It is great for anyone to learn surfing. It’s a wonderful sport that combines fun and fitness. It is also very social. It is a popular pastime of many of our students,” enthuses Michael O’Grady, Director of Byron Bay English Language School (BBELS) in NSW, which has been offering surfing and diving classes to EFL students since 1998.
Surfing is very much part of Australia’s national identity and is a huge attraction for many students, agrees Mick Edwards, Director of Sea English in Manly, NSW. “The surfing course allows students to have a real Australian cultural connection,” he explains. “Students get a real appreciation of what the feeling is to stand up on a board and ride a wave to the beach.” The Sea English course, which includes a two-hour surf class on three afternoons a week, is especially popular in the summer with many nationalities, Edwards adds.
Manly Beach, situated in Sydney’s Northern Beaches, is an iconic location for surfing, Edwards asserts. “Manly Beach is the perfect place because it is the home of surfing in Australia,” he says. “It’s a big beach with a great range of waves for all abilities. It hosts two of the world’s biggest surfing championship events for both men and women but it is also ideal for beginner surfers.” O’Grady, meanwhile, praises the conditions at Byron Bay, “The geography enables surfing to happen in a variety of wind and swell directions. There is a north-facing bay, Byron Bay, as well as the open east-facing beaches. Thus there is always somewhere safe and suitable for beginners to get their confidence in the water!” The school’s ‘Learn to Surf’ course is held on eight days over two weeks, with a 2.5-hour lesson with a teacher each day.
Although the surfing course may be an easy sell for eager surfers, Ian Pratt, Marketing Director of Lexis English, advises that the quality of surf instruction must match the English tuition. Lexis offers courses in the Sunshine Coast, Byron Bay, Perth, and Noosa, with the latter taught by former World Champion surfer, Merrick Davis. “We always use only fully accredited and insured providers and make sure that the quality of the programme meets students’ expectations,” he says. “We get students standing up by the end of their first lesson, and within a couple of weeks they’re surfing like they’ve been at it their whole lives!”
“The surfing courses are often just a start,” Edwards says, “Many of our students after their course buy their own board new or second hand and go surfing by themselves with other students at the school. For some students, an East Coast surfing holiday with friends is the next thing they decide to do.” Pratt concurs, and adds, “All of our surfing schools are in easy walking distance to the beach, so our students find themselves surfing on weekends and in their spare time too.”
With the Great Barrier Reef being one of Australia’s most glorious natural attractions, diving courses are also in high demand. “The diving course is very popular with students who are planning to travel to the Barrier Reef after their course. Having attained their Padi certificate they are ready to go diving on the barrier reef. The dive course can be done at the local dive school in Manly,” explains Edwards.
“Cairns is the perfect place to get your diving certificate as the city is the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef,” exclaims Dolly Del Rosario at Cairns Language Centre and Eurocentres Cairns, QLD, where two-week Diving Adventure English packages include a four-day Padi certification and a night aboard on the reef. “It is a packaged programme that includes English study, homestay accommodation, an Open Water Dive Course and two extra excursions. For students who only have short holidays a package programme is popular,” she says.
As well as marine sports, Australia has a wealth of inland attractions. “With stunning clubs some overlooking beaches and mountains that are well organised, the courses are popular for all ages, families and students looking for an amazing experience in Aussieland,” acclaims Carolina Cardoso at Browns English Language School in the Gold Coast, QLD, about their golf and tennis courses. “Browns has professional tennis coaches and on the golf programme students will have classes and practise with PGA golf professionals. If it also an opportunity for students to practise in the best courts, make new friends, and improve their English practising the sport they love.”