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November 2015

Choosing the right language course when working work full time

Important things to consider when selecting your next course

There is much discussion over the benefits of learning a new language while one is young versus when one is an adult. Besides the plasticity of the mind, children simply have more time to indulge in studies. Being an adult means that adding on foreign language study to everyday responsibilities can be challenging. And while today there are many more flexible methods to learn a new language (from utilizing learning software to self-study), nothing beats the social element of being in a classroom. Today we'll take a look at some factors a working adult ought to consider before starting a class, factors that extend beyond simply that of class time and location.


The price tag of embarking on a language course is no doubt an important factor to consider. While private courses cost much more per lesson than larger classes offered at many local colleges, you may find the additional cost worthwhile as class sizes at private schools are generally smaller, offering you more tailored attention. One ought to also consider material costs such as textbooks and supplementary material, neither of which come cheaply.

But it's not just the financial cost one should consider but also the opportunity cost. Does fitting in a class (one most likely occurring after a full day of work) detract from other obligations? One must consider and understand that starting a language course requires not just payment in funds but also that of time and energy. Is this something you can handle with responsibility and vigor, or will you tire out and abandon your cause when the studying gets tough? It's important to make sure you start classes at the right moment ("timing is everything", they say) so that you maintain your path towards language education.


Often, classes post their course syllabi online for examination. It's a good idea to skim through the components of the course before signing up so that you make sure the course covers what you actually want to learn. Another important aspect to consider is the speed of the course. Are you a fast learner or do you prefer to take learning at a more leisurely pace? Because many adult courses occur at night on a weekly basis, many courses may not move as quickly as one would like due to time constraints. This also places much of the learning at home. Language study works best when the material is reviewed on a daily basis, something worth keeping in mind with scheduling as well.


If you are tackling a new language solely for personal reasons with no professional ambitions in mind, it might behoove you to find a course that doesn't charge extra for accredited examinations. This makes the learning experience more lighthearted, as exams are given for one's own benefit and the grades don't really matter as they would if one was seeking a certificate of some sort. Many adult courses understand that their students are there on their own accords, motivated by their own passions, so the instructors may be more lenient when it comes to assigning grades, if they even exist at all. On the contrary, it's a good idea to seek a course that offers training to pass certification exams if one has a desire to do so. Often, studying to pass an exam differs from studying for its own sake, so it's a good idea to examine the course syllabus beforehand to see how it aligns with your personal and professional goals.

Finding the right level

Many courses will help a new student find the right level from which to start if the student already has some background in the language. However, it's important to consider that one may not necessarily be placed at the correct level, as the instructor or school can only make an educated guess at where a new student might belong. It is the student that understands his or her own comfort level with a language, as well as how much he or she is willing to push forward. It may be the case that a student ought to select a level slightly higher if the student feels compelled to seek a challenge. Likewise, a student who needs refreshing might want to select a level a bit lower to regain confidence with a review.


A student ought to examine one's own goals to determine whether a desired school offers classes in a timely manner to allow the student to reach a desired level of proficiency in the timeframe desired. Will it require a year of courses to reach an advanced level, or can it be achieved in just half a year? This is an important factor to consider when comparing schools. It may be that the cheaper school ends up costing more when factoring in the timespan required to complete all courses.

What are your tips for choosing a language course? Let us know on our Facebook page and be sure to “like” TELC English for more helpful articles on language learning!

Picture: Fotolia (c) Robert Kneschke