April 2008 issue

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Canada’s real welcome

Language school staff in Canada are proud advocates of their city/town and country as the perfect place to study English. Jane Vernon Smith finds out why.

Canada offers so many different experiences depending on which part of the country you study in,” claims Nathalie Tremblay of the Calgary Board of Education. “Even within one province, such as Alberta, you can find a variety of [scenery], cultures and even climates. People coming here to learn English find more than a second language; they develop a connection with Canadians, who also come from different parts of the world; diversity is a strong part of our country.”

Alberta’s largest city of Calgary is also, according to Tremblay, both vibrant and cosmopolitan, with the added advantage of being friendly, clean and safe. A major draw each summer is the Calgary Stampede, says Tremblay, which gives visitors a feel for the Wild West. She adds, “A lot of attractions in the area give insight into the western Canadian history and culture; they include Heritage Park, the Glenbow Museum, Fort Calgary, the Calgary zoo and, of course, the nearby city of Banff.” She points out that Calgary is also just one hour away from the spectacular Rocky Mountains, which are visible from certain parts of the city, and miles of unspoiled wilderness. “Personally,” adds Tremblay, “I think what is particularly nice about Calgary is the fact that, no matter what temperature on any given day of the year, there is usually a sunny and beautiful blue sky.”

Calgary provides a good choice of language schools, while the Calgary Board of Education has seven high schools that accept international students. All of these schools offer a comprehensive curriculum and feature professional English as a Second Language programmes to support learning.

The attraction of adjacent British Columbia, on the far west of Canada, is its “incredible wildness”, according to Cheryl Webber, International Education Coordinator at the College of the Rockies in the small city of Cranbrook. While easily accessible thanks to a local airport, which connects to Vancouver within 80 minutes, Cranbrook is, she says, in the centre of a world-famous outdoor recreation environment, with golf and hot springs resorts, huge forests and some of Canada’s finest skiing/snowboarding areas.

“Initially, I chose to work at the [college] because I loved the Rocky Mountains and the beautiful nature all around,” recalls Webber. “I also liked working at a public school where the students receive a very high quality of education, but also get personal support from all the instructors and staff. Everyone makes an effort to help international students feel comfortable and welcome.”

Facilities at the College of the Rockies include an on-campus student residence, exercise room, indoor climbing wall, gymnasium and library. Its location beside Cranbrook golf club and the community forest, notes Webber, means that deer are often seen in the school grounds.

Like the College of the Rockies, the University of Winnipeg in the province of Manitoba takes pride in the support given to its English language students. Director of English Language Programmes, Kathy Block, says she was an undergraduate student here herself, and she explains, “The strength of our programme is our staff and the way in which they support students in getting linked into the community. For example, we organise language partners (volunteers) with whom students in the language programmes can practise their English.”

According to Block, Winnipeg itself is “an exceptionally active community”, especially in spring and summer, when there are many festivals. These include Folkorama (celebrating Manitoba’s diversity of people), jazz and folk festivals and a fringe theatre festival. “I particularly like the Winnipeg folk festival, where you hear local and international musicians perform for three days. It’s a spectacular community event, one of the major folk festivals organised in Canada,” enthuses Block. Also close to her heart is nearby Lake Winnipeg, which she describes as “like an ocean on the prairies”.

Furthermore, “The beaches are spectacular and the communities on the lakefront have a lot to offer,” she says. “For example, Gimli is a really interesting Icelandic community [situated] on the West side of the lake, one hour from the city.”

Located in the neighbouring province of Ontario, Toronto is Canada’s largest city, and, as such, provides a good range of educational choices. Ontario’s first community college, according to Director of International Education, Virginia Macchiavello, is Centennial College, which offers over 100 full-time programmes with certification at postgraduate level. Here, students will find some impressive recreational facilities, including a new athletic facility with a rock-climbing wall, and both cricket and soccer pitches. In addition, says Macchiavello, “A new CAN$8 million student centre is proving a popular spot to stop between classes to play air hockey, grab a pizza and catch soccer or cricket beamed in via satellite on jumbo screens.”

Agent viewpoint

“I believe one of the reasons Brazilian students choose Canada is the low cost of programmes and the ease of obtaining the visa, in comparison with the USA. They also like the Canadian culture, and the hospitality of the Canadian people.”
Sinezinho Oliveira, Nascente Turismo, Brazil

“Canada is one of the most popular destinations since there is a fantastic combination of urban life as well as countryside. Canada attracts many people due to the wide space and the nature, more than any other country. The USA was popular a few years ago, but more and more people seem to prefer Canada as an alternative to experience something very new! Furthermore it is extremely easy to study in Canada for Europeans since a visa is not required, rather than, for example, in the USA. Many people just like to go to the countryside for a weekend and walk without meeting anybody. Canadians are extremely friendly, happy people, and this feeling is what the students absorb and hopefully take home. Studying in Canada is an experience, not only for the language, but also to get a cultural immersion which is so special!”
Alberto Sarno, Sprachcaffe Languages Plus, Germany

“Students from Colombia choose Canada because it is one of the cheapest destinations, has more flights and Canada has an embassy in Bogota. Public transport is very organised and host families are friendly. There are interesting places to visit – falls, lakes, activities outside – and Internet facilities. The only point that is not good for students is that they can’t work.”
Emiliano Trujillo, Teducamos, Colombia

Contact any advertiser in the this issue now

The following language schools, associations and accommodation providers advertised in the latest edition of Language Travel Magazine. If you would like more information on any of these advertisers, tick the relevant boxes, fill out your details and send.





Britannia Student

Feltom Malta  
International House
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National School of
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Bell International  
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International House
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Home Language
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Langues Sans
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Université de Paris

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ISI - International
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EAC Language
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ALCC - American
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Brown University  
ELS Educational
Global Immersions
Kaplan Aspect  
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