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.