Dasha White, The White Apple Company founder
I founded ‘The White Apple Company’ out of a passion for the English language and a personal understanding of the joy and challenges of learning it. The story of my own learning journey is part and parcel of the Company, and the reason why we have such high standards and are so committed to our students.
I was brought up and educated in Belarus with a Siberian father and Belarussian mother. My family have always worked hard to make the best of themselves, making the most of the gold rush in the 1800s before starting anew after the Soviet Revolution. My great grandfather became a renowned surgeon and has a museum dedicated to his life and achievements. One grandfather was the youngest director of Uranium Mines and later the first director of Belaruskali, now one of the world’s largest producers of potash, the other grew up in a small village in Belarus and worked his way up to become Deputy Finance Minister. My parents both inherited this drive and ambition building their own successful careers and they passed their work ethic on to me.
Straight from primary school through to university I always loved learning English. I initially followed in my family’s footsteps, starting my own business as a Financial Advisor and Independent Auditor, but carried on studying English with a private tutor. Although I loved developing my English skills, little did I know how much my life would change and how important my English studies would become!
In 2000 I moved to England with my eight year old daughter Julia. I was determined to integrate into the new culture and become a part of it. Julia couldn’t speak English at all and I taught her through a crash course of very intensive lessons. It wasn’t easy for an eight year old to ditch her toys for text books all day long, but she worked hard and after only three months was confident enough to start school and enjoy all her school activities. Her success story even featured in a local newspaper which praised her dedication and hard work.
When we moved to England I assumed that my level of English would be good enough for day to day communication, but I soon found that having only learnt and communicated in English with non-native speakers my language skills let me down. I found it hard to keep up with the pace at which native speakers spoke, and even though my new home was in Stratford-upon-Avon, the beautiful hometown of William Shakespeare, I didn’t feel comfortable in my new surroundings. I had so many worries and doubts: Would Julia and I ever be fluent in English? Would our accent fade away? Would we be accepted in the local community? Would I ever have true close friends? Would I ever understand how things were run or British traditions? Now all these years later I have embraced this great country of England as my own. I am happy, settled, confident, and surrounded by family and friends.
I have been running my own business in the UK for twelve years, and the memories of my first few years in England and my personal journey are the driving force behind everything we do. I started the company to help my friends and family back home in Belarus and Russia to improve their English, and am thrilled to see how much we’ve grown. The loyalty of our first clients really touched me and gave me the drive to spread our help and expertise further. We now have clients from Italy, Spain, Brazil, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia and are fully dedicated to expanding further.
Our speciality is live online English language tuition for individuals, groups and businesses, with fully qualified British teachers. In addition to teaching individual students of any age and skill level, we also offer group lessons for up to 25 participants using our online teaching platform Online English Classroom. This enables students to join a live lesson with a British teacher who conducts mid-course evaluation tests and final assessment tests for every student. We employ only UK-based, fully qualified and experienced native English speakers, and have created over 20 different formats for teaching our online English lessons suitable for every learning style whether visual, auditory or kinaesthetic. We pride ourselves on meeting peoples’ specific needs and over 500 lesson plans have been written by teachers to address specific learning requests made by our students. Nor do we limit ourselves to conventional conversational and exam preparation lessons. We cover a huge range of language needs including: Business Role Plays and Executive English Coaching; Job Interview Preparation; Polite and Diplomatic English; Pronunciation and Accent Training; English for Young Learners; Professional Development for Overseas Teachers of English; American vs. British English; a TEDtalks based Discussion Club; a Book Club; Movie Club and much more. We also have a comprehensive digital library of teaching materials and book sets to help students get the most out of their studies with us whatever their course.
Our expertise also supports the UK jobs market: UK companies often look to employ skilled foreign workers in sectors such as catering, live-in care, construction and building and hospitality. However, foreign workers often have limited English skills, which precludes them from applying, or which lets them down when they are selected, thus damaging confidence and even preventing them from continuing in their employment. We’ve found that in the live-in care industry in particular, workers struggle to establish relationships with clients due to a lack of knowledge of British traditions and culture. The White Apple Company helps UK businesses to maintain a skilled workforce by providing specialised online learning courses including: English for Carers; English for Hospitality and Tourism; English for Restaurant Staff; English for Finance and Accounting; English for PAs and Secretaries; English for Construction; Legal English and IT English. We also offer a ‘Living in the UK’ course and ‘British Traditions and Culture’ lessons.
The White Apple Company is also partnered with the UK’s leading British Council Accredited schools and colleges to offer our clients the chance to come to London, Oxford or Stratford-upon-Avon to continue their studies with full immersion English courses or International GCSE and A Level courses. We also work with a network of agents in Baltic countries, Russia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine and other former USSR states to deliver our expertise and diverse range of courses to students.
Based on my own experience I can relate to our students’ needs, whether they are a business professional needing to improve their English with limited time available for study, a job seeker looking to work in an English speaking country, a shy young learner needing conversational practice to pass an English exam, or an anxious parent considering sending their child to England to study. I speak personally to every new student to establish their needs and aims before passing them on to the most appropriate teacher. After a free trial lesson with their teacher, an Individual Teaching Plan is developed for each student. I’m incredibly proud that 99% of students who experience one of our trial lessons sign up to a full course with us.
I know how important the personal touch is when you are learning a foreign language or visiting or staying in a foreign country, and our personal approach to supporting students online or during their stay here is second to none. We provide continued support for our students and pride ourselves on the fact that the majority of our online students stay with us for over 18 months. We know our learners can and do trust us and talk to us.
In 2000 I made a huge change in my life. I learned a great deal in the process and founded the White Apple Company because of my own experiences. I am extremely proud that we now help other people change their lives and feel more confident about their English. I’m also proud and privileged to work with a team of experienced, passionate and dedicated colleagues. They are true professionals, putting the quality of our services above everything else, and constantly inspiring me to move forward and set new goals. No job is too big or too small. We look after every client personally and we love new challenges. It may be a long way from Siberia and Belarus but I’m every bit as committed and passionate to the White Apple Company as my family were to their personal journeys. I love helping other people achieve their own dreams and ambitions by empowering them with their English, and that I can do this based in the beautiful and historic English town I now call home.
“Language is the road map of a culture. It tells you where its people come from and where they are going”. ~ Rita Mae Brown