Looking for one-to-one English lessons mama? Or a study camp to engage kiddos during school holidays? British Council’s Clare Robertson explains how they can help enhance your language journey
You’ve often seen us write about the amazing language programmes at British Council but did you know that they also cater to a range of student age groups — kids and adults alike? From personalised one-to-one programmes to enriching study camps for the school holidays, they are indeed the one-stop destination for all your language needs!
To give you an idea of the high-quality instruction you’ll receive at British Council, we recently caught up with Clare Robertson, Head of English Contracts to find out how she started her career as a teacher, the wide variety of courses taught at British Council, and what their specialised programmes bring to the learning table. Read on for more, mama!
What is your educational background and how did you get into teaching English?
I studied Italian and French at university, and like many language students, I spent my summers teaching English abroad, mainly as an excuse for spending time in Italy. I then worked as a British Council Language Assistant at a training school for chefs in Sicily, southern Italy. A lot of the students came from very deprived backgrounds and had been let down by mainstream education, and it was there that I fully realised the ability of English to empower people and to create opportunities in life. After finishing my MA in Scotland, I moved back to Italy, trained as an English teacher, and then joined British Council Milan. Since joining the British Council, I’ve completed three additional postgraduate teaching qualifications, all of which focus on different aspects of teaching and education.
What do you like most about working at British Council Singapore?
Many of our staff trained in other professions before making the move into education, meaning that there is a wide range of skills, knowledge and experience in our staffroom. It all makes for a very dynamic workplace environment. We are also very diverse in terms of nationalities – there are seven alone in my small team – and I really enjoy being part of such an interesting, multi-cultural community.
With so many options for language schools around the city, why choose British Council?
We recruit very highly qualified teachers and put a lot of emphasis on professional development, which includes supporting our staff with postgraduate qualifications and Masters degrees. This means that our teachers are experts within their fields and are very passionate about what they do. We care strongly about our students and will do everything we can to support them in their language development and help them meet their goals. We also have an active student social programme and run events throughout the year focusing on many aspects of British culture and language.
What types of courses does British Council Singapore teach, and what age groups do you typically cater to?
There are many different departments within British Council Singapore, which are all specialised in different areas. Our youngest students are 3 years old, and we offer both regular and holiday courses for pre-school, primary and secondary students. For adults, there is a range of different options available including language or business courses, exam preparation classes and workplace or soft skills training.
We are always looking to engage our children productively during the school holidays. Tell us more about the camps you offer.
Our study camps run during school holiday periods and are aimed at students of primary and secondary age. The camps use task-based learning to help the students use real language in a context which is meaningful and relevant to them. This makes the learning enjoyable and motivating, helping the students to grow in confidence and develop a love of language. We’re also very proud of the diverse nature of our camps. We have many students who come from abroad, as well as students who study at international schools in Singapore, and the mixture of backgrounds and nationalities is always a very positive and exciting experience for the students.
What if I need a personalised tuition plan? Do you have the option for one-to-one lessons?
We offer personalised one-to-one courses for adults and children designed around the needs of the individual. After completing a consultation to identify your needs and understand the type of language support you require, you will be matched with a trainer who is experienced in your area and will help you reach your goal. Many of our students have used our one-to-one programme to help them achieve key personal goals (i.e. passing an interview, submitting a thesis, getting accepted onto a course), or to overcome larger problems which are affecting their daily lives (i.e. a lack of confidence in presenting or self-consciousness about email writing).
The beauty of one-to-one is that we can respond to the student as an individual and give them the tools they need to succeed.
What advice do you have for adults who are nervous about their English skills? What strategies do you employ for adults vs. kids in your one-to-one sessions?
If you feel self-conscious about an aspect of your English, it can be difficult to ask for help. Consider, however, that the ability to communicate clear messages is a skill which is important in almost every situation in life, and improving your own ability to do this can actually make your life easier. If you don’t have time to attend a course, consider one-to-one lessons, or even self-study using the free resources available on the British Council Learn English website.
In language, the simplest way to improve is to practise, and this means embracing every opportunity to learn, and trying to make the learning enjoyable. Our adults and kids classes use a variety of different strategies, depending on the age, interests and background of the individual, however they all share a focus on fun, and real communication.
Thank you, Clare! To find out more about the amazing programmes and camps on offer at British Council, visit one of their centres today.
British Council Singapore
Napier Road Centre
30 Napier Road, Singapore 258509
1 Woodlands Street, 31 #04-01 Fuchun Community Club, Singapore 738581
11 Tampines Concourse, #01-02/03/04, Singapore 528729
Toa Payoh Centre
480 Lorong 6 Toa Payoh #09-01 HDB Hub, East Wing, Singapore 310480
Tel: (+65) 6807 1582, www.britishcouncil.sg