Introducing the ESL Language Travel Awards

We are ESL October 7, 2016

Here are a couple of things you should know about ESL. First, we believe that our students should have the best possible information and advice when choosing a study abroad programme. That’s why we invest so much in training our staff and place such an emphasis on collecting feedback. Second, we believe that excellence should be rewarded.

The brand-new ESL Language Travel Awards combine these two ideas perfectly.

Covering nine categories, from Language School of the Year to CSR Champion, these awards are your way of knowing which language schools have really delighted their students in the last 12 months.


A new highlight of the annual ESL workshop

Each year, we bring language schools from around the world together for a fun but serious workshop, where we can share experience and meet partners face to face. After this year’s success, the awards will now be a key moment during future ESL workshops.

As well as rewarding excellence, we believe that the awards will stimulate schools to work even harder to provide students with an exceptional experience. This is also why we are publishing a comprehensive breakdown of the results.



A year of anniversaries

2016 is our 20th anniversary and we have been celebrating throughout the year with special offers, giveaways and a series of parties. You can find more about it online with the hashtag #WeAreESL.

What better way could there be to celebrate our birthday than launching a series of awards to recognise excellence among language schools.

The award ceremony took place at the Montreux Casino, where the legendary Montreux Jazz Festival started 50 years ago. Five years later, the original building burnt down during a Frank Zappa concert, spreading Smoke on the Water of Lake Geneva (Deep Purple wrote the song while watching events unfold).

35 years ago, Queen and David Bowie recorded ‘Under Pressure‘ at the Mountain Studio in the rebuilt casino. Language schools up for an award certainly felt the pressure during the ceremony!


Achieving objectivity: how the awards are decided

To ensure that the awards are fair, we consulted a statistician for advice on the weighting of the various elements that make up each category.

The two essential factors are the ratings from the feedback that we collect from students after their study abroad stay, and the evaluation of ESL team members who work with the schools on a daily basis. The minimum amount of feedback required for each category was an important way to ensure that rankings reflect broad student experiences.

When students return from their study abroad stay, we ask them to rate all aspects of their experience, including facilities, teaching quality, accommodation and leisure. Behind these questions are more specific ones in each category (for example distance from school, standard of room, standard of shared areas, food and location all fall under ‘accommodation’).

Any ESL partner school – there are more than 400 of them around the world, the largest selection of any agency – is eligible to win an award. Schools must receive a certain number of reviews during the 12-month period to be considered for an award – the number varies according to category.

In most categories, the top ten schools are first ranked by student feedback, and then more than 180 members of our staff who work directly with schools rate them based on their own experiences. The scores are then combined to find a winner. (The questions we ask our team really boil down to “how does working with this school make it easier for you to serve clients?”)

Our team work daily with students and schools. The relationship involves not only product knowledge and know-how, but also logistics, availabilities and dealing with special requests. As well as caring for the needs of students and listening carefully to them, our team regularly visit schools, enabling them to give comprehensive feedback. All of this work allows us and our partners schools to deliver a personalised experience to each student.

In some categories, only student feedback counts. For example, Teaching Programme of the Year and Leisure Programme of the Year. These are directly linked to students’ on-site experience.

The CSR Champion category is based on schools’ use of our CSR-Self Assessment tool. This online questionnaire allows partner schools to self-assess the degree of achievement in their CSR strategies. With our commitment to sharing CSR best practice in the field, we are uniquely placed to give this award. Schools which are members of groups are measured as a whole, as opposed to individual schools.


Here are the top ten in each category:

School of the Year (English)

1. Brooklyn School of English 4.52
 2. EC Brighton 4.47
 3. BSC Brighton 4.42
 4. Atlantic Galway 4.38
 5. Liverpool School of English 4.38
 6. St Giles Brighton 4.34
 7. Wimbledon School of English 4.24
 8. ILSC Vancouver 4.19
 9. BSC London Centre 4.15
 10. ILSC Toronto 4.05

Criteria: 40 reviews minimum, 50% student, 50% ESL Team.


School of the Year (other languages)

1. Institut Européen de Français Montpellier 4.43
 2. Escuela de Idiomas Nerja 4.27
 3. Linguaviva Firenze 4.19
 4. ALPADIA Montreux 4.17
 5. Ih CLIC Sevilla 4.15
 6. Kudan Institute of Japanese Language 4.14
 7. International House DILIT Roma 4.14
 8. Accademia Italiana Salerno 4.11
 9. Taronja Valencia 4.09
 10. ALPADIA Freiburg 4.02

Criteria: 20 reviews minimum, 50% student, 50% ESL Team.


School Group of the Year

1. EC 4.46
 2. BSC 4.36
 3. St Giles International 4.29
 4. Kings Education 4.25
 5. Lexis 4.2
 6. ILSC 4.15
 7. ALPADIA 4.13
 8. Study group 4.06
 9. Enforex / Don Quijote 4.05
 10. ELS 4.03

Criteria: Minimum 5 schools in a group, 50% student, 50% ESL Team.


School Facilities of the Year

1. Kings London 4.54
 2. EC Brighton 4.51
 3. Brooklyn School of Languages 4.5
 4. LAL Sliema 4.47
 5. BSC Brighton 4.42
 6. Lexis Seoul 4.41
 7. St Giles San Francisco 4.38
 8. Embassy English San Diego 4.35
 9. Institut Européen de Français Montpellier 4.33
 10. Atlantic Galway 4.3

Criteria: 30 reviews minimum, 70% student, 30% ESL Team.


Accommodation of the Year

1. Ih Belfast 4.59
 2. Atlantic Galway 4.54
 3. Institut Européen de Français Montpellier 4.45
 4. BSC Brighton 4.42
 5. Glasgow School of English 4.41
 6. EC Miami 4.32
 7. ILSC Montreal 4.3
 8. EC Brighton 4.29
 9. ALPADIA Montreux 4.28
 10. Kudan Institute of Japanese Language 4.25

Criteria: 30 reviews minimum, 70% student, 30% ESL Team.


Teaching Programme of the Year

1. ALPADIA Lyon 4.79
 2. St Giles San Francisco 4.79
 3. St Brelade’s Jersey 4.72
 4. Brooklyn School of Languages 4.7
 5. CIAL Lisboa 4.66
 6. Wimbledon School of English 4.62
 7. EC New York 4.59
 8. BSC Oxford 4.54
 9. Atlantic Galway 4.53
 10. Escuela de Idiomas Nerja 4.4

Criteria: 30 reviews minimum, 100% student.


Leisure Programme of the Year

1. BSC Brighton 4.52
 2. Wimbledon School of English 4.47
 3. St Giles San Francisco 4.45
 4. BSC Oxford 4.44
 5. EC New York 4.44
 6. Atlantic Galway 4.36
 7. Taronja Valencia 4.35
 8. ALPADIA Montreux 4.32
 9. LAL Cape Town 4.27
 10. EC Brighton 4.26

Criteria: 30 reviews minimum, 100% student.


CSR Champion of the Year

1. EC 8.43
 2. NZLC 8.4
 3. ISI Dublin 6.7
 4. French in Normandy 6.6
 5. ILSC 6.22
 6. English in Chester 5.8
 7. International House Belfast 5.3
 8. Liverpool School of English 5.3
 9. Escuela de idiomas Nerja 5.2
 10. St Giles International 5.11

Criteria: 100% ESL CSR Self-assessment tool results. In this category, schools that are part of a group are measured as a whole as opposed to individual schools. This encourages groups to share best practice and not focus expertise on a single centre.


Junior Programme of the Year

1. Torbay Language Centre 4.32
 2. Colegio Benalmádena Málaga 4.28
 3. Brighton College 4.19
 4. Campus Central Leysin 4.09
 5. Summer Camp San Sebastian 4.03
 6. London City Campus 4.02
 7. St Paul’s Bay College Malta 4.02
 8. St Martin’s College Malta 4.01
 9. Galway Summer Camp 4
 10. Waldsee Campus Freiburg 4

Criteria: 20 reviews minimum, 50% student, 50% staff.


During the ceremony there are also awards for ESL staff.

Congratulations to all nominees

All schools listed here have given our students an experience to remember in the last 12 months. Keep working hard to deliver the best experience and next year’s winner could be you!


By Krister Weidenhielm

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