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Language Schools

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Power Language index by Kai L. Chan

We are passionate about languages — Kai speaks five and is learning a sixth (Russian). It is the what allows people to communicate and share knowledge, experiences and culture. To that extent, Kai has even developed the “Power Language Index“, a systematic/mathematical way of assessing the effectiveness of various languages. (Power Language Index by Kai L. Chan. Click on the image on the left to get a full report in a pdf.)

Below is a short list of language schools we have attended. Some were taken as regular classes; others as part of language immersion programmes.

We use Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) for Languages when referring to the proficiency level of European languages. For Chinese, the yardstick is the Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi (HSK).

Arabic

Eton Institute
Location: Dubai, UAE
Level, course format and year taken:
A1.0, A1.1, A2.1 – Group Course (30 hours each), 2012
A2.2 – 1-week Intensive Course (24 hours), 2012
A.1 – Conversation Course (30 hours), 2013
Course description:
Standard classes with good material and done at a decent pace. All teachers are highly qualified and responsive to individual student needs. Highly recommended for newcomers to Dubai. Great way to understand Arabic culture a bit better and meet lifetime friends!

Chinese (Mandarin)

Confucius Institute (at the University of Dubai)
Location: Dubai, UAE
Level, course format and year taken:
Level 1- Group Course, 2014 (54 hours, twice a week x3 hours)
Course description:
Very accommodating environment and professional teachers offer good mix of  language and culture knowledge. You will get your mind (and tongue) quickly wrapped around nuances of the tonal Mandarin language. Course is prepared for adults and everyday situations are clearly explained. A true joy of studying!

Mandarin House
Location: Shanghai, China
Level, course format and year taken:
Beginner, L3/L4 – 4-week Intensive Course (25h/week), 2015
Course description:
A leading school for Mandarin in the heart of Shanghai, adjacent the People’s Park. It is a well recognised school and provides a range of options, including an customised intensive/immersion programme. Teachers are highly competent and the school attracts a diverse and interesting set of people. The school’s location also makes for great food adventures as adjacent restaurants are plenty, and it is within walking distance to many of Shanghai’s popular urban sites. For destinations a little farther, the school is also ideally situated as it lies close to 4 metro lines. We also enjoyed very much that the school offered a dumpling preparation/cooking session to enhance the cultural experience.

English

The Basil Paterson
Location: Edinburgh, Scotland
Level, course format and year taken:
B1 – 3-week Intensive Course (25h/week), 1999
Course description:
Programme combines intermediate language training with Edinburgh Festival activities. Fun school with a good mix of students from all over the world with a focus on individual student needs. Great place to spend the summer studying English.

Farsi

Eton Institute
Location: Dubai, UAE
Level, course format and year taken:
Introduction course (9 hours – free of charge), 2014
Course description:
A quick introduction to spoken Farsi for beginners. Well prepared course with basic 101 conversation and insightful cultural information.

French

Accord Ecole de Langues
Location: Paris, France
Level, course format and year taken:
B1 – 4-week Intensive Course (30h/week), 2011
Course description:
The school offers courses year round. We were there in July with a wave of young people from Europe. Classes were fun and lively thanks to an interesting crew in my class. In addition to group classes, there are workshops in the afternoons to work on specific needs, such as grammar or pronunciation. The school also organises events for students. I especially remembered the time that our class took a field trip into the city and we toured Paris in the rain. Just a few weeks earlier I had watched the movie “Midnight in Paris” (Woody Allen) and my favourite line from the movie is that “Paris in best in the rain”. That phrase was so apt as it was one of the wettest summers in Paris in generations.

Alliance Française
Location: Dubai, UAE (MOE location)
Level, course format and year taken:
B2.1, B2.2 – Group Course, 2012-13
Course description:
Classes are taught by native French speakers and attract a diverse base. Higher-level classes tend to be smaller in number. Classes are also augmented by the many cultural events that Alliance Française hosts in Dubai and for which students are encouraged to participate.

Ecole Quebec Monde
Location: Quebec City, Canada
Level, course format and year taken:
B2 – 4-week Intensive Group Course & Private Session (24h/week), 2016
Course description:
The school is situated near the old town in the rejuvenated Saint-Roch neighbourhood. Group classes typically run from 08:30-12:30 giving students plenty of time use their language in the city. Individual lessons are offered in the afternoon (for those combining it with the group lessons) or at the student’s leisure. The school is great place to learn both standard and Canadian French. Teachers were friendly and helpful in tailoring lessons to individual needs.

French Institute Alliance Française – FIAF
Location: New York, USA
Level, course format and year taken:
B1 – Group Course, 2010-11
Course description:
FIAF in NYC attracts a wide audience, many of whom are young professionals and with whom we’ve become good friends. The teachers are excellent, one of whom we are still in touch with many years after our last class at FIAF. As part of the Alliance Française family the FIAF also hosts many cultural and other language-related events for which students are encouraged to participate.

Idlewild Books
Location: New York, USA
Level, course format and year taken:
A1 – Group Course, 2011
Course description:
Fun course in a small group with casual setting. Relaxed atmosphere is a bonus to the regular program. French teacher challenges you with records of the classic literature it keeps students excited and engaged.

Institut de Français
Location: Villefranche sur Mer, France
Level, course format and year taken:
B2 – 4-week Immersion (40h/week), 2013
Course description:
The Institut is world renowned for its immersion teaching programme and counts politicians, celebrities, etc. as former students. The Institut also boasts a beautiful campus nestled in a picturesque village in France’s Cote d’Azur. The school enforces a French-only policy and places an emphasis on spoken French. The immersion format (which runs from 08:30-17:15) and living in the small town of Villefranche is conducive to building strong relationships with classmates. The programme consists of standard class sessions (with a focus on speaking), laboratories and practical sessions. Meals (breakfast and lunch) are provided on campus, as is an afternoon tea-time and are used to augment the learning experience by providing venues for spoken interaction with instructors and classmates. Teachers are highly capable, have a great ability at engaging students to speak and have a great sense of humour.

German

Goethe Institut (Berlin)
Location: Berlin, Germany
Level, course format and year taken:
A1 – 4-week Intensive Course (25h/week), 2012
Course description:
An intensive 4-week programme with an eclectic mix of students, all of whom were attracted by Berlin’s reputation as a fun and open city. The teachers were very patient and the Institut offered group/cultural activities that augmented to the experience. The weekly happy hour/reunion is a great way to meet other students and practice speaking.

Goethe Institut (Dubai)
Location: Dubai, UAE
Level, course format and year taken:
A2.1, A2.2, A2.3, A2.4, B1.1, B1.2 – Group Course, 2012-14
Course description:
The weekend course at the Dubai Institut is intensive and attracts a broad range of people. The small and dedicated followers of German (especially at the upper levels) makes for fun group dynamics, especially among the core group (i.e. those who started from A2.1 and are still continuing).

Russian

ENGECON 
Location: Dubai, UAE
Level, course format and year taken:
Beginner, A1 – Group Course, 2013
Course description:
ENGECON’s Russian classes ideal for those who frequently travel as students can do partial enrollments and pay on a pro-rata basis. Downside is the gap between sessions as there tends to be a high attrition rate of students (thus only a limited number of whom are eligible for the ensuing level).

Eton Institute
Location: Dubai, UAE
Level, course format and year taken:
Beginner, A1 – Group Course, 2012
Course description:
The instructors at the Eton Institute were pleasant and highly professional. A native of Latvia, she had a pedagogy that emphasised real learning. We also developed our skills at hand written Russian script. Downside is the gap between sessions as there tends to be a high attrition rate of students (thus only a limited number of whom are eligible for the ensuing level).

Headway Institute 
Location: Dubai, UAE
Level, course format and year taken:
A1, A2 – Group Course, 2015-16
Course description:
Group class in Dubai’s Knowledge Village. The group is small and there is good camaraderie amongst those who decide to stick with Russian beyond the beginner’s level. Course follows the Liden & Denz textbook and much emphasis is placed on translating from English to Russian and vice versa.

Liden & Denz 
Location: Saint Petersburg, Russia
Level, course format and year taken:
A1, B1 – 4-week Intensive Course (25h/week), 2014
Course description:
An exceptional experience on all accounts: The school is great; classmates are fun; city is awesome. Russian is not an easy language (unless your native language is Slavic-based or uses the Cyrillic alphabet), but going to class was something to look forward to in the morning. In addition to the class work, daily homework is assigned and a must-do if one hopes to make progress in the language. Luckily, the teachers are experienced and patient, as the learning curve for Russian can be quite treacherous. Practical sessions can be had after classes to reinforce the lessons and practice on spoken Russian — these sessions are very small, allowing for a lot of oral practice. The school’s strategic location in the heart of Saint Petersburg also means that breaks and after-class activities are lively. The school also organises weekly (if not more) cultural excursions to enhance the learning experience. But best of all are the vodka parties every held 3rd Friday or so at the school — the school requires a minimum of just one person to stage this event!

 

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