Do­ing some­thing prac­ti­cal re­ally helps the lan­guage to sink in”

Louisa Hallewell, 46, lives in Mon­tesquiou, Gers with her hus­band Stu­art, 49 and chil­dren Har­monie, 11 and Phoenix, 10. She runs English-speak­ing cook­ery classes.

Living France - - Lifestyle - lit­tle­black­

We used to host teenagers for week-long im­mer­sion cour­ses but be­cause we also run a farm with ev­ery­thing that en­tails, it was a lit­tle bit too much for me to fully com­mit to.

While the kids loved help­ing out with the an­i­mals and the repet­i­tive na­ture of it was good for build­ing up their vo­cab­u­lary, one of the things I found dif­fi­cult was that it was al­most im­pos­si­ble to take them out some­where which was also an English-speak­ing en­vi­ron­ment. That’s why I had the idea of run­ning the cook­ery classes – I have sev­eral friends lo­cally who host both chil­dren and adults for im­mer­sion cour­ses and they love com­ing to me for the af­ter­noon. It’s some­thing a bit dif­fer­ent for the stu­dents and it gives the hosts a bit of break!

We al­ways make some­thing very English like Vic­to­ria sponge or sausage rolls – or per­haps cheese­cake, the idea of which French kids find be­wil­der­ing. Cup­cakes are al­ways pop­u­lar, as is banof­fee pie – most of the stu­dents have never tried that be­fore. We speak only in English un­less they are to­tal begin­ners and there is a safety is­sue, such as how to use a grater or a sharp knife. Even if they are strug­gling with the weights of in­gre­di­ents, for ex­am­ple, they al­ways get there in the end. They need to be over­seen but as I only have around four stu­dents at a time, it isn’t a prob­lem.

While the cakes or what­ever we’ve made are in the oven, I will dic­tate the recipe and then go over it with them. This gives a bit of struc­ture to the af­ter­noon and also means they have the recipe to take away with them if they want to cook it for their fam­i­lies when they go home.

The stu­dents leave with what­ever they’ve cooked and al­ways seem to en­joy it. I think do­ing some­thing prac­ti­cal while you learn, whether it’s feed­ing an­i­mals or cooking, re­ally helps the lan­guage to sink it. It’s easy to let your mind wan­der when you’re in a class­room but if you’re in the kitchen, you have to con­cen­trate on what you’re do­ing!

After the cook­ery class I give a guided tour of the farm, which also of­fers the chance to in­clude some more new vo­cab­u­lary. The chil­dren can also col­lect eggs and see the an­i­mals which, for city kids, can some­times be the high­light of the whole af­ter­noon. Along with eat­ing cake, of course!”

As Louisa al­ready had her hands full run­ning the fam­ily farm, she switched from of­fer­ing week-long im­mer­sion cour­ses to af­ter­noon cook­ery classes

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