How can surfing & watersports support English language learning?

Teenage student enjoying surfing in Newquay

Surfing & English: The power of waves to engage language learning

Teenage students enjoying a surfing lesson at Gwithian

One of the key things to remember about language learning – especially when you are studying at a language school – is that not all learning happens in the classroom 🙂

Of course, the classes are important and provide a perfect place to really examine how a language works, but it is also that time after the lesson when the language is fresh in your mind when you really need to put it into practice.

That is when a study holiday programme really comes into its own. That full immersion in the language. Part structured in the classroom, the other part experimenting with the language while out on adventures around Cornwall.

Whenever we go on excursions, it is fantastic to see our students’ language skills develop in the more relaxed environment outside the classroom. And the place we notice this most is on the ocean.

Whether it’s the relaxing sound and feel of the water, or the exhilaration of catching a wave that helps bring down communication barriers and raise students’ confidence, surfing, stand-up paddleboarding (SUP), coasteering and other water sports provide a wonderful location to continue our English language learning outside the classroom.  

For our blog this week, we are focusing on surfing, with its invigorating blend of adrenaline and connection to nature, it has become synonymous with the coastal cool of Cornwall. This southwestern corner of England boasts a rich history of wave riding, making it a mecca for surfers from all corners of the globe.

A Look Back in Time: The Early Days

The roots of surfing in Cornwall can be traced back to the 1920s when intrepid souls started experimenting with wooden boards, testing the waters of Newquay’s Fistral & Great Western beaches. These pioneers laid the foundation for what would evolve into a vibrant surf culture. By the 1960s, the sport gained significant traction, becoming an integral part of the coastal lifestyle.

Find out more about the history of surfing in Cornwall on the Cornish Wave website…

Why is Cornwall such a fantastic location for surfing?

Students looking at the waves at Gwenver beach

The best surfing spots in Cornwall & choosing the right one

When it comes to choosing the right spot for your surfing adventure, Cornwall offers a true dilemma: there are so many beaches to choose from and, depending on the conditions, different beaches will be better on different days. This is where are local experience and wide range of surf partners really comes into play. We love taking you to different beaches all across Cornwall and we work closely with lots of amazing surf schools who love welcoming our students into their surf lessons.

Here are our favourite surf (and water sports) schools that we love working with across Cornwall:

  • Shore Surf at Gwithian & Godrevy Beach. Situated slightly further south than our other two suggestions, these beaches are perfect for beginners. They make up part of the long sandy stretch of Hayle’s ‘3 Miles of Golden Sands’, providing ample space to practice and learn.
  • St Ives Surf School at Porthmeor. Porthmeor is one of 4 beaches in St Ives and is one of the best surfing beaches in Cornwall. It is in a fantastic location right next to the Tate St Ives art gallery.
  • Newquay Surf School at Great Western Beach. The consistent waves of Great Western Beach and its long surfing history make it one of the coolest places to learn to surf. Plus, it is in the centre of Newquay, so you are in the right place to soak up all the surf culture after your lesson too.
  • Fistral Beach Surf School in Newquay. Known as the surf capital of the UK, Fistral Beach offers consistent waves and a bustling surf culture. It’s a hotspot for both beginners and advanced surfers.
  • Smart Surf School at Sennen. Sennen Beach is situated on the southwestern tip of Cornwall, not far from the iconic landmark Land’s End. It consistently receives powerful Atlantic swells that create excellent waves, making it a magnet for surfers of all skill levels. The waves can be quite powerful, so it’s a favorite spot for experienced surfers looking for challenging breaks.

Whichever place we might go to, there is something special about getting in the ocean and enjoying water sports. It invigorates the soul in a way that not many other sports do. By doing this, it also provides a special atmosphere for quality language learning. It is for reasons like this that Cornwall offers such a special location for an immersive Surfing & English language & culture experience.

If you’re looking for a unique English language learning experience… look no further!

Megan, at Language Tree

Surf lesson in Gwithian with group of summer school students
Teenage students enjoying a surfing lesson
Students jumping for joy after surf lesson

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