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Studying in Vancouver

The majestic coastal mountains jut towards the sky like yearning green-clad spires and the expansive blue of the Pacific washes the sandy shores. Here, in the south-western-most pocket of Canada sits Vancouver, the jewel of a nation.

Blessed with the most temperate climate in Canada, an abundance of parks and beaches, a trendy cosmopolitan air, and the friendly westcoast-style laid-backness of the local population, Vancouver has become one of the fastest growing travel destinations for ESL learners in-the-know. Canadians have long distinguished themselves from their Southern neighbours maintaining a sincere sense of national pride. They understand their identity in terms of an integrity and tolerance for others that is unique.

Nowhere is this relaxed openness more evident that when roller-blading around Vancouver’s Stanley Park Seawell, strolling the False Creek promenade, or drinking cappuccino in a sidewalk café off English Bay. Foreign students quickly find themselves adapting to the West Coast lifestyle, and joining the easy flow of the Vancouver rhythm. Greater Vancouver boasts over 120 language schools, more than 35 of which are concentrated in the bustling downtown core.

The preponderance of schools has been in direct response to the high demand for ESL student placements. In such a competitive market, it goes without saying that schools have had to be innovative and service oriented to attract an ever more discerning, value-conscious student market. The evolution of programs and courses offered in Vancouver has been so profound in fact, that ESL here has arguably transcended conventional definitions of language learning and become an educational niche unto itself.

More than the standard fare ESL students expect as a matter of course - TOEFL, Cambridge, TOEIC, Communication Classes, Academic Classes, Business Classes - Vancouver ESL highlights as mainstream such programs as Computer Skills, Teacher Training for Foreigners, Work Practicums, Parent with Children Classes, Creative ESL workshops, and more. Some schools offer free services pairing foreign students to like-leveled Canadians for language exchanges.

As a means of regulating and maintaining the standard, all schools are required to be registered with PPSEC (Private Post-Secondary Education Commission), but many have opted to volunteer themselves to even greater scrutiny through such organisations as CAPLS (Canadian Association of Private Language Schools), a body of schools across the country that maintain their membership through peer monitoring according to a self-imposed quality standard.

Homestay families are as tailored and quality conscious as the school programs and across Canada, the reputation of homestay families remains unmarred, and an example to family-stays everywhere in the world. Homestay can be arranged with 1, 2 or 3 meal options (the last being the standard in Vancouver). Teacher-stays, in which students are hosted by certified ESL instructors, are also fast becoming a popular option.

Vancouver as a city distinguishes itself by the sheer power of its natural beauty. One of the greenest municipalities anywhere in the world, Vancouverites maintain the cleanliness of their public areas just short of obsession.

No city is more conducive to out-door activities, and here the opportunities are limitless. Joggers abound, colourful sails pepper the Bay, old and young alike peddle mountain bikes to and fro, scuba-diving, camping and skiing (all year!) enthusiasts alike, find their paradise here. A summer average temperature of 23ºC and a winter average of 7ºC makes Vancouver a civilised option all year round for every constitution.

English language learners appreciate how ‘school’ is interpreted by language colleges in Vancouver as in any place of learning. Classrooms know no limits, and classes are taken outside the confines of the traditional in-school setting. Students are also encouraged to exploit the city and its people as a language learning resource. The openness and friendliness of Vancouver culture invites learners to participate, interact, and experience language as a whole. This integrated approach to learning makes ESL much more than just a language study experience; ESL in Vancouver, Canada is an unforgettable learning adventure, not to be missed.

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