Common ESL classroom issue 10: the school promises not delivered


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Everything may look great online, the visa application is done, you are ready to enter a new school in a new country and your excitement level is high. The only problem is that many issues promised in the website are not true.

Here are some typical promises not delivered:

  • All native teachers – in fact the school has one or two that they show for the website, but the rest of the teachers are local.
  • Interesting international group of students with a lot from Europe – often the demographic of the student group is 90% your own native speaking country and a handful of outsiders, almost always not from Europe.
  • Small classes – any school who promises small classes and low prices, is obviously trying to attract people because as soon as the class size gets bigger, they are not going to divide these classes in half. Any student who wants to go to an ESL school needs to know the class can be 20 students, anything less than 10 and (unless you are paying unusually high fees), the school will go bankrupt.
  • Accommodation provided – this may be true but the quality of it may be questionable – beware.
  • Central city location – Some schools think that when someone comes from outside the country, any location inside a city is considered central, the key for the student is to know where they are planning to live as well as study. Convenience is often more important than being centrally located.
  • Highly experienced teachers – well some schools consider years of teaching as highly experienced, the problem is that sometimes the teachers have been in the profession way too long and have developed such bad teaching habits that they need to be removed. Years of experience can be a good or bad thing.
  • Fully resourced school – what ‘fully’ exactly means is unknown. It could mean ‘a textbook for every student’, right through to ‘totally interactive smart-boards with i-pads and digital learning programmes from highly innovative dynamic international teachers’. There’s a difference, as you can see.
  • …and there are many more (would love to hear them too – just for the record)


Choosing your school wisely isn’t easy when you are obviously not from that country and are not making a decision based on your own language skills.

It’s always good to check online, check with your agent and others who have been to the school you are interested, and of course you do have the right to ask any questions before the sale is done. Make sure you have an English speaker with you though.


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