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Choosing the right language school

Starting a new chapter in life on the other side of the world doesn’t always go to plan. See below some useful tips to help with choosing the right language school:

We Brazilians have all heard various horror stories from students who went to Ireland, following their dream only to have returned earlier than expected because of situations outside their control. Many of them had negative experiences – with agencies or with schools they are assigned to or with the pre-arranged accommodation provided as part of their overall package.

Do a background check

It’s easy to perform some due diligence when research language schools or agencies advertising for your hard earned Reis! With Facebook and other social media it’s harder for operations of poor quality to hide their low satisfaction ratings. Always check reviews from past students and not just on that agencies or schools own website or Facebook. Get in touch with other Brazilians who are former students and ask their opinions, join some of the various Brazilians in Ireland Facebook groups and of course ask exactly what you are getting for your money in writing.

Are they registered?

When choosing a school it is important to ensure your school is registered with ACELS (Accreditation and Coordination of English Language Services), to ensure it is full recognised and to ensure students can officially register as English Language students in Ireland.

The important rule – never pay forward an advance or register with a a non ACELs educational institute. To see a list of such schools or for more information on ACELS  click here.

Are you using an agency or working with the school directly?

If you are using an agency ensure you know exactly what you are getting for your money. If they are offering a package with accommodation included find out if you will be sharing a room, the type of accomodation (hostel, family home etc) and what other extras are included. Be sure there are no additional charges on arrival in Ireland and try get in touch with former students who have used the same agency.  

Are the teachers native English teachers?

All teachers at your choice of educational institute should be native English speakers. By having a native English speaker you will learn the local dialect better than a non native and depending on the teacher they might even be able to inform you about local words, terms and phrases that you won’t find in any textbook.

Are exam fees included?

Schools that don’t include exam fees generally don’t advertise! Ask if you school has additional costs for exam fees, which is increasingly common. While optional exams such as IELTs understandably incur a surcharge some schools charge for in house exams.

Class Size & Levels

Most schools in Ireland offer classes of 20 students or less, which provides a solid environment for making the most of your tutor. Anything more than 20 is considered a high amount of students, meaning an overworked tutor and less time for personal assistance.

Diversity of Students

If you come to Ireland to study English you don’t want to be in a classroom with 95% Brazilians! Ask about the student diversity and general school population.

Support Services

Some schools and institutions provide assistance with accommodation or employment. At the very least all schools should have notice boards and online forums or communities for others to share experience and knowledge. Ask what such services your potential place of study provides.

Extra Curricular Activities

Coming to Ireland shouldn’t be just about the study! Enjoy the landscape, the cities and the wonderful places of interest! Does your school organise day trips or activities to places such as the Cliffs of Mohor or Bunratty Castle? While it’s not a make or break factor in deciding on yoru language school it’s an easy way to get to visit many of the tourist locations around Ireland, while getting to know your fellow students.

Author: James Osborne

While not Brazilian himself James has a lot of Brazilian influences in his life, with a partner from Minas Gerais and many Brazilian friends and colleagues. James loves all things tech, in particular front end web development and open source platforms such as WordPress and Joomla.
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