Languages International Interview with Darren Conway

21 August 2012

Quality Language Schools Worldwide

Languages International provides a world-class learning environment from its group of charming historic houses in a park in the centre of Auckland, “City of Sails”, and has a sister school in Christchurch on New Zealand’s South Island.

We spoke to school director Darren Conway to find out more about Languages International, Auckland and how it feels to be part of IALC.

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

A: We joined in 2010 because IALC is clearly the world’s leading association of language schools and we like to keep good company.

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

A: It’s great to be marketing ourselves with a group of schools that we trust, and to be well connected with experienced people around the world who understand this industry.

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

A: 2012 has been challenging because the NZ dollar currently makes us a less affordable option than we have been in the past, so overall it has been a more difficult year than last year, but the good news is that students are returning to Christchurch, where our second branch is.

Q: Languages International was established in 1978. How have things changed at the school since then?

A: Languages International pioneered the industry in New Zealand, so back then there were fewer markets that even knew about New Zealand and the most important marketing tool was a map to show where we are. Now we have more than 40 nationalities coming to the school every year. In many respects though, there has been little change: we operate from the same buildings in the park in central Auckland, and Chris and Frances Woolcott, who established the school, are still the owners and ensuring the we hold on to the same philosophy of reliable quality. One important change is that we now have a second school, in Christchurch, and another is that we offer the kind of state-of-the art self access facilities that more independent learners expect these days.

Q: What are your main aims for Languages International?

A: To preserve our performance and reputation as a world-class language school, and to make sure that everyone involved in the school – owners, staff, students and partners – gain value from that.

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

A: Our top 5 source countries are Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, Japan, Korea and Brazil, with Russia, Taiwan and China close behind.

Q: What are your most popular student activities?

A: It depends on the time of year, but certainly sailing, surfing – or learning to surf – and just walks around parts of the city, both the central city and the parks around it, are popular in Auckland. Weekend trips to the ski-fields are also popular in both schools in winter. And we find that students still enjoy parties or trips to bars that we organise so that they can socialise with each other.

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

A: Possibly Paris, since it’s a place that I often find time or reason to go back to. But actually I find that there’s always something interesting to discover in almost any new place. This year I’ve been to both Beijing and New York for the first time and I loved them both, but that sense of discovery applies to smaller places, too.

Q: Your favourite pastime?

A: Aside from just chilling out with my family, I am a fairly recent convert to the religion of cycling.

Q: Your favourite meal?

A: Very difficult, because I love all kinds of food, but possibly the first asparagus of spring followed by barbecued New Zealand lamb in my garden.

Q: Your dream dinner guest(s)?

A: I’ll settle for my sister (and my two brothers, who I am sure would like to see her, too). Plus Tetsuya – a Japanese-born Australian chef – as long as he did some of the cooking. And anybody Irish to do all the talking - they don’t have to be famous because they’ve all got it!

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

A: You don’t need formal lessons to learn a language – everyone can learn languages naturally. But teachers help you learn faster and go to a higher level, and learning with us means that happens with exceptional teachers in exceptional environments. And that’s all wrapped up in the fact that New Zealand is in a beautiful, far-off corner of the world that everyone should experience at least once in their life. The time that young people (especially) have to travel and learn before they settle down to careers and families is a great time to do that.

Languages International offers an outstanding language learning environment and a great experience from its character buildings in the centre of Auckland and Christchurch, New Zealand. Shortlisted for the LTM Star Award, Southern Hemisphere from 2007-2011, and winners in 2008.

Languages International tel +64 9 309 0615 Email:

More Information:

Languages International website


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