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Is this a reasonable price for a language course?
August 3, 2011 1:20 PM   Subscribe

Is $720 for a semester of language learning a reasonable price in the Boston area?

I'd like to learn modern Hebrew, and the most comprehensive evening course I could find in the greater Boston area was that taught at Hebrew College. The price was a shock to me though. I would benefit from the interactivity and motivation of having a teacher and other students, so I'm not sure a course such as Rosetta Stone or Pimsleur (although cheaper) would work for me. And in my experience with other languages, software will only get you so far in terms of language acquisition.

So, is this a reasonable tuition? I've looked for alternatives and haven't been able to find anything in the area that is equivalent. I have a discount at certain other educational institutions, but they do not offer the language I'm interested in, unfortunately.
posted by bchaplin to Education (14 answers total)
 
If there's college credit, that's inexpensive.
posted by Jahaza at 1:25 PM on August 3, 2011


Seems pretty low to me. It looks like Harvard's extension program is $975 per undergrad class.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 1:36 PM on August 3, 2011


Sounds like a good deal.
posted by vincele at 1:47 PM on August 3, 2011


I would be more inclined to ask myself why it is so cheap, rather than why it's so expensive.
posted by endless_forms at 1:54 PM on August 3, 2011


How many hours per week? How many weeks in a semester? Is it for credit? For a standard college-level class, meeting 3 hours/week (actually 2.5 hours/week since college hours are 50 minutes), for 15 or 16 weeks, that's really cheap.
posted by anaelith at 2:00 PM on August 3, 2011


I would be more inclined to ask myself why it is so cheap,

I don't think it's surprising to find that a Jewish college offers inexpensive Hebrew classes.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 2:02 PM on August 3, 2011


OK, now I'm feeling reassured and slightly foolish for asking.
It is for two 2 hour classes a week or one 3 hour class.
Yes, probably a good deal then.
posted by bchaplin at 2:08 PM on August 3, 2011


I don't think it's surprising to find that a Jewish college offers inexpensive Hebrew classes.

"Heavily subsidized" would be one answer, sure (a similar answer pertains for Harvard Extension). Not all answers to that question are somehow sinister. It's also held mostly online. However, after looking at the course listing, I personally would still have questions. I'd expect those questions to have reasonable answers, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't ask them.
posted by endless_forms at 2:16 PM on August 3, 2011


Endless_forms, it might also help the OP if you spell out what those questions would be (note: not snark). I imagine the OP would want to know whether the teacher is a native speaker, their teaching qualifications, the format of the class, available labs, whether tutoring or TAs are available, and what the assignments are like, maybe which texts the class uses.

Are there other things s/he should ask about? It's been a long time since I took an extension language class (and I don't think I asked anything at the time).
posted by Admiral Haddock at 2:45 PM on August 3, 2011


As an undergraduate, I tutored a post-doc in my (obscure) native language for $25/hour, twice a week. She received no instruction other than me and was making very good progress (I was charging little since I had no experience, but she was sufficiently happy to refer my services to friends – I've been tutoring ever since). If you find your learning style to be better suited to individual attention and a tailored approach, as well as lots of personalized conversation, hiring a private tutor might be a cost-comparable alternative over the course of a 14-week semester.
posted by halogen at 3:29 PM on August 3, 2011


Endless_forms, it might also help the OP if you spell out what those questions would be (note: not snark).

Well, I would want to know how many weeks the class ran (is it 13 weeks? 6? 4? They call it "3 graduate credits" but a credit is not a credit is not a credit -- of the 5 institutions I've taken formal coursework at, I think there have been at least 3 different meanings of "credit".)

I would want to know what the instructor's credentials were, and how long she had been associated with the school.

I would want to know how long they had been running online language courses. How good is their infrastructure? Some schools have rushed into online learning models without adequate programmatic or infrastructure support, because it's the hot new thing. Good infrastructure is expensive -- sometimes the administration has it in their heads that running online learning is "free" because it doesn't require a classroom, and the student experience suffers if such an initiative is underfunded.

Does the instructor have experience running this kind of online model?

Does the software support video or just audio? (Personally, I find it easier to understand a person if I can see their lips.)

How many students are in each of the scheduled "class sessions"? How much of the class session is each student expected to be speaking/actively listening? How will these classes be structured?

Does all of this work for me?

A lot of those questions should be answered at the first class meeting, however it's conducted (is there any physical presence to the class?) I'd be ticking them off in my notebook, and then ask the ones that don't get addressed. (I realize some of them overlap your list.)
posted by endless_forms at 4:43 PM on August 3, 2011


It is inexpensive when compared to college language courses.

Personally, I believe it is quite expensive compared to what you are likely to get out of it. I'm not sure if you've ever taken a language course before, but it will be unlikely that you will be able to do much after one semester of study.

Making real progress in studying a language requires more intensive work than a class will typically require. I think you should consider self-study supported by a tutor to keep you on track.

Also, unless the class is exceptionally well-designed and disciplined, you will not get as much speaking practice in the classroom as you would with a program like Pimsleur plus a tutor.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 6:45 PM on August 3, 2011


A lot of those questions should be answered at the first class meeting, however it's conducted (is there any physical presence to the class?)

Which brings up the most important question you should ask, namely: When is the last drop date for a full refund?
posted by anaelith at 6:50 PM on August 3, 2011


Thanks for the help.
To answer some of the questions, the class runs a typical college semester, and of course, one semester doesn't teach fluency. I've taken language classes before and am sadly aware of that! They have a series of levels.
The course I'm looking at is in-person, not online. They offer both.
There are no questions in my mind about the credentials of the institution, sorry for not making that clear. It is well-known in the community. Just wondering, on a personal level, about investing that much money in a class. I guess I am spoiled because in the past I've managed to take courses at places where I could get substantial discounts.
posted by bchaplin at 7:03 PM on August 3, 2011


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