"Big Bear" is waking up!

Programme 2017 – 

BFETE5 Female Grizzly bear (Ursus arctos horribilis) resting, Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary, British Columbia, Canada

In this time of the year the bears are falling into their winter sleep, breathing slowly, eating nothing, being all alone in their dreamy lethargy.

Big Bear -as I call sometimes myself- has a different time for his lethargic mode, usually a couple of weeks at the end of the summer. This year my sleepy status has lasted much longer and when I woke up recently, I realised that it was already Thanksgiving day and Black Friday and streets are getting ready with their Christmas decorations…

Wow… why did I sleep so long?

Well, let’s come to the point or the story would be too long: when I stretched out of my lethargic status, the programme 2017 was surprisingly well shaped and ready to go! and here is what until now confirmed: the “Exeter Language School” for teenagers at Steiner Academy Exeter and the “Art & Language” programme for young people at Plymouth College of Art.


PLYMOUTH – The “Art & Language” programme for young people will run again for two times three weeks from beginning of July to mid August 2017.

Plymouth College of Art, Plymouth


The first pilot project last summer was very successful, inspirational  and sparked enthusiasm and interest amid the large majority of participants.

Students were engaged in lessons to develop their English language and Communication skills. Both areas -language and communication- were focused on spoken English with references to grammar and language structures. The students were strongly encouraged to improve their spoken English quite intensively!

screen-shot-2016-10-03-at-13-23-08The creative activity programme was designed and delivered by teachers of Plymouth College of Art and comprised: Art&Design (with some digital photography); Contemporary Craft (jewellery and ceramics) and Filmmaking, probably the most appealing and challenging project.

They worked individually and in team in all lessons using the fantastic resources of the college and receiving an excellent standard of teaching and coaching.

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  A project for Young people was something I was dreaming of during my lethargic status in past years. I tried a few attempts but never met the opportunity to bring the dream down to real. Then suddenly -in one the most miserable period in my memory- it became thanks to the meeting with an unexpected friend.

“A friend in need is a friend indeed”: I have been lucky enough to always meet a helping hand from above that helped to take the head out of the troubled waters.

And in a short while -with the support of Plymouth College of Art- the “Art & Language” programme was alive with its great potential to meet the interest and support of Young People, especially up to 23 years old (approximately).

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d36e316a-9b09-4313-9bf7-f6010d104425You may read here the feedback given by the students last summer, largely positive and enthusiastic.

There were though two weak points: one was the composition with large majority of one nationality; the second one was the level of teaching that a girl found “too high standard for me”. Well, to be honest, I was sorry for her feeling, but also quite satisfied to hear such a “negative” comment! We will take carefully into account all the observations made and will do our best to solve these weak points before next edition.

EXETER –  The Language school in Exeter is also the result of helping hands from friends (in this case already known) and has a great potential for development.


The first teenager course in summer 2016 was very successful thanks to the enthusiastic support of friends, teachers, members of staff, host-families: everyone injected a warm, friendly, welcoming wave of enthusiasm in preparation and during the course. This experience proved once more that the success of an initiative is not necessarily based on a perfect, rational plan but can flower out of good impulses and good will.

img_0525Teenagers will find at Steiner Academy Exeter a safe, enlivening, enjoyable environment where they can improve their academic and spoken language in a balanced programme of English tuition and creative activities that is organic to their stage of educational development.

Out of the first pilot project last summer, a new partnership has grown between the Steiner Academy and Active English Learning to set the ground for a permanent “Language School” at the Academy.

In July 2017 we offer a month of teenager courses with a choice of 2, 3 or 4 weeks. We will keep a very open mind to the possibility an extended time if there will be enough enquiries and requests in this direction. So, please do contact me if the dates you see on the programme are not fully matching your needs.

Kaiaking on river Exe, June 2016


The other locations –  What will happen to the other historic locations where the Active English Learning Project was settled and worked for many years, Dartington and Holywood?

Dartington with my deep sadness has decided last December to offer a smaller availability to AEL, a decision that forced me to move the historic courses of Active English Learning away from the SSDS (South Devon Steiner School), that kindly hosted my teenager courses for 19 years plus the children and family camp for 16 years! May I just say “Thank you for having me”!

Holywood is a different situation: it is a beautiful and welcoming location but the number of students has lowered quite significantly in the past two years, making difficult to manage a teenager course there. We are now exploring the conditions for a new good, fresh start. Let’s keep the fingers crossed and hope that Holywood can be onboard soon again!

So, this is the development that AEL -and myself- will face in the near future!

While going through changes and transition, I will be constantly committed to provide good language achievements, good educational care and good social experiences to all our students..

I hope that you –Readers, Supporters and Friends– will agree with the direction taken and support AEL with your helping hands! Thank you!