Cultural experience in London
16 April 2010

London's museums and art galleries are famous throughout the world.

So when Stuart Rubenstein wanted to create a unique short course for his language school, he looked outside his classrooms.

"What we wanted to give people was a really good reason to come to the UK: it's as simple as that. The greatest thing in London is the museums and galleries. It is a very fluid way of teaching and we focus on building vocabulary," he says.

The Cultural Experience course has won a British Council prize for innovation in learning and is now so popular that it runs all year round. English UK member Language in London now runs versions for over-40s and school parties as well as students in their 20s and 30s.

Mr Rubenstein says:"The feedback we get is breathtaking. The students say they expected something different but they never thought the course would be so amazing. In the classroom the teacher is always at the front, in control. 

"On this course the teacher is part of the group and the students lead the direction of the class. They are using the language much more, they make friends very quickly, they see London. When they go home they really feel confident about the language, and that can inspire them to continue learning."

He says the nature of the course means that he can only use the very best teachers. "You never know what’s going to happen next," he says. "There is far less control than when you are using a course book."

One group met someone who had been moved away from their home during the war, and could talk to them about the experience.

Another group were in the British Library museum preparing presentations. When one student from Germany began to give her presentation, a group of American tourists joined her, thinking it was a tour. The student carried on and when she finished, the American group thanked her and moved off, still thinking they had joined an official tour.

"She felt absolutely brilliant," says Mr Rubenstein. "You can imagine the effect on her confidence. You wouldn’t have got that in a classroom."


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