Looking through some language advertisements recently, I saw one I hadn’t been expecting: Free English Lessons! Now, I know that the world and their best friend are offering English lessons in these troublesome times, but free lessons? I had to find out more.
On further reading, it turned out that the advertiser was offering English conversation classes free to anyone who was prepared to walk up and down on his back while wearing high heels! This is certainly a novel approach to pedagogy, but not one that I would advocate for the serious student of English.
So, with so many people offering to teach English, what should a student look for when choosing where to study?
There are two types of factors to consider: those that cannot be controlled (your location, age or budget) and those where you have a real choice: the qualifications, experience and professionalism of your teachers.
For example, on the one hand, the students who come to HELLO English do so because they either live here, or were happy to come here for their course. On the other, they chose to come to us because they liked our combination of qualifications, maturity, professionalism and commitment to teaching English.
What our competitors don’t have, and what our students won’t see, perhaps, is our fantastic range of qualifications in foreign language pedagogy, including up-to-date language qualifications (CELTA 2012) and post-graduate studies in linguistics and philology.
Let’s be clear, though. You do not need to be an expert in grammatology or onomastics to speak sparkling, crisp English. But, if you want to teach students how to use such elegant expression, and to enable them to spring from stumble to fluency, then some serious qualifications in language and teaching will be needed.
On my philology course, we learned about phonetics, poetics, syntax and semantics, among other things, and I use this knowledge every day as an English teacher. But, do I really need to know the difference between prescriptive and descriptive grammars in order to teach about the present continuous tense?
Well, yes, actually. If you want to be able to answer your students’ questions with more than a simple ‘…because that is what the book says…’, you need to know as much as possible about the English language. You should be so fascinated that you live and breathe intelligent insights to convey to your students.
So, students should take care to choose not just cheap teachers (cheap at what cost?) but, rather, teachers who are experienced, well qualified, professional and committed to teaching English.
Elegant English is much like a swan. A great deal of hard work has to be done before you can glide gracefully through the choppy waters of linguistic life.
If you would like to swim smoothly through your English lessons, choose someone who really knows their subject. Talk to HELLO English today about conversation classes or Cambridge exams, IELTS or A-levels.