Learning English in America can be challenging at first, especially if you have little experience with English or have never traveled abroad. You want to feel comfortable in your new school, your new classroom and your new community.
Learning English is more than just practicing the four language skills of speaking, reading, writing and listening. It also involves working on your confidence as an English speaker, getting to know the culture of your new community and hopefully making some American friends!
So what makes the best classes to learn English? There are many factors, but here are five that can make an English class the best.
- Your English Teacher
Obviously, your teacher is the most important person to make sure you are in the best classes to learn English. Good English teachers form strong relationships with their students and really care about them and their needs. In my experience as an English teacher, my students become my friends. The more excited I am about my students’ improving skills, the more motivated they become.
When you feel that your teacher really cares about you, you will be more motivated, learn faster and develop stronger English skills. Your teacher is like a coach for a sports team. Your coach wants you to win. The best classes to learn English are led by teachers who also want you to win—becoming more proficient, feeling more confident and having fun while learning!
- English Class Size
To learn English, you must speak—a lot. While every school has different class sizes, the best classes to learn English are not too large. At LCI Language Centers, we limit class sizes to a maximum of 15 students. This way, students have lots of opportunities to speak with one another, and one-on-one with the teacher, in the classroom.
When there are too many students in a class, it can feel like you don’t know your classmates or your teacher very well. You may not get the chance to talk to your teacher as often as you would like. Small English classes give you more chances to ask questions, get personalized attention from your teacher and make friends with your classmates.
- Real-World Opportunities
The best classes to learn English sometimes take place outside the classroom. The classroom is a safe space, but what happens when you leave the class and have to go to the store or ask for directions? You can practice in the classroom, sure, but going outside and talking to native speakers is the best way to gain confidence.
The best English classes will have opportunities to go different places and practice speaking. I like to take my students to the grocery store, the mall and even the post office so they can talk to native English-speakers.
I also do scavenger hunts in my English classes. A scavenger hunt is a list of things that I provide to the students. In teams of two or three, the students must go out and find these items. If they don’t know what some of the items are on the list, they have to ask people around them for help. This kind of game requires students to interact with local people in the community—in English, of course!
- American Television, Movies and Music
Listening comprehension is one of the most difficult English skills to master. If you are taking a listening/speaking class, your textbook most likely has prerecorded listening activities like conversations and lectures. These are good ways to practice, but they are specifically designed for English learners. Sometimes the speakers speak slower than an American would ever speak in real life. Additionally, sometimes the speakers use very limited vocabulary.
The best classes to learn English have listening comprehension exercises in which you can listen to people speak in the real world. At LCI Denver, I like to have my students watch news clips on YouTube so they can hear how native speakers really talk to one another. Celebrity interviews on entertainment shows are also a great way to practice listening comprehension. Plus, it is fun to see your favorite movie stars talking naturally when they are not acting in a movie! American songs are also a very entertaining and effective way to practice listening comprehension.
- Classmates from Different Countries and Cultures
When you are in a classroom with many students from your home country, it is easy to speak with your classmates and ask questions to each other in your native language. Constantly speaking your native language can dramatically slow down the speed at which you learn English. You can’t control who is going to be in your class, but the best classes to learn English have students from all over the world.
If you are the only student from your country, then you have no choice but to speak English to everyone in the class. LCI Language Centers classes have students from many different countries, giving you the opportunity to practice communicating in English with a minimum of translation. As an added benefit, you can learn about your classmates’ cultures while you practice English with them. Many LCI graduates say that a highlight of their program was making friends from around the world!
As you can see, there are many things that make the best classes to learn English. At LCI Language Centers, we strive to incorporate all of these skills and activities so you can get the most out of your time at our schools. Please visit our website for more information on our programs, activities and locations.