Studying English in the UK
These days, its hard to escape from English. Whether its a ielts preparation jakarta meeting at the UN, safety information on the plane, surfing the web or watching MTV, you dont have to go far to hear it or read it. In fact, its become very much a global language.
A business deal between a Norwegian executive and a Japanese salesperson? All conducted in English. A Hungarian family holidaying in Thailand? Again, English is probably the only common language. Want to understand your favourite pop, rock, or rap songs? So many of them are in English.
English is now studied as a matter of course by children and teens at schools across the world, but what happens when youve left school (perhaps many years ago) and find that you cant get a job unless you improve your English? Or you really want to travel and realise that English is the only language that will be understood by the majority of people youll meet?
There are many excellent language schools for adults around the world, but popular alternative is to go directly to source: to the land where the English language (along with Shakespeare and the Beatles) was born.
There are many advantages to spending time improving your English in the UK. If opt for class lessons, you will be with students from all over the world so will be communicating with them in English great speaking practice. A good teacher will devote plenty of class time to speaking activities. If you study in your home country, the temptation to speak your own language is much greater, but if nobody else speaks your language, its not even possible! After all, language-learning is a lot more than just theory.
If you choose homestay accommodation, you will be able to chat with your hosts over meals. And of course every other aspect of your day-to-day life, from buying a bus ticket to ordering a meal in a restaurant, from understanding announcements at the train station to reading a theatre programme, involves constant listening, reading and speaking in English.
The standard of UK English language schools has risen dramatically over the past few decades, thanks partly to huge improvements in teacher training and also to the British Council scheme of accreditation. When the British Council officially approves a school (subject to frequent re-inspections), it guarantees certain standards, not only for the teaching but also other aspects such as the building and facilities and student welfare. Check their website for a list of accredited schools.
Besides accreditation, what else should you look for? A school with qualified teachers goes without saying, yet youd be surprised how easily people forget that successful teaching involves a lot more than just being a native speaker. Good classrooms, facilities and resources go a long way. Does the school have internet access? Self-study areas? Support for learning outside the classroom?
And what about cost? Should you go for the cheapest option you can find? Not necessarily: teachers might be badly paid and therefore less motivated, and there could be fewer non-academic staff to organise the social programme or help you with accommodation or welfare issues.