English Language Course in the UK

Mind your language! Learning English in the UK

Ken Reynolds looks at some of the most frequently asked questions by students considering an English language course in the UK

Where can I find a good course?

The British Council, together with ARELS (the Association of Recognised English Language Schools) and BASELT (the British Association of State English Language Teaching), runs the English in Britain Accreditation Scheme for the 380 accredited private language schools and centres throughout the UK and also the EFL (English as a Foreign Language) departments in UK colleges and universities. If a course is 'English in Britain accredited' it means that it has been rigorously inspected by independent experts and that:

The publicity materials accurately reflect the reality of the centre or course · Student progress is accurately monitored · The premises are safe and suitable for teaching · The resources for learning (computers, work-sheets and so on) match the academic standards of the course · The teachers are properly qualified · The lessons are monitored by inspectors

Each year over 300,000 students come to Britain for language training and the country can confidently claim to be a world leader in the range and quality of courses available.

Is there a minimum age for studying English in Britain? Language schools offer suitable courses for all ages. British Council inspectors take the care and teaching of younger students very seriously, particularly when they are staying in a school's residential or home stay accommodation. They check that the homes they stay in are appropriate, that the students are properly supervised at all times and that people who shouldn't work with children don't have any access to them. They also check that the teachers are properly qualified and that the way younger students are being taught, and the leisure activities provided, are suitable for their age group. Are the EFL courses flexible?

One of the main advantages of the EFL courses in the UK is indeed their flexibility. Because of the variety of courses available there should always be a course to fit in with your own specific needs, so don't be shy in making your preferences known to the centre before you start. Many students tend to study English for Academic purposes and take the IELTS (International English Language Testing System) to establish their proficiency in English to be able to join degree courses, whereas other students may wish to learn or update their English purely for recreational purposes.

You can study in a group or one-to-one, intensively or in a more relaxed manner, focusing on speaking and listening or improving your writing and reading skills. Wherever you feel you may need the work, there will always be a course to suit you. One-to-one classes are very effective for some people, but others learn better in the friendly atmosphere of a class (and of course being in a class will help you to make friends - always an advantage if you are new to the country!) Plenty of centres now specialise in 'Professional English', where you can learn English directly relating to your job. Intensive English courses are an ideal way of making rapid progress in a very short time.

Another possibility is to take an 'English Plus' course, where you can study English for part of the day and another subject for the rest of your time. Some people want a teacher who is young and enthusiastic, others want a more 'professional' approach from a mature and experienced teacher. You may want a teacher with qualifications in profession such as law or medicine as well as English. It really helps to spend a moment thinking about yourself as a learner, especially if you haven't followed a course for a while, and ask yourself what situations have helped you learn successfully and what situations didn't work for you. Where can I find further information about courses?

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