Choosing your ESL school can be difficult, especially when there are so many to choose from! You will find
yourself reviewing websites and trying to do a comparison between different programs. The most important way
to choose your ESL school is to ask a lot of questions to make sure that the ESL program is right for you.
Figuring out what questions to ask can be hard, especially if you have never done a language program before.
To help you, we have put together a list of questions that you will want answered, so that you are well informed
about the program, intensity, policies, facilities, accommodations, and activities. While some questions may
or may not apply to you, we hope that this will be a helpful resource to help you decide on the questions you
will need to ask before enrolling:
Questions to Ask About the ESL Program
- How many students will be enrolled in the class? If the size of the classroom varies, what is the average number of students in the classroom and is there a maximum number of students per class?
- How many levels of English does the school offer?
- How is the student’s level determined?
- What happens if I have multiple skills at different levels – some basic and others advanced – where would I be placed?
- Are standardized English language exams available to evaluate progress?
- What happens if there are only a few students in the class, how will this be handled? Will they join different class levels?
- What is the average age of students currently at the school?
- What are the demographics of students enrolled at the school?
- Do the classes have an English-only policy?
- What is done to keep students focused on the curriculum?
- How is the curriculum determined?
- Is there a standard form that shows the different language levels and what is taught at each level?
- If I am in a class, what is the procedure for students moving up a level or moving down a level if the speed of the class is too intense or not intense enough?
- Do classes generally give homework? If so, what should I expect?
- If a student causes a disturbance, how is this handled?
- What type of English is taught (e.g., British, American, Irish, Australian, etc.)?
- How can I be sure that the curriculum meets the standard (e.g., Ontario Ministry of Education, ETS TOEFL, IELTS, Common European Framework, etc.)?
- Do I take a pre and post class exam to chart progress?
- What is the format of the classes? Will I be reading, writing, speaking, listening?
- Does the school offer accredited classes?
- Does the school have any partnerships with universities that will accept course completion as a language requirement?
- What is a typical schedule for a student?
- Are classes primarily scheduled in the morning or afternoon?
- When do new classes begin?
- Will I receive a certificate of completion at the end of the course?
- How long are the courses?
Questions to Ask Regarding the ESL Teachers
- How long have the teachers been teaching at the current school?
- How long have the teachers been an English language teacher?
- What is the background of the teachers – do they have a university degree?
- Can the teachers provide extra assistance outside the classroom?
- Are the teachers full-time or part-time instructors?
- What is the background of the teacher? This may be especially important if you are looking for English assistance in a specific concentration.
- Do teachers have experience working in the field being taught?
- Do teachers have any special English certifications?
- Are teachers native English speakers?
- Where are the teachers from?
- What type of training do the teachers receive?
- How does the school evaluate teachers? Do students rank teachers based on performance? Are teacher evaluations available to the students?
Questions to Ask About the ESL School
- Who owns the school?
- If it is a private school, what language do the owners speak?
- Is there a formalized set of policies and procedures?
- How long has the school been around?
- Who manages the school?
- What languages do the faculty/managers/owners speak in case I need to communicate in my native language?
- Is there a full-time contact that I can reach in case something comes up?
- Am I expected to provide the class materials or is this provided in the program fee?
- If I am expected to provide the books and worksheets, find out if you can buy the materials at a discount store, if they can be found at a library, how many books will I need to purchase, and what are the general prices?
- If the school provides the materials, do I get to keep my textbook and workbooks at the end?
- What is the average increase on a specific exam after taking the program?
- Where is the school located?
- How do students usually get to and from classes?
- Is there public transportation that brings student to classes?
- Can the school provide student references from those who have completed the program?
- How long before I decide to begin classes do I need to notify the school and pay the deposit?
- Do you pick up students at the airport when they arrive? Is there an additional fee for this service?
- Am I required to buy their health insurance plan or can I purchase my own? If not, how much does it cost?
Questions to Ask About the Living Accommodations
- What type of living arrangements are available for students enrolled in the English program?
- Do you have facilities already setup and furnished, or is this something I would do on my own?
- Is there a price difference between the living options?
- Are meals included with any of the options?
- How far is the housing from where the classes are located?
- What type of transportation is available at the various living accommodations?
- What is the screening process for host families?
- How do you determine what host family I will be placed in?
- What do you do if I do not like where I am living?
- What should I expect to have in terms of accommodations (e.g., bed, television, radio, dresser, etc.)?
- Is the bedroom going to be shared or private?
- Is there air conditioning/heating in the room?
- Are bedding and towels provided?
- What type of security is provided at the facility?
- What type of neighborhood will I be living in?
- Are there many community activities near where I would be living?
- Are there facilities to do laundry? If so, where is it located, what are the prices, and what type of facilities are provided?
- Is there a daily housekeeping service?
- Are there any health and fitness facilities nearby or in the building (e.g., pool, cardio equipment, weights, etc.)?
- Will I have a desk for homework or my computer?
- Is there a WiFi connection or internet plug in?
- Is there a nearby grocery store where I will be living?
Questions to Ask Outside the Classroom
- What type of activities does the school offer on a daily basis?
- Does the school also have trips to surrounding areas to see the sites? If so, what is the additional cost?
- Is there public transportation available?
- What is the nightlife like in the area?
- Is the school located in a rural or city environment?
- What is there to do in the surrounding areas?
- What banks are nearby, and do they have a 24 hour ATM?