Graduation Day at BBELS


Some of our recent graduates

Every Friday our classes finish at 12:15 so that we can say goodbye to our students who are graduating. The staff and students listen to the graduates as they give speeches expressing thanks to the teachers for their hard work, emotional goodbyes to their new friends, and motivational words encouraging their classmates to enjoy everything the school and Byron Bay has to offer.

Ryuji with with his certificate of completion on graduation day

Many of our students express how nervous they are feeling to be giving a speech in public but all of them feel as though they have achieved a goal in their English language learning to have stood before a group of people and deliver a monologue in their 2nd language. The teachers are always especially proud of them.

Another happy student receiving her certificate of completion

Another great thing about the graduation ceremony is the chance to listen to Max (our activities officer) talk about the weekend activities he has organised. He always has so much for students to do at the weekend including bus trips to national parks, shopping centres, or cultural events.

See you at graduation this Friday 🙂

Study IELTS at BBELS

Our next IELTS course starts on Monday June 19th. It is always one of our most popular courses and our students have achieved some really great results. This post will explain a little bit about the IELTS exam and answer some of the common questions that our students ask.

What is IELTS?

IELTS (International English Language Testing System) is an exam that tests your ability in English. More specifically, it examines your levels in reading, writing, listening, and speaking. The IELTS certificate is recognised by 10,000 institutions around the world.

There are 2 types of IELTS tests: IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training.

IELTS Academic is suitable for students who want to study at universities and colleges. It is also suitable for professional accreditation in certain jobs, these include: healthcare, accounting, engineering, law, tourism, finance.

IELTS General Training is suitable for students who are interested in applying for visas. It is especially helpful for students who want to migrate to Australia, New Zealand, the U.K, Canada. We often recommend our students to take this exam if they are interested interested in getting an internationally recognised certificate which shows their level of English.

What is the test format?

The test is divided in listening, reading, writing, speaking. The listening format is the same for both Academic and General.

Listening (30 minutes):

You listen to 4 different recordings of native English speakers. These will include: a conversation between two people; a monologue in a social context; a conversation between up to 4 people; a monologue on an academic subject.

Writing (60 minutes):

Academic test: You will be presented with 2 tasks. Task 1 requires you to describe a graph or diagram. Task 2 requires you to write an essay.

General test: Task 1 asks you to write a letter in a semi-formal or formal style. Task 2 asks you to write an essay.

Reading (60 minutes):

Academic test: includes 3 texts from books, newspapers, whose vocabulary and topics are suitable for those at a university level

General Test: includes texts from books, newspapers whose vocabulary and topics are suitable for those who understand English on a general level.

Speaking (11-14 minutes):

The speaking test is divided into 3 parts. You will be asked to talk about yourself; speak about a particular topic; extend a discussion by expressing ideas and issues.

 

Our IELTS courses are a great way to improve your English level. You don’t have to do the exam, you can simply study in the class, however we do recommend it. We always receive great feedback about our course.

If you are interested in joining our next IELTS course (June 19th start date) please come and speak with us at reception or contact us at info@bbels.com.au.

5 Reasons to Study at BBELS in Winter

The BBELS building

Because Byron Bay is a beach town most of our students come to study here during summer. What they don’t realise is that some of the best experiences at BBELS and in Byron Bay are found during winter. This post will explain why winter is such a perfect time to study and live in Byron Bay from May-September.

Academic life:

During winter we generally have a smaller number of students at the school. Many of our students who  studied here during past winters said that they loved the intimacy of the school during the quiet time of year – they were able to make friends more easily and they enjoyed smaller class sizes. Past students also said that they had less competition finding student accommodation and accessing other facilities compared with the busier summer months.

Whale watching:

The winter period is a fantastic time of year for anyone who is interested in watching the whales migrate along Byron Bay’s coastline. Over several weeks you can see whales from the lighthouse and the local beaches. It is a great experience for locals and international visitors. The school can help you organise boat tours so that you can see the whales from a short distance.

A humpback whale photographed underwater from a local tour boat


The weather:

Byron Bay is a comfortable place to stay in winter – we enjoy warm days (with none of summer’s humidity) and cool nights. It is still possible to wear shorts and a t-shirt during the day but pack a pair of pants and a sweater for night-time. The coldest month in Byron Bay is July where the average maximum is 19.4 ÂşC – not bad for the middle of winter 🙂

The beaches and surfing:

 

A view from the park at Main Beach

In winter there are less tourists in the town so the local beaches are very open and quiet. The beaches are a perfect place to relax in the afternoon when class has finished.

 

What many of our students don’t know is that some of the best waves can be surfed between April-September. The water is still warm enough for surfers to wear a spring-suit (though a light full-suit might be needed some mornings). With so few surfers in the water this is a perfect time to learn how to surf, or for the more advanced surfers it is a great time to catch some long waves.

Hinterland tours:

A view towards Minyon Falls in Nightcap National Park

Byron Bay has some amazing local forests with short and long walks which our students enjoy. Winter is a great time to explore these forests because it isn’t so humid and walking is therefore a lot more comfortable. BBELS often organises school excursions to these forests during the week and also during the weekends.

If you are interested in enrolling at BBELS please visit our website or contact us directly at info@bbels.com.au

 

Student’s story: how to achieve a dream

In this week’s student story Sara from Spain talks about the steps she took to come to study here at Byron Bay English Language School. It is an inspirational story and we hope it motivates other people to pursue their dreams …

After working for ten years in the same office I decided to abandon my comfort zone and chase my dream: to live for 1 – 3 years abroad, as far as possible away from home.

This wasn’t an easy decision and most of the people I know wouldn’t dare try it. However, if you are reading this article, you have already gone half-way.

Follow these tips to achieve your dream, they are based on my own experience.

  1. Start by writing on a piece of paper what you would love to achieve and the steps you have to take. It’s very useful to make sure you know what you want. Don’t panic if you have doubts at the beginning.
  2. One classic mistake is to rush into things. Take your time to save money and organise your steps. Everything needs its own time, be careful not to make decisions in emotional circumstances.
  3. Tell everybody about your dream. Take every opportunity to talk about it with your friends and family. It is absolutely essential that you are not embarrassed  – you are doing something very brave. Always remember this: if you follow your dreams the universe will conspire. People that love you will help you to achieve it.
  4. Make as many contacts as you are able to. It’s better to have several telephone numbers in case of an emergency. The last thing you want is to be alone away from home.

Good luck and at least try it!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from BBELS

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The entrance to BBELS

It has been a big year here at Byron Bay English Language School. We have had over 1,000 students enter our classrooms from all parts of the world. We are now in our last week of school for 2016 and our remaining 130 students are planning their Christmas holidays.

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A graph showing the success of our March CAE class

This year our Cambridge Exam Preparation courses were highly successful. Our students continued to get great results in FCE, CAE, and the CPE exams. The BBELS Cambridge Exam teachers have become highly skilled in delivering the strategies and skills needed for our students to pass the exams. We may live in a relaxed beach town but our teachers motivate their students to achieve their potential.

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Our students at Fraser Island

Although academic integrity is our highest priority we also appreciate the fact that our students need to have fun outside the classroom. Our activities team worked overtime this year sending students to Fraser Island and helping them buy discounted tickets to different parts of Australia.

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The BBELS Australian Football League team

Our activities manager, Max, was very busy organising regular activities each afternoon. These included surfing lessons, snorkelling and scuba diving, sky-diving, music lessons, yoga classes, polka tournaments. These activities were often free or at a discounted price. Max was particularly proud of his AFL team (shown above).

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One of our students from the United Arab Emirates study tour

During winter we had 5 study tours visit us from Japan, Laos, and the United Arab Emirates. These younger students got the chance to study in multicultural classrooms, live with homestay families, and improve their English.

From all of us at BBELS we wish you a very happy Christmas. We hope to see you here in the new year 🙂

Wherever there are friends, there is a party!

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School life at BBELS is not only about learning but also about spending time with your friends and getting to know people from many different countries. It is another important aspect of your experience here in Byron Bay.

That’s why we offer a variety of parties and fun activities at our school. From regular school parties to poker game nights to DJ nights with special guests at the Laneway Café (previously Café Oska), we have it all!

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Our regular school parties are held every two weeks on Friday evening. You can have a nice time with all the students from BBELS and enjoy some great live music on the school’s balcony.

A special event, which usually takes place five or six times per year, is our Buddy Barbecue. In this case, every student gets his or her own Buddy who will be their partner for the free barbecue dinner. We mix all the students so that they are not from the same class and not from the same country. Therefore it is a great opportunity for them to get to know other students of different nationalities and to have an interesting conversation in English.

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What’s more we organise an international student party night at BBELS and for that event we invite not only our students but also the students from other schools and colleges here in Byron Bay. During summer it takes place once every month.

And there’s more! Depending on the number of students who are interested we have a poker game each Monday. Here you can practice your poker skills for the real competition which might be waiting for you.

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If you are not interested in playing poker, you can join one of our Open Balconies which are held on a Wednesday evening once or twice per month. It is an informal get-together for our students to relax on the school’s balcony with their friends.

Enjoy your time at BBELS!

Highest Rating for BBELS Cambridge Test Centre

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One of our Cambridge Advanced English classes on graduation day

In order to continue our role as a Cambridge Testing Centre we are visited each year by an inspector who checks that we are fully compliant with the rules and regulations issued by Cambridge. The inspector checks our administrative history and observes our team as we carry out the test throughout the day.

The Cambridge inspector visited our centre this week and we are very proud to say that we were awarded the Highest Rating for compliance as a testing centre. Part of the report stated:

Congratulations on your centre being awarded the highest rating. We would like to take this opportunity to compliment you and your colleagues on this successful outcome and the positive contribution you have made to our high standards.

Clear and consistent communication between invigilator, DoS/CEM / Senior staff ensured a smooth test administration.

We have shown in previous posts  the good results that our Cambridge students achieve. Now this evaluation by the latest inspection shows that we can be trusted to make the test day as reliable and smooth as possible for our students.

Byron Bay English Language School is a fantastic place to prepare for the Cambridge exams. The next Cambridge Exam Preparation Courses start on January 3rd 2017. If you are interested in obtaining any further information about our exam courses and start dates please contact us at info@bbels.com.au.