A question I often get asked is ‘How much or How many’. How many hours will we study per day? How many trips will there be in a week? How many tasks will I get to write? How much time is spent in the classroom? They are valid questions and are often used to assess value for money but it is important not to get too hung up on these things, as they don’t always give the full picture. The bigger picture that you need to know about is what the outcome will be for you and how this will give you the results that you are looking for. The amount of time you receive may not give you your desired outcome if it doesn’t address the things you need for you to move forwards with your English language goal. So ask lots of questions and make sure that this isn’t just a numbers game.
Value for money is really important when you are considering
investing in a course and we all fear poor value as it simply wastes our time and we don’t get results. I know from my own courses that most students who come here want to leave with more fluency, better vocabulary and also improved confidence in using English. Those who study IELTS want to get to their band score goal – these are clearly defined outcomes and so the course I provide must deliver this as far as possible in the time available. I too need to ask great questions! And I do!! I want to be certain that I can deliver what my students want in the time we have together and so it is important to find out where they are now and how much can be achieved.
The great thing about English language is that given the optimum environment everything you do will help you improve. Talking over breakfast or dinner, watching a movie that you can discuss, having a guided tour of a house or garden – all of these things can help you boost your English skills just as much as sitting studying in the classroom. In fact, I would go so far as to say that as long as you engage in these activities you can actually gain far more English! The main point about these non-classroom situations is that they are spontaneous and often with ‘random’ native speakers who are totally unconnected with your course making them ‘real, live’ experiences. There is higher ‘risk’ for you and no expectation for them so they are incredibly valuable as ‘tests’ of your language ability.
This is the idea around studying in-country so personally I feel that a really valuable question to ask when choosing your course is; how much exposure to random language events will I get?
Of course these cannot be ‘stage-managed’ by your school but if there are times when you are out and about on visits or if you have a chance to engage in non-classroom language activity then use these opportunities to test out your language skills and the result should really make you proud of yourself! If your teacher is on-hand to help you out if you get stuck, then so much the better.
On all our courses here at Fleetham Lodge we provide lots of chances to engage in activities like those described above. From our point of view this is true immersion. It’s an opportunity to test what you have learned and put it into practice. The very best way to make sure things are retained is by using them – so this helps you to do just that. In our experience this fact of being literally surrounded by English at all times is what helps our students to make great strides in their fluency and confidence in speaking and listening. Some even ‘complain’ they are now ‘thinking in English’ – which is a wonderful thing to have happen while your are here – not so great when you go home perhaps :-).
So the next time you are looking at courses don’t only consider the number of hours of contact time with your teacher but also the opportunities that are available to use the language outside of the classroom.
I really enjoy working with IELTS students especially those who need very high bands such as 7 or 8 in every part of the test. For these students IELTS is very challenging as they need to keep all the balls in the air at the same time and this requires a lot of discipline and practice.
Most of the work done with IELTS students is online but for some students online is not their preferred method of study or they want to come to the UK to experience more of an immersion in English as well as prepare their IELTS skills for the exam. To date, students choosing our IELTS Workshops have come from Western Europe, the Middle East, India, Nepal and Russia.
The main advantage of an immersion IELTS workshop over an online course is the fact that here English is being used all day even outside of the lessons which allows the students to get into the habit of hearing, speaking and generally absorbing English which helps to boost their IELTS skills too.
IELTS Intensive Workshops are, “as it says on the tin” – intensive – typically around 6 hours per day are spent in learning. This includes, as well as actual practice of the IELTS components, work on techniques and strategies to achieve the high bands that our students must have for their next step in life be that a career overseas, a high-level university course or the move to an English speaking country. We also give out homework for self-study so the days are packed with study.
Many students combine the IELTS Intensive Workshop week here with some follow-up or pre-workshop online work so that they can continue to hone their skills or use the workshop as the final push before the exam itself. Both methods can work equally well.
It is not unusual for our workshop students to have taken the exam several times before they decide to come (indeed this is the case for many online students also) but we hope that the next exam they take will be the last one and when the visit is planned well according to their level and readiness for the band score this is mostly the case.
Being able to really concentrate on the exam can be difficult while going about your daily life. Things take over, the kids, the job, other family members and before you know it IELTS is in the twilight zone and you find yourself studying late at night in a corner of the house trying not to disturb the sleeping members of your family. Or just as you get some momentum on your practice the extended family decide to come and visit and bang goes your practice for a week or two. It’s a familiar story that I hear again and again. So the chance to have a whole week (or weekend) just for IELTS is a luxury and it can be the answer for many students.
Although we are not an IELTS centre, if students want to take the exam while they are here, there are centres close enough (York, Leeds and Newcastle) to get to and we can help students make the arrangements where necessary providing there is enough time to book (this will usually be decided at the time of booking the workshop).
What makes our IELTS Intensive Workshops so successful? Firstly I have had over 20 years of IELTS training experience all of this at bands 7 and 8. Secondly I was, for a few years, an IELTS examiner myself and because we actually specialise in these high bands then the whole momentum of the course is aimed at getting band 7 and 8 in each part of the test.
We have a great track record. Most students get their required score and scores in Reading, Listening and Speaking are often very high, typically 7.5, 8 and even 8.5. In fact we have had 3 students achieve Band 9 in IELTS Reading!!
It would be a great pity to come all this way to North Yorkshire and only see the inside of Fleetham Lodge so we do take off a couple of hours in the middle of the week and on Saturday afternoon after our final session to go out, relax, gather our thoughts and experience something of the local area. These are welcome excursions after the rigours of non-stop IELTS study.
Groups are from 1:1 up to 4 participants – come alone or with fellow IELTS students.
Being interested in golf is something of a pre-requisite for choosing this course (having said that it is possible to add golf lessons in lieu of golf games) but that notwithstanding, English and golf are perfect partners for a sojourn at Fleetham Lodge.
Not only do those students attending get to improve their English skills formally but they set off after the lessons to put these immediately into practice! Joining in your golf hobby with other like-minded people and doing it all in English is a way of seeing great results in both language and golf skills.
The true home of golf is just a few hundred miles north of us in Scotland (just a 3-hour drive away) but England has always been a great golfing nation too with golf courses on almost every corner! Here in our area we are fortunate to have over 12 local courses, all good and all a little different. This means that you will be within just half an hour of a golf course (the nearest is only 10 minutes away)and we try to include many of these in your English and Golf course. If you find one that you really like, then we can return there or press on with others. We know lots of local golfers too so we can organise people to play with you which is why your English ‘lessons’ keep going into your golf games!
If you need to improve golf skills we can arrange for lessons with the pro and so English and golf continue to be intertwined throughout your stay. Don’t forget either, the socialising in the golf club after the game or the lunches and dinners with your new golf friends that will inevitably follow. So, all in all, this really does constitute English language full immersion and we can say, hand on heart, that you WILL be immersed in English all day long.
This is a really healthy way to learn English and the quality of the local landscape (essentially the Yorkshire Dales and Moors) can only add to the enjoyment of the experience. Some of these courses really harness the landscape and give you a truly wonderful feeling of the great outdoors. Imagine playing at Richmond founded over 100 years ago and looking out over the magnificent scenery of the Yorkshire Dales or at Ampleforth a beautiful little course in the grounds of the 12th century Gilling Castle (now a school) in the Yorkshire moors.
For golf enthusiasts who are looking to combine their hobby with some English skills – this is the perfect course. Or if your Business English needs some attention and you also want to get out and play after class then we can arrange it and it’s the perfect foil to a hard morning of study.
Come with friends or colleagues and we’ll make your English and Golf experience one to remember.
Golf is becoming a very popular choice among teens and we have the advantage of great junior provision here at our local golf courses. From the weekly ‘roll-ups’ with the pro where youngsters just turn up for a session (always well-attended!) to lessons with the pro and games with local teenage players, our younger students can also enjoy combining English lessons with their hobby. This is a great way of making new friends, getting immersed in English and learning both English and golf skills in one fell swoop – what’s not to like!
Golf can be organised during our summer teenage immersion courses or at other times of the year.
Another great thing about English and Golf is that they are both very weather-proof which means you can come any time, any season, any weather, which makes the combination even more perfect!
I have 4 children and since they were very small they have wanted to have birthday parties. Birthday parties can be a nightmare and I honestly don’t understand really why we do it, but at some stage in the process it seems like a good idea! From the very first party I organised for my eldest daughter (now in her 30s) I realised that the only way to get through this unscathed and ensure that everyone enjoyed themselves and the adults were not too frazzled, was to keep everybody occupied at all times. This meant that there was no chance of any child feeling bored and then getting into mischief (my 6 years of kindergarten teaching re-enforced this ‘rule’). So from the moment the kids arrived there was a programme and activity followed activity (I even had an activity for those early arrivals to do while we waited for everyone to get there – usually making a party hat). The result was that everyone was accounted for at every moment and everyone also had a good time as there would be at least one activity that they could throw themselves into!
As the children grew, I found that this principle still worked, only the activities changed. Even as they grew into their teens (my youngest had her final (I hope) 18th birthday party just this year) when there are certain ‘dangers’ that can present themselves, I found that my ‘birthday party method’ of organising the event worked well. All parties went off without many issues and many of my kids’ friends told me that they really enjoyed our parties – a compliment indeed from a 17 year-old!
When we received our first teenage students 10 years ago I was a little concerned that living in such a rural area may not appeal to them and that they might easily feel bored so I decided to utilise the ‘birthday party method’ and to date it has served me very well. It basically means that almost every part of the day is ‘organised’. This allows me to ensure that the lessons in the mornings deliver the maximum value to the students, meals are ready on time and enjoyed by all and we can include a variety of activities and excursions that will appeal generally to everyone and they will all be able to enjoy something each day. In microcosm each lesson and activity is organised along the same lines, so we will do a little grammar, some listening, some reading and plenty of puzzles and interactive games and for the activities we choose places where there is a variety of different things to do and see.
The result is excellent English progress, lots of fun, a certain amount of tiredness which makes for a good night’s sleep and, to date, very positive comments from the kids and their parents.
Don’t get me wrong it isn’t a boot-camp, just a way of organising things to keep everyone happy, busy and content and it works for the adults too.
One thing I have noticed is that even when there are no native speakers engaging with them, those kids who have shared a common language (and we often have siblings), speak English to each other by and large.
Although most days are pretty busy, there is some personal time for catching up with family and friends on phones and tablets if they wish. I had one French student who refused point blank to speak to her mother as she did not want to speak any French while she was with us! We also set a little homework each day which they have space to do and we would never compel anybody to watch a movie with us or engage in any activity around the house if they really didn’t want to but I have to say this rarely happens. If somebody doesn’t feel well and can’t go on a visit then somebody will stay behind with them.
I usually send out a weekly email with news and pictures to parents so they can keep up with what we are doing and how their children are getting on just in case there isn’t time for the students to do this regularly and the first thing we always do after the students arrive is to get them to call or message home to say they have arrived safely. However, the days are busy and active and our main focus in every activity is how can we get them to use English and mixing with local kids when possible is not only the very best way to do this but it gives them new friends who enjoy doing the things they enjoy too.
I wanted to write something about this conundrum as it is a question that I very frequently get asked and it also seems to concern many parents especially those who send their teenage children to Fleetham Lodge for courses but adults are also sometimes worried too.
As an educator of over 40 years experience I feel I have seen and experienced most things in education. I have taught in language schools, mainstream primary and secondary education , colleges, universities, companies and also done a lot of one-to-one tutoring and I can say, without any hesitation, that the idea of a class of completely homogeneous students, say Intermediate level, is a myth.
I am sure that most people will agree with me when I say that people learn any subject or skill in different ways at different speeds and have different strengths and weaknesses and in language learning this is exactly the case too. The levels, usually Beginner to Super-Advanced, are only a way of delivering content so that skills in language can built up step by step. With large groups (12 to 20 students) it is easier for the teacher to focus on things that will be accessible to most of the group and certainly with these class-sizes a beginner in an intermediate class would flounder and an advanced student would most likely be very bored – this is because there is no room in a large class for individual teaching. Conversely in a one-to-one class the student is central and the teaching can be very targeted towards their needs and desires which makes this method highly effective.
While one-to-one lessons may be great for getting a big boost to English skills or focusing on an exam or specific event (such as a presentation or meeting) it is not always the ideal. Language is a means of communication and while on a course in the UK the very best opportunity is the chance to communicate with others. This is especially important for teenagers who need the company of others and who, let’s face it, are on holiday and it isn’t fair to give them yet more school – so the whole social side of a summer English course is really very important. The purity of language level must then be balanced against other things such as making friends, having fun and being able to use the language outside the classroom as well as inside – and here there is no such thing as language level!!
My classes at Fleetham Lodge are usually a maximum of 4 students and I see no obstacle to mixing different levels and any good teacher worth their salt can create a fantastic learning environment which easily caters to each and every student in such a small class. Emphasis on speaking and listening using fun activities (puzzles, crossword, stories etc.) can engage everyone equally with students sharing their knowledge and helping each other out. I like to teach grammar through story-telling and visual methods which again will engage everyone and once the work of writing, reading and vocabulary gets underway there is time and scope to work individually with each student.
I would like to present two case studies from our students to illustrate how working with different levels can be achieved. One is an adult group and the other a junior group.
Claudia was a complete beginner (a very rare thing to see nowadays) and she came for a month to improve her English. During that time we also welcomed a group of 4 women from a university in the Netherlands for a 1-week course. Claudia wanted to learn everything and be able to travel, meet clients and build relationships with her clients and business partners globally (she had a very successful business and relied upon other colleagues to interpret for her and found this frustrating). The other four students found they had to teach and operate more and more in English in their jobs – dealing with International students and educational agencies across the globe and wanted to upgrade their skills. Over the 5 students the levels included Advanced, Intermediate, lower Intermediate and beginner/elementary. For two students there was also a major issue of confidence. For some of the time Claudia had her own teacher who helped her with the basics and for the rest they were all together.
One striking feature was that Claudia, despite her limited knowledge of English, was a larger than life character and she didn’t worry about making mistakes. Communication was paramount to her and this really helped the other two students who lacked confidence come out of their shells and soon the house was filled with constant chatter, laughter and ‘electricity’. The lessons were fine and everybody contributed equally and made amazing progress – we could all see it. The more advanced students helped and were sensitive to the needs of the less advanced. The teachers made certain that they also got what they needed. The balance of sheer dynamism and expertise drove everyone, every day and the results were incredible for each participant.
My second group was a teenage group. Over the years the teenage groups (on average 14 and 15 year-olds) have clustered around intermediate and upper intermediate and these are very easy to teach together. However one year we had a student who was rather more advanced and did in fact somewhat resent being in this group. As ever we concentrated on ‘inclusive’ activities in which everyone could participate and these by and large went well. As we drilled down into grammar and writing it became apparent that although Alexei was a very fluent speaker and had a wide vocabulary, his grammar knowledge was not as solid as the others as he had largely learned English ‘on the hoof’ so when it came to writing he needed more help than the others. Once this was clear Alexei realised that he too had things to learn from his classmates.
This can often be the case even with the most advanced students like my IELTS groups – some are great at one skill but need work on others.
So can mixed level groups work? I believe yes they can and do and on short courses such as those at Fleetham Lodge they can actually sometimes work better.
Remember, remember the 5th of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot
I see no reason why gunpowder, treason
Should ever be forgot
On the night of November 5th 1605, a Yorkshireman called Guy Fawkes had hidden 36 barrels of gunpowder underneath the Houses of Parliament in London. His plan, along with a group of co-conspirators, was to blow up the King, James 1st, along with his Parliament when it opened on that date. The group were caught and executed. This was called the Gunpowder Plot. To celebrate his deliverance, the King he ordered a great bonfire to celebrate the night and the rest, as we say, is history.
Today 500 years later Bonfire Night, Plot Night or even Guy Fawkes Night, as it is similarly called, is still a major celebration in the UK. It is a very simple celebration with a fire, a guy (a dummy put on the top of the fire – nowadays less popular), fireworks, sparklers and food such as plot toffee, toffee apples, parkin (a Yorkshire delicacy but eaten across the UK) jacket potatoes, hot soup and today perhaps burgers and hot-dogs. The whole party will be outside in the open air so, as it is usually quite cold, Bonfire Night events are not very long and you do need to wrap up warm with hats, scarves and gloves.
In Kirkby Fleetham each year (on the Sunday closest to November 5th) we celebrate Bonfire Night on the village green. This year’s celebration was just yesterday. The weather was perfect – dry, no wind, a full-moon and a crisp November air! Our committee spent the afternoon erecting a tent, setting up the firework display and preparing all the food and drink.
The evening certainly went off with a bang! We didn’t have a bonfire just fireworks. A great crowd arrived they munched hot dogs and flapjack, drank hot, home-made soup and imbibed pints of local beer and hot mulled wine. We had some wonderful entries in our pumpkin competition and the main event, the firework display was amazing, well coordinated with some great music and lasted almost 15 minutes – “Just like Disney Land” one person said!!
I’m not sure about Disney Land but for such a small community it was impressive. Bonfire Night is a very small and intimate celebration but it lights up a dark and cold part of the year and if only for that it is most welcome!
Over the past 15 years or so Halloween has travelled over to the UK from the US and is now a firmly entrenched date in the October calendar. Children dress up and go door-to-door seeking sweets while adults organise parties with ghostly themes and the TV has its ‘Fright Nights’ showing old and not so old horror movies.
The festival is connected with the feast of All Saints on November 1st – the evening before – October 31st being All Hallow’s (holy) Eve – hence Halloween and is in fact an older festival which goes back centuries and was actually exported to the US many centuries ago from here. In the UK children used to celebrate Halloween (I remember this from my childhood) by carving lanterns, not from pumpkins, but from large turnips (or swedes), dressing up as ghosts, witches or skeletons in fact any ghostly character ( a friend of mine once dressed up as a mummy – it took ages to do all the bandages!) and then going around the streets making ghostly noises and pretending to scare people. There were also traditional games like apple bobbing and of course we told each other ghostly stories!
Nowadays it’s a far more commercial affair and perhaps an excuse to have a party – as the days get shorter and the nights draw in there does seem to be a need for such parties, to inject some light into the darkness outside. Supermarkets sell a range of Halloween foods and costumes and many of the attractions (Halloween generally falls in the school half-term) offer activities such as lantern carving and ghost tours. One of the most famous being the Ghost Tour of York which is the oldest in the country and actually
runs all year round but is especially popular at this time.
Kiplin Hall is a local Mansion that we visit very often with students. It is a lovely house surrounded by gardens and a large lake. It features in our Christmas course and we have also taken students to Shakespeare plays in the grounds in the summer. It is a favourite place to visit.
However, there is another side to the Hall which was revealed to our students when we took part in the Ghost tour of the house one evening. It appears that things are not always as they seem and this fascinating tour really made us all feel rather differently about the house. I’m sure I will view it in a different light the next time I go – but it won’t be in the dark!! Find out more by watching this YouTube video about the ghostly goings-on.
For the last 3 years here at Fleetham Lodge we have organised a one-week Halloween themed Teenage Immersion course complete with ghost tours, pumpkin carving, torchlight treasure hunt and a Halloween party on the final evening.
As we have a large collection of dressing-up clothes the students can put together a costume very easily and this is all part of the fun. We invite other local teens to these events which makes the immersion even better and our students can have fun and improve their English at the same time.
One of the highlights is the torchlight treasure hunt around the garden where they not only have to find the clues, but then work them out to discover where the treasure lies. Other traditional party games such as Murder in the Dark and Charades on a ghost theme have proved popular.
We love to decorate for Halloween too and over the years have collected things together to give a spooky feel to the house for this course.
Pumpkins feature large and we dot them around the house and garden – the colours stand out during the day and at night, when they are lit, they definitely give a ‘spooky effect’.
Strings of spiders and bats festoon the hall and streamers in orange and black paper fall from the doorways. It’s a special course for a special time and the students love the experience. Here are some of their comments:
“I’d never experienced Halloween before – it was good fun”
“We loved the party and decorating – the ghost walk was very scary!”
“I like the woodland walk with Halloween things hidden in the trees – it was amazing!”
For Halloween fun and great English language skills (this year was all about IELTS) consider our Halloween Course 2018. It’s a great way to experience something a bit different while you improve your English.
Sadly the sun did not shine on our very first village Apple Day and as the day went on, so the rain and wind strengthened. Still in ‘true Brit style’, this did not dampen our ardour and people turned up in wellies and raincoats ready to experience the event! One can never predict what the weather is going to be like in our country so we have to soldier on regardless, grit our teeth and enjoy our days out nevertheless. I suppose this gives us our so-called ‘bulldog spirit’. It also indicates why many of our greatest British fashion brands, Burberry, Hunters, Barbour and Mackintosh are all associated with raincoats and wellies!!
Preparations started early and we set out several traditional apple games (played at Halloween and Bonfire night as well as Apple Days) such as eating an apple from a string (no hands allowed!), apple bobbing (eating an apple from a bowl of water -again no hands allowed) and relay races – apple and spoon, apple on the head and apple between the knees – all ridiculous – but fun. Alas the weather prevented some of these from happening.
We also set up the apple press, adopt an apple tree and of course, the tea room – we had a veritable mountain of cake to serve – all home-made by people in the village and mostly featuring apples and other fruit – Dutch, Danish apple cake, apple pies, apple flapjack and many more. It all looked delicious. People started to arrive a round 2.00 with their buckets of apples for pressing. We were using a traditional hand press and people were eager to try it out and take home some wonderful juice.
Juice was available to purchase for those who didn’t have their own apples to press.
The main focus of the day was the orchard which is being developed by a local farmer as part of a project to maintain and restore old apple varieties especially local ones. Apple Days are held throughout the UK in October. This local orchard contains newly planted as well as much older trees and we were invited to adopt an apple or pear tree during the day – this means that during subsequent years the person adopting can collect all the fruit from that tree – helping the farmer to reduce his workload and allowing people to have their own apples.
A fruit tree specialist was on-hand to teach the correct way to prune apple trees and gave a demonstration in the orchard. She gave detailed information on looking after the trees to get the best possible harvest in terms of yield and also quality. Despite the battering rain several people joined this demonstration and learnt a lot about caring for their trees.
After standing in the rain for half an hour there was only one thing to do, get inside, in the warm, for a cup of tea and a piece of apple cake.
The apple juice was truly scrumptious!
Apple Day , despite the weather, was a great success!
We sometimes ‘boast’ about how our immersion courses offer a unique experience to our students and how these are things which may not be offered on other English courses in the UK. Some of these may be intangible like the atmosphere we try to create on our courses or the ‘feel’ of being in an English ambience, but others are much clearer, like the fact that many of the fruit and vegetables we cook come from our own kitchen garden and are grown ‘organically’ or the hens that you can see wondering around which produce our eggs. Students enjoy collecting the eggs or even picking vegetables.
I wanted, in this post, to share some other more tangible things that we have included in our courses – some were planned and others just happened to coincide – which was a bonus.
We try, where possible, to include a theatre performance in our courses especially for the adults. Our nearest theatre is The Georgian Royal Theatre – this is a historic theatre dating from 1788 and is really tiny in comparison with later theatres. It has a really rich history and we often go on a theatre tour even if there is no performance available to attend.
At one performance with a group of Dutch and Colombian business students we were all invited to a drinks party in the bar with the actors and then took a photo on stage with them. We had no idea that this would happen but it made for a very exciting evening and also a great chance for our students to interact with the cast. On another occasion one of our group was actually invited to go up on stage in the performance (it was a comedy) to take part in a small scene!
During the summers it is a tradition in many parts of the UK to have open air Shakespeare plays and we have twice been able to take students to these. The most recent was with a German family who were on our English and Golf programme. The play was Romeo and Juliet and it was performed with an all-male cast (which was the tradition in Shakespeare’s day). We took a picnic, chairs and blankets and sat beside the lake of a beautiful old country mansion and enjoyed the play – a magical experience, if a little chilly towards the end :-).
Parties are always fun and we have included our student guests in some of these. My mother-in-law’s 90th bash coincided with a student’s visit and we took her along for the celebration. This not only meant the party itself, but travelling to Tunbridge Wells in Kent where we stayed with a friend. As her course was a month then it was a good way to see another part of the country and Tunbridge Wells is a lovely historic town. She was able to meet lots of people and really practise her English with native speakers who were at the party.
Royal anniversaries and events are always a time for national celebrations and we have had several in recent years. One of these was the Royal Wedding of William and Kate in 2011. The village celebration was a dinner dance with a royal theme at the local Solberge Hotel. Martina, a business student from Germany, was here for her immersion course so we bought an extra ticket for her. It was a black-tie event (we took another student to a black-tie event and kitted him out with a dinner suit from a local suit hire shop – everything is possible) and suitable glittering for the royal occasion. We even had a really clever magician to entertain us all.
Sports and Hobbies
Three of our young students had particular hobbies that they were keen to continue during their time with us and we were able to accommodate these requests and enrol them into local teams.
The first, Yoann from France, was a football ‘fanatic’ and really wanted to play during his 6 weeks with us. A local five-a-side club were very happy to have him train with them every week and he even managed to play two games
for them. It was a real win-win as the team were grateful to have an extra and rather good player and he was able to engage with this fellow players and improve his English skills. They were all very sad to see him return home. We even arranged a trip to see Newcastle United play Hull (he had hoped for Chelsea but sadly there was nothing local during his stay).
Just last year Jeremie and his sister Sophia came for a month to improve their skills in order to enter a UK boarding school. Their passion was basketball. Again we rang around local teams and found two that were close enough. As a result they were able to go to basketball practice twice a week and took part in two tournaments. Again this worked for both the teams and the students as they made friends with whom they could speak English and the teams got two new experienced players!!
Two local events which are brilliant for a day out are the Great Yorkshire Show in July and our very own village small equivalent in August; Kirkby Fleetham Feast – we’d love to take you to these two events! The first is now the biggest in the UK and is a really interesting day with something for everyone from the competitions for the best cow, sheep or pig to huge tractors to some great shopping for woollen sweaters, country coats, dresses and bags. At the Kirkby Fleetham feast there is a chance to enter something or just enjoy the day – something hugely traditional, social and actually quite impressive for a small community. Another chance to meet local people and join in the fun!
These are just a handful of the things that have been included in courses that are a little bit special, but they give you a flavour. We try to be as creative as possible with what we offer on our immersion courses and the more we can get you in front of local, native speakers the better the experience will be. And not only that, but the more we can involve you in the local life of our community, the better the immersion.
The first snowdrops poking through the ground give us all a feeling of hope. These are followed not long after by swathes of bright yellow daffodils all along the streets and lanes and we know that Spring is here. That feeling of new life and renewal is something very natural in human beings and the signs around us – especially in the countryside – confirm our feelings of hope and anticipation after the long, dark days of winter. We relish the sun, the longer hours of daylight and the start of some warmth in the air. It is a truly special time of the year.
With all of this outer bursting of life comes, quite naturally, an inner feeling of renewal and of eagerness to do new things and experience new things, no wonder then, that this is a time for travel, visiting places and exploring. The tourist industry awakens in March, venues dust off winter, fling open their doors and invite people in. The exam season starts and students start to prepare in earnest for their exams ahead. The streets are more populated, there is more bustle around and we all begin to look forward to those lazy, warm summer days that we all know will follow (although not necessarily here in England – but we live in hope :-))
One group of Dutch students made the most of Spring to check out the displays of Easter eggs and other products. They were all experts in food packaging and display and we had a great time checking out shop displays, chatting to food producers and finding out about methods of production and marketing. They decided to check out all the supermarkets for their Easter displays and rate them. It was a toss-up between M&S and Betty’s – in the end M&S got their vote! The season and the fact it was Easter gave us the chance to put on a really great course!!
Easter itself is so wrapped up with spring – with rabbits, flowers, eggs and lambs. We have Easter egg hunts around the garden every year which is a fun thing to do and everyone grabs a basket and joins in. We always have Easter fayre such as hot cross buns, simnel cake and Easter biscuits and usually have a big traditional Sunday lunch on Easter Sunday itself.
A great time for family groups to come and join in these events.
For sheer outdoor beauty the spring is wonderful. The new, fresh greens of the landscape and the unfurling leaves on the trees coupled with the sight of new-born lambs, ducklings and birds. All of these things make us alive with wonder and joy. It feels good to be outside in nature and watch it all going on around us – it’s a time of amazing productivity and can be a great time for productivity in study too. There is time to fit in a course before the summer or to prepare yourself well for the end of year exams. Victoire did just this arriving in March for 3 weeks of English before she returned to university to prepare her dissertation and swot up for the final exams. A student of product design, there were lots of exciting places to go to for her major and we even organised a day with a professional photographer to give her some pointers as this was her great love!
So Spring is most definitely a perfect time to come, study, enjoy the landscape and get lots of fresh, ‘warm’ air into your lungs! Enjoy this video of other ‘spring’ students who have chosen this time of year for their course.