Each year, tens of thousands of students come to the USA to learn English to prepare themselves to enter colleges and universities in the United States. Others come to learn English while experiencing American life and still others come to improve their English to qualify for a better job at home.
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. (Remember, each institution has different English proficiency requirements.)
Mastering your English will give you a good 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. You will also have a much easier time in your classes and a more enriched education with strong English language skills.
Types of English Language 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).
- You can usually live on campus
- You can have full use of the college or university library, the recreation and sports areas, as well as other facilities
- You can practice English with the university students they meet in their dorms and cafeterias
- If you are in advanced levels of an English program may be permitted to take a few university courses
- Students on F-1 visas may work on campus up to 20 hours per week
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. Others are located in a downtown office building or a mall. (Keep in mind that only some of private English schools provide housing or arrange homestays.)
- At some private ESL institutes, advanced-level students may take one or two academic courses at nearby colleges or universities
- Many ESL schools also offer vacation ESL programs in which you learn English while traveling to interesting places or participating in activities
- More flexible compared to colleges and universities
- New sessions may begin every few weeks. This can be an advantage to those interested in short-term study
- Close-knit and familial environment
Finding the Right Program for You
It is important to do your research before choosing a school. Look at the schools listed in this copy of Study in the USA® and visit StudyUSA.comto 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. Choose carefully, and you will have a wonderful, rewarding experience.