English Programs in the USA
So, you are interested in coming to the United States to study English. There are many things you need to consider before you go. What is your goal? Where in the United States do you want to live? What does it cost? And what do you look for in a school?
What is your goal?
One of the most important things to consider is how long you need to study English to meet the goal you have set for yourself. There are short and long term options available to you. You can study for 2 weeks to 2 months for most short term programs. The question you must ask yourself is: Will that meet your goal? If your goal is to come to United States for a refresher course, 2 weeks to 2 months may be all you need. But, if your goal is to become bilingual or fluent in English, 2 weeks to 2 months will not meet that goal. Becoming bilingual or fluent will depend largely on what level you are currently in. If you do not know English it may take you 10 to 12 months to become fluent. Or, if you have been studying English for a few years, it may take you only 6 months to become fluent. So, the first question is: What is your goal?
Where in the US do I want to live?
The second question to ask yourself is: Where in the US do I want to live? The United States has different climates for almost every person. There are beaches, mountains, deserts, and flat lands. We have rainy places, sunny places, and snowy places. Besides the climate, the US also has large fast moving cities and slow relaxed towns. From urban to rural, if you look, you can find the climate and city that is right for you.
What does it cost?
The next question is: What is the cost? Price is a very important part of meeting your goal. Unfortunately, price probably plays the biggest role in your decision. When you look at the cost of tuition, books, housing, food, and miscellaneous costs, it can be pretty expensive. So, do your homework, look at the exchange rate and find the best deal. Some schools have part-time jobs on campus. Do any schools offer free classes or additional classes at a reduced cost?
What do you look for in a school?
The final question is: What do you look for in a school? There are five factors to consider when looking for a school. The first factor is accreditation. An accredited school has gone through an extensive process of examination. This process requires a school to become compliant to guidelines set by the accreditation agency. The school sends a detailed self examination report to the accrediting agency. Once the agency reviews the report, an on-site team of ESL professionals come to the school to interview employees and students to ensure the school conducts itself in the same manner stated in their report. After the onsite visit, the commission will meet to grant or deny the school accreditation. English as a Second Language programs are accredited by CEA (Commission on English Language Program Accreditation) or by ACCET (Accrediting Council for Continuing Education & Training).
After accreditation, the next factor to consider is the size of the school. Do you want to be in a big university with thousands of other students, a smaller college, or a more personal program at a private school? Universities can give you the sense of living in a small city, with many square miles of campus and thousands of students. A smaller college may give you a university feel, but on a less overwhelming scale. A small private school may give the personal touch you may need here in the US. Each have much to offer, so you will need to decide what kind of environment you want.
The third factor when choosing a school is excursions. Since classes will not take up all of your time, you will want to sightsee, and your school should help you explore the area. See what types of excursions are on the school website. Are there pictures on their website showing what excursions have been done in the past? There are many things to see and your school should offer excursions for you. Once you are familiar with the area around your campus, you will be confident to explore on your own.
Another factor is the reputation of the school. Do you know anyone who has gone to the school? Do you have friends or family members who can tell you about that school? What about asking education agents? Ask if they have heard of the school you are interested in. You can also contact the school, and ask for student references. Maybe there will be testimonials on the website. There are many ways to find out what others think about a school.
The final factor to consider of a school is the ethnicity of the student body. If all the internationals are Spanish, chances are you will often speak Spanish. The more English you hear, the faster you will learn. The more you struggle to speak English, the more you will learn. The more diverse the student population, the better you will be at English and you will learn more about other cultures and get to know people that are not like you.
I hope you are now able to have a better idea of what to look for in your hunt for a school. There are many questions and factors to consider in finding a school. If you do your homework, I am sure you will have a wonderful experience learning English in the United States.