Beka’s School is an English language center that creates different courses for both its students and companies. It offers its students a teaching method based on theory and practice, which includes studying the theoretical part, as well as speaking English with “native-speaking” teachers. Beka’s School will soon print its own English grammar book. To find out more, GEORGIA TODAY talked to the co-founders of Beka’s School – Natali Kenkadze and Beka Berikashvili.
When and why did you decide to create Beka’s School?
Beka: We created the school seven years ago. Before that, I taught with an American teacher for about one year. We would teach students at my home. Studying together with a Georgian and an American teacher proved popular with students, but I wanted to give it a more organized form, so I started this business with my old friend, Natali, who already had previous experience in education and business management. At first we had a small space with two teachers and about 60 students. Since then, we have changed three locations and now have about 400-450 regular students and 35+ employees. We’re already quite a big center!
Tell us how you went about selecting teachers and creating courses.
Beka: Since the beginning, we have been aiming to have many experienced “native speaking” teachers. At the moment, we have teachers from America, Britain, South Africa, and Georgia.
Our main principle is that the Georgian teachers teach grammar and vocabulary to students, and we offer conversational English only with “native speakers.” The combination works very well. Because students understand the grammar explained in their native language very well. In the practical part they only have contact with “native speakers” because they have no other choice – they have to speak English, and this helps the students to activate passive knowledge. When there is no other way, you speak English!
In parallel, we developed an Express English course in which only “native speakers” teach. The course is highly intensive – there are daily lessons, and the main goal is to help students to quickly overcome issues regarding confidence and other barriers that prevent them from speaking English.
It is often the case that you have some level of English, but you can’t speak according to that level. Here, the Express English Speaking course helps you to speak according to your level of knowledge, and transfer passive vocabulary to active.
In addition, we have a business English course and courses for teenagers, and in all areas we try to adapt to the students who are on the course. For example, courses for teenagers are loaded with fun activities and quizzes so that learning English is never boring.
In general, we are quite particular in the process of selecting teachers. We do not hire just anyone as a teacher – candidates go through a rather difficult process before they start working with us. It is very important for us that the teacher not only has a diploma in philology, or many years of experience, but that they have “passion” towards teaching. They should be motivated and able to give good education to people in a way that is interesting. They should be able to do all this in a fun way.
In short, both are important for us – to get a quality education in a very fun environment, and this requires the right teachers, and therefore it has never been easy to select them. Now, we have a very large team of teachers and we highly value them.
What makes Beka’s School different from other English language centers?
Natali: First of all, what sets us apart from other schools, in my opinion, is our fun and positive environment, and our approach to students. Our teachers constantly try not to have a very academic and stressful learning process, but rather to make it more individual-oriented, comfortable and friendly.
We have a large team of teachers, probably with the biggest number of “native speaking” teachers in Georgia.
In addition, we offer not only our students, but anyone interested, to attend our free weekly workshops and clubs aiming at practicing English in an informal environment.
We cooperate with the non-governmental organization “International Center for Peace and Integration”, whose foreign volunteers organize various clubs at Beka’s School. These are – English language club, board games, improvisational theater, “Mafia Nights”, etc.
We also cooperate with Amirani Cinema and host a free movie club every other Tuesday, followed by an open discussion with wine. The movie club is organized by Canadian filmmaker – Toby Andris.
In addition to the free clubs, we also have a scholarship program that can be used by anyone who needs to improve their English but does not currently have the financial means to do so.
Recently, we started a TV column on the morning show of “Formula”, where Beka gives various tips and advice to people trying to improve their English.
Our free video lessons have also contributed a lot to the promotion of Beka’s School during past years.
Does Beka’s School offer any services for companies?
Natali: Yes. Beka’s School also has a corporate service, within the framework of which we have been cooperating with various local and international non-governmental organizations and businesses for the last several years. Within this service, we offer them different types of ready courses and we can also offer them to create new courses according to their needs. At the end of each month, we provide them with an individual progress report about their employees and their attendance records. We ask for feedback from our partners and from each student and improve the teaching process accordingly.
Tell us about your future plans.
Natali: Until now, we have only taught adults and for a very long time, there has been a demand from customers to start teaching children. Therefore, we are starting new courses for teenagers aged 11-16-year-old from September 11.
The course will last 10 months, and during this period of time, one level will be covered. There are two lessons per week, for an hour and a half. Beginner and Elementary level groups are taught by a Georgian teacher, and higher-level groups are taught by a “native speaking” teacher.
We are also planning to release an English Grammar Book for the fall, which has been in the works for the last 5 years.