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St Albans School of Languages
35 Market Place
St Albans
Tel: 01727 838980

Welcome to St Albans School of Languages

Here is some useful information about the school and your stay in the UK. Please take some time to read it. If you don't understand it, please ask for help.

If you want to know more about places to visit, things to do in the area, jobs and exams, please look at the notice boards around the school.

The Tourist Information Centre, located at the Alban Arena, has information and friendly staff who can advise you on places to visit in St Albans and the rest of the UK.

If you need any help, advice, or even just a cup of coffee and a chat, please feel free to ask Ian or any of your teachers.

We hope you enjoy your stay in the UK and not only improve your English but also make friends and go home with great memories.

Under 18?
We only accept students who are 16 and older. If you are under 18 and stay with a homestay family you must tell your host family where you are going and what time you will be home. You must be home by 10pm. We do not organise a full time leisure programme and most of our students are over 18 so you will be in lessons with students over 18.
If you cannot come to school for any reason you must tell the school, or ask your homestay family to contact the school. If you are worried about anything you can always speak to Ian or one of the teachers.

School information

When you arrive
Soon after you arrive at the school you will meet with the Academic Manager or the Director. This meeting helps us to get to know you better and understand your needs and future plans. We will help you plan your learning and make sure you get the most benefit out of your time in the UK.

Support and Advice
Please talk to your teachers: they will always be happy to try and help. Ian, the Director, is available every day from 12.30 pm. If necessary you can arrange a meeting with the Academic Manager, Laurence Feather. Just come to the office, or if you prefer send an email to Laurence - laurence@stalbansschooloflanguages.co.uk
or to Ian Salkey - ian@stalbansschooloflanguages.co.uk


Lessons run every weekday morning from 9 – 12.30 pm with a half hour break from 10.30 - 11.00. There are four levels: pre-intermediate, intermediate, upper-intermediate and advanced. We will give you a short test to decide which level is right for you. There is a course book for each level, and teachers will use other resources as well. Please see the more detailed descriptions of each level for further information.

Learning objectives at each level
Pre-Intermediate (A2)

By the end of this level you will be able to:
• Understand the main point of a TV or radio programme if the topic is familiar
• Deal with most situations which arise when you travel in an English speaking country
• Exchange information about family, home, job/career, interests and other familiar objects
• Describe simply your experiences and past events. Talk about dreams and hopes
• Give brief reasons and explanations for opinions and plans
• Tell a story and say what you think about it
• Understand texts with everyday vocabulary and job related languages
• Write simply about familiar or personal topics
• Write personal letters/emails describing your experiences and impressions
Intermediate level (B1)
By the end of this level you will be able to
• Understand presentations and follow complex arguments on familiar topics
• Understand the main points of TV new programmes
• Read articles and reports expressing a particular view or attitude
• Talk regularly with native speakers
• Discuss familiar topics, giving your views
• give opinions and explain advantages and disadvantages
• Write clear detailed text on a wide range of subject
• Write an essay or report giving information or reasons for/against
• Write letters/emails about events and personal experiences
Upper Intermediate (B2)
By the end of this level you will be able to:
• Understand longer, less structured speech
• Understand most TV programmes and films

• Understand a wide range of demanding, longer text (fact and fiction) and notice different styles
• Use language flexibly in social, academic and professional situations
• Give ideas and opinions and relate these to other speakers' ideas
• Talk about complex subjects and develop arguments
• Express your views in clear, well-structured writing
• Write about complex issues and select an appropriate style
Advanced (C1)
By the end of this level you will be able to:
• Understand with ease virtually everything heard or read
• Summarise information from different spoken and written sources
• Present and reconstruct arguments and accounts in a clear and coherent style
• Express yourself fluently and accurately
• Understand the fines shades of meaning, even in complex situations

You may be asked to complete one or two pieces of homework a week. We understand that some people are very busy and that it is difficult to find time to do homework sometimes. If you are very keen to work hard please ask your teacher for extra homework.

Student books
Your registration fee includes the cost of student books. You will receive a new book each time we change books (about every 12 weeks) or when you change level.
Please don’t write in your book, then other students will be able to use it.

You can take a Cambridge examination while at the school. Many students choose to take Cambridge First Certificate (FCE) or Cambridge Advanced Examination (CAE). We offer these examinations three times a year: March, June and December. We will give you inform
ation about these exams regularly and we will recommend the best exam for you to take. All lessons include some exam work. This will help you even if you do not take an exam. The cost of entry for an exam is approximately £130. You do not have to take an exam, it’s your choice. Please talk to us if you need help to decide what to do.
A list of useful websites to help you with exam preparation is on the noticeboard in every classroom.

Teaching Methodology
At St Albans School of Languages we use the most enlightened post-communicative methodology. Our approach is eclectic, drawing on what is perceived to be useful to our students from past and present ideas about language acquisition. The focus is on helping make learning meaningful to our students by contextualising the language in real life situations. The atmosphere in our classes is relaxed and friendly, with the teacher being responsible for facilitating a rewarding and enjoyable language-study experience in a safe, idea-sharing environment. We use a combination of course books and other resources, including the teachers’ own created materials, which allows us to provide integrated lessons based on current issues and culturally relevant and sensitive discussion topics. Any given lesson will include at least three of the following language points: speaking, listening, reading, writing, grammar, functional language, vocabulary, idiomatic expressions, standard phrasings and collocations.
We recognise that sharing ideas is the main vehicle for language acquisition, and that the language points mentioned above are necessary tools that allow the user to shape their language. Our focus on them in class will vary considerably from class to class depending on the level and what tools are needed to express the ideas. For example, a grammar point could take from zero to twenty per cent of a pre-intermediate class and from zero to five percent of an advanced class.
The student book in use in a class at any given time serves as the basis of the syllabus for that class until that book is finished and another one begun. Additional materials are introduced at the discretion of the teacher based on current student needs and desires.

We hope that you will be happy at the school and satisfied with your lessons. If you have a complaint we will try to resolve it quickly. Please talk to your teacher about it, or to any other member of staff you feel comfortable with. If this does not resolve the problem, please speak to Ian, the director of the school. We will make a note of your complaint and discuss with you what to do next.

If you are not happy with the way we have dealt with your complaint you can contact an independent arbiter: Accreditation UK. As we are members of English UK the complaint will be forwarded to them to investigate.
Contact details: Accreditation UK, Customer Services Accreditation Unit, Bridgewater House, 58 Whitworth Street, Manchester M1 6BB. Further information can be found on this link:

Discipline and tolerance
The UK is a tolerant country and we expect our students to respect this. At the same time you can expect tolerance from other people. We offer free WiFi at the school (see notice boards for the code) and expect everyone to respect this and to not access offensive or send offensive material to others. If anyone inside or outside the school ask you to do something you are not comfortable with please discuss this with us.

There is a friendly and cooperative atmosphere in the school and problems do not often happen. We expect students to show respect to each other, and to staff, and to take responsibility for their own learning. We expect students to attend lessons regularly, and to be on time. Abusive or threatening behaviour towards staff and students is not acceptable and will result in a formal warning from the Director. A student who continues to behave in an inappropriate way will be asked to leave the school.

Equal Opportunities
St Albans School of Languages is committed to equal opportunities for all staff and students, and opposes discrimination of any kind. If you feel you are being discriminated against in any way please speak to your teacher or to Ian. A copy of the school’s equal opportunities policy in available on request.

Registration and Attendance Policies

Students will be registered on the school data base on arrival. Attendance is registered in the class register daily.

If you are unable to attend for any reason as planned, or if you intend to take a holiday from studies, please inform the school beforehand. If you are under 18 and you have not arrived at school by 9.30 we will contact your family or host family.

Living in the UK
Life in a different country can be confusing at first!

We hope the general information here is useful. Please ask us if you need more information or if you don’t understand something. You can talk to any of your teachers, or arrange a meeting with Ian who will be happy to help you.

We can give further advice on mobile phones, bank accounts, safety, finding a doctor, dentist or place of worship, finding accommodation, transport and other aspects of life in the UK. See also the noticeboards in classrooms for contact details for local medical and hospital services.

Living in any foreign country can be one of life's best experiences. However some people find the “culture shock” and whole experience a little difficult in the first few weeks and can feel anxious. Please talk to us if you are unhappy and we will try to help.

Life in the UK may be similar to life in your home country, but there will also be many differences. Sometimes the differences will be difficult to understand. At St. Albans School of Languages you will meet people from many different countries, and you will have the chance to enjoy and celebrate the differences in culture, behaviour and language. You will find there is so much to learn, to talk about and to laugh at. We hope you enjoy learning English with us.

The UK is generally a safe place to live. Following some basic rules will help you protect yourself and your belongings.
· Remember - cars drive on the left in the UK. Be careful when you cross the road!
· Look after your money and mobile phone. Keep them in a safe place while out - especially in Central London. Never put your phone in the back pocket of your jeans or in an easily accessible pocket of your backpack. Keep your bag close to you in a pub or restaurant – don’t hang it on the back of a chair. Make sure your bag is closed when shopping in busy places.
· When you take money from a cash point (ATM), don’t let anyone see your pin. Try to use ATM’s in the daytime and not on a quiet street at night.
· Always use licensed taxis. If you telephone for a taxi, check that the driver already has your name and knows where you are going. Do not get into a car if you are unsure.
· If you walk at night, try to walk in group of people. If you are alone, walk along well-lit streets, facing oncoming cars.
· When you go out, it is a good idea to carry enough money for a taxi and to make a phone call. It is also good to tell somebody where you are going and when you will be back.

UK Laws
· Illegal drugs include cannabis, ecstasy, LSD or amphetamines. It is against the law to possess any of these.
· If you are under 18 you cannot buy tobacco or alcohol.
It is against the law to carry any kind of weapon, including knives, CS spray, guns or stun guns.

· Some pubs stay open all day, many close at 11 pm. Some public places, e.g. train stations are “alcohol free zones”. This means you must not drink alcohol there. If you are over 18 you can buy alcohol in a pub or shop. It is against the law to buy alcohol for someone under 18. If you look younger than 21 you will be asked for identification to prove your age. Smoking is not allowed inside any pub or restaurant – there is often a smoking area outside.

· All buildings have a “no smoking” rule.

If you need urgent help you can go to the Accident and Emergency (A and E) department at your local hospital (Watford General Hospital, 60 Vicarage Road, Watford WD18 0HB or Queen Elizabeth I Hospital, Howlands, Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, AL7 4HQ). There is also an "minor injuries" clinic in St Albans City Hospital, Waverley Road, St Albans AL3 5PN.

If you need an ambulance, or in any other emergency, telephone 999.

Depending on where you come from, you may be able to get free medical treatment on the National Health Service (NHS). If you are from an EU country you should get a European Health Insurance Card in your home country. If you are not entitled to NHS treatment, you should take out medical insurance before you leave home.

To get NHS treatment, you must be registered with a doctor (sometimes called a GP or General Practitioner). It is best to arrange this as soon as possible after you arrive in the UK, once you have a permanent address, as it may delay your treatment if you need to see a doctor and are not registered. To find a doctor: go to www.nhs.uk

If you qualify for NHS treatment, you can pay less for your dental treatment. You can register with a dentist when you have registered with a doctor. Some dentists only take private patients, so make sure that the practice takes NHS patients before you register.

NHS Direct is a 24 hour telephone service for general medical advice: call 111 for non-urgent cases or advice, or see www.nhs.uk for general advice.

It is a good idea to open a bank account as soon as you arrive in the UK so that you can transfer money in and out, write cheques, pay bills by standing order and direct debit and use a debit or credit card to buy things and withdraw cash from ATMs.
It may be possible for you to continue to use your account in your home country. You can use Visa, MasterCard and American Express cards to withdraw cash from ATMs.
When you open a bank account, you will have to prove your identity and also your address.
The British Bankers Association (BBA) has produced two leaflets to help you: International students: opening a UK bank account and Opening a bank account if you are new or returning to the UK. They can be downloaded from the BBA's leaflets section of the www.bba.org.uk website.
If you need a letter to confirm you are currently a student at the school we will be happy to provide one free of charge. Please come to the school office and ask Ian.

St Albans City Station is about 15 minutes’ walk from the school. There are regular trains to London. The fast train to St Pancras International takes about 30 minutes. The train also stops at Farringdon, Blackfriars, and London Bridge, from where you can take the Underground (tube). If you are between 16 and 25 you can get a Young Person’s Railcard which costs £30– ask for a form at the Railway Station. This will give you 1/3 off many rail fares in the UK. Many other cheap fares are available: – always check at the ticket office before you book your ticket: you may save money if you travel in a group of 4 or more and check about restrictions on your ticket, with off peak tickets you cannot travel back to St Albans until 7pm.

Nearest bus stops in the town centre are on St Peter’s Street (the main road opposite Tesco). There is a taxi rank on St Peter’s street and also at the train station. We can recommend local taxi firms if you need to telephone for a taxi.

Useful travel websites
www.trainline.co.uk - Information on train travel throughout the UK.
www.intalink.org.uk - Very useful site forinformation on travel in Hertfordshire.
A journey planner works out your route, how long it will take, which bus or train to catch, and if some walking is neededwww.nationalexpress.com Information on coach travel in the UK.
www.tfl.gov.uk - Information on travel in London.



©Ria Knol - 2017