Most of us reach a point in our lives when we have to learn a language or desire to learn one in order to be able to communicate with people from other cultures. A highly effective way to learn a new language is by enrolling in a language school abroad. Language schools abroad immerse you not only in the language you’re trying to learn, but also in the culture of the country that speaks the language. There are a vast number of language schools to choose from and no single school is right for all types of students, so follow these 7 tips for choosing a school to ensure that your language learning experience abroad is as enjoyable and beneficial as possible.
1. Find a school with trained, experienced teachers who are native speakers of the language. Don’t judge a school by its price tag alone. If a school is cheap, it could mean that their teachers aren’t qualified or have little experience. It’s important to select a school with great teachers if you want to learn a new language and learn it well. Inexperienced teachers or teachers who don’t take their position seriously will make it harder for you to learn and improve your skills, and you’ll have a frustrating and disappointing language learning experience.
2. Be wary of language schools that make false promises, such as, “Use our study system and you’ll be fluent in one month!” Every student learns at a different pace, so don’t create unrealistic goals for yourself. You have to put in a lot of time and effort into studying in order to learn a language. You can’t expect a magic system to do all of the work for you. Find a language school that doesn’t make unrealistic promises and that is willing to teach you a language at your own pace Language of desire.
3. Find a language school with a teaching method that is appealing to you and that fits your learning style. Some schools employ a variety of teaching philosophies and methods, while others, such as big chain schools like Inlingua and Berlitz, employ only one specific teaching method in all of their schools. Visit the websites of several schools you’re interested in and read about the methodology and materials they use. Narrow down the list of schools and then contact them directly to ask them about their methods and see if they resonate with you.
4. Determine how big your ideal language school is. Attending classes at a big language school can be fun because there are many other students to get to know, and big schools tend to have lots of group activities scheduled. The downside of big language schools is that you may never get to know anyone very well, simply because there are so many other students. Furthermore, the school may be a bit disorganized. Smaller language schools are appealing because they offer an intimate learning environment, and the group of students and teachers is more close-knit. However, you may get bored because of the lack of group activities and events.
5. Ask how many of your fellow countrymen will be attending the language course. If you are Australian, you may want to consider avoiding language schools that are frequented by Australians. If you study at a school where there are many other English-speakers, you will probably end up speaking a lot of English throughout your language study vacation. On the other hand, if you select a school with mostly Chinese or Korean students, the risk is a lot smaller since you’ll probably communicate with them in the language you are learning.
6. Opt for the language school with the smallest classes you can afford. Language schools with large classes make it harder to learn. Your best bet is to take one-on-one classes, but for many people, that is simply out of reach because of the hefty price tag. Generally speaking, the smaller the class, the better. When you are a beginner, taking a group class is okay, but when you are at a more advanced level, it can hold you back to take group classes because you have to learn at the pace of the slowest learner in the class. You can save money on private classes by studying at a language school in a developing country if possible. For example, you can take private classes for very cheap in Guatemala as opposed to Spain.
7. Find out what kind of accommodation options that language schools offer. It is usually a good idea to go with a school that arranges home stays with local families. Staying with a local family is the best way to learn about a new culture and be immersed in the language. On the other hand, if you live with other students or alone, you won’t be exposed to the language as much and you will leave the country having learned very little about the culture.