Each year, tens of thousands of students come to the USA to learn English for a variety of reasons. Perhaps you haven’t considered an English language program and think your English skills are just fine. But if English is not your first language, think seriously about an English language program, especially an intensive program.
Improving your English language skills will give you a higher TOEFL or IELTS score, which means that you will have even more universities to choose from.
Mastering English will create a strong foundation for your university education. In an U.S. university classroom, you will be expected to participate in class discussions, share your opinion, debate and explain your reasoning, give class presentations and work in groups with your classmates. Class participation will be one of the factors that determine your overall grade for the course.
Types of English Language Programs College and University Programs
Many U.S. colleges and universities offer full-time intensive English programs. An intensive English program must meet a minimum of 18 hours per week for students to qualify for a student visa. Most intensive programs provide 20-25 hours per week of classroom instruction. Students usually enter these programs at the beginning of the academic semester (term or quarter).
Usually, intensive English programs are not part of the college or university’s academic degree programs; therefore you might not receive academic credit. Students enrolled in ESL institutes are not necessarily admitted to that college or university. Find out if the university or college offers conditional admission and the requirements; and keep in mind that public colleges, universities and community colleges often cost less than private universities and colleges.
Proprietary English Language Programs
Some private English language schools also prepare students to enter U.S. colleges and universities, and many are actually located on or near a college or university campus.
Finding the Right Program for You
It is important to do your research before choosing a school. Visit StudyUSA.com to read about individual schools; some of the descriptions are in several languages and you can contact the schools directly. Go to your local educational advising center for resources to help you identify schools that interest you.
You are embarking on an exciting and rewarding adventure!
Jennifer Privette is the editor and assistant publisher of Study in the USA.
How is Your English?
Simple Questions to Ask Yourself…
• Can you understand English when watching TV, movies or listening to songs but have problems trying to understand native speakers?
• Do you feel nervous about speaking English in groups because of your pronunciation and accent?
• Is your vocabulary is too basic to allow you to express all the ideas you want to present or discuss?
• Have you prepared your TOEFL score but need experience expressing yourself in a U.S.-style classroom setting?
• Can you read sophisticated articles and texts but still write in a basic way?
Martha Hall Ed.M., Director of The New England School of English (NESE) located in Cambridge, Massachusetts
How Should I Choose a Program?
1. Think about what kind of program you want to attend — a serious academic program or a short-term one?
2. How much money can you spend on tuition, room, meals, activities, books, etc.?
3. What’s the best location for you — a large city, small town, suburb, or a particular part of the country?
4. Are the teachers professionally trained and experienced language instructors?
5. What is the average class size?
6. What living accommodations does the program provide? Does the program make all housing arrangements, or will they help you find housing?
7. What services will the school provide: international student advisors, assistance with admissions, orientation, healthcare, counseling?
8. What extracurricular activities are there?
9. Is it a large or small school?
10. Does the school permit advanced-level students to take classes at the university or a nearby college?
11. Is the school accredited?