Our Goal at OWLS
Our goal at OWLS is to contribute to the success of every client who walks through our doors. And one way to do this is by promoting fellowship as well as learning and cultural opportunities. We are genuinely interested in the well-being of our clients and therefore, look at opportunities to help them succeed
Melvin du Preez
The owner and senior English language practitioner has both an impressive and colourful curriculum vitae. He has been teaching EFL/ESL for just over 30 years; countries where he has taught include Canada, Angola, Japan, New Zealand and South Africa. He is also a qualified IELTS and Cambridge qualified FCE, CAE and CPE examiner. Apart from his English language teaching experience in both the private sector and the University of the Western Cape, Cape Peninsula University of Technology and Stellenbosch University, he has also worked in the banking and hospitality industry. In 1995 Melvin played a major role in the training of McDonald’s Restaurant staff when it was decided that they would established their first restaurant in South Africa.
To bear witness to a client’s fruition and to know that you have contributed to their success is why after 30 years of teaching EFL/ESL, you will still find me actively involved in the classroom. We had a young woman from Brazil who came to us some years back whose level of English was at a Beginner level. She now speaks English fluently, though still not native-like, she has become a very successful business woman. She and her husband now live in Cape Town, and are the proud owners of one of the most successful seafood restaurant franchises in South Africa. When people ask me what business I’m in, I tell them, I’m in the people business.
Welcome to the “Rainbow Nation”, a melting pot of cultures and colours, where Father Christmas carries a surfboard, snow is almost unheard of and people sing on their way to work. South Africa is a country of contrasts with wide open landscapes and bustling cosmopolitan cities. Our drastic past and hopeful future are not the only reasons why people come here. The warm climate, natural beauty, great value for money and the friendly people attract millions of tourists every year. South Africa has a fascinating mix of culture, with African, Eastern and Western influences reflected in most areas of society. This can be clearly seen in the different forms of dance, music, song and food coming from the various cultural groups.
Few countries on earth can compete with the grandness of the South African landscape. Range after range of mountains calls the traveler through sunburned deserts to explore deep forests, fruit-filled valleys and idyllic coastal hideaways where lazy rivers spill into blue lagoons. Though South Africa is ranked the third most biologically diverse country in the world, access to its diversity is far greater than in the richest equatorial jungles. Therefore, those seeking variety of life will probably find South Africa the most rewarding destination on earth. South Africa has more kinds of mammals than North America and South America combined, or Europe and Asia together. It has a sixth of the marine species known worldwide, with most of its coastal species found nowhere else. It also has the world’s richest floral kingdom. South Africa is furthermore the financial, economic and industrial capital of Africa.
Geography & Population
South Africa, with its 9 provinces and a total population of 50 million, has a beautiful and diverse landscape on a surface area which is bigger than Holland, Belgium, Italy, France and Germany put together. The Western Cape is the fourth largest province and has a wide variety of scenery, colours and cultures. The total population of the Western Cape is 5 million and consist of English and Afrikaans speaking white people (25%), Coloureds (55%) and Xhosa (20%). South Africa has eleven official languages. In the Western Cape the official languages are Afrikaans, English and Xhosa. Eighty percent of South Africans profess Christianity.
Overall, the Western Cape climate is typically Mediterranean with warm, dry summers (September to April) and mild, moist winters (May to August) and low summer rainfall prevail. In the arid semi-desert of the Karoo this differs, with dry winters and low summer rainfall. On the coast during summer, the temperature ranges from 15-27 degrees Celsius. Inland it increases by 3-5 degrees. During winter it ranges between 7-18 degrees. Inland the mornings are 5 degrees and at midday around 22 degrees. Just be aware of the forceful “Cape Doctor” that appears as if from nowhere. This south-easterly wind helps clear the air of the Fairest Cape for your enjoyment, and drapes Table Mountain with a snow-white tablecloth of clouds that lay the “table” for a wonderful stay.
Tap water is perfectly safe to drink in the Western Cape, although the mineral content is different to what you might be used to. Electricity is 240v-50 cycle A.C. and 3 round-pins/plugs are used in the wall sockets. Plugs can be purchased for R10 at most convenience shops.
As waitrons rely on tips to pay their wages, it is customary to give a tip of 10% in a restaurant, although up to 15% may be given if the service is outstanding. Tables over eight usually have an automatic 10% service charge added to the bill.
Currency & Foreign Exchange
The South African currency is Rand (R) and cents (C). There are 100 cents in a rand. Notes are in R200, R100, R50, R20 and R10; coins in R5, R2, R1, 50c, 20c, 10c and 5c. Foreign currency can be exchanged at any commercial bank, American Express, Thomas Cook, Western Union or Bureaux de Change which can be found at airports and most cities. South Africa has a modern banking system and the majority of shops and hotels accept credit cards. To exchange foreign currency a foreign passport will be required.
Automated Teller Machine (ATM)
24 hour Automated teller Machines are available throughout South Africa, but we do advise students to rather use those machines located inside the bank or in the shopping malls.
Banks are open from Monday –Friday at 09h00-15h30 and on Saturday from 08h30-111h30.
Metered taxis are about R10.00 per kilometer. Please phone them to organize a service as they cannot be flagged down unless located at major tourist destinations.
Mini buses (kombis) only operate during the day and have a fixed route. They are cheap and fast, however, they are not always mechanically sound.
Public buses (e.g. Golden Arrow – the government busses) and trains usually operate according to a fixed time-table. They are cheap and generally safe. However, certain routes are best left untraveled.
Cost of Living
The cost of living is low compared to most other countries. Only imported products have comparable prices. Here are some examples of what things costs (December 2014)
Mini bus - R5.00
Cinema - R60.00
Big Mac Meal at McDonald’s - R45.00
Chinese take-away - R60.00
Average dinner at a restaurant - Less than R100.00
Petrol (per litre) - R12.50
2 litre Coke - R13.00
1 bottle of beer - R14.00
1 bottle of wine - R25.00
Once courses have commenced no refund will be considered should a student arrive late, fail to attend lessons or cancel. Nor will a refund be considered should a student be asked to withdraw from said course(s) due to poor attendance or unsatisfactory performance and/or unbecoming behaviour.
Group lessons falling on a public holiday will not be compensated for in terms of time or money. One-to-one lessons, however, missed due to public holidays will be made up to a student at a date that is convenient to both course facilitator and student.