Do NATIVE ENGLISH countries have QUALITY language schools?


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I know there is going to be a real backlash to this post and I want it – trust me, but it’s just that I have met quite a few people in the western world both teachers and students and people hwo know both who have all said one sad thing – that the quality of the school they go to isn’t what they expected.

You may be a language teacher or student who have worked or studied in the western world with your English and may fervently disagree and I want you to prove me wrong, but I just want to share today what some people have said. Please be aware that I am not talking about University language schools here, I am talking about private language schools. So here we go:

The ESL teachers have said:

  1. The school facilities are not of high quality or with modern teaching aids
  2. The salaries are low
  3. The ESL teacher status in the western world is at the bottom of the heap in terms of jobs
  4. The school owners are more interested in making money than creating quality
  5. The school owners themselves are not native speakers and have created the school because they have links with their own countries. So their focus is not on quality ESL product it is more about being able to recruit the students.

The ESL students have said:

  1. The teachers are not committed.
  2. The teachers are not good.
  3. The schools promise trips etc and they don’t deliver.
  4. The schools only care about getting your cash not the quality of the course.
  5. The students feel lonely when they get to the new country as there is limited social activity created by the school.

It seems strange to me that someone would get into business and not care about their customer, but sadly it is true not just for this business but any business. In fact it could be even easier for the language school in the native English country to take for granted that the student is just over the moon that they are being taught by a native speaker and/or just excited to be in a native English country.

The truth is that ESL students, like any customer, have expectations of what they have bought and particularly if the school promises something, they expect it to be delivered.

The other truth is that sadly in these countries ESL teachers really are considered second grade professionals, both in terms of the salaries they receive and the hours they are given.

Here is a big shout out to the ESL business to pull their socks up and really do a great job. Business is business and if you do what you promise, the sky is the limit.

Am I speaking the truth here? Or have I got a somewhat skewed view here? Let me know.


6 thoughts on “Do NATIVE ENGLISH countries have QUALITY language schools?

  1. Well, I don’t know about the schools in the west, but I definitely agree with points 1,2, 4, & 5, of what the teachers have said. And I think that this directly relates to points 1 & 2 of what the students say. And the fact that the administration at all of the language schools that I have worked at are at the heart of the problems.

    They are running a business, so of course they want and need to make money. That is the primary reason to go into business after-all, so that, intrinsically is not the problem.

    In my experience, what IS the problem is that they do not see the students as “clients” or “customers” and therefore are not treated as such. If a client went to a restaurant and said that their food was not what they ordered or that they didn’t get what was described on the menu – then the restaurant would fix the problem (or at least they should.) However, it seems that they like to play the game that, since the student is coming there to learn, then the administration, know better how to give them what they want. So if they are not happy… well, they just don’t know what’s good for them… And then they expect them to sign up for another course.

    And that’s why I chose to go the solo-route. It’s a lot more work, but then I can make sure that each student gets exactly the attention that he or she needs, and can work at his or her pace… I don’t need to rush them through material to finish the book in three months so we can get a new class of de-motivated learners in.

    It’s more work, but it feels a lot better 🙂

    • Please excuse my minor mistakes above… it’s always embarrassing when (as an English teacher) you post something with a mistake in it. But this is an issue which excites a lot of emotion, and I posted without proof-reading (oops)… “so remember kids, always proof-read before you post!” 😀

      • No worries…as any good teacher should do – always encourage the communication first, and worry about the grammar later, the other way around makes for a whole lot of people who are too afraid to speak or write what they think.

    • …and I can guarantee you you will do a lot better than those language centres too. At the heart (as you say) is the fact that you are teaching/educating these students and that they should be listened to. At the same time (I believe) the best person to own a language centre is a teacher, that way they are going to get the balance right. Anyone who has never been a teacher who thinks a white face in the classroom is the only cash cow out there will soon die.

      Good luck to you and your new business!

      • First of all, that was an excellent point that you made in reply to my “mistake” comment above. It’s always fascinating how “The Universe” uses us, unwittingly, to “make a point”. I’m now glad to have been a part of that… no need for embarrassment anymore 😉

        And I thank you for the encouragement in your second comment, and I agree with you whole-heartedly. I have been working incredibly hard without pay for a number of years on a few projects which are only now showing some promise that it was not wasted effort. I’m starting to see now why “they” say to, “do what you love, and the money will come” – “provide service” – “fulfill a need” – …and all else will be taken care of.

        Thanks for your comments and keep up the excellent work.


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