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Hello everybody and welcome to my newest lesson! My question this time is from a student from Saudi Arabia who will be studying in the US this summer. Like many students, he would like to know how studying here in North America can make a difference in his English learning experience. I have included many tips in my video and a few more below it.
Do your research ahead of time to make sure that the number of students in your class is smaller, anywhere from 8 to 10 students should be fine. The lower end schools tend to pack as many as 18 – 20 students or more into a classroom. It makes it harder to keep the class going in one direction since the bigger the class is, the more difficult it is to guarantee that all of the students are at the right level: basic, intermediate, advanced. Also make sure that everyone in the class is around the same age as this also can make a huge difference.
Basically, most schools for many years now have focused on the conversational English approach to learning. So a grammar point is introduced and then students are put into groups to practice through directed conversation activities. Some ESL schools will give tests each month to see how much the students have learned. Questions to ask: Does the school follow a set curriculum? Are there tests?
Based on my years of teaching at ESL schools, if the owners of the school are foreign, they tend to have more students from their own country of origin and may favor them over you. This is simply a business decision, but it may affect your learning experience.
The families that students will stay with can provide a wonderful learning experience. A good homestay family will spend some time to get to know you and hopefully make good meals beyond soup and sandwiches. I wouldn’t expect too much though. I remember catching up with a private Swiss student and asked him how his homestay was going in terms of food. He said, “it’s not bad! Soup, sandwiches and for dessert……. an apple, ya! Never be afraid to talk to your homestay coordinator to tell them that you’d like to switch if you are not comfortable with the homestay you have.