October 2013 issue

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English in the Prairies

Canada’s Prairie Provinces appeal to language students who have an appetite for a more rural language learning experience, as Nicola Hancox reports.

Dense, sprawling plains are a defining characteristic of the Prairie Provinces (comprising Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba). While these dense patches of grassland are more commonly found in the southern reaches of Alberta and Saskatchewan, the term has become very much embedded in the cultural and political identity of these three regions.

According to John Taplin at Global Village (GV) Calgary in Alberta, the prairies have their own unique charm, complemented by four very distinct seasons. “When we opened in 1996, I thought students would be worried by the winter, but they revel in it. It is not uncommon to see students...out in the park across from the school having a friendly snowball fight,” he says.

With fewer international students than more traditional destinations, Gary Gervais at Heartland International English School in Winnipeg, Manitoba, says students get to experience the “real” Canada. Like Taplin, he notes that the country is defined by the seasons which naturally feed into student activities. “Students can experience a real Canadian winter on the prairies – like skating on a frozen river or lake. Long hot summer days mean lots of time to experience outdoor activities, festivals or trips to the beach. We have 100,000 lakes in Manitoba,” he says.

The Calgary centre of Sol Schools International is well-positioned for students to experience both prairie and city life. Situated in the heart of the city’s shopping and entertainment district, with direct access to public transport, Alexandra Schleicher, says, “Our Calgary campus is truly a nature lover’s paradise with lush prairies, graceful mountains, a bustling city and an untapped beauty you won’t find anywhere else.”

The schools (it also has campuses in Vancouver, Toronto and Miami Beach, USA) provide stock offerings such as general English and exam preparation as well as more targeted courses such as Specialised Intensive English, designed to produce quick results. “This is our most popular course,” says Schleicher. “It focusses on the core fundamentals of English with grammar and idioms, listening and speaking, reading and vocabulary, and writing and presentation.” In addition, students can choose two electives to customise their course – electives include accent reduction, conversation and pronunciation and even English for a specific purposes.

General English is a consistent performer at GV Calgary. Taplin observes that students also gravitate towards programmes that will earn them an internationally recognised qualification such as Cambridge FCE, Celta, TKT (Teaching Knowledge Test) and Ielts.

Increased demand for Ielts test preparation has also been noted at Geos Language Plus in Calgary, as Director Kevin Ellwood explains. “Demand for this programme has jumped because so many foreign workers in Calgary need testing for immigration [purposes].” Intensive daytime and part-time evening programme options have been added as a result.

Founded in 1999, Heartland offers intensive English, Ielts test preparation – a programme area that was expanded recently – and a Study English and Work programme, which affords students the chance to study the language and gain work experience. Students are required to study full-time for a minimum of 24 weeks and the length of the work placement must be equal to or less than the students’ study period.

Combining work with study is hugely popular with students at Sol Schools International. “Calgary is one of the best places in the world for students looking for a place to study and earn an income,” says Schleicher, and students can opt to take either the school’s Professional Internship or Paid Work Co-op programme. In order to undertake the latter students must enrol on the school’s English for Co-op programme, which allows students to get a handle on vocabulary required in the workplace.

There has been greater interest from South American markets of late, attests Ellwood and this is expected to continue. “Their economies are growing, plus there is a strong connection to the oil and gas industry,” he says. Traditional source markets Japan and Korea are performing well too, but they are beginning to wane, adds Ellwood. Conversely, the Korean market represents 25 per cent of the student population at GV, but Brazilian and Taiwanese markets have started to increase in the last two years, says Taplin. Meanwhile, Gervais predicts Brazil and China will be growth markets over the next year. nicolahancox@hothousemedia.com

A selection of courses available in schools in the Prairie Provinces

(Due to the complexity of the data, this article is only displayed in the digital issue of Study Travel Magazine)

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Britannia Student Services  
ESL Townhouse  
Sakura House  
Sara's New York Homestay LLC  
UK Guests Ltd  
Urban Nest Accommodation  

English UK  
English Australia  
Groupement FLE  
International House World Organisation  
Quality English  

English Australia  

CERAN Lingua International  

Algoma University  
Centennial College of Appplied Arts and Technology  
Peace Wapiti School Division  
Pickering College  
York University English Language Institute  

Mandarin House  
Sino-British College, USST  
Xi'an jiaotong-Liverpool University  

English UK  
Chichester College  
GSM (Greenwich School of Management)  
International House Bristol  
International House World Organisation  
INTO University Partnerships  
InTuition Languages  
Kaplan International Colleges  
The Language Gallery  
London School of English  
Quality English  
Queen Ethelburga’s College  
St Giles International Brighton  

Alphe Brazil  
Alphe Brazil  

Accent Francais  
Alliance Française Lyon  
Groupement FLE  
ILCF Institut Catholique de Paris  
Institut de Touraine  
Institut Linguistique Adenet  
IS Aix-en-Provence  
ISEFE - Université de Savoie  
Langue Onze Toulouse  
Lyon Bleu International  
Paris Langues / Club CEI des 4 Vents  

Carl Duisberg Centren  
F+U Academy of Languages  
Goethe Institut Berlin  

IMLC (Inter-Media Langues Caraïbes)  

English For Asia  

Cistercian College  
Galway Cultural Institute  

Manabi Japanese Language Institute  
Yokohama International Education Academy  

Oscars International  

EC Cape Town  
EF International Language Centers  
English Language School of Cape Town  
Eurocentres of Cape Town  
Good Hope Studies  
inlingua Cape Town  
Interlink School of Languages  
IH Cape Town  
Jeffreys Bay Language School  
Kurus English  
LAL South Africa  
Language Teaching Centre  
Oxford English Academy   

EF International Language Centers  
Malta Tourism Authority  

Brown University Continuing Education  
ELS Language Centers  
Forest Ridge School of the Sacred Heart  
Global Language Institute  
University of Arizona  
University of California Berkeley  
University of Maryland Baltimore County  
Zoni Language Centers  

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