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English Diplomas And Foundation Courses

Nov 11, 2007
What are Diplomas?

Diplomas are generally full-time courses of one academic year combining English language with a subject. It may also be possible to study like for a shorter time, although such courses may be known as Certificates. There are many subjects available, from management, to law, from sciences to media studies, and possible starting dates vary from once a year (autumn) to rolling enrollment (any Monday). Diplomas are mainly offered at private colleges. The aim of Diplomas is to provide vocational or professional training to students who are at or near the start of their career, and who want to increase both their fluency in English and their knowledge of their chosen subject, in order to make themselves more marketable.

What are Foundations?

These are similar to Diplomas, but the difference is that Foundations also include specific preparation for entry to university, either at undergraduate or postgraduate level. Foundations may be offered at universities, state colleges and private colleges.

What should I look for if I want to find a good Diploma course?

First is the content of the course. You may ask to see the course content, and you can expect to see an outline of what you will study week by week. Ideally you should expect to find that a significant part of the course is specialized. If the course is an English course with 2 or 4 lessons per week of specialized content it is probably not good value. Second, who are the teachers? You need to establish their ability to teach the subjects. If the teachers are simply teachers of English, avoid the course. The teachers should have at least a qualification in the subject, and if possible also some real experience. Third, expect to find some form of external accreditation, such as a national examining board, which accredits the Diploma course. This feature will bring its own discipline to aspects of the course such as marking of written work, course content and teaching practice. Fourth, what are the assessment criteria? If it is easy to obtain a pass, perhaps the school is afraid to fail its students, whether for poor attendance, attitude, work submitted or class participation.

What should I look for if I want to find a good Foundation course? All of the above points apply, and in addition there are the following:

First, while on a Foundation course you can expect to receive free counseling concerning the most suitable universities for you to choose. The best advice should be impartial, and you should be wary if a counselor seems to be pushing you towards a particular university, especially if large numbers of students are sent to that same university. You can ask your school or college to show you statistics of the universities where other students have enrolled. Second, you may expect your school or college to arrange for university staff to visit your school, or even for you to visit university campuses. Third, you can expect the school to be experienced in providing preparation for IELTS, and to provide preparation throughout the course.
About the Author
Shane Wilkinson is the Managing Director of BBSI, a leading English language school based in England, UK.
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