If you’ve made the decision to attend a language school abroad – it’s likely that there are many reasons motivating you. It is important to consider these reasons when deciding what language school you will study at because you will want to choose a school that ticks all of your boxes, meets your expectations and gives you an experience to remember!
Studying abroad is regarded as one of the best ways to improve your language skills, consolidate your learning, and work towards English fluency. By studying in an English-speaking country, you will be encouraged to use English every day and learn to engage with native speakers in conversations outside of your classes.
However, there is more to studying English abroad than learning the language. Studying abroad is a cultural experience and it’s important to choose a location where you think you will benefit from the culture and lifestyle. This could mean picking a location where you will feel completely out of your comfort zone, or maybe there is a city in the UK you have seen in movies and always dreamed of visiting – such as London.
Choosing a language school isn’t easy and there are many things to consider! In the UK alone there are around 400 different schools, according to eslbase.com. It can be difficult to know where to start when picking a school and there are some important factors to think about before you commit to a particular programme.
- School accreditation:
Since there are so many schools and courses on offer in the UK, it can be hard to know which one will give you a high-quality, reliable education and truly help you enhance your English language skills quickly and efficiently. If a school has received accreditation from an established body, you can be confident that the school has been surveyed and is held to high standards. Check the school’s website to see if they have received accreditation and be sure to double check the accreditation is from a well-known body.
- Partnerships, memberships and awards:
On top of accreditation, another indicator of reliability is if a school has received any awards or recognition for their teaching. A good school will also have university partners. For example, at The Language Gallery, we work closely with a selection of universities to offer a pathway programme from studying English to studying a subject of your choice at an English university. This information will usually be provided on the school's website. See The Language Gallery’s partners here.
- Quality of teaching:
This is one thing that accreditation can tell you. To receive accreditation from a recognised body, a school needs to have qualified and experienced teachers. To gain The British Council accreditation, a school must demonstrate teaching standards that meet the Scheme requirements.
- Curriculum levels:
It is vital that you pick a language course that is in line with your language proficiency levels, if a course is too difficult you will struggle to keep up – but if it is too easy, you will be wasting your own time and money. The Language Gallery offers a variety of courses to suit all levels including General English, Academic English, English for Women, IELTS Preparation and Private Courses.
- Class size:
Research has shown that class size has a dramatic impact on students’ learning. A 2011 study confirmed that a 32% reduction in class size increased student achievement, giving students an achievement advantage equivalent to an additional three months of education after four years of studying. Read more from the study findings here.
- Nationality mix:
A good school should attract and cater to a variety of people from across the globe. Choosing a school with a diverse student body means you will learn about several different backgrounds and understand how the English language and culture compares to many different cultures, not just your own.
- School location:
The location of a school will have a big impact on your experience studying abroad. Before choosing a school and committing to a programme, decide what you want from the city you will study in and do some research to see what there is to do in your city of choice.
A reliable language school should have an interest in your safety and comfort as well as your education. The Language Gallery helps students find accommodation to suit their needs. Whether you are interested in student accommodation, a homestay with a local family, a house share with other students or a studio apartment on your own – The Language Gallery offers access to accommodation that is inspected by a member of our team or a British Council registered accommodation provider. Find out more about accommodation options here.
- Duration and cost:
The course you choose will be dependent on your goals, your skill level and the amount of time and money you have available. Each course will last a different amount of time and the fees will also vary. See some of The Language Gallery’s available courses here or get in contact if you are unsure which course will be most relevant to you.
- Student feedback:
Hearing about other students’ experiences at a school is a great indicator of the school’s quality. When previous students give positive feedback – or even better, return for further courses - then the school is probably doing a good job. Keep this in mind when making your decision and read feedback on the school’s website and other review sites too.
Questions to keep in mind
To summarise, these are some questions to ask yourself when you are deciding on a language school:
- What are my goals when it comes to English learning?
- Does the school offer courses that align with my goals, timing and budget?
- Is the school’s location exciting or convenient to me?
- Is the school a reputable one, what does student feedback tell me? Is the school accredited or has it received any awards?
At the end of the day, you know what works for you best and you should choose a language school based on what you want. Although there are some things you should look out for, you also need to base your decision on what school and location you feel is right for you. Try and talk to other students who have studied abroad and get advice from them about what is important when choosing the right language school. Once you have made your decision and enrolled on your language programme, pack your bags and get ready for your English-language-learning adventure!