of the UK? Do you picture Victorian buildings inhabited by people looking prim and proper and speaking the Queen’s English? You might be surprised, but the UK of today is a country of diverse cultures, one quite unlike that portrayed in older books and films. My time studying at the University of St Andrews granted me a small but invaluable window… Read More

Preparing for Entrance Exams

One of the most difficult things about preparing for entrance exams is the fact that there is no one single model of a school admissions test paper. One school may ask you to respond to a creative writing task about a childhood memory, while another might require you to analyse an eighteenth-century poem. Over the years, I’ve helped many students prepare for Common Entrance exams… Read More

Preparing for Admissions Interviews

Admissions interviews can be nerve-racking for many students, but you’ll be able to increase your confidence if you understand the process and what the interviewers are looking for in a candidate. Whether for admission into a top school or university, interviews are designed to allow teachers or professors to see if you would be a suitable fit for the school and whether you would benefit… Read More

Why Study in the UK?

The UK has long been a popular destination for Hong Kong students. However, in the past, only those who could afford independent-school fees were able to attend. With the recent changes in BN(O) regulations, many more people are considering education in the UK. As an education consultant with i-Learner Overseas Education Services and someone who has studied in the UK, I am always eager… Read More

Exam Practice

Celebrating Online Learning

How i-Learner Keeps Online Lessons Engaging

To help students make consistent progress, most i-Learner classes are 70 minutes long, even for our youngest students. Teachers are experienced at checking facial expressions, body language, tone of voice, and responses to make sure students are engaged. If anyone seems tired, teachers are great at adapting activities or even getting students moving around the classroom to keep up the energy. However, when we started… Read More

What Students Learn from Online Lessons

i-Learner students have been attending online lessons for a year now, and we’ve been amazed at what they’ve learned! Not only have our writing students become better writers and our reading students become better readers, but during this difficult year, these young learners have developed a wide range of useful skills. Our teachers have put together a list of the top three skills that students… Read More

How to Fight Online-learning Fatigue

i-Learner has been teaching online for a year now, and we’ve learned plenty of tips and tricks to keep our lessons exciting. If you’re struggling to focus in your online classes, read on to find out what our tutors recommend.   Be Engaged When we feel tired, we don’t usually want to go for a run. But getting our blood pumping and our heart rates… Read More

What we Love about Online Teaching

We’ve been teaching online for a year now, and though it’s not something we ever expected to do, we’ve found a lot of amazing benefits. To celebrate i-Learner’s online-teaching anniversary, our tutors have chosen their favourite aspects of virtual lessons.   Online Teaching is Flexible and Adaptable It should come as no surprise that in this year of change, we’ve loved the tools that help… Read More

DSE Essentials

Taking Paper 3B to Another Level

Like you, I’m familiar with the trials and tribulations of the HKDSE; I was a candidate myself just a few years ago. Since preparing other students for their exams, I’ve found Paper 3B to be one where candidates often lose marks unnecessarily. It may seem like a mad scramble to copy down everything from the data file, but there is more technique to this exam… Read More

The Extended Modules of DSE Mathematics: Making a Wise Choice

Being one of the first batch of candidates for DSE Mathematics, I’ve studied and taught the extended modules for over a decade. Many friends and students have sought advice when considering their choices, and there are a few key points to consider. One main reason to study an extended module is to increase your chance of university admission. More than 80% of UGC-funded bachelor programs… Read More

Questions types to be aware of in the DSE Reading Paper (Paper 1)

Isn’t DSE Reading just locating information in the passage and copying it? If you think this, the chances are that you’ve missed some of the most important skills for this paper. Like many of my newer students, you may have underestimated paper 1, which is not known for being straightforward. From my years of marking students’ work, here are the main question types where people… Read More

Exam Skills

Engaging Early Learners

Early Learning Through Fun and Games

Some people believe learning only happens when children are sitting still and listening to a teacher. They feel that games waste classroom time. Actually the opposite is often true, especially for younger learners. In my years as a teacher, I’ve found that learning through fun and games builds skills in three essential areas:   Physical  Early learners explore their surroundings through touch. It is important… Read More

Spelling Tips for Early Learners

Your child can speak fluently and read confidently, but they make constant mistakes in their spelling. Is this scenario familiar? It’s one I’ve seen many times during my time at i-Learner, and I’ve found three key tools can make a significant difference: 1. Phonics Early learners of English need to use two systems to read – phonics and sight words. If… Read More

Preparing for the Trinity GESE Grade 1

Trinity’s Graded Examinations in Spoken English (GESE) are popular exams taken by kindergarten and lower primary students. They are excellent for demonstrating a child’s English speaking and listening abilities, and good results are important when applying to top primary schools in Hong Kong. The exams test whether a child can have a conversation with a native English speaker, and they’re a great way for children… Read More

Early Learning Through Discovery

Like all parents, mine have always wanted the best for me. When I was young, they gave me stimulating toys to play with. If I got upset looking for a certain Lego brick, they found it for me. As a tutor, I can see how natural it is to want to help children, but this can remove an important aspect of the learning journey. Recently,… Read More

Prose Reading Skills

Student Success Stories

How Understanding my Student was the Key to his Success

In one of my favourite Pre School English L4 classes, there are five little five-year-olds. They’re wonderful students. One little boy, who I’ll call Sammy, always struggled to focus on our lesson materials, he could gaze attentively at the cars and people outside. He sometimes counted the number of vehicles and named their makes, models and colours; he even commented on what the pedestrians… Read More

The Learning Journey in Action

Ben joined my Critical Reading and Writing L1 class when he was in Primary 1. On his first day, he walked through the door with his school bag half-open and books spilling out. During class, when I asked him to read passages aloud from the workbook, he stared at me blankly. I wasn’t sure if he would fit into the class, which had five… Read More

Wider Reading

Engaging Weaker Readers in Wider Reading

In my years of teaching Love to Read, I’ve come across many weak readers who struggle due to insufficient vocabulary and a lack of motivation. For these children, there’s a risk that the purpose behind reading becomes blurry. Reading isn’t the goal itself, but a tool through which to explore and learn other things. It’s important to love reading if you’re going to use… Read More

What Reading Non-fiction Teaches Us

Young readers are drawn to stories as they help make sense of the world. Fiction teaches us many important reading skills too, such as prediction, characterisation, and connecting cause and effect. It also exposes readers to a great range of interesting vocabulary and important language features such as idioms and literary techniques. However, fiction isn’t the only thing we should read. It’s important for readers… Read More

Learning through Comics and Cartoons

Comics, graphic novels and cartoons are great ways to get your child learning English. Students of all ages can be put off by too many grammar exercises, so it’s great to use a range of tools to keep them engaged. Even students who are reluctant to speak or write in English are excited by comics and cartoons, and their dislike of English can soon be… Read More

Get to Know the English Classics

Selecting English classics to read means you’re selecting some of the finest English literature written in history. When I was a student, I enjoyed exploring classics as they are timeless and have common literary themes that are the foundation of many modern pieces of writing. Later, when I did GCSE and A Level English Literature, I discovered that my earlier interest in reading was useful… Read More


Encouraging your Kindergartener to Converse in English

Learning to converse in English is beneficial but oftentimes frustrating for kindergarteners since they may not be able to communicate their thoughts effectively. With proper guidance and encouragement at home, kindergarteners can develop their conversation skills and become more fluent speakers of English. This will ensure success in their primary school interviews and speaking exams like Trinity GESE. To be able to converse… Read More

Speaking Slips to Watch Out For

When a child is learning English as a second language, they may make mistakes due to translating from Cantonese to English, mixing features of the two languages, or from lack of exposure to spoken English. Try spotting some of these common mistakes in your child’s speaking to help them improve: Subject-Verb Agreement A child may forget subject-verb agreement when talking excitedly. He have a cat! … Read More

How to Excel in DSE English Speaking

Paper 4 is the ten percent of their overall DSE English grade that people tend to underestimate. Very often, even schools do not provide sufficient training to their students, leaving them to think: Hey, it’s just talking, right? I talk all the time. However, acing this paper requires a few more techniques than you may have anticipated. Elaborate on your ideas It’s easy to begin… Read More

The Beauty of Chinese Characters


Expanding Vocabulary through Parts of Speech

Most Hong Kong primary schools teach vocabulary from readers or textbooks, and this means students may know many words in specific areas (e.g. sports or household items) but be missing lots of common words. Many students struggle with reading because they haven’t acquired enough vocabulary items to comprehend a whole text. It is only when they’re asked to cram vocabulary lists in secondary school that… Read More

Making Tenses Fun!

I teach grammar to students of all ages, and the one thing uniting them when they first start classes is a hatred of learning tenses. Students see tenses as a monster that’s both scary and boring! In school, they’re often taught long strings of rules, which they practise with repetitive exercises. As a grammar teacher, I personally enjoy teaching tenses a lot. The rules… Read More

Great Grammar Games to Play

I’ve been teaching grammar for several years and I’ve seen many students who consider grammar to be a set of rigid rules they have to painfully memorise. In fact, your natural use of grammar in everyday English isn’t proportional to the effort you put into cramming grammatical rules. It’s better to get a strong feeling for accurate grammar instead. Playing games is a great way… Read More

Chinese Teachers' Childhood Favourites

Four Classics in Chinese

Those Names in Classical Chinese Literature

Four Seasons

Chinese Poetry

Learning Chinese Online

i-Learner Recommends

Online Educational Games

Educational games are a great way to keep kids learning and having fun too. There are plenty available, teaching everything from letters and numbers for little ones to chemistry and journalism skills for older students. Take a look at the selection below, all tried and tested by i-Learner teachers. For Kindergarten students… Read More

Virtual Field Trips

Our students are doing so well studying from home. They’re working hard in class, doing their homework, and learning lots even during this difficult time. Did you know, students can not only go to school at home, but take a field trip there as well? Go to the zoo, visit a museum, or even fly through the universe, all from the comfort of home! Check… Read More

Free Online Reading Resources

As well as reading lots of books, i-Learner teachers also love to find stories, poems and articles online. We’ve put together lists of our favourite free resources to keep you learning wherever you are. Take a look and find something new today! For Kindergarten students For Lower Primary (P1-3)… Read More

Wider Reading Suggestions

i-Learner teachers love reading. Books are a fun way to engage with languages and to jump into new and exciting worlds. We’ve put together lists of the books we love for students of all ages. Take a look and find your new favourites! For Kindergarten students For Lower Primary (P1-3) students… Read More


The Importance of Positive Reinforcement

As parents and educators, we can encounter occasions when a child refuses to perform a certain task, like reading a book, cleaning their room, or doing homework. Through my work with a range of different children, I’ve come to understand the importance of positive reinforcement in situations like these. It’s both simple and effective!   What is positive reinforcement? Positive reinforcement is the method of… Read More

Reducing Stress for Learning Success

What causes stress for students? Tests? Presentations? Expectations? All of these? As educational demands become more rigorous, so too do students’ stress levels. We all know that stress can have a negative effect on student performance, inside and outside the classroom. It’s important to help students manage this in order for them to have stable, happy, productive lives. For our own well-being, we work hard… Read More

How to Motivate your Young Learner

Most children have an innate motivation to learn and explore. However, like adults, children can get worn out and unmotivated from time to time. In such cases, parents and educators can use a variety of techniques to motivate them. As an English tutor at i-Learner, I’ve had lots of hands-on experience with motivating children in the classroom setting, and I’d like to share some tips… Read More

How to Create a Positive Learning Environment for Young Learners

Positive, engaging learning environments are keys to students’ academic and social success; therefore, creating such learning environments for students is always my top priority here at i-Learner. Below are some techniques that you can deploy to establish an effective learning environment for your child. Build rules collaboratively One key step to creating a positive learning environment is to develop a set of mutually agreed… Read More


Developing Ideas from Spark to Story

As someone who loves reading and writing stories, I often find myself inspired by an amazing idea. Sometimes, it’s a vivid scene in my head, or an amazing back-story for a character. I love to think about these and develop the thought into a full story spark! Yet, no matter how clear the idea, developing it into a story is a completely different challenge.  I’ve… Read More

Why Write poetry?

Writing poems can be a great way for kids to express how they feel and think, and to discover the possibilities of language. My own interest in poetry has stayed with me from childhood; I have now published two collections of poems, and there are more to come. Poems can be any length and can take as much or as little time to create as… Read More

Writing Prompts to do at Home

Students often find writing to be a challenge. ‘How do I start?’ or ‘What should I write about?’ are just some of the questions that come to their minds. However, the best way to start may just be to put pen to paper and get writing. Practising with writing prompts at home can help remove the pressure of getting the ‘perfect’ essay or story down… Read More

Learn Chinese with Your Kids


Every Child is an Artist: Ways to Nurture Young Artists

From a very young age, children display a desire for creative expression. Put them in a room full of crayons, watercolours, paintbrushes, coloured paper, and even recycled products, and you can be sure to see them having lots of fun creating amazing artworks. But many children lose interest in art as they grow up, thinking that they are just not one of the blessed, talented… Read More

Increasing Creativity in the Home

Research has shown that creativity is crucial for children’s cognitive and social development. Creativity trains children to think and solve problems in unique ways. It allows them to express themselves freely while also reducing stress and anxiety. It is also an important component of school interviews and English language exams! During my classes, I always make sure that my students are not only working on… Read More

Imagination Building in Primary School

Little children are full of imagination. The stories they tell are wild rides that connect together a thousand different ideas and never want to end. However, once students reach eight or nine, this freewheeling creativity often comes to an end. Children want to find the right way to tell a story, or they are so focused on spelling, grammar and punctuation that their imaginations are… Read More

The Craft of Storytelling

What is the difference between writing and creative writing? Today, I woke up at 7 pm. I brushed my teeth in the bathroom. I ate breakfast in the dining room. Then I left home and went to school. I went to school by bus. I went to class. Classes started at 9:00am. At noon, I ate lunch. I ate spinach and pork with rice. It… Read More

Chinese Speaking

Maths and Science

STEM Resources to Explore at Home

Just like my students, I once had to study for my exams. Some people learn well by repetition and memorising. Unfortunately, I’m not one of them. For me to be able to answer questions on a topic, I have to experiment until I fully understand it. There are lots of learners like me, who do better by learning a subject deeply rather than quickly. Read More

Boosting Basic Mental Maths Skills

As a Maths tutor at i-Learner, parents often ask me how to improve their child’s calculation speed and accuracy, and a good mental Maths ability is the answer to that. However, it’s not as easy as diving straight in to practising these skills. In my experience, the key is to stimulate learning motivation first, and then think about the skills. It can be frustrating not… Read More

Chinese Writing

Chinese Reading Comprehension

Reading Skills

The Importance of Reading the News

There are many benefits to reading the news, and it’s great to get kids into the habit early. Find out the hows and whys of news reading below: The Benefits of Reading the News: Expanded vocabulary – Teachers and textbooks choose the most important words for a child to learn. However, if you want your young learner to go beyond these, newspapers are… Read More

The Path to Becoming an Engaged Reader

During my five years of teaching young learners, I have often been approached by parents struggling to help their children read. Parents are well aware that learning to read is a crucial step towards reading to learn, and they are eager to help their children become independent learners. I’ve found some useful tips which parents can use at home to support reading and ensure their… Read More

Correcting Common Reading Mistakes

In my Love to Read and Phonics classes, students often make the same mistakes repeatedly when reading aloud. Children in Hong Kong can be under a lot of pressure to read from an early age, and teachers and parents can be tempted to let small mistakes slip by in order to encourage faster reading. However, I make sure to always correct the repeated… Read More

Thinking Skills

Building Critical Thinking Skills

What is most important in your child’s education? Grades? Extra-curriculars? Sports? All of these are, of course, relevant in a child’s school career. However, in our rapidly changing world, it is hard to deny the importance of educating a generation of life-long learners who can think critically and independently. Critical thinking skills are what set top students apart. This means being able to think themselves,… Read More

Boosting Critical Thinking through Games

Critical thinking helps learners analyse new information and solve difficult problems. It’s the key to long term educational success. When I help my students prepare for their exams, parents often ask me: ‘Why can’t my child learn from their mistakes?’ This is a great question, and understanding the answer makes it clear why critical thinking is so important to students. Often, children are overwhelmed with… Read More

Develop Higher Order Thinking Skills through Reading

When children start reading, they begin with the alphabet and then move on to phonics, blending, sight words, etc. Many people see fluent independent reading as the end point of this journey. However, for me, the main reading skill of a child at this stage is still developing, which is the true story-engagement that comes with higher order thinking. Once children are confident with building… Read More


Managing Emotions

Emotion management has been shown to correlate closely with academic performance. When a student is over stressed, he or she is unlikely to perform at his or her best. In extreme cases, exam stress can cause physical symptoms, such as stomach upsets and headaches. Helping your child manage their emotions well can be the key to their future success. One of the most important ways… Read More

What Negative Behaviour Really Means

Unlike adults, children often express their needs through behaviour rather than through their words. Therefore, the emergence of negative behaviours can be a signal of unsatisfied wants. As a tutor of small groups, I often get to witness a variety of different behaviours from children, and I always endeavour to find the root causes of any negativity. Look out for these key issues in your… Read More

Ocean in Chinese

Chinese Exam Preparation

Exam Tips

Working On Your Kid’s Weaker Skills

As part of the team which works on school specific exam practice, I have regular conversations with parents about their child’s progress on school tests. One question which comes up often is: ‘Why doesn’t my kid’s hard work seem to pay off?’ Parents find it understandably frustrating to see their child studying hard for exams but still getting low grades. This can be especially… Read More

Memory Techniques for Exams and Tests

Have you ever been afraid of your mind going blank when you sit an exam? I have. And many of my students tell me they worry about this too. It would be a nightmare if this really happened, but fortunately, studies show that it’s actually very unlikely. Usually, your memories flood back once you pick up a pen and start answering questions. However, the worry… Read More

Grade boosting tips for struggling students

In my five years working at i-Learner, I’ve helped countless struggling students make fantastic progress and come out of their exams with good grades and a smile. In my experience, if your child is struggling with their exams and revision, the measures to take can be split into short-term and long-term strategies. If your child is having difficulties and their exam is next week, try… Read More


How to Get the Most from Doing Homework

Doing homework can be rewarding if it is done effectively and efficiently. It is a chance for your child to refresh his/her memory of what they learned at school, and a way for you to find out which part your child’s understanding of that material needs a little work. I’ve helped many students improve their study strategies in order to get more from doing their… Read More

How to Structure Revision Time

Preparing for exams should not be a last-minute rush of activity. If you think of it like self-organised homework, this helps you be more productive, get better grades, and feel less stressed. I often help my students prepare for their exams, and it’s always the ones who are organised and structured in their preparation who do best. During my own studies, I learned several useful… Read More

Creative Ways to Get Kids Studying

As parents and educators, we know that sometimes, it can be tricky to get children studying or doing their homework. Throughout my time as an English Tutor, I have found that kids respond best to entertainment and creativity as a tool to engage them in their studies. Here are some of the most effective ways to get them working: 1. Play games Games that… Read More

Plant Symbols in Chinese Literature

School Application

Making the Transition from Primary to Secondary

Having taught at i-Learner for around five years, I have seen countless students make their journeys through primary school and onto secondary school. From this experience, I have been able to observe the specific ways in which students can best prepare themselves for the jump, ensuring that they adapt well and get the most out of their studies from S1 onwards. 1. Consolidate your primary… Read More

Boost your Application to Top-Tier Secondary Schools

Applying to top-tier secondary schools can be a daunting prospect for P6 students and their parents. To secure a place in a well-regarded school, many parents target its Discretionary Places (DP) instead of crossing their fingers and waiting for the results of Central Allocation. Having coordinated the school-specific exam practice for more than three years here at i-Learner, I have helped numerous parents and… Read More

Making your Kindergartener’s Application Stand Out

A portfolio is an essential tool for showing target primary schools the incredible things your child has to offer. As a teacher at i-Learner, I’ve reviewed many student portfolios. Sometimes, these are stuffed full of certificates, reports and photos, and they look like an encyclopaedic history of a child, however there is nothing in them which particularly catches my eye. As you apply to primary… Read More

Chinese Festivals


How to Get 5** in DSE Maths

Maths can be a very divisive subject – students either love it or they hate it! But I’ve found that everyone can do well in maths if they just learn a few key strategies. I developed these when studying for the DSE myself, and have honed them through my teaching experience. Here are the three main things I focused on to get 5** at DSE:… Read More

Steps to Ace DSE English Paper 3B

The significance of DSE English paper 3B might surprise you. However, it can have a remarkable effect on your overall grade. Strong candidates can go from a 5* to 5**; weaker candidates can use this paper to make a significant jump in their grades. Success in this paper is well within your reach. If you can tackle part B2, then by following a few simple… Read More

Dealing with Uncooperative Candidates in DSE English Speaking

The DSE English Speaking exam feels daunting to a lot of candidates. I felt the same when I took the exam myself some years ago. The exam seemed very hard to prepare for as I knew my performance could easily be affected by circumstances beyond my control. I worried about uncooperative candidates who would perhaps interrupt, dominate or steer the conversation in irrelevant directions. However,… Read More

Common Mistakes in the DSE Writing Paper

You have memorised lists of vocabulary. You’ve done so much writing that your arm is going to fall off. You’ve followed the format of sample essays. You have even picked a topic you’re familiar with. Then why aren’t you getting the grade you deserve in your DSE writing paper? Unfortunately, EVERYONE has done those things to prepare for the HKDSE exam, so you need to… Read More

Early Learners

Why Preschoolers Need Active Learning

You are probably already familiar with the concept of active learning – learning through play and hands-on activities. This can take the form of exploring different materials, learning through guided group activities and crafts, and interacting a lot with classmates. But with the pressures on academics that the Hong Kong school system creates from a very young age, activity-based learning can sometimes get left behind. Read More

Reading Story Books with Early Learners

Reading story books is an essential part of a child’s development. It not only establishes necessary language skills, but also stimulates a child’s imagination and creativity. Having taught many preschoolers here at i-Leaner, I have found reading story books to be an excellent way to encourage these little ones to develop and share ideas. It also helps adults and children to develop a creative bond,… Read More

Teaching Sight Words through Games

As Miss Lucy discussed in last week’s article, sight words, or high frequency words, are those which appear frequently in English writing. Being able to spot them can definitely help a child’s reading speed and fluency. These words can seem very easy to learn (some are only 1 or 2 letters long), however, they can be difficult for young learners since they can have… Read More

Tips for Chinese Learning

Public Speaking

How Parents can Boost Speaking in the Home

As English is a global language, it is important for children to master the art of verbal English communication. This allows them to broaden their minds by sharing thoughts, ideas, and opinions with people from different parts of the world. Here at i-Learner, we strive to improve speaking skills by having conversations with our students and encouraging them to express their thoughts and opinions. In… Read More

7 Fun Discussion Topics for the Family

Parents are great at finding ways to make sure their children are engaged with learning English. From my experience, though, the best results come when parents join in with their children! Speaking English at home is highly beneficial, especially when your child is still young. This makes the language feel stress-free and fun, rather than a chore they need to get through at school. Over… Read More

The Importance of Warming up Before Speaking

Students face a variety of situations in which they need to put their best voice forward: from their very first interview to in-class presentations and speech competitions. A well-prepared voice can make all the difference and help disguise nervousness as confidence. Developing good vocal warm-up habits from a young age will help students grow into confident speakers. From my experience in drama, I have… Read More

Speech Festival Success

Every year, I’m excited to see the poems, prose extracts and drama pieces which are chosen for the Hong Kong Speech Festival. The texts are always full of interesting feelings, which are a lot of fun for students to experience as they read. I have been training students for the Speech Festival for many years now, and I’m always so happy to see my students… Read More