One of the main challenges many international students face is their English-language proficiency. If your first language is not English and if your previous education was not in English, it is important to take all English-language proficiency tests as soon as possible.
You will be expected to read, write, understand and speak English properly and fluently to carry out your studies. Conversational English will not be sufficient.
Colleges and universities require proof of English-language proficiency when you apply and measure your skills by asking you to take a standardized test of English. Even with excellent academic qualifications, you may not be admitted if your English-language proficiency is too low.
International students often underestimate the stress caused by suddenly changing cultures, education and economic systems, friends, methods of teaching and learning, and living environments. Moving suddenly from speaking and thinking in the language of your country to thinking, listening and speaking in English is very stressful.
Get an accurate estimate of your ability in English so that you can enroll in a language school if needed to improve your ability before starting studies in the United States. Be sure to ask the admission office if the institution offers an intensive course in English as a second language.
DO YOUR ENGLISH SKILLS MEASURE UP?
Answer the questions below to help assess your English-language proficiency:
1. I can read textbooks written in English …
a. easily with the help of a dictionary to check new or difficult words.
b. with difficulty and the frequent use of a dictionary.
c. with great difficulty, constant use of a dictionary and help from others.
d. I have never tried reading a textbook in English.
2. I can write an essay in English …
a. easily, using a dictionary to check the spelling and meaning of some words.
b. with difficulty and the frequent use of a dictionary and grammar book.
c. with great difficulty, translating what I have written in my language into English, with constant use of a dictionary and help from others.
d. I have never tried writing an essay in English.
3. I can understand spoken English about a current news topic …
a. easily except for special words.
b. with some difficulty, and only if the information is repeated at least once.
c. with difficulty and the use of a dictionary.
d. I have not listened to someone speak in English about a current news topic.
4. I can speak in English …
a. about any topic, with the occasional use of a dictionary.
b. about certain topics with which I am most familiar.
c. if I am asked simple questions.
d. I have not had the opportunity to speak in English.
From The International Student Handbook. Copyright 2014 The College Board. Reprinted with permission.
For more information, visit international.collegeboard.org.