Learning english is challenging enough. Finding the most suitable IELTS school can be difficult when you’re new to the language and don’t know much about the country you choose to live especially when you probably wont have any friends or people you can ask questions.
I’ll begin with the US and will cover other places I’ve lived such as Australia, UK and Canada later in this site. All the information is simple and easy and you will be able to use it for any country for learning english as there are many similarities across the western countries with exception to student visa laws. Also feel free to email me for any questions or other information you feel I should write on this site.
The United states has always been known for the land of opportunity, a place where success knows no boundary. It should therefore come at no surprise that America is the largest study abroad destination, and as a native English speaking nation with world class facilities, the US is an ideal place to live and learning english as a second language.
However as a new student from another part of the world looking to learn english properly. When you search online by typing “ESL schools USA” into Google you will find over 1.2 million choices! How long would you spend reading through that many school websites….. ? Plus even more time spent on secondary research to find more information such as past student experiences.
Using Immigration Agents
Most students nowadays just use a ESL broker (immigration agents are brokers) to recommend a school. The meaning of a “broker” A broker makes their money by referring a person to a specific product or service and the broker gets paid a commission by the seller. Now I know for a fact certain schools pay higher commissions rates to the introducing agent or broker up to 20% of your school fee. Which means the brokers will influence you to enrol at the schools who pay him or her the highest fee and they will not care much about the school quality which is at your risk. This happens a lot with students from china. Most of my friends are from china and have been cheated. This is another reason I created this site. BUT I’m not totally against agents and brokers. There are still many out there who you can trust. Just do your homework first. Hopefully this site will assist you and you wont need an agent or broker
“how should we select the right english learning school?”
- I suggest you carefully plan this out at least 6 to 12 months ahead. Are you looking at a University or private language institution. Remember most Universities require you to have already passed a level of english examination.
- You need to decide where in the world do you want to live. As this chapter in your life is probably going to be an experience of a lifetime ad you will be there for some time so choose wisely. If you don’t like the place you live this will negatively effect your quality of life and in turn effect your study.
- Remember you may not be accepted to the institute of your first choice. So build a list of about 5 to 10 ESL programs that match you needs (I discuss your needs below). Once you have your list you need to contact them directly and ask for the ESL program information, campus details, and an application for admission. Most of this should be available on their website. After receiving all the information spend some careful time considering all the points I listed below. Try to narrow it down to 2 or 3 choices.
- Are you a social person? check out the nightlife of the town, check out the campus, transport, accommodation facilities and also private accommodation and COST OF LIVING (groceries, rent, transport and beer!). Look at the town tourism and things to do. Look for clubs you can join. Think about the community you want to be in. For example if you are from china do you prefer to be around other Chinese? Or are you confident enough to try and mix with other nationalities. I want to highlight this; This is a very important factor, it’s not that easy to just fit in and mix with the local westerners if your English speaking skills are too primitive. You will feel embarrassed and not confident, most westerners are pretty cool with non speaking students and will be happy to befriend you but it’s really up to you to jump in and give it a real good try. The benefit is your English skills will sky rocket and you will make great friendships. Most international students just congregate amongst each other and end up going back to their home country with some English skills and no real value of their living abroad experience. Remember its more than just study it’s a life experience and adventure!
4 more points to think about:
- When looking for an english learning or IELTS school consider the annual number of students enrolling in ESL each year and where are they from. This information should be public available on their websites and if not I’d be careful about choosing them. You want a school with a decent chunk of new student each year which will indicate the school is of a certain benchmark of quality especially if the enrolment numbers are increasing year on year over the past 3 or 4 years. You could go deeper and also look at their employment rate post graduate, how many of their ESL students gain a proper job. If they are saying big numbers like 70-80% DON’T BELIEVE THIS as I have owned (still do) and managed graduate recruitment agencies and very little of our clients hired international students because of visa restriction and english language not native. This is not because they are racists it’s because its expensive for a company to sponsor and then teach new English speakers. But you probably aren’t seeking a proper job so that’s another topic I may cover down the track.
- When selecting your ESL pathway or program think about your individual learning style and experience which may best suit you. For example you may not want to enrol in a course where it’s all just text book theory and you end up paying all this money to go to a desk and fall asleep out of boredom! You should look for size of classes, maximum number of students per teacher. Obviously smaller classes are more beneficial. Look at class practical learning such as how much conversational practise is emphasised, do you get partnered with someone to constantly force yourself to speak in english. Whats the teachers teaching style?
- Whats the course outline. How much reading and writing compared to speaking is there. Whats the level of English you will learn. For example you don’t want to be a great English speaker but struggle to read and write.
- Chose a course or program with progressive levels. The whole point of learning is to advance. For example some of the good english learning or IELTS schools have levels consisting of about 20 to 30 hours intensive English instruction each week over about 14 to 18 weeks. Students are actually assessed for the English skill level on day 1 so that they may be placed into the most appropriate class to suit their personal ability.
I hope this article has given you some knowledge on what to do next. I will be adding more articles as I build this website to help students learn easier.