Holt-based charity English Banana Trust celebrates the success of its first summer school

The team behind a north Norfolk-based charity, which aims to spread the use and understanding of English internationally for free, has been celebrating the success of its first summer school.

The English Banana Trust, based in Holt, was formed more than eight years ago after English teacher Matt Purland starting putting together free teaching and learning materials online.

Now, with more than 3,200 different free files to download and a website achieving up to 5m page views a month, the charity has upped the pace by bringing the users of the material together to learn about England and its language first-hand.

Four teachers from around the world attended the week-long summer school, held at Gresham's School in Holt from August 13.

As users of the material they were chosen out of a group of applicants to stay with host families for the week.

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Larisa Gorelova, from Russia, is an English professor at a state university and first came across the charity in 2007.

She said: 'I was doing a PhD in methodology and was working on my thesis when I came across the English Banana Trust material and it helped with my studies.

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'Since then I kept on using the materials - they are really useful.'

Maria Petrovska, from Serbia, said she often visited the website to download new material because she was not always able write up fresh resources for her classes.

She said: 'The method used (by the charity) to teach English is helpful and unique and focuses on the pronunciation of the language.'

More than 90pc of the students' trip to Holt has been paid for by the charity, which organised a series of fund-raisers such as concerts to finance their journey.

As well as learning how to use the materials more effectively the students have been able to take part in everyday scenarios to build up their confidence with the language, including visits to cafes, London and a day trip to Norwich.

Katalin Malko is currently training to be a teacher in her home country Hungary and uses the teaching methods to help her own students.

She said the best thing about the summer school had been carrying out mock lessons with the other participants.

'Before we all came here to the school we had to do a lot of preparation work and work through a course book,' she said.

'We have done a lot of work in a short amount of time and everyone has been so kind and wonderful.'

Mrs Gorelova added: 'It is every English teacher's dream to come to England. This trip has helped to break down any sterotypes we had too.'

Chairman of English Banana Trust Glyn Purland, Matt's father, oversees the Trust, leaving his son to concentrate on producing the material needed from his home in Poland.

He said: 'It's a unique concept as people from all over the world can take the resources and they have a free licence to download, print, copy, sell and distribute materials without paying anything. We are helping people to find routes out of poverty.

'This was the first time we have held a summer school and the four people we have had here have been enthusiastic and they have wanted to learn.'

He added that he was confident the charity would hold another summer school next year and would like to treble the amount of students invited to 12.

The next fund-raising concert will take place on October 20 at the Auden Theatre.

? For more information visit www.englishbanana.com or write to PO Box 35, Holt, Norfolk, NR25 9AB.

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