Meet Patrick, the French football agent studying English in London
Many of our students at Kaplan International study English abroad to prepare for university or to expand their language skills for international careers. We spoke with Patrick, a French student at our London English school in Leicester Square, to learn about his motivations for studying English, and to learn a bit more about his career as a football agent. Read Patrick's interview about his English course in French.
Tell us about yourself. How old are you, what is your profession and where are you from?
My name is Patrick, I’m 35 years old and I am a football agent. I am a nomad. Normally I am from Saint-Etienne, near Lyon, but I often travel and I spend a lot of time in Paris.
How long are you studying with Kaplan, and what course are you taking?
I started studying in March, and I am here until in August. It’s an intensive English course. My electives are grammar and vocabulary at the moment.
Why did you choose to study with Kaplan?
I found Kaplan on the internet, because I was doing research on an English school. The first result that I found was Kaplan, and I saw that it had good recommendations, and after I came here to London, to see the difference. I visited the two schools (Covent Garden and Leicester Square) and I chose Leicester Square, mainly because the school is primarily for students who are 25 years and older.
Since you’ve arrived, do you think your English has gotten better?
Yes, of course. I learned English in school when I was young, but it’s not the same, without practice I forgot everything. Now, I start again, I get a good base, and I see the difference. I came here because of my job. Before I started school, I always called my friend to help me - I want to open an account - I want to go to a shop... and now I’m more independent. I can go where I want and do what I want. It is a big change for me, and I am very happy about this.
[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="320" caption="Patrick stands with a client, Bafetimbi Gomis, who signed with Swansea City on June 29."]
What was your English level when you arrived, and what is it now?
I started with a lower intermediate level, and now I am intermediate.
What are the advantages of studying in London, and with Kaplan?
I tried to learn English in France with an organization, but for me it was not good. I then decided to come here to learn English with immersion because then must speak English, you don’t have a choice, you have to speak English everywhere. It’s a good experience in Kaplan because there are students from around the world, and you make new friends I have friends who are South American and European, and its’ good because every day we go to lunch together, and you have to speak English. If you do this in French you don’t improve. It’s very different from learning in France, because in France you learn during the course, and after it ends, the French takes over.
What do you do with your free time here in London?
It’s complicated for me, because at the same time that I’m learning, I continue with my job so I travel frequently. When I am here I like going to salsa classes, sometimes I go to parties, I participate in the social programs. But it’s difficult because I have to travel almost every weekend, I return to France every weekend right now. I am a football agent, it’s not easy because it is the football transfer period and I have to manage my company, therefore I have to make a lot of calls, and attend lots of meetings…
What do you think of the social program at the school?
I think it’s very important: for people who come from abroad, it is not easy to know what to do, how to organize things and having the program helps a lot. Marie-Pascale, who runs the social program here, she is very kind, and very open, and proposes a lot of things to do. It’s cheaper than if you book the tickets yourself, you get a good price. You don’t know what to do in a foreign country, and you can be lazy, so it’s important.
How is student life in London?
It is easy to make friends, but it also depends very much on your personality. Even the shyest open themselves up to others and there is always someone to talk to or to get you to do something. I love meeting people from around the world, making new friends, learning about other cultures. Even though I travel a lot, I want to take part. It’s a chance to learn a lot about other nationalities, their traditions, their culture… it’s very interesting.
How do you think this course has helped your development?
Because I have to work with other countries, especially with Germany, Italy and England, and whenever I had a meeting, I had to bring someone to speak for me, and it was uncomfortable for me, because it’s not the same. I want to be able to communicate alone, to negotiate myself. It is my goal to become bilingual. For that, this course will help me. And personally, yes, it’s a very good experience for me. I made some good friends. I really like friendships, you always learn new things about your life, and you have a new way to think.
Where are you living in London?
I rent a flat in Camden Town, for me it’s not easy to share a flat with someone that I don’t know.
Tell me about your lessons. What do you think of the teaching method and the professors?
It is a pleasure to learn here. In the beginning, I was worried because it was a new experience, we do not always know what to expect, whether the class is strict or not, but the teacher that I had when I arrived, Gina, she immediately made us feel comfortable and I felt better. I have Tatiana as a teacher now and she is very good too. I think that all the teachers here at Kaplan are very good, they have different personalities, which is normal, but we learn a lot of things, I understand things in class, they are very interesting. I am very happy with this course. Also, the method, especially with the interactive whiteboards and the K+ books that change every two weeks, we learn in a fun way.
What is the difference between learning English in France and here?
When I arrived, I thought I had a good level of English, but after one month I knew I was completely wrong! The organization that I mentioned before, you have to sit in front of the computer, with headphones, and one time per week, you have a class and the rest of the time we used a computer. Here, we work a lot in groups, so we speak a lot and learn faster. We learn very quickly, and it’s very serious. When you’re on the computer, you do this, this and this, then, when you finish you forget everything. You always participate in class, and you play a game to learn English … and then when you finish your class, you continue to improve because you speak to your friends, you need to speak in English.
Do you think this course is an investment for your future?
Yes, it’s important for me, for my work. If I want to move up in my job, I need to speak English very well. For example, when I used to get a phone call from the UK, I would hesitate to answer. But now I see the difference. I feel more comfortable, I have conversations and if it happens that I don’t understand, I can say “could you speak more slowly please,” and before this I wasn’t able to do that.