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A farewell summer

One of the most unusual language schools in the UK – and certainly one in the most romantic locations – is to run its last summer school in memory of one of its founders, Liz Cooper, who died suddenly in July last year. Tim, her husband and co-founder of the Nab Cottage School, told the Gazette: “We had been thinking of closing the school after Covid struck, but after Liz’s death I didn’t want it just to fade gently away.

“So we are opening for one last time this summer with teachers who have worked with us over the years coming in to help,” he said, adding, “I feel it is an apt celebration of Liz and all she taught us.”

 In 1983 the couple, who had previously taught in Italy, North Africa and France, decided to open a language school “where people feel confident, safe, relaxed and happy – and therefore better able to learn” and found the perfect location in a whitewashed cottage overlooking Rydal Water in England’s Lake District.

It was not just any cottage and it was not just any school. Nab Cottage features large in the history of England’s Romantic poets. Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy passed it often on their way to the post office. Thomas de Quincey married the daughter of the farmer who owned it and they lived there with their children. Later it was home to the son of another Lakeland poet, Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

In the tiny school – it takes just 20 students at a time – Liz and Tim pioneered new ways of teaching: holistic and collaborative in a way that impressed even the straight-laced inspectors from the British Council. “I always remember watching inspectors crying as they observed a class, sitting ticking the boxes as the tears ran down their face.”

The inspectors clearly approved, because based on its inspection reports, it has been an EL Gazette Centre of Excellence for many years.

And this year, for the last time, students aged from 18 to 80 will choose from a menu of courses ranging from general English through experiential English for teachers to yoga, mindfulness and nature in English and even English and baking. They will study them in a historic cottage on the edge of an English lake. It is still, as Tim and Liz have always promised, “a family, a language school and an international community – all in one.”

Image courtesy of Nab Cottage
Melanie Butler
Melanie Butler
Melanie started teaching EFL in Iran in 1975. She worked for the BBC World Service, Pearson/Longman and MET magazine before taking over at the Gazette in 1987 and also launching Study Travel magazine. Educated in ten schools in seven countries, she speaks fluent French and Spanish and rather rusty Italian.
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