I’m Lewis; I’m seventeen years old and live in a town called Brighouse in the North of England, close to Manchester and Leeds, four hours on the train from London! I’m currently studying: Maths, Physics, French and Music at Greenhead College in Huddersfield. I’m here at EC Language learning School, London for the week on a ‘work placement’. Once a week every year after our exams in the summer, my college organise compulsory projects or work placements for all students. It’s great fun and hard work. I was luckily chosen by my French teacher to come down to London and spend a week with the team here at EC. In the north we don’t have anything like the ‘Tube’ system so there’s been plenty of confusion regarding getting 30 students to work! We’re all staying in Mile End, seven stops east from Oxford Circus on the Central Line.
My experiences with languages so far have been rather dry, in the sense that I have been through the traditional route of language learning through school and college, with lots and lots of brain zapping grammar, buckets of vocabulary and literally hundreds of essays! This can be, as I’m sure you’re aware, a little tedious and monotonous but nonetheless tremendously important. These fundamental groundings of grammar and vocabulary are the foundations of languages and how we communicate with others. It also happens, unfortunately, to be the aspect that puts certain people off learning to communicate in a foreign language. This doesn’t, however apply solely to language learning. I myself am a pianist and just like everything, it takes time, passion and patience… lots of it!
Music is a huge passion of mine. I have taught myself piano since the age of seven! Over the last ten years I have, of course, seen a huge difference in all aspects of my musical life. I began modestly, simply co-
sounds from notes that fitted well together. I would later learn that these sounds are called chords. My dad plays guitar and has plenty of songbooks that I would read through and play by ear, fitting together the chords to replicate the songs. I would listen to the song, work out the progression of the chords and then put it all together myself, something that my music teacher simply cannot himself comprehend. Learning by ear is a fun and different way to learn music and certainly not at all ‘normal’ hence my music teachers’ apprehensions on its ability to allow me to progress further. I cannot read sheet music as I have never had formal lessons this has nevertheless not restricted my capacity to learn and perform a large repertoire of assorted music so far.
As the years have gone on I have become interested in other genres of music, notably jazz and classical. These genres, for me, have opened up many different doors and opportunities. I now play in a traditional swing/ “big” band and a small pop group made up of a few friends of mine! We’re not brilliant but it’s so much fun creating something that you can perform at concerts for many people to appreciate. I also play a lot of solo sets at local restaurants on weekend evenings and afternoons, playing a varied repertoire of ‘trad’ jazz from New Orleans piano, ray Charles and Miles Davis through to the romantic world of Chopin’s waltzes, Liszt’s rhapsodies and Rachmaninoff’s preludes, indulging myself in this cacophony of beautiful music. Music that many believe is a snobby and elite sect of culture. This is simply not true. I personally believe that if people listened to more ‘classical’ music, which is a very broad and categorical term, they would discover lots of culture and satisfaction within it.
Here at EC London you are all so lucky that you’re right in the capital of England. You are fully and amply immersed in the language, also having observed two lessons this week: a beginner class and an advanced class. I have seen that whatever level your language is at; your teachers are funny, friendly and fanatical about your success with English. In your home countries I imagine it is difficult to utilize and practice your language skills thanks to all the non-English distractions, so make the most of your time spent here and these amazing opportunities!
Check out our website for more information if you’d like to try out an English course for adults in London.