THESE ladies may be ­enjoying their golden years after decades of working and raising families but, they’re proving it’s never too late to learn a new language.

The women at Meallmore’s Antonine House care home has teamed up with Glasgow-based social enterprise Lingo Flamingo, who visit once a week to provide interactive French classes.

It comes after research showed speaking multiple languages can delay the onset of dementia by up to five years.

Staff at the home say the classes also help to improve residents’ cognitive ability, communication skills and well-being, as well as build their confidence.

But, for these ladies, it’s about one thing and one thing only – fun.

Former London-based make-up artist Janet Steele, who moved to the Roman Road care home six weeks ago, says she takes part in the classes to keep her ­entertained during her retirement.

The 79-year-old who is “going on 35” told the Evening Times: “I like to keep myself occupied and this is fun to do.

“I have fun with the staff and it’s enjoyable.

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“My hobby is languages. I got my GCSE in Russian a few years ago and I speak a little Spanish, which I picked up living in Spain for 20 years.

“The classes are ideal for me because I like to learn and I like to be dropped in the deep end and get to know all I can about a subject.

“I worried I’d lose that coming here, because my mind is fine, it’s my body which isn’t keeping up, but this helps me add a bit of structure to my day.”

The course material is designed to be accessible to all residents at the home and interaction is key when it comes to the classes.

Students focus on speech as well as using props to introduce sensory learning through touch and smell.

Through the topics covered, such as food and drink, travel and school, residents are inspired to share their own memories and stories of days gone by.

And, they also finish off the day with a little sing song of classic French songs such as Frère Jacques.

Bobby Dougan, care home manager at Antonine House, said: “We run a number of activities in the care home to encourage residents to interact and have fun and there is no doubt that the French language workshops are one of their favourites.

“We have had 16 lessons so far and it has been wonderful to see residents become more and more engaged as the weeks have gone by.

“As well as learning the language, they have also found it really interesting to learn about French culture and customs.”

Elizabeth Boyd is one resident who was keen to get involved in the programme, after spending a short time in a Parisian laboratory while working as a geneticist in the 1970s.

The 82-year-old former Glasgow University student said: “I studied anomalies in human chromosomes that might explain mental or physical abnormalities in people and when I asked my boss to send me to another lab to learn more about how we work, I never expected him to send me as far as Paris – it’s been nice for me to able to reminisce about that time.

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“I find the classes help to keep your mind active which is super because as you get older you worry about that.

“My career was wonderful because it changed so much in the time I was there and I loved that I was constantly learning. This gives me a way to keep learning.”

Judith Eck, a French tutor from Lingo Flamingo, visits the group once a week to conduct the sessions and says they’re making great progress.

She added: “One main benefit of language learning for the residents is that it gives them a “mental workout” and re-ignites language that they may have learned in school.

“We find even the quietest residents find their voices when we work with numbers or days of the week and can join in.

“There’s no worry of having ‘forgotten the words’ because everyone is at the same stage.

“The group really enjoy the lessons and they participate well.

“It’s also a great social hour – they love getting together and sharing their stories and memories and it’s a real privilege for us to hear them.”

For more information about the care home or the language courses, visit here.

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