Ireland Has Highest Quality of Life

Ireland, that Shamrock Isle, well-known for its natural beauty and storied history, has received a new distinction: the world’s highest quality of life. The honor, bestowed by the Economist Intelligence Unit’s 2005 Quality-of-Life index, is part of the paper’s ongoing effort to measure happiness around the world. While other organizations have released similar surveys in the past (and this is weekly’s 17th iteration) their measurements are based on more subjective surveys about happiness rather. Likewise conceding that wealth – the standard measurement used to compare nations – is not the best indicator of a nation’s overall satisfaction, however, The Economist’s survey compares 111 countries by aggregating nine factors that range from traditional metrics like wealth and political freedom to relative intangibles like gender equality and community life.

Taken together, then, Ireland leads the pack with the survey’s highest score – 8.33 out of 10 – and strongly outperforms Switzerland (8.07) and Norway (8.05),the second and third place finishers. Perhaps more surprising still, Ireland’s neighbor and longtime rival, the United Kingdom, ranked 29th – solidly in the second tier of surveyed nations.
This result is clear indicator of Ireland’s rising position in the world. Long considered a European backwater, as recently as the 1990s the country was better known for its mass emigrations than its quality of life. Of late, however, membership in the European Union and the resulting loosening of trade restrictions has transformed the island nation. Where once thousands of its citizens left every year in search abroad, favorable exchange programs with other EU member state has seen a significant uptick in Ireland student visa applicants.

In fact, the survey reveals what many international students in Ireland already known. Attracted by its favorable climate, low cost of living, and friendly people, it has established itself as a major player in both English language and higher education.


Why Study in New Zealand

With its world-famous natural beauty routinely on display in movie theaters around the world, New Zealand is, quite literally, the stuff of legends. More to the point, its renown for being for amazing is every bit as justified as its reputation for remoteness.

Recent changes to its immigration policy, however, mean that New Zealand is more accessible than ever. Indeed, a series of flexible visa arrangements mean that, in New Zealand, you have the best of both worlds. Citizens from many countries – namely Canada, Germany, Japan, Taiwan and the United Kingdom – are eligible for New Zealand’s Working Holiday program and entitled to study without a formal student visa for up to six months out of twelve. Similarly, students from most other countries are free to enroll in short-term English language program (three months in length or less) on a visitor visa. Student who are seeking a degree (or have otherwise longer term plans) can take advantage of the New Zealand student visa and even work part-time during the academic year.

Between work and school, however, be sure to leave plenty of time to enjoy the best of what New Zealand has to offer. It truly is one of the greatest travel destinations in the world. From the North Island’s volcanoes to the South Island’s fjords – and with world-class cities and beaches in between – it has something to offer visitors of all stripes.

This varied landscape, along with its four distinct seasons, means that there are incredible sports and adventure activities to engage in no matter the season. The country is overflowing with recreation activities that range from the sedate (like gold and horseback riding) to the extreme (like rock climbing and hang gliding).

Finally, its people are world-renowned in their own right for their warm spirits and friendly dispositions. They, truly, are the stars of the show and will doubtless make your visit a memorable one!

If you are looking to study English in New Zealand, check out the ESL Directory to find the program that’s right for you.


Reasons to Study in Canada

Among those in the know, it’s no surprise that more and more international student are opting to study in Canada. Indeed, the reasons to study abroad in Canada are as diverse as its people and as great as its landscape. Here, however, is our short list of the top three reasons to study in Canada:

Academics: From primary school to college and beyond, Canada’s education system ranks among the finest in the world. More to the point, its finely calibrated accreditation organizations (such as the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada) ensure that a Canadian degree really is as valuable as the equivalent certification in the US or UK. Also, because Canada is a uniquely bilingual nation – its national languages are both English and French – it provides an unique language immersion experience. Nowhere else in the English-speaking world do the two languages cohabitate to freely, and because of this many of its colleges and universities offer English as a Second Language or French as a Second language programs.

Cost: Excellence does not mean excess, however. School fees – and the cost of living in general – in Canada are among the lowest in the English-speaking world. The average cost of a tuition in Canada is fully a third lower than it is in the United States. Meanwhile, the overall cost of living in Toronto, Canada’s largest city, is 30% lower than London’s cost of living. Those kind of savings add up!

Work: Canada Student Visa holders are allowed to work on campus during their studies and many provinces encourage off-campus work as well. The Canadian office of Citizenship and Immigration also generously allows international students who have graduated from a college or university in Canada to work in Canada for up to one year after they receive their degree. That means your studies may well be the first step in the path to success in Canada!

If you are looking to study English in Canada, check out the ESL Directory to find the program that’s right for you.


Alphabet Soup: ESL, EFL, EAL?

If you are considering learning English for school, you have probably encountered the confusing acronyms that are used to describe English education programs around the world. To make matters worse, the differences between EFL, ESL, and EAL, ESOL can have a profound impact on language instruction. To help settle the confusion, here is an overview of the three main English education acronyms currently used around the world.

  • EFL, also known as English as a Foreign Language, is a generic term used to describe the use of English in a non-English-speaking region. For example, English language classes taught in Seoul (the Korean-speaking capital of South Korea) are considered EFL. Because EFL students study in countries that do not use English as a primary language, language immersion possibilities are limited.
  • ESL, or English as a Second Language, is by contrast used to describe English instruction that takes place in a primarily English-speaking country. This includes the United Kingdom and the United States, as well as in countries where English is spoken widely. Students who travel to the United States for a language immersion program are taking place in an ESL program. Because the country of study actively employs the target language these programs allows students ample opportunities to improve their language skills outside the classroom
  • However, because ESL implies English is a student’s second language – which is not always the case and can have important ramifications on language acquisition – the terms ESOL (English to Speakers of Other Languages) and EAL (English as an Additional Language) have spread as a response to the term ESL. For example, a student from Eastern Europe may speak several languages fluently before beginning their English education. Because both are more widely – and accurately – applicable to students of all backgrounds, the use of these terms is expected to grow.