English Language Study in Australia
Australia is becoming an increasingly popular destination for learning English. For those who like adventure, a chance to travel, or experience of the outdoor life, Australia is an exciting and safe study destination. If your interest is in developing your English for business or further studies, there is also a wide choice of good quality colleges and programs which will suit your needs and Australian people extend a warm welcome to overseas students.
Many students who come to Australia to study make a point of saying that the Australians they meet are friendly and helpful, interested in them and their culture. Most English colleges arrange accommodation for their students with Australian families near the college to give them a taste of ‘Aussie life’. This way they get to know people of all ages, and become part of an Australian family for the duration of their stay. Some of the friendships formed with homestay families last for many years after students have returned home.
Students sometimes think that Australia is a very long way from home. However, modern travel means that it is only a flight away, and once there you will find that your money goes a long way. The cost of living is quite inexpensive, and if you choose to travel, you will have the chance to see some of Australia’s great attractions: the Barrier Reef in Queensland, Ayer’s Rock in the outback of the Northern Territory, the natural wilderness of Tasmania, the snow-topped mountains of Victoria and New South Wales, the white sandy beaches where dolphins play in Western Australia, and the lush wine-producing regions of South Australia.
Australians love the outdoor life, and everywhere you go you will see Australians enjoying their sport, picnics, visits to the beach and camping holidays. This vast country has every possible climate - one to suit everyone. The southern cities, particularly Perth, Adelaide and Melbourne, have a temperate climate, with hot summers and cool winters whereas Tasmania, which is further south, has snow-capped mountains in winter. Sydney is semi-tropical, and the cities of Queensland tropical and always warm whilst the Northern Territory and northern Western Australian outback regions are hot and dry. You can ski in winter, swim and surf all year round, go boating or fishing, play tennis and golf, and enjoy many other sports.
Each region has its own unique wildlife, and you will have the opportunity to see kangaroos, koalas, playpus, echidnas, and many other strange creatures in the wild and in special national parks where these animals are protected.
The English language industry, or ELICOS (English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students), as it is commonly known, has developed in Australia over a period of about twenty years, and is now one of the best known in the world. English language centres in Australia which offer courses to overseas students vary enormously. There are now more than 150 to choose from, ranging from the small privately run college with small group tuition, to the secondary school preparing students for high school studies, to large university or vocational education centres which will offer English in its own right or as a transition to any number of other tertiary or further training programs.
Australia also has a very high quality university and vocational education system, and students often come to Australia with plans for a full study program, with English language as the stepping stone to other courses. You could choose to do a General English course, or specialise by doing a course in English for business, graphic arts, the hospitality industry, academic studies, or post-graduate studies. Or if you are interested in doing one of the internationally recognised English language examinations, many centres offer special courses in preparation for the Cambridge University examinations, IELTS or TOEFL. Your English college will help you to enrol for these examinations, or if you are unsure of your future study plans, advise you on further study options after your English course is complete.
As a safeguard for students coming to Australia, there is a national accreditation process which all new ELICOS colleges undergo. The National ELICOS Accreditation Scheme (NEAS), which set up in 1990, requires all centres to comply with a set of standards, and this is a guarantee that students will be taught by qualified English teachers, programs will be accredited and class sized kept small. When fully accredited by NEAS, colleges are able to show its special logo on their promotional materials as a symbol of their good standards.
Your English language study program in Australia does not have to be all work, however. Visiting and living in a new country is also exciting and fun. For those new to Australia, you will be introduced to Australian customs, and have the opportunity to meet others through arranged social activities. You will find that Australians come from many different ethnic and cultural backgrounds, and so most cities can offer a vast range of international foods and restaurants to try. Also, excursions to see the attractions of the city in which you are studying are often part of your English program, and these help you to get to know your city.
Australia has a great deal to offer overseas students. Whether you choose to study English in Australia for its own sake, for the opportunity to travel across a new and fascinating country, or as part of your vocational and academic program, your stay will be a unique experience which you will never forget.
Author: Glenys Merrifield, National Coordinator, National ELICOS Accreditation Scheme (NEAS)