You might have a rough idea of the level of your language skills, and there are plenty of English courses to choose from. You either feel like you can’t go wrong, or on the contrary, you can’t choose from the wide range of classes available.
“Consultations” or blind searching
Many schools offer consultations on course selection. It goes something like this: Not sure which course is right for you? Don’t hesitate to ask us. Most of the time, you will only get a slightly expanded course description, pitched by a school representative. Still haven’t decided if this is right for you? Don’t worry, your first lesson is free. You didn’t like it? Try a different course from our selection. As long as you stay with us!
There is always the chance that even this way you may find a course that fits on your first try. However, the odds are not exactly in your favour.
What does a genuine consultation look like?
There are several important factors in choosing the right course in which you can make effective progress. At The Bridge we consider your language level and schedule availability, as well as your individual learning needs, when placing our students in courses.
A consultation with us takes 15 to 30 minutes, during which we evaluate the following important aspects:
- Your real language level
Can you truly judge yourself objectively? We know this can be difficult. You may be proficient in grammar but struggling with conversation, so you would be tempted to sign up for a lower-level class. Knowledge needs to be reinforced, after all. However, this approach runs the risk of leading to stagnation in the long term.
With us, you’ll start by taking a quick yet thorough test of your language skills, which will help us identify your strengths, or areas that you can build on, and therefore the course best suited to you based on your demonstrated language knowledge.
- Your aims
It’s not just about what you know. What you don’t know yet and would like to learn is equally important, and we want to actually talk to you about that. The consultation will also discuss your vision and the timeframe to achieve it successfully. After all, it’s no secret that many students can harbour unrealistic expectations of themselves and their teachers. Setting milestones that are achievable will kick-start your motivation to learn, and help us recommend a course that will enable you to meet them as quickly as possible.
- Your classmates are your team
When choosing the right course, it is important not only to get the language level right, but also to be sensible and sensitive in assigning students into groups. You will be spending a fair amount of time with your classmates, so it’s vital that the group clicks not just in terms of your level, but also in terms of your needs. If you struggle with grammar but find conversation easy, we can find you classmates who are in a similar situation. That way you won’t be wasting time waiting for others to catch up with what you already know.
In addition to these factors, we also consider the learning styles of each group. Are you more of a visual learner; able to remember new words by associating them with different images? Or do you prefer more “hands on” learning? Our teachers take your preferences into account and tailor the lessons so that your English improves as quickly as possible.
- The correct format
Many students think that if they pay extra for a one-on-one class or attend more intensive courses, they will learn English faster. However, there is a potential flip side. If you were to sign up for a class where you would have fifteen classmates with completely different gaps in their language and only get to speak sporadically, enrolling in an individual course might be a better choice. You don’t want to overdo it though. English is a skill we develop gradually, and just as we can’t complete a six-month diet in one week, some aspects of language learning can’t be rushed either. As a result of the consultation, we may recommend a group class with a more relaxed pace instead of an intensive one-on-one course if we objectively think it will give you a better chance to learn effectively.
From experience we often see that when we place our students in a group based on appropriate level, aims, and learning styles, they tend to progress faster than they would in an individual course. What makes it work? You will have to get used to different types of accents or pronunciation within the group instead of just listening to your teacher, but you also build social bonds by sharing knowledge with your classmates and working together in groups.
This in no way means that we will force you into a group class. Occasionally our students’ needs can be so specific that an individual course is the only way to achieve their goals. We will find just what’s right for you during our initial consultation.
Why is this important?
Choosing the right English course is essential in order to start from an appropriate level and progress as quickly as possible. All of the factors discussed above play a big role in keeping you motivated to learn. Unsurprisingly, students often drop a class chosen in the absence of a thorough consultation after the first term and go looking elsewhere instead. If they don’t enrol in a group that suits them, or if they needlessly choose a level that is too low, they quickly lose motivation as they are forced to cope with slow and painstaking progress.
At The Bridge, we strive to make your English learning experience as effective as possible and always encourage you to learn. All thanks to a real consultation before you start your first lesson. Contact us, make an appointment and start learning English effectively. J