What is the best way to find a good quality English language school?
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What is the best quality English language school?


If you have decided to study English overseas the first step is finding a suitable English course. It is not until after being accepted by the school that you should apply for a visa or make travel arrangements.
It is impossible to say which schools is best to study English, as every student will have different preferences and preferred methods of learning. When you are looking for for an English school keep in mind what is important to you. Generally, smaller class sizes allow students to practice speaking and hearing more of the English learned in class. School facilities like language labs and libraries allow for further study. A canteen or common room gives students the opportunity to use the English learned in class with people at a similar level. A good activity programme enables students to hear less complicated English explanations in a real life environment which facilities learning and retention. English language schools have comparatively high staff turnover and it is often the individual teacher who is responsible for a positive experience.
That said, some schools are sloppy. Their prices are inflated, their staff untrained, curriculum poorly organised and overall quality is low.


How to find a good English language school.

Finding a school that's right for you can be difficult. It can be difficult to find a school among so many. The first step in choosing a school is to ask yourself where you want to study. Once you have decided on a location you can narrow down your search and find a school. You can save time by asking yourself a few relevant questions before looking for a course.


1. Where do you want to study? What is important to you? Do you want to study in a small town or a big city? Do you want to live in a the city centre, the suburbs or in the countryside? Do you want to pursue other interests outside of study or learn a new skill? Do you intend to work while studying? Deciding on the kind of life you want to lead while studying will help you narrow down your geographic options.

2. What kind of programme do you want to study? Are you looking for an intensive course where you will learn as much as possible or would you prefer a more relaxed environment where the emphasis is on social and cultural activities? Would you like to study English appropriate to your career, such as business, legal, medical or military English? If you'd like to spend time skiing there isn't much point in choosing a school in Sydney, Australia.

3. How do you plan to use your qualification once you have completed the course? Many schools have agreements with universities and third level institutes where you can enter a college or university after successful completion of the course. If you are looking to emigrate a studying in a country can make it easier to emigrate there.

4. How much are you willing to spend? The number of hours and facilities of the school may be reflected in the price. Are you going to look for a part time job? Ideally you should have enough money where finding a job is a bonus. Unless you have special skills finding work without a decent level of English can never be guaranteed. It is also easier to find a part time job once you are there in person and available for interviews. Do you want to cook for yourself or are you planning on eating in restaurants? Would you like to stay close to your home country or visit somewhere further away.

5. What kind of accommodation are you looking for? Most schools will have a range of options but not all will be able to house you in homestays. Some may not have the option of residential accommodation. Are you willing to share a room to reduce costs? If you would like to converse with native English speakers and learn the culture a homestay is a good option but you will have to live by the rules of your host family. How long are you willing to commute every day?

6. How many hours a day do you want to study? Would you prefer more free time to work and socialise? Most countries will have limits on the number of hours you must study before being eligible to work.

7. What is the average size of the class? Would you like to be in a bigger class where you will meet more people or would you prefer to practice your English more with in smaller groups? Would you like to be in a class with people who speak your native language or would you prefer to be in a class where there are fewer people of your nationality? No school will guarantee that you are the only person from your country there, but some will have statistics on the percentage of students from certain regions. If this is important to you it is best to contact the school and ask about the mix of nationalities at the time you will attend.

8. When do you want to study? Many schools will close for a week over Christmas. From June to August there is more demand for classes, more people looking for seasonal work and bigger groups in the schools. If you hate the cold, winter in Scotland or Canada isn't for you.

9. What activities are offered by the school? Does the school have a good social programme where you will be able to spend time with your classmates and practice the English you have learned? What kind of services does the school provide? Will they help you with opening a bank account, applying for a different visa or assist you in further study?

10. What kind of facilities does the school have? Studying an English language course in a University is more expensive but you have the opportunity to use the facilities and maybe attend some other classes. Is there a computer room or will you have to rely on internet café? If there is no canteen where are you supposed to talk to fellow students after class? Would you like to use the gym or go swimming in your free time?

Once you have asked yourself these questions it will be easier to decided on what kind of institution you will attend. Remember, in the end the amount of English you learn and the amount of friends you make will come down to your own personal effort. Your school can only do so much. Be prepared for culture shock and feelings of loneliness.





Website

The first place to look is the website. A school's website should give you a good idea of the size of the school, facilities, prices and teaching methods. There should also be a few photos of the school itself. Some schools will have a very impressive website but not much behind it, whereas some other schools will not have put much energy into the website but will have a solid reputation and years of experience.


Associations

Every English speaking country has a national accreditation body for English schools. Once your school in on this list you are guaranteed a certain level of service and professionalism. The rules and regulations depend on each country. Most schools are reputable, but there are a small number of bogus schools that are set up to facilitate illegal immigration and fraud. Most countries will have a register of reputable English schools that will not only ensure the school complies with industry standards, but will also be able to refund fees or transfer students if a particular school closes down. If you require permission to work in a country you will need to be registered in a recognised school to obtain a work visa. Further details can be found on the individual country pages.


The Internet

Once you have decided on a school do an internet search for the schools name and see what additional information is available from other sources (e.g. feedback from past students, school directories, accreditation)


Agents

Agents can be a useful source of information. But some of them will only recommend expensive schools. You may have to pay more but if you choose a reputable agent you are guaranteed a good quality school.


Cost

Once you start looking at English schools you will see that there is a big difference in the prices. There are several reasons for this. Some schools will have better facilities. Some schools will be older and more established. Some schools will have smaller class sizes. Some locations are more expensive than others. All of this will be obvious by looking at the web page. Another reason why some schools are more expensive is because they have large advertising and marketing budgets. How good your course is will depend on your teacher. Schools in small towns and universities usually have lower staff turnover. In most cases English schools have high staff turnover where teachers work for about a year, so it is hard to say what kind of teacher will be teaching you. All schools will have pre-designed programmes and their own system and most will only employ teachers with prior training, a university degree or years of experience. All of this information should be on the schools website. If you would prefer a cheaper option a cheaper price may not affect the quality of teaching.









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