After my schooling, I have received a lot of messages asking about my course. Now, I will write a long review about my three-month course in the Philippines. Actually, at this time, not being good in English is a little embarrassing as I had the opportunity to change, but I will still write a review.
Overview: Three (3) months of studying at TALK Academy and living in Baguio is one of the most beautiful and peaceful time of my life. At first, it was long that I wanted to finish quickly and go back home, but the more I studied, the more I felt happy. The week before and after I came home, I felt really strange, I was crying and sad. I am in Vietnam for 10 days now, but I still miss Baguio and the rest. Because of studying English, I met most of my friends from other countries who are very friendly, I can eat and drink with them where we shared our culture of different ages. Now, my perspective in life has changed within my three months stay in the Philippines.
About the course: I exclusively studied communication, specifically a two-month ESL (English as Second Language) and a month Power Speaking course which is also a communication course but focuses on speaking skills. There is also a pronunciation class with native teachers which is one (1) is to two (2) students.
City where I studied: In the Philippines, many cities have many English language centers, but the two most popular places are Cebu and Baguio City. Firstly, Cebu is well-known for its beaches, hot weather, many tourist attractions and islands where tourists and locals can hangout and have fun. I do not like hot weather and I am the kind of person who easily gets tempted, so I am afraid to study there because of playing around without learning a thing. Meanwhile, Baguio is in a high mountain where the weather is cool (my summer trip is still around 18 degree Celsius, while the coldest season is about 10 degree Celsius). Asians can comfortably study and sleep well in this environment. Also, Baguio has many pine trees, ramps and friendly people which is quite similar to Da Lat (famous city in VN) but Da Lat is a bit better than Baguio, yet I love Baguio very much that I will remember it forever. It is a small city and a bit boring, but having friends made it alive. Don’t worry about Baguio being boring, there still have a lot of restaurants, bars, pubs, and nearby beaches and islands to travel to.
School where I studied: I studied at TALK Academy; the school is the closest center in Baguio. It has the most convenient location which is a walking distance to Baguio’s famous places like SM which is a shopping mall, clubs and entertainment spots. I fell 100% satisfied when I chose Baguio and TALK Academy to study, there is nothing to complain about. Our dormitory is super convenient, just few steps away from our rooms to classrooms. There is also curfew during the week. The academy also offers outside accommodation which is a bit inconvenient but free. It’s up to you to consider. Each room has four beds and study area, small but fully furnished, clean and warm. Eating three (3) meals a day in the dining area where the food is average but still easy to eat is fine. Clothes are being put in the laundry area and rooms are being cleaned by some staff.
I heard that only TALK Academy has discussion class which is a group class. This class is super fun and interesting, so I took three (3) classes. The group has about two (2) to four (4) students and the schedule is also interesting. I like the debate class where students can talk a lot, share personal views about everything such as other countries’ culture which makes the students closer.
TALK’s schedule is also quite flexible. If you do not learn in a subject with a teacher, then you can change your classes. Of course, you can change your schedule according to your own preferences. Also, TALK has a Vietnamese manager. He is handsome and enthusiastic. He knows everything so he will help you a lot during your study and stay in Baguio.
About the teacher: Actually, I have been close to some teachers to the point where I could tell anything, the stress of studying, emotional affection and more.
Costs: Baguio’s cost of living and tuition is cheaper than other cities. TALK’s average tuition fee is not too high, so the total cost of paying the agency and the academy is about 80 million VND. Remaining flight tickets and personal spending is depending on each person already (in my case, it’s about 100 million VND). The agency which I chose is one of the biggest agencies wherein there were a lot of tuition incentives, and they advised me to also advise the school and the course based on my aspiration and financial ability.
My background profile: I decided to quit my job and spend a large amount of money to go to the Philippines to study after taking classes in Vietnam but no good results (I used to study online via Skype with Filipino teachers for a long time but still ineffective because that course did not help me to have “English Reflexes”). I had four reasons to go and study abroad. First, I was distracted while studying. Second, I did not have the environment to improve my skills. Third, I wanted to relieve my life once. Lastly, I wanted to try to study in a new country. After three (3) months, I have realized my reasons and completed my goals (my thinking changed a lot and of course in a positive way, met a lot of friends from other countries and even Vietnamese.
Accordingly, I am quite good in grammar (a strong point of Vietnamese students) and vocabulary, but my listening skill is terrible. When I went to the university, I left English completely for seven (7) years. My lack of English skills made me miss many good job opportunities. I wish I decided to go to school earlier. I had a low self-esteem and I felt scared while I’m abroad. However, when I studied in the Philippines, learning from my teachers is only a part, but it provides a great environment for self-studying. For example, my room is full of people with different nationalities, Korean, Japanese and Vietnamese so we are forced to speak with each other even in our room (Vietnamese students rarely should have 2 or more people in a room). Also, when I go out to play, the taxi drivers and locals can use English, so I can learn form everyone.
Moreover, there was a time when I took a taxi and I mispronounced a word. The teacher told me to read it properly until I pronounce it correctly, it was so funny. People were mostly able to say it, but it was difficult to listen, only teachers could easily hear it. When I was in Vietnam, I was shy but it is not the case now. I am not afraid of humiliation (think in English, after learning it for a long time, I can now say some things in mind). This is the most precious thing I have learned which I am still keeping on.
Until now, I dare to admit that I can easily understand high-speed basic English sentences. I can now interpret my thoughts and no longer afraid of foreign people. You need to have self belief, even though the pronunciation is still bad and the accent is in Vietnamese. According to my teachers, my weakness is on pronunciation because I am familiar with many words but with the wrong way from reading in Vietnamese for decades. Making it correct is difficult like knowing some basic words but I read those incorrectly which did not help me understand. After two weeks of studying with American teachers, I have improved a bit. Depending on the background, you can choose to study for one (1) to three (3) months (with communication course).