Tourists come to South Africa to experience what our country has to offer and very often wish to coincide their travels with something constructive, like learning or brushing up on their English skills,” observes Annaelle More, Head of Cape Studies. Cape Studies has catered to the increasingly popular travel/study trend that has hit South Africa, with an impressive array of activities on offer, such as safaris, whale-watching and sky-diving, that makes their English courses as exciting as they are accommodating. “All our teachers are qualified and experienced in dealing with various age groups and our courses are designed to cater for demographics across the board,” says Annaelle.
“Our whole concept is based on experimental learning and courses with activities,” says Johannes Kraus, Director of Kurus English. “We call these activities language excursions students leave the classroom three times a week with a teacher and a qualified South African tour guide to meet a host, who is an artist, musician, storyteller or expert in a particular field.” Kurus language excursions fit around relevant events in Cape Town where possible and give students the unique opportunity to improve their English, while experiencing the people, energy and diversity of the city head on.
Yolanda Mounton at International House Cape Town has observed a high interest from European markets in studying English with activities in South Africa. “The reason being, they come for shorter periods of time and want to make the most out of their stay in Cape Town,” says Yolanda. IH Cape Town has been offering language plus courses for five years, including English and surf, English and volunteer programmes, English and wine and English and safari, which continue to grow in popularity due to the school’s variety of choice.
LAL Cape Town initially offered language plus courses, however in recent years they have observed the steady growth of interest in their travelling classroom programme, an educational route that has seen some success worldwide in recent years (see ST Magazine, October 2015, page 29). “When we started this programme, we only had three start dates per year for our adult students, whereas for 2016 we will be running the programme every two months for adults and will have two start dates for young learners: one in the summer and one in the winter,” says Torrique Borges, General Manager. LAL Cape Town students can expect activities like shark cage diving, paragliding and quad biking, to name a few.
Recent changes to South African visa regulations have, however, impacted negatively on student enrolments at language schools. “The current visa situation has had a bad effect on student numbers in general,” reveals Gina Pardenwachter at Eurocentres Cape Town. Changes introduced to South Africa’s immigration policy earlier this year caused confusion as to whether language schools should be recognised as valid institutions for students on a study visa, while visa applicants are also now required to undertake a visa interview. Jackie Verrall, Managing Director of English Language Homestays, adds, “Visa regulations now require us to provide unabridged birth certificates and also receive consent from both parents,” which could be off-putting for some prospective under-18 students.
Looking forward, there does appear to be a light at the end of the tunnel, according to Johannes, who is also Chairman of Education South Africa. “We have finally been able to reach the right people in government to solve the problem. We are currently engaging directly with the Deputy Minister of Home Affairs and the Department of Higher Education and Training to find a suitable solution for all parties involved,” he relates. The enduring appreciation of language plus activity programmes in South Africa is crystal clear, as Johannes adds, “Round about 80 per cent of our bookings are with our language excursions,” indicative that this sector of the market should increase in South Africa in the coming years, as long as visa issues are resolved. firstname.lastname@example.org
A selection of language plus activity programmes in South Africa
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