Different Ways To Learn English: For Your Employees

Posted on February 14, 2023

Need staff English training? What’s the best way for your employees to learn English? In this comprehensive post we’ll look at 5 different ways to learn English.

There are various features, advantages and disadvantages of each one which we’ll explore. Of course, what’s a plus to one person may be a drawback to another! This is why we’ve made a mixed list of features of each method.

#1. Going to a Bricks And Mortar Language School

Of all the different ways to learn English, this is probably the one that springs to mind first. Like classes at your company, there are usually a range of English classes for adults to suit your needs, namely general English, business English, and English for exams. 

You Can Probably Get Tailored Classes

As long as your English lessons are private, or you join with a set group of colleagues. But if you join an existing group you’ll have to go with the flow of the group. This is likely to be general English, or business English.

You Can Meet New People

In-person English classes in general are a great way to make new friends.

But be careful! The last thing you should do if you’re serious about English lessons is make friends with people from your language background. Plenty of people do this and it means they don’t learn English as well as they’d hoped. 

It’s The Most Expensive Choice

Have you seen the price of rent in London? Yikes.

Bricks and mortar language schools have enormous outgoings in rent and bills. So the students have to pay more for classes so that the school can operate.

Teaching Standards Tend To Be High

English language schools are private companies so they need to be competitive. As with in-company training you should be able to get English classes with native speakers, and make requests for changes if you don’t like something the teacher is doing.

You Can’t Monitor Your Staff

The big disadvantage for companies is that if it’s staff English training, how do you know if they’re really turning up? After all, maybe they had a long day at work. Sometimes the students’ line managers can’t lose them and tell them to work longer so they have to miss English class. Similarly…

If You’re The Manager, You Can’t Observe The Class

If you’re paying for your staff to learn English, how do you know if the teacher is any good? How do you know if the teacher is really covering the topics you want them to cover? Alternatively, the students may be reluctant to speak in which case they’re not learning much.

#2. English Classes With The Local Council

Different ways to learn English: With the local council

Of the different ways to learn English, this one is one of the most appealing to the budget-conscious.

It’s Free

The big one! All over the UK you should be able to find free English classes at a local library or community centre. You may even be able to get classes at your company. However, our students tell us that our classes are more engaging and fun because our classes are tailored and we get everyone talking. 

Times Are Set In Advance

Do you work during the day? The classes may run at a set time, such as early afternoon to allow parents to collect their children from school. However this may not suit you if you work typical office hours.

The Content May Be Fixed

Among the different ways to learn English, syllabuses tend to be more rigid. This is because councils consider from the outset what they want local people learning English to learn. So the course content could relate to immigration, applying for a job or  administration. If this is what you’re after, that’s perfect.

All Skills Are Usually Covered

That’s writing, grammar, listening comprehension, reading and speaking. Ideal if you want to boost your English in all of these areas. However, it may be frustrating if all you really want to do is speak.

Spaces May Be Limited If You’re Working

At some councils they prioritise people who are unemployed or receiving benefits for the English classes. Check with your local council to see if that’s the case for them.

Most Council Classes Focus On Lower English Levels

Depending on the centre nearest you, there may be nothing suitable if your English is above an intermediate level. The focus of English classes for adults run by councils tends to be on beginners to intermediate speakers.

Timetables Are Generally Fixed

Keen to get going? Check the timetable because you may have to wait until the new course starts in order to sign up.

May Not Be As Engaging As Other Types Of Face To Face Classes

Our students tell us that classes from the council can be more focused on the council’s internal objectives and less flexible to the students’ requests.

#3. Learning English Online With A Real Teacher

A woman learning English online with a real teacher in London

Different ways to learn English: Online with a real teacher in London

The Technology Is Pretty Easy… But Tech Puts Some Students Off

There are some simple ways we do staff English training online, you can even use Google Meet. But some employees, especially if they don’t use technology at work, are put off by the idea of online classes.

Not Everyone Has A Laptop

In the pandemic we realised that not every employee in London actually owns a laptop. In fact, a surprising proportion of people just use their phones for everything. An English class on a mobile phone is possible, but the teacher is limited in what he or she can do.

If you’re looking at a PDF on a small screen, you’ll need your reading glasses.

The Classes Are Tailored

Because the English classes are led by a real teacher through video, the world’s your oyster regarding content and tailoring. English for housekeepers? English for working in a kitchen? No problem.

It Can Be Less Engaging Than A Face To Face Class

There’s nothing quite like seeing your teacher in person, and for some students it doesn’t compare to the rapport you get from the different ways to learn English at your company. It depends to some extent how much the students like tech. If they’re forever on video calls to friends, they’re likely to enjoy video classes. 

You Can Log On From The Sofa

Sounds like bliss, right? Online English classes through video are very convenient and you can do them from pretty much anywhere. However, as any good student knows, you will still need to make notes in order to retain the new information. 

You Need A Decent Internet Connection

Data just won’t cut it. Students need to log on from a quiet place with stable WIFI to get decent sound and picture quality.

You Can Get English Classes With Native Speakers

There are some platforms where you can request native English speakers like in face to face classes. However, you’ll need excellent audio and visual quality on your laptop so that it replicates a real classroom environment as much as possible.

This is because being able to lip-read and hear as clearly as possible is a great help when learning English.

#4. Learning English With Apps

Different ways to learn English: Using an app

Solitary, flexible and cheap, a lot of the advice here also goes for learning English using a book or website. Of the different ways to learn English, learning through an app has boomed in recent years. But is it right for your employees? 

Learners Can Study Whenever They Want

Night owl? You can study at midnight if you like and you don’t have to agree on a time with anyone. Apps can be a decent alternative to English classes for adults who work different shifts every week. 

You Need A Lot Of Motivation, Long Term

Everything’s fun at first. But will your staff still use the app to learn English after the first week or two? Motivation is also important if you are planning to learn English using a book, or a website.

It’s Usually Free Or Cheap

The most popular apps for learning English rely on advertising revenue. So if you don’t mind ads, you can make a certain amount of headway in English for free. 

You Can Learn Basic Set Phrases For Getting By

Apps aren’t bad for learning basic written English. Be sure that you choose one with English that will be useful to your employees. “The dog loves his green coat” won’t cut it.

People Who Are Shy Like English Learning Apps

Eek. This is a double edged sword. You can languish in your comfort zone in a language learning app, it’s true. And people say they enjoy using apps.


…Because You Don’t Have To Speak

People report that they enjoy using apps just sitting on the tube or at home. But the proof in the English pudding comes when you actually have to speak to someone in English. The one thing the app can’t really do is correctly judge your spoken English, which is probably what you most want to focus on.

There’s No Corrected Speaking Practice

One of the notoriously hard things about learning English is that the spelling is often very different to the pronunciation. Consider salmon, receipt, Holborn…

Not to mention the difficulties that most adults learning English have with “th” and other sounds that don’t occur in their own languages. It’s vital that the teacher corrects mistakes as they happen so that students don’t ingrain them for years. And this can only happen with English classes with native speakers, or advanced speakers who speak English to a native level.

The App Reminds You To Study

Sometimes rather frequently. This could be good motivation if you need it.

Learners Stay In Their Comfort Zones

Do you want to learn English for holidays? Fine. You can learn vocab and structures. But no-one is conversing with you in the app, so you’d better hope the people you meet stick to what you’ve learned!

You Don’t Need A Training Room

Like sending your employees elsewhere, the advantage of an app is that you don’t need any space at your own company for classes.

There’s No Guarantee The App Was Developed By People Who Know ANYTHING About Learning Languages

This is the biggie.

App developers tend to be good at keeping the user using the app. But to trained English teachers, some of the methods seem strange, like these:

  • Constant testing and scoring.
  • Giving the learner weird sentences to translate.
  • Focusing on 100% accuracy rather than communication.

None of this is used in modern language teaching.

You’re Unlikely To Get To A High Practical Level In Any Language Learning On An App

Apps are fine for beginners on a budget. But if you’d like to break through to English mastery, you’ll need to start speaking to real humans.

#5: Face To Face English Classes At Your Company With Us

Different ways to learn English: At your company

OK you know we’re biassed because English classes for adults in companies is literally what we do. We run English classes with native speakers all over London. However, here are some of the positives and negatives of English classes with us depending on the situation of your employees.

Staff Can’t Log On From The Sofa

Aww. No way around this one, we’re afraid.

You Can Monitor The Staff English Training

Is the teacher good? Can you hear your employees speaking? Are the staff turning up for the English classes the company is paying for? You’ll know all this if the classes are on your premises.

A Real Teacher Is Engaging

As many of us realised during the pandemic, there’s something priceless about face to face communication with a human being. An excellent teacher will motivate the employees to learn English, and teach in a way that’s fun.

English Classes Are Not Free

Nope, sorry about that. You’ll get a free trial though. But our English lessons are pretty economical, especially if you have a large group of employees. See our prices here

Teachers Are Qualified

As in the language schools and online, our teachers hold a Cambridge qualification to teach English to adults, the CELTA. 

Staff Can Build Rapport With Their Colleagues

Say it’s a group of housekeepers in a hotel. English classes are a fun way to get to know your colleagues. In large companies, students often make friends with colleagues from totally different departments during their English course.

You Need A Training Room

Or at least a room with chairs and a flipchart. 

Don’t Like It? You Can Tell Us, Or Give The Teacher Feedback

Unlike different ways to learn English like an app, if you don’t like something your teacher can change his or her content or style of teaching. We think this puts us a cut above the rest, because we regularly solicit feedback from managers and students. 

Everyone Has To Agree A Time

Yes, this one takes a bit of organisation. You’ll need to find a time that works for all the team. As soon as you have a time and day, we make you a timetable for everyone to refer to.

Employees Get Into A Routine Of Studying

Say English class is every Wednesday at 4pm. Easy. When you have to juggle an app with other commitments, people let learning English slide.

Now You’re An Expert In Different Ways To Learn English

So there you have it, different ways to learn English depending on your situation.

Get in touch with us for amazing English language classes at your company or online. We think we have the best teachers in London, and we love seeing employees develop and grow in confidence as they improve their English.

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