French in Normandy Interview with Eleri Maitland

16 July 2012

Quality Language Schools Worldwide

French in Normandy is located in Rouen, a beautiful medieval city in an area of Northern France famed for its rich cuisine. The school offers French language courses and a wide choice of local activities.

We spoke to school director Eleri Maitland to find out more about French in Normandy’s aims and how they feel about being a member of the “IALC family”.

Q: Hello Eleri, how does it feel to be part of this exclusive group of quality language schools?

A: We were so pleased to join IALC - it was a milestone in French in Normandy’s development and strategy and we have never looked back!

Q: How was 2011 for the school and how did it compare to the previous year?

A: A great year after a great year and this year looks to be just the same!

Q: How have things changed at the school since it was established?

A: Tom and I started out in September 1992 and in our then premises, we began without a single student - just my old dog who came absolutely everywhere with me! Now the dogs stay at home and the school is full!

Q: What are your main aims for French in Normandy?

A: Carry on giving great value for money and enhance our services to students. Our next projects are the publication of our new workbook for students and the continued development of our student resource centre.

Q: What do you see as the biggest challenges facing independent schools these days?

A: Making oneself stand out from the crowd, budget issues of course, and we have to keep up with the latest technological and pedagogic trends, develop our corporate responsibility policies and all that before getting down to day to day issues!

Q: Where do the majority of your students come from?

A: It depends on the year - the top nationality changes regularly. As we speak we have 26 nationalities in the school which is great and students always say how much they like the internationality at French in Normandy!

Q: What are the most popular student activities?

A: Cooking/going to the WW2 landing beaches. I was there last Saturday with 62 students. Popular visits are Mont St Michel; Monet’s house and gardens at Giverny; cheese makers, cider and Calvados producers, Honfleur; our historical tour of Rouen and the Learn to Paint like Monet activity, which takes place in the room where he painted. Plus our in-house activities like table football competitions or the cinema and book clubs are always popular.

Q: Moving on to you, which is your favourite travel destination?

A: The world! I really enjoy the travelling part of my job - there are so many places that I love that it is impossible to single out just one - when I read the question so many images came to mind!

Q: Your favourite pastime?

A: Running a school doesn’t leave for a whole lot of free time but I am a keen gardener and we have a productive if untidy vegetable garden so that I can indulge my other big passion: cooking! We live in a small valley outside Rouen that is quite like Wales and I love to walk with my dogs or ride - I really appreciate those moments!

Q: Your favourite song?

A: Again so many - when I was 50 we put together my favourite songs from my first half century and it made over 10 hours of music! At the moment my ring tone is Istanbul by Sertab Erener and I put one of my special faves on Tom’s phone: Love Man by Otis Redding!

Q: Your favourite meal?

A: I love to cook - preparing and sharing food is so important - I cook all sorts of food but although I love all cuisines as a non-meat eater, I would say that my favourite favourite would be Turkish or Spanish! When I am really tired, I find that when I get home a great pick me up is a glass of dry white wine or raki with a bowl of olives, white cheese like feta, some anchovies and fresh bread with olive oil and tomato - a mix of Spanish and Middle Eastern cuisine. It is guaranteed to make anyone feel relaxed and see the world with a smile!

Q: Your dream dinner guest(s)?

A: The first guest is easy: Dr David Starkey, aka the rudest man in Britain. He was my tutor at Cambridge University in the days before he became a household word in the UK. He is like good wine - just gets more entertaining and more interesting with time.

Next Henry Blofeld the BBC radio 4 cricket commentator. Another great British institution.

Finally JPR Williams and Gareth Edwards would complete my live dream guests - both Welsh rugby players from the 70s.

If it were to be a table made up of characters from the past - Ghengis Khan, Charles II of Great Britain , Peter the Great of Russia, Napoleon, Sulliman the Magnificent and Herodotus would be my choice.

I would also love to have the chance to meet the Queen as she must have some great dinner stories!

Q: Finally, what would you say are the main benefits of learning at French in Normandy?

A: Being in Rouen- a city that has so many historic buildings and plenty to do and see- it is beautiful! Also Veronique and Malika and all my staff who go the extra mile for the students and who understand that good lessons are not enough to make for successful language learning experiences. Customer service in all its aspects is what we try to put at the top of our list. Something that appears simple to us can present an enormous challenge to a student, so our attitude and availability is all important.

French in Normandy - awarded the Government’s new quality label - offers first-rate teaching in a personalised study environment and an exciting socio-cultural programme. The school recently moved into new premises and has won many awards for excellence.

French in Normandy – tel +33 23 56 99 054 Email:

More Information:

French in Normandy website


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