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). 🙂

Meet the BBELS Staff: Mamiko

Meet Mamiko, our friendly new staff member, from Japan

This week we would love to introduce you to Mamiko. Mamiko arrived here with lots of experience working for ESL schools in New Zealand and Sydney. You can see Mamiko working behind her desk at the BBELS reception office 5 days a week. She is always ready to have a friendly chat with our students.

What is your role here at BBELS:

I work in Student Services, Administration, Japan Marketing

Where are you from? How is your life in Byron Bay different from your life back in your hometown?:

I am originally from Japan but I lived in New Zealand for many years before coming to Australia.
Byron Bay is very different from Tokyo (Japan) where I grew up till I was 18 years old. Byron Bay has just the right amount of shops, restaurants and cafes and a lot of nature which I feel comfortable living in
whereas Tokyo is overcrowded with many buildings and people.

What advice would you like to give our students at BBELS?:

Enjoy every new experience and challenge, especially enjoy meeting new people in Byron Bay.

Where are some of your favourite places to spend your free time in Byron Bay?:

The Pass/Wategos Beach are perfect places to swim, read books, and sun bathe. I also love looking at the vinatge shops and the beach at Brunswick Heads.

Meet the staff: Liese our IELTS teacher

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In this post we will introduce you to one of our most-loved teachers, Liese. Liese is our specialist IELTS teacher. The great thing about having her teaching IELTS is that she also works as an IELTS examiner so she knows which points to emphasise during our 12-week IELTS courses. Students who take the IELTS exam in her class invariably get great results. Many of our IELTS students have elected to take the course a second time because they enjoyed it so much.

Liese, tell us about yourself. Are you originally from Byron Bay?

I am originally from New Zealand, but have lived in London, Tokyo and Sydney before moving to Byron Bay. In Tokyo I mainly worked at Kanda Gaigo Gakuin, which is a very large and famous college. And I also taught English at Chuo University. Furthermore I worked for an advertising agency and for Mulberry.

How long have you been working at BBELS?

I have worked at the school for seven years.

What do you especially enjoy about working with the students at BBELS?

The students at BBELS are an interesting eclectic mix of young people from a wide variety of backgrounds, nationalities and interests. BBELS reminds me of the Japanese language school I studied at in Kanazawa, Japan for the summer. We rode bikes to school and went swimming in the afternoon. The school had a wonderful environment and everyone in the town knew we were students and helped us with our homework.

What other fields did you work in before you started teaching English at BBELS? Has it helped you as a teacher?

I have done all sorts of jobs, from cleaning to working for an international advertising agency, which gives me insights into all kinds of life experiences. In London I worked in a law firm and as a result then got a job, marketing new alcohol brands for Guiness in Cameroon. It is still the most enjoyable and most highly paid job I ever had. Unfortunately I was arrested for taking a photo of the national bank. But luckily my company in London paid the “ransom” money.

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Why would you recommend a student to take an IELTS course?

IELTS is the main exam required for entry to university and any post graduate studies. It is also needed in order to be considered for scholarships or funding  and for anyone wishing to have their previous professional qualifications recognised in Australia. It is also required for sponsorship and of course for all residency requirements.

As an IELTS teacher, what advice would you give a student who wants to study IELTS at BBELS?

The best reason to take IELTS in Australia is you get to have fun and improve your English and job opportunities at the same time. Australia uses a mixture of American and British English, so you are able to pick up truly International English.

IELTS requires a lot of study, but BBELS students always do very well in the test and feel very confident in all areas of English by the time they graduate.

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

See the sunrise and the sunset and watch out for the birds.

 

Ya from Thailand interviews Inma from Spain.

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Please meet our next two students … Inma from Spain and Ya from Thailand. In this interview Ya asks Inma about why she came to Byron Bay to study English. The interview was part of an activity designed to improve reported speech. It shows how studying grammar can be a creative activity and one that brings cultures together.

I spoke to Inma yesterday. She comes from Spain and has been in Byron Bay for six weeks.

My first question to her was why she had decided to come to Byron Bay. She replied that she didn’t like big cities and she wanted to live in a peaceful place. She added that Bryon has good weather and the people are very nice. She had been talking to a person who used to live in Byron Bay before and he recommended that she come and study at BBELS. She also told me that she hadn’t been able to find a job since she graduated from university. She hopes that having a high level of English will help her get a better job.

I wondered what she did to improve her English. She told me that she always does her homework and speaks English all the time at school. She added that she has made a lot of friends with local people and she can practice her English with them. I asked her what other things besides English she has learned at BBELS. She said that she has already learned a lot about other cultures from her foreign friends.

Finally, I asked my last question, “Do you want to stay longer in Byron Bay?” She replied that she would love to stay longer if she could.

Direct Entry: study at NSW TAFE

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The local TAFE campus at Kingscliff (image courtesy of North Coast TAFE)

Are you interested in developing your career options? BBELS now has a Direct Entry agreement with NSW TAFE. This means our Upper-intermediate and Advanced level students can enter a NSW TAFE course without sitting the IELTS exam. This is fantastic news for students who wish to stay in Australia and study at a tertiary level.

NSW TAFE has a huge variety of courses including: commercial cookery, hospitality and tourism, social work, graphic design, fashion design, carpentry. Several of our graduates are already enrolled in these courses and have told us how much they are enjoying them.

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A cooking class at North Coast TAFE (image courtesy of North Coast TAFE)

Several of the courses offered by NSW TAFE offer work placement after graduating. The commercial cookery course at the Kingscliff campus is one such course. We have also been told that the job prospects of graduates from the social work course are quite strong as Australia has a shortage of people working in this industry.

The local North Coast TAFE has several campuses, many of them within driving distance from Byron Bay. You could choose to study in either Kingscliff, Ballina, Lismore, Murwillumbah while still living in the Byron Bay region.

Please speak with Sonia or Jaydea if you would like to know more about studying at NSW TAFE.