If you are a keen cyclist then you will certainly know what an amazing event the 2014 Grand Depart for the Tour de France was here in Yorkshire! It was one of the greatest spectacles that this county has ever seen and 2 million people turned out to watch (and many were on their bicycles following the riders too). I went with husband and daughter to Leyburn to experience this first hand. It was an incredible sight to see them emerge over the hill and rush down to where we were all congregated. The whole day had a party-atmosphere.
Yellow flags hung in every town and village, yellow bicycles appeared everywhere and even the sheep
were coloured in the cycling jersey colours. And the weather on that day in Leyburn was wonderful making the whole day one to remember.
You may also know that following this event there has been a Tour de Yorkshire every year since. And that’s not all in the cycling world – in 2019 Yorkshire will again be the centre of cycling when it hosts the Road World Championships.
So why are these great cycling events coming to Yorkshire?
- It has one of finest landscapes in the country which you can appreciate as you ride
- The roads are quiet – many top cyclists train here for that reason
- There is a good mix of challenging climbs and more gentle routes
- Finally, we have a very active and enthusiastic tourist board who are successful in getting these events to come here
Here at Fleetham Lodge you can get straight on to your bike from the front door – no need to travel anywhere. To get into the Dales (where some of the most famous scenes from 2014 are shown) it is a short drive (and we take you) or you can travel on the local railway with your bike – which is a whole other experience and one which we always offer.
We have sourced excellent routes in both the Dales and the Moors which, if you are a keen cyclist, we know will excite you. The scenery, the fabulous dales and moors villages, the array of pubs and beers and the camaraderie are all the things that make this a great experience.
Classes are held in the mornings generally but if the weather forecast looks worrying for the afternoon we will swap things around. An all-day ride at the weekend gives you a chance to see more and relax over lunch before the return route.
Most students can’t wait to get out on the bikes to a new area and that is great but we also add some non cycling visits as well to give everyone a rest and see other things in the area.
English and Cycling is a great course for a family group too. The children love the freedom of being able to cycle on the quiet roads (we have bikes and helmets) around the village (supervised, naturally) and those who are used to cycling can take off with their parents and our guides on longer rides.
It’s a fun, healthy and unique way to have a family holiday and improve English skills too.
Cycling is a good, all-year activity so you can book a course at any time. If you are not one of the hardy types then May and September are perfect.
Here at Fleetham Lodge we have three speciality courses – English and Golf, English and Cycling and English and Walking. Over the next three weeks I want to showcase each of these and talk about those intrepid students who have come here to Fleetham Lodge to engage in these activities.
This week I want to write about our most sought-after one which is English and Golf.
Golf is a very popular game here in the UK and we have golf courses tucked around every corner – or so it might seem.
At Fleetham Lodge we are fortunate to have a dozen golf courses all within about a 30-minute drive which means that when you come on our English and Golf programme you can play on a different golf course just about every day!
Another advantage of this English and Golf course (for adults as well as juniors) is that we match you, on some days, with local golfers which means that all the time you are playing golf you are using your English in an authentic situation and making new friends with whom you can go and have a drink afterwards.
Karina from Germany came for 2 weeks with her children to improve English and also play golf. The idea was to study every morning and play golf every afternoon.
On the first day we hooked Karina up with two local lady golfers who played with Karina and then took her for lunch at the golf club (we hadn’t expected this and it was such a lovely gesture). The two children meanwhile joined a local golf roll-up (i.e. turn up and play/train) with the pro at Richmond golf club. During this session they both made new friends and we were able to arrange extra golf matches during the week for them. The roll-ups are a great way for juniors to get training and make new friends.
During the two weeks the family were with us, they played 8 different golf courses and visited their favourites, Richmond and Romanby, for a second time.
4 keen golfers came from Germany for a week with the proviso that they wanted ‘a little’ English tuition and ‘a lot of’ golf. So, we put golf first and organised games each day with a whole day on Saturday, some with the group and others in two groups with local golfers. They visited 6 courses and enjoyed each one. The favourite seemed to be Richmond as well for its interesting terrain. As the courses are quite close then most of the time was on the course and there was plenty of time to go in the clubhouse for a drink after. And the English? Well, as this was secondary, we fit it all in here and there around the golf and it worked a treat!
Participating in our English and Golf is very easy, all you need are your clubs – we organise the venues, book the games, pay the green fees, get you a trolley and take and deliver you to and from every course. We know a lot of local golfers and will fix up games, once we know your handicap, on some days with suitable golf buddies.
As the home of golf (we are not too far from Scotland) there is much on offer in terms of great local courses and with everything taken care of – you just need to bring your best game and enjoy playing. Oh, and your new golf buddies? We’ll invite them here for dinner too so you can continue your golfing anecdotes over a well-deserved meal.
For the fourth and final Case Study I want to share one of our family courses. Family courses are a relatively new thing for us here at Fleetham Lodge with the first one taking place in 2013.
Fleetham Lodge is a perfect venue for a family group as all the student bedrooms are located on one floor and so the family can have this whole floor to themselves giving them complete privacy. There are 4 rooms, three have double/king-size beds and one has twin beds which means that a combination of different family groups – a couple and their children or two families (we have had two mothers who were friends with their respective children) etc. can easily be accommodated with up to 5 or 6 people.
There is also access to the laundry room for those more mundane tasks, if required.
The family I want to feature in this post came from Japan and consisted of mother and two children aged 13 and 9. The 13 year old was already studying at an international boarding school and his sister was going to follow him there in time. The children had been to a summer camp in the US and wanted a more focused course to improve their English skills before returning to school.
All three wanted to have lessons but they all had different needs. Wakaba the 9 year old had some English and was rather shy and didn’t like to speak much, Ghota her brother spoke well and quite fluently but wanted help with grammar and writing for school and their mother wanted to brush up on her skills and improve her fluency. We organised for two teachers with experience of teaching children to share the classes. Ghota had 3 hours each morning, the mother two hours and Wakaba an hour and a half after which she would play with one of my two daughters who were here at the time. This worked out very well for all concerned.
In the afternoons we went out on visits. The family, especially the mother, were interested in history and culture so we visited castles, gardens and had a tour of a country mansion. They also wanted to swim and enjoyed playing with our dogs in the garden as well as games such as croquet and tennis.
When the family arrived they were very pleasantly surprised to see lots of green fields, sheep and small, pretty villages. They had understood that the north of England was all industrialised! A good lesson for us to learn for our marketing as actually North Yorkshire is not only the largest county in the whole country, but also one without any cities (York is not part of the county) making it one of the most rural areas in the UK.
The freedom for the children to run around in the garden freely and safely, being able to travel around to various places without experiencing any traffic jams or delays (our commute to our daughter’s school 35 miles away takes 90 minutes there and back home – this would be impossible in many southern parts of the country) means more time spent at the venue and also a chance to run off steam. Our local lanes are great for a bike ride (and walking too) they are quite flat, very quiet and safe and we have cycles and helmets for everyone.
Ghota and Wakaba also enjoyed a cooking session with one of the teachers and lots of games and craft sessions. For Mum the most enjoyable thing was to sit in the evenings with us while the children engaged in movies, games or craft before bed and just have some adult time over a glass of wine or a cup of tea. This was great for her English but also a chance to unwind and enjoy the peace and quiet of this beautiful rural setting.
If you would like to study English as a family then this is a really perfect venue, lots of space, dedicated teachers for the adults and children, great new venues to visit and explore away from the busy city. Fresh air, good, fresh,local food, people to socialise with, the space to relax and unwind as you learn. And not forgetting, a chance to have fun as a family without worrying about food, shopping or what to do tomorrow!!!
This week I want to look at two students who came on a Teenage Immersion courses. Although these are aimed at groups of 4 students we do also run them for just one or two. This week I want to introduce two teenage students to you – Marie who was 16 when she came for her course and Yohann who was 19. They both had similar desires for their future, namely getting into the schools of their choice for the next stage of their education.
Both students happened to be from France.
Marie wanted to continue her education for the final two years in the UK and had applied to a boarding school here. The school was happy to accept her but felt that her English was not quite up to the level for A levels and,as a result, she might struggle unless she worked on it first. They recommended that she took around a month of lessons, preferably intensively, over the summer. As we had had students before from this school they recommended us and I subsequently spoke to Marie’s parents. Marie was only available for three weeks so we agreed to do as much as possible in that time.
Marie had not really enjoyed English at her school in France and was not too happy about spending 3 weeks studying it. However she really wanted to go to the school so she bit the bullet and actually worked really well in both lessons and homework. We had lessons together for around 5 hours each day spread across the morning and afternoon plus an hour’s homework most evenings. As well as grammar and vocabulary, we worked on fluency in speaking (this began to happen almost immediately) and, of course, a lot on writing as this would be key in her school work.
Important in her course also was an introduction to some of the language she would need in her new school. We included a lot of vocabulary around daily life at school, subject vocabulary and as my two daughters were at home they helped her with the more ‘social’ vocabulary and culture at boarding school. I remember she even asked them to check out her wardrobe to see which of her clothes would be ok for her new school 🙂
Progress was fast and I kept in touch with both her parents and the school as the time for them to confirm her place for the next school year was quite tight. Towards the end of the course the school tested her again and the result was quite different from her previous one and her place was confirmed! Everyone was thrilled and she went on to have an amazing time at her chosen school.
As is always the case on our course it wasn’t always study. We also went out on visits to various local places and enjoyed some activities together, including a day in York (where she wanted to buy some ‘cool’ clothes for school) and a relaxing dinner at the local pub.
Marie was a real success story for us as we helped her reach her dream and I know that she was successful after school in gaining a place at university in the UK.
Yoann’s dream was to study Business at Boston University in the US. He needed quite a high TOEFL score to do this and so he wanted to try and achieve this in the fastest time possible so that he could leave for the States and get settled. He arrived at Fleetham Lodge in September and he hoped to be in Boston in January. He would study here intensively on TOEFL for around 2 months.
Like Marie English had not been a favourite subject and although he spoke very well his other skills need to catch up for him to get the score he needed to achieve a place on the Business Degree course. We set to work on writing, reading and listening as well as grammar and vocabulary. There was quite a bit to do to catch up to his great speaking skills. Using a range of different materials and techniques things started to improve and as we moved forward the TOEFL scores in practice started to approach what he needed.
We learned after a couple of weeks that Yoann’s course did not actually begin until September in the following year and so he enrolled into a pre-sessional language course for 6 months and decided to take the exam in the US. This meant that we could concentrate fully on improving his English overall in readiness for this course and life in the US.
Yoann was with us for some weeks and he really wanted to go to the gym, play football (his passion) and get out and about locally. We managed to find him a local five-aside football team with whom he could train weekly and helped him enrol in a local gym. These activities helped with his language and when he said he was leaving his new-found friends were genuinely sad to lose him. For those few weeks Yoann really became a part of our local community.
There were activities and outings too including a premiership football match at Newcastle United that we organised and a visit to a real-life castle which is still inhabited something Yoann had really wanted to see.
This was another success story and not untypical of the things we are able to provide for our students in order that they not only enjoy their study with us but also exceed their expectations in terms of progress.
Here we are with the second of my 4 case studies and for this post I want to introduce two IELTS students to you, both doctors; Lera from Russia and Sophia from Germany.
The IELTS Workshops are aimed at students who need band 7 at least (many of the students who have come need higher scores than this – band 7 in all or even band 7.5 or 8). During the course (this is usually 3 or 4 days or a full week ) we work on IELTS for around 6 hours each day (this may sound tough but actually it’s all well-paced and we take breaks so it generally works out well) and it truly is an IELTS immersion. Of course we have some time to relax in the evenings and at the weekend.
For Lera to register as a doctor in the UK the IELTS requirement was band 7.5 overall and a minimum of band 7 in each of the 4 parts of the exam. For Sophia who was applying in New Zealand the requirement is 7 in reading and writing and 7.5 in speaking and listening. These are very tough scores to achieve (given that 9 is ‘native speaker’ level). Lera had taken the exam twice and was currently around 6.5 and Sophia had taken it 12 times (spread over several years) and her scores had been fluctuating.
The key to achieving high IELTS scores like this is to focus on the areas where marks are lost while making sure everything else is maintaining its level or better still improving further – keeping ‘all the balls in the air!’
Coming here for an IELTS (Immersion) Workshop means being surrounded by English all day so this helps to put students into an ‘English’ frame of mind and helps them to be really concentrated on the work in hand.
Sophia was a little disillusioned by her IELTS history and had achieved some really amazing scores (a 9 in reading at one exam) but the scores were not coming together in one sitting. We needed to work mostly on speaking and listening as these required higher levels and also make sure the writing achieved and maintained at least band 7. One of the biggest tasks was to help her to remain calm in the speaking exam as nerves made her ‘run-away’ with the speaking. Confidence – unsurprisingly after many attempts at the exam was also something to engender – however she was always cheerful and determined to succeed in her desire to work in New Zealand and to make a new life with her family.
By working systematically and intensively on specific areas or speaking, listening and writing, the scores began to increase and stabilise. This can happen very quickly when students grasp some of the techniques and then the next job was to make sure that these continued to build up to the day of the exam. To do this we continued to meet online after Sophia had returned home.
The exam went well and Sophia felt she had performed well in each part but now we needed to wait for the results.
It was on Good Friday when I received a very excited call from Sophia to tell me she had made it!! Her results were stunning –
8.5 Listening, 7.5 Reading, 7 Writing, 7.5 Speaking
You can see my YouTube interview with Sophia here
She could follow her dream to go to New Zealand. I know that her whole family is now enjoying their new life there.
Lera was looking to go and do further medical training at university. She is a qualified doctor but needed to do further training in order to work in the UK in the medical field. She had been studying IELTS for sometime and taken one exam which had not delivered her band.
Her dream was to work in medicine in the UK. She was, when I met her, working as an art tutor and is a very talented artist. We first worked online on my IELTS Intensive 3-month course before Lera decided that she wanted to come here to Yorkshire and take the IELTS workshop. She came for two days and then came again for a further 4 days just before her exam.
For Lera the two areas which were challenging were Listening and Writing. Writing was good but the timing proved to be the main issue (this is true for many students). It was only when we worked face to face that I discovered what the main problem was with listening – Lera was underlining too many key words and so when she began to listen she was trying to focus on all of these words and ended up not really following what was being said – she couldn’t “(see) ‘hear’ the wood for the trees!” Once we were able to cut this down to just one main key word for each question then the scores improved dramatically and in her exam Lera achieved an amazing band 7.5 in listening.
It was late November when Lera came for the second time and there were two IELTS students on this workshop and thinking about her exam always conjures up the smell of wood smoke as we had a wood-burning stove in the room to keep us all cosy as we studied.
Lera was successful in the exam which she took just a couple of days after returning home and as well as her fantastic listening result she also achieved band 8 in speaking. She stayed up all night to get the result and was so excited when it came.
You can see my interview with her on YouTube here.
I can now tell you that Lera is now working in research here in the UK and is about to do even more study at university.
Both Sophia were hard working and determined in their ambition to be successful and IELTS was an important key to their success. I am very proud to have played a part in their success and it was just as exciting for me to hear about their results. I hear from them both from time to time and I know that they are both enjoying the dream that they planned for a long time and that coming here to take an IELTS Workshop made a big difference to them in their IELTS success.
To give you a flavour about actual immersion courses here at Fleetham Lodge I thought I’d run a short series of case studies in my next few posts. It will give an insight into why these students chose to come here, their experience here and also what they achieved. Perhaps your situation is similar to some of these students and then you can see exactly how an immersion course here will give you the result you are looking for.
Four students from the Netherlands.
This was my very first full group of 4. The four women worked for a university in the Netherlands and as a result of changes within the organisation they found themselves having to use English more and more both with the international students, in their teaching, and for the administrators, with overseas agencies and businesses to arrange placements. The university had a good programme of English training for all the staff and arranged for them to travel to the UK for 5 days to undertake intensive training.
Our 4 students arrived on a dark October Sunday evening in Leeds where we met them and transported them to Fleetham Lodge. There was, I learned later, some resistance to this training as the women had been at the university for some time and were not all happy about the changes. In fact one of them had stated (in Dutch, so I hadn’t understood this) that she was not going to speak at all during the course. I want to relate this because what happened during the week to this student was quite remarkable. We arrived, had a cup of tea and everyone went off to bed. The student who had announced her refusal to speak was unfortunately forced to return to the kitchen to request something and this not only broke her silence but also brought home the fact that here there is NO CHOICE but to speak English!
The lessons began the next day and once we got started we had a tremendously fun week. All the group members had quite good English but for some of them it had been many years since they had used it much – hence the fear. The topics covered in the lessons were email writing as they all needed to send emails regularly to various overseas business and other universities. We covered register (the right language for the right situation), language fluency, as now all of them were using English regularly with students around the university, and finally some presentation skills for teaching in English and also presenting their students to potential businesses for securing placements. Confidence improved day by day and very little Dutch was spoken at all even within the group.
In the afternoons we went out and about locally – Durham, Richmond, The Bowes Museum, a long walk around the local countryside and the theatre on the last evening. Each of these visits were a chance to chat together and with other people too, practise and have fun. I have to say we all spent most of the week in and out of the lessons laughing. So much so that the next group who arrived from the university had been instructed by these women to come to Fleetham Lodge for their course because; ‘it’s like a holiday!’
One of the memorable activities was a visit to the theatre. The Georgian theatre in Richmond is very small and intimate and as a result (the show was a comedy) the performers kept including the audience and of course our group got dragged into the performance with one actually going up on stage.
After the show we were invited to the bar to meet the actors and they were fascinated that people had come all the way from Holland to see them. We asked to take a photo with them and they decided that this would be best done on the stage – we were all so chuffed at this as it is unusual but it made for a wonderful end to the course.
Also, I have to share with you – on a tour of the theatre before the performance – the student who said that she would not say anything in English on the Sunday evening when the group arrived – asked question after question to the tour guide – the rest of us just stood in awe!! What a fantastic result!!
Here are some of their comments to me:
I had a wonderful time and feel a little bit jealous of the colleagues that are allowed to visit you next time! I’ve learned a lot and really enjoyed your lessons, it was fun.
I can imagine how quiet it will be there! I think I’ve never learned so much before in one week. It surely was a great week!
I had a wonderful week at your place, enjoyed it from the first till the last minute, especially the last evening! So thank you very much for making us so comfortable, and not giving me the idea my English was too bad! Indeed, I was very exhausted when I came home, but had the whole weekend to recover.
Exhausted, but in a good way I think 🙂
You may be familiar with the L’Oreal hair-colour advertising slogan ‘You’re worth it’ which has appeared on their adverts since the late 1970s. In this post I want to ‘borrow’ this slogan to dig down for you into a Quintessentially English Immersion course at Fleetham Lodge and show you exactly what we put together to create this course and why it is unique in several ways and also why we want you to experience it because ‘you’re definitely worth it’.
All our courses are ‘bespoke’ in terms of the English lessons, the visits and the activities. Firstly we want to give you exactly the English skills that you seek and desire but we also want this experience to be totally enjoyable for you and so we ask 4 questions of every student:
- What do you feel you are best at in English? (doing some of this is empowering)
- Where do you feel you have the biggest challenges in English? (this is the target)
- What do you enjoy doing the most in English? (clearly this will be fun)
- What do you not enjoy doing in English? (this is our challenge – how to make this more fun)
These questions are the core of our plan for your course. Naturally we assess your level and then we put together a course that will both give you the amazing results you want to see but also delight and inspire you.
Our teachers are not only qualified but experienced too. If you come as a family or send your teenagers then we’ll chose a teacher who has experience with children or teenagers. If you come for business English then your teacher will be knowledgeable in this area. It’s very important that you have every confidence in your teacher and so we leave nothing to chance.
We will always give you a book (sometimes 2). It may be a course book but it may also be a vocabulary book or a book of poetry or short stories. We choose this book especially for you and we will use it during the course at some stage but we will not follow it slavishly each day. A book is something nice for you to have and keep, it also means that we can use it together in lessons and assign you some homework from it making it also a useful gift.
We consider that your course begins when we meet you at the airport or station. Someone from our team will always be there to meet you when you arrive. This is very important to us. We want to welcome you personally and escort you to Fleetham Lodge. On the journey it gives you a chance to ‘get into English’ in a relaxed environment and it also allows us to get to know you a little, help you to relax and also get a sense of your English in an informal way. We value this time with you and all our students enjoy this chance to jump straight into using English, which is exactly how immersion should work.
We have spent some time and effort making the accommodation and living environment both inside and outside comfortable and attractive for you. We want you to ‘feel’ that you are in an English home with a little history and an ‘old-world’ ambience. Things like open fires in the winter, tea on the terrace in the summer, our old faithful Aga (our old cooker in the kitchen) and games of croquet and tennis hark back to another era – and one which we believe makes this a quintessential English experience. However, we are not stuck in the dark ages and we have full wifi, television, modern plumbing and central heating all of which provide the necessary modern comforts.
While you are here we want you to eat well. Being in an agricultural area allows us to source good food locally. We also have our own kitchen garden which we manage organically and which provides vegetables for the table. Finally our hens wander freely and produce fresh, organic eggs (we have won the hens egg section of our local show for several years!). We enjoy cooking and put together menus which combine good nutritious ingredients with an English flavour. We have catered for a variety of different dietary needs over the years from vegetarian diets, food allergies and food dislikes to religious observances. Many of our students in the past have gone home with a folder of our recipes to try. Meal times are an important part of your course. We sit together for all meals and it is a good chance to chat, ask questions and generally use your English in a natural and authentic way – this is what makes immersion really work.
We are very proud of being in Yorkshire and the north of England and we want to show you all the wonderful places that surround us. Like the rest of this country there are beautiful old stately homes (many still inhabited by their owners), fabulous gardens, lovely old cities and towns as well as ruined castles and monasteries. What makes Yorkshire a bit special is that as the biggest county by far, it has a diverse and wonderful landscape. The Yorkshire Moors and Yorkshire Dales are the most famous part of this landscape and both are right on our doorstep! We also have a lovely coast with a range of villages and larger seaside towns. If cities are your thing then we can offer Leeds a vibrant modern metropolis and, of course, York, a medieval jewel. We’ll choose the places that suit you and your interests and then we organise the transport, the entry fees and any specific tours and refreshments so you don’t have to worry about anything – just relax and enjoy the whole experience.
And if you simply cannot resist a day or two in London – then this is actually possible too!! Although we are very rural, we have quick access |(a few minutes) to the A1 the major road from London to Edinburgh and also direct trains from our local station to both London and Edinburgh. Several students in the past have decided to visit London for a weekend or take a day trip to explore Edinburgh and we are happy to help you arrange this.
Nothing is too much, nothing is impossible and everything is done to ensure that your quintessential immersion experience is tailored to you and gives you an unforgettable, fruitful and delightful memory.
We believe our courses are ‘Worth it’ because we know that ‘You are certainly Worth it’!
In the past some students were surprised when the arrived at Fleetham Lodge as they had thought that the photos on the site were simply generic pictures of the area. I am sorry this was not clear to them and I applaud them even more for taking the leap to come and stay when they were doubtful. It must have been something of a mystery tour. 🙂
So, to make sure this doesn’t happen in the future I want to reassure you that the pictures of the house, garden, internal rooms and village are all, in fact real, and ‘what you see is, indeed, what you get!’
Your course begins when we collect you from the local airport or station. One of our team will always meet you and bring you to Fleetham Lodge. Once you arrive we will show you to your room and give you some time to catch your breath, get your bearings and visit the bathroom. Generally we will agree a time for us all meet downstairs after this and have some refreshment. Depending on your time and season of arrival, this could be afternoon tea by a roaring fire or an evening aperitif in the garden. This enables us to get to know you a little and also explore your expectations for the course so that we can be sure that we have arranged everything in line with exactly what you are looking for. We’ll end this informal session with a tour of the areas you will need to know – the classroom, the dining room and weather permitting, the garden area, so you will be familiar with the place and start to know your way around.
As most people tend to arrive sometime in the afternoon, we would normally end this first day with dinner and more social interaction. Occasionally people arrive in the morning in which case this would be a very short session and then we would go straight into the first lesson.
After a good night’s sleep you will be ready to get going in earnest so after breakfast we will move into the classroom to begin our first day of lessons. We normally begin classes at 9.30 but sometimes we may start at 9.00 if we want to get away somewhere in the afternoon or if we are covering a large number of lesson hours as, for example, in an IELTS Workshop or Business English Immersion course.
You will spend all day with your teacher whether this be in lessons, coffee and tea breaks, lunch, dinner or an excursion in the afternoon or evening. This really is immersion, that means that you and your teacher (and your classmates if it is a group course) will be ‘joined at the hip’ for the time you are here at Fleetham Lodge. This is how immersion works – you use English all day, every day. In the past this was exactly the case. Nowadays with smart phones, laptops, tablets and social media, there may be times when you use your own language but we urge you to keep these to a minimum. I have had a few teenage students here who refused even to speak to their parents as they did not want to speak French!! (I did, of course, send regular reports and photos via email to reassure their parents and keep them posted on progress!) I’ve also had adult students who refused to use their electronic devices for all but one hour in the evening. This discipline helps to maintain the immersion and given that we are pretty busy for most of the day, is not so difficult to do. Immersion on this scale really does boost your English language skills.
Food is important too. Meal times are a good way to relax and speak and listen in a social situation. We’ll often invite friends around to give you more people to speak to but not too many that it is overwhelming :-). We enjoy both cooking and gardening so we have a kitchen garden for organic vegetables and hens for organic eggs and we can source good fresh food locally as we are in a rural, agricultural area (one of our best friends is an organic farmer). And, we enjoy cooking so we always try to provide delicious, freshly cooked meals and can cater for and have already catered for a range of dietary requirements from religious observances to health needs.
The visits we take are a mixture of local history, landscape and gardens. These are all part of the rich culture of England. We will usually visit York (or Durham if you have already been to York) and we have also visited places in the past which people specifically requested. A Spanish student asked to go to Rokeby Park and we took a student to watch a football match at Newcastle United. We’ve also visited the Angel of the North sculpture with a design student and several local food producers (farmers, a herb farm and a brewery – one group actually got to make chutney!) with groups of food production lecturers from Holland. If you like castles we’ll go to castles but if you don’t we won’t and can find other things to see.
Making progress with your English is a foregone conclusion. If you are speaking, listening reading, writing and essentially surrounded by the language for all your waking hours then you have to progress and this has been the case for all our students whether they come one to one or in a group. Having a great experience is what we strive to give you and what happens when you are enjoying yourself and interested in the experience for its own merits is that you learn the language without really noticing it – and this is why Quintessentially English Immersion Courses at Fleetham Lodge really work.
The idea of offering English Immersion courses began in 1995 when I had the notion (along with two colleagues – now retired) of creating English language experiences that were a little unique and special. We knew that we could offer great English training – we were all highly experienced in the field with masses of successful students behind us – so the quality of the courses was never in doubt but what we wanted was to offer something that would allow students to ‘live’ a special experience during their course. At the base of this idea was to choose really special venues for the course – places that were not only beautiful but also had some historical and cultural background which would go hand in hand with the language learning.
The very first course we ran was held at Strawberry Hill just outside London. We were able to use the facilities in this glorious Gothic mansion (I don’t think this would be possible today) which formed part of the university campus and the students were really blown away by the experience of being in this important house. The gardens were special too and we were able to hold some of our more informal lessons here on warm sunny days. This was exactly the experience we wanted to create.
Another venue we were lucky to be able to use (and this has been developed significantly more just like Strawberry Hill since those days) was Easthampstead Park. The model for courses at English Language Training was now set; high quality courses, set in beautiful venues which immersed students in the language and a part of history. These courses were all close to London so taking students on visits was easy, however even now we tried to take in places that they would not necessarily visit themselves and leave them to do the popular tourist venues on their free afternoons.
For our one-to-one students we had a different approach as being alone in one of these venues was not ideal and we really wanted an immersion experience. All three of us lived in typical London houses dating from the Victorian and Edwardian eras so we created some of the very first Home-Tuition courses – where you live and study with your teacher – back in 1997. Our very first Home tuition student was a German businessman from Komatsu who came for 2 weeks and resided in Richmond, London with one of our teachers. We organised trips and dinners out at really lovely restaurants. Ironically most of these pioneers in the later 1990s were business students. We had students from France, Italy, Germany, Spain and Japan and from various industries including multinationals, TV studios, accountancy firms, medical practices and large consumer goods manufacturers. What they all wanted was to get great language skills in a short space of time (they were all time-pressed) and also have a package that took care of accommodation, food and transfers. We offered them all of this and as a bonus took them out on excursions – these were an integral part of the course – as the chance to converse informally and spontaneously really helps to re-enforce the lessons.
The other side of our activity was in-company training. We had a team of teachers who served employees in various companies around London including Unilever, Ericsson, Sony, Glaxo, Pernod-Ricard and Amazon. Several of these sent their overseas employees on our immersion courses too.
In 2004 the landscape changed and a move to Yorkshire (for personal reasons) occurred. Having established a language training system that was both successful and popular I was loath to abandon the model and so the Fleetham Lodge Centre was born. The same ingredients of great courses and beautiful venue apply as do the transfers, visits and also attention to detail on food and accommodation. However what has developed here is a rather more intimate atmosphere – both one-to-one courses and the group courses have a home from home feel because the venue is smaller. The groups are smaller too – in London we had groups from 6 up to 25 here the maximum has been 4. This means more attention, more time and faster progress.
Although London is an important centre for students and there is much to see: “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life” said Dr Johnson of dictionary fame, London is not the UK and across the country there are many delights to see and experience. Here in Yorkshire (the biggest county, so big it is split into 4 areas called the North, South, East and West Ridings – we are in the North Riding) we are home to two national parks (the Yorkshire Dales and the Yorkshire Moors) several ruined Abbeys, Castles, Stately Homes and beautiful gardens as well as the beautiful old city of York.
All feature in our visits and activities.
And we have a new ‘secret’ up our sleeves – we now have access to a wonderful venue which will provide courses for larger groups (10/12) – take a peek here 🙂
Right now, here in Yorkshire we are continuing our original purpose from 1995 to provide excellent courses which give impressive progress and an unforgettable experience.
Robin Hood’s Bay
We are now on our very last adventure and wanted to choose something special. As an island, one thing we have in spades is the seaside and so for this, the 6th and final adventure, we decided to take a coastal walk visiting some of the very favourite places of our previous students.
Whitby, a fishing town with it’s dark brooding ruined Abbey on the cliff top and it’s connection with the Dracula story is always something interesting to discover and further along the coast is Robin Hood’s Bay – conjuring up pictures of smugglers – is a very pretty place where we often have a drink by the sea before returning home across the moors.
We chose a walk around Robin Hood’s Bay for our final walk in this series (we will be doing lots more with our students over the summer) and the weather (although quite windy) was perfect for a day by the sea. We began at the top of the village by the old railway and the first part of the walk followed the old railway line (now no longer there) which is called the cinder path. Along the way we saw old platforms and other railway paraphernalia which is now no longer in use. The walk took us through train tunnels as well as tunnels of trees and was quite easy and attractive.
After about an hour we began to move back towards the coastal path and as we emerged from the trees we were greeted by a really spectacular view across the sea. I think it is always exciting to come upon a sea view and despite the wonderful walks we have done recently with their dramatic upland moors and attractive riversides, there is nothing quite so attractive as a sea view rising up on the horizon. As we passed a farm we were greeted by 4 peacocks – very attractive guard dogs! We stopped and sat down for a little to admire the view and get our breath back after the climb!
A short break to admire the view
We were now half way through the walk and the rest of it would hug the coastline giving us a permanent view of the waves and cliffs. This part of the walk was very up and down as we made our way towards first Boggle Hole (funny name!) and then on to the beach and back, eventually, to our starting point in Robin Hood’s Bay.
The views from the cliff path were stunning. The sea looked quite choppy but was quite a way out. We descended into Boggle Hole (this is to do with pixies like the ‘house elves’ in Harry Potter – you can read the information at the link above) which is now a Youth Hostel with a cafe and the beach with the Boggle’s cave.
The final part of the walk crossed through a small wood and then along the headland with the sea on the right and a stud farm (horses) on the left. At the end we had a choice to go on into the village or walk the last part across the beach – we chose the latter and after climbing over a huge pile of seaweed we found the sand and walked along to the slipway and finally to the pub for a well-earned pint of beer!
Although this is the last (for now) of our Yorkshire Adventures in these posts, there are hundreds of other places to visit. We have stately homes, castles, ruined abbeys, beautiful gardens, caves, the seaside and fabulous landscapes. If cities are more your thing then York, Durham. Leeds and Newcastle are all within striking distance. Whatever Yorkshire Adventure you would like, we can arrange it for you! So come, be immersed in English and choose your very own Yorkshire Adventure!