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How to select a foreign course

Before selecting a language course

When considering the option of travelling abroad for a language course, it is first good to have an idea of exactly what you want from the course. You must consider how long you can be away and how much money you want to invest in the study. If you have a clear idea of what you want to achieve, you can then spend time considering the selection of a school and course to enrol on.

Selecting a language school

The range of schools offering language courses is very extensive. If you prefer a family atmosphere and personal approach, the possibility of going everywhere on foot and peace and quiet for studying, it would certainly pay to chose a small town. In large towns the environment is much busier and there are many more cultural and social options. It is, however, necessary to take into account the cost of local transport, greater problems in finding your ways around as well as a greater sense of anonymity. General language studies are possible at any school. Specialised programmes (preparation for exams, business language, special terminology, courses for teachers etc.) are only offered by certain schools and often just at specific dates. It is therefore necessary to plan attendance of such courses further in advance.

Other things worth considering...

For most of the offered languages there are several destinations where it is possible to attend a course. For some countries it is necessary to obtain a visa in advance for entry and study. The requirements for an application and the length of time in advance you need to apply differ depending on the country in question.

It is good to consider transport and its cost. Large cities are easy to reach from the Czech Republic; in the case of smaller towns there will probably be no direct connection and you will have to change. Schools offer for a charge the option of being collected from an airport, or sometimes also bus or railway station, and transferred to the agreed accommodation.

Also important are the chosen dates. During the summer you can expect larger groups and a lower average age of students. Through the winter, groups are smaller and therefore for the same price the lessons are more intensive.

When studying in European countries it is necessary to count on at least four weeks for the necessary formalities; when travelling overseas this can take several months. It is necessary to take out health insurance for the entire duration of the visit.

Length of study and intensity of lessons

Foreign language schools offer a wide range of courses. Normally the minimum course length is 2 weeks; shorter more intensive programmes may be offered over a weekend or week; specialist programmes can last weeks or months.

In the case of general courses, it is possible to select in advance the number of lesson hours. Standard courses are offered as 15, 20, 25 or 30 lessons per week. Lessons are normally in groups of students of roughly the same standard. Allocation into groups always takes place on the first day of the course on the basis of a written and, in most cases, oral test. As a general rule it follows that the smaller the group the more intensive the lessons, but also the higher the price.

Board and lodgings

It is recommended to find lodgings with a host family that is selected and regularly checked by the school to ensure a good and pleasant environment for study. The family also provides a pre-agreed number of meals. For more demanding students some schools offer a higher standard of accommodation with host families that guarantee greater comfort (en-suite facilities, mores space, closer to school etc.) Those who want greater freedom and privacy have the option of halls of residence, shared flats, boarding houses or hotels that the school can reserve on request.

Free time

Schools organise various sports or cultural activities and trips for students. Many of these are free, but some are for an extra charge. The aim is normally not just the active use of free time, but also the creation of opportunities for communication and with it further practice of the language being studied.

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