Learn English in Australia
Australia offers international students great value - high quality education, unique travel opportunities and a great climate. Recent changes in exchange rates means that students from many countries can now get more for their money in Australia. The cost of education and the cost of living in Australia will now cost less than before in most currencies - without any reduction in quality. That means value!
Despite being away from many parts of the world, Australia is by no means isolated. Flights to and from Australia are offered by many international airlines including Ansett and Qantas, and many international airlines from other countries. Direct flights are available from many countries to Australia' s major cities - Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide, Cairns and Darwin. Most ELICOS (English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students) centres offer an airport pick-up service for students. Thus, a student is able to say goodbye to family and friends at one end of the journey and be met by someone friendly and helpful in Australia.
Choosing a Region
Australia is a big place - the sixth largest country in the world! Most people tend to think of Australia as being a hot summer country but in fact the climate in Australia is very diverse. In Australia, mid-summer falls around Christmas time and July-August are mid-winter. As a country of the southern hemisphere, the further north you go in Australia, at any time of the year there can be great difference-between the climate in the south and the climate in the north. It is possible to move from skiing in one part of Australia to scuba-diving in another with a few hours of air travel in between.
Many features of Australia and Australian culture can be found in almost any part of the country. Australia is well known as a safe destination with helpful people. Each state or city in Australia has its own unique attractions. Australian embassies and educational travel agents who deal with Australian institutions can usually provide information on the various cities and regions in Australia. The ELICOS Association’s (EA) koala brochure; Education Australia*; contains general information regarding each of the six states or territories in which EA member colleges are located. Students should think about what each region has to offer and compare this to what they most want and which aspects of a place are most important to them.
Overseas students may undertake ELICOS (English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students) courses on a number of different types of visas. Assistance and advice related to the issue of visas; visa requirements and conditions is available from Australian embassies and consulates throughout the world. Applicants for student visas must enrol to undertake full-time study. When in Australia; student visa holders may work for up to 20 hours per week. Visitor / tourist visa holders may undertake ELICOS studies for up to 12 weeks on each entry to Australia; either full-time or part-time. Visitor / tourist holders do not have work privileges in Australia. Working Holiday visa holders have the same study opportunities as do tourist visa holders and may also work in Australia.
It is important that students take time to rest and get their bearings when they arrive in Australia. It is a good idea for students to arrive in Australia at least a couple of days prior to commencement of their studies. New arrivals may well suffer from a bit of jet lag. It is important to give your body a chance to recover by combining rest and light exercise. A good way of getting exercise and; at the same time; finding your way around is to do some walking. Many Australians have travelled in overseas countries; or have come to Australia as; new arrivals; themselves. Australians therefore have a good understanding of how newly-arrived students feel and will be pleased to assist.
ELICOS (English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students) centres are located in capital and regional cities throughout Australia. Some centres are part of universities; vocational education and training institutions or secondary schools; others are private centres. AII ELICOS centres in Australia must be accredited and government-registered and are monitored on an on-going basis to ensure maintenance of standards.
The accreditation of English language centres in Australia is comprehensive. Centres have to prove to the National ELICOS Accreditation Scheme (NEAS) that they have an appropriate management; administration and welfare infrastructure; qualified teaching staff; suitable premises; facilities and resources; and appropriate curricula and syllabi. Centres are currently permitted to have a maximum of 18 students in a class. Inspectors with an excellent knowledge of English language training visit and assess centres to make sure they reach the minimum standards required. The accreditation process is in place to make sure that centres teaching English to international students throughout Australia meet the prescribed minimum standards.
Sixty-three ELICOS centres in Australia are members of the ELICOS Association (EA) - the national professional association of ELICOS centres. EA member centres are required to abide by by-laws which provide a Code of Conduct; a Tuition Assurance Scheme; and Membership Quality Assurance. Member centres must also abide by the minimum requirements of the EA refund and transfer policies.
Courses offered by EA member centres include General English. English for Academic Purposes; English for Specific Purposes; English for Secondary School Preparation; Examination Preparation Courses; Distant English Courses; and Study Tour Programs. Courses are taught at all levels of proficiency from beginner to advanced. Whatever a student’s choice of English language course; the management of staff of EA member centres will do their best to ensure that the student’s stay in Australia is both academically rewarding and culturally fulfilling.
Study and Travel
Australia is a great place to combine English language training with travel. Australia has a wide range of attractions and landscapes - beautiful beaches; rich rain-forests and wilderness areas; vast ‘outback’ deserts; lush farmlands and exciting cities. Because Australia is surrounded by oceans; sharing no land borders with any other countries; Australian flora and fauna have developed in different ways from the remainder of the world. The kangaroo and koala are only two of many examples of the uniqueness of Australia.
The size and diversity of Australia guarantees a vast range of experiences to choose from. International students; in out-of-class or holiday time; may relax by taking it easy in pleasant cafes or restaurants; by visiting a beach; by enjoying a harbour or river cruise or by taking advantage of some of Australia’s many parks and open spaces. For the more adventurous; Australia offers exciting activities; including rock climbing; bush walking; scuba-diving; abseiling; hot air ballooning; para-gliding; orienteering; canoeing; white water rafting - to name just a few! Outback enthusiasts may enjoy farmstays; camping under the stars; cattle mustering; sheep shearing; horse riding and exploring historical Aboriginal sites in the great Australian Outback. And for city lovers, Australia offers modern cosmopolitan cities with shopping centres; art galleries; museums; restaurants and clubs. If sport is your passion, Australia has modem facilities and a wide range of sports to choose from - golf; tennis; football; cricket; baseball; basketball; volley ball; water-sports and more.
Students should not worry that once they have arrived in Australia; without family or friends from home; there may be no-one to help. AII ELICOS centres have a counsellor or staff who are able to assist students if something goes wrong or even if students simply need to talk. Homestay families are also a great source of support and assistance to overseas students. The value of assistance and support from fellow students should not be overlooked. In ELICOS centres; students provide one another with an invaluable support group. Furthermore; most countries have an embassy or consulate in capital cities in Australia. Generally speaking; when help is needed it is not difficult to find a number of people who will do their best to help in whatever way they can to make your stay in Australia as an ELICOS student as enjoyable as possible.
This article first appeared in Studying Abroad magazine