Learn English in the UK – what to expect

There are different approaches to teaching English around the world. In some countries, especially for younger pupils in school, English lessons are a relatively quiet experience, with a teacher at the front of the class explaining what words mean, and how they are used in sentences, and grammatical rules. The learners quietly take notes because there will be a test soon to check they were listening and have “learnt” the new English.

In the UK this teacher centred approach would be generally regarded as an old fashioned way of teaching English. If you book an English language course, including Cambridge examination courses such as The First Certificate Examination or Cambridge IELTS, at a language school in the UK, DO NOT expect to be taught in the way described above.

For example, the vast majority of language schools in Brighton UK, including Castle School of English, use a more modern approach. This approach is often called The Communicative Approach, and is learner centred rather than teacher centred.

This idea might seem strange at first, but it makes sense when you think about it. The fundamental belief behind the communicative approach is that the best way to learn English fast is to activate it by practising it. The teacher does not need to learn English. Therefore, it is the learners who should be doing the talking in the English lessons, not the teacher!

After a short presentation to the area of English language (language point) that the lesson is targeting, which will involve as much student participation as possible, the teacher will give you carefully designed communicative exercises that will require you to use the language point that you are learning. To complete the exercise successfully, it will be necessary for you to communicate certain information to your classmates. In doing so, you will practise the language you are learning that day. The teacher will carefully listen to you and see if you are using the language correctly. If you are making mistakes, the teacher will support you and help you until you can use the language point successfully.

This is a very simple description of what is actually a very complex teaching methodology, but it hopefully gives you an idea of the sort of experience you should expect if you study English in Brighton. By communicating and activating your English, you are learning more experientially, and this means you are also developing your English skills as well as your English knowledge. If you study English this way, you will learn faster than learning by more traditional methods, and you will remember it better as well, if fact it becomes part of you.

Another huge advantage of this approach to teaching is this: It is enjoyable and interesting. You will be engaged and involved in the learning process. It is much easier to learn things when you play an active part in the lesson.

Therefore in conclusion, if you start English lessons in the UK and the students seem to be talking more than the teacher, don’t panic! The teacher has not gone mad! In fact, the teacher is probably excellent!

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