Koeman is as good as his word

By SFC Media Tue 24 Jun Club

Ronald Koeman is spending the last week before starting his job as Southampton manager in earnest by brushing up on his use of English.

The Dutchman stated on arrival that his grasp of the English language was “not so perfect”, but those who watched his first interview with Saints last week will have seen that he already has a clear understanding and ability to converse with the natives.

However, when he was quoted saying that he would be “visiting the nunnery” over the coming days to prepare properly, Koeman wasn’t joking.

The 51 year-old told his 500,000-plus Twitter followers on Tuesday morning that he had checked into the Regina Coeli Language Institute in the Dutch town of Vught. 

Vught lies in the south of the Netherlands, on the outskirts of Eindhoven, and it is here that for generations people have stopped by to develop their language skills.

Koeman is the latest to check in at the institute, which was founded in 1903 by the Sisters of the Holy Order of St Augustine, who were part of an international education congregation. 

They set to help people learn new languages, and the story soon spread that you had to go to ‘the nuns of Vught’ if you wanted to learn a language quickly and well. 

Soon, a convent was built there with a girls’ secondary education boarding school named Regina Coeli – or ‘queen of hearts’. Over time, the language-training laboratory grew in stature as it was quickly discovered by ambassadors, politicians and well-known Dutch figures to maintain its popularity through to the modern day.

So what can Koeman expect from his concentrated programme of learning a language?

Already a fairly accomplished English speaker, Koeman will be on an individual course as it is the most effective way to take his language skills to the next level.

This can include private lessons from different language trainers and challenging independent study assignments, as well as having lunches and dinners where only English is used.

The students’ environment is also key to this form of learning. Research suggests that a secure and peaceful setting can inspire much more than trying to fit in the hours during a regular working day.

This form of learning is not uncommon, nor is Koeman the first football manager to take up intensive lessons, with his former roommate at Barcelona, Pep Guardiola also a fan.

During his one-year sabbatical from the game, Guardiola hired a German teacher in New York with whom he would study for up to four hours a day in preparation for his current role at Bayern Munich.

It paid off for the former Barcelona boss who, according to his agent, trained “like a madman” in order to make the right first impression on his new club.

Four trophies at the end of Guardiola's first season in Munich is perhaps testament to that level of preparation, and something which Koeman can only be further inspired by.

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