How to Choose the Best English School

Students should ask questions to avoid problems and misunderstandings.

Students should be able to choose their school based on honest, accurate and current school, program and cost information.

Asking proper questions will help students save money, save time, lessen culture shock, and choose the best school and study program based on their unique student needs and preferences.

You can use the following Example Questions to Ask to confirm ESL School ownership, management, prices, policies, qualifications, operations, facilities, services, programs, terms, instruction, courses and homestay.

Questions should be answered accurately by school representatives or agents. If the answer is different than the printed information in the school contracts then you must get the changes in writing by the agent and confirmed in writing by the school.

Remember if your school contract is not in writing with all the terms and conditions and student rights then you may have no chance to change your school or program or get a refund.

Questions about school ownership

School ownership is important. It is important to know if the school is owned by some fast buck shyster out to make as much as he can as quickly as he can or by professional educators who have invested decades of teaching and educating experience and all the latest educational resources into their well established school.

It is also important to know if you are dealing with local ownership who are directly accountable for the school or is the school a tiny tiny little cog in a huge face less multi-layer corporation where the managers can hide when there are problems.

  • Who owns the school?
  • Does the owner set school policy and operations?
  • Do the owners have formal university with education as their major?
  • Are the owners Canadian? or another country?
  • What language do the owners speak

Questions about school management

It is also important to know if you are dealing with local management who are directly accountable for the school or is the school managed by long-distance removed managers who can hide when there are problems.

  • Who manages the school?
  • Are the managers in Canada or another country?
  • Does the manager set school policy and operations?
  • Do the managers have formal university with education as their major?
  • What language do the managers speak

Questions about the academic director

  • Does the school have a full time academic director?
  • Does the academic director set academic policy and operations?
  • Does the academic director speak English?
  • Does the academic director have a masters degree with education as the major?
  • Does the academic director have teaching and curriculum development qualifications?
  • Does the academic director design the curriculum for each class?
  • Does the academic director evaluate all students for initial level placement?
  • Does the academic director evaluate all students for ongoing level placements?

Questions about teachers

  • Do all the teachers have University degrees?
  • Do the teachers have a TESL Canada rated certificate?
  • Does the school have senior teachers with Bachelor of Education or Masters Degrees?
  • What are the average years of teaching experience of the teachers?
  • How many years have the teachers taught at this school?
  • Do the Specialty teachers have actual working experience in their specialty?
  • How many teachers instruct full time and how many part time at the school?
  • Can the teachers tutor students outside of class?

Questions about English level testing

  • Are the English skill level standards published for each level in the school?
  • Are international standardized English tests available for evaluations?
  • What happens if one of my English skills is advanced and one beginner?
  • Does the school have remedial skills programs for students?
  • What can I do if the school keeps me at a lower level without justification?

Questions about school books

  • Are all textbooks and workbooks included in the price?
  • Do I get to keep the textbook and workbooks at the end of each class and level?
  • How many books do I have to buy, and what are the prices?
  • Can I buy the books at discounts from the book stores?
  • Are school library books available free for students to take home to study?
  • How many reference books are in the school library?

Questions about school classes

  • How many students in the classes? average per class? maximum allowed?
  • How many English levels does the school teach?
  • Are all students in the class at the same level?
  • What happens if there are only a few students for my level?
  • Do classes of different levels get joined together?
  • What happens if there are no classes that I like?
  • What are the age ranges for the classes?
  • What if I am in a class where the students just goof around?
  • What if a student is causing a disturbance?
  • Do the classes have an English only policy?
  • What can I do if the class does not follow the curriculum?

Questions about the school curriculum

  • Does the curriculum follow Ontario Ministry of Education or LINC guidelines?
  • Does the curriculum follow ETS TOEFL test Preparation guidelines?
  • How can I be sure the curriculum meets professional standards?

Questions about instructional performance

  • What is the average increase in TOEFL score after 1 month in class at this school?
  • What is the Pass/Fail ratio for Cambridge students at this school?
  • Does the school evaluate their own teachers?
  • Do the students rate the teachers instructional performance?
  • Are the school or student rankings for the teachers posted?
  • What is the average study time to increase English skills one level?
  • What guarantees will I receive about the quality of English instruction?

Questions about health insurance

  1. Can I buy my Health Insurance directly from a Company in Canada?
  2. If not a Canadian Company who performs the insurance services in Canada?
  3. Is the Insurance Company licensed in Canada?

Questions about homestay

  1. Do I receive a written copy of the rules and responsibilities of the homestay?
  2. Is my homestay contract with the family, homestay contractor or the school?
  3. If there is a problem who do I complain to or ask for a refund?
  4. If my homestay is inadequate is seven days notice enough to change?
  5. Where is the homestay located? Is commuting time less than 30 minutes?
  6. Is the homestay located on a public transportation route?
  7. Is the homestay family Native English speakers?
  8. How many family members, pets and other ESL students in the house?
  9. Do I get a single room, or a shared room?
  10. Do I have access to the TV, radio, telephone, Email, computer?
  11. How much time will the family spend with me each day?
  12. Do I have a choice of food that is served?
  13. Will the family prepare food so I do not gain or lose weight ?
  14. Can I buy my own lunch and pay less for homestay?
  15. Do I have to do my own laundry outside of the homestay?

Questions about jurisdiction

  1. If the school is located in Canada why do other rules apply?
  2. Why do I have to sign a contract (here) if the rules do not apply in Canada?
  3. Can I sign a contract with the school directly so I know which rules apply?
  4. Can I receive a current copy of the school policy, rules, and regulations?
  5. Will the school certify that these rules apply for my entire study period?

Questions about school location

  • Where is the school located ?
  • Is the school located on the public transit system?
  • What is the commute time from homestay to the school?

Questions about tuition payments

  1. Can I pay directly to the school?
  2. Can I receive confirmation from the school that my payment is received?
  3. Can I pay one month at a time?

Questions about school prices

  1. Is the tuition price the brochure price in Canada?
  2. Is this price set by the agents or by the school?
  3. Does this school charge more to students from Japan or Korea?
  4. What is the cost per instructional hour at this school?

Questions about school logictics

  1. Is the school building modern with heating, air conditioning and ventilation?
  2. How many classrooms, study rooms, computer labs?
  3. Is a lunch room, microwave and refrigerator available to students?
  4. Is a student lounge with TV, computers, and library available?
  5. Are CD's, Videos, Cassettes available outside of class?
  6. How many computers does the school have?
  7. What is the ratio of students to computers?
  8. How much time is available for Emails for each student?

Questions about school rankings

  • Is the school a member of a professional organization that inspects the schools?
  • Is the school licensed or bonded with the Provincial Ministry of Education?
  • Is the school in good standing with the BBB or Credit reporting agencies?
  • Do the school owners have a good reputation in the community?

Questions about school references

  • Can you supply the names of previous students who attended this school/homestay so that I can contact them directly?

Questions about school refunds

  1. How does this school pay refunds for not being able to offer advertised classes?
  2. Do you know if this school has paid refunds to dissatisfied students?
  3. Are there any existing complaints against this school/homestay?

Questions about student visas

  1. What are your service fees to assist with the VISA application form?
  2. Can I obtain a student Visa that is any University, any College, any ESL school?
  3. The price for a student visa is $125, why are you charging more?
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