September 2013 issue

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Language + skiing

Schools located in snowy, mountainous settings provide the perfect opportunity for students to practise their skiing skills alongside learning a language. Claire Twyman investigates what several language plus skiing courses around the world entail.

Language plus skiing courses are incredibly popular, especially with younger clients, and it isn’t hard to understand why. Offering a snapshot of student life at the Lindenberg branch of Humboldt-Institut in Germany, Brigitta Alkofer, Director of International Marketing, says, “The gorgeous view of the majestic mountains can be enjoyed from the large classroom windows in the mornings and from the slopes in the afternoons. Lindenberg is idyllically situated on the foothills of The Alps and offers the perfect conditions for skiers.”

With no language skills necessary for clients to enrol on the German plus skiing programme at Humboldt-Institut, German classes, taking place each morning, are attended by between five and ten students, Alkofer notes. Students do not need to be skiing pros to enrol on the course either, she says, although the professional skiing instructors can cater for all abilities. After an afternoon of skiing, “Students will return to the boarding school which boasts a great infrastructure with an indoor swimming pool, gymnasium and games room,” she adds. “Every year the programme has become more popular, especially – but not only – with children who have never seen snow before – typically from Brazil, Turkey, Mexico or Greece. The Russians and the Irish are among our most avid skiers.”

Over in Switzerland, Laura Turner, Sales Manager from Altitude Camps, also reveals that the school’s language plus skiing programme is popular with Russians, as well as Arabic clients. The combination of a mountainous and healthy environment and the opportunity to learn a new language is a huge attraction, she says, explaining, “Many of our clients are from big cities and so they want their children to learn English while also being active.” The ELT section of the course is flexible, she adds, with some students only spending an hour in the classroom or perhaps even learning the language through the skiing sessions which are taught in English. “Others will spend the morning in the classroom and then just ski for a few hours in the afternoon,” she says. “Language lessons focus on conversation, vocabulary and grammar and then for the more advanced students, reading and writing.”

Whole-family stays is a trend that Turner has noticed developing over the past few years, with children attending an English plus skiing day camp and returning back to their parents during the evenings. Meanwhile, at Southern Lakes English College (SLEC) in New Zealand, “We have seen more students wanting to gain ski and snowboarding instructor qualifications over the years,” notes Blaise Barham. “We have also seen a greater mix of nationalities over the last five years.”

English lessons also take place in the mornings at SLEC, and the students are then taken to Coronet Peak and The Remarkables ski stations to ski from 1pm until 4pm. “They have school guides to look after them on the snow,” Barham explains, adding that over the past few years SLEC has specialised in training for boardercross [a type of snowboarding competition] and the use of half-pipes [a type of training ramp]. Queenstown, where SLEC is located, is also the world’s winter sports centre from June-September. Barham enthuses, “Where else in the world could you be skiing within a 25 minute drive of the city centre? We attract the main ski teams from all over the world.”

Indeed, according to Tricia Lund-Jackson at Queenstown’s ABC College of English, “Queenstown is widely regarded as the adventure capital of the world,” she enthuses, adding, “Annual events such as the Winter Festival celebrate Queenstowns’s unique alpine lifestyle.” With students from many different countries attracted to the English plus skiing course at the school, Guy Hughes from Language Schools New Zealand in Queenstown notes growth in the Tahitian market in recent years. “They just love coming here – it’s not far from their home country and they love having a few weeks of snow during their school holidays,” he explains. The morning of English and afternoon of skiing structure of the course works well, Hughes says, with the programme changing very little since its inception 20 years ago. “This is an easy programme for agents to sell – students are happy to ski and parents are happy that their children are studying English.”

A selection of language plus skiing courses

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Generation Estates  

CAPS-I (The Canadian Association of Public Schools – International)  
Quality English  

CERAN Lingua International  

FAAP - Fundação Armando Álvares Penteado  
IH Sao Paulo  

Abbotsford School District Business Company  
Algoma University  
Avon Maitland District School Board  
Bow Valley College   
Calgary Board of Education  
Camosun College  
CAPS-I (The Canadian Association of Public Schools – International)  
Centennial College of Appplied Arts and Technology  
College of New Caledonia  
COMOX valley - School District 71  
Eastern Townships School Board  
Edmonton Public Schools  
English Montreal School Board  
Georgian College  
Grande Prairie Public School District  
Greater Victoria School District #61  
Halton Catholic District School Board  
ILSC - International Language Schools of Canada  
Langley School District #35  
Louis Riel School Division  
Niagara Academy of Sports  
Nova Scotia International Student Program  
Peace Wapiti School Division  
Pembina Trails School Division  
Pickering College  
Qualicum School District #69  
St James - Assiniboia School Division  
Study Manitoba School Divisions  
Surrey School District  
Waterloo Catholic District SB  
West Vancouver School District #45  

Churchill House/English Home Tuition Scheme  
GSM (Greenwich School of Management)  
Kaplan International Colleges  
London School of Business & Finance  
Quality English  
Queen's College  
St Giles International  
University Campus Suffolk  

Alphe Conferences  
SR Events  

Cambridge Esol  

English For Asia  

ISI Dublin  

Comitato Linguistico  
IH Palermo  
Italian in Tuscany  

Akamonkai Japanese Language School  

International House Sevilla CLIC  

EF International Language Centers  

Malta Tourism Authority  

Besant Hill School  
ELS Language Centers  
Forest Ridge School of the Sacred Heart  
Fork Union Military Academy  
Glenholme School  
IH Pacific (Vancouver, Whistler, San Diego)  
Meritas LLC  
Montverde Academy  
Rutgers Preparatory School  
Zoni Language Centers  

Boa Lingua  
ESL Ecole Suisse de Langues  
Idealist Education Consultancy  
Insight Lingua  
World Study Head Office  

English Australia  

ILSC - International Language Schools of Canada  
Sol Schools International  

British Study Centres  
Cambridge Education Group  
Churchill House/English Home Tuition Scheme  
International House World Organisation  
InTuition Languages  
St Giles International  
Twin Group  
University Campus Suffolk  

Accent Francais  
France Langue  
French in Normandy  

BWS Germanlingua  
F+U Academy of Languages  
GLS Sprachenzentrum  

ISI Dublin  

Dr. Walter GmbH  
Guard. Me  
International Student Insurance.com  

Accademia Italiana  
Scuola Leonardo Da Vinci  

Genki Japanese and Culture School  
Kai Japanese Language School  

Academic Colleges Group  
Languages International  
New Zealand Language Centres - Auckland  

CIAL - Centro de Linguas  

Cape Studies  

International House Sevilla CLIC  
Escuela de Idiomas Nerja  
Malaca Instituto - Club Hispanico SL  

Rennert International  
TLA The Language Academy  

Tellus Group   

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