Learning vocabulary and rhyming off declensions are linguistic gymnastics which many would perhaps gladly leave in secondary school. After all, weekly pop quizzes and writing to European penpals is all very teenage, and once we’re able to drive, go to clubs and, yes, join the WI, what else does learning languages really hold for us?
Well, for those of us who love languages, the urge to conjugate never really goes away.
I studied German at school – as well as French, Spanish, Latin, and a brief flirtation with Italian, although the less said about the sultry Romantic languages the better. And German always held my heart. So the chance to go back to it a massive two decades after I left a full-time classroom is something I can only thank the WI for.
The Aquinas College adult learning course is once a week. There is homework, and extra worksheets are often floating around. But thanks to a small class of around 14 and a really friendly, approachable teacher, it’s been like I never left my ‘der, die, das’ tables behind, and I’ve loved every minute of it.
And it’s not just me – I’ve had the chance to meet a lot of brilliant people aged 28 to 80, all of them as in love with learning as I am. We watch YouTube clips of German TV programmes during lunch breaks, play German language games at the end-of-term party and text each other when new German films pop up on Netflix.
The bursary gave me a window back onto the world of learning which I sorely missed – and the chance to speak a language which I have fallen for all over again. Thanks so much to the WI, ich hatte spaß.