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.