What to look for when choosing a language school
When choosing an overseas English language course, there are certain things you should look for to make sure you get the best experience possible. As experts in the field of teaching English to international students, we’ve created a list of eight essential questions to ask of the English language school you are considering, to ensure that you meet your goals.
1. Does the language school have a track record for delivering excellence?
New language schools are popping up all the time. It is important to research how long a school has been operating as well as its track record of success. It is easy for a school to put up a slick website with flashy marketing slogans and pretty images. But the best school to help you reach your linguistic goals will be one with deep experience in the field of English language training. An experienced school will understand the challenges faced by international students and will be able to support you to achieve the best possible learning outcomes.
Kaplan has 80 years of experience in education and 37 English schools around the world. The management team overseeing Kaplan International English language schools boasts decades of experience in the English language training sector, contributing to the successful training of over 40,000 students per year.
When you select Kaplan for your English course abroad, you benefit from a team of seasoned professionals with extensive experience.
2. Is the language school financially stable?
As reports of language schools shutting down become more frequent in the news, it is important to ask critical questions about an organization’s financial stability before you trust a school with your language experience abroad. Is the school part of a larger, financially healthy organization?
A quick check of public records can put your mind at ease. If a school will not speak openly about its finances, that could be a warning sign. Don’t risk investing in a school that could be about to go out of business, or that doesn’t offer you the transparency of how well their business is performing.
Kaplan International English is a division of Kaplan, Inc., a Graham Holdings Company. Graham Holdings is publicly-traded, American, multi-national corporation dating back to 1877. As all public companies do, Graham Holdings publishes regular financial reports, so when you choose Kaplan you can be assured that you are selecting a stable and financially-sound organization.
3. Can you trust the ethical standards of the language school you are considering?
Ethical standards in language schools are as important as they are in any organization with which you do business. Make sure your language school follows all best practices and laws in both your own country and in the destination country in which you will be studying.
Watch out for schools that have many complaints listed with local industry organisations as these can be an indicator of poor service and carelessness. Check to see if the school has a reputation for charging hidden fees and surcharges or for aggressively re-booking students after fees are paid.
Kaplan International English prides itself on ethical practices in the marketplace. Kaplan will never rebook your course or charge you hidden fees. We are members of numerous English language industry and student travel organizations around the world, and we have the highest standards for our agency partners. When you study English abroad with Kaplan, you know you are trusting an organization with the highest ethical standards.
4. Does the language school offer “too good to be true” discounts or special offers?
Everyone likes a good deal; and a special promotion can be a welcome offer in financing your study abroad experience. But beware of any discount that seems “too good to be true.” In their desperation, sales people from some language schools offer outrageous discounts or promotions.
Some schools even try to lure students who have already booked their course by undercutting prices. Such predatory practices can lead schools to cut corners and ultimately to deliver a lower quality experience. If a you think a promotion offered by a school sounds too generous, be sure to question how that might be impacting the quality of your course.
Kaplan International English tuition prices represent the philosophy that “you get what you pay for.” We understand that when contemplating traveling to a country far from their own, students are not simply looking for the cheapest option. We believe that quality matters.
Kaplan offers a premium study-abroad and academic experience to students for a competitive price. Of course, we understand that seasonal discounts or promotions for long-term study can help students finance their course, so from time to time, Kaplan International English does offer promotions or discounts to help more students enjoy our high-quality programs.
5. Will the language school deliver rigorous academic standards and ensure your language progresses?
Studying English abroad is an investment in your future, so be sure to enquire about the academic rigor of the language school you are considering. Can the school guarantee that you will make steady academic progress? Does the school assess its students using an accepted educational framework?
While some schools offer progression guarantees promising an increase in language levels, they measure student progress against their own proprietary learning framework. This offers the illusion of faster progress. If a school guarantees that your level will increase in a certain amount of time, be sure to question the metrics they are using to assess you.
At Kaplan International English we map our language levels to the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR). This is an internationally recognized scale of English progression that can chart your progress from beginner to advanced. Kaplan’s Guaranteed Progress promise ensures that your English will improve steadily and that you will increase your CEFR score by one full level every 10 weeks on our Intensive English programs. We’re confident in our teachers, our proprietary curriculum, and the results our students achieve. So, if your level does not increase in 10 weeks, we offer you four additional weeks of study on us.
6. Does the organization have partnerships with prestigious higher education institutions?
When a language school has strong partnerships with high-quality universities in English speaking countries, you have more opportunities to explore. What’s more, an extensive list of university partners correlates to an outstanding language-learning experience at a strong and established school.
Kaplan International English partners with some of the best universities in the English-speaking world as part of our University Pathways Programs and our University Placement Service. Our goal is to help students gain the right qualifications to enter universities in the US, Canada, UK and Australia. Our relationships with university partners are strong and stable with collaborations that include managing off-shore degree courses, overseeing online programs, and building residence buildings on university campuses. We believe that one important measure of a high-quality language school is in its university partners. Take a look at the list of Kaplan International's university partners.
7. Does the school have all the academic accreditations and local quality assurance affiliations it should?
Achieving the accreditation of major academic regulating bodies of the country in which you will be studying means that an institution abides by rules of conduct and aligns to recommended industry standards of quality. Likewise, industry associations and quality assurance bodies in your home country offer students consumer protection and ensure a high ethical standard.
If the language school you are considering does not carry the accreditations other schools have or belong to the prominent industry groups in your home country, you should consider what this means. Some schools will try to hide or disguise the fact that they may be missing a significant accreditation so it’s worth digging a little deeper!
Kaplan International English consistently earns the accreditation of all of the academic and quality regulators in all of our destination countries. In those countries where school rankings are available, such as the UK, Kaplan consistently places among the top language school networks.
8. Does the school have positive online ratings and high student feedback?
As you make your choice of English schools abroad, it is always worth doing a bit of online research on review sites like Trustpilot. While no organization can achieve 5 stars 100% of the time, it is important to notice how school representatives respond to negative feedback. Is the school open to the student feedback and eager to address complaints and correct problems? In general, the school you select should have an overall high rating on one of these sites. If you can’t find any feedback on a school you are considering, be sure to inquire as to why this is the case.
Kaplan International English is proud to have achieved a 5-star rating on Trustpilot. We believe that this site offers a valuable way to hear feedback from our former students, and we monitor and respond to comments on a regular basis. In addition, Kaplan International English achieves high ratings on our internal student satisfaction survey. With 93% of students completing a survey at the end of their course, 97.3% of our students tell us that they “would recommend” a Kaplan English course to a friend.
Make your choice of language school the right one
Studying English abroad is a significant investment of your time and money and should be an incredibly rewarding experience, so make sure nothing compromises that.
We are extremely proud of the quality of our schools, our teachers, our teaching methodology and general stability that we can offer our students.
Whoever you do chose to study with, make sure you get what you need out the experience and don’t be misled into paying for something that just isn’t right for you.