It would seem that foreign language courses remain an effective way to imitate natural communication and immersion in the environment, and the help of a qualified teacher will always give the right direction. But is it always?
Today, in almost every city there are many schools and studios that invite everyone to study with them. Unfortunately, not every one of them meets the high requirements. What should be guided by when choosing a language school? How to choose the right course? What do you need to know to avoid disappointment? Today we invite you to talk about the most important points in choosing an educational program.
1. Objectives and deadlines. What exactly would you like to learn and practice (grammar, speaking practice, specialized courses for preparing for international exams or USE exams, professional (technical) English, business English, intensive English courses, corporate English, English courses for preschool children / school age).
2. Time is money. Classic foreign language courses offer an average of 2-3 hours per week (academic hour for children and schoolchildren / double academic hour for adults). The course is usually designed for 8 months. Here, as in sports, regularity and consistency are important.
Due to the peculiarities of the rhythm of modern life and the catastrophic lack of time for those wishing to study, some schools offer more rare visits – once a week. In this case, you should take into account the peculiarities of your perception. A week is a long time and new information can simply be forgotten without practice and repetition.
There are intensive training courses where students attend classes 5-7 days a week. Of course, the duration of the course is also compressed to 2-3 months.
3. Trial lesson. After you have successfully set a goal, calculated the time you can allocate for learning a language, choose a direction, and proceed to action. Most modern studios offer their listeners to take a free trial lesson, where everyone can get an idea of the teacher’s style, get to know the group and, in practice, evaluate the advantages of the language school described on the site. Unfortunately, not all companies offer such a lesson, but if there is one, be sure to visit it. It is important to consider the small difference between a trial lesson and an open lesson here. The first is usually carried out in a group of students already studying the course, you are invited to join the conversation. Most often, in an open lesson, you will meet people who, like you, first came to class.
4. Testing. All competent language courses will definitely offer you a test to determine the level of your knowledge.
The fact is that most schools carry out diagnostics of their students in order to prevent the formation of a group where people with different levels of knowledge will be trained. In the future, such an omission can lead to misunderstanding of some and boredom of others, language conflicts and the collapse of the group itself.
5. Choosing a teacher. It is very important that the learning process is enjoyable and enjoyable. When choosing a teacher, pay attention not only to his certified qualifications (this is without discussion), but also to the benevolent attitude and ability to correctly present the material.
Many teachers are highly qualified specialists in the theoretical field, have many articles, but they absolutely cannot explain in an accessible and logical way the difference between, for example, Past Simple and Present Perfect.
6. Group size. An ideal group consists of 5 – 8 people, but if you want to go through specific preparation (for example for exams), we advise you to choose more chamber groups. In such conditions, the teacher will be able to devote more personal attention to each of the listeners.
7. What is the course about?
The first thing you should understand is the choice of methodology – classical or communicative.
The classical methodology implies classes in accordance with the level of the material (Beginner / Elementary – A1, Pre-Intermediate – A2, Intermediate – B1, Upper-Intermediate – B2, Advanced – C1, Proficiency – C2).
The advantage of this technique will be a step-by-step logical study of grammatical and lexical categories. You will be able to pay sufficient attention to both phonetics and spelling of words, learn to express your thoughts, enter into dialogue. One of the main disadvantages of this process is the lengthy period of basic training if you start learning English from scratch. After all, the listener can get enough practice only at the Pre-Intermediate / Intermediate stage.
The classical teaching method involves lengthy training, since each course is designed for several months.
The communicative technique is focused on communication and maintaining a dialogue. A significant advantage of
such an organization of the educational process is the focus on the development of communication skills. Classes are structured according to the principle “minimum theory, maximum speaking practice”. Having mastered the basic tools for constructing sentences, listeners will be able to enter into dialogue and express their opinion from the very first lessons. This technique is ideal for those who cannot allocate enough time to learn a foreign language. However, the disadvantage of such a course will be insufficient concentration on the development of lexical and grammatical aspects. Having mastered the elementary schemes, the listeners practically will not budge in terms of vocabulary and more complex grammatical structures. Here, online resources and sites for self-study of the English language, for example, Begin English, will come to the rescue. In addition, the communicative technique is more interactive and interesting.
8. Signing the contract. In conclusion, we want to give advice on the legal side of the issue. When signing the contract, pay attention to all the points, especially the conditions for refunds when missing classes (for a good reason). You should not take a course if the school forces you to pay all the tuition fees at once. You always have the option to split the payment monthly or in installments. Some schools hold promotions in the form of free lessons or discounts, which you can find out about if you ask about them yourself or look at the site!
An important point is the presence of state registration of a language school and a permit for educational activities. Be sure to ask if diplomas or certificates are issued upon graduation.
Feel free to find out as much useful information as possible. Competent administrators will not get annoyed and will tell you with a smile about all the great deals if they want to get you.
We wish you success and never question your abilities!