November 23, 2013


French rail commuters get English skills back on track (AFP, NOVEMBER 23, 2013)

It is not your usual classroom inside this train making the 45-minute trip from the city of Reims, in the heart of France's champagne country.

But the French state railways company SNCF thinks it has found a good solution for time-squeezed commuters who need to brush up on the language of Shakespeare.

The pilot programme, aptly named "English on track" service, was launched in September on six routes from the eastern Champagne-Ardenne region, a popular commuter hub for people working in the French capital.

Boarding the train at Reims in the semi-darkness of early morning is Jerome Maillot, a buyer in a Paris firm and already a fan of the scheme.

"I use English all the time in my job and since I get home late, it's difficult for me to fit in lessons. So using the journey to improve my skills is a real time-saver," says the 29-year-old, as he settles down for the lesson held either in first class or another designated space in the train. [...]

Many French employees are increasingly required to use English on their jobs.

"Even if the lesson only lasts 45 minutes, practising regularly means you can improve pretty quickly and the sociable aspect of being on the train makes conversation easier," explains Calum MacDougall, the director of the SpeakWrite language institute which provides the training.

Posted by at November 23, 2013 7:38 AM

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