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Saturday, May 27, 2006

Which is better environment between private ESL schools and college... 

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“Dear Ai,
I need to study English hard when I go to Canada. Between private ESL schools and ESL classes at colleges/universities, which is the better environment for me?” Misa – Japan


“Hi Misa,
Thank you for your e-mail from Japan! Many students have a similar situation to yours. Limited budget and time is every student’s problem. It is very wise to plan ahead and get information about your study in Canada before you leave.

First, you need to set a goal. For example, would you like to be accepted in a community college in Canada? Or would you like to get a TOEIC score of 800 in order to get an import–export company in Japan?

Then, you need to find out how many weeks or months you can spend here in Canada. If you are currently working in Japan, then take a smaller step. Take a one or two week vacation to see if you like Canada for your study.

Third, you need to figure out how much money you will spend. You need to budget for a living fee, transportation, tuition, entertainment, food etc… Usually, students choose homestay when they arrive in Canada. It usually costs between $650-700/month in Vancouver. It includes food and utilities. Tuition fee depends on schools, please check with them, but usually it costs around $1100/month if you want to take a full-time class.

Going to ESL classes at a college/university has the following advantages: Lesson plans are designed by a semester (3 months). You will have the same classmates and teacher for the entire time; you can study in a steady environment. Usually, teachers are qualified and have excellent teaching experiences. Sometimes, you can audit regular classes and it will be a good motivation for you if you are planning to go to a college/university. This tends to attract serious students.

Going to a private ESL school has the following advantages: Smaller class sizes (from 5 to 12), so you can ask questions easily. They have a variety of students (nationalities, age, length of time they stay, purposes), so it will be a very fun environment. Also, some schools offer courses from one week and they might have more variety of classes like pronunciation, slang and idioms and listening classes, so you can study specifically what your weaknesses are.

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