When is a cheap school a good school?

Deciding which cheap school is the best for me

Sometimes when choosing an English school, we are spoilt for choice! In the Dublin area, there are over one hundred English language schools. Some are cheap schools and some are expensive and they are also very different when it comes to quality. We know what we can afford (which rules out a lot of the more expensive schools) but how can we tell if the school we are booking is good?

Read the reviews

Use other people’s experience to form a picture of the school you are investigating. People tend to post reviews when they ae very happy or very unhappy with a school so read these reviews to see what previous students have thought. Generally, with negative reviews, there tends to be truth in a complaint which has been repeated by a number of people. Look for comments about the teachers and about how the students were treated in the office. If the school administration does not treat students well, then this is probably a school to avoid.

On the positive side, reviews which compliment the school and its teachers can help you to narrow down your choice towards finding the right school for you.

Look for the language

Language schools are just that – schools which teach language. Look for clues which show that they are passionate about teaching language and not just businesses to earn money. Look at their websites. Have they written original content about language? Look at their social media pages. Again, do they post content about language or are their pages simply marketing tools to find more students? There are schools out there who care deeply about teaching English. Find these schools and make your choice.

Look at the size of the school

Language schools often start out with the greatest intentions. When they are young they care about each student individually, but as success comes, students stop being faces and start being numbers. Teachers who before worked in an organisation they felt cared about them and were innovative in their industry now feel like cogs in a giant wheel and of course, it is the students who suffer. The message here is certainly not that all big schools are bad, just some of them. Look for a school which you feel can offer you the individual support you need as well as the school facilities.

Recognition

In Ireland, there are quality marks which assure minimum levels of quality in schools. With these marks, the schools are open to independent inspectors who can check if they are doing what they say they do, both academically and from an administrative point of view. Look for quality marks such as ACELS or MEI. You can see their lists of members at https://www.acels.ie/schools or https://mei.ie/

Teachers

Your teacher is the most important element of your course as it is they who you have primary contact with each and every day. A good teacher can guide you through the language and a great teacher can inspire you for the rest of your life. When you are making contact with a school, ask as many questions as you like. Regarding teachers, there are two questions you can ask: Are your teachers native speakers? What is the combined teaching experience of your teachers? The way schools answer your questions will give you a clue as to how they might treat you in the future should you become a student and of course, the more you can learn about their teachers the better. Happy, well-paid teachers give the best classes!

What every student would like is a well-located, friendly and professional school which will teach you the English language. In your search for this school, consider the above points and we wish you the best of luck! If you need any more help or information on this topic, please contact john@englishour.ie

By the way, one last thing. The word ‘cheap’ in English can have a negative connotation meaning ‘poor quality’. A positive way of saying ‘cheap’ is ‘inexpensive’.

 

John Ryan

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