4 good reasons to study English in Wimbledon – a local’s perspective
Choosing where to study English in London can be tricky – with so many options and so much going on, where do you start? Sometimes it’s useful to get advice from those who live there and know the city well.
But first, consider what you’re looking for. Being close to the action? Check. Parks? Check. That quintessential London feel? Check.
If this sounds a bit like your wish list, and you’d also prefer to be in a spot where you have space to breathe and kick back at the end of the day, Wimbledon is definitely worth exploring. Having lived and worked in the area for many years, I can safely say this is the place to be.
You probably already know a bit about Wimbledon because of its reputation as the spiritual home of tennis. But there’s lots more on offer here too.
Let’s explore this beautiful part of south London a bit more. Here are four things you could enjoy while studying here.
Wimbledon Tennis Museum
Whether or not you’re a tennis fan, and even if you’re that tennis player who hits the ball over the fence (the outer one rather than the net in front of you), this museum has so much to offer you.
Located in the picturesque village area of Wimbledon (you can see some photos of the village here), the grounds offer magnificent views over the whole of London for you to enjoy before embarking on a guided tour. In small groups you’ll be able to practise your listening and speaking skills as you’re invited into parts of the grounds that are normally closed to the public – the TV interview room is a personal favourite of mine.
The guides are from different parts of the country, meaning you can familiarise yourself with different accents. It’s a great way to meet people from all over the world and have a chat over a cup of coffee, a Pimms or a glass of sparkling wine.
The on-site museum allows you to experience life stretching back to Edwardian times, with lots of historical artefacts and fun interactive quizzes. Admire the classic wooden rackets of old or gasp at the number of times the same name appears on the magnificent Champions’ trophies.
The shop is a must too – particularly if you’re looking for gifts to take back home at the end of your stay. Of course you could splash out on a new racket, but personally, I recommend one of the colourful T-shirts or towels. The designs change each year, so you could build up a collection when you come back for another study period.
Oh and don’t forget to try some strawberries and cream. After all, Wimbledon tennis is an important part of British culture and unique in its atmosphere.
Wimbledon Common and Cannizarro House
So, you’ve met some new people and now you want a chance to relax and spend some time with them. Head across to the wide expanse of Wimbledon Common for a brisk walk, or join one of the local walking or running groups who regularly meet during the week and at weekends. You’ll be in good company, with participants from all age groups.
If you’re not too out of breath afterwards, you can end your exercise with a cup of tea and a chat at the Windmill Café – yes, I did say Windmill! Wimbledon has its very own special windmill that is now a small museum open to the public at weekends. It’s a really good place to brush up on your reading skills as you learn about the history of this quiet corner of London.
Next head back to the village for a stop at Cannizarro House. This elegant building is now a smart hotel-restaurant with a stunning modern bar that overlooks the imposing garden – just the place to go to at the end of a busy week if you want to work on your English grammar with a friend. It’s popular with locals and visitors alike, so you won’t be short of opportunities to improve your speaking fluency. Ask them about the last duel that was fought on the Common or how the landmark Caesar’s Camp got its name.
Studying a language involves studying its history, and Southside House is a chance to let your imagination fly back to times when horse-drawn carriages zigzagged down the steep hills of Wimbledon, and cows and sheep grazed on the Common.
This truly unique house presents a fantastic opportunity to listen to a fascinating guide as they take you through centuries of family history in a stately home that has remained largely untouched since it started out life as a medieval farmhouse.
Some of the stories you’ll hear are hilarious, while art and music lovers will enjoy the sheer magnificence of this building and its sweet garden – a quiet haven to relax in and take some photos. Ask lots of questions as you’re taken round and challenge your reading skills by buying one of the many books for sale at the end of your tour.
If you’d like to meet people, go to one of the classical concerts on offer. Spaces are limited so you’ll definitely get a chance to chat in the interval. They also offer candlelit tours for those who want an idea of what life was like before the age of neon-lights.
Merton Abbey Mills
Finally, walk back down the hill and head for Merton Abbey Mills, where you can learn about one of Britain’s leading designers, William Morris, who had a textile factory in this area. His work can be admired at the Victoria and Albert Museum in the tearoom that still bears his name. Why not set up a study project with other students and find out all you can about this fascinating man and his highly creative friends?
So there you go. These are only a few of the things you can see and do in this part of London. Wimbledon really is a very friendly and welcoming place to come and study English – hope to see you here soon!
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