1. Does the English school offer ESL or EFL courses? It doesn’t matter which you choose as both refer to the same type of English language course. ESL stands for English as a Second Language, while EFL stands for English as a Foreign Language. English schools in Singapore will use one or both acronyms when advertising English courses in Singapore. Some of these same schools will also offer TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) courses for those students who want to train to teach English to non-English speakers; TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) is also used for the same type of programme. When you are confident of your English language skills, you may later decide to become a teacher of English.

2. Does the English language school look like a language school, or a commercial organisation? Some English schools in Singapore are merely commercial-oriented companies, only concerned with optimizing their profits instead of providing quality English language courses. If you are determined to find a legitimate English course in Singapore, you want to learn a little about the school, to make sure they are dedicated to offering high standard English courses in Singapore, and not just trying to maximize their marketing potential.

3. What is the typical class size of the English course? If there are more students attending the English course in Singapore, then it can be difficult to make any progress, as the teacher will be focusing on more students at a time. Ideally, it is better if the English courses in Singapore have smaller class sizes, of about 15 students or less. Although English language schools in Singapore cannot directly control the number of students who sign up to attend an English course, you want the assurance that the teacher will be able to give the students sufficient attention and help them each learn and improve.

4. Don’t join English courses in Singapore that promise miracle results – Some English language schools promise that you can master English in only 100 days. Don’t believe it! As you may already know, learning English is a process that takes time, and will require time and effort to master. The only way to become proficient in English is a partnership between the teacher to provide the best possible instruction, and the student’s willingness to give their best, inside and outside the classroom.

5. Does the English Language school have details of their teachers on their website? Many English language school websites do not include information about their teachers. You want to know who is going to be spending your time teaching you English in Singapore. Not only are qualifications important, but you would also like to get an idea what sort of person this teacher is. What are their interests and life experiences? What is their attitude towards teaching, English, and their students?

6. Taking an English course in Singapore costs money. This is to be expected. If the course is phenomenally cheap, chances are you won’t get the quality or quantity a good English language school should offer. That being said, there’s no reason why you can’t save money where you can. When checking out prospective English language schools in Singapore, ask if they offer any discounts or special offers. Students who continue to study at an English language school may receive ongoing discounts as they continue to register for English courses.

7. Does the provider offer teaching practice opportunities? Whether a course is taught face-to-face or through distance learning, the course provider should offer opportunities for teaching practice. While it is not essential to do teaching practice (and is sometimes not possible for some people doing a distance course) it can be helpful.

8. Does the English course or school in Singapore come recommended? The best advertising is word of mouth. Students who have taken an English course in Singapore and are happy with the results will tell their friends, neighbours and colleagues. Before enrolling for that English course, speak to people you trust. You can also look for online testimonials of students who have studied at the English language school.

9. Does the English language school offer options in course delivery? If you are looking for English courses in Singapore, you may have to juggle your learning with full time work or family. If you cannot attend a full time English course, can you take the same course part-time? Or as a private lesson? Good English language schools in Singapore should try to provide different options to accommodate the lifestyles of their students. Visiting the school, or checking the online website will let you know if you can fit your study time to your life.

10. Do you know what to expect from a good English course in Singapore? A good English language course or English language teacher should have the main priority of helping you to improve your English. With time, dedication and practice, you should see and hear your English improve. Your English language teacher should show the errors you make in English, and let you know when you’re making progress. They should take the time to help, and always treat you with respect.

11. It’s all about you! You are looking for English courses in Singapore – you want a quality English course that is taught by professional teachers. The English language school should make your needs the priority, giving you professional and friendly counselling to help you make the best choice. You should feel welcome in the school and in the classroom, and should want to come to each lesson. English learning should be fun, and the English course should be fun for you.

I hope that these tips will help you make your choice on which English course in Singapore is best for you. Happy learning!

Michael Bunyak

English Teacher at Canadian Education College, Singapore