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Letters to the editor

Do write to us with your views about the English language and any questions you may have.

Dear Sirs,

My son has been learning English at school for three years. He likes the language very much and is doing well. I should like to send him to an English language school in the United Kingdom this summer. I hope that if he spends some time with English speakers he will not only improve his English but he will also learn something about the British way of life.

My wife and I will be unable to accompany him to the UK so we need to be sure that he will be looked after well during his course. How long should he go on a course (we were thinking of two weeks)? What kind of courses are on offer? How much will we have to pay? My son, who is 14, is a keen football and tennis player so we would be interested in a school with sports facilities.

I should be most grateful for any information and advice that you can give me.

Yours truly,

Fritz Hahn

The editor's reply

As your son is only 14 and if this is his first visit abroad without you, two weeks is probably long enough for him to be away from home. You will certainly wish to choose a centre which will look after him from the moment he arrives in the country. He would benefit from staying with a family, preferably with children of his own age (although it is not always possible to find a perfect "age match") so that he can learn about the British way of life. On the other hand, you may prefer him to be in a residential centre with other students. The advantage of the latter is that with a mixed nationality group, everyone is forced to use English naturally, as the medium of communication. However, again it is not always possible to guarantee this. Your son may find many other students who speak his language and they may be tempted to use that rather than practise their English.

It is advisable to select a centre which offers a busy programme of activities. Many language schools offer mornings of English tuition followed by excursions to local or national places of interest, or sporting activities, in the afternoon.

A list of English language schools in the UK can be obtained from ARELS (The Association of Recognised English Language Schools). This gives information on each school listed: a brief description plus details such as: target age range, length and content of course, extra facilities available, type of accommodation, etc. Prices are also given. Telephone +44 (0)171 242 3136 or fax +44 (0)171 928 9378; address 2 Pontypool Place, London SE1 8QF.


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