So you've started planning to study a language abroad. By now you've probably researched the location, school size, course content and which cultural activities are offered by various schools. If you’re really serious about your language study abroad, then we believe these 5 factors will really help you to choose the right school and to ensure you have a valuable (and fun!) study abroad experience.
We listed this as first because we believe that your language study abroad experience will highly be determined by the school’s accreditation. Under the term accreditations, we mean the quality assurance that basically covers the teacher's qualifications, curriculum, the school’s facilities, the school’s business practice & policies and as well as accommodation and other student services. You will find that there are many accreditations and quality assurance schemes in different countries. However, there are also some international accrediting organizations as well. No matter if they are national or international, the accreditation organizations have the same goal - to ensure that their members have high quality standards for their programs and services. That’s why they audit their member schools regularly. If you don’t know an accrediting organization in the country you wish to study, then contact us and we will help you.
You should also take into consideration the school’s nationality mix. From where are all the other students at the school? This is something that is rarely mentioned in articles, which is strange, since this the probably one of the first questions that students ask their agent or consultant. Students are often surprised (or in some cases disappointed) when they learn that 30%-50% of any nationality in their classroom - especially if it’s their own! Every language group has a different challenge when it comes to grammar and pronunciation, for example, and you don’t want to be stuck in a group where your learning needs are left behind by the majority of student’s need. You also don’t want to be in a group where many of the pupils speak their own language. This is something that could happen when there is not a good nationality mix. So when it comes to this question, you should look for a maximum 20% of any one nationality (less is better, of course). Well-established schools, that are present in many countries understand this and strive to have an excellent mix of students from around the globe. The better the nationality mix, the more likely you are to speak the language you are learning!
“Language only” Policies
Whether you’re studying English in UK or some other language in another country, your school should have a strict “language only” policy. This policy ensures that the language being studied is the common language amongst all students! Some policies are strict and the violation may result in warning, fines, daily or even weekly suspensions for speaking a language other than the one that is taught in the school. This policy, along with a good nationality mix, will surely help you improve your language studies and help you to advance more quickly.
Curriculum and levels of instruction
You know, some schools teach only from textbooks while others don’t use textbooks at all! Accredited language schools have a highly standardized, well-balanced curriculum that meets the standards of internationally recognized schemes of language levels and a curriculum that is well-balanced and covers all aspects of learning a language: listening, speaking, reading, writing, grammar and pronunciation. Most schools follow the levels of the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) or ESOL (Cambridge English for Speakers of Other Languages). Make sure that you are tested prior to entry, during your courses (it is common to be tested every 4 weeks) and don’t forget to get tested upon exit of your program.
Both the size of the school and class is important, but the size of the class is probably the more important factor when choosing a langauge school abroad. The most common class size is 15 students. Any more students than that may lead to loss of personal attention from the teacher which can greatly impact the success of your language study. The ideal class size is 8 - 10 studentsl perfect for active participation and comfort, especially if you’re a beginner.
With these tips you will be sure to find and choose the right language school for you. Check out our recommended language schools abroad here.