Should I take an English intensive course?
The pressure is on to improve your English – and fast. Maybe you are reaching the end of your university studies or you are already well into your professional career. It could be that you are just finishing your university program and you are looking for a competitive edge. Or perhaps your company has just been bought out by an American investment firm and you need to get fluent before the next meeting of the Board. Either way, you feel the need to improve your knowledge of English, the international language that dominates business both home and abroad.
But is an intensive course right for you?
Whether you are just starting in the workforce or have many years of experience on the job, an English intensive course is a big commitment. If you are young, you might have to wait before taking your first job interview in order to finish your language studies. Or if you are a veteran, you might have to take time off work, or sacrifice your holiday, in order to find the time needed to focus. In either case, an English intensive requires a financial investment that won’t be worth it unless it brings positive and real results.
The answer is that an intensive English course can help, mainly because it compensates for many of the factors that make learning English such a challenge in Spain.
Let’s look at the case of a young student reaching the end of his or her University program. A millennial – someone born between the years 1980 and 2000 – is definitely faced with the demand to speak English in a professional setting. According to reports issued by companies like Randstad, Adecco and the Spanish Center for Sociological Studies (CIS) while 35% of all job offers in Spain require some knowledge of English, that number rises to 60% if we only consider jobs being offered to young people just graduating from University.
The millennials can’t expect much help at home: according to The Spanish Ministry of Education, only 22,1% of fathers and 18,5% of mothers know enough English to help their children with their English homework. The culprit, according to the Ministry, is the minimal exposure that Spanish people have to the English language. With almost no English at home, a culture of dubbed cinema and television, reduced hours of English during school, and very little English spoken in public spaces, the result is that only one in five young Spanish students have the ability to study or work in that language.
The consequence, according to official sources, is that Spain ranks last among European nations for its English ability, with only 11,7% of the population having the competency to work or study in it.
The picture does not improve for experienced workers, even though they are already in the marketplace. If we look at jobs offered under contract to company employees, 22% of those jobs require some kind
of English ability. But that number increases to 52% if the job being applied for is an executive position with higher salary and responsibility. This is in spite of the fact that, currently, only 35% of Spanish employees can communicate orally in English.
It is no surprise that companies are insisting on ever-increasing English ability, given that there is a strict correlation between the ability of a company to operate in English and its bottom line. As shown by the EF English Proficiency Index, gross income per capita rises steadily in regions where companies have a strong command of the English language. This is mainly due to increasing trade which, on an international scale, requires English as the medium of business communication. In short, the more companies work in English, the more money they make.
So can an intensive English course be the answer for you? It certainly can, as it responds to the need of students to have more exposure to English, to compensate for a culture in which English conversation and fluency remain rather elusive.
The Common European Framework for Linguistic Reference indicates the approximate number of hours needed to successfully advance in the study of a foreign language. These numbers vary, of course, depending on the student. But they can be considered a reasonable estimate. And there is no better way to increase the number of those hours quickly than signing up for a quality intensive English course.
The challenge facing many Spanish workers today is how to fill in these gaps and turn them into opportunities for learning. An intensive English course is time consuming, and requires a great deal of commitment, but it is the surest way to produce a return on investment with your time and money if you choose the language company that’s right for you.
Interlinco offers a wide variety of options for intensive English courses, taught by professionals with decades of experience in the field. Start by taking your future into your own hands and sign up for the adequate course!