Students flock from around the globe to combine their passion for skiing or boarding with their studies,” exclaims Emma Taylor at International House Whistler, underlining the international appeal of Canada’s winter sports and the reputation of its facilities.
IH Whistler is, as Taylor explains, ideally situated to capitalise on the post-Olympic buzz, being “located in the village centre beneath the colossal Whistler and Blackcomb mountains, home to the 2010 Winter Olympics games”. Courses allow for plenty of slope action, she adds, “The winter season runs from November to April and during these months we offer a ‘flip-flop’ timetable to ensure that students can maximise their time on the mountains.”
According to Viviane Bomfim at Vancouver English Centre, the city is the ideal location for a combination of metropolitan study and outdoor fun. “Even though Vancouver has a mild climate and snow seldom falls in the city, our students enjoy some of the best downhill and cross country ski facilities in North America. Ski hills are so close you can almost reach out and touch them,” Bomfim enthuses. The school’s Ski/Snowboard plus English programme includes 15 hours of English tuition combined with slope activities at least three times per week, with lessons, equipment and lift tickets included.
Banff Education Centre offers a Winter Ski/Snowboarding programme inside the stunning surroundings of Banff National Park. “We are located in the most famous part of the Rocky Mountains,” says Derek Keet. “We are only one hour from Calgary, but in a valley surrounded by nature.” The winter programme consists of 15 or 24 hours English study per week, plus one-to-three weekday afternoon activities and skiing/snowboarding on full days at the weekend.
It is also possible for students to gain qualifications, as Taylor explains, “We offer pre-course training for the Casi (Canadian Association of Snowboard Instructors) Level 1 examination. This consists of 10 hours of seminars, tutorials and on-mountain sessions with an experienced instructor, prior to the student taking the actual three-day Level 1 examination.”
In terms of markets, Taylor notes that IH Whistler courses are “most popular with Swiss students and their neighbouring European countries. Japan and Korea are also strong markets.” Bomfim adds that their programmes are attractive to visitors perhaps unaccustomed to the wintry landscape, “For students from countries like Brazil, for example, it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience to see and enjoy the snow.”
Far from being all about winter sports, however, Canada has plenty to offer the summer outdoor enthusiast, not least first-class golf facilities in idyllic settings. “It is the perfect location amongst the ideal surroundings of ocean and mountains as the backdrop,” attests Gayle Forler at LSC Language Studies Canada/EC Vancouver about their English plus golf course.
Study Abroad Canada Language Institute, Charlottetown, offers an English plus golf programme where, Helen Green informs, students will spend 15 hours per week studying English and an equal amount of time at the nearby Canadian Golf Academy, which was recently voted the country’s best practice facility. Golf instruction includes putting, full swing, sand play, speciality shots, short games review and on course coaching, and takes place with a maximum of four students per instructor.
For a more sedate physical activity, ILSC provides yoga courses at its Vancouver and Toronto centres. “In ILSC’s English through Yoga class, students learn to follow basic instructions while mastering the vocabulary of anatomy and movement. Students will gain physical strength, flexibility and stress management skills,” relates Mara Muller. Students are provided with six yoga lessons per week, and this component can be taken as a component of full-time intensive, full-time or part-time study.
Importantly, many schools are keen to emphasise that the sports instructors are qualified English teachers as well, enhancing the language learning opportunities through sport. Taylor advises that their ski instructors have language teaching certification, while Muller says, “Our instructors are certified to teach yoga and have recognised Tesol qualifications.”