Two weeks ago I decided that my Spanish student, Gonzalo had been working really hard and deserved a day out in London instead of another six-hour day in a formal setting. As a beginner in English, a 30-hour week intensive course on a 1-1 basis is no easy ride. Make it two weeks and you can imagine his poor brain at the end!
So, off we went, backpack ready with homemade sandwiches and water. We started off from London Charing Cross Station and walked towards Westminster. After taking the usual photos of Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and Winston Churchill, we decided to visit the House of Commons so that Gonzalo could experience the workings of our democracy. It was also an excuse to get out of the torrential rain! I think Gonzalo was suitably impressed with the chamber, even though the debate was very boring!
Next stop was to show Gonzalo the delights of the South Bank. We passed the London Eye (or Golden Eye as he preferred to call it) and had lunch in the Southbank Centre. After lunch we walked in the sun (yes, I said sun) and along the river people watching, browsing the books by the British Film Institute and admiring the view.
We crossed the Millennium Bridge and visited the outside of St Paul’s (we did not fancy spending £15 each to visit inside the cathedral) and had a coffee in Paternoster Square listening to a girl playing one of those pianos dotted around London. Very civilised.
Back over the South Bank we continued our promenade along the river until we reached Shad Thames with its lovely cobbled lane and warehouses. After the usual photos of Tower Bridge, we headed towards London Bridge to catch the train back home.
We walked all day and Gonzalo admitted to me that he had spoken more English in one day than he had done in two years attending a Language School in Madrid twice a week. He said that he had really enjoyed seeing London through my eyes and exploring the language on the streets with me.
For my part, this is one of the best aspects of teaching - to feel that a student has enjoyed himself whilst absorbing the target language. After all, where would you rather be - in class or sipping an espresso in Paternoster Square?