In summer 1998 I came to England with twelve of my pupils to give them the opportunity to become more confident in understanding and speaking English.
I was class teacher in a Steiner school in Milan at that time and fully convinced of the relevance of learning other languages for the child development as well advised by Rudolf Steiner since he founded the first Waldorf school in Stuttgart in 1919.
The initiative was seen with deep interest, especially in regard to the “hands-on” approach that was not so common in language development. The solid ground for this first initiative was my experience as class teacher in Steiner/Waldorf schools and soon we wanted to take into account the findings of researches about “second language acquisition” and -may I also say- the experiences of learning another language as “voyageurs”.
The main purpose of “improving English” soon widens to other educational targets that are intimately connected with language learning, the most significant of which may be listed as “joy of learning”, “self-confidence”, “social inclusion”. All those elements were -and are- considered relevant for the best outcome of language learning as much as the academic lessons are, lessons that we always provided by experienced and passionated teachers.
In summer 2000 with the enthusiastic support and fantastic role played by Louise McIlwaine -my second wife and cofounder of Active English Learning– we shaped the “Learn&Play” course for children and with it a “Family Camp” which offered the adults the possibility of attending English lessons, activities and events all together, as “community of learners”.
In recent years AEL had to face serious challenges following the departure of our dear Louise and the critical financial crisis that also caused very difficult obstacles. In summer 2016 a new shake has opened a complex crossroad in front of AEL after the South Devon Steiner school became no longer available to host our most popular teenager course at the end of June.
This new condition led to explore and eventually start a new initiative in partnership with the Steiner Academy Exeter for a summer language school in Exeter which had a highly successful beginning! At the same time -out of fortuite circumstances- a new small programme for Young People -called “Art&Language”- started in Plymouth with the support of Plymouth College of Art.
Now a new blank page is ahead: let’s write the new story together, let’s be Helper of one other!