Solutions For English Native Speaking Children At Budapest Schools

  • 25 Sep 2013 9:00 AM
Solutions For English Native Speaking Children At Budapest Schools
The Williamsons had the great idea to give their two primary aged boys an extra language and so decided to send them to the French school. But the plan seemed to go off the rails when they realised that their children were not going to be able to continue their English language at the level they expected. Paul, father of the boys, said that “ we asked around other parents as to how they handled this situation, particularly my English friends married to Hungarian wives, how did they cope with developing their child’s English with their child in a non English speaking school”.

 The answers they received were mixed but the best solution given was a new part time education solution. “ We found an international school that just operates in the afternoons and teaches the English national curriculum to children. It’s called the English Learning Centre.

Xpatloop decided to find out more and sent their reporter, Timea, to interview their school director, Melanie Sefton.

Timea: What can you offer to children, who are already fluent in English but sit in a class with other Hungarian children who do not have the same speaking and listening skills.

Melanie: We offer a course tailor-made to their special needs. These children are not learning English as a second or foreign language, which are the only options offered in any school in Budapest that is not an English language international school. Our courses are specially designed to introduce children to the literature they would study if they were in a primary school in the UK or elementary school in the US as well as to academic English through the study of science and a humanities topics. We also pay special attention to developing children's writing and spelling skills as these are generally weak if they do not go to an English school

Timea: What level of English literacy do you teach? How are parents informed about their children's progress?

Melanie: At present the native speaker course I outlined is for children aged 8 to 10. We offer a high level literacy course for 10 to 12 year olds, and the students in this class are preparing to access our IGCSE course next year.

All of our students have an ELC Log Book in which they record what they have studied in each class, their home learning task and their test grades. Parents also receive full school reports twice a year and we have two parent consultation occasions where parents can talk one to one with their child's teacher. Our first one is this Friday, 13th September from 18.30 to 19.30. I am also available twice a week for parents to discuss issues with me.

Timea: Do children really want more school after having been at school for the day?

Melanie: Our methodology at ELC is very different from the methodology commonly-used in Hungarian schools and follows the approach and philosophy of the British and American education systems, which uses guided discovery in preference to "chalk and Talk". Our classrooms are also set up as they would be in the UK or US, with a range of modern technologies to support learning, including interactive whiteboards and ipads. The children feel and enjoy the very different and very motivational approach to learning that we provide.

Timea: A school is as good as its teachers. Typically who are your teachers?
Melanie: Our teachers are, without exception, native speakers, suitably qualified and with experience in teaching the UK or US curriculum.

Timea: What other support is available for students outside of the classroom? 4 hours a week is good but what is they want to learn more.

Melanie: Last year we launched an online reading programme for all our students, provided by a leading UK publisher and available to international schools by subscription. All our children receive a login and password and their teacher uploads colourful online books with games and activities to match their individual level and interests. It has proved a hit with the children.

This year we are launching our own online learning site, which can be accessed from the main website. This has teachers pages, and games story corners, among other features.

We also work together as a community to put on annual events for our learners and their families. Events include a Role play morning, a Christmas Show, a family quiz night and a poetry recital competition.

Timea: What should parents do if they wish to find out more?

Melanie: They can contact me directly through the website, that contains our school contact information. Normally I meet parents and students so that I can assess the children myself.

Visit English Learnig Centre online

Words by Tímea Klincsek for

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