Meet the staff: Liese our IELTS teacher

Liese 1

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.

Liese 2

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.

Ya and Imma

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


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.


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.

Meet the Staff: Clare the accommodation manager


In today’s post we are happy to introduce you to Clare who works as our Accommodation Manager. Clare works hard to place students into suitable accommodation including home-stays and student houses. Some of our students’ best experiences come from the time they spend with their home-stay families and house-mates, with Clare always trying to arrange a good combination of nationalities and age-groups under the one roof.

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

I grew up in Sydney and then moved down to the South Coast with my husband and daughter when she was 18 months old. She is now 15 and I have another daughter who is 13 and a 10 year old son.
We always holidayed in Byron Bay as a family and 5 years ago decided to move here permanently. My kids love the lifestyle here and so do I.

One of the BBELS student houses.

How long have you been working at BBELS?

I have been working at BBELS for 18months. I started helping out in the student houses and now I look after all the accommodation at BBELS. Before that I was raising my 3 children and before that I was a primary school teacher in Sydney’s west.


Inside one of the BBELS student houses.

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

Because I have teenage daughters I feel that I can be a sort of mum to the younger students when their own is so far away. The most important thing for me is to make sure the students feel comfortable with their accommodation so they can get the most out of their study time at BBELS.

BBELS homestay

One of the BBELS home-stay families.

As the accommodation manager, what advice would you give a student who wants to study at BBELS and find a comfortable place to stay?

The most important advice I can give is if they are studying from September to March that they make sure they have booked a suitable amount of accommodation with BBELS. This is the busiest time in Byron Bay and accommodation is not easy to find. If they want to be close to town then the student houses are a great option but if they want to experience living with the locals then homestay is a perfect choice.


Inside a BBELS student house: kitchen and dining room area.

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

Surfing of course and experiencing our beautiful beaches. BBELS provides students with all sorts of wonderful extra-curricular activities that pretty much cover everything this region has to offer.