Choosing an English School
Wouldn’t it be great if there was a tripadvisor for language schools?
If there was a system for language school reviews, it might be easier for some to choose the right language school. We hope that with this blog post, we can give you some guidance on what to look out for in a language school. On some sites students can actually review English courses they took, but how do you find out which language school is the best for you?
There are many factors to consider when choosing an English language school and different things are important to different people. If you are looking for a course in another country that you are unfamiliar with, it can be particularly challenging to choose the right school.
We have tried to collate the 10 most important questions and directions that you can consider when choosing the right English school or English course for you.
1. What is included in the course price?
Accommodation is mostly not included in the course price, but you can choose how to live depending on your personal preferences and budget. Here you can read how to choose the right accommodation for you. Course materials such as course books are not always included in the course price as well as recognised exams. Social activities and excursions may have to be paid extra, but are sometimes free.
2. Does the school offer accommodation or assistance with accommodation? If so, how is the accommodation monitored and inspected?
Many students find staying in a homestay one of the best ways to supplement their English learning at school, so this might be a good option if the extra English practise is important for you. It’s also a great way to learn the culture and the way of life of the people in that country.
If you’re going into shared accommodation, find out how many people you’ll be sharing with and whether those people have different nationalities, so you can practise your English with them. Also ask about the facilities the accommodation offers and check its location in relation to public transport.
3. What is the class size?
Generally speaking, the more students in a class, the less individual attention you are likely to get and the smaller the class size, the more expensive the course is going to be.
4. What classes are running at the same time and can I easily move up or down a level?
Sometimes students start out in a class and discover quickly that they are either below or above the average class ability. In this case it is important that they can switch the class to a more suitable level and get adequate support in doing so.
5. How can I measure my progress and how do I get feedback?
It can be useful to know if you will be given homework that will be graded and whether you receive individual attention to discuss your goals and your progress. (Language in Group offers tutorials where students discuss this with their teacher in a confidential chat every week.)
6. What type of accreditation do the school have?
If the school is in the UK, it’s important that it is accredited by the British Council or another body such as ISI (Independent School Inspectorate) and if it is approved by the UK Border Agency.
7. What qualifications do the teachers have?
In the UK, Cambridge ESOL’s Certificate of English Language Teaching to Adults (CELTA) and Trinity College London’s Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (CertTESOL) are generally seen as minimum requirements for those teaching English as a foreign language. In Ireland you should check out if the teachers have a Certificate in English Language Teaching (CELT) certificate
Extra Tip: This is especially worth questioning if you are studying during a peak period such as over the summer as schools sometimes hire temporary teachers that may have less experience than full-time members of staff.
8. What facilities does the school have?
A computer room you can access out-of-hours might be handy . This is useful if you don’t have internet access at home. Also a library with ELT materials might be useful.
Some schools also have lounge rooms, coffee rooms or places to watch TV.
9. What are the transport links like to the school?
You’re unlikely to want to buy a car during your stay in the UK so research your journey to and from the school to ensure the commute isn’t too long. In London the daily commute for everyone is longer than in smaller cities and it’s useful to know this in advance, so you know what to expect!
10. Are any social events or activities organised?
If you don’t know anyone, it is great to attend events where you can meet other students. The good thing is that a language school is the friendliest place in the world because everyone is in the same situation and wants to make new connections!
Some schools also arrange excursions to other areas of the UK t
o allow students to combine sightseeing with their learning.