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Summer courses – the university option

Claudia Civinini investigates the options facing an Italian mum finding a course for her teenage son


Where would a southern European mother send her seventeen-year-old son to study English in the UK? Probably she would contact an agent or book a course in a language school, but we at the Gazette wondered whether she should also consider universities.


For a foreign student trying to learn English, practice outside the classroom is essential. With Italian, French and Spanish making up 40 per cent of all private-sector UK EFL summer school students, this demographic may get too many chances to speak its mother tongue. Growing up in Genoa, Italy, I witnessed teenagers returning from a vacation course in the UK speaking a perfect Roman or Neapolitan dialect but no English.


By contrast, the main language groups of foreign students enrolled at UK universities language centres are Chinese, Arabic-speakers and Thais, so it’s harder for a southern European to avoid practising their English. European students increasingly need a good level of English for their continuing studies – for example, Spanish students with B2-level English get three university credits – and universities could provide the appropriate academic focus.

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Asians head for the Med

Matt Salusbury looks at the broad nationality mix in Maltese ELT


Korean and Japanese nationals don’t need a short stay visa for Malta, but the flights from south-east Asia to Malta are long haul (Turkish Airlines now has direct flights from both Korea and Japan to Malta, with just one stopover). Despite the long journey, south-east Asia has become an important enough market in Malta’s tourism sector for niche market corporate travel specialists such as Special Interest Travel (the clue’s in the name) to have a Japanese division, with Malta-based staff who are Japanese and Chinese nationals.


The most recent figures from the Office of National Statistics Malta (from April 2014, covering 2013) noted an overall decline in ‘Asian’ enrolments for EFL courses on the islands – down by almost a half on the previous year. The term Asian means mostly South Korean and Japanese – arrivals from China and India aren’t significant enough to take them out of the ‘other countries’ category, although some language schools will in any given month have more Chinese across their classes than Koreans or Japanese, and EC Malta told the Gazette it hoped to have more in the future from China.

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The call of the Northern lights

Matt Salusbury explains why international students should check out the north of England

Liverpool will be forever associated with the Beatles, and you’ve been living in a cave if you’ve not heard of Manchester United. (Other world-class football teams from ‘up north’ are Liverpool, Newcastle United and Manchester City.) Liverpool boasts the Beatles Museum, John Lennon International Airport and the Cavern Club, where the early Beatles played, but the north of England offers much more besides.

While the English you hear up north may come with an unfamiliar accent, northerners have a reputation for being friendlier than ‘down south’. The city of Leeds, with a population of over half a million, is known as ‘the largest village in England’, while a 2013 poll by a leading estate agent voted the town of Harrogate the happiest place to live in the UK.

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Laying firm foundations in Turkey

Jonathan Dyson on the explosion in foundation courses and English-medium degrees

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A growing number of students in Turkey are taking EAP foundation years, as English-medium degrees become increasingly commonplace in the country’s rapidly expanding higher education sector. There are now around 180 universities in Turkey, of which roughly 100 are in the private sector, with around fifteen new universities opening each year.

Simon Phipps, who has 28 years’ experience in Turkey’s ELT sector, and was previously deputy director at Ankara’s oldest private university Bilkent University (founded 1985), said there is now growing importance attached to students having a high level of English when they start their degree courses. Many Turkish students need an additional period of English language preparatory study prior to starting their degree.

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Head east for historic flavour

Matt Salusbury explains why the east of England is an excellent place to study for anyone interested in cycling, seafood or exploring the region’s Roman roots

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This year the Tour de France came through Cambridge, which probably has the highest proportion of people owning bicycles of any city in the UK. Cambridge, and indeed the whole of the east of England from north Essex all the way up to Lincolnshire, is relatively flat. This geography gives the east of England, including the counties of Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Essex, Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire, some of the UK’s best cycling.

Even the novice cyclist can easily get out of town on a hire bike (Cambridgeshire in particular is good at signposted cycle lanes) and explore the area’s quiet country lanes. Within an easy ride are numerous nature reserves, historic market towns and magically beautiful villages. Almost every one of the east’s villages has a medieval church – usually unlocked and open to the public every day – while many will have a historic pub that dates back to the bygone days of the stagecoach routes.

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