Speak Up London

English Summer Programmes How to Choose

“Summertime is always the best of what might be” author Charles Bowden once said, and honestly, who can argue with that? Long, sunny days that feel like they’ll go on forever, the air filled with the buzz of adventure and the flowing scent of blooming gardens. It’s in this perfect part of the year that English summer programmes come to life, blending language learning with the fun and excitement you can only find when you’re exploring new places and meeting new people.

Now, I know what you’re thinking – there’s so many summer courses out there, so how on earth do I pick the right one? Well, that’s what we’ll dive into today, but quite simply, a lot of it comes down to your interests and personal goals. Whether learning English is a strategic career move, or if you’re just looking to have some fun and make some new friends along the way, there’s a programme out there for you. Let’s break it down into a few key factors to consider:

1. Focus on Your Goals

Firstly, let’s discuss objectives. Are you aiming to excel in business English or your IELTS exams down the line? Perhaps you’re interested in improving your spoken English abilities, or you’re eager to immerse yourself in British culture. Certain programs emphasise academic content, ideal for prospective university students, whereas others may prioritise social competencies and cultural discovery. Understanding your goals is a crucial part of the journey.

2. Consider the Location

Britain is full of iconic urban and rural landscapes, with each having its distinct charm and attracting very different types of people. Are you drawn to the famous landmarks and nightlife of London? Or does the scholarly vibe of Oxford and Cambridge hold more appeal? Perhaps the serene countryside of the Cotswolds or seaside destinations like Brighton are more your thing. Every locale presents a unique setting for your summer adventure, shaping both your learning journey and your overall experience of life in the UK.

3. Programme Structure

Do you prefer an organised day with scheduled lessons and workshops, or does a more flexible agenda with substantial free time for discovery appeal to you? Some programs are packed with educational activities and learning opportunities, whereas others take a more relaxed approach, allowing you to learn at your own pace.

4. Size and Type of Programme

The size of the programme can significantly affect your experience. Larger summer programmes might offer a wide range of activities and a chance to meet lots of new people, while smaller ones often provide a more personalised learning experience. Then there’s the type: from university-led sessions offering a glimpse into college life, to language schools nestled in historic towns, each comes with its own vibe.

5. Accommodation and Living

Deciding on your nightly accommodation is a crucial aspect of planning that, without foresight, can greatly influence the total expense of your trip. Options vary from dormitories, which give a taste of campus life, to homestays, enabling profound cultural immersion and opportunities to pick up British slang. While each choice has its pros and cons, halls of residence provide considerable independence but limited interaction with locals. In contrast, homestays deliver an authentic experience at the expense of personal freedom.

6. Extra-curricular Activities

What happens outside the classroom is just as important as what happens inside. Many summer programmes offer excursions to iconic spots, sports and social events, giving you a well-rounded experience. It’s your chance to see Stonehenge, explore the Tower of London, or just enjoy a traditional British afternoon tea. These activities ensure you have fun during your stay and give you a chance to practise your learnings in real-world experiences.

Making Your Choice

Choosing the right English Summer Programme is about finding that tricky balance between matching your academic goals, while sparking your enthusiasm and fitting your lifestyle. Consider these streamlined tips to help guide your decision:

  • What Excites You?: Pinpoint what aspects of the programme light up your imagination – be it the cultural excursions, the learning environment, or the chance to make international friends. Let this excitement guide you.
  • Seek Balance: Look for summer programmes that offer a harmonious mix of structured lessons and free exploration time. Your summer should be educational and enriching but also filled with fun and discovery.
  • Lean on Reviews: Don’t underestimate the power of past student experiences. Reviews can offer a candid glimpse into what you can expect and perhaps reveal which programme aligns with your vision of an ideal summer.
  • Budget Wisely: Fully understand the costs involved. It’s important that your budget allows for a comfortable experience, covering both programme fees and personal expenses.
  • Embrace the New: Be open to considering summer programmes outside your initial scope. Often, the most rewarding experiences come from unexpected places.
  • Consult and Decide: Bounce your thoughts off someone you trust, but ultimately, trust your gut. The right choice often feels right.

Looking Ahead

Making this choice sets the stage for a summer that could enrich your language skills and expand your worldview. This journey combines an educational endeavour with new experiences, friendships, and discoveries – so getting it right matters. With thoughtful consideration, your selected programme will be memorable, impactful and possibly the start of something new in your life. Embrace this decision with both your head and your heart and prepare for a summer that could very well be a life-changing adventure.

Author: Lina, English Teacher