Precision level assessment and grouping of students
Before students can register for a class, English grammar, vocabulary and speaking skills are assessed and defined according to the Common European Framework (CEFR) level designators: A1 to C2. We advise our clients of the results as they are key to our decision making process required in grouping students effectively together. Faster group progress can be made when everyone in the group speaks at similar speeds and has a similar level of understanding of grammar and vocabulary.
Sometimes, however, in smaller companies, when only a handful of students are involved, company budget limitations do not always allow to provide a class for every single student level. This means, in some situations, students may not be allowed in class and/or it is agreed to combine minor level differences into one class, for example a high level beginner with a low level intermediate learner.
In case of such mixed-level classes, it must be made clear that progress may not occur as quickly as if they would if students were put in separate classes. To be fair, especially in the first year of a mixed-level course, grammar points must be explained and practiced in an introductory way to ensure lower level students are not left behind.
In class, the stronger students are given extra challenges. Homework assignments allow the opportunity for lower level students to take the extra self-study time required to catch up with their classmates. Afterwards, they will find that they can participate more actively in class when interactive exercises and games take place.
We make the course relevant
The Boston School and its teachers understand that doing exercises from only the coursebooks does not always cover exactly what is needed for any particular group. Teachers are encouraged to use external materials and articles to supplement their lessons. Some even create their own material and use their own creative ideas to encourage more in-depth discussions or relevant role plays pertinent to the company’s business and the employee’s daily work tasks.
We offer quality and measurable success
A student’s progress can be measured and awarded certificates for their hard work most easily when the course goal is set for students to pass one of the many available examinations designed for general English, business English or for university entry requirements. See here for an overview.
It needs to be said, however, that The Boston School specializes in business-related preparation courses for the BEC Preliminary, Vantage and Higher examinations. Starting in October 2017, we will also be offering the chance for students to take the official TOEIC tests at their company location and/or in Zurich.
Although preparing for an exam can be a great motivator for students, it is not always a priority for our students or the companies they work for.
Development can also occur when students learn what interests them most. We teach using various kinds of coursebooks – whether they are ones which concentrate on general English or business English. Companies sometimes allow students to decide together as a group what will motivate them best. Students in such classes are given tests on a periodic basis to help show students the progress they make along the way.
The Boston School also awards its own certificates of attendance to those students who have attended at least 70% of the course. They act as a reward for their efforts and time commitment made.
Last but most essentially – a bit of heart
Let us not forget – learning English needs to be more than just business – it needs to be about people. A teacher is not only an instructor. A language is not only words. Teachers and language training work together to equip learners with the art of communication and enable them to express their own individual personality.
We want the classroom experience to be a holistic one and not just a means to learn a list of words or memorize grammar rules. It is through storytelling, joking, and discussing matters relevant to the learners that brings language and the classroom alive. It’s the “je ne sais quoi” essence of the lesson that makes it all worth everyone’s while.