Let's start this article with a little myth-busting about Canberra.
Myth 1: Canberra is full of hot air
Maybe — but only when parliament is in session. However, when the politicians have all left, Canberra is home to 457,000 or so friendly people. The only hot air is in the hot air balloons, particularly during March and April.
Myth 2: Canberra is boring
If you listen to your resident teenager, you'd believe this — but to a teenager, everything is boring. If Australia's capital city is so dull with nothing to do, why was it the only city in Australia to be named in Lonely Planet's Top Ten Cities to Visit? Number 3 in fact. So there!
Myth 3: Canberra is a great city for students
Hang on! That's not a myth. Canberra consistently ranks in the top 25 QS Best Student Cities — in the world! With its world-class educational institutions, affordable living (compared to Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane in particular) and beautiful bush setting, why wouldn't you want to study in Canberra?
Canberra is a popular destination for international students. Whether a student is here with their parents and attending primary school or high school, or studying at one of Canberra's higher education institutions, English classes are essential — and there are plenty of options to choose from.
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English Classes for all Purposes and Levels
Popular with overseas students, as well as being the home to most diplomatic missions, Canberra has always needed to provide English courses and lessons for diverse needs.
Academic-Level English Study
For students with an academic focus, Canberra has some of the best English courses in Australia.
- University of Canberra College English Language Centre (UCCELC)
This is the place to enrol when you are preparing for entry into another university degree. UCCELC offers different programs of study, including English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS) and International English Language Testing System (IELTS).
- Canberra Institute of Technology (CIT)
For students wanting to improve their English skills for work or further study, the CIT runs functional English courses including Spoken and Written English for Further Study and Language Skills for Taxi Drivers.
- Australian National University College (ANUC)
The English language courses offered by ANUC prepare students for continuing study within the university. Two learning streams are offered: Academic English Preparation and ANU Access Program.
- Unity College Australia
This vocational tertiary college offers the General English ELICOS course which is useful to help improve workplace English and gain the language level required for further study.
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- Introductory English Centres (IEC)
The IEC is part of the public school program and is specifically for students from Kindergarten through to Year 12 whose families have moved to Canberra for work, study or permanent residency. Enrolments are usually for a period of 2 terms, after which the student will enrol in their local school and continue to receive assistance from the EAL/D specialist teacher.
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English Language Schools
Throughout Canberra, there are several English language schools catering to students of all ages and levels. In most cases, small group English classes are offered by tutors, both in-person and online.
Some schools you may wish to investigate are:
- Listen and Learn (tutoring is fully online)
- Language Trainers (tutoring is online only)
- Navitas English (in-person tutoring only, 4 locations)
- Capital Region Community Services (in-person conversation lessons, free)
- Mosaic Baptist Church (in-person lessons only, free or minimal cost)
English lessons with a private tutor
If you would rather look for a private English tutor in Canberra, there are a number of tutoring agencies where you can find a tutor who will work with you either online or face-to-face.
A great alternative to a tutoring agency, is an online tutoring platform, such as Superprof. The difference is one of choice. On the Superprof tutoring platform, you can browse through the listed tutors, read their profiles and then directly contact the tutors you think will be a good fit for your English learning needs.
Most tutors with Superprof offer the first session for free so you can see if you are a good fit. Even if you can't find a tutor in Canberra, most tutors are happy to work with you online, so you may well find the best school English tutor for you in Perth.
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Great Reasons for Hiring a School English Tutor
Students have many reasons for hiring a school English tutor. Some students need supplementary one-on-one help. Others may have an exam coming up. Often, students looking for an English tutor in Canberra only want conversation practice and friendship.
Whatever your reason, there are significant benefits in engaging a school English tutor to help improve your skills in a one-on-one or small group basis, either in person or online.
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Lessons are tailored to suit you
Formal English courses have a curriculum to follow. The tutors can, to a small degree, individualise their lessons but for the most part, they need to stick to the plan. As the student, you need to learn what is being taught and it can be hard to vary from that.
A private English tutor, however, creates their own learning program and will work to best meet your specific needs and interests.
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Private tutoring offers more flexibility
If you enrol in English classes, you have to fit in with their student timetable. You may not be able to get into the lessons you want on a day or time that suits your schedule. The timetable might not be compatible with public transport timetables or your other commitments.
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Formal lessons with a school or agency will generally be in a set location. This place might be a distance from where you live or work, or it might not be the best place to help you focus on learning or conversation.
On the other hand, if you hire an English tutor in Canberra you can negotiate the times of your tutoring sessions and the location. Your tutor might come to your house, you might go to theirs, or you might meet your tutor in a cafe or park. You can both work around what suits you.
Tutoring fees are less costly than course fees
Studying English in a university course, an English language school or with a tutoring company can be expensive. Private tutors, who work as freelancers, often have a cheaper hourly rate and may even be able to negotiate fees or offer a language exchange.
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How to Succeed with English Study
You may have heard 'myths' along the lines of English being the most difficult language to learn.
Well, from one second language learner to another, I can assure you that all languages have their difficulties because you are learning a whole new set of rules, which may be totally different to those of your native language. Different sounds and accents don't help either.
The great joy, or frustration, of any language is that language is a living thing. It's dynamic — it changes along with society.
The English language is so elastic that you can find another word to say the same thing.
~ Mahatma Gandhi ~
Don't let myths, whatever their level of truth, put you off. There are a few things you can do to ensure you achieve the best you are capable of as you're learning your new language.
Set realistic goals
Don't be hard on yourself. Some students seem to master new expressions or tricky pronunciation with hardly any effort. Everyone is different. If you focus on you and stop comparing yourself to the student in the next chair, you won't find yourself lacking. (That student is probably feeling the same way as you, by the way.)
Practise. Practise some more
At the risk of stating the obvious — if you don't practise, you won't improve. Practise your new language skills at every opportunity you get. Download free apps. Find a conversation group. Set up a study schedule with your classmates.
If you don't understand something, whether it's in class or at the shops, ask about it. There are no silly questions when it comes to learning English. Most people are happy to explain what a word or expression means.
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Try to avoid translating
You'll do it — every foreign language learner does. Let's be honest. It's easier to think about what you want to say in your native language and then translate it into English. However, if you become reliant on that process, you won't improve and your conversation will be stilted.
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Above all, enjoy yourself
Learning a language should be an adventure. It's an opportunity to open up your world and get to know new people. Embrace the journey and you'll reap the rewards.
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