October 2008 issue

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Time for tea?

England is a country with defining features such as the English rose, the cup of tea, William Shakespeare and cricket. Nicola Hancox explores some of England’s most picturesque and historic counties that give life to some of these emblems.

Red phone boxes, the Queen’s guard and London buses are just some of the icons synonymous with the largest country in the UK. But for those after something a little more unique, 600 miles of coastline await discovery, not to mention quaint villages, metropolitan cities (other than London) and cuisine that rivals the beloved fish and chip supper. So where to start?

The South West of England is the home of cheddar cheese, Devonshire cream teas and cider. Devon forms part of this southwest peninsula and according to James Samuel, Sales and Marketing Manager at IH Wels in Torquay, students pick this study destination because, “It’s by the sea, there’s lots to see and do, it’s very safe and it’s near two medium-sized cities, Exeter and Plymouth.”

Plymouth, Devon’s coastal capital, has a long seafaring history and is home to Britain’s oldest naval base. Visitors can take a boat trip down the river Tamar and view some of the many maritime attractions including submarines and the odd aircraft carrier. Back on land, they can saunter down the newly renovated quayside which houses some great restaurants and bars. And water-themed activities don’t get any better than at the National Marine Aquarium. Having recently experienced a multi-million pound makeover, it now houses an interactive exhibition with some 4,000 animals from 40 different species.

James observes that in his spare time he likes to explore Dartmoor National Park, a large area of moorland in the heart of Devon that spans 368 square miles. Requiring a good pair of walking boots, this beautiful and vast parkland is a real treat for wilderness enthusiasts and promises some stunning views of the surrounding area should students brave the climb up High Willhays, the highest point on Dartmoor and in southern England (621 metres above sea level).

Dorset lies further along the southwest coast and has a magnificently rugged coastline. The Jurassic Coast scales some 153 kilometres from East Devon to East Dorset and can be walked along in its entirety. The county also has delightful rural towns like Dorchester and Sherborne, or larger urban settlements like Bournemouth, that provide very different experiences for visiting students.

“Bournemouth is a friendly, safe and cosmopolitan university town located on the mild weathered south coast of England,” says Jonathan Rouse, Marketing Manager at Anglo-Continental in Bournemouth. “It’s an affluent, international town with no strong local accent and has 10 kilometres of sandy beaches.” Indeed, Bournemouth has some of the busiest and most picturesque beaches in the country and Rouse enthuses that Pier Beach even won the Quality Coast Award last year – the award is given to beaches that are well maintained, meet EU regulations for bathing and have clean facilities.

He also boasts that surf fanatics will soon be catered for. “Bournemouth is in the process of constructing an artificial surfing reef which is set to be completed in 2009,” he says. The artificial reef – the first of its kind in the northern hemisphere – aims to increase the size of the surf, acting like a ramp pushing waves upwards.

As well as beachfront activities, Danielle Watts, from Kings School of English in Bournemouth, relates that there’s much more to see and do in and around the Bournemouth area. “We encourage [students] to explore the local area and visit Old Town Poole, Corfe Castle, the Isle of Purbeck, Christchurch and if possible the villages of the New Forest,” she says. Bournemouth Air Festival and Carnival Week are two events that students also enjoy.

Meanwhile, Dorchester, the small county capital, is a little more subdued but equally as enthralling. Thomas Hardy, the English novelist, was born there in 1840 and aspiring novelists can visit the very cottage where he was born and raised. It is said that Under the Greenwood Tree and Far from the Madding Crowd were written in this idyllic dwelling.

Divided into two separate counties, West Sussex and East Sussex form part of England’s South East. Brighton, probably one of the most popular seaside towns in the UK, is situated just 50 minutes from London and is a hive of culture and creativity. However, Worthing, Brighton’s lesser-known neighbour, has an interesting history and was a firm favourite among the royal family. It was even a source of inspiration for many famous poets; Oscar Wilde apparently thought the town so charming he spent the summer and autumn of 1894 in the seaside resort writing The Importance of Being Ernest.

Michael Quinn, UK Director of Centre of English Studies (with centres in Wimbledon and Worthing) relates that Worthing is ideally located in that students are well positioned to explore the surrounding area. “We are lucky to have Brighton, Arundel and Chichester all within 30 minutes of the school,” he notes. He adds that the town hosts its very own festival in July and August that comprises of seaside attractions, a funfair and culminates with a firework display held on the pier. “This is hugely popular with our students,” he says.

Eastbourne, thought to be the sunniest place in England (owing to the town’s sheltered position behind Beachy Head Cliff), is, according to Rebecca Willis at Eastbourne School of English, “A delightful seaside town, famous for its beautiful setting between the hills of the South Downs and the sea and its excellent sunshine record.” With a promenade that stretches five miles, tourists can join the locals by donning a pair of rollerblades to skate down its length or alternatively take a stroll among millionaires’ yachts at Eastbourne’s Sovereign Harbour. “It’s the largest boat marina in Europe with places for over 1,100 boats,” states Willis.

Tucked away in the southeast corner of England sits quintessential Kent. An abundance of orchards and hop fields led to the county being branded the Garden of England and Bruce McGowen from Bell Bedgebury Language Centre in Kent says that the school is a true reflection of this. “Students study in a former English estate surrounded by trees, lakes, forest and fields in the Kent Weald,” he explains, adding that Kent is perhaps the ideal place to get away from “the turmoil and noise of urban environments and city centres”. According to McGowen, local highlights include Camber Sands on the Kent coast, nearby Tenterden – which has “its own working steam railway and lots of nice pubs and restaurants” or Hever Castle – the childhood home of Anne Boleyn.

Oxfordshire, also in the southeast, is regarded as one of the most scenic English counties and Francisco Bustos from St Clare’s, Oxford says students choose to study in the region because “Oxford is world renowned.” Perhaps best known for having the oldest university in the English-speaking world, Oxford’s location is a treat for visiting students. Moreover, “The fast train from Oxford to [London] Paddington takes just 58 minutes,” exclaims Bustos, who recommends the gardens at Blenheim Palace – ancestral home of Sir Winston Churchill – and the many university grounds as good locations for students to explore. Punting along the River Cherwell is another great way to soak up the traditional and historic atmosphere of the city.

The legend of Robin Hood and Sherwood Forest are synonymous with the county of Nottinghamshire in the East Midlands and Anna Dragun, Managing Director of ILS English in Nottingham, says students can come and experience the romantic tale first-hand. “[Students can] relive the life and times of Robin Hood at the ancestral home of his arch enemy, the Sheriff of Nottingham,” she states. During the October half-term, Nottingham Castle hosts a pageant in honour of the loveable rouge who sought to steal from the rich and give to the poor. Dragun says, “The event features live jousting, a replica medieval village encampment, a medieval ale house, craft stalls and activities, live history demonstrations, falconry displays, musicians and more.”

Students in search of a thirst-quenching pint might also be interested to learn that Nottingham is home to England’s oldest pub! Dating back to 1189 AD, The Jerusalem Inn was frequented by the knights on their way to do battle in the crusades.

Northwards from the Midlands, students can take in the natural beauty of the Lake District, the Yorkshire Moors and discover several world heritage sites. Bordering Scotland, the North East comprises four counties; Northumberland, Tyne & Wear, Durham and Teeside. The county of Northumberland is, according to Christine Goodwin from The English School Northumbria in Whitley Bay, “Named as one of the must-see destinations in the Lonely Planet Bluelist for 2008.” Innumerable attractions are sure to enthrall students and Goodwin finds it difficult to narrow down her favourites, “There is so much,” she says, but she recommends Alnwick Castle (made famous by the Harry Potter films), Durham Castle and Cathedral, Hadrian’s Wall (a world heritage site) and the Lighthouse at Whitley Bay.

“It is a region that is rich in breathtaking scenery, cultural heritage, historic castles and monuments, protected coastline, a beautiful National Park, fascinating wildlife and vibrant cities,” she enthuses. She also encourages potential students to think north when they’re picking a future study destination. “I would advise international students to be more adventurous and change their thinking about the traditional destinations for English language learning,” she observes. “London is crowded and cosmopolitan and exciting, but it’s difficult to meet real English people there. If they want a taste of real, friendly England, then try coming north!”

Newcastle upon Tyne, in the metropolitan county of neighbouring Tyne & Wear, could well appeal to students who prefer the big lights of a thriving city. Trevor Udberg from International House in Newcastle says, “Newcastle is a friendly city with a student population of almost 80,000 out of a total population of 300,000, so it is a city for students!” He relates that there’s plenty for students to do while in town and must-see attractions include the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art – a free gallery that has an ever-changing calendar of exhibits – the new Sage Music Centre and a “fantastic selection of restaurants, cafes and bars”. Students might also want to sample some of Newcastle’s heritage by supping a pint of Newcastle Brown Ale, taking a trip to see the Angel of the North – a 66-feet tall modern sculpture designed by artist Antony Gormley – or going to see Newcastle United play a football match at St James’ Park.

Agent viewpoint

 “Most of our clients choose England for several reasons: a) first the quality of the spoken language and possibility of meeting native speakers, b) cheaper possibility to reach the destination with wide offer of low-cost flights throughout the country, and c) weakness of the pound against the euro. Most of them are attracted to cities, especially London and Edinburgh, but there is a good number who prefer to enjoy the seaside. No doubt what it is offered in capital destinations is nothing compared with small towns or countryside destinations, but clients choose where to spend their holidays in consideration of their needs.”
Ada Franceschin, International Know How, Italy

 “We offer language courses in London and such seaside resorts as Eastbourne, Brighton and Bournemouth. Obviously the clients are attracted by the capital of the empire, which they perceive as an icon of historical, cultural and “pop” aspects. They also cherish the charm of Victorian Eastbourne as well as cosmopolitan Brighton and Bournemouth. England is the first class destination in our agency.”
Iza Swierczynska, Almatramp, Poland

 “For students, aged 17-19, it is definitely London [they want]. They all want to spend a day shopping! Some of them are also interested in history. As Switzerland has no ocean they also like to be near the sea and enjoy walking along the promenade, watching the waves and the seagulls. The adults are more interested in the culture, history of England and also enjoy travelling to the quaint villages. Brighton, Alfriston and Rye are popular destinations for both age groups.”
Ilona Bossart-Krapf, Independent, Switzerland

 “The main cities students travel to include London, Oxford and Cambridge followed by the seaside in the south. Quiet countryside is not so popular among adults and teenagers over 14 but excursions to historical places allow them to feel the British spirit. Parents do not want their children to fly involving connections. Adult students also prefer something close to London.” 
Sergey Kuzmintsev, Students International, Russia

 “Some people want to learn English in a real English environment choosing small towns and countryside where they can plunge into a real English atmosphere both in the classroom and outside.”
Olga Govor, Meridian Group, Latvia

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.





English Australia  
Feltom Malta  
IALC International  
MEI-Relsa Ireland  
Perth Education City  
Quality English  

Internet Advantage  
Your World on Monday  

Malta Tourism Authority  

Alphe Conferences  
English Australia  
IALC International  
MEI-Relsa Ireland  
Quality English  

Austral Idiomas Srl  
Ecela - Latin Immersion  

English Australia  
Perth Education City  

Bodwell College  
Canadian & International Student Services  
Centre Linguista Canada (OISE)  
College of New Caledonia  
Richmond School District #38  

Bell International (Malta, UK)
Bournville College of Further Education  
Hampstead School of English  
IP International Projects GmbH 
      (England, France, Germany, Spain)
Kaplan Aspect
      (Australia, Canada,Ireland, Malta, New Zealand,
      South Africa, UK, USA)
LAL Language and Leisure
      (England, Canada, Cyprus, Ireland, South Africa,
    Spain, Switzerland, USA)
Malvern House College London  
Northumbria School of English  
Oxford Intensive School of English
      (Australia, France, Germany, Spain, UK, USA)
Princes College School of English 
Queen Ethelburga's College  
Scanbrit School of English  
St Giles Colleges (Canada, UK, USA)
Study Group (Australia, Canada, England, France,
     Germany, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, South
     Africa, Spain, USA)
Wimbledon School of English  

Alliance Française Paris Ile de France  
SILC - Séjours Linguistiques  

Carl Duisberg Medien GmbH  (England, Germany) 
International House Berlin - Prolog  

Educational English Culture  
Feltom Malta

Languages International  

EAC Language Centres and Activity Camps.
      (England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales)

Cape Studies  

EF Language Colleges Ltd 
      (Australia, Canada, China, Ecuador, England, France,
    Germany, Ireland, Italy, Malta, New Zealand,
     Russia, Scotland, Spain, USA)

ALCC - American Language Communication Center  
Boston University  
Eastern Washington University  
LAL Fort Lauderdale  
Rennert Bilingual  
University of California San Diego  
Zoni Language Centers (Canada, USA)


Perth Education City

Princes College
      School of English 
Twin Group
      (Ireland, UK)