26 Sep 2014

European Day of Languages

Today is the European day of languages, a chance for us to celebrate all that is great about plurilingualism and languages in Europe.

Source: www.coe.int

What is it? 


It is an initiative created by the Council of Europe and has been celebrated every year since 2001. Its aim is to encourage millions of Europeans to learn and enjoy languages at all ages, in and outside of school. The council of Europe wants to promote bilingualism as a tool to achieve greater intercultural understanding.

What happens?

Across the numerous European countries a vast array of events take place. This includes theatre performances, language workshops, presentations and cultural events giving insight to a particular country's traditions. Everyone of all ages can get involved; students, parents, teachers, school & universities, groups of friends, individuals...

Why languages are awesome...

  • There are between 6,000 and 7,000 different languages in the world.
  • Most of the world's languages are spoken in Asia and Africa
  • Bilingualism brings with it many benefits: it makes the learning of additional languages easier, enhances the thinking process and fosters contacts with other people and their cultures.
  • Jobs are more easily available to those who speak several languages and multilingual companies have a better competitive edge. 
  • Russia has by far the highest number of languages spoken on its territory: from 130 to 200.
  • Due to the influx of immigration, Europe has become very multilingual. London alone is home to over 300 different languages!

Source: dgtully.com

So, in honour of today and everything that is great about languages, why not get in touch with us and see which language you could start learning today!

9 Sep 2014

Our school in Antwerp

Antwerp, our destination of the month, has so much to offer language students. Not only will they get a taste of the vibrant Flemish culture from the arts and fashion scenes but its advantageous location means that students are also close to the boarder with the Netherlands and Belgium's capital city.

Source: www.flickr.com

Antwerp is home to one of the best known universities in Flanders and its historic centre is known for its medieval renaissance style architecture. Dutch is a west Germanic language that is considered to be in between German and English as it shares similarities with both languages. It is often because of this that it is classed as one of the easiest languages for Anglophones to learn.

The School

Our partner school in Antwerp is located in a commercial part of town, 15 minutes from the city centre and easily accessible from the airport and train/bus stations. On the ground floor you will find the reception and spacious study room, where a teacher is always available, with a small library, computers and a "coffee corner". In summer, students can relax and soak up the sun in the school's garden.

Source: blog.cosmocollege.eu

The classrooms are found on the first floor and are all bright and spacious. The school's second building is less than 20 metres away from the first and has three large classrooms and two smaller ones. Two trams stop in front of the school and can take students directly into the city centre. There are also several bus stops near the school which can take the students to and from their accommodation.

The courses

The school offers various different programme options for students of all different levels. Each lesson lasts 45 minutes and an effort is made to keep the class sizes small with an average of 8 students per group and a maximum of 12. All of the teachers are native Dutch speakers and qualified to teach Dutch as a foreign language. Additionally the school is an accredited CNaVT preparation centre.

The available programmes are:

  • Standard Programme: Includes 24 group lessons - 20 general lessons + 4 ILL (Intensive Language Learning) sessions. This is available for Intermediate levels and up. 
  • Combined Programme: This includes 20 group lessons + 6, 9 or 12 individual lessons, allowing for a more personal learning experience. This programme is not available for beginners. 
  • Summer Programme: 24 lessons and 2 half days of activities. Available from July - August for students aged 18+ and levels Intermediate and up. 
  • Junior Holiday Programme: Available during the Easter and Summer holidays. This again includes 24 lessons and 2 half days of activities. This programme is for students aged 15-17 and levels Intermediate and up. 
  • Standard Beginner Programme: 20 lessons per week, especially designed for beginners. This programme begins every first Monday of the month and lasts 2 or 4 weeks. 
  • Long Programme: 8, 12, 15 or 18 weeks. This programme includes 28 lessons - 24 per week plus two afternoons of ILP (Interactive Learning Project). These sessions start in September or February and students have the option to take an exam and finish with a certificate. 
  • Individual Lessons: Students can choose from 10 to 25 hours per week. Students have an oral test before arrival so their level and objectives can be assessed. This programme is ideal for beginners and exam preparation.
  • Business Programme: This enables students to better communicate in the business world, students have 27 lessons in small groups. The programme is available for students aged 21+ from 2 or 3 weeks, depending on your level. 


Accommodation is available with Dutch speaking host families. Students have single rooms (double rooms are available) and they receive half-board during the week and full-board on the weekend. Students may stay with a couple, a single person, with or without children. Sheets and towels are provided and students can do their laundry at the family's home. There is also a refundable security deposit to be paid, the amount of which varies depending on the length of stay.

You can also study Dutch on one of our Total Immersion programmes:

If you have any questions about our Dutch course in Antwerp, do not hesitate to contact us!

1 Sep 2014

Antwerp: Diamonds, Rubens and Fashion

This September we are celebrating all things Dutch and all things about Antwerp as our new destination of the month.

Source: malloryontravel.com

Antwerp, or Antwerpen in Dutch, is the second most populous city in Belgium, after the capital Brussels, with a population of 502, 604. It is the capital of Belgium's Antwerp Province, the northernmost province of Flanders and Belgium. It is located on the River Scheldt which is connected to the North Sea. This little city is undoubtedly best known for three things: Rubens, Diamonds and Fashion.

A Brief History

Source: studiofluit.tumblr.com

By the end of the 15th century, Antwerp had reached a pinnacle in importance, thanks to international trading and it soon became the sugar capital of Europe. During the first half of the 16th century, Antwerp was the richest city in Europe and consequently became the second largest city in Europe north of the Alps with a population of 200,000 people. At this time Antwerp accounted for 40% of world trade.

It was not until the 19th century that the city was taken by Belgian insurgents, while they met resistance from the Dutch stronghold, the Belgians successfully captured the city in 1832. They subsequently built fortresses around the city as it was vital for the survival of the Belgian state. It was obviously a very important factor in world war II due to the port which enabled allies to bring supplies. Since the 1990's the city has been re-branded as a world class fashion centre


Antwerp has had a strong artistic reputation since the 17th century, thanks to the School of Painting with members such as Rubens, Van Dyck, Jordaens and the Two Twniers amongst others. More recently, it is known as a rising city of fashion, producing designers such as the Antwerp Six. The city has a cult status in the fashion world thanks to the Royal Academy of Fine Arts. Since the 1980's, several graduates of the Belgian Royal Academy of Fine Arts have gone on to become internationally successful.

The Antwerp Six. Source: www.vingle.net

Antwerp's local produce is also rather well known. Every year, during the month of August, the Bollekesfeest takes place which is a show case for Antwerp's best local produce. Products include Bolleke (an amber beer brewed locally), Mokatine sweets, Elixir D'Anvers (a liquor) and Poolster pickled herring. 

Monuments and Places to visit

Antwerp Zoo. Source: www.zooantwerpen.be
  • Antwerp Zoo - Founded in 1843, this zoo is home to over 6,000 animals (more than 700 different species). It is one of the oldest zoos in the world and carries out some very important conservation work.
  • 'Cathedral of our Lady' - Building on this site started in the 14th century and was not complete until 1518 and it is still the tallest building in the city. It is home to four works by Rubens: 'The descent from the cross', 'The elevation of the cross', 'The resurrection of Christ' and 'The assumption'.
  • Zuremborg - This is a late 19th century Belle Epoque neighbourhood. It is one of the most original belle époque urban expansion areas in Europe and all of the houses are listed as national heritage

If you have any questions, or would like more information about our Dutch courses in Antwerp or elsewhere, do not hesitate to contact us!