Education in Asia is a double-edged sword; on one hand, students here work harder, care more, and put more of themselves into their studies than anywhere else.
However, education, especially English education, is a racket. Too many students spend too much time learning very little, and too many schools see language and cultural learning as a way of making money rather than improving the lives of their students, their communities, and the future of their countries.
We are convinced we can do better. Our experience, backgrounds, and skills have equipped us with the tools to prepare students for work and education abroad. So, how do we do it?
1. Critical analysis
First and most importantly, we teach students to think critically. We go beyond rote memorization and rule retention to emphasize critical analysis. Critical analysis, in short, is the capacity and tendency to examine information closely for deeper meaning and purpose. For example, many students will read a novel simply for entertainment. And while entertainment is great, it is only the surface of what most books and media have to offer. We encourage students to examine movies, music, books, and art with a critical eye. We want students to ask questions like:
- What does this mean?
- Why did the author / director / artist create it?
- What are the minor details, and why are they here? Are they important?
- What are the symbols presented? Why were these chosen?
Asking these questions, and then being able to answer them, not only makes reading and watching and listening infinitely more enriching, but it also sets students apart from those who passively consume and lays the foundation for the most fundamental skills necessary for today’s fast-changing and hyper-charged cultures and economies. In other words, critical analysis is the foundation needed for good persuasive writing and college applications. Without it, students will miss out on the best schools and programs, even if they are focused on STEM. But more than that, critical thinking and analysis are also the roots of independent thought, creativity, and leadership. Without the ability to analyse deeply, how can anyone be expected to think for themselves, to create, or to lead?
2. Hard work for a long time
If students are going to actually learn, they need to work hard, and they need to keep it up for years.
We often hear from parents who are looking for a magical method to give their student an edge. We can’t speak for every subject, but there is no secret to language fluency, critical analysis, or writing skill. Hard work and the long game are the only way we know.
Our most successful students are those who have been practicing consistently for years. There is no secret to success beyond commitment and making attaining your goal a priority.
Due to this reality, we ask students to practice daily. We ask parents to support our aims. Specifically we ask:
- Students need to come at least once a week
- In reality, once a week is probably not enough. If students are only engaging these mental “muscles” once per week, their brains will never become “natural”.
- We recommend at least twice per week, 90 minutes each class.
- Optimally, students should attend 3+ times per week.
- Students should do at least one essay’s worth (300+ words) of writing weekly
- This includes writing the essay, having it proofread, and re-writing, along with instruction and feedback
- Students read, in English, for 30 minutes per day.
- This reading can be anything, and it should be fun and comfortable for students. The goal with this is increasing the volume of words encountered.
3. Culture is critical
Learning about culture is one of the most important aspects of our philosophy.
There is a deep need to integrate technical skills with relevant and engaging information; in other words, students need something to write about. Because of this, emphasis on culture is key.
Essays are a cultural construct; this is why Chinese essays and English essays are structured so differently. Furthermore, students must relate to native speakers, and thus cultural exposure is critical.
We also find that this exposure is some of the more enriching and, frankly, fun aspects of class. We aren’t all serious, all the time, and through intercultural exchange and learning we can ensure that students actually enjoy a course rather than simply tolerate it.
As such, we integrate discussion of current events, media, history, politics, and pop culture into all of our courses and programs in varying degrees.
4. Program Development
We are always trying to make ourselves better.
At Englist, our classes are rarely the same semester after semester, and our teachers are constantly developing and improving. We cater our curriculum to the students present, and lessons are rarely presented in the same way, semester after semester.
This isn’t to say we are making it up as we go – far from it. But we see the need for dynamic, living education as opposed to rote curricula.
We have found that this dynamism and flexibility produces both more capable students and more satisfied customers.
5. Easy access
Online education is the future, and there is no reason why the skills we teach in our classrooms must be learned there exclusively.
Students in Asia are overworked and stretched thin. Imagine if instead of having to jump from class to class, train to train, bus to bus, and not get home until long after the sun has set, students can head home right after school, eat dinner with the family, and then login to the best writing class on the planet, all from their home. No more hassle, no more stress, and plenty of time to get everything done.
This is what we aspire to be for students around the Asia-Pacific region. Instead of adding on to the workload, we hope to alleviate, both through convenience and by giving students a class to look forward to.
We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about what we do and why we do it. Feel free to comment below, or contact us for any questions you may have.
Founder and CEO of ENGLIST