The following descriptions should help you choose the right level of evening course for you. All courses are marked with their name and stage, both on our website and on the Online Store.
Each Language Stage in our courses is made up of two units, e.g. Stage 1A and Stage 1B. Each unit normally has 12 teaching sessions of two hours. The majority of students should enrol for the "A" part, starting in October (Semester 1) and continue with the more advanced "B" part starting in January/February (Semester 2). However, for students who can demonstrate an appropriate level of knowledge/ability, it may be possible to join the "B" part of a course in October or January/February.
If you are a complete beginner in Arabic, French, German, Italian Portuguese or Spanish we should also have Stage 1A courses in these languages starting in the second semester.
The best way to feel confident about your personal Language Stage is to come along to one of our Open Evenings at the Avenue Campus, where tutors from each language will be available to give you an informal assesment and help you with your decision.
This year our Open Evening for Semester 1 will be on Wednesday 4 September 2013, from 18:30 - 20:30 at Avenue Campus.
Stage 1A (Beginners) & 1B (Improvers)
This Stage is aimed at students with no or very little previous knowledge. You will learn the basic grammatical structures and pronunciation of the language and a wide range of commonly used vocabulary. By the end of this course, you should be able to participate in simple conversations on everyday topics and to read and write short texts. You should be able to ‘get by' in everyday situations like travelling, asking directions, shopping, ordering meals, talking about yourself, your family and your interests at a basic level.
In popular European languages, Stage 1 aims to get you to a standard approximately equivalent to GCSE. (In non-European languages, your reading and writing skills may be less advanced.)
If you feel that you are at the more advanced end of this Stage, it would be best to begin at level 1B - complete beginners should start at 1A.
Stage 2A & 2B (Lower Intermediate)
This Stage is suitable for you if you feel confident getting by in everyday situations like travelling, asking directions, shopping, ordering meals, talking about yourself, your family, your interests at a basic level. It is also aimed at students who have attended a part-time course for one year and made very rapid progress, or studied at a more leisurely pace for two years and now feel ready to learn a range of more advanced structures and extend their vocabulary beyond the basic level. If you wish to study a popular European language, you should have a good GCSE standard to start Stage 2. (In languages with a different written script to English, your reading and writing skills may be slightly less advanced.)
If you are studying a popular European language, by the end of Stage 2 you should have achieved AS level/lower ‘A' level standard. (In non-European languages, your reading and writing skills may be slightly less advanced.)
If you feel that you are at the more advanced end of this Stage it is possible to begin at level 2B.
Stage 3A & 3B (Upper Intermediate)
To start Stage 3, you should normally have completed at least two years' part-time study of the language with directed independent learning, or have a similar level of knowledge. (If you are studying English as a Foreign Language you should have IELTS 6.0 or equivalent.) In popular European languages, Stage 3 is for students whose language level is equivalent to AS level/lower ‘A' level standard. (In non-European languages, your reading and writing skills may be at a slightly less advanced level.) Stage 3 integrates the study of the language with topics relating to the life and culture(s) of countries where the language is spoken. Whilst consolidating your basic grammar, you will study more advanced structures and develop the confidence to express ideas and concepts on most everyday topics with a reasonable level of fluency. You will acquire the ability to understand the gist of most spoken language delivered at normal speed relating to most everyday contexts. Stage 3 also provides the opportunity to practice writing the language more extensively.
By the end of Stage 3 you should have acquired a good ‘A' level standard (if you are studying a European language) and have an in-depth knowledge of some aspects of the culture(s) of countries where the language is spoken.
If you feel that you are at the more advanced end of this Stage it is possible to begin at level 3B.
Stage 4A & 4B (Advanced)
Stage 4 is for students with a good grade at ‘A' level or an equivalent standard, possibly achieved by stays in countries where the language is spoken. (Students studying English as a Foreign Language should have IELTS 6.5 or equivalent.) Stage 4 aims to consolidate your grammar and to extend your vocabulary and range of understanding into a wide range of topics and genres using authentic materials from the media of countries where the language is spoken.
By the end of the Stage you should be able to engage in straightforward interaction and exchange of views confidently and with greater accuracy, and to extract information easily from most spoken and written material.
If you feel that you are at the more advanced end of this Stage it is possible to begin at level 4B.
Stage 5A & 5B (Proficient)
Stage 5 is for students who have completed one year of formal study of the language beyond a good ‘A' level standard and those who have achieved equivalent competence by frequent stays in countries where the language is spoken. (If you are studying English as a Foreign Language you should have IELTS 7.0 or equivalent to begin Stage 5.) The Stage, using authentic materials, aims at consolidating all language skills and deals with topics of contemporary relevance, such as political, economic, social and cultural issues.
By the end of the Stage you will be able to understand most spoken language and participate in discussion on familiar and complex topics with effectiveness. You should be able to understand complex texts and write accurately using a wide range of expressions. You will also have developed skills in transferring information between languages.
If you feel that you are at the more advanced end of this Stage it is possible to begin at level 5B.
Beyond Level 5 (Fluent)
We offer a "Contemporary..." course for students in some languages who have already achieved at least Stage 5 through formal study. The course assumes an excellent knowledge of grammar and focuses on maintaining oral fluency through the discussion of texts and news reports.
We also offer Language Clubs, which give proficient linguists the opportunity to practice their skills in small, informal groups.