How to Choose an Overseas Language School to Study at

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There are many benefits to learning a new language.

It’ll allow you to interact with the local people and understand their culture better, it’ll make you seem like less of a tourist (meaning the local people will give you more time, respect and consideration) and your newly found vernacular will no-doubt impress those back home.

One of the best ways to learn a new language is to study at a language school overseas.

As there are countless foreign language schools in any given country, how do you choose which one to study at?

Here are some things to consider that should help you make this important decision:

Think About What You Want

Before choosing a foreign language school, you should first think about what it is you wish to get out of studying there, and what type of school you want to study at.

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Do you want to become fluent in a second language so that you can work abroad, or do you simply wish to learn the basics so you can ask directions, order food in restaurants and have brief conversations?
  • Do you want to study full-time or part-time?
  • Do you just want to take language classes, or do you want to study at a school that offers a fuller service (i.e. one that organizes trips away, various activities, and social meet-ups).

If you don’t know the answers to all of these yet, don’t worry. They’re just designed to help you get an idea of what to look for.


Choosing a Location

The location of your chosen language school is all important. It will affect how much you pay, what kind of experience you’ll have and how well/quickly you learn the language (among other things).

If you’re a bit of a part animal and you want to have a good time while you learn a new language, you’re best off staying in a tourist-friendly area where there will be likeminded people and plenty of things to do.

Studying at a school right in the heart of a major tourist area means you’ll most likely be surrounded by English-speaking people, thereby lessening your immersion into another language.

If you’re staying in an area where English is rarely spoken, you’ll be forced to put your language lessons into effect on a daily basis just to get by.

Finally, remember that you don’t always have to travel to the country the language is named after in order to study it. For example, you could learn Spanish and Portuguese in South America (where they’re widely spoken) instead of going to Spain or Portugal to do so.

In fact, it is probably far cheaper to learn Spanish/Portuguese outside of Spain/Portugal, as these are very expensive countries (compared to places outside of the western world).

Assessing the School

As you probably realized when growing up, some schools are better than others, and some have a much better, friendlier environment to study in.

The problem here is that assessing a school’s environment is very difficult if the school is 3,000 miles away.

If you’re going to be spending a considerable amount of time (and money) there, it’s a good idea to do your homework so you know your time (and money) will be well spent.

Your best bet is to get in touch with former student and find out what they thought about the school (i.e. how well run it was, how qualified the teachers were, what the facilities were like, etc.).

One way of doing this is to phone/email the school and ask them for the contact details of former students (so that you can get references). Some schools might not give out this information, in which case you’re probably limited to searching around internet forums to see if anyone has posted a review of the school you’re considering going to.

Finding Accommodation

When you go abroad to study at a language school, you’re obviously going to need somewhere to stay.

Depending on how long you’re studying there for, it is probably unrealistic to spend your whole time staying at a hostel or a hotel (as it’ll end up costing you a fortune).

A far better option would be to look for a homestay, which sees you living with another family (similar to how you’d live if you were an au pair, although you won’t be looking after the children).

Living with a local family (who all speak the language you’re trying to learn) will massively accelerate your learning, as you’ll be totally immersed in the language and witnessing it being spoken.

Some language schools will offer to setup a homestay for you, making the whole process a lot easier. Note that some homestays will include meals in the price. Others won’t.

Some language schools may have their own accommodation you can stay in (such as dorm rooms), although it is best to have a backup plan (such as a homestay) in place in case they don’t.

Considering the Costs

The cost of studying at any language school (and your stay there) largely depend on where in the world (and where in the country) it is located, how long you’re there for, how many classes you have and your accommodation.

Language courses will naturally be more expensive in the Western World or in major cities. Expect to pay at least $20 an hour for group lessons in such places.

If studying in the developing world or away from major cities, expect to pay around a quarter of that for personalized, one-on-one tutoring.

Related posts:

  1. Want to Study Abroad? How to Choose the Right Study Abroad Program for You
  2. How to Learn a New Language in 3 Months
  3. Question: What is the Best Foreign Language to Learn When Traveling the World?
  4. Overseas Teaching Jobs – A Definitive Guide Teaching English Abroad
  5. Volunteering Overseas for Free

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