How do I choose a good language school?
As much as we might like to, we can't learn a language by taking a pill or placing some miraculous machine on our heads for a few weeks. If it were really possible to effectively learn this way, every school and university would probably be doing it.
Learning a language certainly takes time. But what really matters is how much time and how you feel while you are doing it. If you choose a bad teacher or a bad school, one thing is for sure: you will be throwing a bunch of time and money out the window.
In the interest of avoiding this, we have put together what we consider the most important points, so you can choose a good language school.
- It should be a certified and recommended language school
A good language school is not afraid of a test. The Professional Association of Language Schools is an independent organization that inspects Hungarian language schools; they visit lessons and inspect the teachers and offices. The European Language Label rating system is extremely strict; only those who meet all 50 criteria receive the "Certified and Recommended Language School" title. Outside of Budapest, there is only one language school that has consistently won this honoured title since 1992. This is the Kecskemét Coventry House Language School.
- Your teacher should be a real teacher
Language teachers who are committed, talented, and have a sense of vocation in addition to speaking the language well and being able to effectively share their knowledge make language courses great. Speaking a language in and of itself does not make a person capable of teaching that language. The parent or language student themself is not able to assess the abilities and knowledge of a teacher in advance. You should ask the school how they do this. The ideal answer is that after conducting a professional interview and assessment of the teacher's language knowledge, the candidate observes a lesson and then is observed during a trial lesson. The candidate is only admitted as a teacher if all of these have been excellent. The director of studies should regularly observe the new teacher's lessons and provide them with on-going feedback.
- There should be native speakers
You cannot have a good language school without native speakers. It is with their assistance that we best learn about pronunciation, expressions, and culture. Generally, there is less grammar in their lessons, but more speaking and fun. Learning from a real native speaker is an adventure. Try it out! There are English, German, and French native speaking teachers at Coventry House and they teach roughly half of the lessons.
- There should be a director of studies
The director of studies is an experienced and highly-qualified teacher who monitors the other teachers' work. They observe lessons, review the latest learning materials, and are responsible for ensuring professionalism. A good language school will definitely have a well qualified director of studies. There are two directors of studies at Coventry House: one for English courses and one for German and other languages.
- It should be a language school and a testing centre
If you would like to take a language exam, it is worth choosing a school that also functions as a testing centre. It is important because these schools have teachers that are also examiners. They can provide important knowledge and little tricks that are verified and up to date. These schools regularly have test preparation courses for these exams, which help considerably in obtaining your language certificate. At our school you can take the BME, Goethe, LEXINFO and TELC exams. The most popular are the BME and TELC. In conjunction with these exams, we organize preparatory courses before the exam dates, which are held by our teachers that are also examiners. Prepare for and take the exam at the same place!
Ask about the group sizes! Although, the upper legal limit of students is 16, we believe that 4-8 is the ideal number. People often ask whether it is more effective to learn as an individual or in a group. Individual lessons are better for those who find it difficult to reconcile their needs and availability with others. This may mean an unusual schedule or the need to reach their goal by a very strict deadline. From our experience, however, motivation is more easily maintained in a group and practicing certain forms of communication requires more than two people (the teacher and the student).
- The price
Professionals do not usually recommend the extreme: a crash course based on all kinds of miraculous machines that costs several hundred thousand forints. However, we should also be sceptical of conspicuously cheap courses too. There is a certain rate that a good teacher wouldn't accept less than. The customer service, school facilities, course materials, and continuing education all cost money. A noticeably inexpensive school will certainly be missing some of these.
Concerning the price, an amount in forints comes to mind first. However, we pay for a language course with both our money and time. If we save a lot on the materials, we usually have to devote a lot more time to learning the language. Everyone needs to balance these based on their own circumstances.
Language schools set the price for group lessons based on the number of group members. You should make sure that the school guarantees the price in case the number of students decreases during the course. The price should not increase if this happens.
It important for the school to have office hours all day, as well as after working hours when possible. We believe that office hours should ideally be until 18:00, although classes may be at anytime from 7:00 to 21:00 during the week and also on Saturdays in the morning or early afternoon.
- The Facilities
The classrooms should be air-conditioned when possible and designed for language courses.
It is a plus if there is a projector, an interactive whiteboard, or free Wi-Fi.
You will be successful in the things that you enjoy doing. This is why it is important that you have a good time. The staff and teachers, together with you, can create a friendly atmosphere.