Meet the Staff: Max the Activities Manager


In our latest instalment of Meet the Staff we are happy to introduce you to Max. Max is a positive force at BBELS, tirelessly organising sport and cultural activities for the students after class and at the weekends. It is often during these activities that our students get to know each other in a relaxed and fun environment.

Max, tell us a little bit about yourself. Are you originally from Byron Bay?

No, I grew up in Sydney. I came to Byron with a band I was playing with at the time. And then I decided to stay 🙂

How long have you been working at BBELS? I started in August 2003 and was only meant to be here for 2 months.  It’s been a long and exciting 2 months 😉

What other fields did you work in before you started working at BBELS?  Before I started my job here at BBELS I worked as a Drama teacher at one of the local High Schools. Before that I worked as an actor for 10 years


Why would you recommend a student to come to our school?

Because there is no other place in the world like Byron. Your experience at BBELS will change your life forever and for the better.

As the activities manager, tell us a little bit about the activities and parties at school.

Well where to start … we have got a wide range of activities here at BBELS. Surfing of course has to be the No.1.  Byron is one of the surfing capitals of the world and for beginners it’s a very safe place to learn surfing . We love the beach and we have many activities that are beach and ocean related. Scuba diving is amazing and even comparable to the Great Barrier Reef. Kayaking on a sunny morning with the dolphins is wonderful and some Beach Volleyball in the afternoon always goes down well. Basically Byron Bay is a very sporty and cultural town, so there are many activities to take part in. As for our School Parties, well they are world famous (!!!) with live music where students get to showcase their talents and unwind with new friends from all over the world!!!


What are some things you’d recommend students to do while they are here in the Byron Bay Region?

Take a bus trip into the hills in the hinterland. Visit the local markets, especially early in the morning. Watch the sunrise from Cape Byron. If you like it, go mountain-biking in the rainforest. Talk to the locals in town. And last but not least be open-minded and speak English as much as you can!

Meet the students: Mily from Colombia


Mily is our latest student to be interviewed for our series focussing on our students at BBELS. Mily has been particularly liked by teachers and fellow-students for her warm and easy-going personality.

Why did you decide to come to Australia?

I’m from Colombia and the USA is close to South America so a lot of people speak Spanish there. Colombians also feel excluded from the USA; hence we look for destinations where we feel welcome. I have always thought that Australia has a better English dialect than other countries, plus the people here are friendly and love the environment, the culture is interesting and it is a beautiful destination.

How long have you been studying in Australia?

I studied for 6 months, and then my school organised a study plan which has allowed me to have time to work and make some money, and also see some new places.

What do you like best about BBELS?

The school has a special atmosphere, the teachers are friendly and patient, also the installations are beautiful. At the school we have a lot of activities and some are free which help people that don’t have enough money to travel and see new places. The classes at school are dynamic and the students have the opportunity to speak with other people from around the world!

What’s more, the students can choose different electives, which make it easy and a fun way to learn English, so you can enjoy yourself while learning!

You did some voluntary work here… Tell us about it.

I am volunteering at “Feros Care”, it is a place where elderly people live with special care and different activities. It is a good place to improve my English, because I have the opportunity to listen and speak. I also meet new people and friendships are created that make me feel at home!

 Do you have any other jobs here in Byron Bay?

I work in a restaurant (as a kitchen hand) after my class. I do babysitting and also I am an Au Pair for an Australian family, these jobs help me with my expenses, as well as giving me the opportunity for know more about the Australian culture. This extends my network of friends who support me while helping me to save money to continue my studies.


Can you also tell us a little bit about your salsa experience?

Well, the school gave me the opportunity to teach salsa dancing. It has been one of the most amazing experiences because I had the opportunity to show people about my country, our culture, our music! And the students also taught me some differences between their culture and mine.


What do you like about Byron?

I chose Byron Bay, because in Colombia I lived for a long time in the capital city, so I know the risks of living in a big city. For that reason I looked for a small place, where I can feel safe and at peace.  Now I think that I made the best choice, because Byron Bay is absolutely beautiful, I find the gorgeous beaches and its hippy atmosphere extremely friendly!

What are you planning to do next?

I want to continue my studies, I think that I need more time to improve my English and I would like to have an experience working in my profession here. Also I hope to commence a Doctorate and keep on studying in Australia! For the moment, my plans for next year are to continue studying English at BBELS, to help prepare me to do the IELTS exam, and study age-care at TAFE!


BBELS: English + Chef Program

Chef Program1

Students studying Commercial Cookery at North Coast TAFE (photo courtesy of TAFE)

Are you interested in working as a chef and improving your English in one of the most beautiful and touristy places in Australia? Then we can offer you some very special programs at BBELS.

Byron Bay is booming and more and more trendy restaurants are opening in town. Especially during our high season (September – March) there is a big demand for chefs from overseas. We have already placed some of our students in different restaurants in Byron Bay, and they are enjoying their Australian work experience a lot.

Monica, a qualified chef from Mexico, is one of those happy students. Read Monica’s success story here.

Chef Program2

Our Brazilian student, Bruno, having fun in the kitchen.

At BBELS we offer you the opportunity to combine a 12-week IELTS course at our school with an advanced diploma in commercial cookery afterwards.

Upon successful completion of the IELTS exam preparation course at BBELS, it is possible to choose between two different pathways to get a diploma in hospitality.

North Coast TAFE in Kingscliff offers a ‘Certificate IV in Commercial Cookery’ for one year, and an additional ‘Diploma in Hospitality’ for one more year.

Overall, you would be studying for up to two years at a highly recommended school with great cooking facilities, in a beautiful environment just 30 minutes away north of Byron Bay.

Alternatively, you can combine your IELTS exam preparation course with hospitality courses at a local vet school for up to 145 weeks.

This is a smaller VET school offering the following courses:

  • Certificate III in Commercial Cookery
  • Certificate IV in Commercial Cookery
  • Advanced Diploma of Hospitality

To kick-start your career as a kitchen-hand or chef, you can also join the BBELS Job Club, and we will try to help you find your first job in hospitality in Byron Bay.

To receive further information about our ‘English plus Chef’ packages, please send us an e-mail to:

Why study the IELTS and Cambridge courses at BBELS

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Taking one of our test preparation courses at BBELS is a perfect way to pass the Cambridge and IELTS exam. Each of the teachers chosen to teach the courses have had years of experience in preparing students for the exams and therefore our students have a high pass rate.

Before allowing students into our testing courses we ask each student to complete a test which checks their levels. This 1 ½ hour test focuses on speaking, listening, grammar and writing. Students are then put into class depending on their test result. Students need to have completed studies at an Intermediate level in order to be accepted into our IELTS and FCE courses, and potential CAE students need to have completed an Upper-intermediate course. Our careful testing of all students at this early stage means that our classes flow smoothly throughout the duration of the course.

BBELS teachers have regular Professional Development sessions where they share ideas on teaching methodologies related to the various areas of the exams. These professional development sessions always result in the teachers creating new resources for the testing courses. In doing so, the teachers provide their students with lessons that are specifically tailored to the requirements of the exams and our students .

Each week students in the testing classes focus on individual points of grammar and vocabulary that allow them to successfully answer different parts of the exam. Classes are tested each week as a way to check individual student progress. This helps the teacher identify any weaknesses in the students’ comprehension of what has been studied. These tests also familiarise the students with the format of the Cambridge and IELTS exam.

Our testing courses run for 12 weeks with the exception of one 10-week course per year. We believe this is enough time for students to develop their skills in all areas of the exams. As we are an authorised Cambridge testing centre we are able to test our Cambridge students here at the school, this includes the paper-based exams and the speaking exam (this is subject to student numbers). This means our students can take the exam in a familiar environment allowing them to feel relaxed.

Our regular IELTS teacher is also an IELTS examiner so she knows exactly what the students need to know before they take the test. Because of this our IELTS students always do particularly well, with many of them continuing to study at universities in Australia and overseas.

Studying one of our testing courses at BBELS is also a great way for our students to make friends both in and out of the classroom. Students can study in a multicultural classroom with students from Europe, Asia, and the Americas. Outside of the classroom students can live in student-houses provided by the school. Here they can live with students from differentschool-classes and countries, expanding their circle of friends in Byron Bay.

BBELS holds regular Friday night parties at the school so that students can meet more people outside their classroom and share-house environment. This is a great way for students to unwind and recharge after a week of study and tests. Activities are also organised by the school each weekend which students can participate in, allowing the students to balance the demands of an exam course with a more relaxed lifestyle.

As Byron Bay is a small town everything is easily accessible by bike or on foot. Students often talk about the friendliness of the townspeople and so they make friends with locals quickly (if they are not too shy). It is common to see students and locals together at cafes and pubs, or surfing at one of our quiet beautiful beaches. Communicating with the locals builds the students’ confidence, something that is very important when they take the exam.

So on both academic and social levels students who choose to study a testing course at BBELS have the potential to do very well. We provide the framework for student success; the rest is up to the hard work and discipline of each individual student.





Byron Bay from the air

Byron from South

Looking north to Cape Byron, Australia’s most eastern point.

How lucky we are to live in Byron Bay! With its beautiful beaches, warm climate, small population and healthy lifestyle Byron Bay really is the best place to live, work and study.

This week our school Director took some photos of Byron Bay and its neighbouring regions as he flew over the town in a gyrocopter. The photos show you how our little town is surrounded by long stretches of coastal forest and heathland, and let’s not forget our uncrowded surfing beaches.

P1000234Looking south to Broken Head Nature Reserve and the nearby neighbourhood of Suffolk Park.

Many of our homestay families live in Suffolk Park, just a short bike ride to Byron Bay. The surfing along this beach can be quite good for more experienced surfers and is a perfect place to watch the sunrise.


Broken Head Nature Reserve

Teachers at Byron Bay English Language School often take their students to Broken Head to study the local environment and the Indigenous history of the area. We believe that our students become happier living in Byron Bay when they learn more about its social, environmental and historical context.


Wategos Beach and Cape Byron Lighthouse

One of the best ways to start the day is to walk along Wategos Beach up to Cape Byron. Here you can catch the first sun to reach Australia each morning. You can also see spectacular sunsets from this point. Our teachers regularly take their students to watch whales, dolphins and stingrays swimming through the clear blue water. It’s always a magical experience for both the students and teachers.

These photos only show a small part of this picturesque region, there is still so much more to see here. It really is a perfect place to balance study with travel.

A Class at Springbrook National Park

Natural Bridge
Natural Bridge waterfall on the New South Wales-Queensland border.

A drive to the ancient forest at Springbrook National Park was a beautiful way for the Upper-intermediate class to start their week. With music pumping their teacher, Andrew, drove the school van from the blue beaches of Byron Bay to the green and misty mountains of Springbrook.

In the forest our students walked through a primeval forest with some trees said to be  3,000 years old. It is easy to imagine dinosaurs walking through this wilderness!


At BBELS we always try to take students outside of the classroom and into these local areas so that they can understand a little bit more about the Australian culture, wildlife and lifestyle. We think that this helps our students adapt to life in Australia and it also builds friendships between students in the class. Every trip also includes lessons introducing students to vocabulary and grammar that can be used while out in the field.

Thanks to our student Morgane for these photos.