We have a number of one-to-one tutorial students this week, all studying in splendid, not to say monastic, isolation (for part of the day, at least).
Not that this is a problem. Some people crave solitude. Solitude affords focus and concentration. And while introversion may not be the first character trait you would choose if you were set on learning languages, since language-learning is facilitated by talking, and talking by extroversion, still, neither is it a bar to the acquisition of the skill.
Where would you go, I find myself wondering, if you wanted to balance extreme solitude with the resources to learn English?
The most remote yet still-inhabited spot on the face of the earth is by common repute the island of Tristan da Cunha in the South Atlantic, so named for the Portuguese explorer who first sighted the island, but a British Crown dependency since 1816. It numbers 267 inhabitants, few of whom possess cars, 300 cattle and 500 sheep. There is a school and a single bus. There is no airport, and ships visit a mere handful of times a year. And its capital glories in the name Edinburgh of the Seven Seas.
But it so happens that they speak English (always assuming they speak to each other at all). And there are, from time to time, employment opportunities. Just now, for example, they are looking for an agricultural advisor. Recently, they sought applications for the post of teacher in their school (and received, I understand, well over a thousand applications). They use the pound sterling and drive on the left.
So, a little microcosm of Britain, with plenty of time for study, and all the quiet and focus imaginable. Perhaps OISE should open a school there – OISE Edinburgh-of-the-Seven Seas – and advertise for teachers. I know one or two who would be tempted.