Frequently Asked Questions
How long can I stay?
The shortest course length is 1 week.
What is the typical class size?
Our class sizes are often between 6 and 10. The maximum class size is 14.
At the end of my course will I have a certificate?
Yes. This will show the course you took and the length of time you studied.
Do I have to buy a course book?
No, you don’t (as long as you are studying at Spinnaker College for 6 or more weeks). For each level that you study, we give you a course book - up to four course books. For example, if you stay for five months and study at pre-intermediate level, intermediate level and then upper intermediate level, we will give you three course books.
What are the levels?
Beginner, Elementary, Pre-Intermediate, Intermediate, Upper Intermediate. Sometimes, if there are enough high-level students, we can have an Advanced class.
How do you know which level to put me in?
When you arrive you do a placement test and have a friendly interview. When we have decided your level you will be able to join your class. While you are studying with us, the teachers are very careful to make sure that you are in the level which is best for you and where you are happy. If you are not happy then please tell us and we shall do our best to sort out the problem.
What time do I need to arrive on my first day?
You should try to get to the school at 8.30am when you will be given your placement test to complete, before joining a class.
Can I do the placement test before my first day of lessons?
Yes. Please arrange a suitable time with us during school hours.
What is an IELTS examination and why should I take it?
IELTS is the International English Language Testing System, an academic exam which covers Speaking, Listening, Reading & Writing skills. Most universities in the UK require non-native speakers to achieve an IELTS score of 5.5 or more before being accepted onto a degree course. Certain professional bodies (e.g. the General Medical Council) also require non-native speakers to achieve an IELTS score before they can practice in this country. We offer morning classes with an expert teacher, specifically for IELTS – 1.5 hours per day for five days.
What will I do in my lessons?
In the mornings your studies will be based on a class text book, for example, English File. However, you will have many other activities.
In the afternoons you will have skills lessons: reading, writing, speaking and listening.
In both morning and afternoon, the teacher will also often use materials such as multimedia and also authentic materials like magazines and film reviews. The teacher will also organize enjoyable activities and communication games to help you to use the new language and gain confidence.
Can I study for less than 15 hours per week?
If you need a student visa then you have to study for at least 15 hours per week. However if you are an au pair or you do not need a visa then we can probably arrange a part time course for you. Also, you can do just afternoons - see below.
Can I study for just afternoons?
If you do not need a visa, you can do English Language Skills which is an afternoon course for two and a half hours per day for five days – 10 hours.
What if I want to take a holiday?
Please give us at least one week’s notice. It is a Home Office requirement that you attend your classes. For every twelve weeks that you study you are allowed to have one week’s holiday. The maximum holiday you can take is four weeks in one year. When you are on holiday, you do not have to pay any fees for study.
How much does a course cost?
Please click here for an explanation of the fees.
How much will I pay for accommodation?
Please click here for choices of accommodation and the prices.
What else is included in the price?
Your tuition fee also includes the use of a free course book for each level (for courses over 6 weeks), up to a maximum of 4 course books per year. We also organise a free language test when you arrive. Excursion costs are not included in you tuition fees. These are charged individually and range from around £5 for bowling to about £20 for a trip to London. To sign up for excursions, simply ask your teacher or enquire at reception.
General Questions About The College
Where is the college?
Spinnaker College is ideally situated in the centre of the city, very near the main square, the shops, the train station and the historic Guildhall. Within a short walk you can find: The University, a large, modern, seafront shopping-complex and an attractive park. To find out more about our location, please click here.
When is the college closed?
The College is closed on bank holidays and over Christmas, for this year (2012) that means the college will be closed on: The 6th and 9th April, 7th May, 4th and 5th June and the 27th August. The college will also be closed over Christmas from the 17th December till the 6th January 2013.
Is the college a professional organisation?
Yes. We are accredited by the British Council. The British Council is an international official institution that is highly-respected. It inspects schools and colleges which teach English. They only give their accreditation to schools and colleges that are well-run and that have qualified teachers who produce lessons of a high standard.
We are also members of English UK and are recognised by the Department for Further Education and Skills. We are a recognised, professional school so students who enrol in our college can be issued visas as long as they fulfill the other requirements.
I have decided to stay at Spinnaker College. How do I enrol?
You can apply to enrol using the forms on our website. Please follow the instructions. You can be enrolled as soon as we receive your deposit.
I am not able to apply using the internet. How do I enrol for a course?
Use our Enquiry Form or fax the College to ask for a brochure and an Application Form to be posted or faxed to you.
How do I get from the airport to Portsmouth?
If you wish, we can book a taxi for you. Also, there are good bus and train services from all the airports in Southern England to Portsmouth.
How do I get to my accommodation when I reach Portsmouth?
Students usually take a taxi from train or bus station, which is very close to Southsea where our accommodation is.
How do I get to college every day?
Portsmouth has a good bus service and all buses stop near the College. You can buy a discounted bus pass from the bus driver. This costs about £40 for 4 weeks.
Is the social programme included in fees?
No, the activities are charged separately.
Does the College arrange excursions
Yes, there are trips to places of interest outside Portsmouth (London, Cambridge, Bath, Stonehenge, Brighton, Warwick etc.) You have to pay for these.
What kind of activities are included in the social programme?
Sports e.g. football, bowling and golf, evening parties, pub evenings, games evenings, film evenings...
How much do social activities cost?
The cost of our social activities vary from week to week. Going bowling at Gunwharf or playing 5 a side football may coast as little as £5 per person, however some activities are more expensive. Trips to London, Brighton and the Isle of Wight cost around £20 per person (cost of travel etc). Trips to further afield, such as Bath or Stonehenge may cost upwards of £25.
Where can I stay in Portsmouth?
We are happy to arrange accommodation for our students. We recommend that they choose our Homestay option, which is when students stay in the home of a British family. This is a very good way to further improve their English language after classes. Students can also choose to stay in private shared accommodation such as a house or flat which they share with other students. We can also arrange for students to stay in a nearby hotel, although this is a more expensive option than Homestay or private shared accommodation. For more information, please visit our accommodation page.
At what time is the evening meal?
Families eat early in England - usually between 5.30 and 7.00pm. You can then do your homework or go out to meet your friends in Southsea or Portsmouth.
It's important to tell the Host Family when you plan to get home or if you are going to miss a meal or be late for a meal.
You will have a choice for breakfast: cereal, toast, or bacon & egg if you want it, with tea, coffee and orange juice. The English eat a lot of potatoes so be prepared to enjoy mashed, roast and baked potatoes!
Do I need to bring sheets and towels?
We recommend you that you bring your own sheets and towels, it is more hygienic.
What if I am not happy with my accommodation?
You should tell your host about the problem, but if this is difficult you can tell us and we will try to resolve the problem.
What if I want to leave my accommodation?
You have to give us and the host two weeks’ notice.
What is the weather like
Portsmouth and Southsea are surrounded by the sea. A warm current from the Gulf of Mexico makes the south coast of England warmer than the rest of Britain, especially in the winter. However the winter is quite cold so if you are coming in winter, do bring a warm jacket, plus gloves and a scarf. English weather can change quite quickly – it can rain in the morning and be sunny and warm in the afternoon.
In July/August (the warmest months), the average is around 20°C, although it can reach over 28° C.