8 myths about English courses

    Spotlight 7/2024
    Illustration: Tanzende Personen bei Englischkurs
    © Georg Lechner
    Von Vanessa Clark

    Myth 1: “A smaller class is always better”

    “Small is beautiful” isn’t always true, especially at the lower levels of English learning. When there are five people in the room, you can ask each other
    “What’s your favourite hobby?” five times. But in a group of ten students, you’ll get the chance to practise the same phrase ten times. However, at higher levels, smaller groups can be more productive, as the teacher will give you more attention.​

    Myth 2: “A native-speaker teacher is always better”

    Of course, a native speaker knows more English words than a local teacher and will express him or herself more naturally. This can be useful at a higher level. How­ever, a local teacher may have more understanding of your needs as a learner, and may even explain things more clearly, especially at a lower level. ​


    Englischkurs auf Surfbrett

    Myth 3: “All teachers are qualified”

    In the world of English language teaching, anyone can call themselves a teacher, with or without a certificate. A good school will be happy to tell you about its teachers and their experience and qualifications, so don’t be afraid to ask. The best-known qualifications for teachers are the Certificate of English Language Teaching to Adults (CELTA) and the Trinity College London Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (Trinity CertTESOL). ​

    Myth 4: “A school with its own method must be better”

    The basics of good teaching are simple: engage your students, explain things clearly and give learners a chance to practise. It isn’t a big secret. Some schools talk about their own special “method”, but this doesn’t mean very much in practice. Good teaching is good teaching – with or without a trademarkedgeschützt, Marken-​trademarked name.​

    Myth 5: “A Seniorenkurs will be full of old people”

    Yes, the average age of students in a senior class will be higher than average. However, most Seniorenkurse and 55+ groups are full of highly motivated learners with interesting life experiences, who want to learn and travel in retirement. There are some good coursebooks on the market for this age group, focusing on themes more relevant to the older learner. So, don’t let the name to put sb. offjmdn. ab­schrecken​put you off!​

    Lernende mit Schultüten


    Myth 6: “Learning grammar is boring”

    These days, most teachers are good at making all aspects of their lessons interesting and interactive, including grammar. You may do a questionnaireFragebogen​questionnaire to practise the present simple or a role-play for the past continuous, but the days of boring grammar exercises are gone, thank goodness.​

    Myth 7: “You have to pay for lessons”

    A free alternative to lessons is a “skill swapSprachaustausch, Sprachtandem​skill swap”, in which you offer your own service (e.g. German conversation) in return for English conversation. This can work well if you want English conversation and aren’t looking for real lessons. However, in this sort of private arrangement, it’s important that you agree on basic rules at the start – and, of course, always take precautionVorsichtsmaßnahme​precautions before meeting a stranger. A local cafe may be a good place to meet for the first few sessions. ​

    If you need English for your work, your employer might be willing to help you pay for your course, or even to organize in-company lessons for a small group of employees. If you don’t ask, you’ll never know!​

    Myth 8: “I have to pay for the course before I start”

    Before you sign a contract or commit yourself to a long course of lessons, make sure you’re happy with what’s being offered. Ask if you can do a trial lesson first, or choose a school where you can pay by the month. Again, don’t be afraid to ask!​

    Want more help in finding the perfect English course for you? We offer plenty of advice in our language feature in Spotlight 7/24.

    Englisch lernen mit Spotlight