From better job opportunities, to actually becoming a smarter individual—the benefits of learning a new language are numerous. Whether you’re already an adventurous polyglot who’s in love with linguistics or simply someone who needs to learn a new language for professional purposes, the first step to success is finding the right school. Not all learning centers are the same, and if you’re looking for good results then you have to do your research and find teachers that can make you into a competent speaker. If you’re looking for a school to suit your needs, here are some tips that can help you out.
The first step to choosing a school is to check its accreditation. Unless everything checks out, it’s generally not a good idea to apply for classes there because you really can’t know what to expect. Non-accredited schools usually don’t have a proper syllabus and teaching can end up being haphazard and far too unfocused, so do look up the school online and see whether it has all the required certificates.
While big classes might be cheaper, you generally want to learn a language in groups no bigger than eight people. One-on-one classes are also a great idea if you need to go through the material at a quicker pace, but small groups with other eager students will allow you to test your knowledge and practice conversation.
This part is particularly important if you’re picking a language school for your child. Kids don’t respond all that well to dull, grey classrooms and they need some colorful fun to stimulate their interest and make them want to engage. After all, they learn through play, so find schools that will allow new skills to be taught through songs, dancing, and entertaining games. There are great schools like Monkey Tree in Hong Kong who specialize in teaching children, so feel free to find a place that suits their learning needs. If you’re trying to find a place for yourself, make sure that the school has appropriate materials to make classes easier.
Most language schools have their own websites, and you can use it to check prices of the course you’re interested in. You can always call the school itself to check whether they offer any discounts, and if the price is right, you can start planning your budget.
If you’re learning English, places like the British Council offer a lot of online material, and it’s always a good idea to look for schools that will help you supplement your in-person classes with online resources. It’s important not to limit your language learning only to the classroom—practicing at home and immersing yourself in the thing you need to learn is the key to success. If you’re an English speaker, you can also try apps such as Duolingo for help with German, Spanish, Swedish, and a number of other languages.
Whether it’s online reviews or recommendations from people you know well, listen to what others have to say about the school. Are they praising the teachers? Do they like working conditions? Are they saying how the courses are overpriced? Talk to others and see if you can get a personal recommendation.
You’ll probably want to get a document that confirms your level of knowledge at some point, so check what kind of certification can the school offer and whether they can prepare you for internationally-recognized exams. Having a Cambridge certificate for your English or a Goethe Institut certificate for your German goes a long way in showing everyone just how skilled of a speaker you are.
It’s tempting to apply for a two-week or a month-long course, but it’s unlikely that you’ll learn much, and it’s even less likely that the things you do learn will stick in your memory. Schools that offer these unusually fast learning courses are usually not very trustworthy, so take the long road and learn your language skills the proper way.
In the end, the best kind of school is the one that makes you feel comfortable. Check out the classrooms in person, meet the teachers, and choose the place that inspires you to learn.
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