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Sunday, June 11, 2006

Do you have any tips to find the best ESL school? 

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“Dear Ai,
I have just arrived in Canada from Taiwan. I came here as a visitor visa. I heard I can go to school if the study is within six months. I am looking for an ESL school right now, but I am not sure how to find the best one since there are too many here. Do you have any tips?” Kevin – Taiwan


“Hi Kevin,
Thank you for your message. Some ESL students have already decided or even registered at schools before they arrive here. The advantage of this is that they can start their classes immediately. Parents are less worried because everything is organized. However, sometimes students regret that they arranged their study prior to their arrival and registered for a long period. They usually complain that the school doesn’t offer many elective classes, more levels compared to other schools, or they want to take a vacation. It depends on school policies, but often many students can’t get the whole tuition back if they change their school.

It is a good idea to visit schools to see with your own eyes. It is like interviewing your future schools to find out if your needs are matched with the schools.

Before visiting schools, you need to find out what area of English you would like to study. Different schools offer a variety courses and specialties. It is also important to check the size of the school, class size, teachers’ qualifications, price, nationality rates, and refund policy.

If you are “do-it-by-yourself” person, then look through the yellow pages. Under schools, you can find ESL school locations and phone numbers. Make an appointment to visit the schools you choose. Usually, schools have counselors or a receptionist who can give you school information. Some schools offer a tour or a “trial lesson” that you can attend for free. Talk with the teachers and fellow classmates about the school and also check their facilities (computers or text books).

If you would like to know the best schools, you can use school agencies. Many school agencies in Vancouver are free to use. They act like your agent to find the best schools for you. Sometimes, you can get better deals or a discount. However, school agencies get commissions from schools where they refer students to. Because of this, they are not obligated to send students to the best schools for the students’ needs. Otherwise they are knowledgeable and can be a good resource for information.

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