Merry Christmas from Byron Bay English Language School

BBELS xmas Postal Card

2014 has been a big year for the Byron Bay English Language School. Over 900 students have entered our classrooms since January, many of whom successfully completed our Cambridge and IELTS testing courses.

Throughout 2014 students of all nationalities improved their English levels while also enjoying tours to local national parks, Fraser Island and the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. We were also fortunate in having study tours from the United Arab Emirates and Japan join our General English classes during the winter period.

We are happy to report that in 2014 BBELS established a pathway programme to Southern Cross University. This pathway enables our students to enter SCU’s courses on the recommendation of our IELTS teacher. If you would like any further information about this programme please speak with Sonia.

It is always rewarding to see students of diferent nationalities and backgrounds forming life-long friendships during their time here at BBELS. After graduating from BBELS students often travel around Australia together and we have heard of quite a few students who continue to visit each other in their respective countries.

For many of you this December 25th will be slightly different from the usual Christmas you experience back home. The Australian summer-Christmas is a good time to have a quiet BBQ or picnic outside at a park or a beach. Hopefully you can do this with your new BBELS family.

From all of the BBELS team we wish you all a very happy and safe Christmas.

Meet the BBELS staff: Jay-Dea, the Director of Studies

Jay-Dea, the Director of Studies at BBELS.

Meet the BBELS team

This month we had a chat with Jay-Dea, our Director of Studies. Jay-Dea is responsible for ensuring a high quality programme is delivered to all our students. He is in charge of the implementation and administration of all aspects of our academic programme, including the management of the teaching staff and their performance.

What is your role as the Director of Studies?

As the Director of Studies I am responsible for the academic side of BBELS. That means I look after the students and the teachers. I test new students when they arrive and allocate them into classes; organise the timetable; help new teachers with lesson plans; assist students with academic problems. Basically I try to keep the experience for the students in the classrooms as smooth as possible.

How long have you been working at the school?

I started working here in 2005. Was it really that long ago?
What is your secret to have so much success with the students?
I think the students are always happy to engage with someone who is friendly and approachable rather than authoritarian. I’ve always tried to develop mutual respect between myself and my students. This often happens over time as we get to know each other.

What do you like most about working at BBELS?

As a teacher I love the exchange of energy between myself and the students in the classroom. I enjoy watching the progress of students in their use of English and I also enjoy the process of discovering their personalities over weeks and months.
As a Director of Studies I enjoy meeting students on their first day, trying to make them feel welcome and comfortable. I also enjoy assisting teachers in the staffroom.

At BBELS everybody should …
… respect cultural and idiosyncratic differences; remain enthusiastic about learning (it was your choice to come here); enjoy the natural surroundings with classmates and local people.

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

Chris and Laura
Christian (Germany) and Laura (Spain) interviewing each other as part of an Upper-intermediate activity focussing on reported speech.

Today I spoke with Christian about his experience in Byron Bay. I began by asking what his first impression was of the town and BBELS. He explained that the people here are open-minded and very friendly. He met a lot of people on his first day. He told me that the weather is better than in Germany and the beaches here are awesome but sometimes it can be a bit windy.

Christian said that there are a lot of different cultures at BBELS and for him this is really interesting. He insisted that the teachers are very good and friendly and you can learn a lot of English.

Next I asked Christian what he had been doing after class and if he had any favourite places to go. He explained that he often goes to the beach or he stays at home in his pool. He also goes surfiing or meets his friends in town. He recommended going to his favourite places such as Tallows Beach, the lighthouse nad the tea-tree lake.

Then I asked Christian if he thought Byron Bay is safe and if he’d had any problems here. He assured me that Byron Bay is safe. He hadnt seen any fights but he insisted that you need to be careful with your bikes as they can be stolen.

My next question was about his accommodation. He told me that he lives in a student house. He admitted that he is very lucky because he has a beautiful house which is very clean and has a pool. He lives with four international girls. He told me that the house is really near the town, only ten minutes on foot or five minutes by bike.

Next I wanted to know what he has been doing at the weekends and whether he travelled around Byron Bay. He told me that on his first weekend he went to Brisbane, on the second weekend he explored around Byron Bay by bike and on the third weekend he went to Sufers Paradise.

Finally I asked him if he thought Byron Bay is a place he’d like to live for the rest of his life. He told me that it was a very good question. He said that he thought it is a nice place to live but he missed the winter and his family. I wanted to know if Byron Bay is a good place to have a family and he admitted that it is difficult because even though the people are really friendly he thought it is not easy to make a “very very” good friends.

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.