Language is a castle for exploring, not attacking

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“And one-to-one courses are an excellent method to try.” So says Claire Campbell, a professional teacher with an Oxford degree and years of experience in language teaching. The castle idea is suggested by the fortress of Quéribus, which looks down on the picturesque village of Cucugnan, where she welcomes students of all ages to take language courses of a week or two, for one person or two, as required.  

Leafing through her Visitors Book gives an excellent impression of what people have gained from her courses. The latest page includes the following:

“It was with great trepidation that I e-mailed Claire re booking this course. I had tried so many other methods. In a class situation I had been reluctant to speak out and consequently so much passed over my head.

“Claire was inspirational. She seemed to sense my level of competence and stretched me while at the same time she put me at my ease and gave me space to make mistakes without judgment or embarrassment, and all the while making it fun. Claire’s enthusiasm and knowledge is catching, so I have been inspired to continue working at home through the stories and the exercises suggested by her.

“I loved my little apartment on the top floor and made it my home. Cucugnan is a delight, even in winter, and my hike up to Quéribus was brilliant.

“I am sure my French has improved during this week. Rules which were foggy now become clearer and I feel so much more confident. It has been a wonderful enlivening experience.” Other reviews, to be found on Tripadvisor or on her own website, also mention increasing confidence.

According to Claire, confidence is the key. So many people have had discouraging experiences, either at school or at classes in France. Too many learners have come away convinced that French is too difficult, and that they are incompetent.  “Well, it isn’t and they aren’t!!!”

“If the language is a castle, then the long walk up should be enjoyable, with new vistas opening up as you go, and a wonderful view from the top,” she says.

The little apartment referred to is the accommodation included in the course-price. It has a kitchen, but the village also has three restaurants, a famous bakery, and excellent local wineries. Altogether, a week with Claire is a pleasant holiday as well as language course.

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