Are English courses useful?
English courses are investments in your future, since English is the most widely-spoken language on the planet, the official language of 53 countries and is increasingly becoming essential as a means of communicating in media, business and scientific forums.
Just over 50 per cent of all internet content is in English. the entertainment industry, with Hollywood at its heart, spreads English across the world, and the ratio for scientific papers written in English, as opposed to every other language, is a staggering 40:1.
In short, you need to know English these days, and what better way to improve your proficiency in the language than signing up for an English course!
English courses and higher education
If you want to apply to a university in the US, UK, Australia, Ireland or Canada, you will generally have to upload proof of English language proficiency along with the rest of your documentation. The most common certificate accepted in higher education institutions is the IELTS, although many universities also accept TOEFL and Cambridge results.
Although certain people believe that they “know English” and do not need to take an English course, what they fail to realise is that chatting to friends and reading English novels is not good preparation for sitting a language exam.
IELTS, for example, is a highly structured examination, with four distinct papers-reading, speaking, writing and listening – and demands thorough preparation, excellent time-management skills and working through old papers for several months, in order to gain an understanding of what examiners are looking for, the types of questions you will face and the techniques which will enable you to get a good score.
Attending a pre-IELTS, TOEFL or Cambridge preparation English course is very helpful, and thus thousands of non-native speakers sign up for English courses for this very reason every year.
English courses and visa requirements
If you are hoping to apply to study in the UK, and are an EU citizen, post Brexit you will now have to arm yourself with a visa before being allowed to enter the country.
UK visas demand proof of English language proficiency, with students who are coming to study at degree level or above being asked for an IELTS overall score of 5.5 (with at least 5.5 in each section of the test), while those who are either applying for a child visa (for high school, for example) or a short-term study visa must score 4, with at least 4 in every section.
Your chances of gaining these marks are significantly increased if you take an English course a few months before you decide to sit IELTS and apply for a visa. The Common European Framework of Reference states that, below degree level, students must prove they have reached B1 level, while future undergraduates need to be at B2. BI is equivalent to TOEFL 42-71 and Cambridge 140-159.
It is do-able, but you will definitely gain a better score if you enrol on an English course!
What types of English courses are available?
English courses come in every conceivable shape and size, including:
How much does it cost to take an English course?
English courses vary in length and are found in many different locations – and this too has an impact on price.
Similarly, you could sign up for 15 hours a week, 34 hours a week or as little as four hours a week, and the cost of your English course will reflect how often you attend.
As a general rule of thumb, based on English courses in General English and Cambridge preparation, you can expect to pay:
- £200-£475 a week, with the lower fee giving you 15 hours of tuition, and the higher end of the spectrum offering 34 hours a week.
- £300-660 for two weeks.
- £450-950 for three weeks.
If you want to combine IELTS preparation with General English, the costs are very similar.
Homestay in a very specific type of English course, since you live with a family, in the teacher’s home, and your English course takes place in the home. Fees for homestay, which includes accommodation and two meals a day, start at £650 a week.
And then, of course, you could do an English course online, with four group lessons a month costing around £50. While there are several advantages to online courses – convenience, being able to work at your own speed – you will miss out on the social side of English courses, the conversations, friendships, the dialogue and discussions which make English courses so enjoyable.
The choice is yours, and what a huge range of options you have to choose from!
What will I learn on an English course?
This is a difficult question to answer, since it depends on the type of English course you have decided to enrol on.
If you want to learn Medical English, for example, the course content will be very different to a General or Conversational English class.
Nevertheless, whatever the English course, there are certain common benefits too:
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Twenty per cent of the world’s population either speaks or understands English and as globalisation takes hold and spreads, English has become the international language of business, administration and communication.
English is a valuable skill to offer employers, enhances your CV and is essential if you want to work for a multinational organisation.
Similarly, if you need to apply for a visa or want to study in an English-speaking country, then you will need to show that your level of English is high enough to secure a place.
English courses open the doors to careers, but are also essential tools for starting an academic journey, securing a visa and getting accepted to the university of your dreams.
IELTS, TOEFL and the Cambridge exams are the doorway to a brighter future and you can maximise your scores by enrolling on an English course. Contact Elab for further information and help in finding the right English course for you.