FINDING AN IDEAL TRAINING CENTER(II)

Last month, we began a practical exploration into how to find an ideal training center that you and your children will both love and find effective. Don’t miss out on the rest of the story.

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Certain parents can be very impatient and demand instant results. Some schools prey on the fact that these parents want their kids to learn quickly, so they make big promises and show off books that look very impressive—such as texts with a lot of reading and writing for 5-year-old children. While these books may look good and they may make you feel that your child will be progressing very quickly so long as you pay the money, the fact is that all these schools want is your money and will promise anything to get it. Don’t be fooled! If it sounds too good to be true, then it more than likely is the case.

Ask to go into a classroom and check the actual level of students who have been studying at the school for more than six months and you will see an accurate indication of the kind of progress you can expect for your child.

I see, you see, we all see, ICT
What is ICT, you ask? It stands for Information and Communication Technologies. A lot of modern training centers will have interactive whiteboards, which is great, but how many use these boards in a meaningful way? I have seen a lot of teachers and a lot of schools use it as an actual whiteboard, where they actually write on it with a marker!

Now, it’s great that teachers use these boards to play educational videos for their students, but these smartboards were designed for so much more than that. Ask the training center what software they have for their smartboards and see if the teacher uses this software when you watch a lesson.

A lot of modern training centers will have interactive whiteboards, which is great, but how many use these boards in a meaningful way? I have seen a lot of teachers and a lot of schools use it as an actual whiteboard, where they actually write on it with a marker!

Why is it important to use ICT in the classroom? It’s more than an expensive gimmick—although a lot of schools treat it as such—and being literate in this day and age is very different to the traditional concept of being literate in the past. Readers and writers need to be skilled and knowledgeable in a wide variety of technological tools and modes of communication. For their part, teachers need to be equipped with the knowledge to be able to teach students these modern skills—that is, an ESL teacher needs to be aware AND trained in the use of these tools.

Clear student assessments
Most of us assume that student assessment consists of middle or end of semester exams. This kind of grading is known as “assessment of learning.” However, in isolation, it is an insufficient way of seeing whether a student is making true progress. There are two other forms of assessment that should also be used, which are: assessment for learning and assessment as learning.

Assessment for learning occurs throughout the semester and is an ongoing check-up that involves teacher observations of how the class is progressing. It involves formal and informal monitoring activities as part of learning (for example, a teacher’s observation as to how students conduct a speech) and will include clear goals for the learning activity.

Assessment as learning involves the students themselves as their own assessors. Students examine their own learning by asking questions and using a range of strategies to decide what they know and can do, and how to use assessment for new learning. Some teachers might scoff at this, but it is a proven strategy to encourage students to take responsibility for their own learning.

It is very rare for a training center to apply all of the above, but do ask. If they do all of the three forms of assessment, you may very well be onto a winner.

Price vs value
Lastly, when considering a training center for your child, one of the most important things you should consider is actually NOT the price, but the value. Obviously, if a school is out of your price range then it doesn’t apply to you, but what you should really be looking for is finding that value at a cost appropriate for you.

Not all cars are the same. The same goes for food, mobile phones and of course, schools. A lot of the time you get what you paid for, but also a lot of time you get duped into paying a lot for sub-standard service. You must really do your research and find out which school really offers value for money.

Also, do not be penny-wise, but pound foolish—for the sake of saving 100 RMB-200 RMB a month, you may be foregoing a very good school over a distinctly average one.

There is no number in “value.” What’s worthwhile to you may differ from what the same service or product means to another person. For example, a LV handbag may be priced at 6,000 RMB. I do not see the value in buying such an item, so I don’t buy it. However, my girlfriend may think that spending such an amount on a genuine LV handbag is great value and is very much worth the buying price, so she decides to take it and now I am 6,000 RMB poorer.

These are your children’s futures, invest wisely.

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