"Sprechen Sie Deutsch?"
by Steve Brooke, Yorkshire Evening Post (GB)
If you want to take a short-cut to Diana's type of fairytale this could be the way.
Step 1: Cancel that trip to Tenerife.
Step 2: Arrange a two-week break in Vienna. But do it the cheap way and learn German at the same time.
For instance, there's the ActiLingua language academy to the south of the city centre, about 15 minutes from Stephansplatz.
For £440 (637 Euros) per person ActiLingua provides two weeks of tuition and accommodation. Costs drop to £399 (577 Euros) per person if you share a room.
There are standard courses with three hours of lessons per day and intensive with four and a half. All levels are catered for from absolute beginners to business German to advanced help for teachers of German.
This particular academy was founded in 1988 and teaches 1,500 students of all ages each year. Class sizes range from one (individual tuition) to 11 or 12.
The bulk of ActiLingua students are in their late teens or early 20s and the gender ratio seems about 2 to 1 in favour of the girls. But there are more mature students. One class this month contained an American man in his 70s and another a 59-year-old orchestral conductor.
A written 'exam' taken well in advance allows ActiLingua's experts to decide which band of ability to place each individual.
Incidentally, English, as a rule, is never used in class though exceptions are made for beginners.
There's an emphasis on culture, too, with a programme of social events arranged each week, either free (learn how to waltz or make WienerSchnitzels) or low-cost (trip to the Vienna Woods).
The teachers are highly motivated, mostly university trained and full of personality. They are also extremely helpful, kind and full of fun.
At a time when languages seem to be dying in the UK more English-speakers are enrolling at ActiLingua than ever before and as many as 30 per cent of the students come from the United States and Britain and the Commonwealth. Over 40 countries from as far apart as Japan, Norway and Colombia are represented.
Two week courses are crash courses and costs are significantly cheaper over longer terms.
Roland Ernst, the director of ActiLingua, points out that the academy has a world-wide reputation for teaching standard German and its certificates are widely recognised and can be taken up to University level if necessary.
ActiLingua have a website: www.actilingua.com
Or contact Roland Ernst at the ActiLingua Academy, Wattmanngasse 15, A-1130 Wien (Vienna). Email: email@example.com. Tel (from UK): 004318776701. Fax: 004318776703.