Meet Nouf! Or ‘Noufy’ as we like to affectionately call her. Noufy is a Saudi girl in her mid-twenties who first came to our centre over two years ago when we first opened our doors. As one of our original students, we caught up with her to hear how her experience was at EEC.
- Noufy, how did you first hear about EEC?
Actually, I live really close by to the center and so I was one of the first students to attend EEC. Before I went in to speak with them, I checked their website and it looked nice. So, I paid them a visit, and I’m really glad I did. They gave me a tour of the center and told me all about it. The reception staff were very friendly and they spoke both English and Arabic which was nice.
- What was your experience like when you came into the center for a placement test?
I was so nervous about taking the test. It’s basically a short speaking and written test, and a longer computer-based test from the Oxford Learn Company. I didn’t mind the computer-based test, and I managed okay with the writing (I wrote about my family), but I was really scared about the speaking test. I think everybody is a little scared of speaking in a foreign language, right? But Gina, the American teacher who did the speaking test with me, was so nice and sweet and made me feel right at ease.
- Tell us about the first day in class. Was it what you expected?
Again – I was so nervous! It was a small class, but I didn’t know the other girls or the teacher and so I was shy on the first day. What made it even more scary was that the British director of the academy was my teacher! I really didn’t want to make mistakes in front of the boss of the center, you know? But after a while on that first day, I began to relax a little and after a few days, I was absolutely fine.
- What kinds of things did you do with your teacher and classmates?
EEC is focused on always keeping the students engaged and busy. It’s nothing like school, that’s for sure! In school, we sit down and listen to a teacher and write notes in a grammar book. There isn’t much time for speaking, especially in Saudi Government schools. A lot of my friends finish high school and tell me that they still can’t speak English even after years of studying it in the classroom! At EEC, I think I learned more in a few weeks than I did with years at school. Why? Because instead of just using a book, we also played games, did treasure hunts, got out of our seats and mingled with each other, and there were lots of interactive activities on the smartboard to test our knowledge – I especially like a game called ‘Kahoot’! Also, when we started the lesson each day, we had to tell the class what we did the day before, or that morning, and so every day we were speaking. We also did role-plays in the café upstairs, and we all had to do a presentation each. I didn’t want to do a presentation at first, I mean, who does? But I’m so glad that I did it now. I picked a topic I really find interesting, which is India, and I did a PowerPoint presentation with photos and short paragraphs and talked about it with the class. The class asked me easy questions at the end, and the whole thing just really improved my confidence. The best thing about the teacher I had was that she didn’t always let us leave until we understood what we’d learned that day. It’s fun, because you know that every single day, you’re going to leave the classroom having actually learned something, and unlike some teachers I’ve had a school, she really cares. All the teachers do.
- Do you think that your English improved?
Absolutely! When I first went to EEC I was a beginner, and then a few months later I returned to EEC as an elementary student and had a different teacher who was British. Again, it was a nice, small class and in this class I got to talk a lot which was excellent for my speaking practice. Now, if I went back to EEC, I’d probably be placed in a pre-intermediate class. That’s a big jump from my early days as a beginner. In my full time job now, I have to use 50% English with my non-Arabic speaking colleagues, so it’s all been incredibly useful. These days I’m watching movies without the subtitles and I’m trying to read books, too,
- What’s your favourite thing about EEC, and why is it different from other places you’ve studied?
The teachers are my favourite thing. They’re all native-English speakers so you don’t need to worry whether they know the language properly or not, and they can teach you how to speak naturally. All the teachers are fun to be around and they love what they do. I also like the décor – it’s a really beautiful center and feels quite luxurious inside. There is a lounge and a café and a rooftop terrace, and there’s also a computer lab and a small library of books in the reception. You don’t feel like you’re just any old student in a massive center where nobody knows your name because it’s small and it’s family-run.
- Okay Noufy, final question – would you recommend EEC to others?
Yes, yes, yes! I know there are so many academies in Riyadh to choose from, but you’re really getting the best of the best here, and for a great price. The class sizes are small, the teachers are creative and fun and they’re experts in teaching with lots of experience, and it’s a beautiful place to study. Come to EEC!