Summer at Woodstock – Languages

John Robertson with ESL students

Summer at Woodstock – Languages

In July, our summer programme is offering students an intensive two-week course in English as a second language and advanced English Masterclass for aspiring writers to hone their skills. And for the first time ever, we’re also providing courses in French and Spanish, in partnership with the prestigious Alliance Française and Instituto Cervantes organisations. John Robertson, Head of ESL and Languages at Woodstock, describes what participants should expect from the courses and how they can gain from them.


Why is your experience so relevant to this course?

All our teachers are highly trained and experienced. Our English language acquisition course is taught by Woodstock ESL teachers, and English Masterclass is taught by Woodstock English Literature teachers. The French and Spanish language acquisition courses are taught and run by Alliance Française and Instituto Cervantes respectively, the premiere institutions for French and Spanish foreign language acquisition.

Tell us more about your courses

The language courses we are offering this summer fall into two categories: language acquisition (for students who want to learn English, Spanish or French), and high-level academic English (for students who want to improve their academic English skills).

The English, Spanish and French language acquisition courses will run both morning and afternoon, offering an immersive experience not often found outside societies in which these languages are spoken (in India, this is a particularly unique opportunity for students of Spanish and, outside Pondicherry, French). These are intensive programmes for students who want to take their first steps in, or build on their existing experience of, a foreign language. Students will be immersed in their chosen language each morning and afternoon, giving them really quality time during which they can get practical experience in a supportive environment. This immersive experience will give students 55 hours of language acquisition — equal to a full year in many schools.

With small class sizes and experienced native language teachers from Woodstock (English), Instituto Cervantes (Spanish) and Alliance Française, the courses will cater for a wide range of different levels, with students expected to make significant gains in their language skills over the two-week course.

The English Masterclass is an advanced programme for aspiring writers who want to hone their creative and academic writing skills as well as their ability to conduct research and think critically. While there will be a broad range of abilities, students will either be native English speakers or already have a good level of proficiency of writing in English. Whether students are considering pursuing a career in writing, or just want to improve their academic writing for school and college applications, the course will give students a practical toolkit they can draw on into the future.

What should participants expect?

Put simply, all students should expect to leave with experiences, skills and knowledge they didn’t come with. English Masterclass students will gain skills and techniques in creative and academic writing and research, increasing their ability to think critically and write convincingly. All language acquisition students (Spanish, French and English) will gain valuable language skills. With the intensive time they’ll have over these two-week courses, the time spent learning languages alone will equal roughly a year’s worth in a normal classroom. The opportunity to focus on one language so intentionally for so many hours each day will no doubt bring that language to a new level. Along with the academic benefits, this will be an unforgettable experience with new friends in stunning surroundings.

Why is Woodstock a great place to do these courses?

As a truly diverse and international community, Woodstock is a melting pot of different languages and linguistic traditions. More than 50 mother tongue languages are spoken by our students – one language for every ten students studying here. Our full-time students will often join Woodstock with limited English, but flourish to fluency during their time here. Multilingualism is part of the Woodstock experience, and it’s common for students to graduate with proficiency in a number or languages, and almost unheard of for any to leave without some degree of competence in more than one language.

What’s exciting about the courses for students?

While there are many exciting elements to these courses, the most exciting would probably be the ability to focus entirely on one subject for two intensive weeks. Again, the morning programme classroom time alone is the equivalent of half a year in normal education, and a full year for those in intensive (morning and afternoon) language courses. This focus allows students to create stronger cognitive connections and deepen their thinking about the subject. For language acquisition students, this will allow for the language to create stronger cognitive patterns than a normal language course taken alongside other subjects in school.

What will participants come away with at the end?

Summer at Woodstock students should expect to see some significant progress during the two-week course. The mornings are dedicated to their academic course, giving a focus on a single subject that is hard to achieve during the normal school week. By dedicating at least three hours of quality time a day to the subject, students will gain far more benefit than spreading the same time over a longer period, with an intensive approach which should see them progress in leaps and bounds.

Plus they will, of course, come away with happy memories of their taste of the Woodstock experience.

What would you say to prospective students?

For those in the English Masterclass, a deeper understanding of English literature, research and academic writing will help anyone in English education. For those in any Language Acquisition programme, learning languages isn’t just a great discipline for developing your mind – it’s a way of truly gaining insight into other cultures, and a passport to exciting adventures in the future. Whether increasing your understanding of an already-strong language or developing a new one, you will be open new doors of understanding and forge new paths to your future — and I can’t imagine a better place to do either.

Click here to find out all about Summer at Woodstock or register your interest using the form below.


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    Which morning programme are you interested in? (required)
    English Language AcquisitionEnglish MasterclassEntrepreneurshipLeadershipSpanish Language AcquisitionFrench Language AcquisitionArt for ChangeMedia and StorytellingNot sure

    Which afternoon activities are you interested in? Please note that the Spanish and French language acquisition courses are full-time so no additional afternoon activities are required.
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    • Helen Arnott
      Posted at 00:13h, 08 April Reply

      So excited about these new programs for learning language skills in French, Spanish, and English. Are the classes open to adult learners?!

      • Will Ferguson
        Posted at 16:44h, 10 April Reply

        Hi Helen, This year’s summer school is just for 10-18 year-olds, but we are considering offering options for adults in the future.

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