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.

 

BBELS Flexi Program: an interview with Carlos and Ana

Ana and Carlos (from Spain). Two students enjoying the BBELS Flexi Program

Did you know that BBELS has connections with other English Language Schools throughout Australia? These connections allow our students to easily move between schools in different cities if they enrol through our Flexi Program.

What is the BBELS Flexi Program?

We know that some students are keen to study at BBELS however they are concerned that Byron Bay may not be the right place for a long enrolment. This is why BBELS has created the Flexi Program. It provides students studying long term at BBELS (24 weeks or more) with the opportunity to move to a city school after completing 50% of their course. The BBELS Flexi program therefore gives some assurance to our long-term students that they can change destinations if Byron Bay is not “their place”.

We have found that only 5% of our students choose to move once they have been studying here. The other 95% choose to stay in Byron Bay due to friendships, work, the relaxed culture of the town, and of course because of our wonderful teachers and staff.

To learn more about our students’ experience on the Flexi Program we interviewed Carlos and Ana. Please read their interview below.

Flexi Program: interview with Carlos and Ana

Ana and Carlos at Byron Bay’s Lighthouse

This week we spoke with Carlos and Ana, a Spanish couple who enrolled through the Flexi Program. These 2 lovely students arrived here in February and recently decided to stay until August. We sat together to discuss what concerns they had before they arrived and why they decided to stay at BBELS.

What were your concerns about studying in Byron Bay before you arrived here?

Ana: we knew that we would be studying during winter and we weren’t sure if we would be able to find work. Luckily we have both found jobs here.

Carlos: also, we didn’t know if we would still be enjoying the lifestyle here after 3 or 4 months. We felt like we needed the security of a flexible program.

Why did you decide to study in Byron Bay?

Carlos: we were living in Barcelona where it was very stressful. We needed to have a break from that life. So we preferred to live in a town rather than a city.

Ana: we also liked the position of Byron Bay. It’s in the centre of Australia’s east coast, so we can easily drive north or south to see different parts of the country.

You recently decided to continue studying here rather than move to another Australian town. Why is that?

Ana: we feel so comfortable with the local people. We love the town. It is close to the beach and it’s close to the mountains too.

Carlos: yes, it’s like we have found our own little space here. It is especially good that we are able to work here and afford a car so we can drive to local places.

Ana: Carlos has joined Byron Bay’s local basketball team too so he is making friends with local people and his English has improved because of this.

Thanks to you both for your time and beautiful photos 🙂

If you would like to know more about the BBELS Flexi Program or any of our courses please visit our website or contact us directly at info@bbels.com.au. Please note that the Flexi Program is limited to certain nationalities.

 

 

 

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.

 

Whale Watching Excursion

Students from Germany, Japan, South Korea, Chile, Mexico, Thailand at the lighthouse. (Thanks to Julika for the photo).

It’s whale watching season here in Byron Bay! We love this time of year. From July till early November Humpback Whales swim past Cape Byron during their northern migration to Queensland. We are so lucky here because Byron Bay is one of the best locations in Australia to see the whales. Great viewing spots are at the lighthouse and Main Beach.

 

At Australia’s most eastern point. This is one of the best places to see whales.

This week our Intermediate class spent a couple of hours watching and counting the whales from the Byron Bay lighthouse. They had a beautiful morning in the winter sunshine and saw quite a lot of whales close to the shore. We love providing our students with the opportunity to study together in the outdoors. It encourages learning in a natural context and helps them understand a little more about the local culture.

It’s not too late to join us here during the whale watching season. If you would like to know more about our courses please contact us at info@bbels.com.au or visit our website.

 

 

Advanced class goes to Nightcap National Park

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It is the beginning of Autumn here in Australia. The days are beautiful and warm, it’s perfect for spending time outside. So, this week our Advanced class traveled to Nightcap National Park to spend a day practising English in these beautiful natural surroundings.

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Nightcap National Park is only 45 minutes from Byron Bay so it is an easy bus ride from school. During the bus trip the students listened to music and spoke in their new favourite language … English!

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We always encourage our classes to spend some time outside with their teacher. It facilitates spontaneous learning and becomes a bonding experience for the students. We are so lucky here at BBELS to have our own bus to drive students to these beautiful locations.

If you would like to be part of these experiences contact us at info@bbels.com.au

BBELS is committed to professional development

At BBELS our teachers are committed to the practice of Continuing Professional Development (CPD). We have regular workshops to introduce our teachers to new classroom methodologies. CPD is great for our students as it means we are able to consistently provide high-quality lessons to our students.

Over the past few weeks our teachers have been participating in our Peer Observation of Teaching (PoT) program. Here one teacher observes another teacher’s lesson and then provides feedback afterwards. We have found that this benefits both teachers as it requires them to reflect on their own methodologies. PoT exposes our teachers to new ideas and teaching material. It also fosters a supportive environment in the BBELS workplace and facilitates the communication of teaching ideas within the staffroom.

PoT is only one of the many professional development strategies we have for our teaching staff at BBELS. Our committment to quality assurance and a collaborative culture is highly beneficial for our students. This can be seen in our consistently positive student feedback and testimonials (which we will show you in our next post). 🙂