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German News Article about Southbourne School by Udo Hoepker

The following is a German News Article that has been translated into English; this article was written from information given by Udo Hoepker and his stay here at Southbourne School of English.

You’re never too old to learn English                                                                                            12th October 2016

 Udo Hoepker started to learn the world language as a pensioner. Of course directly on site.

It is no longer classed extraordinary to to travel abroad and learn a foreign language. Students can acquire this experience as Au pairs and somewhat insignificantly older people get attracted by social volunteering programmes overseas during a gap year. But who gets the itch to do this in their mid fifties? Well, Letmathe has one resident who felt exactly this desire.

“This book is the reason why I am learning English”, Udo Hoepker starts and points on the book “My Lively Lady” written by the English author Sir Alec Rose. Then, in the 90s, he received this book after a house clearance. Printed on the book cover is a sailing boat, the lively lady. A coincidence? After all, Hoepker is an experienced sailor himself.

One day the curiosity became prevalent

“This is why I have always been interested in the content of the book, but I never understood a single word written in it.” For many years the book should stay on the shelf in Hoepker’s home in Droeschede. Until 2007, when it had become impossible for the former car salesman to ignore the ambition to learn English. Hoepker had just turned 63 and retired, when he bought himself a dictionary. “Things went quite well with the help of this dictionary. I could manage approximately one page per evening.”

At the institute of education he joined a learning group for seniors, which still exists to this day. Udo Hoepker was getting on well and made progress. “But then I thought to myself that it would be much more beneficial if only I could practice in real life circumstances.” In 2014 he came across an English language school for adults, the family run Southbourne School of English, situated in the city of Bournemouth on the South Coast of England. Only a few days ago the now 72-year-old has returned from his 6th two week trip. “To begin with we all had to sit an exam to evaluate our level before we were allocated to the most suitable class.” Hoepker has been classed “Elementary”. Before he could move up to this level, he had to pass two stages, the beginner and the starter. Looking at it from a sporty point of view, he plays in the 5th of 7 leagues. “Organised almost a bit in  military order”, he admits about the way the school is run. “You are only allowed to speak English. Otherwise you risk a date with the principal. Or if you are not in the class room after the second bell, you have to wait outside for the whole lesson.”

Together with him, a lot of (mostly younger) students from all over the world work on the improvement of their English knowledge. Hoepker got to know Arabs, Asians, South- and Northamericans, the classes are kept small. At the end of every day, teachers hand out the homework. Hoepker struggled to begin with, but soon gets a hint: A group of students does their homework together after school – in a quiet corner of a pub. Eventually, they are done for the day.

Hoepker favours the life in a host family

After finishing the homework, Udo Hoepker returns – exemplary – to his host family. “It is an opportunity which you should perceive”, he explains. Students could easily book a room in a hotel, as lots of married couples do, but this is not for him. “Guess what they do when they get back to their hotel room?”, Hoepker asks. “Exactly, they speak German.” He has not made any bad experience on the island so far, with that one exception. During his first trip to the UK he found himself in a slighlty uncomfortable situation when British Airways “mislaid” his luggage into an airplane which was heading to New York. Friends in his home village Droeschede reacted somewhat irritated when they first heard about his language courses abroad and asked, if it did not feel like a holiday, what he was doing in England. Hoepker replied: “No, it is much better than holidays.”


WAZ Udo Hoepker Oct 2016

12 Commonly Used British Colloquialisms

Here are some great examples of commonly used British colloquialisms/slang that are used all over England:

Chuffed – Proud
“He was chuffed to win the race.”

Fortnight – 2 weeks
“I will see you in a fortnight.”

Tad – a little bit
“She was just a tad smaller than her friend.”

Chap – Male or friend
“He is a nice chap.”

Ace – Cool
“That trick was ace!”

Mate – friend
“They were best mates since they were young.”

Barmy – crazy
“He’s absolutely barmy!”

Lost the plot – to become irrational/act ridiculously
“He has completely lost the plot.

Cheers – Thank you
“That was great, cheers!”

Skive – when someone doesn’t turn up for work by pretending to be ill
“He tried to skive work, but the manager caught him.”

Rubbish – refuse/waste, or when something is of low quality
Refuse/waste: “Throw the rubbish out.”
Low quality: “That football match was rubbish!”

Chin wag – to have a chat/talk with someone
“So we met up and had a good chin wag.”

Famous Idioms and Phrases

The English language is filled with idioms that can be used to express what you may want to say in a more subtle, poetic and/or appropriate manner. These famous idioms and phrases also give an insight into the principles and values of different regions cultures/society.

The ball is in your court – it is for you to make the next decision/step.actions words

Bite off more than you can chew – taking on a task or tasks that are far too big.

Don’t judge a book by its cover – do not judge someone by what they look like.

Hit the nail on the head – doing or saying something that is exactly correct.

Once in a blue moon – something that happens when it’s a very rare occurrence.

Every cloud has a silver lining – be optimistic, when times are tough, there will be good times!

An arm and a leg – when something is very expensive.

Actions speak louder than words – people’s intentions can be judged better by what they do rather than what they say!

Happy Mothering Sunday

Mothering Sunday, sometimes known as Mother’s Day, is held on the fourth Sunday of Lent. It is exactly three weeks before Easter Sunday. Mother’s Day usually falls in the second half of March or the beginning of April.

Mother and child photo - Mothering sunday 1
So a chance for all of us on this special day to say thank you to our mothers for the life and the love they have given us and remembering all that they do.

Wishing you all a lovely Mother’s day!

Mix and Mingle

IMG_0251 IMG_0242 IMG_0247 IMG_0260 IMG_0271
Mix and Mingle – when all of the students went to rooms 3 and 4 to practise speaking, was a great success. All of the students enjoyed getting to know new people, and at lunchtime a lot of those new friendships seemed to be growing!

Once again, we see the ‘big happy family’ atmosphere of the school being deepened… and Alison is happy to see so many people speaking English outside the classroom as well as inside.

More photos on our Facebook page – link available on our homepage or click here.

Happy Holidays!

All of us at Southbourne School of English wish each and every one of you a MERRY CHRISTMAS and a very HAPPY NEW YEAR filled with peace and prosperity!

Seasons Greetings from SSE


All of you, I am sure know Becky, our former welfare officer here at the school. She is now in Panama learning Spanish and will be in Costa Rica and Nicaragua – lucky girl!
While at Nicaragua, she will be helping build homes for poor people. Please see her message below and lend a helping hand and build a home for someone in need.
Becky 1
MESSAGE – ‘Hi Everyone! I am going to volunteer with a project called 4 walls in Nicaragua for 4 weeks in January. I have funded the trip myself and any donations go straight to the charity to buy the bricks for the house. 4 Walls provides safe and stable homes for families living in extreme poverty in El Sauce, Nicaragua. Nicaragua is one of the poorest countries in the Americas, along with Guatemala and Honduras. Volunteers work alongside a member of the family (who needs the house) and Nicaraguan builders to build brick houses with secure doors and protection from outside. 100% of all donations for this project go straight into buying the materials for the houses and paying the Nicaraguan builders. The cost for one house is below:
$10 = a bag of cement

$15 = 100 bricks
$75 = enough bricks for a wall
$100 = a door
$400 = a roof
$2000 = a whole house – takes 2 weeks to complete 1 house (incl. wages for a Nicaraguan bricklayer)

Becky 2If anyone wants to donate, you can give either put it in the envelope or give it to Oriana. She will then transfer it to me before I go to Nicaragua. Every little helps if anyone would like to contribute a few pounds toward the house that would be amazing. More information about the project can be found on:

I will keep you posted with photos of the improvements. Thank you for your support’!

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