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Galway Cultural Institute, Ireland: Interview with Celestine Rowland


Galway Cultural Institute is located in Galway, on the Atlantic west coast of Ireland. Galway is a university city with lots of festivals for everyone to get involved in. The School offers a wide range of English language courses to students from more than 30 countries.

We chat to director Celestine Rowland to find out more about Galway Cultural Institute and how it feels to be part of IALC.

Q: Hello Celestine, when did you join IALC and why?
We joined IALC in 2002 and it has been one of the most strategically important decisions of our growth and development as a school. We joined because we wanted to be part of a world-class quality organisation that has a collegiate atmosphere, and to which we could contribute.

Q: How does it feel to be part of this exclusive global community of quality language schools?
IALC is a wonderful and very exclusive community and GCI is privileged to be part of it. It is a great network and members share experiences and information which help us to make key business decisions.

Q: How is 2013 going for you and how does it compare with last year?
The first quarter of 2013 is up on 2012. 2011 & 2012 were very successful years for GCI. We are targeting certain new markets this year – Russia, South America and some Asian countries. The IALC Roadshow to Russia in Autumn 2012 has brought an increase in bookings for GCI courses which is a very quick return.

Q: Galway Cultural Institute was established in 1989. How have things changed at the school since then?
Change has been dramatic since then. We will be 25 years in business next year. At that time, EFL in Ireland was essentially seasonal, and it has grown to become a very professional and year round activity. The requirements of students have changed as English has become the essential language of communication. Students require courses that are professionally delivered and where they can see that they are making progress linked to the CEFR. Working in EFL is now a career choice for qualified teachers and managers as there are lots of opportunities to develop a career path.

Q: What are your main aims for Galway Cultural Institute?
We would like Galway Cultural Institute to be the school of choice in Ireland for 2013. We were recently named by EducationStars as the Best School in Ireland, which is a huge honour. Our continuing aim is to match or exceed students’ and agents’ expectations with the quality of our courses, student progress and our customer service. We have a planned training programme for staff and managers to ensure that we are at the forefront of developments in pedagogy and in our delivery of services. We have launched a number of innovative programmes in English language combined with Galway Business School courses for 2013 including a range of Foundation and other courses.

Q: Where do the majority of your students come from?
The majority of our students are from Europe – depending on the season from France, Switzerland and Spain. We have increasing numbers from central and south America, Korea and the Middle East.

Q: What are your most popular student activities?
The most popular activities are where we involve students in community activities like fundraising activities for charities (cancer, the homeless etc) or sports activities like football tournaments or festival activities. International parties like Carnival or Korean New Year linked to food are always in demand.

Q: Moving on to you, which is your own favourite travel destination?
Travelling for a living means that there are so many places that have become favourites. I love Spain and Switzerland and we travel for both business and pleasure to both. So many other destinations like France, Mexico and Brasil have become ‘busman’ and holiday destinations.

Q: Your favourite pastime?
My favourite pastime is being in Galway, going for a walk on the prom and Sunday dinner at home with our children.

Q: Your favourite meal?
Sunday roast at home – preferably lamb.

Q: Your dream dinner guest(s)?
Graham Norton with a gang of friends.

Q: Finally, what would you say are the main benefits of learning English at Galway Cultural Institute?
Learning a language is a life changing experience. The ability to speak another language and understand its culture ensures openness to change and an appreciation of diversity. This is particularly true of those who have spent an extended period studying a language abroad and learning its culture. The experience develops interpersonal skills, which ensures an openness to change, an ability to adapt to circumstances and to see the needs of others; traits are essential for a changing global economy.

Galway Cultural Institute offers top quality English language courses in an excellent supportive teaching and learning environment. Our facilities have spectacular views over the Atlantic Ocean. We provide students with an extensive range of additional opportunities options to practice language, and our students really engage in a varied social programme with to get involved in the local community. Students can choose to add on accredited business and professional courses with Galway Business School that can lead to a degree or postgraduate programme.

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