I was pleased to happen upon a “cabbie” of the traditional variety recently; a cab driver who loves to chat and spends the entire journey offloading his opinions and invaluable knowledge about London. For example, I found out that Covent Garden gets its name from Convent Garden, and that Charing Cross station is considered the true city centre because distances were measured to the memorial cross erected to Queen Eleanor by King Edward, which is outside the station. (In fact, it originally was erected in nearby Trafalgar Square and then moved).
Anyway, the conversation came around to what I did, and I was impressed that my driver could say “hello, how are you” in five languages; one for each of his favourite restaurants that he would visit from Monday to Friday. It is surprising where you can uncover a passion for languages; he was vehement that British students should be able to leave school speaking a language, not least to ensure good service in restaurants around the world when they are older!
And he reinforced the idea that learning a language to aid a passion is a strong motivator. In this issue, we report on language plus programmes such as English and football or Italian and jewellery design, which tap into a student’s nascent interest in something other than a language to fuel the language acquisition process
Of course, language schools offer access to cultural pursuits anyway, and sometimes, a school’s location puts it in an enviable position of being able to offer surfing, for example, or snowboarding. In the UK, while there are very limited opportunties to practise these sports, students studying in the countryside can access the great outdoors. For example, as we discover in our Destination feature, one rural school is a hill walker’s paradise, being located in the Lake District
While the differences between London and the Lake District might seem obvious, for a foreign national, any locations outside of the main metropolises may be completely unknown. For this reason, students rely on agencies to find the right school fit; with first-hand knowledge of partner schools, they can assess a student’s needs. Agents need knowledge on a macro-level about a particular study destination, and this is becoming more widely available in certifiable form. They also need to maintain knowledge on an intimate level, of individual schools. This is a challenge and a measure of an agency’s real worth; the ability to appropriately place clients all around the world.