Politicians, journalists, bankers and World Cup footballers have all improved their language skills at the London School of English during the last 98 years.
But you are unlikely to ever hear about it. The school’s reputation for quality teaching and discretion is what appeals to its students. It is there to meet the needs of professionals and serious adult students.
“We do get to meet some interesting people,” says Hauke Tallon, director of sales and marketing at the school. “Sometimes they come under false names.
“They are not looking for special treatment. They want the specialist teaching we can provide. Sometimes it would be great to tell everyone who is learning here, but we must respect their privacy.”
But it isn’t just well-known people who study at the London School. They specialise in courses tailored for professionals.
Mr Tallon says: “We have a lot of variety in the groups who come – we’ve recently had Turkish journalists, and a group of Swedish journalists before that. We’ve had MPs from all over Europe. We also have a lot of people from public sector work, especially in Scandianvia.
“We are set up for mature, motivated adults: that’s what our reputation is based on. But we do get to meet some very interesting people.”
Mr Tallon says the school’s success is because it insists on having the best language professionals as teachers. “We’ve got some brilliant trainers here, real language professionals. We’ve got to attract motivated and interesting people. We put a lot of emphasis on trainers actually developing and delivering their courses.”
The London School is certainly the oldest language school in the UK and probably in the world. Its next challenge is to decide how to celebrate its 100th anniversary, due in 2012.
“We’re trying to think of something special,” says Mr Tallon.