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Most popular teaching methods at Bellerbys in the UK

Posted 12 September 2013
teaching at Bellerbys

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Many of you, who are just about to start college in the UK, might be playing in your head with all the many ideas about what your studies abroad might be like. I am about to relieve a couple of your worries by sharing my experiences of what teaching in the UK is like. I have been studying in the UK for the past four years, at Bellerbys College in Brighton, and now at Oxford University. As most of you are probably interested in college classes more, I will focus on what teaching methods are used at Bellerbys College.

Many of you, who are just about to start college in the UK, might be playing in your head with all the many ideas about what your studies abroad might be like. I am about to relieve a couple of your worries by sharing my experiences of what teaching in the UK is like. I have been studying in the UK for the past four years, at Bellerbys College in Brighton, and now at Oxford University. As most of you are probably interested in college classes more, I will focus on what teaching methods are used at Bellerbys College.

I studied mostly social science and humanities subjects, so I am very familiar with the teaching methods used in these fields. But bear in mind, every teacher has their own teaching style and everyone’s experience might be slightly different. So what follows below is a very rough guide, to give you an idea of what to expect.

My History, Politics and Economics classes all followed more or less similar teaching methods. During class, we did a lot of reading - but not your average textbook reading (this is something you should do at home, preferably before your class!). We would get very relevant and somewhat advanced material from our teachers to read and analyse together. Personally, I found this very helpful on many levels - first of all, this method allows you to dig very deep into the topic you are studying at the stage, second of all, it gives you extra material that you can use to revise once exams roll around, and thirdly, it is very useful to analyse texts under supervision of experienced teachers - this is because you have a first hand opportunity to clarify anything you might feel unclear about.
    
During these classes we would also take part in a lot of interactive instruction. We often watched videos which were especially useful in Politics and History to illustrate the time periods and concepts we were currently learning about. In economics we would often play around with graphs on the board which really helped us understand deeply the concepts in economics, that are often difficult to understand without visualising them. We also often had little worksheets to work on during class, again to clarify and deepen our understanding of the material.

Mathematics classes were a little bit different in that they included much more hands on experience of actually working on questions and problems. We would often go through questions in our textbooks, first on our own, and then on the board, to check our answers and to clarify any processes or methods that we might be unsure about. The attitude to Maths is very much “learning by doing”, and I sincerely believe that it is indeed the most effective way of learning Mathematics and being well prepared for exams.

My last subject was French, and in a sense this was a very special experience - most of the time there was only two of us in the class, and sometimes I was even the only one there. Therefore most of the learning was through conversation - we were not allowed to speak English during the classes, so I was making tremendous progress in French really fast, because I had to learn how to express myself without the help of English. It was also very helpful in internalising French, because knowing I wasn’t “allowed” to use another language meant that, slowly, I learnt how to actually think in French. I think very often learning a language by conversation and direct exposition to the language is the best way of learning it.

I did not study any science subjects such as Chemistry or Biology during my A Levels, but from what I heard from my friends, in these subjects a lot of the learning was “by doing”, similarly as I explained before with Mathematics. Further to that, when studying science subjects, you will also have labs every week, in which you get to do all sorts of different experiments, and learn about concepts and methods in your textbook by actually doing it yourself. I don’t know about you, but this sounds pretty exciting to me!

I hope this summary of how teaching works in the UK has helped put your mind to rest in regards to what to expect during your studies. I can promise you that learning at Bellerbys College is a lot of fun and all the tutors explain everything in a very clear and understandable manner, so you definitely do not have to worry about a language barrier being a major problem. I hope you will enjoy your time studying in the UK at least as much as I have been enjoying mine!

Zuzana Chlupackova

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