Case Study – Business Class Immersion Course
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 🙂