Shalom Cohen who celebrated his 70th Birthday while studying at Languages International is now finishing his course here. We have asked Shalom to reflect on his experience at school.

Q Today is your last day at school. Can you tell us if you are happy with your progress?
A Yes, I just had my last class here but I am flying back home on Sunday, so have 2 more days in New Zealand! As for my progress, I am especially pleased with my speaking – it has definitely improved and as you can tell, I am very fluent in English now! (laughs) Of course I know my limitations, for example, listening is still a big challenge for me but this has nothing to do with the school or the way people speak; I have bad hearing so have trouble understanding my fellow Israelis, too! (laughs)

Q What do you think of the school academic programme and teaching?
A I think you have a very good system here, because you combine traditional academic programmes with games and role plays in the classroom. So what you have here is “serious fun” – which works really well for the students – especially for those of my age! (laughs) Seriously, I think that fun is an important part of the learning process; I have used lots of games during my 33 year coaching career.

Q Is there a teacher or teachers who you would like to mention?
A Oh yes, Alex who has been my teacher for most of the time, is a very, very special person. I love his lessons because his teaching style and his involvement with the class creates such a great atmosphere of “seriousness” and “fun”. I really appreciate his support and hope we will continue to keep in touch.

Q Did your experience at Languages International meet or exceed your expectations? If yes, in what areas?
A I can say that the school has met my expectations: teaching, homestay, student care is very good here. The only area that I think could be improved is the weekend activities –
New Zealand is such a fascinating country, so the tour operators should add more destinations to the list of places to visit!

Q Speaking of activities, we know that you are a keen swimmer and a very active person. Did you have a chance to travel outside Auckland to see more of New Zealand?
A Oh yes I have been on the
North Shore beaches, kayaking down Puhoi river, I have visited Waiheke Island – note my pronunciation! (laughs) and I also went to Rotorua for a weekend – loved it; got lots of pictures to share with my friends and family at home! In Auckland, apart from my daily swimming routine, I went to see Underwater World, the Auckland Zoo and took a trip to Piha, the black sand beach on the West Coast. At my age, it’s important to keep fit so I was very happy to join the Israeli folk dance club – actually, I am going to attend their dancing session tomorrow, to celebrate the 1st day of Hanukkah!
Q It’s hard to believe that 6 weeks of your stay are now gone! We really loved having you with us. Is there anything you would like to say on you last day of school?
A I would like to say Thank You to everyone at Languages International who looked after me:
teachers, reception, student services people – you are a great team! God bless and happy holidays!

(Tonight Shalom and his classmates are going to “Magical Christmas” dinner and fireworks as part of the school’s social programme)

Interviewed by Larissa Merz