On a sunny afternoon in June 2018, mid way through the 50th anniversary of Central School of English, a treasure hunt was led by David, the School Principal. The students who took part were tasked with solving a series of clues which not only led them to the next, but also provided them with an array of interesting facts about London and its history.
The game began at around 15:00 and lasted all afternoon, culminating with a celebration of chocolate cake and tea, and an award for the winning team who found all the clues in the shortest amount of time. Grouped into teams of three, each with a team leader, the students used the activity to get to know each other a little better, and get to know the city that was their home for the weeks or months they were studying with us. Each team had a sheet of paper with clues and instructions. They were also each accompanied by a teacher, in case they got lost or got stuck on a clue. Once the teams were made, the adventure began…
As one can imagine, London was crowded and full of tourists coming and going, walking fast and rushing to different places. The pace of life in London is astonishingly fast: people are always on the move, as though they’re constantly in a hurry to get somewhere. The more the students moved around the city, the more they could hear a mix of languages other than English.
While the students roamed around the city moving from clue to clue, they were led to the city’s best sights: Trafalgar Square, the National Gallery, Covent Garden, St Paul’s Cathedral, and the church of St. Martin’s in the Lane, as well as countless theatres, statues, pubs and shops. The clues also taught them about different aspects of London’s history: they discovered that Charles Dickens had worked in Chandos Place as a young boy, and that William Terriss, the ‘Colin Firth of the 19th century’, was brutally murdered outside the Adelphi Theatre by a deranged actor.
As the clues became progressively harder, it was essential for the students to keep focused and, as we say so often in English, to ‘think outside the box’. In fact, the key to completing the Treasure Hunt before the other teams was, essentially, to notice the small details that one might miss when doing a more generic tour of the city – a plaque on the wall, or an engraving on a statue.
The Treasure Hunt was the best way to celebrate 50 years of Central School of English: an activity of fun and intellectual challenge, and one that explored and celebrated our capital city.