Gary Littman


Garry Littman is the owner and director of The Language House in Geneva which organises English language training for professional people, companies and students. He was a radio and newspaper journalist in his native Australia and ran a restaurant in Kathmandu in his younger days. He is an English language trainer and an aficionado of pétanque.

How will an immersion course help my English?

A call from your boss: There’s a meeting in 15 minutes; a director from London is in town.

- Oh non, pas ça. S'il vous plaît Seigneur. Non...

You ask that humiliating question: En anglais ou en français? But you know the answer.

- Arrgh… non, non, pas une autre réunion en anglais.

Rising panic: Je n’ai qu’à leur dire que je suis malade. Palpitations: Suzanne peut me remplacer?

These mini Shakespearean tragedies play out in offices around Switzerland every day.

Communicating well in English as your second or third language is an investment in time, money and energy. No miracles. No Doctor Dolittle spells. No implants (not yet).

The best option is a total immersion course in an English-speaking country; ideally a minimum of two weeks with 30 hours of lessons per week.

 Three experts in English training for executives and managers explain the benefits of an immersion programme.

John Miles (JM) is the managing director of Canterbury Language Training, a boutique training centre in the cathedral city of Canterbury.

Hauke Tallon (HT) is the managing director of The London School of English, one of the world’s most respected training centres in Holland Park.

Liza Watson (LW) is the owner of Trebinshun House, a boutique residential training centre for professional people in the Wales countryside.

What progress can I expect to make in a two week immersion course?

JM: You will take away communication tools; practical language that will help you face the telephone call and next meeting with confidence. These tools will help you take part in a meeting (and run it if necessary), make great presentations and network efficiently; whatever you need in order to be in control. An immersion course is a short-term investment of time, but the ROI is medium to long term. If you practise everything you have acquired in the training and then look back after three to six months, you will see the progress in your English communication skills

 LW: Our clients stop having anxiety attacks about such phone calls after an immersion programme. Provided you have reasonable school English, you can make enough progress in two weeks to comfortably manage meetings with visiting English-speaking dignitaries. We are a residential centre so all your waking hours can be spent speaking and listening to English.  There is plenty of opportunity to practise what you learn during six hours of formal tuition per day and thus you maximise your progress.

 HT: We make every effort to focus on practical language skills that will help our course participants make progress in key areas.  We run a variety of specialised courses that enable you to focus on language that is key to your needs. Everyone can expect to make some progress in a number of different areas of learning, but one thing that will noticeably improve is your confidence.  At the end of every course we assess a client’s competence and confidence across a number of areas in detail, evidencing real ROI.

 What are the ingredients of a successful two week immersion?

 HT: As with any successful recipe, it’s all about the best mix of ingredients prepared in the right way. This means choosing the right trainer for the task, having a great mix of mature, like-minded clients and giving them a great environment to learn practical new skills.  Our specialist courses and diverse multi-cultural learning environment gives our clients a unique opportunity to learn from each other as well as from our trainers.  The courses are intensive and networking opportunities over lunch (prepared by our own chefs) makes for an intensive, enjoyable and highly effective learning environment.

JM: At the core of successful immersions are great trainers, a thorough understanding of the participant’s communication needs, agreed objectives, personalised and practical training, stimulating colleagues (all professionals – this is important), a strong cross-cultural element, opportunities to practise all day long (eg networking lunches, social activities, welcoming hosts). Everything should be designed to inspire confidence and exorcise the demons! The most important ingredient, however, is the participant – that’s you. If you can come with an open mind and are prepared to take risks, the rewards are immense.

LW: Superb teaching and exceptional accommodation are naturally very important ingredients. We also have a stimulating social programme every evening per week. You will also be in the company of other motivated professionals from a variety of European countries and have plenty of chances to have in depth discussions with them. One key ingredient is that we enable you to relax. Relaxed students are confident students and confident students make real progress.

Will it be an enjoyable experience?

LW: Of course!  You will be in a beautiful country mansion, in the heart of a national park with a team of teachers, domestic staff and hosts all working hard to look after you. We have many compliments about the quality of the food. One Italian client wrote: The food I think is better than Italian food. The accommodation is wonderful. We are in the country and you can do what you want and feel safe. 

JM: Yes, you must also come prepared to enjoy yourself. There will be pain but also plenty of gain. Unfortunately, the English software most people have installed in their brain is not designed to be in use 24/7. On an immersion course, you can expect an occasional crash. Fear not, we provide immediate assistance. The gain comes from sharing experiences with new colleagues from different countries and professional backgrounds, from discovering the historic city of Canterbury, just one hour from London, and from being immersed in an English speaking environment. Whilst the training is serious and very focused, I hear a lot of laughter when I walk around our training centre.

HT: It’s hard work and many clients tell us that at the end of their stay they are exhausted… but then they also tell us that their time with us has been some of the most rewarding training - of any kind - they have ever done. A typical course gives access to a variety of carefully tailored materials, an opportunity to network with people from around the world whilst enjoying the chef-prepared lunches (included) and, ultimately, provides a rare opportunity to move a course participant’s English competence and confidence up to a whole new level.  Who wouldn’t enjoy that?!


A two week immersion course at Canterbury Language Training ranges from £3200 (30 hours per week, micro group courses max 4 participants) to £ 4500 (combination programme 15 hours’ group and 15 hours’ one-to-one training per week). This includes Executive homestay accommodation, all meals, social activities, transportation from airport, study materials. Flights not included.

A two-week immersion course at The London School of English ranges from £1670 (group courses for young professionals) to £4736 (combination programme of 15 hours group for experienced professionals plus 15 hours 1:1 tuition). This includes weekday 3-course lunches, all study materials, online learning access, booking fees, executive Homestay accommodation with private bathroom, breakfast and three evening meals and transportation from the airport. Flights not included.

An intensive combination course at Trebinshun House is 15 hours tuition in a group of maximum 4 people + 15 hours one-to-one tuition per week. The low-season cost of a two week intensive combination course including accommodation with private bathroom, all meals, wine with dinner, laundry, social programme, week-end excursion and shared taxi transfer to and from London Heathrow Airport is £4768.00. Flights not included.

For brochures and more information contact The Language House in Geneva or the above training centres.

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