Offering English with golf to juniors is pretty unusual, and even more so when the school has built its own nine-hole golf course.
But that's how English UK member centre Exsportise, which runs summer schools in four locations, has built its business over 30 years, giving sports-mad youngsters the chance to improve their English and their ball skills simultaneously.
While golf might be one of the most eye-catching options, Exportise also offers English with football, tennis, rugby, hockey, basketball, horse riding and now music and dance. Most of the courses are offered at most of the centres - with the exception of golf - and music, one of the newest offerings is also the fastest-growing.
"Basically we're a language school that does sport and music very well," says director Bram Van Asselt, who began the business with Olympic gold medal hockey player Steve Batchelor.
While the students do three hours a day in the classroom, he reckons that it is during their three hours of sport that much of the language learning is done, although it's taken a while to get people to understand that Exportise is not just either a sports or a language holiday.
"We've proved we're a language school, but we've got to get people to understand that actually the second part of the holiday is probably the most important part, which is speaking English in an environment where you're actually learning," says Bram.
He adds: "You're having to listen to the coach, responding to the children, communicating with people doing the same thing, and it's three hours intense every day. That's why we feel we differ from other schools - we're serious about what we do and the kids in general are serious about what they're coming to do with us. So they want to learn English but they really like their chosen specialism. It's getting the message across that you can do both well."
While it can be easy to see how much a child's sporting skills have improved in a two-week course, it can be trickier to ensure parents can see a difference in their language. So, says Bram, the company is constantly looking at what it can do to make it worthwhile for juniors.
The coaches are all professionals and their communication with students helps develop language skills, but Exportise is building on the learning English through sport this year, by getting the Director of Studies and the teachers more involved with the coaching sessions. "It's just looking at how they use their language, and which children don't respond and why and how and how can we get them more involved. We're looking at how can they get more out of the course on the language level, because sports is the easy part, and the music and the dance, because that's their passion.
"And that makes it a nice environment to be in, because everybody has that kind of passion, which makes it kind of like a mini Olympics where everyone is there for the same course, and we think it makes very nice children, and very respectful, and the etiquette is right.
What about that golf course? Exportise has built it at one of its centres, Seaford College in Sussex, and says that it can offer facilities for both beginners and top golfers with single handicaps. "People can learn everything here," says Bram.
Do you offer an usual course or activity? Let us know by emailing Sue Young, our communications consultant.
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