Studying English in North America: Opening the door to further study
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Studying English in North America: Opening the door to further study

Choosing the right ESL program in the United States or Canada might appear a difficult choice. As well as factoring in location, living costs and course schedule, students are also faced with a whole host of additional details. These include questions such as: Does the course offer a Business English module? Will I get a uniquely American experience from choosing this course? Do ESL students make up part of campus life? Yet students need not fear. An ESL program will open the door to hundreds of degree programs, as well as equip students with the right qualifications to go on to complete a course at a world-class institution.

ESL (English as a second language) programs are designed for non-native speakers looking to improve their English language skills. From grammar to listening exercises, students can benefit from small class sizes and personalized teaching in addition to a whole host of social and cultural activities outside of the classroom. While many institutions and universities require students to complete an ESL program prior to beginning their studies, an ESL program can also help students on a personal level. From conversation classes to cultural studies, ESL programs are incredibly diverse, as well as an excellent opportunity to make new English speaking friends.


Pic: University of Oregon

So which course should you choose to suit your learning style? And more importantly which will meet with the admission requirements of your university of choice? Read on to find out about some of the ESL pathway courses which institutions offer international students looking to get ahead with their English language studies:

Vacation course
The ideal choice for students who only have time during the summer months, or at other periods throughout the year, vacation courses can last anything between one to 10 weeks. While some courses follow more of an English plus schedule – classes in the morning prior to sports or cultural visits in the afternoon – students may also choose to follow a pre-academic course during the summer months in preparation for higher study.

Cambridge English examinations
Cambridge English examinations are internationally accredited qualifications, demanded by an increasing number of institutions worldwide. Students may be required to meet with the Cambridge English First (FCE) or Proficiency (CPE) as part of their admission requirements. Cambridge examinations provide students with the skills necessary to study, live and work in English speaking countries.

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Pic: University of Alberta

The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is recognized by over 9,000 institutions and universities worldwide. The test is composed of 100 percent academic questions and tasks, meaning that many universities consider it the most appropriate test to use when making admissions decisions. TOEFL uses more of an academic-based testing system; students may have to listen to a lecture or read a passage from a text book during their examination.

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is the most widely accepted English language test, using a one-on-one speaking test to assess students’ English communication skills. Using a band scoring system, many universities require that students obtain a score of between five and seven points for each aspect of the test (the maximum score for each section is nine). The examinations are standardized under the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEF or CEFR), meaning students may have to complete a specific level in accordance with their fluency. IELTS tests are also offered by the British council, and a specific IELTS test is on offer for students looking to complete further studies at a North American institution.

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Pic Mercer University ELI

Pre-university program
Many institutions offer a pre-university program designed to prepare international students for study at their institution. In combination with an intensive English course, students will also learn how to take notes in lectures, study skills and pronunciation as part of the course.

Choosing to complete an ESL program not only provides you with an internationally recognized qualification, it will also equip you with the skills to succeed during your studies and beyond.

Read on to find out more about excellent ESL programs offered at the following North American institutions:

The English Language Institute (ELI) at Mercer University enables students to have easy access to the culture and history of Atlanta, while learning English in a caring and supportive environment. The ELI traditional program prepares students for study at Mercer, offering classes tailored to specific aspects of English-language learning. Students may also choose from one of the Mercer special programs, including EFL teaching training, providing a unique academic-cultural learning experience. The Mercer Business English program improves English proficiency, while fully integrating students into campus life. Read the full profile…

Since 1978, the American English Institute (AEI) has provided English language teaching and research on the leafy University of Oregon campus. The institute’s Intensive English Program (IEP) offers seven proficiency levels, from beginners right through to advanced. The IEP offers students a comprehensive curriculum of core classes and extracurricular programming, designed to meet the academic needs and interests of course learners. The Academic English for International Students (AIES) program is specifically designed to help international students develop advanced English language skills. Students take regular university courses and classes while enrolled in the program.

Penn State’s Intensive English Communication Program (IECP) helps students prepare their academic English level to meet with the admission requirements for study in the U.S. The IECP offers four levels of intensive English teaching. Students can expect to spend 20 hours in class per week developing their academic English proficiency level. Students can obtain additional help and guidance at the IECP Tutoring center that gives students drop-in tutoring sessions if they are in need of some extra help. Students at the IECP Penn State will form part of an exciting, diverse campus life, while completing high-caliber academic English language classes.

Since 1966, the Center for English as a Second Language (CESL) at Southern Illinois University (SIU) has offered its students a successful intensive English program with an acclaimed international reputation. Students in the program benefit from small class sizes and personalized attention within the natural surroundings of the Illinois campus. Students will study some 18-26 hours per week, while learning about American academic culture using the CESL library, through note taking and practising writing research papers. The CESL Skills Center enables students to work on the aspects of English language which they find most challenging, while working with a private tutor.

The University of Alberta’s English Language Program is recognized internationally for its provision of a high standard of teaching to students whose first language is other than English. The high standard of lecturing is offered by a team of experienced staff, through the use of modern teaching approaches in combination with state-of-the-art technology. The school offers a variety of programs from TOEFL to IELTS and English for Academic purposes (EAP). Program costs are reasonable and include medical insurance, health services, and student services fees for each term. Students can enjoy completing their course within the unique scenery that only Canada offers.

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