How to choose an English Language School and Course

With the time and money you are planning to invest in an English course in the UK, it is important that this investment is not wasted. Take your time and choose wisely so that your experience is everything you hope it will be. Firstly, make a list of everything that you hope to gain from both your studies and leisure time. When searching for a course, make sure that you can tick off all or the majority of your requirements before making the reservation. So what kind of things should be on your list? Here are some things to consider:

ACCREDITATION Whatever other consideration you have when choosing a school, one of the most important is the reputation and accreditation of the school. How long has the school been established? What do previous students say of the course you are considering and the school itself? One way to ensure your peace of mind is to look for official accreditation, such as that offered by the British Council. More information on this accreditation and schools that have achieved it can be found at www.britishcouncil.org/accreditation.

AREA OF THE UK Are you a city person, or do you like to explore the countryside? Do you want to find out about British history, or are you happy to concentrate on your studies? Each of these questions will help you decide on which language school you choose. Many students opt for London, with all the cultural, historical and entertainment the capital city has to offer. However, if you prefer the comfort of a smaller city or even rural environment, there are plenty of other places around the country that offer respected language courses. Why not consider Scotland or Northern Ireland to discover another aspect of the UK often overlooked by many students.

Of course, like other countries there is the accent to consider; while your course will be taught in standard English, once venturing outside the school, you will be faced with an accent very different from what you are used to, and you could even pick up a few new words from the local dialect!

WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO ACHIEVE FROM YOUR STUDIES IN THE UK Why exactly are you coming to the UK? Is it simply to immerse yourself in the language and the culture and gain opportunities to expand your knowledge of English that you can’t get in your own country? Or do you have a specific qualification that you need for your studies or career?

Look carefully at course descriptions. These will help you discover if the courses are academically focused, or are slanted towards immersion as well as social and cultural issues. Many schools aim to offer broad courses that cover all aspects of the study of English, however you may want to focus solely on one thing and choose a school accordingly.

LEISURE TIME Time away from formal classes is also an important consideration when choosing a school. Does the school offer a structured programme of visits or social events for students to participate in? Or would you prefer to decide for yourself how to spend your free time and discover secret corners of the country ignored by the traditional tourist routes. Again, the course prospectus will advise you on what events are organised after classes have finished. As well as leisure time, what other support does the school offer? If you are an experienced traveller, you may not need as much help in settling in as others. However, if this is your first time abroad, look for a school that has a dedicated member of staff to help with travel arrangements, airport transfers and finding accommodation.