There are so many foreign language courses today that sometimes it is very hard to make a right choice. That is why every student needs to bear in mind and use some key criteria when choosing a foreign language programme or a foreign language school.

Criterion 1:What for do I need to study a foreign language?

First of all, every student should answer this question and define his or aims. It is a very important step as it determines all the further choice, e.g. course type and course duration. Below you may find the main course types with their duration, intensity and price.

Programme typeIntensityGroupLanguage requirementsDurationCost
General English15-20 hours/week8-10Starter2 weeks +375 USD+
Intensive English Course28-30 hours/week6-12 Beginner2 weeks+430 USD+
Super Intensive English Course35-40 hours/week6-10 Beginner2 weeks +475 USD+
Exam Preparation20-25 hours/week6-12Lower-Intermediate2 weeks+525 USD+
Business English20-25 hours/week7-10Lower-Intermediate2 weeks+525 USD+
English + hobby10-15 hours/week5-10Lower-Intermediate2 weeks+550 USD+
Study & Live in your Teacher's Home25-30 hours/week2-3Beginner2 weeks+1,000 USD+
Vacation English10-15 hours/week5-10Beginner2 weeks+415 USD+
One-to-One lessonsindividual1Starterindividual70 USD+/lesson

Criterion 2: The duration of foreign language courses

The more time you spend abroad studying a foreign language, the better, but in practise not everyone has such an opportunity. Usually the average duration of general courses at foreign language schools is about 2 weeks. Very often students can choose the course duration by themselves depending on their time, financial and study abilities.

The duration of foreign language courses is influenced by:
  • student’s level of foreign language;
  • foreign language course intensity

How much time is necessary for each level?

The choice of course duration is influenced by the student’s basic knowledge and by the level he or she wants to achieve at the end of the course. The vast majority of foreign language schools apply Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) as the main level evaluation scale.

Language levelLanguage level in EnglishDuration of learning
A1Beginner, Elementary 70 -100 hours
A2Pre-Intermediate 100-150 hours
B1Intermediate 150-200 hours
B2Upper-Intermediate 200 hours
С1Advanced 200 hours
С2Proficiency 300-400 hours
With reference to the above table you may see that the higher level you want to achieve is, the more time you need to do it.
As a rule, all language centers usually test their applicants before classes begin (it they have studied the language before) to divide them in groups correctly. However, it is better to do this placement test on your own before arriving at school in order to assess your knowledge adequately and to set your main goals correctly.

Course intensity

According to their intensity, all courses are divided into three types:
  • standard (16-20 hours/week or about 3 hours/day);
  • intensive (30-32 hours/week or about 5-6 hours/day);
  • superintensive (35-40 hours/week or 7-8 hours/day).
It seems to many people that the more intensive foreign language course is, the better results students achieve. It is obviously true, but it is not suitable for everyone in terms of time, money and general studying ability and capability.

So again, it necessary to look at your aim precisely: if you want to start speaking without fear, standard courses are a good option for you, but if you want to get prepared for some international exams, super intensive courses will be much more useful.

Criterion 3: School geographical position

Another important step is to choose a county and city of studying. The most logical option (and the most expensive as well) is to study a foreign language where it is spoken as a mother tongue, e.g. English in Britain, German in Germany etc.
However, today there are many other options, especially concerning those languages that are spoken in several countries and continents as their first state or second language. Their quality of these courses is also quite high, but they are cheaper.
Your aim plays a very important role in decision-making here again. For example, if an applicant want to continue his or her education in one of the European countries in the future, it is better to choose a foreign language course in one of these countries. On the other hand, if a person needs a foreign language (e.g. English) for business and work purposes in order to negotiate with business partners who are not native speakers, it is worth choosing an English course in one of the multinational Asian countries in order to get used to different accents and cultural differences.
Moreover, every student should take into account if local climate, cuisine and weather conditions are suitable for him or her in order to avoid some problems with health.

Finally, another important point is school’s situation in a town or city, the level of security in this district, well-developed transport system, remoteness or vicinity from a city centre etc.

Criterion 4: Foreign language school’s reputation

The next step is the collection of information about foreign language schools which the student is interested in. As a quality guarantee can serve the presence of necessary accreditations. To find the school ranking it is better to turn to official and proved sources. Then you may find some vital information about the definite school at forums and social networks where people leave their reviews about foreign language courses.
It is also necessary to pay attention to the methods and study curriculum used at a foreign language school, their level of its teachers’ qualifications, its studying and accomodation conditions.

Criterion 5: The price of learning

The foreign language course price is influenced by many factors: foreign language school ranking, its reputation and prestige value, the country of studying, course type and duration. Moreover, some additional fees come from flight cost, visa registration, accomodation and food. Below you may find some approximate data about average expenses connected with 1 week study period at the most popular study destinations:
CountryCourses/1 weekAccomodationFoodSchool feesPersonal expendituresTotal
the USA275300200751751025
Great Britain321325200651851100
Germany, German17517515050150700
France, French20020015050175775
Spain, Spanish20017515050150725
Prices are given in $ US.

Criterion 6: Extracurricular activity

As a rule, study at foreign language courses occupies only part of the day, So, the issue about the ways of spending your free time with both benefit and pleasure is on the agenda.
Usually foreign language schools take an active part in their students leisure time activities organisation: they organize excursions, go to theatres and cinemas, visit the nearest cities and towns, enjoy nature beauty and fresh air during picnics, run competitions and games, that also help their student to relax and break language barriers. It is a good option if a student visits a country or city for the first time.

If a foreign language school doesn’t provide these leisure time services, a student will have to think about ideas of spending free time on his or her own. But it is always possible to acquire the necessary information at school members administration. This option is more suitable for those students who have already been to this country and feel quite confidently about his or her foreign language level. In this case it is worth choosing and visiting some unusual places out of beaten track.

Foreign language courses provide us with an excellent foundation for language skills development and perfection. However, the process of foreign language studying is a very hard and time-demanding process that requires a lot of additional work from a student without which it is impossible to achieve some good results in this sphere.