6 Smart Steps to Finding the Perfect English Intermediate Course
Reaching the intermediate level of English is a great achievement.
You should be proud of yourself!
…But what now?
This post will help you find the perfect English intermediate course to continue your studies.
- Step 1: Define Your Goal
- Step 2: Define Your Topic of Interest
- Step 3: Online or Offline?
- Step 4: Group or Private Classes?
- Step 5: Time Commitment
- Step 6: Free or Paid?
Finding an English course that is just right for you is crucial for your success! Here are the six essential steps to do that.
Step 1: Define Your Goal
Once you make the decision to sign up for an English intermediate course, the first thing for you to do is to understand why.
In other words, what is your goal? What do you want to accomplish by taking an English language course?
- Do you want to improve your English skills gradually over a longer period of time, like six months or a year?
- Do you want to quickly get ready for a summer trip or a job abroad?
- Maybe you have a specific English goal in mind, like improving your English pronunciation.
When you know exactly what you want to achieve, it will be easier to narrow down your choices.
Step 2: Define Your Topic of Interest
So now you know what you want from taking an English course. It is time to decide what kind of material your ideal course will cover.
- If you need gradual improvement of language skills, a general English course is a good idea.
- If you want to get ready for a specific life event, like summer travel, a short intensive English course would be very useful.
- If you are preparing to work in an English-speaking environment, a targeted course like business English or intermediate English grammar sounds like a good fit!
You can look at the syllabus (list of assignments) before signing up, to make sure they cover your needs. For reference, here’s an example intermediate English syllabus from Austin Community College in the U.S. You can check the course schedule to ensure that it is fast or slow enough for you. Finally, you can usually contact the course director or institution to discuss whether the course meets your personal needs.
There are a lot of online English courses out there, especially for intermediate speakers. Really! So no matter what you are after, you will find it.
The question is: where? Which brings us to…
Step 3: Online or Offline?
This is the inevitable question that students searching for intermediate English lessons face today. There are good arguments for studying both online and at a language school (or with a tutor).
Online English Intermediate Courses
Online English language courses are easier to find and more accessible. All you need is an internet connection. Most online options are also less expensive (or even free) than more traditional language education.
There are many options out there! Here are just a few of our favorites.
Udemy is a popular online education platform. It offers a variety of courses for English language learners of all levels, including many for intermediate students.
These online classes range from “Business English Idioms” to “Advanced English Grammar.” In the top menu, go to Categories, then Language, then English to see them all. You can easily see which courses are the most popular or which instructors have the highest ratings.
The price varies per course and can take one to six hours to complete. There are hundreds of intermediate level language courses on Udemy and you can pick and choose the ones you want.
FluentU is a virtual immersion program that bases its English lessons on authentic short videos.
Every video comes with interactive captions, multimedia flashcards, full transcripts and other learning tools. You can click any word in the captions for an instant definition and pronunciation, and FluentU will also show you other videos that have the word.
The content can be sorted by learner level (including two intermediate levels), subject matter, and video format, which will help you find content that is relevant to your needs.
Coursera is another online education platform that partners with respected universities from around the world. Coursera lets you learn at your own pace (as fast or slow as you want). You can complete courses as they take place, or just look over the material when they are over.
Each course has instructional videos, followed by quizzes and exercises you can take to make sure you understood the materials. There are a few peer-rated (graded by your fellow students) assignments, so it is a good place to exchange information with other students who are learning just like you.
Alison offers both certificate and diploma-level courses. Choose the ones you want to take and you can finish them at your own pace. There are courses in English grammar, business, travel and more.
You are required to get a grade of at least 80% to pass a course, but they are a great way to bolster your resume.
However, just like with any other online product, you need to do research before committing. It may be good, but ensure it is right for you before paying!
In-Person English Intermediate Courses
In-person English language classes are almost never free, but they are great if you can afford them and enjoy face-to-face interactions. These “offline” intermediate English speaking courses are easier to find if you live in a big city, where there is more variety to language schools and educational institutions.
Some well-known and reputable language schools that operate worldwide include:
International House is an organization dedicated specifically to language teaching and teacher training. With 158 schools in 50 countries, you can learn English in the English-speaking country of your choice (New Zealand, maybe?).
International House was established in 1953 and is inspected every one to two years to ensure program quality.
Education First offers courses abroad as well as in the U.S. (also online). Those offered in the U.S. run from short-term courses that last two weeks, to courses that last a whole year.
They also grant certifications and are inspected and accredited by standards set by ACCET, Languages Canada and the British Council. That means they’re highly respected and will look great on your resume.
Kaplan International English
Kaplan International is a large American company that offers traditional classes in many different countries. They also have online English lessons that are available for students from all over the world. They offer a variety of different formats like short- and long-term work and study programs, short, flexible courses as well as semester and year-long courses.
Step 4: Group or Private Classes?
This choice will depend on your personal preferences as well as your financial situation.
Group classes are generally more affordable than private tutoring or lessons (even online ones, like on University Tutor).
But it is not always about the money! Many people simply enjoy the group dynamic for their intermediate English speaking course. They prefer having the support and community of a group of classmates, rather than taking a private one-on-one English course with a teacher.
It all applies to online English courses too. You can definitely interact with classmates when studying online, like with a WhatsApp group chat or by email.
By contrast, private lessons are more customizable. You work with your tutor to create a schedule that perfectly matches your lifestyle and you only focus on the English concepts that matter to you.
You can also hire a private teacher over Skype with Skill Silo to have individual lessons online. Since you are still trying to decide, you might take advantage of their free lessons to see if this is a good fit for you.
Which one would you prefer? It is completely up to you.
Step 5: Time Commitment
At this step, you probably have a very clear idea of the intermediate level English course you need. Even so, there are still more decisions to be made.
It is time to decide on how often you will be able to attend English classes. How often can you commit to studying?
- Do you want to attend classes at least one or two times weekly, over the course of a year?
- Are you looking for an intensive learning schedule with daily classes for a month or two?
- Maybe you would like to participate in one full day of English workshops for a specific topic?
For example, if you are looking to learn business English, committing to classes twice a week for several months is a great idea.
If you are visiting an English-speaking country for a few weeks, you may want to look for an intensive intermediate level English course at a local school, so you can attend every day.
If you want a specific short course (say, English presentations), you will need just a few hours of commitment to take it.
And so on! Revisit the first two steps of this guide. It is all about your goals and why you want to take an English intermediate course.
The time commitment you are making will determine the availability of classes (both online or at your language school) and, most importantly, their cost.
Step 6: Free or Paid?
By now, you can describe the intermediate English course of your dreams in detail. The last thing that remains is its price.
Money isn’t an easy topic. While it is generally accepted that language education is not free, different people can afford different sums. Many English learners can only afford to pay very little for their intermediate English lessons.
Let’s say you want a general English course that will allow you to take regular classes at a language academy for the duration of your school year (September to June). This is 10 months of classes.
- Can you afford it?
- If so, how much can you afford to pay?
- Would you like to get it for free?
Decide on the sum that you can spend on your English course and start looking for it based on what you have decided in steps one through five.
If the sum you can spend is zero, there are still choices. Do not compromise on decisions you have made in the previous steps. If your ideal learning environment is in-person, but you cannot afford a language school, do not go looking for online tutors yet. There are free courses out there! There is a reason that the course price is the last step in this guide!
Here are some things you may consider if you are looking for a free English intermediate course:
- If you are looking for group classes, check out your local library, community centers or immigrant organizations for English study groups and classes for newcomers (these often can be at an intermediate level).
- Borrow English textbooks and workbooks from a library, and follow the course curriculum with the help of a friend. Look for books from reputable sources like English-speaking universities, such as this intermediate vocabulary building course book from the University of Michigan.
- Browse online course resources mentioned above, especially Coursera and Udemy, as they make a lot of their courses available for free from time to time.
- Find an English tutor and exchange his or her services for something you yourself know how to do well (barter). It can be done both online and offline.
Maybe you can design a website for them. Maybe you can teach them to knit. Maybe you can help them learn your native language! Try Swapsity or SwapRight to start looking for a match.
Finding the right course to take when you are an intermediate English learner can be tricky. There are so many choices available, from free to expensive, from online to offline. You just need to decide what exactly it is that you want. That is the hardest part!
Hopefully, this guide has helped you to narrow down your choices, so that you can find the best English intermediate course for yourself. Now it is time to continue the exciting journey of learning English!