February 2016 – Biggest ever English Lesson
Sydney’s Bondi Beach is always good for superlatives. Best beach, cleanest water, toughest surfer-boys, most beautiful girls, poshest (and most expensive?) shops, craziest art exhibitions. Now Bondi Beach set a new world record for biggest ever English lesson.
Almost 3,000 students from overseas relax on the grass at the south end of the beach. They take part in the biggest English class in the world. Young people from more than 100 countries want to demonstrate that Australia is a great country to live and learn.
Dozens of universities and language schools from all parts of Australia have their teachers sent. They give some very special lessons from the stage, set up close to the beach. Together with the almost 3,000 students they practice hard to pronounce words, learn irregular verbs, idioms and tongue twisters. Large video walls and speaker towers send idioms like “Over the Moon”, “On Cloud Nine” and “On Top of the World” to the last corner of the site.
Niklas from Germany sits in the middle of the crowd. He is studying in Sydney and here at Bondi to represent many other Germans learning at schools and colleges all over Australia. He says: “Why going to school in Australia? Very easy: the weather is perfect, the people are great and I love the way of live down here. Of course I’m here to meet people to see new places. The main reason is of course that I want to learn proper English. I’m sure fluent English will be absolutely important for my carrier.”
Students are a very important factor to the Australian economy. As at year-to-date October 2015, there were 615,061 enrolments by full-fee paying international students in Australia on a student visa. This represented a 9.7% per cent increase over October 2014 figures. Hosting so many students creates a flow-on effect for our economy. Richard Colbeck, the Minister for Tourism and International Education tells us: “This is a big industry for Australia, worth almost 20 billion dollars per year. But it also builds important international relationships with countries all over the world. Australia is now number three behind the U.S, and the UK in international education.”
Experts are calculating the sector will grow to A$30 billion by 2020, when each student will be spending on average $51,400 in fees and living costs. So figure shows: studying in Australia is not a bargain and will not be in future.