||When students are asked to name the highlight of their stay at the Countryside School of English in Killavally, county Mayo, Alan Walpole, Academic Manager, says they mention "a high quality English learning experience in addition to Irish cultural awareness and the local people';s hospitality". This could well be applied to language schools across the country, as most schools introduce students to Irish culture and are keen to stress the friendly welcome that the Irish people offer students.
The language schools themselves are also one of Ireland';s major assets. At the International Celtic School of Languages (ICSL) in Newcastle West, county Limerick, Emily Barrett says, "Our cost-effective and productive courses never fail to deliver for our students, resulting in fast and efficient learning." She points out that when targeted tuition is combined with strong friendships made outside the classroom, students return home extremely satisfied.
In Galway, Celestine Rowland of Galway Cultural Institute points out that the city';s name comes from the Gaelic word, Gallibh, which means the foreigners'; town, "hence the longstanding traditional welcome for the foreign visitor". She adds, "We share with students our clean environment, thriving artistic and dramatic culture, traditional pubs, top quality restaurants and a full calendar of festivals including music, literature, visual arts, horse racing, golf and sailing."
Although Ireland is a sizable country, there are many students who know little of it except for its capital, Dublin, and this is indeed where a concentration of language schools is located. However, there are many language schools scattered throughout the country, from attractive rural locations to lively and interesting towns and cities. In Galway, on the west coast, Rowland details the charm of the location. "Picture, if you can, the ocean sparkling on a winter';s day. Looking west, nothing but the beautiful Atlantic Ocean in front of you, next stop New York City. In your hands, a coffee and a newspaper. Could there be a better place not only to learn English but also to learn some more about yourself?"
A popular west coast city, Galway has 80,000 inhabitants and an additional floating student population of up to 20,000. As well as plenty to offer on the cultural agenda, there is also a significant business and education infrastructure. Rowland cites another feather in the city';s cap: "We have 20 minutes more sunshine that the rest of Ireland… which is more time to enjoy the sites in Galway."
Above Galway and slightly further west is the heritage town of Westport, which is a short journey from Killavally, home of the Countryside School of English. Walpole relates that the school is located in "quiet and peaceful surroundings, a perfect studying environment". In the village, students can find a post office, church, primary school, grocery shop and local pub. Walpole says, "There are many pubs in our area in which traditional Irish music is played. Listening to live music is very popular amongst our students." Students also have the opportunity to go to local primary schools and introduce their own culture to young Irish children.
From Westport, students can visit Clare Island or the west coast islands of Inishturk and Inishbofin farther afield, all of which have tiny rural populations of around 200 people and welcome tourists who are keen to discover the islands'; way of life, ancient monuments, their natural beauty, deep blue waters and beaches. Diving is popular here, as is deep-sea fishing and angling.
Waterford in county Waterford in the southeast, Ireland';s fifth-largest city, also boasts beach opportunities that are not always associated with the Emerald Isle. Bridget Behal at Waterford English Language School explains that Waterford is a "maritime city surrounded by sandy beaches where watersports and fishing are on our doorstep". Easily accessible by air from the UK';s London Luton Airport or from Brittany in France, Behal says that Waterford is chosen by students who really want to integrate into a local community. They can choose either host family or apartment accommodation within walking distance of the school and in their free time, one of the most popular activities is again the "traditional small pub where conversation dominates, or the more trendy modern pubs [that] attract the younger crowd". There is much to do both in Waterford and in outlying areas. Behal urges all visitors to cycle to Hook to see the sights and visit the lighthouse, stopping off on the way to see the haunted Loftus Hall.
Students also like to visit Cork, Kilkenny and Dublin on day trips and the famous Ring of Kerry area in southwest Ireland is popular with students keen to make the journey. Meanwhile, Barrett says of ICSL, "Our location places some of Ireland';s best attractions at close reach. From the lakes and mountains of Killarney to the awe inspiring cliffs of Moher, there is so much to see and do here that our students never want to leave."
Most visitors to Ireland want to get a feel for the interior beauty of the country, but they also want to spend some time in Dublin, the country';s largest city. Linguaviva is located in the centre of Dublin, within walking distance of shops, pubs and historic sites, such as Trinity College, where Oscar Wilde studied. Wiebke Asmussen at the school says students love to go on excursions around Dublin with a guide that the school employs. "We have a very knowledgeable and experienced guide who takes the students out a lot," she says. Situated on the River Liffey, the city has some charming Georgian areas and the bustling trendy Temple Bar district to discover, as well as Christ Church Cathedral and the Monument of Light.
At the Annalivia School of English, which is located in Dun Laoghaire, 20 minutes from Dublin city centre, Kevin Kelly reports that the school is a good option for language students, who avoid having to commute to school in the rush hour but can easily get to the city centre on the Dart train. "The area has developed greatly over the past few years," he adds. "Another advantage is that accommodation in Dun Laoghaire is cheaper than in the centre."
At Dublin City University, Linda Murphy is also keen to point out an advantage that they can offer students. "All of our students have free access to university facilities," she says. These include a computer centre, student social centre and a 25-metre swimming pool and sports complex. "The highlight for most students is the university campus," she notes. "Students enjoy the learning-centred environment as well as all that the campus has to offer, especially the gym and swimming pool."
"Irish people are well-known for their hospitality and there are fewer Japanese students in language schools in Ireland compared with other English speaking countries. For this reason, Ireland is very attractive to our students. Our language agency specialises in Ireland, so all of our clients go there. Galway city is the most popular because of its charming atmosphere. The city is known as "the heart of Irish culture". Horse riding, Irish dancing, and fishing are popular activities among our students. In addition, many students like to listen to traditional Irish music in pubs. The best kept secret about Ireland is the wild and beautiful landscape in the west of Ireland. And people in that area are very friendly toward foreigners."
Hyu Muto, Ireland Ryugaku Club, Ireland
"Our clients choose Ireland because Irish people have a reputation for friendliness and hospitality, also it is only two and a half hours from Spain. I think the euro is a big advantage in comparison to UK pounds. We don';t have to exchange money, moreover we can easily figure out the difference in prices, which is slightly less than the UK currency. Sixty per cent of our clients choose Ireland over other destinations, because Ireland is our speciality. The most popular area is Dublin because most people have heard about it, but in the last few years, destinations such as Galway, Cork, Limerick and Killarney have become much more popular, even smaller places like Wexford, Waterford and Sligo are receiving more students."
Jaime Rodríguez, Irlanda En Red, Spain