Byron Bay English Language School: Student Interviews, part one.

heiko and maria
Maria and Heiko at BBELS.

This week Caroline’s Upper-intermediate class interviewed each other as a way to practise reported speech. Caroline was so impressed with the students’ work that we have posted a selection of it on our blog. The interviews reflect the experiences of the students who come to study at our school in Byron Bay.

The first interview was between Maria and Heiko.


Today I’m here at Byron Bay English School (BBELS) in Byron Bay meeting Maria from Barcelona.
I began by asking her how long she is staying in Byron Bay. Maria expained that she will stay for seven months. She arrived in Australia on the 15th of September and began her studies at this time.

Her travel plan sounds fantastic – she is going to take a break from her studies on the 11th of December to travel around Australia for two months. In February she will continue her studies at BBELS for another month before she departs Australia at the end of March.

I wanted to know where she is living in Byron. She told me that she used to live in a share house before she bought her campervan. Now she is living in the van and loves to go and visit the stunning places around Byron in her free time and at the weekend.

At this moment I realised I was speaking to a real expert who finds out all the awesome places to visit here on the East Coast of Australia so my next question to her was, “What have you seen in Byron and this region?”
Maria recommended that a “must do” is to go to the lighthouse and have a walk on the walking track there. She explained that there are amazing views of the ocean, the beaches, The Arakwal National Park and Byron Bay itself.
Other terrific things are to walk to the top of Mt Warning, which is the highest mountain in the region and the point where the first rays of the sun meet the Australian mainland every morning. Also breathtaking are the abundant waterfalls in the region, for example “Minyon Falls” near Federal.

Maria looks very sporty so I asked her which sports activities she recommends here. Her suggestions came promptly. She said that everyone should try dolphin kayaking, surfing and local sports like cricket. I also wanted to know where I could meet other students or local people. Maria answered that it is really easy to get to know other people. Everywhere you go people want to help you or talk to you. She added that it was easy to meet other students at the school and learn about other cultures.

Byron Bay also has plenty of international restaurants and I wanted to know which kinds of food Maria liked the most. Maria explained that restaurants were too expensive for her however she loved local tropical fruit, especially mangoes.

Finally I had a last question to Maria. I asked her where you can find the best music in town. Maria said that it would be dependent on what kind of music you like. There are so many places where you can find excellent musicians playing their own songs. She advised me not to miss all the music festivals too.
I’m absolutely impressed by the variety of fabulous information I received. I’m very grateful as I say goodbye to the enchanting Maria from Spain.

(Heiko from Germany)

In our next post we will introduce you to two more students from this class. We hope that you can come here and enjoy the same experiences that Maria has described in this interview.

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Secret Talents at Byron Bay English Language School

A view of Byron Bay English Language School as drawn by our talented Korean student Sungmin Han.

Here at BBELS we have an interesting mix of backgrounds in our student population. We recently discovered that one of our long-term students, Sungmin Han, is quite a gifted drawer. Although Sungmin has never been taught the art of drawing it is easy to see that he is a naturally talented artist.

Sungmin is currently studying in our IELTS course. He hopes to score high enough in the exam to enter a graphic design course at Lismore TAFE. We wish him the best of luck.

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Culture Exchange: upper-intermediate cooking class

up-int cook

At BBELS we have discovered that one of the best ways to share one another’s culture is through food. As you can see from these photos the students from the upper-intermediate class had a fantastic time sampling food from their classmates’ countries this lunchtime.

With students from Brazil, Japan, Belgium, Spain, Germany, South Korea, and Switzerland the BBELS kitchen was filled with the smell of delicious food from each corner of the world.

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Studying at Southern Cross University: information session, Tuesday 28th at 3pm.

Basic CMYK

There will be an information session about studying at Southern Cross University tomorrow afternoon in room D5 at 3pm.

This will be an excellent opportunity for you to get information about the university courses available to international students and the level of English needed to enter those courses.

The information session will particularly focus on the local university, Southern Cross University, which has campuses in Lismore, the Gold Coast, Tweed Heads and Coffs Harbour.

Click here to visit the Southern Cross University website.


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Choosing between the IELTS and Cambridge Courses


Students at BBELS often ask us to describe the difference between the IELTS and Cambridge Mainsuite exams (FCE, CAE, CPE).

Choosing between the different courses is important, especially if your objective is related to future academic studies, sponsorhip or national citizenship.

Following is a guide to help you select the course which will provide you with the best outcome.

IELTS (International English Language Testing System):

Why is IELTS useful:

IELTS is important for students who are interested in entering TAFE colleges and Australian and international universities. IELTS is essential for students who wish to immigrate to Australia, Canada and New Zealand. If you want to work in a professional job in Australia, the USA or British commonwealth countries it is also neccessary to do the IELTS exam.

It is generally advised that academic institutions do not accept an IELTS report that is more than 2 years old.

What is the structure of the exam:

Students can elect to sit either the General IELTS exam or the Academic IELTS exam. The General IELTS exam is useful for immigration purposes and to enter non-academic training contexts. The Academic IELTS exam is suited for students who wish to enter universities and professions that use English in the workplace.

The IELTS exam tests 4 skills: speaking, listening, reading, writing. The Academic IELTS exam tests students’ reading and writing ability at a higher level than the General IELTS exam.

Speaking: is divided into General Topics, One Prepared Topic and a Discussion with the examiner.

Listening: consists of a variety of question styles. Using correct spelling is important.

Reading: consists of 3 passages. Question styles include include multiple choice, writing words, matching and summarizing.

Writing: Students will be expected to write papers which Present and Support an Opinion; Discuss Problems/Solutions; balance Two Arguments

Who can study the IELTS preparation course:

The course is open to full-time students in the Upper-intermediate-Advanced levels. Depending on the time of year the course runs for 10-12 weeks. It is a requirement that students commence in the first week of the course for a minimum of 8 weeks. Students must also sit a pre-entry test before commencing the course.

The IELTS test can be taken at the Gold Coast, approximately one hour from Byron Bay.

Cambridge 3
Graduation Day for one of our First Certificate in English classes.

The Cambridge Mainsuite Exams:

Why are the Cambridge exams useful:

The Cambridge exams are useful for work and acdemic purposes.

A pass in the First Certificate in English exam (equivalent to level B2 of the CEFR) indicates an everyday written and spoken ability in English. This is recognised by many international companies and educational institutions.

The Certificate in Advanced English is recognised by over 10,000 employers and colleges worldwide. Furthermore it is approved by the Australian government for student visas.

The Certificate of Proficiency in English is recognised by prestigious universities around the world as evidence of a high level in academic and social English.

The CAE and CPE exams are extremely difficult to pass without studying in a preparation course beforehand.

What is the structure of the exams:
There are 5 sections to the tests: Reading, Writing, Use of English, Listening, and Speaking.

Reading: There are long and short passages with different types of questions. Texts range from newspapers, fiction stories, interviews, advertisements and other media.

Writing: Two different types of writing are required. Possible formats include letters, reports, reviews, essays or short stories.

Use of English: Tasks that show grammar and vocabulary control are tested in this section.

Listening: Questions are asked about a range of recordings including news programs, presentations and conversations.

Speaking: This involves direct answers to an examiner, descriptions of pictures, pair work.

There is no expiry limit to the Cambridge reports.

Who can study the Cambridge preparation course:

The Cambridge courses are open to full-time students in the Upper-intermediate to Advanced levels. Depending on the time of year the courses run for 10-12 weeks. It is a requirement that students commence in the first week of the course. Students must also sit a pre-entry test before commencing the course.

Students are either tested here at BBELS or at the Gold Coast (approximately one hour from Byron Bay).

Our IELTS and Cambridge students always report that their vocabulary and grammatical accuracy improves dramatically throughout the preparation courses. The skills learned in the courses make our students much more employable both here in Australia and in their home country. Students also comment about the sincere friendships that are formed during the 3 months spent studying together.

The next Cambridge start date is the 5th of January, 2015.

If you would like to know more about our testing courses please contact today!





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The BBELS Team!!!

Siobhan's BBELS crew

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Manny the man at Cafe Oska

1. How long have you had Café Oska?
It is about 5 month now. We took over Café Oska at the End of February.

2. What makes Café Oska so special?
It is the global feel. It does not matter where you come from, you are always welcome. That is why we have people coming from all around the world. It is also a cool place because it is tucked away from the main street, and the lack of cars makes it unique in Byron.

3. Are there any specials for BBELS students?
Yes of course! Every day students are offered a lunch for $7, 5 instead of the normal price of $10. We also have a very affordable breakfast roll, specially made for students.

4. Do you have special events?
Sometimes we organise music events and students will usually have a special deal for these. We also do special student-nights with music or a theme. These nights are open for request! Maybe your next birthday?

5. Is there one thing you would recommend everyone try at Café Oska?
The dish that is most popular among our weekend customers is the fish curry. It is yummy! Also we have vegetarian small dishes very typical for Africa. Ask for Akara or Pantain, and you will taste something delicious.

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