The power of word-of-mouth (recommendation by friends and family) is the most credible for language travellers. (Atme.org)
There are countless research studies, reports and books about the «power of word of mouth» at the moment of choosing a product or service. Well, the reason it’s quite obvious: customers who write reviews base their report on their personal experience, they are on the same side as potential customers. This simple fact makes products or service reviews a reliable source of information.
Personally I seek reviews for anything from office products I need to buy to a movie I may want to watch. I’ve learned from experience that though reviews are an invaluable source of information, caution must be exercised nonetheless. We are all different and we are all biased, and the personal experience from one person may be totally different from that of the next person.
This is also true for the «language travel» industry. Students come from different cultural backgrounds, with a wide range of needs and expectations, and each with their own very personal traits. Two language students may judge very differently the exact same language course given at a school by the same teachers, with the same offer of cultural activities. A great experience for one may not be so great for the other, and their assessment may be solely based on the relationship developed with their class mates, or on how much fun they had…
If you are about to choose a language school based on ex students’ reviews, how much fun they had and how many friends they made is obviously important… after all, fun is an essential aspect of learning and it makes for a memorable experience. Still, don’t forget that you will be investing on learning a foreign language or on improving your skills, so you should also look for evaluations on:
- Academic quality: language courses with a good balance of grammar, vocabulary, oral practice, opportunities to use the language in real-life contexts, updated and interesting class material, and, most importantly, student-centred lessons.
- Professionalism: teachers with solid experience in foreign language teaching and the ability to create a good learning atmosphere in an intercultural class.
- Observance of overall good practices (e.g. truthful advertising, customer commitment, sustainable travel, good employment standards, general transparency, etc.).
Comments on these points may be harder to find… so keep them in mind during your experience, so that you will have something to say about them when it’s your turn to share :-).
At MyLanguageTravel.com you may leave your language school reviews and comments, and you can leave your assessment on your experience with the following TANDEM International member schools: