Thanks to Brazilian students like Carla Menezes, the English language sector in Northern Ireland is booming, helping contribute £16m to our economy annually.
Carla is currently in Northern Ireland learning English through a four-week scholarship provided through English UK – Northern Ireland, the local umbrella organisation for the English language sector, with support from Invest NI and The British Council.
Based at International House Belfast and INTO at Queen’s University Belfast — two of the seven British Council accredited schools in Northern Ireland — Carla is part of the strong International contingent that comes to learn English in Northern Ireland every year.
According to Jonathan Stewart Deputy Director of the British Council, the English language sector is an often hidden contributor to the Northern Ireland economy.
He said: “English continues to be an important language for countries across the world.
“The business landscape is ever-changing, and as global divides continue to blur, language and intercultural skills play an ever-increasing role. Emerging economies will therefore present new opportunities and play an important role for the English language sector in Northern Ireland.
However, Mr Stewart said International students have far more to offer than just a boost to the economy.
He said: “International students can improve the education experience for all those involved — they bring a diversity of cultures to Northern Ireland, helping to widen cultural awareness, gain new perspectives and make Northern Ireland more inclusive as a whole.”
Though according to Brazilian Carla Menezes, the experience is mutually beneficial.
She said: “Before this scholarship I hadn’t even heard of Belfast, let alone thought about coming here, but I’m so glad I did.
“Apart from improving my English skills I’ve also met some of the friendliest people and learnt about an entirely new culture — I really don’t want to go home!”
In Northern Ireland there are seven English language schools accredited by the British Council. For more information visit http://www.britishcouncil.org/northernireland-english.htm
The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations.