June 2010 issue

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British Columbia’s abundance

An outdoor lifestyle that makes the most of its stunning scenery, lively cities, friendly people and great quality education combine to make British Columbia a popular destination for international students. Gillian Evans finds out more.

When summing up British Columbia (BC), Jeff Nordin, Assistant Marketing Director at the Canadian as a Second Language Institute (CSLI) in Vancouver says it is “truly a microcosm of our entire planet” owing to the sheer diversity of scenery, flora and fauna. Clas Huntebrinker, President of Camber College in Powell River, agrees. “BC is home to a geographical diversity that lends itself to a vast array of activities and adventures,” he says. “There are mountains to climb, rivers to run, beaches to comb, forests to hike, parks to stroll and warm summer lakes to laze about on.”

No wonder then that BC has been dubbed Canada’s playground, says Mike Kliman, District Administrator, International Programmes for School District No.38 (Richmond). “The people of BC live in some of the most beautiful scenery in the whole world and most like to get outside to enjoy it,” he says but is also keen to point out that BC is not all about nature. “The cities offer great shopping, music, art and culture of every description as well as some of Canada’s best restaurants. BC attracts and produces a large number of artists, musicians, and crafts people who participate in an interesting variety of festivals and community events, year-round. There is something for every taste.”

This year was particularly special for Vancouver and its surrounds as it hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics. Through the global television coverage of the event, a snapshot of British Columbia’s natural beauty, lively cities and towns and fun-loving hospitable people was revealed. Now, says Ricardo Coral at Sprott-Shaw International Language Colleges in Vancouver, “It’s hard to find somebody who doesn’t know about our city.”

In Canada, the Olympic torch travelled across 45,000 kilometres over 106 days, making it the longest relay route within one country in Olympic history. “CSLI [got] in on the action by bringing the Olympic games to the students,” states Nordin. “Olympic athletes and celebrity torch bearers were brought in to give presentations and a booth was set up to provide maps and give information on the variety of free cultural events going on in the area.”

One location that was completely transformed during the Winter Olympics was the resort town of Whistler. “Whistler saw more people in [the] 20 days [of the Winter Olympic events] than it normally gets in a single winter season,” recalls Lianne Hodgson, Marketing Director at IH Whistler. “The small resort municipality was jam packed and constantly abuzz. The feeling was electric.” 

Although best known as a winter resort, Whistler is also a fun summer location in which to learn English. At IH Whistler, summer activities include camping trips, swimming in nearby lakes and hiking excursions with local guides. It is also a place to encounter some of Canada’s wildlife close up. “Whistler is known to have bears roaming around quite freely in the summer months,” says Hodgson. “Once a student saw a bear pop up while they were simply taking a short cut through the local woods – definitely something that would never happen to them in their home town of Barcelona!”

For a different ski experience in British Columbia there are the Rocky Mountains to the east of the province. Duncan Macleod of School District No.6 (Rocky Mountains), which oversees elementary and secondary schools in Kimberley, Invermere and Golden, says all three towns are home to world-class ski resorts and great high schools. “The three host high schools [in this area] all offer core academic courses as well as unique elective courses like outdoor education, forestry, and ski patrol training, which enable international students to maximise their Rocky Mountain experience,” he says.

Kelowna, northeast of Vancouver, is just an hour’s drive away from four other ski resorts, the most popular being Big White, which according to Dale Lockhart, Director of International Gateway in Kelowna, is a “hidden gem with the best powder”. Kelowna itself is a lake-side community that offers boating, fishing, wakeboarding, jet skiing, scuba diving and horseback riding in the summer months. “Although Kelowna is a ‘small city’ – with a metro population of approximately 160,000 – [it] offers attractive nightlife and student life. Students like to spend their time in cafés, pubs and nightclubs, skiing/snowboarding, hiking, camping, wakeboarding, volunteering and working – this is an attractive working holiday destination,” says Jeanette Kramer, Marketing Manager of VanWest College, which has branches in Kelowna and Vancouver. There are also plenty of festivals to enjoy, such as the Okanagan Wine Festival, where according to Lockhart, ice wine tasting is always a highlight, and the Kamloops Cowboy Festival for an experience of the “real Canada”.

Sandwiched between the Georgia Strait and the magnificent coastal mountain range, Powell River offers plenty of water and land experiences. Huntebrinker at Camber College in Powell River, highlights the many “extraordinary trail systems, perfect for hikers and bikers alike”, including the 13-kilometre wheelchair accessible Inland Lake trail. For water activities, he says, “Abundant sea life, natural and artificial reefs, sheer walls, shallow wrecks, and great underwater visibility that rivals Caribbean waters make the Powell River area one of the best places in the world for scuba diving.”

At Global Village English Centre in Victoria students are encouraged to volunteer at community events, such as the Canada Day festival on July 1, or one of the many arts and music festivals to integrate into the community. “[Volunteering at such events] gives [students] the opportunity to practise English with Canadians, make friends and get an up-close look at events management,” asserts Paula Jamieson, Chief Operations Officer at Global Village English Centre in Victoria. “At the end, most events have a wrap-up party which is a highlight.”

Vancouver is an easy city to navigate, according to Paul Maher, President and CEO of Global Village Vancouver. “A unique aspect of Vancouver compared with most cities in North America is that at least half of the Vancouverites working or studying downtown are living there as well and not commuting in from the suburbs. Consequently, the city is brimming with social activity in the evenings and on weekends.”

Many language schools provide courses that enable students to learn about their local area. “We offer several non-credit ESL courses during the summer which introduce students to the history, ethnography, ecology and recreation opportunities in the Comox Valley, on [Vancouver] Island and BC,” says Colleen Hanley, Coordinator at North Island College International in Comox Valley.

Agent viewpoint

“In general, studying for my clients in BC is just a bonus, but a really nice one. I send students only to Vancouver. Canadian lifestyles can be traditional or young and wild, with the freshness and youth of Canada, along with wilderness and a lot of culture, art and leisure facilities, both indoor and outdoor. The biggest surprise is always the freshness and special kindness of Vancouverites. There are not many cities like Vancouver in the world.”
Reinhold Kremer, Kanada-sprachreisen.de,

“[I send students to] Vancouver and Powell River in BC. Powell River is the most popular location due to my recommendation to students for my partner school there, Camber College. Students enjoy being close to everything – beach, forest, lakes, mountains to ski, full of nature, with possibilities to enjoy both big cities and countryside as well. They love the people who are very similar to the Spanish in character – open and caring.”
Ruth López, Spanish Teachers, Spain

“[The] weather in BC is a main attraction [for our students], and also that Vancouver is one of the most known cities and areas of Canada known in Mexico. We send students to Richmond, Saanich (Victoria), Nanaimo, Qualicum and Cranbrook. [Preference of location] depends on what the family needs or wants. Richmond is popular with people looking for a big city. Cities in Vancouver Island are chosen by families asking for smaller, quiet areas; and Cranbrook is chosen by ski lovers. The beautiful natural landscapes in BC are so different from ours [in Mexico]. In the Vancouver area, our students are surprised by the amount of people originally from other countries in the world.”Angeles Estandía, Ad Astra, Mexico

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.





Feltom Malta  
International House
      World Organisation  
Quality English  

Alphe Conferences  

Pearson Education  

Dr. Walter GmbH  

LTM Digital  

Malta Tourism

Ability Education  

College of New
ILSC - International
      Language Schools
      of Canada  
International House
Point 3 Language
Red Leaf
      Student Programs  
Richmond School
      District #38  
Stewart College
      of Languages  
Vancouver English

Anglolang Academy
      of English 
Beet Language
Cambridge Academy
      Of English  
Cambridge Education
Capital School of
Churchill House  
Devon School Of
Discovery Summer
Eastbourne School
      Of English  
Eckersley Oxford
English Language
      Centre Brighton &
Excel English
Frances King School
      of English
ILS English
Kaplan Aspect
      (Australia, Canada,
      Ireland, Malta, New
      Zealand,South Africa,
      UK, USA)
Kings Colleges
      (Prime Education)  
Lake School of
LAL Language
      (Canada, Cyprus,
      Ireland, England,
      South Africa,
      Spain, Switzerland,
Lewis School of
      Language Academy
Living Learning
(The) London School
      of English  
Malvern House
      College London  
Millfield English
      Language Holiday
Queen Ethelburga's
Southbourne School
       of English  
Study Group  
      (Australia, Canada,
      England, France,
      Germany, Ireland,
      Italy, New Zealand,
      South Africa, Spain,
Thames Valley
      Summer Schools  
Twin Group  
University of
      Essex -
Wickham Court
Wimbledon School
      of English  

Alliance Française
      Paris Ile de France 
Home Language
      (Australia, Brazil,
      Canada, China,
      Czech Republic,
      Denmark, England,
      Egypt, Finland,
      France, Greece,
      Netherlands, Hungary,
      Scotland, South Africa,
      Spain, Malta, New
      Zealand, Norway,
      Poland, Portugal,
      Switzerland, United
      Arab Emirates, USA,
Université de
      Paris Sorbonne  

International House
      Berlin - Prolog  

ATC Language and
Atlantic Language
Cork English
The Linguaviva

Clubclass Residential
      Language School  
EC English Language
      (England, Malta, South
      Africa, USA)
Global Village English

Rotorua English
      Language Academy
Worldwide School
      of English  

Interlink School of   

Choices International
      Work Experience 
Malaca Instituto -
      Club Hispanico SL
Malaga Si  
Pamplona Learning
      Spanish Institute  

EF Language
      Colleges Ltd  
      (Australia, Canada,
      China, Costa Rica,
      Ecuador, England,
      France, Germany,
      Italy, Malta, New
      Zealand, Russia,
      Spain, Switzerland,

Boston School of
      Modern Languages  
California School
       of English  
California State
      University Chico  
California State
      University Long
California State
      University San
ELS Language
International House
      San Diego  
San Diego State
University of
      California Berkeley
University of
      California Riverside  
University of
      California San
Zoni Language
      (Canada, USA)

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