Whatever your goals or ambitions, there is no better time than the present to begin learning a new skill. Taking the time to learn English will help to improve your confidence and your ability to communicate in professional or casual English-speaking settings. We had a chat with Phillip Bashford, the Senior Teacher for English courses for adults at the British Council in Singapore, to find out why learning English skills in 2023 is an exciting opportunity for personal development.
As a professional in the English as a Foreign Language (EFL) industry for 24 years, Phillip understands what motivates adult learners to improve their English skills. According to Phillip, 'in my experience the most important reasons a student will choose to improve their skills are to enhance job prospects, make international travel easier, and to broaden their options when considering further education.'
What to expect as an adult learner
The British Council encourages a learner-centred and collaborative study environment. This makes lessons and the learning process more communicative and productive, while also creating a supportive atmosphere for adults who want to improve their English skills. 'Adult classes in particular tend to focus more on language systems and how they work,' explains Phillip. 'These rules can then be applied through a range of practical activities. However, our lessons will sometimes take an approach that allows learners to notice systems naturally through activities.'
Adult learners will complete a range of activities both in and out of class to improve English writing skills. They can include roleplaying, problem-solving, and completing information gap activities. ‘We encourage a supportive environment with all skills development,’ explained Phillip. For example, learners compare ideas after reading and listening tasks to increase interaction and learner confidence.
There are regular homework tasks on the majority of courses. These tend to include using the course workbook to consolidate language or skills learnt during lessons, writing activities, or using the online resources that accompany the majority of our course materials.
What are the benefits of learning English skills?
The benefits will depend on what goals you have, but higher-level English can open doors to further education and enhanced job prospects. As an example, Phillip noted that when he worked in the English for Aviation sector, it was great to see learners achieve their goal of becoming international pilots after meeting the required language level.
Through the British Council, adult learners can access courses such as IELTS Preparation, which helps to support reaching IELTS goals; Business English, to help communicate confidently in a professional setting, and General English, to build confidence and fluency in spoken English for everyday life.
There are also free online programmes.
MyClub includes Ask the Teacher sessions, in which learners can book a 20-minute online meeting with a teacher to ask them questions or practice skills. They also receive one-to-one guidance at the end of the course. Phillips explains that 'this can help learners to decide what the learners’ next steps are in their English language skills journey.
Are you ready to improve your English skills?
Anyone can set a goal to improve their English language skills. The important thing to take into consideration is what you hope to achieve, and how quickly you want to achieve it. Phillip's advice is to start your learning journey as soon as possible. 'I have had so many learners say that they wish they hadn't delayed enrolling, as it put them behind schedule.'
The British Council has highly qualified and experienced teachers who are very supportive and know how to meet their learners' needs. Phillip explained that 'We approach learning as a collaboration, and encourage learners to be as involved as possible throughout their English language journey. Teachers provide feedback and guidance to learners throughout their course, to help them understand their strengths and weaknesses, and to identify how to progress further. Class sizes are also kept small with a maximum of 16 learners, ensuring plenty of one-on-one support.