In my previous post I supported the small and medium-size language schools over the big, chain-type schools, as well as the small group classes with less than 15 students for language courses abroad. However, modest size does not necessarily imply modest quality.
High quality standards are also very important when choosing a language school abroad. After all, a language course abroad is an investment on your education. Of course, it’s impossible to find out about the academic quality of the classes until you actually start your course. Fortunately, there are quality seals issued by official institutions which inspect language schools and assign them quality labels when the inspection is passed.
As you will not be able to check the school’s quality before you start your language course, make sure you choose a school which has passed one or more quality inspections. Particularly, look for quality seals, homologations, recognitions or memberships from language related institutions which not only asses the accessibility, the infrastructure, the publicity, the administration, etc. but also the academic aspect.
In my opinion, a language school recognized by more than one official institution is truly concerned with achieving and maintaining a high standard of service and education.
Here are some of the institutions with an inspection and recognition scheme:
English schools in England
In England, the main accreditation for language schools is the one given by the British Council. The English in Britain Accreditation Scheme monitors and improves standards of management, teaching, resources and welfare in organisations teaching English as a foreign language in Britain.
Schools in this scheme are regularly inspected and a report is produced on each institution on aspects such as the qualification of the teachers, teaching standards, accommodation standards, premises with properly equipped classrooms and relaxation areas, brochures and publicity materials with an accurate reflection of the services provided, and proper emergency procedures.
There are also schools of English as a foreign language which, as well as being accredited by the British Council, are recognized examination centres for official exam such as the TOEIC, Cambridge ESOL, IELTS, TOEFL…
English courses in Ireland
In Ireland, schools are inspected by the Advisory Council for English Language Schools –ACELS-, which controls standards in English as a Foreign Language schools through an inspection and recognition scheme. ACELS administers the scheme which leads to School Recognition by the Irish Department of Education and Science.
In the next post I will go on with official inspection and recognition organizations in France, Spain, Germany…