Choosing the right language school is not easy and sometimes you just have to try in order to know! However always ask for a demo class; usually a school that is up and running should not have any problem to place a possible student during an ongoing lesson. I would be suspicious of a school which does not allow that. Also never trust institution asking for a long commitment. You should not paying more than $300 for a course. In these cases is always good the rule that says “the less, the better”. Not in term of money necessarily, but in terms of time; just ask to yourself: why a school which can provide high quality lessons would want a long commitment? An institution, a school, and any professionals in general asking for a long commitment right away makes me thing they are not so sure about the quality of their services. So, that they just want to get the maximum profit right away! After all anybody who is secure of their own skills should not care to give you some of their services, because if you will be satisfied, you will be back!
The best assets of a school are its teachers. No doubts on that! A talented teacher can make the difference between learning fast and effectively and wasting your time (and money)! Check on the website of the school if they have a section with the pictures and a brief bios of their faculty. If not call the school and ask about the teacher who is going to teach your course. Ask specifically for their name and do a research using google and social media. If your teacher has some experience in teaching you should find blogs, materials, Facebook pages and eventually some bios. Anyway, this may be an indication of your teacher’s level of preparation but is not absolutely determinant. In fact this person should be just very private or not having much teaching experience but still have the talent and the passion. The long years of experience are sure good but, in my opinion, are not everything. A dedicated professionals who like the language they teach and who is committed to do a good job can be much better than someone with long years of experience but without passion, who teaches just for the paycheck. Unfortunately, we have such examples in any profession. Very important is also the syllabus. Always ask the school to show you the syllabus and if they can send it to you by e-mail. Some school may only send the syllabus of the first few lessons; that because they fear that the competition is trying to copy it. If you can take a look to the first two or three lessons program you are very well off. So accept it! A language class should be an harmonious mix of grammar, vocabulary and dialogue. The dialogue may be missing for the first lessons because you need to learn some vocabulary before, and that is fine. Look that you start learning the structure of the language. In the syllabus you should find some basic grammar such as articles, nouns, adjectives, if you are taking the beginner class. If you are taking a more advanced class such as 102 or 103, (schools may name their courses differently, but those are usually the class # 2 and # 3) you should see some verbs in more advanced cojugations. If you are over the class # 4 you should hot have much grammar in your class, because you should already have studied it. Those advanced classes usually from 202 and up, should be structured to make you confident in talking, writing and understanding correctly. Writing correctly is definitely the most difficult part in learning a foreign languages and is usually achieved in very advanced classes. The classes usually called “Conversational” focus on understanding, talking, pronunciation and interaction in general. The writing classes instead require a program of creating writing, reading and summarizing articles, literature passages and so on. The sad thing is that most college have outdated programs for what it concerns foreign languages and do not offer advanced classes. Nowadays the world has changed and people need to learn to speak correctly a foreign language much more than in the past. Most colleges should definitely adjourn their language programs. Some language schools are introducing creative tools to advance the fluency of their advanced students with fun courses such as Foreign Movies Appreciation. When a creative and fun class is offered in a foreign language you should take it! Many researches show that people learn much, much faster when they are having fun!