English UK member, the Mayfair School of English in London, thought a lot about this two years ago.
"We realised students want flexibility," said Duncan Watson, director of the central London school.
"They wanted to be able to take an English test at any time, not just on a few dates. We also found that many students did not want an academic course and exam if they were not planning to go to university."
So Mayfair started its IELTS for Life course – and found that it was very popular. Students liked the idea of being able to arrive when they wanted and stay for as long as they wanted. They also liked learning useful English for life, and being able to take the IELTS General Training exam as proof of their language level.
Before long, students were arriving from all from all over the world. Some stay for a year, others stay for two weeks. Mr Watson said: "This allows them go beyond a general English course. It gives them something to work for.
"Unlike many schools, we do not charge extra for the IELTS for Life course."
He added: "We get a lot of students from Japan who are in their 30s. They come here to soak up the English culture and learn English but they don’t want to go to university. They have already got a career back in Japan."
The school has also found that students on the course become much more confident. Academic co-ordinator Jamie Barrett says that students often do not want to take the IELTS academic test when they arrive. But after a few weeks on the IELTS for Life course they feel able to do the academic modules as well.
"It has been really successful," said Mr Barrett. He says the teachers use textbooks and real materials, such as letters, brochures and magazines. Students do practical exercises such as writing letters and having phone conversations.
Mr Watson said the course works well because Mayfair’s teachers are very good. He added: "We pay our teachers well, charge reasonable rates and deliver high-quality lessons and a good social programme. We do have some whiteboards but the facilities are not our priority. Our office is not all shiny and new – but the important thing is the students’ experience."
Have you got an interesting story to tell? Contact Susan@englishuk.com.