Dinner parties feed love of new language
WHEN Jessica Bonnard started teaching foreign languages to adults, she held the weekly class at her Newcastle home.
But five years on, her company has become so successful that it now has 300 students on its books and they meet at venues across the UK.
The sessions are structured around a dinner party-style approach, with people practising their French and Spanish by holding informal conversations.
Language For Fun has given them the confidence to tackle topics that will come up in real situations when they are abroad.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
Jessica, aged 43, from the Westlands, said: "The learners come from a wide range of backgrounds. We've got beginners and the more advanced.
"They might want to learn a language because they have family living abroad or are going on holiday.
"In a class, we look at vocabulary and they learn 10 new expressions each time. They also learn a bit of grammar. Then they have a conversation, which is topical."
Five of Jessica's original students still attend the evening classes.
They joined dozens of other guests for a party at Keele Hall last week to celebrate Language For Fun's fifth anniversary.
The event also included the chance to chat over a drink and practise their foreign language phrases.
Sandra Shipley, aged 66, from Loggerheads, is one of the founding students.
She and her 71-year-old husband Graham go along to a French evening class held at Newcastle's Borough Museum and Art Gallery.
Sandra said: "We've had a house in Normandy for about 10 years and none of our neighbours there speak much English.
"Coming to the class has been helpful. It keeps you in form over the winter months.
"We might have one-to-one conversations or a debate. We talk about all sorts of things.
"In France, people are really interested in our royal family. Unemployment is also a big thing and they talk about taxes as well."
Sandy Stewart, from Great Bridgeford, near Eccleshall, goes along to the same group as Sandra and Graham.
The 66-year-old said: "I did O-level French and never spoke a word of it after that.
"But when I retired, I had a list of things I wanted to do. It included improving my French. A friend mentioned the class.
"We discuss lots of things, including politics, what we have done last week, and hobbies. We move round the group and have different conversations."
Sandy has even put his linguistic skills to good use at a real cocktail party in the Pyrenees.
Another student, Elizabeth Scott, from Hanford, signed up to learn French through Language For Fun and is now one of the most improved learners.
The 66-year-old said: "I didn't speak French before. But I go to Lourdes twice a year and I felt so ashamed that I couldn't speak the language.
"Everybody in the class has helped me and I've made new friends. It's a lovely social group."
Language For Fun runs classes across North Staffordshire.
But it also has franchises in places such as Bristol, St Albans, Southampton and London.
Jessica, who used to work for La Jolie Ronde, teaching languages to children, recently moved into a new base at the Nova Centre at Keele University's science and business park.
She said: "Over the next three years, I'm hoping to go from 12 franchises to 50. I'm also hoping to expand the languages we offer, with Italian and German."
What do you think? Email email@example.com