ESL schools – will they survive? Radio documentary

Elaine Brennan

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English Language Schools are one of the main reasons the tourism industry is doing well. If a student can study while travelling, it offers a new and exciting experience. Ireland is one of the top English language-learning destinations. This could increase further, particularly among EU citizens, in the aftermath of Brexit. English as a second Language, or ESL, is a growing industry that remains seasonal and temporary.

In ELA, a language school on Capel Street, a  range of  students come to study, including Brazilian, Vietnamese, Venezuelan and Korean students.

 

The main aim for students is to improve their English. This can include taking on a part-time job. Students are only limited to working 20 hours a week, and 40 in the summer under GNIB regulations. These rules only apply to non-EU students, who also pay for a visa upon their entry.

The one issue that students often complain about are the housing arrangements.  Landlords have taken advantage of a lack of language knowledge by tying students into cheaper but illegal leases, with sleeping shifts of four or more to one double bed. Internationals are often willing to pay cheaper leases but with worse living conditions. Complaints also include the banking system and, predictably, the weather.

It is true that students will find it quite hard to rent, renew their visas, hold down a steady job and study English. However, for a country that relies so heavily on tourism, Ireland also needs to realise how vital it is to accommodate language learners. Without tourism, our industry simply can’t continue to flourish.

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Elaine Brennan