Alpha College of English: Interview with Stephen Shortt

7 November 2012

Quality Language Schools Worldwide

Alpha College of English is a family owned English language school located in the heart of Dublin’s city centre. Alpha College is not only a member of IALC, but a full member of EAQUALS - the two most prestigious quality marks in the international language learning world. Alpha College has a strong reputation for offering well planned and structured English language courses.

We chat to Managing Director Stephen Shortt to find out more about Alpha College of English and how it feels to be part of IALC.

Q: Hello Stephen, when did you join IALC and why?

Hi IALC! We joined IALC in 2009 and attended our first workshop in Milan. It had always been an ambition of ours to join IALC as it has a reputation of highlighting the very best independent schools around the world.

Q: How does it feel to be part of this exclusive global community of quality language schools?

A: It’s great. People often talk about the family atmosphere at the events and it’s abundantly evident. The ease with which members and competitors freely share information and knowledge is refreshing.

It’s also evident from speaking with partners that agents have a special regard for IALC and are confident that member schools have been well vetted for quality.

Q: How is 2012 going for you and how does it compare with last year?

A: 2012 has been a great year for us. As well as an increase in our ’regular students’ this year we had more than 150 teachers from various countries as students with us this summer.

We have been growing year on year since the global economic downturn started a few years ago and we are looking forward to next year.

Q: Alpha College of English was established in 1989. How have things changed at the school since then?

A: I remember juggling faxes, letters and phone calls to confirm partner enquiries, student bookings and workshop appointments. There have been huge advances in both using technology to run your school and your classroom to ultimately make everything easier, faster or cheaper for the students. If our computer systems went down and we all had to go back to a paper based system I think I would go mad!...

Q: What are your main aims for Alpha College of English?

A: I want to make more beneficial use of technology for our partners and students. I’m a big believer in using technology to bring people closer together and to help communication. I think technology should only be used to make communication easier - we are, after all, a true ’people industry’.

I want to build on our core General English programme and offer more specialised programmes to students and we have been working with some blended learning materials and developing some online follow-on courses for our students.

Q: Where do the majority of your students come from?

A: This year we have had 46 nationalities study with us with around 65% coming from Europe.

Q: What are your most popular student activities?

A:Amazingly, students coming to Ireland seem to enjoy the pub nights with teachers! Other tours which are always popular are to places like Glendalough which is a medieval monastic site in Wicklow or to the Guinness Factory in Dublin.

Q: Moving on to you, which is your own favourite travel destination?

A: My wife is Spanish so pretty much any free time we get is spent in one part of Spain or another - catching up with family and old friends.

Q: Your favourite pastime?

A: When I’m not looking after foreign language students, I am a keen archer. I am the chairman of our amateur club as well as the PR officer for Archery Ireland

Q: Your favourite meal?

A: I’m quite easily pleased so long as it’s not too spicy. I am a fan of Asian cuisine but it’s hard to beat a good home cooked meal...

Q: Your dream dinner guest(s)?

A: Being a bit of a geek it would probably be a mix of technology entrepreneurs or futurists. Steve Jobs would probably have been at the top of the list but as a strict vegan and notoriously picky about a variety of things he may not have been the best guest!

My dream list seems to change regularly, especially as I watch more and more talks featuring some truly fascinating people from around the world!

Q: Finally, what would you say are the main benefits of learning English at Alpha College of English?

A: As cliche as it sounds, I really think the people make the difference. We have a fantastic team of committed, involved and dynamic teachers and caring support staff.

We have a structured syllabus which is enthusiastically supported by a team of teachers who actively participate in its development and who make sure that there is always a strong focus on students needs. Students appreciate this and can see consistent improvement in their language learning.

Students have a great support network within the school are we try to make them feel comfortable and confident, just have a look at our most recent student interviews video

Alpha College of English provides a range of English language programmes to adults in Dublin city centre. The college was originally founded in 1989 by Patrick & Marie Shortt as an executive focussed English language school for adults. The culture of quality is still ingrained in the company DNA as proven, in part, by Alpha’s membership of IALC and EAQUALS but also by significant levels of referrals, repeat business as well as positive student & partner feedback.

Alpha College tel +353 1 8747 024 Email:

More Information:

Alpha College of English website


Alpha College Student Video


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