Photo by Annika Gordon on Unsplash

The language wave

How English as a Foreign Language learners are impacting Bournemouth

Bournemouth is seeing a growing surge in enrolment from individuals seeking to improve their English language skills in a vibrant and immersive setting.

Each year, thousands of English as a Foreign Language (EFL) learners from all corners of the globe flock to this idyllic destination.

Bournemouth has quickly become a thriving hub of cultural exchange and international synergy. This multicultural tapestry enriches the town’s social landscape, fostering a sense of inclusivity and offering a glimpse into the broader world beyond its southern shores.

Abdul Kahwaji, an ambitious 19 year old, came to study in Bournemouth from Syria. “The people are lovely. Everyone is very social and kind. My favourite part is of course the beach,” he said. “I have met so many friends and worked in a supermarket which improved my social skills.”

Through his rewarding education at Kings Bournemouth, Abdul now prepares for his dream career in Biomedical science at university.

Kings is frequently labelled one of the most prestigious language schools in Bournemouth. Followed by Westbourne academy, United World school of English, BEET language Centre, Anglo-Continental, and Europa.

Bournemouth has around 30 language schools.  It can be a competitive industry.

Certain schools offer unique attributes, whether that’s based on its location, size, the courses on offer and the accommodation they provide.

Tallulah Caines is a Residential Houseparent at the Kings Charminster Residence, which provides boarding accommodation for students under 18.

Sat in her office at work, she describes her main responsibilities; looking after the students welfare, making them feel welcome, teaching them life skills, making sure they are prepared and ready for school and monitoring meal times.

“When we have a new student, we introduce them to the others and ask them to walk to school together on the first day. The young learners are often very homesick, we welcome them and help them feel at ease, we spend time talking to them.”

“The students adapt to living with each other and become more open to other cultures, learning from each other and sharing stories”

EFL learners often share aspects of their native cultures, whether through traditional dress, music, dance, or culinary delights.

The exchange of ideas, perspectives, and experiences not only enriches individual lives but also strengthens the collective fabric of the community.

Bournemouth summertime is the busiest season for the EFL industry.

During this time, Europa school of English runs ‘international projects’, a one to three week stay that allows young learners to fully immerse themselves in the British culture through stimulating morning lessons and thrilling afternoon activites.

Matic Gortnar, the academic consult for IP, says: “We want to prepare children and teenagers for life in the global world of the future. We try to let students acquire knowledge that will help them to cope with life in a foreign country.

“We have five centres running in the UK. Bournemouth is the only centre that’s at the seaside, which teenagers find especially appealing. It’s also our only UK centre that offers the possibility to sign up for a surfing course in the afternoons.

“We work with different local organizations that help students get immersed in the local community as quickly as possible in the limited amount of time they spend there.

“Our product offers either residential or host-family accommodation. The later offers students to get to know English culture and experience the day-to-day routine of a British family.”

Beyond the language schools and cultural exchanges, the presence of EFL learners can be felt in local businesses and establishments that have opened to offer a ‘taste of home’ for our new neighbours.

These food markets, cafes and shops provide locals the chance to experience global flavours in the comfort of their own town, as well as contributing to local economy and commercial landscape.

Amer Alshaim, 37, is a staff member at ‘Metro Market’, an international store on Charminster high street. The street is a prominent international hotspot that caters for a multitude of backgrounds.

Sat on a bench together outside the store, he tells me;

“The customers that shop here are mostly Middle Eastern; Lebanese, Jordan. Or Mediterranean, Turkish and Libyan.”

“It’s always nice to meet new people, new mentalities are positive for the environment.”

As his eyes narrow, he thoughtfully says “There are different gestures and attitudes. We must respect each other and work together. We musn’t be ignorant.”

Baravan Mohamed Natheef, 22, works at the shisha bar a few doors down. When asked about his thoughts on the cultural representation in Bournemouth, an excitable smile envelopes his face,

“I am so happy!”.

Looking ahead, the impact of EFL learners on Bournemouth is poised to grow even stronger.

Networks will continue to strengthen ties with the town, fostering a lifelong connection and inspiring future generations of language learners.

Bournemouth’s reputation as a global destination will continue to attract individuals seeking not only linguistic growth but also an immersive experience in a town that thrives on multiculturalism.

This feature makes use of AI- generated content. Paragraph 1 was written with the help of chat GPT. Multiple prompts were used to generate text, which was then manually fact-checked, verified, and edited by the author. Cover photo: Annika Gordon on Unsplash

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