Verbier Language School invited Verbier Life for a French lesson up on the sunny pistes of Verbier.

It’s not uncommon to hear people complaining there are never enough hours in the day. This is certainly the case for me, especially when I desperately grasp at reasons to explain why my French is still terrible after living in Verbier for so many years. It’s too easy for us to say we don’t have time, when the reality is, we could find the time. The truth of the matter is, my attention span in a classroom is limited – the inner child in me comes out and I start looking out of the window waiting for the lesson to be over.

The clever ladies at Verbier Language School have come up with the perfect solution for people who prefer to avoid classrooms by taking the lessons out onto the slopes. Eléonore Ribordy and Rosi Pickard started Verbier Language School 10 years ago, and have since been responsible for hundreds of happy students improving their linguistic skills.

“Combining a ski and language lesson is the perfect way for those who are on holiday and who want to make the most of their time or for people who don’t like being confined to learning at a desk” comments Eléonore.

When VLS invited me along to try one of the classes, I was keen to give it a go. A French lesson out on the sunny slopes, why not? I met up with their teacher Céline, a fully qualified Swiss brevet instructor and also an experienced language teacher who works for VLS throughout the year. Her warm happy smile immediately put me at ease. The class was about having fun, enjoying the slopes, and hopefully, improving my French along the way.

One of the main problems when learning a language is having the confidence to just talk and not feel embarrassed at making mistakes. Céline helped and corrected me when a phrase wasn’t quite right by suggesting different words or phrases as we chatted on the lifts and during pauses.

“This is a great way for children to learn a language”, smiles Céline. “They can just learn as they go along, what colour their skis are, pointing objects out. Then if we stop for a drink, they can order their own hot chocolate. It’s a fun way for them to learn a language. The same goes for adults; for some people, actually ‘doing’ is the best way to learn.”

After an hour cruising around the slopes it was time to head back down the mountain. I can certainly see how combining skiing and language lessons is a great way to make the most of your time and learn in a fun environment. For children and adults alike, it’s a fantastic way to introduce a language or improve conversational skills without even realising you’re learning. For once, the time flew by and I wasn’t looking at the clock. Now if only there was a microchip I could imbed into my brain so that I can remember all the grammar…