Which English Course is Right for Me?

Some students may know exactly what they need, or what their English goals are. But many students write to us from all over the world requesting advice and guidance on which course is best for them. Juliette, our Director of Studies, responds to some typical enquiries (edited) we get, and provides some general direction and advice.

UCT ELC | Which English Course
We get all types of enquiries at the UCT English Language Centre. Many students have a clear idea of what they would like to do, how long they can study or what they need.
But, many students write to us requesting advice and guidance. These are some real scenarios we have received (edited) and this is the advice from Juliette, our Director of Studies.

Scenario 1: My level of English is very low and I would like to learn to speak, write, read, etc.

No problem! At UCT English Language Centre we cater for all levels, from Complete Beginner right through to Advanced level. You can join our General English course which will teach you to read, write, listen and speak in English. Many students study for between 3 – 12 months, but you can choose the duration of your course according to the time you have available, or the level you want to reach.

Scenario 2: I completed the First Certificate in English and would like to do the CAE now.

The FCE exam is an Upper Intermediate level exam, and the CAE is a high Advanced level exam. In order to be properly prepared I’d recommend that you complete a term of advanced level studies with us before progressing to our CAE preparation course, which runs for the 10 weeks leading up to the CAE exam dates. Pick the exam date that suits you best, and consider joining us for 20 weeks of study before it (10 weeks of general English, and 10 weeks of CAE preparation). That way you will be thoroughly prepared for your exam, and you and your school friends can take the exam together!

Scenario 3: I am already studying at an English speaking university but am struggling to keep up in class.

Don’t worry, we offer Academic English courses especially for people like you! We have 2 separate courses, each of which runs for 2 afternoons per week. Our reading and writing course will help you fine tune your reading skills and write better assignments, whereas our listening and speaking course will help you to listen and understand better in lectures, as well as to give presentations and to participate in seminars. You can choose to take either of these courses alongside your studies, or alternatively, if you have time, you could choose to take them both.

Scenario 4: I would like to attend the University of Cape Town (undergraduate studies).

UCT requires you to pass the IELTS exam with a score of 7. The best way to do this would be to complete our English language programme up to the end of the advanced course, and then to join approximately 10 weeks of our IELTS preparation course. You can book your IELTS course online when you are here in Cape Town. You may find it helpful to book a practice test before or during your IELTS course so that you get experience of taking the test, and so that you can judge what language areas you most need to focus on.

Scenario 5: I only have 4 weeks available to study English but would like to specifically concentrate on improving my speaking.

You can book your UCT ELC English course for as long or as short as you like, so the fact that you only have four weeks is absolutely fine. I’d recommend that you book an intensive English course (with 30 lessons per week) so that you can make the most of your time here. Although we teach you general English, everybody takes an hour a day of conversation class during which we focus on your speaking skills in particular. I think this class will be just right for you! Also, you could choose our Listening and pronunciation elective on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, during which time your teacher will help you to pronounce your words clearly, thus improving your speaking skills.

Finally, I’d also recommend that you make the most of our social programme in the evenings and at weekends when Aliyaah, our fantastic Social Programme Coordinator, will take you and your classmates to visit the sights of Cape Town. We have outings several times a week, and this is a great way to visit the area, as well as to practice your speaking with people from all over the world.

Scenario 6: I am a businessman from South Korea and need to improve my general English, but in the context of my career.

If you would like to learn Business English you should choose our business English elective, which you can take for either 2 or 4 afternoons per week. This elective is open to students of upper intermediate and advanced level, and learners are taught a range of business and work related topics including speaking in meetings, giving presentations, email and report writing, networking in English as well as many more. As with all our courses, you and your classmates will be able to negotiate the content with your teacher so it fits your specific Business English needs.

Scenario 7: I want to study at a university in the UK. My English is at an Upper Intermediate level.

You can take English Language courses at UCT ELC to help prepare you for study at any university in the world. It is advisable for you to contact the university you wish to attend, and to find out what their language requirements are. Most universities will accept an IELTS score (usually they ask for a score of 6.5 or 7), so it is likely that a good route for you will be to take our General English course to upper intermediate or advanced level, followed by 10 – 12 weeks of IELTS preparation course.

Scenario 8: I have a strong interest in doing my master in English spoken country but I don’t feel yet feel comfortable in terms of writing, speaking and reading. Additionally, I will have a IELTS test on June and don’t feel ready for that.

Assuming your level of general English is high enough (that is Upper intermediate or above), you should join our IELTS course which runs for 20 hours a week, in which you will learn academic English, and be prepared for the academic IELTS exam.

Our EAP electives are a very good option for advanced level learners as they will help you to fine tune your language so that you perform to the best of your ability when you start your studies. The Academic Reading and Writing course prepares you for reading research texts and putting together written assignments, whereas the Academic Listening and Speaking course will help you with getting the most from your lectures, putting together presentations and participating in seminars.

Don’t worry if you aren’t sure what your level of English is right now. When you arrive at UCT we will test your level, and put you in the class that best suits your needs!

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