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group or private lessons?

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
I am taking my family (2 adults and 2 kids ages 9 and 11) to Schladming for a week. We have all skied before although we are all different intermediate standards. Would we be better off all going into different group lessons or sharing a private (English speaking)instructor between the four of us?. Advantage of group lessons seems to be that you are placed in a group of similar standard and may be pushed harder (according to ability) Advantage of private lessons is presumably that you will get better individual attention and the lessons will be exclusively in English.

Any views welcomed
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stan moore, welcome to snowheads. You've summed up the alternatives, what do the kids prefer?
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THe kids would probably prefer to be with us. My real question is what option is likely to give us the better overall tuition?
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stan moore, Welcome to snowHeads snowHead

I can't claim any expertise in this area, the Austrian resorts I've been to have had exclusively English tuition for English speaking students. If there really is much spread in abilities then I would of thought you were asking a lot of an individual ski instructor to teach you all optimally.
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stan moore, I have had mixed ability private lessons with friends; it works well when there is only a small discrepancy in abilities. You all need to be working on the same thing, even if some are better at it than others, and to be comfortable on the same slopes, otherwise someone gets frustrated or feels that they're holding upeveryone else, blah, blah, blah. my experience is with gropus of adults nly; i don't know whether kids and adults learn in the same way and at the same pace (kids are probably quicker).

I would have thought that intermediate kids would have more fun in a group lesson with other intermediate kids, but maybe your kids like you (does that happen?).
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stan moore, We did that when the kids were a little older, maybe 12 and 13 or so, and it worked quite well for 3 of us, but not for hubby. Have done the same thing again last year with easiski in Deux Alpes, and it worke d for all of us.
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stan moore
Quote:
private lessons is presumably that you will get better individual attention and the lessons will be exclusively in English
Actually, in my book, if group lessons DON'T provide a degree of individual attention, and AREN'T exclusively in the language you're most comfortable speaking, then don't book 'em as you'll be wasting valuable money. I've heard of group ski classes occuring in "dual" languages, and I can't think of a worse way to teach anything (except language Laughing ). Ensure the group lesson will be instructed solely in English by a fluent English-speaker, or wait until you're in a resort with a ski school that does offer group lessons like this (most of the large French resorts do).

Alternatively, if the ski school has fluent English-speaking private instructors, do make sure you insist the school provides you with one for your private lessons. And DO take it up with the school immediately if you find that the instructor's language isn't up to the job.
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stan moore, 9 and 11 is a little young (I think) to have lessons with you, if you are ALL to get something out of it. You may be better to (if they'll let you), put your children into a regular (English speaking) children's group, whilst you and you wife have Private Lessons to give you the attention you need.

In my experiance, children mostly want to ski, rather than be told what to do, whilst adults want more feedback and detail.

Hope that helps !
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ski, I would agree there, in my post above, I made the point that my kids were older when we had lessons together. However,when they were younger we found the holiday was enjoyed best of all if kids got to ski with us for the afternoon, but spent the morning in their own ski class. One couple on our last chalet holiday could not get their 5 yr old to go to ski kindergarten, as he complained that he didn't get to spend any time with Mummy and Daddy, and could he please go to the beach next time. They had booked him in for 6 full days, and went off at 9am , returning at 5.30 . Kid was asleep by 6.30.
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Manda, I really disagree that to have lessons in dual language is a problem. Do you have a problem with non native English speakers? Although it does slow things down a bit explanation-wise, I think it's great. People from different countries ski-ing together and getting to know each other, learning abit of another language (kids pick it up very quick). Perhaps you prefer "English" Meribel?????

stan moore, Welcome to Snowheads. I definitely recommend that your kids go in group lessons - it's loads more fun for them that being "honorary" grown ups for the week, which happens if they have lessons with adults. I do do family lessons, but they can often be a nightmare as the parents almost invariably try to take over and I have to be very firm with them!! rolling eyes You and your wife may be able to get private tuition in the mornings if it's not high season, so you may be able to benefit that way. Alternatively you and your wife could take it in turns to have a 1-1 lesson and look after the kids. Otherwise I suggest a "block booking" so you can mix'n'match your family abilities.

Re: language ability. Fluent English from a ski teaching point of view is unlikely to cover idiom. If the teacher concerned can explain and correct well enough, then that should be fine. Many of us can teach in another language, but may not be able to converse in it. I only mention this because in the past I've come across many native english speakers, who seem to think that anything less than perfect is defective, not because I think you're likely to fall into this category.

have fun snowHead
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easiski, I don't think that many people go skiing to learn a foreign language (although I was once told that I skied as if I was doing it foreign language, which I don't think was meant as a compliment). Ski resorts are for skiing (and eating and drinking) in; they are not real places.
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richmond, Mrs H and I have had good fun in multi-lingual ski classes - but I don't consider group teaching to be all about learning to ski.
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Thanks for the comments everyone. Just taking up on a couple of points:
One of the problems with the Schladming ski schools (I don't know if this is common in Austria) is that the kids group lessons are all day, whereas the adults ones are morning only. I think all day is too long for kids lessons (particulary if this is compounded by language problems) and it also means that the family doesn't get the chance to meet up and ski in the afernoon.
Also, our kids are quite shy and would have diffulty mixing with kids who didn't speak their language.
It sounds to me like two sets of private lessons (one for the adults and one for the kids) might be the best option, although probably not the cheapest!
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You know it makes sense.
easiski, no and that's not what I said. I'm not at all against bilingual instruction if the students are fluent enough in both languages, and they WANT to be in a group where the instructor is switching between two different languages.

It's hard enough trying to learn a difficult task like skiing without being burdened with language translation problems. So in the absence of a professed desire for bilingual instruction, I would always recommend people insist on an instructor who is proficent in the language they want to be instructed in.
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richmond, Ski resorts are very real places for those of us that live and work in them. Ski-ing is also real life for us!!!

Manda, Advising people to insist on English only classes has nothing to do with the level of fluency in any language. My point is that so long as the teacher speaks any or all of the languages adequately then the only disadvantage to having bilingual lessons is that the explanations take longer because they have to be done twice. What's wrong with ski-ing with "foreigners?" Have the English become so insular nowadays that the idea of actually meeting and talking to someone from another part of Europe is so scary??? Sorry, but I think that's a Frist Choice attitude.

The point about 2 (or more) languages being spoken is that each language speaker must insist that the time given to explanations in each language is equal. I have, in the past, had 4 nationalities and 3 languages in a class, and that was one of the most fun classes ever! We all had a ball. (British, Dutch, French & German).

PS: Next week I've got 2 classes of kids which will be bilingual in English and German, I hope you're not suggesting that this is a) undesirable or b) that the kids will suffer. BTW my groups are max 4.

PPS: Learning to ski should not be difficult - it isn't difficult. If you've found it so I suggest you haven't had decent instruction in any language. Or perhaps you've had one of those "guru" types who make it all sound so complicated?
Shocked
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 Poster: A snowHead
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easiski, Absolutely right about languages, and all power to your elbow. In my limited experience having only had 4 different (French) instructors all have been able to communicate effectively in my native tongue (unlike the only Anglo-only one I had). It's great to hear that you take on many languages ... and I bet the French are not so parochial as many would have us believe about having Brit teaching them ( please say I am right!).

Your attitude is absolutely right , I find it offensive to have heard so many Brit visitors in The Alps this winter insisting in addressing everyone in English without any effort whatsoever to engage in the local language let alone culture. ( My favourite has to be a Scot looking at a wine list last week , addressing the local waiter in booming tones having no idea what the words on it meant. 'DO YOU HAVE ANNYY FRRENNCCH WINES ?' .... The waiter cooly pointed at the Carte and said in pretty good English "Monsieur might like to note that all of these wines are from the Haute Savoie but everything else is from France"....... The Good Lady and I haven't stopped giggling since ; as usual the local vino collapso but was quite reasonable but the Burgundys etc. were pricey ... no guessing that the plonker chose the expensive option)

I may start another thread on this subject later suggesting that people with an inherent inability to recognise any other language / culure as being inferior should be banned from visiting mainland Europe ski resorts.
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Newbie50
Quote:

I may start another thread on this subject later suggesting that people with an inherent inability to recognise any other language / culure as being inferior should be banned from visiting mainland Europe ski resorts.

You're just trying to make it quieter for yourself, it won't work you know!
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Ian Hopkinson wrote:
Newbie50
Quote:

any other language / culure as being inferior should be banned from visiting mainland Europe ski resorts.

You're just trying to make it quieter for yourself, it won't work you know!


Just getting rid of one or two will do, thankfully most I see do try to adapt and recognise they are not in Blighty. One of the 'givens' in France is that if you try and speak and integrate and adapt , the French will (I generalise) go out of their way to help. You do have to remeber they treat each other badly too !!
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Quote:
people with an inherent inability to recognise any other language / culure as being inferior should be banned from visiting mainland Europe ski resorts.

Newbie50, I don't think that came out quite right!
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Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Newbie50, Absolutely! It's only polite to at least ask if they speak English before launching into it. Don't get me started on "British" ski teachers profiting from working here without making the slightest effort to learn the language. I find the French generally like having an English ski teacher, and often ask me to teach their kids in English. I generally refuse because the poor kids are on holiday!! Very Happy

I recently (Feb hols) had a class of 2 French kids and one English kid and they had huge fun. They were 5,5 & 7. The 2 little ones (English boy and French girl) became fast friends and want to ski together next year. I always insist that my Brit students of whatever age say "merci" when getting a lift, and "Bonjour" etc when appropriate. I also do try to teach the kids some of the other language. They pick it up so quickly, even if they can't speak it, they can understand a lot by the end of the week.

The families coming next week have been coming for 3 years now and all the kids love trying to talk to the others regardless of their language ability.

I'm sorry Manda, but if you don't like abroad and foreigners, I suggest Scotland or the USA.
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I am all for politeness and trying to speak a few words of the language of the country I am visiting. I always to do this in restaurants, shops and on public transport etc. Ski resorts however are by their nature international. They encourage foreign tour operators, put up multilingual websites etc. If, as a foreign visitor I am being invited to spend quite a lot of money on lessons then I think that I should expect to receive a reasonable standard of tuition and this must, in my view, mean being able to communicate well in English. After all I am only going there for 1 week and cannot really learn the language to be able to converse for the very short time I will spend in that country (as opposed to the ski instructors who are there all season teaching pupils from different countries). My previous experience of some instructors (when I was single) was that their English was very limited indeed (no more than a few well repeated phrases). The only real tuition here was to try and follow and copy the instructor. This is OK I think to a certain degree but I am not sure how this helps in improving individual technique or correcting mistakes. I like to be told what I am doing wrong and to be able to ask questions. I don’t have a problem skiing with people from different countries, but for me this isn’t the issue. My concern for my children (who are quite shy) is that they receive adequate tuition, have fun and do not feel isolated as the only English-speaking children in a large group of otherwise German speaking kids – that’s all. I don't want to prejudge the group lessons at the Schlamding skischools but i can't help thinking that private lessons might be a safer bet all round. Sorry this is a bit long winded.
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easiski, you're putting words in my mouth that I never wrote. If you want to create some kind of anti-French straw man so that you can to make your point then do so, but please don't drag me and my posts into it.

What I said was that an instructor's language fluency has to be "up to the job". Of course for English-speaking-only students an instructor doesn't have to be fluent in every word of the Collins English dictionary and have a PhD in English in order to be able to adequately instruct British punters. Point is, for any instructor their language proficency needs to be adequate enough to effectively communicate skiing instruction in the language requested, and to understand what their students are saying in relation to that instruction. And that would apply to whatever nationality/language. I think we're agreed on that?

I quote myself:
Quote:

...in the absence of a professed desire for bilingual instruction, I would always recommend people insist on an instructor who is proficent in the language they want to be instructed in.
. The vast majority of British people taking lessons in France are unlikely to speak enough French to get anything useful of ski instruction given in French. So for people posting on Snowheads, and to any other English speaker, it's fair to say their prefered language is going to be English UNLESS THEY SPECIFY OTHERWISE.

And did you miss this bit?
Quote:
I'm not at all against bilingual instruction if the students are fluent enough in both languages, and they WANT to be in a group where the instructor is switching between two different languages.


There are a number of people who enjoy bi- or multi-lingual instruction, which is perfectly fine if you're there for more than just the instruction. I'm not. I can get all the social interaction with locals that I need at the resort bars, or on the slopes outside lessons. I enjoy, for example, whittering half my night away at the bar having a stilted Franglais conversation with an instructor, and spending an entire chairlift ride with a French kid nattering on about which piste "est la plus parfait". For me one of the joys of going to the Alps is precisely because I get to ski/eat/drink amongst French and talk to them. And outside of ski instruction (and sometimes within it) I always practice my French (whether the French want me to or not), and I always speak French from first contact for as far as I can spin it out. But the minute I start paying for ski instruction I expect to get my money's worth. And if I'm waiting half the time to get the English version, then I'm not getting very much at all out of half the lesson. Chances are most British punters are in the same boat as me, linguistically speaking.

I personally have no objection to being taught by non-British instructors. I've had some of my best ski instruction from a French guy in France - who's language proficency BTW was up to the job of instructing skiing even if he might not be the poet lauret.

I'd be grateful if you would please read my posts with care next time before stringing me up as being anti-whatever.
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laundryman, Back to school for me !! A few less double negatives will not be tolerated then !! I obviously meant the converse of what I tried to write but didn't. Oops , there I go again. Shocked
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Newbie50, No, I think that didn't come out like you hadn't planned. wink
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Was once in a mixed German/Italian group and I was the only native English speaker. I was just learning to speak German at the time. The other people in the group were great and translated where they could but for me it just didn't work. If it had been a smaller group and the ski-instructor or I had a better command of each others language then it may of worked.

Never heard of the Swiss or the Austrians being miffed when visiting customers don't speak their language.
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stan moore, I think you'll find that that most younger French people ( and consequently many French ski instructors) speak passable English these days - things have changed a lot in the last few years. My own experience is limited to one resort but I found the attitudes of The English instructors there appalling and so different to the French -- do check your assigned instructor out though.

easiski, Another (true) British ski instructor story overheard last December as I waited (and waited) for my British instructor to turn up for my first ski lesson.

Brit Instructor to another from the same school starting in the resort for 1st time as I understood: "Of course what you must do is insist on addressing "Jacques" ( Head of ESF in Les Gets) in English. It really hacks him off. I got away without speaking a word of French all of last year."
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Manda, You have clearly said that bilingual lessons are not adequate. I take issue with that. You also said that the STUDENT must be able to speak both landuages; I take issue with that. The teacher is the one that needs to speak the necessary languages not the student. If the teacher can and does speak the languages adequately and is willing to translate within the group there should be no problem. Your quote below

" Actually, in my book, if group lessons DON'T provide a degree of individual attention, and AREN'T exclusively in the language you're most comfortable speaking, then don't book 'em as you'll be wasting valuable money. I've heard of group ski classes occuring in "dual" languages, and I can't think of a worse way to teach anything (except language Laughing ). Ensure the group lesson will be instructed solely in English by a fluent English-speaker, or wait until you're in a resort with a ski school that does offer group lessons like this (most of the large French resorts do).

stan moore, I am not suggesting that you learn the language - far from it. However when in Rome .... the rest of the world does speak English as a second language, but it's just polite to ask if they do before assuming. It's also fun for kids to lean to say a few basics such as thank you, please, hello and goodbye. You say your kids are shy - what better way of hleping them out of it than ski school. It's unlikely they'll be the only English speaking kids, and if so -what problem? Most ski schools have people who speak good english, most ski teachers now do speak good english. I don't know anything about the Schladming ski school, but I wouldn't expect them to be any different.

When I was 9 we went to Corsics - mix up with bookings and we ended up in a village in the mountains. My sister (6) and I played with the local kids. We couldn't speak a word of their language and vice versa, but it really wasn't a problem (because no-one had suggested it might be I think). We were gutted to go down to the coast and missed out new firends.

Newbie50, that's disgusting - no wonder the ESF are beginning to get a bit stroppy about all the British Training Centres springing up! We have some here a bit like that - they should be compulsorily expelled from resort (along with all the reps who don't speak the language).!
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stan moore, It is extremely unlikely that your children, should they go into a class separate from yourselves would find themselves with an instructor who does not speak english well enough to teach them. Judging by the various nationalities in the Arlberg ski school they may even have a british instructor.

Newbie50, Schladming is in Austria isn't it?
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B00thy, Blow me over ! Just checked a map and it appears you are correct. Someone must have moved it overnight.

Yes, I recognise I got caught up in my own Fred Drift and got confused with the original theme. Better not edit that response of mine otherwise your question would look silly. wink Embarassed
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
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Stan,
We have skied with our three boys since they were 6 or so each. Generally we have found the same as others, that lessons in the morning, family in the afternoon is the best option at the ages of your children. It is a shame that Schladming do not offer half-days for the children Sad .
I v much agree with other posters that the "family" bit of the holiday is the most important bit and for me it would not be a good holiday if I only got to see the boys after skiing was over (and when younger, they were tired).
Our "boys" are now 19,16 and 14 and as a result in the course of this next week's holiday we will have 2 2hour private lessons as a family - and hopefully the parents will not hold the children up too much wink

As regards multi-lingual lessons, my French is pretty good Blush and on more than one occasion I have been the translator. In Gressoney, an Italian instructor spoke to the Italians in Italian then to me in French so that I could translate for the English and Dutch in the group (I think that means that the Dutch were 3 languages away from the instructor!). Incidentally, as an added bonus, by the end of the week the instructor's French became less necessary as I started to pick up Italian skiing words Little Angel - and the cross-cultural bits of skiing with non-Brits were good and are a bit that I miss when skiing with the SC rep Sad
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easiski you are still twisting my words for the sake of making your point. stan moore twice indicated English speaking instrution would be what he's after. So in repsonse to his post, it's fair to say my answer was on the mark. I stick by my guns that if a student doesn't speak anything other than English proficently, and doesn't profess a desire for bilingual lessons, then they will be wasting their money in taking a ski lesson taught in multiple languages. That's not the same at all as dissuading someone who WANTs a bilingual lesson from having it, which is what you appear to think I'm trying to advocate. But if you read my posts with some care you'll note that I never made such a point.
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Manda, On the contrary, by saying that bilingual lessons are a waste of money you are insulting all hard working multi lingual ski teachers. Of course stan moore, prefers english language tuition (so do all native english speakers). This is perfectly normal and should/would be offered as a matter of course by any half decent ski school. However I bitterly resent your constant suggestion that bi or mutil lingual lessons are a waste of money. If you have no experience of my (or any other ski teachers') bi or multi lingual classes then you should refrain from insulting us. Many of us take great pride in our ability to teach in more than one language, and we're not all natural linguists either. To learn to do this takes a lot of effort, and your remarks are unwarranted and offensive.
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easiski No you're still wrong about what I've written, and you're still taking offense where none was given rolling eyes I'll put it another way: If I have, say for the sake of argument, £100 and 2 options for spending it:

a) a half hour lesson in English (which happens to be my only fluent language) and with another half hour listening to instructions in a language I can't understand, or
b) a full hour lesson in English.

Me myself and I will chose b) every time. Doyageddit now? It's about the economics of the equation, not the QUALITY of the instruction - surely you read all the bits I wrote in praise of bilingual instruction? I think it's GREAT. Yes, you read right, bi- and multi-lingual instruction is GREAT - if the punter wants it. Shocked

Are we happy yet?
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easiski, Manda, Time out ladies please ! Shocked Shocked

From my point of view for group lessons it is fine to have multiple languages so long as the instructor explains everything clearly in all languages required, after all there's plenty of time to speak in multiple languages as each student does the required bit of practice, obvoiously this would be different in private lessons
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D G Orf, Precisely! Very Happy However I feel very strongly about this (obviously), and if Manda, is expecting to pay £100 for an hours' private lesson then she's been to the wrong resorts. The norm here is €40-€50 per hour - not per person.

ps: this is the quote that set me off

" Actually, in my book, if group lessons DON'T provide a degree of individual attention, and AREN'T exclusively in the language you're most comfortable speaking, then don't book 'em as you'll be wasting valuable money. I've heard of group ski classes occuring in "dual" languages, and I can't think of a worse way to teach anything (except language Laughing )."

This is a very clear statement. Sorry rant over!!!!!!!!!!
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easiski, I read it just the same.

In fact, from work I can make two observations, I work in multi lingual environment, French and English are the most common, with German, Portuguese, American and Italian also being spoken, it's no barrier to working.

In point of fact, I've also been to multi lingual language lessons, it's not any problem, in fact it's perfectly normal.

The other observation from work I can make is that there's any amount of people who'll sound off on things they know nothing about Very Happy
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In a small group I'm sure evenly distributed multilingual instruction works reasonably well. In a large group with less individual attention available my personal experience (admittedly some time ago) was a negative one. You also learn from what others in a group are experiencing and would largely miss out on that if you didn't understand what was being said. Of course should you wish to enjoy the mixing of cultures in all elements of your holiday then you may not regard the latter so much of a disadvantage. Personally, I do lessons primarily to learn and have generally (not exclusively) had the better experiences with native English speaking instructors.

I speak 3 languages perfectly well. French isn't one of them. However, I make every effort to use my frightful French and usually receive a disdainful response in English. It would be nice to have a better command of the language but it would be equally nice to own a Ferrari, so I don't consider this situation too unsatisfactory. As much as I enjoy leaving these shores to travel a foreign land and as much as I like not having to go too far to ski, any tourist industry needs tourists and needs to provide for their needs and desires to keep their patronage. To service your clients in a language convenient to them is simply sensible and is done all over the world.
snowHead
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
slikedges, the whole point is that it's normal for ski schools (or individual instructors) to cater for a variety of languages. If you want exclusively English spoken then a private lesson is clearly the way to go. I'm sorry you had a less than good experience in a multi-lingual lesson, but that's down to either the individual instructor or the ski school, and should not necessarily be taken as the norm. In addition, although you've had better experiences with native enlgish speakers I think this might be changing due to the large numbers of new native english speaking instructors working in Europe. I expect to hear about more dissatisfaction in due course .....

However VERY IMPORTANT: when the French reply to your attempt at French in English THEY ARE BEING POLITE! Shocked You have made an attempt to speak their language and they are returning the compliment. I know to us it seems like a put down, but it isn't meant like that REALLY!! The Parisiens are different of course!!!!! rolling eyes rolling eyes
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 You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
easiski wrote:

However VERY IMPORTANT: when the French reply to your attempt at French in English THEY ARE BEING POLITE! Shocked You have made an attempt to speak their language and they are returning the compliment. I know to us it seems like a put down, but it isn't meant like that REALLY!!


What is the longest conversation you've successfully had like that?
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
easiski If you want to champion the cause of multi-lingual ski instruction then please start a thread elsewhere and I will even support your cause. Just please stop arrogantly mis-reading my posts on this thread and twisting my words for your own effect.
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