The Story of Weymouth English Centre
by Christopher Hills, Director of Weymouth English Centre
In 1978 I set off on a long, overland journey to Kathmandu, stopping off at our twin town in Germany for a few days on the way.
Those few days in Germany turned into something a little longer and schoolchildren started to come to me to improve their English. After a while I thought it would be good for them to spend a couple of weeks in England during their school holidays, staying with English families, having lessons and experiencing something of the English way of life. At Easter in 1979 I took the first group of students to Kent. They all loved the experience and improved their English so much that I organised more trips the following year.
Back in Germany a few private lessons soon turned into an English language school, with a team of qualified teachers teaching adults and chidlren at the school and business English at local companies.
Kate joined the team, first as a teacher in Broadstairs, then as a teacher and course organiser based in Germany.
News about our courses in England spread and soon students were coming from all over Germany. When the Berlin Wall came down we organised special coach trips to Broadstairs for schoolchildren from the former East Germany - a new experience for all of them.
In the 1990s we took on two former hotel boats in England and became the first school to organise and run English courses for adults on narrowboats in the UK.
In 2002 Kate and I had a son, Oliver, and it was time for a change. In 2004 we moved our home and office onto a narrowboat in England. We worked during the week, homeschooling Oliver, and spent the weekends travelling the more than 2,000 mile network of canals and rivers of England. For Oliver it was a great way of growing up. While a lot of people find learning about history rather boring, he learnt about the Tudors and Stuarts while we were moored at the end of Hampton Court Palace garden.
In 2008 we heard that the Weymouth English Centre was looking for new owners. We went to see it and loved it. Weymouth has everything that a traditional English seaside town needs: a very long, sandy beach, an old harbour with fishing boats and brightly-painted houses, a lively town centre with small shops and plenty to do and see. We took over the school later that year.
Since then students aged between 13 and 17 from all over the world have come to Weymouth to improve their English. But these courses are much more than that: for many students, this is their first trip abroad without their parents. They are experiences which help develop characters, build confidence and form lasting friendships. We feel privileged to be part of making that possible.
We aim to maintain a small, friendly environment where every student matters. As parents, we understand the many questions that students and parents have before booking and we are there to support them before and during the course.
I still haven’t made it to Kathmandu, but I’m hoping to go soon with my family.
Weymouth English Centre Ltd.
Company No. 05218991
Incorporated in England and Wales
Director: Christopher Hills