English Language Centre: a gateway to mastering the language

22 May 2024 | Story Lyndon Julius. Photos Lerato Maduna. Read time 5 min.
The launch was highlighted with a dividend contribution of R10 million to the Faculty of Humanities. The cheque was handed over to the dean of Humanities, Professor Shose Kessi.
The launch was highlighted with a dividend contribution of R10 million to the Faculty of Humanities. The cheque was handed over to the dean of Humanities, Professor Shose Kessi.

Stepping into the newly opened facility of the English Language Centre (ELC) at the University of Cape Town (UCT) on Adderley Street, one immediately gets a sense of the energy and excitement that usually accompany new beginnings. On 17 May, the ELC officially opened its new facility with 12 new classrooms in the Cape Town CBD, welcoming international students eager to learn English.

The ELC is a department within the Faculty of Humanities at UCT, and students from all over the world enrol to help improve their English across all levels of proficiencies. The centre offers short courses in teaching English as a foreign language and students can study for as short as one week or up to 52 weeks.

“Last year we received 1 246 students from 63 different countries, and we sold 13 521 student weeks. We are an income-generating department for the Faculty of Humanities,” said Simon Harrison, the principal of the ELC. The launch was highlighted with a dividend contribution of R10 million to the Faculty of Humanities. The cheque was handed over to the dean of Humanities, Professor Shose Kessi.

State-of-the-art offerings

The state-of-the-art centre stands out as a place where learning English is not just theoretical but conversational with real-world applications. Founded in 2016, the ELC has steadily built a reputation for excellence.

“We have always aimed to provide not just language skills, but a comprehensive learning experience that our students can carry with them throughout their lives,” Harrison continued.

So, what makes the ELC so special? Johannes Kraus, the business development manager, shared a few insights into the centre’s unique offerings that set it apart from other language schools in South Africa and beyond.

“Firstly, UCT’s English Language Centre is part of one of Africa’s top universities, which means students benefit from high academic standards and resources. Being integrated with UCT gives our students access to world-class facilities and a prestigious academic environment.”

Simon Harrison
Simon Harrison, principal of the ELC.

Additionally, the centre offers a diverse range of courses tailored to meet unique needs: from basic to professional and proficient levels. This flexibility ensures that whether you have a minimum grasp of the English language looking to have a basic conversation or aiming to perfect your business English, there is a course designed just for you.

One standout feature is the small class sizes, which promote individual attention and a personalised learning experience. “We believe in giving our students the attention they deserve. Smaller classes mean our teachers can focus on each student's progress,” Harrison explained.

The centre’s teachers are all highly qualified and experienced, bringing a wealth of knowledge and a passion for teaching. Harrison continued: “Our instructors are not just teachers; they are mentors who support and guide our students every step of the way.”

Cultural immersion, extracurricular activities

Another unique aspect is the emphasis on practical language use and cultural immersion. Furthermore, the centre offers a comprehensive support system for international students – from assistance with visas to finding accommodation, they ensure a smooth transition and a welcoming environment.

“Cape Town is a vibrant, multicultural city, and we encourage our students to explore and interact with the local community as part of their learning journey,” Kraus added. “This real-world practice is invaluable for gaining confidence and fluency. We want our students to feel at home from the moment they arrive.”

The ELC also provides a variety of extracurricular activities, such as excursions, social events, and workshops. These activities are designed to enhance the learning experience and help students make the most of their time in Cape Town.

The ELC launch
The launch of the ELC’s new facility took place on 17 May.

“Learning a language is not just about classroom time. It is about experiencing the culture and making lasting connections,” said Harrison.

Technology plays a significant role at the ELC, with modern classrooms equipped with the latest learning tools. “We use cutting-edge technology to create interactive and engaging lessons,” Alex Abdellah, the head of Academics at ELC, said.

The centre also prides itself on its inclusive and supportive community. “We welcome students from all over the world and celebrate the diversity they bring,” Harrison proudly stated. “This global mix enriches the learning environment and prepares students for a future in a connected world.”

It is evident that the ELC is more than just a place to learn English; it is a gateway to new opportunities and adventures. For those ready to embark on this journey, UCT offers not only the skills needed to master the English language but also an unforgettable experience in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

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