10 tips to finding a good English language school or teacher

 Versión en castellano: aquí Spanish version

  1. Does the school look user friendly? If it looks friendly with information in English that is regularly updated to help their students improve their English every day, this is a positive sign that the school wants to stimulate their students to learn English well.
  2. Do they make you feel welcome, or just another customer? It is important that you feel that the school is at your service and that it doesn’t see you just as another punter to fill their bank account.
  3. Are the classes conducted in English? If the classes are conducted mainly in the local language and not in English the message is very clear: they do not believe that you are capable of learning English in a natural way. There is a lot of evidence and many studies that show very clearly that people’s spoken English and their understanding improves very quickly if the classes are given in English
  4. If the teachers are native speakers, do they have experience teaching? Native English speakers as teachers will be able to give an accurate model of spoken English. However, sometimes young native English speakers see English teaching as a means of travelling around the world. This could mean that they are not committed to teaching you and might disappear very quickly when they have another opportunity to go somewhere else. But it is good to hear different voices and accents, and to have different subject for conversation.
  5. If the teachers are not native, do you think that they can give a good model of English which will be valuable to you when you try to use the English that you learn? Many non-native English teachers understand the particular language learning difficulties of their students if their native language is the same. But if the teacher hasn’t lived in an English speaking country for more than 2 years it is difficult for them to completely understand how English is used on a day to day basis.
  6.  Are their very big class groups ? If the class groups are bigger than eight (8) students per teacher it is difficult for the class to work in a dynamic way that enables all the students to participate in the use of English.
  7. Do all the students have the same first language? If the school is in your own country this is the usual situation. The disadvantage of all the students having the same first language is that they usually make the same grammatical mistakes and have the same problems of pronunciation. If you go to study abroad try to make sure that the school has a policy of a maximum of two students from each foreign language .
  8. Does the school teach English or teach English examinations? Some schools, especially those with big class groups, concentrate most of their course preparing their students to pass exams (Cambridge, Trinity etc) These qualifications can be very valuable but there is often the danger that the English learning is academic and there is little value given to effectively using English as communication
  9. Look for a school that encourages you to dedicate time out of class doing things in English. Watching English TV, listening to English radio, listening to podcasts in English, regular repeated listening of the class CDs etc, speaking English as often as possible, writing English e-mails, reading English books, newspapers, magazines, comics etc .
  10. You want a school that shows you how to learn English effectively and well. A school that demonstrates that they believe that you can learn English if you put in your part outside of class. A school that sees the importance of all aspects of learning English: understanding, listening, speaking, reading, conversation, situational English, practical English

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