Learning English as a second language can be challenging and takes time, patience and practice. English is often regarded as a difficult language to learn because of its complex grammar structure, spelling, and contradictory rules. One of the best ways to learn English as a second language is to enroll in an English language learning program, class or course. As we transition into a Post COVID world, some learning programs will offer in-person learning and others will continue to offer remote learning.
Enrolling in an English language learning program is beneficial for building a better vocabulary and building confidence as you are learning English through context in a meaningful way. Given the number and variety of learning programs, classes and courses available around the world, it can be hard to know what program to choose and what to look for in a program.
We’ve created this guide on how to choose an English language learning program because we recognize that education is an investment that requires careful consideration. You must understand the key factors that you should consider before choosing an English as a second language program. When choosing an English language program be sure to keep the following seven things in mind.
How to Choose an English Language Program
1. Identify why are you learning English
It is important to determine exactly what you want to get out of your English language program. While this might be challenging it is actually a key piece to choosing the right program. Understanding why you want to learn English will help you identify the type of course that is right for you (Kelly, 2018). For example, if you are learning English for an upcoming vacation, then the course you select will be very different than someone whose goal is to learn English to apply and enroll in an English university. There are many programs, classes and courses that are available both remotely and in-person across the globe that are tailored to meet students’ specific needs and goals. Make sure to ask yourself – what is the goal of the program and does it match your language learning goals?
2. Think about location
As we move towards a post COVID world, it is likely that more in-person programs will resume. However, it is also likely that several remote learning programs will remain given their accessibility. There are advantages and benefits to English as a second language learners participating in both in-person learning and remote learning programs. Some experts suggest that the best place for learning English is in an English-speaking country because it is immersive, while others recognize remote learning is more inclusive as you can participate from anywhere in the world. It has also been said that learning English in a study abroad program or in an English-speaking country accelerates the rate of learning, helps build a better vocabulary and improves your language proficiency (Victoria, 2020). Nonetheless, the benefits of remote learning and in-person learning are listed below.
Benefits of Remote Learning
- Access to the best teaching and programs
- You can study from home
- No relocation needed
- More affordable
Source: Kelly, 2018.
Benefits to In-Person Learning
- Student-to-student and group learning interactions
- Fewer distractions
- You experience more motivation from the teacher
Source: Victoria, 2020
3. Look for Accreditations and Certifications
You will want to investigate the quality of the English learning program, class or course by looking at the teaching certifications held by teachers, accreditations held by the institution or program and learning methodologies adopted. Qualified teachers and accredited programs will prepare a well-planned curriculum that will allow you to build your vocabulary and progress faster (Langports, 2021).
TESOL is an international association that has developed a set of standards for advancing the quality of English language learning (TESOL International Association, 2021). Teachers and related professionals complete the TESOL program and receive a certificate. This association and other certificate programs, including Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TELF) and TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) are internationally recognized. These certifications are designed to teach English as a second language learners concepts such as grammar and vocabulary in an efficient and effective manner (Langports, 2021). They are a form of quality assurance to ensure that standards are followed by professionals that hold these certifications (Taylor, 2021). This ensures the best quality teaching and learning for English as a second language students.
4. Review the Curriculum
A well-defined curriculum that is student-centered can make a big difference when learning English as a second language. You will want to find a program that is organized with clearly defined goals. A well designed curriculum will sever as a reference to ensure that you are on the right track and move sequentially from basics to increasingly complex words and grammar (Williams, 2019). By using an effective curriculum, it can help students build their vocabulary, learn proper grammar and spelling, and have a more coherent learning path. It is also beneficial if the program has progressive levels or advancement options (e.g. level 1, 2 or 3). This way you can move up and advance through the program at your own speed.
5. Know Your Learning Style
Knowing your own individual learning style can help you select the right program for you. There are four main learning styles: visual, auditory, reading/writing and kinesthetic (University of Kansas, 2021).
Visual learners prefer information when it is presented to them in a graphic with meaningful symbols (University of Kansas, 2021).
Auditory learners are most successful when they hear information presented to them vocally (University of Kansas, 2021).
Reading/writing learners like to take notes as it helps them to process information and then they have something that they can refer back to later. They like to have copies of written information through handouts or PowerPoint presentations (University of Kansas, 2021).
Kinesthetic learners thrive with hands-on and participatory activities. They like to play a physically active role in the learning process. For this reason, kinesthetic learners often have a hard time in conventional classroom settings and prefer environments with activities that are more hands-on learning in nature (University of Kansas, 2021).
Based on the type of learning style you identify most with, certain programs, classes or courses will be more appealing to you. For example, if you are a kinesthetic learner then a course with field trips and physical activities would be much more appealing than a person who is a reading/writing learner.
6. Look at the class size
Whether it is remote or in-person, a smaller class will provide more one-on-one opportunities with the teacher. It will also provide you with more opportunities to interact with other students and practice your language skills organically. A smaller class size can also help you build confidence and learn faster (UNILANG, 2021).
7. Determine the duration that is right for you
Programs for learning English can range in length from a few days to a few months and even years. Knowing your English learning goals and the amount of time that you have to commit to learning English important when looking for programs.
Finding the right English program can be challenging as it is hard to know exactly what to look for. Post-COVID things will start to return to normal but remote learning will likely be here to stay as it provides equal opportunity and wider access. We have provided a comprehensive guide to help you choose the right English program that best fits your needs to learn English as a second language.
Did you enjoy reading our list on how to choose an English language program? It is important to understand how to choose a good program because learning a language is challenging and it requires a well-thought-out curriculum that is student-centred. Education is an investment as it costs money and requires time, thus it is important to pick the best English program for your needs and goals. If you are wondering how to improve your English language fluency why not check our English Roadmap which gives you a clear path to follow.
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TESOL International Association. (2021). TEFL/TESL Certification and Distance Learning
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