Students visiting Australia to learn English don’t have to look very far if they are also interested in participating in a range of sports and activities. The country is known for its outdoor lifestyle and interest in all sorts of team sports and for coastal dwellers, water-based activities such as surfing and scuba diving are part of the local lifestyle.
For some language schools in Australia, offering a course combining English tuition with scuba diving is an obvious progression due to their location near perfect scuba diving territory. Trish Marshall, Principal of Kaplan International College Cairns, QLD, says, “English & Diving courses have been one of our original ‘flag waver’ courses at Kaplan International College. Cairns is known as the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef. Students often begin their studies with the English & Diving course so they then have the qualification to dive every weekend over the remainder of their stay in Cairns.”
Cairns is the capital of Queensland and is a popular destination for keen scuba divers around the world. The main attraction is the Great Barrier Reef, which is one of the seven natural wonders of the modern world and a World Heritage Site. Cairns College of English, QLD, also offers English plus scuba diving courses for students and Ulrich Stauffer, Principal Administrator at the school says that visiting the Great Barrier Reef is “an absolute must”. He adds, “[The course is] very popular with students who want to come here and not run from one dive centre to another to find a good deal. We organise the whole package for them with one of the most reputable dive centres in town to a reasonable price.”
In other areas of Australia, different sports courses are also on offer with the opportunity to improve and perfect existing skills. Helen Cox, Director of the South Australian College of English (SACE) in Adelaide, SA, says that the school offers English and tennis courses to interested students. “SACE students enrolled in English plus tennis at SACE Adelaide complete their tennis coaching at the same Adelaide tennis venue as the famous South Australian and former Wimbledon champion, Leighton Hewitt.”
In Surfer’s Paradise, QLD, surfing is very much on the menu and students at Embassy CES school in the town love the fact that they can combine surfing with learning English, according to Mark Bailey, Marketing Manager Queensland at the school chain. “The campus is located in the heart of Surfer’s Paradise and 100 metres from one of the most famous surf breaks in the world,” he says. “The board room at Embassy Gold Coast is exactly that… a (surf) board room.”
Other sports such as golf, rugby and horse riding are also common among the course offerings at Australian language schools and Saint Stephen’s College in the Gold Coast, QLD, offers expert tuition in a variety of sporting areas. Sam Holmes at the college, says, [We have] 12 students in the golf programme, seven in Pro One tennis, nine in Pat Cash tennis and 15 in the rugby academy,” adding, “They are quite popular with international and domestic students.”
At Saint Stephen’s College, the sports programmes came about after the school received enquiries from existing sports clubs on the Gold Coast. “We put them on the market and there was suitable demand, therefore we introduced the programmes,” says Holmes. “We started these programmes five years ago and have built on them ever since.”
However, for other language schools in Australia, the decision to introduce language plus sports courses came about after demand from agents. Richard Brown from Browns English Language School, located in the Gold Coast and Brisbane, QLD, says, “We have been offering English plus sports courses since 2003. We decided to offer these courses due to high demand from our partners, particularly from Japan, Taiwan and Western Europe.”
Browns offers language and sports courses in surfing, scuba diving, tennis and golf and Brown adds that they are considering adding more sports courses in the future. “We have actually been considering English and rugby due to Australia’s excellent reputation as an incubator to producing many world class players such as Quade Cooper, Matt Rogers and Nathan Sharpe.”
At Embassy CES too, the school’s location near the coast means that more English plus sports courses might be available in the future. “With the easy access to the beach, other water sports options are available including kite surfing and scuba diving,” says Bailey.