May 2009 issue

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Australia’s lasting impression

The scenery, wildlife and people all make Australia a hugely rewarding language travel experience, as Gillian Evans reports.

Australia is a beautiful destination that has long been popular with young travellers,” asserts Diana Pilling, Managing Director of Australian Internships, which arranges work and volunteer placements throughout Australia. She relates that often, a choice of study destination is determined by a student’s area of interest. “For example, the Barrier Reef is popular for marine biology, Darwin and the remote locations are best for those who wish to study or learn more about the Aboriginal culture, and Sydney and our major cities are the business destinations.”

Australia’s lively cities, rich scenery, unique wildlife and fascinating Aboriginal culture are certainly major attractions for international students. To this, Claire Corones, Coordinator – Marketing Communications at Sarina Russo Schools in Brisbane, adds the great weather, diverse cultural mix of people, a relaxed, safe and enjoyable lifestyle, high standard of living and affordable living expenses and tuition costs.

All this certainly adds up to an enjoyable language travel experience. However, the true success of a language school for international students lies in its ability to combine classroom learning with getting to know the host country and its people, and this, according to Ian Pratt, Managing Director of GV Sunshine Coast (Noosa - Caloundra) and GV Brisbane, is where language schools in Australia excel. “While what we provide in the classroom is obviously critical to the student experience here in Australia, it is still only part of the whole package,” he asserts. “I believe that Australian schools provide tuition quality to match that of any country in the world. What we do better than anywhere, though, is what happens outside the classroom, and ultimately, that is the large part of the attraction for students coming to this country. Students are here in Australia for the wide-open spaces, the golden beaches and the welcome they receive from locals.”

For students studying at the Centre for English Language Teaching (Celt) at The University of Western Australia in Perth, it is easy to immerse themselves in Australian student life as the language centre is on the university campus. “The advantage of our English centre being within a university campus is that language students can join one or more of the 90 clubs and societies that are at the university of Western Australia,” states Olivier Charpenay at the centre. “They are an ideal way to meet people who have similar interests.”

Western Australia’s state capital, Perth, is a fun mix of museums, nightclubs, art galleries, theatres and modern sporting facilities. Charpenay relates, “Students can enjoy, movies and theatre as well as basketball, cricket and Aussie rules games.” It is also a multicultural city with a wide range of international cuisine. “Visitors to the area often do not know what food is available, but if they ask, they will be given an address of where to find hand-rolled sushi or a crusty baguette!” states Charpenay. Indeed, Australia’s population is made up of a rainbow of nationalities. “Since 1945 more than six million people from across the world have come to Australia to live,” informs Pilling. “Today, more than 20 per cent of Australians are foreign born and more than 40 per cent are of mixed cultural origin.” This also makes it particularly welcoming to international students.

Sydney is one of Australia’s most multicultural cities, meaning that, as Angela Maag, a Teacher at ECES Sydney, puts it, “It’s possible to sample the culinary and musical delights of the world whilst staying in Sydney!”

Sydney itself has won many international accolades for its high standard of living. According to Tim Tang, Project Officer at Northern Sydney Institute (NSI) International, it was voted the world’s best city in the Anholt City Brands Index in 2007 and 2008, and in Condé Nast Traveler Magazine in 2007. Its reputation as a great place to live and study is one factor that draws international students year after year. “A lot of our students come to Sydney because they have been told by other people who have studied here what a fantastic city it is,” relates Maag. “For the Europeans and the South Americans, Sydney has a reputation as a ‘hot’ city, and I don’t mean the climate! The city is vibrant with a beautiful harbour and beaches and a really relaxed way of life.”

Sydney is home to some of Australia’s more famous sites – Tang highlights the Opera House and Harbour Bridge as being the most obvious ones – but it is also a pleasant residential city and one of Australia’s main commercial hubs. “The northern area of Sydney is particularly safe and attractive, with tree-lined streets and parks, as well as several well-developed business and commercial districts. [It] also has many beautiful beaches, some of the best known of which are in Northern Sydney, including the famous Manly Beach.”

For weather that is “beautiful one day, perfect the next”, Corones at Sarina Russo Schools recommends as the ideal study location the city of Brisbane – also affectionately known as “Bris-Vegas”, “Brisneyland” and “Brizzy”. “Brisbane has more sunny days than Florida and warmer winter days than the Bahamas,” she states. It is no wonder then that each year, around 45,000 people from over 150 countries choose to study there.

International students are always keen to immerse themselves in the culture of the country, and Pratt observes a trend towards destinations less well known on the international study circuit. “We have seen a very real trend in recent years wherein students are seeking venues for study outside the major cities,” he relates. “Much of the motivation for this is that it is seen as being increasingly difficult for students to interact with local people in the larger centres. Noosa has done very well on the back of this, and a large part of the attraction is the very genuine welcome that students receive from the local population.”

A place to benefit from the trend towards destinations off the beaten track is Tasmania. According to Nick Shaw, at the University of Tasmania, this island state and the cities of Hobart and Launceston “offer the best of what attracts students to Australia in general”. He explains, “It has a great lifestyle, with a beautiful natural environment. Tasmania is compact and people can see a variety of scenery – from beaches to mountains and forests, picture-book farms and historic villages – without travelling great distances.”

Indeed, Tasmania is embellished with beautiful scenery, is said to have the cleanest air in the habited world and, according to Shaw, has “the right balance of people and natural environment” with more than 40 per cent of this island set aside as national/state parks or as a World Heritage area.   Best of all, however, is the fact that Tasmania is still relatively undiscovered in the world tourism market and is often described as “Australia’s best kept secret”. This, says Shaw, is a distinct advantage for language travellers. “This means that while it is popular with international students, it is not overly so and students can get a real Australian experience in a very special place.”

Agent viewpoint

 Juan Carlos Gaona, Teaching and Tutoring College of Colombia, Colombia
“Most of our students choose Australia as a destination due to the fact that the cost of living and the cost of education are lower than those in the UK or the USA. Furthermore, the standard of living in Australia is among the highest in the world, and students have the chance to work up to 20 hours a week. The cities our students pick the most are Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane since they are the main cities and the ones with the biggest economic activity. Also, I have [noticed] a growing trend amongst students to select Perth for English learning purposes, probably as a consequence of the city’s development and the fact that it is not as full with Latin American students as are Australia’s main cities.”

 Aileen Wang, AOJI (ECIE) Education Development Pty, Australia
“Australia is a safe, friendly and harmonious country. It has an international reputation for excellence in all areas of education and training, and international students get full support from institutes. Sydney is the most popular destination for our students in Australia. It is the largest city and regularly voted one of the world’s best to live in. The standard of living is not high in comparison with other international cities in English speaking countries. Melbourne and Brisbane are also popular choices for our students. Students enjoy the lifestyle in Australia very much. They can easily go for surfing, bushwalking, BBQ or just relax on the beach or taste different kinds of food from all around the world.”

 Claudia Martins, STB, Brazil
“For Brazilians, Australia is a dream destination: the natural beauty, weather, hospitality, security, the cosmopolitan life of cities like Sydney or Melbourne are key factors in the primary phase of choosing one country to study. The economical factor is another very important point to consider. Australia has a different pace of life, a more relaxed atmosphere. Even in big cities there´s a way to find balance in life and enjoy sports and nature. There are many students that go to Australia to study English and then realise they can achieve much more there and decide to pursue a vocational course. They enjoy the beaches, the parks, sports practice and getting to know people from all over the world.”

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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.





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