Junior programmes in Ireland are becoming an increasingly attractive option for parents, students and agents internationally and are a strong competitor for UK schools. “We aim not only to teach English in a fun and international environment, but also to provide students with an understanding of the culture and heritage of the place where they are studying,” says Aideen Murphy at Emerald Cultural Institute (ECI) in Dublin. ECI’s Multi-Activity programme combines language lessons with exciting and fun activities designed to keep students engaged, while its specialised English plus sport options include intensive afternoon coaching sessions in football (with AC Milan coaches), tennis, horse riding, golf or rugby (with Leinster Rugby Club). Aideen says of the latter programme, “The excitement of getting their Leinster jersey, being coached by official Leinster coaches and meeting some of the Leinster players is really thrilling for [junior students].”
The Irish College of English (ICE) in Dublin offers specified courses for juniors such as English and Horse Riding, English and Sailing, and English and Golf, so that students can really play to their strengths. “We believe in giving students a wide range of programme options so they can choose the programme that fits their particular interest and needs,” says the school’s Teresa Coughlan.
ICE has observed the changing nationality demographic of late within their student intake purely European classrooms are now a thing of the past. Numbers of students from Russia, China, Saudi Arabia and Korea continue to grow, bestowing a “true international mix,” says Teresa.
The Centre of English Studies, Dublin has seen an increase in students from China, Brazil and Argentina. The school is concerned with student satisfaction too and Jonathan Quinn reports it is “continuously tweaking and modernising the way we teach to try and keep today’s young learner entertained and focused.” Their main goal as a school is “to offer what today’s kids actually want, on top of providing excellent English language tuition.” Morning classes and activities are hosted on site before an accompanied visit in the afternoon. “We use local clubs to show our visitors Irish traditional sports such as hurling and Gaelic football.” And there are scheduled activities in the evening. “A daily routine is very important,” says Jonathan.
Personal development is a top objective at ISI Dublin. “The wider goal is to encourage communication, and to develop confidence when using English in everyday situations,” explains Peter Hutchinson. ISI’s summer programmes require classmates to work together, encouraging students to mix and form new friendships. Ensuring that students feel comfortable in a unfamiliar environment is paramount; Peter maintains that by improving their confidence, “they’ll get much more out of their time.” ISI’s summer camp offers 15 hours of language tuition and over 35 hours of activities per week.
International House Dublin offers a particularly fun-packed experience. On top of local excursions and sports, children can expect movie and animation, pod-casting and blogging workshops, as well as roller-skating discos, talent shows and their very own Riverdance show in the evenings. “The most successful element of the programme is our web-based e-portfolios, where students can upload their best work and special memories, to keep for the future or share with their family and friends back home,” says Aoife Govern.
Security is often a significant concern for parents, but at Atlas Language School safety is a priority. “There is daily transport to and from the school each day by private coach this gives security for both students and parents,” says Kathi Gerth. The school has seen a significant growth in students from Turkey and Latin America.
The wish for a strong global demographic brings with it some challenges namely, the need to draw students away from the lure of London. “The English brand is so strong that even when the sterling is so high compared with the euro, many non-EU countries still prefer to travel to the UK,” says Teresa, who feels that Irish institutions need to differentiate themselves from their English counterparts. “The main challenge is to stay ahead of the market in terms of keeping your programme fresh and attractive,” says Peter.
With the adult learner market susceptible to economic influences, the junior market goes from strength-to-strength. “We have observed during the most recent recession that while difficult economic conditions can repel the market, parents are continuing to invest in their children’s education in order to give them better opportunities in the future. As a result we have seen that the junior market tends to be more resilient,” concludes Aideen at ECI. firstname.lastname@example.org
A selection of junior course providers in Ireland
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