We strive to meet our foreign language students’ needs with a variety of teaching options available, however when it comes to learning English we do not offer group lessons even though we are continually asked, preferring to only offer private lessons.
Why? Well people who want to learn English will normally have a good reason – they have a job, are on a gap year, are studying and want to learn English before returning to university and so on.
However, many ask for group lessons as they are cheaper and they think it is an advantage to meet people. Cheap means ‘bums on seats’ which is not what VICI is about. To be fair, we did try it in the past and such drop in sessions were successful in terms of numbers, but not for us in terms of the outcome.
The problem with these inexpensive group sessions is the lack of commitment and while some will diligently turn up for every session, others do not which in turn is not fair on those who do and certainly is not helping those who are absent. There is a real risk no-one achieves the outcome they wanted in these group sessions.
Thankfully many people who come to VICI to learn English as foreign language have a serious reason to do so and prepared to make a personal commitment to their learning by engaging in one-to-one sessions with a language coach who will be able to tailor the teaching in a way not possible in the group and ensure they are immersed in relevant English.
“When I was first in the UK and was in Manchester I would meet other French students, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and other nationalities who would go off to English classes together and generally mingle during their free time, but I didn’t want to learn English with a Spanish accent – I wanted to interact with the English population! I wanted to understand the culture, the English sense of humour, the work ethic and become familiar with the English way of life. After six months of one-to-one sessions my English had improved dramatically, but my friends had not advanced in the same way. While they were trying to get jobs in cafes I felt ready to get a proper job!”
I think there is a real misconception that you need language classes to meet other people in a similar situation to you, however today with social media, even in a small town like Newbury, there are thriving groups and communities where you can meet people who are her in the UK from Europe.
They would be better off of course joining a club with English people in it (badminton, chess, karate?) as they are going to be immersed in the language that they want to learn!
So rest assured we do teach English on a one-to-one basis, however we do not offer group sessions as while they put bums on seats, there is no commitment, no consistency and it is a true misconception that such multicultural groups are the best way to meet people. There are better ways to meet people – and learn English.
The best way to immerse yourself in a language is to mingle with those who are either fluent or native speakers. This way, you will be able to listen closely to their accents, absorb how they form words, and even have a slight glimpse or two on their culture. Mixing with other English learners may give you the confidence in learning as you are among peers. However, that kind of approach can only do so much, and connecting with native speakers is your best option when it comes to learning and mastering a new language.