How to choose an ESL school

The entrance to BBELS

There are so many language schools around the world that it can be difficult to choose which school will be best for what you need. Here is a short guide to help you in your decision-making process.

1. Has the school been operating for a long time?

School’s with a long history will usually have experienced teachers and administrative staff to help you achieve your language goals. Their courses should also have a clear curriculum with learning outcomes that are nationally and internationally accredited.

BBELS has been operating for 21 years. This is quite an accomplishment for a small independent boutique school. During this time our teachers have developed fantastic methodologies to explain the details of English grammar in ways which are interesting to students. Our administrative team has also learnt how to support students when they first arrive as well as provide continuing assistance to our long-term students.

2. Is the school nationally and internationally accredited?

Before booking a course with a school it is important to check that it has passed the standards required within its own country as well as internationally. If a school isn’t accredited by serious governing organisations, it could easily not be delivering high quality services.

BBELS is accredited here in Australia through ASQA and NEAS.  Internationally we are proud to be members of the prestigious IALC organisation. To be accredited through these companies we are required to be inspected on a regular basis. During this process inspectors interview students and staff in order to check the school is maintaining a high standard of excellence. Inspectors also check the school building, observe classes, and view the course curriculum.

3. Does the school have positive online feedback?

Before booking a course make sure you spend time checking the school’s online feedback. Try to find reviews on Google, and comments on the school’s Facebook and Instagram pages. Be cautious of school’s that have no feedback. Also, schools with 100% positive feedback might look good but there is a big chance they have deleted any negative reviews.

At BBELS we ask our students to provide feedback when they graduate as well as to speak to us if they have any suggestions on how to improve. We are always ready to listen to new ideas.

4. Does the school have links with other education providers?

If you are interested in staying in Australia over an extended period it is a good idea to look for a language school which can provide a pathway for you to study at other institutions. If you study at a school that doesn’t have agreements with other education providers, you might not have the opportunities to extend your visa or study to your fullest potential while you are here.

BBELS provides pathways to other language schools throughout Australia. This means you can move to another part of Australia and continue studying quite easily. We also have agreements with other education providers in the tertiary sector.

5. Does the school provide discounted options for local activities and travel?

Of course your main priority should be to study hard while you are in Australia but this also needs to be balanced with the opportunity to travel around the country at an affordable rate. Students also need the chance to participate in activities after school so that they can socialise and pursue sporting or creative interests.

BBELS has a strong after school activities program. Students can participate in a range of sports such as beach volleyball and football or they can join more creative lessons such as music classes. We always get positive feedback for these activities.

Our travel desk also gets positive reviews from our students. Discounted flight and hotel prices are regularly provided by our travel officer. He makes sure that students are fully looked after with their travel itinerary.

6. Location

Before choosing to study overseas you should definitely consider which type of place you would like to stay in, whether this is for 1 week or a more extended stay of 8-12 weeks (or more). If you like the fast pace of a city it could be wise to avoid a country town, if you enjoy a slower pace of life or if you are burnt-out by city-living why not try a smaller town.

Byron Bay is one of the most desirable travel locations in Australia. We have quiet beaches, forested hills, along with a cosmopolitan-style hospitality industry which offers a wide range of healthy eating and bars to drink in. BBELS is centrally located within Byron Bay. We are a short walk from the Main Beach and there is a huge number of places to eat at during your breaks.

Before enrolling in a language course we strongly recommend that you spend the time researching each school’s suitability to your individual needs. If you have any questions about our courses or life in Byron Bay please email us directly at info@bbels.com.au or visit our website.

 

10 Reasons to Study English at BBELS

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BBELS and student bikes

Since opening in 2008 the Byron Bay English Language School has hosted over 10,000 international students. Many of our students loved studying here so much that they came back a 2nd time … some even for a 3rd time!

We are so lucky to have such a high quality school in this beautiful part of Australia. If you are thinking about studying English but you aren’t sure which school to choose, here are 10 reasons why studying at BBELS is a great idea.

  1. Academic integrity in a relaxed environment. Our teachers are passionate about teaching students of all different levels and nationalities. We identify the needs and interests of each student so that we can plan lessons according to their targets.

BBELS Teachers and Administrative team

2. Experienced group of teachers and administrative team.  The individuals in our team each speak a 2nd language, they are all well-travelled and understand the needs and frustrations of English language students. Several of our staff members love working at BBELS so much that they have been here for 10 years.

An Advanced Cambridge class on their graduation day

3. Cambridge exam success rate. Our Cambridge and IELTS exam teams are highly experienced and have successfully guided students towards their exams for years. We are very proud of the fact that the results our students achieve is above both the national and international average. Many of our Cambridge students have been able to join the company of their dreams or enter their chosen university course after studying at BBELS.

4. Activities programme. Our activities officer makes sure that there are activities after school that all of our students can enjoy. Beach volleyball, music lessons, dance lessons, yoga lessons, card games, and cooking lessons are just some of the activities that our students can join if they choose. By participating in these activities our students often make new friends while enjoying themselves outdoors.

Afternoon elective classes

5. Afternoon classes. Students in the Intermediate to Advanced level classes join “elective classes” 3-afternoons per week. Depending on the time of year, students can choose to join classes such as: vocabulary and speaking, grammar, environmental studies, Australian Studies, Business English, cinema studies. By joining these classes students have the opportunity to develop skills in the areas of their interest.

Student accommodation

6. Student houses and homestay options. We have several houses throughout Byron Bay where students can live together. We try to make sure that students only live with other students from different countries. This is a great way for them to learn about each other’s culture while practising English. We also provide the option for students to live with local homestay families. Students who take this option get to learn about the local culture while living in a family environment.

An excursion to a local forest

7. Class excursions. Trips to local villages, forests, markets and galleries are a monthly event for our classes. We always try to make sure that students have the opportunity to see places around the Byron Bay area so they can understand the local culture a bit better. It is also a perfect opportunity to use  English outside of the classroom.

The side entrance to the Laneway Cafe

8. The school (Laneway) cafe. At BBELS we are so lucky to have a school cafe. The meals are delicious and within a student’s budget. The cafe is also popular with the BBELS staff who believe that this little cafe has the best coffee in Byron Bay.

Trip to Fraser Island

9. Travel desk. BBELS has its own travel officer who has helps our students get fantastic discounts on bus and plane tickets, and accommodation in hostels and hotels throughout Australia. The travel officer also organises cheap trips to nearby towns and national parks at the weekends.

March Nationality Mix

10. Nationality Mix. As you can see from this pie chart, we are lucky to have students join us from all the continents of the world. Our students love the opportunity to meet people from different countries, many of whom make lifelong friendships while studying here.

Sunset in Byron Bay

11. Location. Yes, I know the title says “10 reasons to study at BBELS”, but here is 1 more. BBELS is located right in the middle of town. We are just a few minutes walk from cafes, supermarkets, bars and clubs. After school you can walk 10-minutes down the street to Byron Bay’s Main Beach. Byron Bay is a beautiful place to study. After school you can relax in our natural environment or enjoy cultural activities in town.

If you would like to know more about our courses contact us at info@bbels.com.au or visit our website.

 

Welcome to our new Cambridge students!!

Some of this week’s new students

This week we are excited to meet our new Cambridge students from countries as diverse as Switzerland, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Japan, the Netherlands and Spain.

Over the next 12-weeks these students will be studying hard in order to achieve great results in FCE, CAE, and CPE. They will be taught by a team of dedicated teachers who identify the students’ individual needs in grammar, vocabulary, listening, reading, writing, and speaking.

We wish this new group the best of luck over the next 12-weeks. Have fun at school and around town 🙂

 

Environmental Studies class at BBELS

Students at BBELS currently have the option to study Environmental Studies in our afternoon classes. We are very lucky to have 2 teachers with a background in both Environmental Science and Permaculture (organic farming). The teachers are bringing their knowledge into our classrooms in a way where students can learn about environmental issues while also developing their English skills. What a great combination!

Viewing a small part of the market garden

This week the classes visited an organic farm in the beautiful hills behind Byron Bay. The farm produces organic eggs, honey, and chickens for the local Farmers’Market and restaurants.

The students had a great afternoon at the farm. They walked around the organic market garden, they looked at innovative ways to catch and use fresh rainwater, and they spoke with 2 permaculture specialists about organic growing techniques.

The entrance to the farm (thanks for the photo Alvaro)

The Environmental Studies elective is a very popular class. Here at BBELS we always try to find classes that are relevant to both contemporary society and our students’ needs.

Free-range chickens – thanks again Alvaro 🙂

If you would like to know more about our Environmental Studies class or any of our other courses, please contact us at info@bbels.com.au or visit our website.

 

English + Yoga. A Special Deal.

Here at BBELS we are excited to announce a very special deal with Byron Bay’s most prestigious yoga centre. For any new enrolments for English courses at BBELS (enrolments must be for a minimum of 12 weeks) our students will receive a FREE 1-month UNLIMITED pass at the Byron Yoga Centre.

(image courtesy of Byron Yoga Centre)

What a fantastic deal for our students. The yoga centre is close to school and has classes 3 times per day. You can take as many classes as you want at these times: 7:00-8:30; 4:00-5:30; 6:30-7:30.

If you are interested in this deal (or any other course options) please contact us at info@bbels.com.au. It’s a good idea to enrol quickly as this special deal with the Byron Yoga Centre is for a limited time only.

Meet the students: Oscar from Chile

Hey, it’s Oscar!

This week we have the pleasure of introducing you to one of the nicest students that we have had here at BBELS … Oscar from Chile. Oscar arrived in Byron Bay in April and will continue studying here until April 2019. This is a great thing for the school as he brings a sense of peace, good humour and respect in whichever class he studies in.

We should also tell you that Oscar has just returned from a trip to Japan where he was interviewed by a Japanese TV show. He is going to be famous very soon 🙂

We sat down with Oscar and asked him a few questions about his life in Chile and Byron Bay.

Oscar surrounded by a few of his fans friends

Can you tell us where you are from:

I’m from a city in Chile called Viña del Mar. It is Chile’s 4th largest city on the central coast. It’s a nice place where it’s still small enough for people to get to know one another.

Why did you decide to study in Byron Bay:

At first I looked at some of the Australian cities as a place to study but I knew that what I really needed was a quiet place. I wanted to find a calming location that was natural and undeveloped. Byron Bay looked like the perfect choice.

How is your daily life here different from your life in Chile:

The biggest difference is that in Chile I had just finished High School, my life was based around class times and homework. I hadn’t experienced much time for personal freedom and growth. Here in Byron Bay I am still going to school but I am also working and earning money which allows me to travel more. I also use my free time differently … I am becoming more aware of my mental and physical health through meditation and good vegan food.

Oscar at the lighthouse with some fellow Chilean students

How do you think your time in Byron Bay will benefit you back in Chile:

I am really interested in naturopathy however in the past my access to learning about it was limited because most of the sources are written in English. Now that my English has improved I have a greater access to medical books which will help me in my future studies in naturopathy.

Being in Byron Bay has also changed the way I look at my social environment. I have learned to appreciate my friends more than I did before. I have also learned the value of self-discipline and responsibility to myself and others.

…….

Oscar is such a friendly and open-hearted student. If you see him around school or around town, make sure you say hello. We wish him luck in his future studies here at BBELS and back in Chile.

Meet the Students: Lucas and Joao from Brazil

Two friends from Brazil: Lucas and Joao

This week we are very happy to introduce you to two students who are loved by all the BBELS staff and students. Lucas and Joao are friends who studied in the merchant navy in Brazil. They then decided to come to Australia to study English so that they can improve their job prospects internationally. They have been studying with us for 16 weeks and are now finishing an IELTS preparation course. We love their positive attitude, good humour, dependability and sense of respect towards people.

Please read below for an interview with Lucas and Joao:

Why did you decide to study in Byron Bay?

We knew that the weather is similar to Brazil, that we could enjoy the day surfing in beautiful natural surroundings. We also knew that Byron Bay is a destination for Europeans rather than Brazilians so it provides a good opportunity to study English. Living here rather than in a big city we can appreciate the smaller things in life, for example sitting on the beach and watching a beautiful sunset. We don’t need all the things we had back in Brazil.

What do you like most about BBELS?

The methodology and patience of the teachers, the mix of cultures, even the building itself. We can go on trips with our classes where we can see more of the Australian culture and landscape and learn English in an authentic environment.

How do you expect the English you have been learning at BBELS to help you when you return to Brazil?

The best companies in the merchant navy are multicultural. You need to be able to communicate with other crew members in English as well as read manuals in English. We hope to prove that our English is good enough to be hired by one of these companies.

What do you like most about the Australian culture?

Australians are generally honest, they follow the rules, it creates a safe environment to live. They are also kind and friendly. People say “hi” to you in shops or in the streets, we are looked after well by the local people.

Both of you have found jobs here in Byron Bay. Can you tell us a little about them?

The work that we do is very different to back home but we enjoy it. Lukas works as a part-time support worker for an elderly woman at her house. Joao works at a local restaurant doing dish-washing. Both jobs help support us financially plus improve our English. We should also mention that we have a second job as cleaners at BBELS.

We genuinely love having Lucas and Joao at the school and we will miss them when they graduate.

If you would like to know more about our courses please contact us at info@bbels.com.au or visit our website.