Speaking your language at Leeds Met
Twelve years on and three languages later, that dream has been realised for Hugh - aged 69, of Alwoodley, Leeds. Having studied French, German and Italian - all via the University's language programme - he has found it very rewarding.
For people who want to learn a language for the first time, or are looking to brush up on old skills, Leeds Met - which from 22 September will become Leeds Beckett University - has 15 part-time languages to choose from and more than 30 years' experience to share. With classes running from Headingley and City Campuses, there are also new evening 'Languages for Work' courses for beginners which have been specifically designed to contextualise a professional environment.
Speaking about his ambition to learn Italian, Hugh commented: "I began exploring my family background and I started learning Italian so that I could find out more about my ancestors and go to the house where they lived. My grandmother was Anglo-Italian and had migrated to England in the late nineteenth century - but she kept up the contact with her family home, outside Florence. My great grandfather had lived there and he was quite a prominent local artist.
"The home is a renaissance 17th century palazzo and it was my goal to go there and be able to converse in Italian and learn about my family. This was the drive behind me doing the language course at Leeds Met and the skills I had from studying Italian served me exceptionally well when we made the trip to Florence. My visit there was amazing as I was able to speak to local people about my family's history and tour the historic villa - which was being converted into a hotel. What's more the home held my ancestors' tombs and my wife and I were also able to go to see my great great grandfather's paintings which are still displayed in a gallery in Florence."
Part-time language course open days will be held in Macaulay Hall at the University's Headingley Campus from 12pm-2pm and then 6pm-8pm on Wednesday 17 September and from 11am-4pm on Thursday 25 September.
Classes are available at City Campus in Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), French, German, Italian, Japanese and Spanish, with beginners Languages for Work in Arabic, Chinese, French, German and Spanish.
At Headingley, classes are available in Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), Dutch, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish and Urdu. Language courses for teachers are also on offer, for those who'd like to teach Spanish or French in primary schools. The courses will boost employability, giving more confidence when teaching in the classroom.
Students can choose to receive a university award after every two full years of study successfully completed, including Certificates, Diplomas and BA degrees.
School teacher Rachael Woodcock, aged 42, is studying intermediate Spanish classes at Leeds Met. She said: "I teach French and occasionally Spanish but I only had a French degree so I wanted a class where I could practice my Spanish and have the option to work toward a qualification. As a family we also travel to Spain and Tenerife and I wanted to teach my children Spanish and French."
Barrister Emma Downing, aged 33, has completed her first year in part-time German and is planning to start her second year in October, as well as embarking on Chinese for beginners.
Emma, who said she had two reasons for studying German, commented: "Firstly, I am interested in German history and often visit Germany. I wanted to be able to speak the language when I visited Germany and hopefully, in time, to be able to read some of the historical texts in German. Secondly, I enjoy the challenge of learning a new language. I have visited Germany since starting to learn the language and have already used what I have learnt on the course.
"I was surprised at how much we learnt in the classes. Traditional methods of learning were combined with using the internet and our tutor created entertaining role-play scenarios from which I learnt a great deal.